Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kalam Defense Showing More Failure (part 2)

If you missed part 1 wherein I deal with the premises of William Lane Craig's favorite argument, here is the link to that part --

Link to Part 1

In a generic sense, part 1 is actually a sufficient stopping point because it simply tears down the validity of the premises on which it draws its conclusion.  When all your premises have some faulty aspects, and the very construct on which you build your argument is inherently weak in the context and every means of support you offer is provably and demonstrably dishonest in all instances, you don't have much room to go any further.  But we are talking about William Lane Craig here, and like all forms of religious apologetics, the truth of any idea is not based on investigation and forward-looking progress and future gathering of information, but on the acceptance of revelation and the rationalization of previously existing preference towards specific brands thereof.  No amount of fact or reason could ever mean anything to these people.  Reason, logic, and evidence are things which are to be filtered through the lens of pre-existing belief...  and Craig says this rather clearly while simultaneously surrounding it in a veneer of loquacity that serves to mask the intrinsic anti-thought bias.

Well, the thing is that there's no need to stop there anyway.  You can tear apart and/or poke holes in every single idea that Craig has to offer from A to Z and back again.  There is not a single concept anywhere in the argument which holds so much as a molecule of water.  So in this part, I attack everything that follows after he draws his primary conclusion of the existence of causality for the universe.  This is where he draws a series of insane speculations declaring them to be definitive certainties in order to identify the cause as a personal god.

For the sake of getting into this particular area, we have to assume the validity of the Kalam argument's assertion that the universe had a cause.  So at least for the sake of argument, I'll just take the first part of the Kalam argument as correct.  Even doing that, it leaves a wonderful example of how much of an abject failure William Lane Craig really is.  Even if you accept everything on the cosmological argument, where he goes from there is just a putrid pile of stupid.  And, yes, I'm putting it nicely when I say that.

The first step that Craig takes from the conclusion of causality is to say that since the universe is where time and space begin, the cause must have existed outside space and time, and it is therefore timeless, spaceless, and therefore immaterial...  oh boy...

Here's the first problem -- saying that it is outside space and time is an incomplete assessment of the situation.  If I'm to accept a causal force which existed completely separately from our universe which caused our universe to exist, that only means that it is outside of our universe.  It does not mean that it is entirely timeless, spaceless, etc...  Only that it would seem to be so from our own perspective.  To explain how this is different from what Craig is suggesting, consider the following thought experiment --

Let's say that there exists a 2-dimensional universe; which is to say, a universe with 2 spatial dimensions, where there is a 3rd time dimension.  Let's say that this universe exists in such a way that we mere humans can simply see this universe within our own, observe it, and even interact with it.  The time dimension of this universe happens to fall on our own 3rd spatial dimension, so to us as people outside this 2d universe looking in on it, it simply looks like a 3d object of some sort.
Okay, so the diagram is crappy...  just go with it
For the sake of making things easier, we'll assume that this is a closed universe with a definitive Big-Bang type beginning point (marked in yellow), and a Big Crunch at the very end.  The red arrow defines the time axis.  So we'd see the "Big Bang" of this universe as the point where its 2d spatial dimensions begin their expansion and the opposite end is where it ceases to have size and it all condenses down to a single point.  So we see it in space like a big sphere as defined in blue above.  So the green "slice" in the diagram (which you have to view as orthogonal to the time axis) would correspond to a time slice of this universe.  It would correspond to the spatial state of everything in that universe at a particular time.  At least, according to the inhabitants of that universe.

So here we are, as observers in our universe looking in on that universe.  In that universe, we are able to see the state at any time and also the relative flow of events, and also interact with it.  For instance, moving a 2d star from one place to another and seeing the flow and how it changes the behaviors of certain systems...  and also change it back if we wanted to.  To an observer inside that 2d universe, we do not exist in their temporal or spatial dimensions, so we would appear to be timeless and spaceless.  We are not made up of matter in the form in which it exists in that 2d universe, so relative to an observer within that universe, we'd be immaterial entities.  Moreover, because we can interact with that 2d universe in ways that could produce effects not explainable within the normal boundaries of the "2d physics" and can actually do this at any point in 2d space or time since all of its dimensions are projected as spatial dimensions within our universe... and we can also carry out these effects in the same time-slice at different times relative to our own perception...  this would effectively create the illusion to an inside observer that we are also omnipotent and omnipresent.  We can non-linearly affect objects in both space and time in 2d-Universe, but an inside observer would only be able to see the linear flow of their own perception of time.

