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Craig formulates the argument in a syllogism:

P1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

P2: The universe began to exist.

C: Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Let’s start with P1. How does Craig know this to be true? He does not say [I found elsewhere that his reason is ‘metaphysical intuition’, or the slogan “from nothing, nothing comes”]. There are two kinds of ways we could know P1 is true. If there was a necessary (logical) connection between the predicates ‘begins to exist’ and ‘has a cause’, or by inductive enumeration (“everything that began to exist that we have seen had a cause”). There certainly is no logical connection between ‘begins to exist’ and ‘has a cause’. If we saw things coming into existence uncaused then that would falsify it (Craig’s ‘metaphysical intuition’ presumably comes from the fact that we do not), and therefore P1 can only be known by enumeration.

This fact creates a problem for Craig. If we ask the question “does the ‘whatever’ in P1 include universes?”, then Craig has to answer in the affirmative (if he did not, the conclusion would not follow!). It becomes:

P1: Whatever (including universes) begins to exist has a cause.

The substance has not changed, and you may wonder why I did not throw in a few other things like cats and dogs. The point is to draw attention to the fact that we need to know if universes that begin to exist have causes! If we do not know that fact, then universes cannot be included in P1, and hence the conclusion no longer follows. Do we know of any universes that began to exist? Well according to P2, our universe began to exist. Did our universe have a cause? We know that it did because of the conclusion… We arrive at the question-begging nature of any syllogism where the major premise is an enumeration of particulars. This is an especially potent example, as universes are fundamentally different from anything they comprise. Just because something in the universe is caused to begin existing does not mean the entire universe was also caused to exist.

On to P2. Craig accepts the standard (Big Bang) model of the cosmos, and accepts that Time itself began at the Big Bang. I completely agree with this. He argues that since the notion of infinity contains mathematical absurdities, then an infinite amount of events cannot exist in nature. However, there is no reason to think that an eternally existing universe would contain an infinite amount of events. Since Time forms part of the universe (and is finite), the amount of events would still be finite, even if the universe did not “pop into being out of nothing”.

For a universe to “pop into being out of nothing”, there would have to be a state of nothingness preceding the start of the universe. However, this presupposes a time before Time (remember that Time forms part of the universe and started at the Big Bang), which is self-contradictory. Consider:

  1. Something “began to exist” if there was a time when it did not exist, followed by a time when it did exist.

  2. Something is “eternal” if there was no time when it did not exist, and at every point in time it has existed.

  3. There is no time when the universe did not exist, and at every point in time the universe has existed.

  4. Therefore the universe is eternal, and did not begin to exist.

If this argument holds, then not only does it falsify P2 (and hence demolish the Cosmological Argument), but we can take it further. “God” is defined in many ways, but they invariably include “Creator of the Universe”. If God did not create the universe, then he does not exist (I realise that some gods did not create the world and you can redefine the term in many different ways, but this seems strong enough for now). Consider turning Craig’s argument upside-down, to create the Cosmological Argument for the Non-Existence of God!

  1. Whatever does not begin to exist does not have a cause.

  2. The universe did not begin to exist.

  3. Therefore the universe did not have a cause.

  4. If the universe did not have a cause, then it was not created.

  5. If the universe was not created, the God does not exist.

  6. Therefore, God does not exist.

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I have listened to and read a lot of William Lane Craig’s debates (in my opinion he is the best theist debater), and after hearing the same opening statement over and over (to the word!) I have developed my own rebuttal. Comments are welcome – it is the first time I’ve put these arguments forward and hope to learn from helpful criticism. No doubt I’ve made some mistakes, and will correct any that are pointed out (and that I agree with!).

My source will be the opening statement used against Massimo Pigliucci in 1998 as it has been transcribed, and closely resembles that of other debates.

Craig presents five arguments for the existence of God:

  1. The Cosmological Argument

  2. The Fine Tuning Argument

  3. The Argument from Objective Moral Values

  4. The Historical Case for Jesus’ Resurrection

  5. The Argument from Personal Experience

Craig admits that the fifth “argument” is more of a sermon than an argument, and therefore I will not waste any time over it.

Common to all four arguments is the claim that “X is the case, and I can only think that God made it that way”. As soon as we hear this we should be very suspicious. Recall Paley’s Watchmaker, and remember the true cause of lightning. As Humanity’s knowledge increases, the God of the Gaps shrinks in proportion. Craig backs up his claims with a lot of authorities. I will not cite any authorities at all, so that my arguments are as transparent and accessible as possible.