The ten worst objections to the Kalam Cosmological Argument – a response to William Lane Craig (part 3/10)

Well, what a coincidence! The next objection is almost exactly my criticism in the previous post – that Craig is assuming that causality transcends space and time (something that is speculative at best) in order to establish the existence of a supernatural cause for the universe.

It's not just begging the question, since Craig is assuming at least in part what he is trying to prove. It's also equivocation, because while Craig uses the word "cause" interchangeably between the first premise and the conclusion, it simply cannot mean the same thing. There's another equivocation fallacy related to the idea of a "beginning", but that's for a later post. So, does Craig refute my objection from the previous post? Let's find out:



Craig does a fine job of illustrating exactly what the equivocation fallacy, but then tries to appeal to Aristotle's "Four Causes" to counter the equivocation charge, stating that he means an "efficient cause". Funny though how he never actually says that in any of his debates.

Oh, where to begin. As I mentioned in the previous post, Aristotle's Four Causes are archaic and not particularly relevant to our modern, scientific understanding of causality. But I'll bite just for the sake of discussion.

If Craig really means that "everything that begins to exist has an efficient cause" as he claims here, then he's demonstrably wrong – virtual particles begin to exist, but have neither an "efficient" nor "material" cause. There are also countless examples – stars, galaxies, planets, natural geological formations, etc. – of things that could be said to begin to exist with a "material" cause but not an "efficient" one, at least as he defined it in his example.

But finally, even if we grant him his definition, he's still wrong for the reason I outlined in the previous post: Aristotle nonetheless inferred the existence of his "Four Causes" from observation of physical, temporal reality; it still requires an unsubstantiated assumption to claim that any type of cause is transcendent of physical reality. It's speculative – not an established fact regarding the nature of causality.


So, is he really equivocating? Yes, because even granted the definition "efficient cause", he still failed to specify that he intended to include a speculative "supernatural efficient cause" with his use of the term. The fallacy becomes obvious if we simply re-word the first premise precisely as Craig defined it:

1. Everything that begins to exist has an efficient cause, which may be natural or supernatural

Well, obviously the truth of this premise has not been established, so the argument is unsound.


Previous: Part 2
Next: Part 4

Comments

Popular Posts