But in this thought experiment, we're still human beings.  None of us is an timeless, spaceless, immaterial, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent being.  Certainly not within our own universe, anyway.  But relative to an observer within that universe, we are.  If we grant that a godlike being exists, there is no rule that says that that being is intrinsically timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and eternal.  At most, you can say that this "God" would appear to be all of those things from our point of view.  He/she/they/it can still be physical, mortal, etc. within its own plane of existence.  Without the validation of this particular assertion, the entire rest of the extrapolation falls apart.  Craig needs to make this assertion of a timeless spaceless immaterial entity because he can't draw his additional steps without it.  It's not as if Craig makes arguments against a hypothetical external universe in which otherwise mundane causal agencies can exist which are completely outside our own time and space;  He simply never even considers the idea in the first place.  Now admittedly my thought experiment is pretty contrived, but as long as we're entertaining possibilities of timeless, spaceless, eternal, immaterial beings, it's hardly out of bounds.  Craig instead asserts that the timeless, spaceless, immaterial, eternal being absolutely MUST be the only possibility...  "logically and inescapably", or so he says.  One simple thought experiment shows that that is simply not the case as his own Kalam argument does not explicitly forbid the possibility of an external universe which has its own time and space independent of our own.  The simple fact is that the reason Craig will never consider this option is because it doesn't fall directly in line with the Bible, so it cannot be entertained in any way.

My prediction if Craig ever reads this is that he will straw-man it in some way to pretend I said something like declaring the existence of an infinite onion-skin dimensional layering of upper universes, which is far from what I actually said.  Best-case scenario, though, is that he might dismiss it with an appeal to Occam's Razor...  that's a dangerous game to play for him, though, since the quantum field state variance model of a Big Bang trigger event is invariably going to be simpler than positing a deity because it adds no entities which haven't already been shown to exist.  Granted, Occam's Razor is really a rule of thumb and not some immutable law.  Being that he's an apologist, though, logical rules only apply so long as it works in his favor.  A plurality of godlike beings is an idea that can be dismissed in favor of a single god, but a single god can never be trimmed away in favor of none.

But the stupid doesn't stop there.  Beyond his imaginary immaterial, timeless, spaceless causality, he tries to get more specific by a classification of non-material "things."  He goes on to say that the only things we know to be non-physical/immaterial are either minds or abstract objects.  Yeah...  you heard right -- Either minds or abstract objects.  At what point is it ever established that a mind is not an abstraction of brain function?  In order to go any further, you already have to accept dualism as a fact.  There is nothing whatsoever to suggest that dualism is factually true in any way, and in fact, there exists quite a lot of evidence in the field of neuroscience to indicate that it is patently false.  The very idea that Craig puts this forth as if it is easily acceptable only shows he can only preach to the choir and no one else.  In the past, whenever faced with scientific objections, Craig has shown two general strategies.  If it's in front of an audience that is mostly religious, he tends to appeal to other apologists' arguments for dualism (all of which are fallacious on their own).  If in front of a more neutral audience, he tells boldfaced lies about science, counting on the likelihood that no one will bother to check.  In a case like this, I'd expect one of his more favored claims that "the majority of scientists in the field of [neuroscience] accept the proposition of [mind-brain dualism]."  I've heard him make statements verbatim of that brand, all of which have been blatantly untrue.  In a case like this one, not only is it untrue, but it isn't even possible for it to be true in the first place.  A non-physical "mind" is not something that can ever be viewed as a scientific concept, which means it is not open to consideration in any scientific field (unless of course it is explicitly demonstrated).  Indeed, if you press Craig on the lack of scientific soundness of any of his arguments, he always retreats behind the position that his claim is not scientific, but purely metaphysical, and therefore lies outside the purview of science.  How convenient that something can depend on science (or false claims thereof) at one point and then be completely beyond science another moment?  Moreover, when you get right down to it, he is making an existence claim, and all existence claims fall within the territory of scientific inquiry -- this much, at least, can never be open to debate.  Creationists -- WLC being no exception -- try to avoid this by changing the definition of science itself (something which is not up to them to determine), and then saying his claim is metaphysical so that it goes outside the invalid boundaries he sets.  He, like every other apologist uses metaphysics as a ham-handed mechanism by which to create an avenue for any idea he wants to let in.

Let's just say, though, that I grant dualism, but even given the concept of a mind as a non-physical thing...  Craig posits "God" as a disembodied mind.  How on earth does one even begin to establish that a disembodied mind is in any way possible and can actually function?  That too, even going that far, we have not one isolated incidence of a mind having any sort of inherent causative capacity.  We can at most claim the existence of minds linked to bodies which actually carry out the actions minds intended.  But minds themselves have absolutely no demonstrable capacity whatsoever to actually do anything.  That's unfortunately, only half of the problem, because Craig also combines this with the idea of being timeless, spaceless, eternal, unchanging, immortal, etc.  His "God" is not merely a mind, but a changeless disembodied mind of practically infinite power.  Well, on that alone, the proposition is 100% dead.  A changeless mind is a mind that simply does not function.  All minds work on the basis of change of state.  Something which brooks no change and bears no properties pertaining to time likewise has no capacity ever to carry out any actions or ever make any decision.  Something like creating the universe -- well, "create" is a transitive verb, meaning change of state (which itself implies a before and after) is an intrinsic quality of the action.  You can't have something which is intrinsically timeless and changeless enact change over time.

William Lane Craig, in almost all of his treatises seems to rely exclusively on the apparent intuitiveness of a lot of his ideas rather than actually making any effort to establish the validity of any idea.  He ascribes, for instance, a need for the changeless disembodied mind to be incredibly powerful because creation of an entire universe is an act of enormous magnitude.  This sounds correct on an intuitive level, but when you think about it, there's no need for a creator deity to be immensely powerful.  Making this necessary means that one presumes that creation of the universe is an actively managed process for which the total sum of its energy is coming exclusively from the creator, which, for a theist who believes in a personal and constantly active god makes some sense that one would believe that.  However, there is no need for this sort of setup in the first place, and I think if you're a deist rather than a theist, you can see exactly how that may be the case.  Any process that can be subject to a sort of domino effect doesn't need immense power to make it happen because there is a massive quantity of potential energy in the system.  Take for instance, a nuclear detonation -- it's a fine example of a massively powerful event, but it only takes a free neutron of just the right amount of energy to get it started.  A trail of dominoes can be set off by a mere insect, because all it needs to do is provide enough energy to set the equilibrium out of balance.

Again, it's a concept which Craig can not possibly entertain because it isn't Christian enough.  What I find particularly strange is that Craig, in some of his earlier writings, argued this point using an analogy of a parent and child to state that the creator is always greater than his creation.  Even if that assertion could be taken as valid (which it most definitely cannot), a parent and child is probably the worst example of this you can possibly use.  There is no reason why a child cannot surpass its parents, and many parents undertake tireless effort to ensure that that is the case for their progeny.  Is he really this horrifyingly naive?

Then of course, there's his argument that the creator has to be an intelligent agency rather than a natural process because, according to him, the existence of a natural process implies that the conditions for universe creation existed, and therefore, then you have and infinitely old problem.  I can't imagine anything more wrong than this.  Craig basically couches the necessary timelessness and spacelessness of the universe's cause on the predicate that our own concepts of time and space are the only time and space that can ever exist at all, and this assertion works under pretty much the same assumption.  For actual cosmologists working on the cutting edge of these sorts of questions, there isn't really a problem with the idea of an infinite universe because the problem transforms into topological constructs rather than strictly spatio-temporal ones.  For Craig, it's unacceptable because he starts from the assumption that Yahweh created the universe, and that's why the Big Bang seemed so convenient as it sounded as if it implied a finite universe, which is followed onwards as a predicate throughout the rest of the discussion.  The thing is, though, that he also seems to argue -- at least in the debate videos I've seen -- as if such hypothetical natural processes are necessarily mechanical and deterministic, as if to not even consider stochastic processes, which are all pretty fundamental to quantum mechanics, string/superstring theory, etc.  Nonetheless, all his rhetoric on the matter clearly states that he rejects the idea of an unguided process only because he seems to think it would require no longer accepting a necessarily finite universe...  which is simply not the case.  It only means no longer accepting that our universe is all there is, merely that it is all that falls within our capacity to perceive.  Moreover, acceptance of even quantum fluctuation-derived models or M-theory models are also not admissible not so much because they posit some frame of infinites, but because they posit a frame of infinites which is not specifically divine.  Craig can't have any infinite that isn't the god of the Bible.

I'm sorry, but...  actually...  I'm not at all sorry to point this out;  When your simple extrapolation towards an identity for your proposed first cause doesn't even have a leg to stand on even when I assume the validity of your foundational premises, you're basically left in the same state as any other theist -- humiliatingly in front of those of us who actually think whom you feel you can convince of your viewpoint, only to find that you're holding an empty bag.  And you damn well deserve it.