32 COMMENTS

  1. Something is better than nothing. Lots of ways to say this. Basically, we exist. If we didn’t, something else would. Nature abhors a vacuum. Existentially, it means you like to dance. Mytho-poetically: the great mother, the void, was lonely. Her loneliness created a potential from which the universe sprang into existence. The universe expands and contracts, making love to the nothingness. Clearly, I am a pulsating universe fan. I am really having trouble getting behind the current open universe / dark energy stuff.

    • In reply to #2 by Roedy:

      Can’t the creationists come up with someone less slimy than Lane Craig? It is like watching a mechanical monkey bang some cymbals together. You get to know the routine.

      You can choose Craig, or Ken Ham or Ray Comfort.

      • When thinking of Ken Ham ,Ray Comfort and the rest of the Believer Brigade and contrasting them to the likes of Steven Weinberg,Bertrand Russell and other great intellectuals the following quote from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam comes to mind:

        “And do you think that unto such as you
        A maggot-minded,starved, fanatic crew
        God gave a secret, and denied it me?
        Well,well– what matters it?Believe that, too! reply to #3 by ArloNo:*

        In reply to #2 by Roedy:

        Can’t the creationists come up with someone less slimy than Lane Craig? It is like watching a mechanical monkey bang some cymbals together. You get to know the routine.

        You can choose Craig, or Ken Ham or Ray Comfort.

  2. WLC is such a tool. “How can anything exist at all?” well Leibniz……….. God………

    That somebody says there is god is no proof at all. That we exist or not is no proof at all. That the universe had a beginning is no proof at all.

    His discussion on ‘nothing’ is puerile particularly when he says ” I saw no one in the ……today”. As a philosopher he must be aware of (and ignoring) the phenomenological position on existence and our awareness of the absence of things.

    • In reply to #5 by Vorlund:

      WLC is such a tool. “How can anything exist at all?” well Leibniz……….. God………

      That somebody says there is god is no proof at all. That we exist or not is no proof at all. That the universe had a beginning is no proof at all.

      His discussion on ‘nothing’ is puerile particularly when…

      WLC isn’t a philosopher, he just claims to be one. Claiming WLC’s “thoughts” amount to philosophy is like claiming paint by numbers is art

      Spike Milligan: Mona Lisa

      .

      • In reply to #11 by N_Ellis:

        In reply to #5 by Vorlund:

        WLC is such a tool. “How can anything exist at all?” well Leibniz……….. God………

        That somebody says there is god is no proof at all. That we exist or not is no proof at all. That the universe had a beginning is no proof at all.

        His discussion on ‘nothing’ i…

        Except painting by numbers is art, if someone thinks it is. The label of art is applied by the viewer not the creator, if there even is a creator.

      • In reply to #11 by N_Ellis:

        In reply to #5 by Vorlund:

        WLC is such a tool. “How can anything exist at all?” well Leibniz……….. God………

        I stand corrected on the philosophy accusation will you however accept my statement that he is a tool?

        • In reply to #19 by Vorlund:

          In reply to #11 by N_Ellis:

          In reply to #5 by Vorlund:

          WLC is such a tool. “How can anything exist at all?” well Leibniz……….. God………

          I stand corrected on the philosophy accusation will you however accept my statement that he is a tool?

          That’s such an obvious point that I didn’t think there was any need to say I agreed with it

          On the other hand, I don’t like to sink to petty name-calling, I prefer to either refute arguments or at the very least point out their inadequacies rather than make ad hominem attacks

  3. I simply cannot listen to any more Blind Faithers’ tripe.

    They can never concede a single point because as they probably know in their heart of hearts that as it says in their holy book there house is veritably “builded upon sand.”.

    I admire Laurence but I think that he’s on a hiding to nothing.

    It seems to me that the only way out of this religious morass is to protect children from its childish ramblings and wait for its ramblers to die out, only then will a link in its chain of bondage be broken.

    What was that that just flew past my window? A pink object with a wiggly little tail!

  4. I managed to stay awake while Dr Craig rehearsed Leibniz’s argument for the divine creation of the universe. It rests on the assumption that what exists must do so either from its own nature (necessarily) or from a cause external to itself (contingently). That is an exercise in logic. The question remains whether it adequately covers the beginning of the universe, where the order found within the universe after its beginning cannot be taken for granted. So, although the insertion of God in the second premise follows from the first, the argument fails to establish the existence of God in the first place. We are still left wondering whether there is in fact a necessarily existing being other than the weird quantum absence of anything in particular out of which the universe seems to have emerged. Leibniz did very well for someone who had no knowledge of the theories of relativity, quantum physics and so on, but Prof. Krauss was right to say that the terms in which Leibniz argued are no longer relevant to the question as it confronts us today.

    I was surprised to hear Dr Craig use the word ‘science’ in its mediaeval sense, which ceased to be its usual sense by the end of the seventeenth century, that is to mean ‘knowledge’ (Latin ‘scientia’); and to do so without mentioning that he was doing so, until Prof Krauss questioned him on it. Once the modern method of scientific enquiry had been sorted out by the end of the seventeenth century, the term ‘science’ came to mean knowledge that has been established by this method, the so-called scientific method. Essential to this method is the gathering of empirical data and the forming and testing of hypotheses based on these data and so on. Theology makes no use of empirical data; that is to say it eschews the scientific method and therefore cannot be classified as a science in the modern sense of the term. One could also argue that theology is not even a body of knowledge, certainly not about the real world, but that is another topic.

  5. I would like to extend my thoughts and that is I hear quite often that the belief in evolution and|or the big bang is believed by most utilizing faith rather than a deep understanding on the given subject. I do have to admit I am not completely studied in either subject. I also am not the most intelligent tool in the shop. However, given what I have read it makes more sense that the big bang had occurred and that it is abundantly obvious that living things change over time. I find it odd that in these discussions the very idea that a god appeared prior to anything else is never brought up. Why isn’t this brought up more? I would like to know what these religious folks would say if asked; when their god was created? Before or after atoms came into existence. I have to admit, I am one to state that there was never a god nor is there presently. As it is obvious, at least to me, that the very idea of a god(s) comes from the imagination of humankind. Surely we would have discovered this entity in some form or another while investigating space and within the confounds of our own planet. It is clear that throughout history what these god(s) are to those with whom believe in them change from century to century and never hold one utter glimpse of evidence to provide us non-believers. Ironically, with every religion, one needs to first harness faith in the given god before one can believe in said god. That alone encourages one to go on his/her way, actually to run very fast from this absolute nonsense. Anyway, these are my thoughts on this subject.

  6. Here is part of a review I wrote about these debates that addresses the main argument by WLC:

    … Then came Dr. Craig. WLC wants to restrict the definition of “nothing” to be the metaphysical nothing as used by Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. Leibniz had a tremendous mental capability of a bent that one, today, would associate with the fields of computer science and/or analytic philosophy and/or mathematics. As with other great thinkers of the past, I would very much like to know how Leibniz would alter his philosophical writings if he could come back and read (in his case) Darwin, Einstein and Turing. He guessed the foundations for so much that would be developed after his time, but was stuck with the clockwork model of classical physics and the theological objections to naturalism arising from the big “gap” of human origin that would not be plugged until Darwin. There is no doubt that quantum mechanics would have completely fascinated Leibniz, as it dashes the “clockwork” to tiny pieces that appear and disappear and knock together to make anything possible for short enough times and at small enough scales.

    But all of this is of no concern to WLC because the subject of the evening has been stated in terms of the question asked by Leibniz of the metaphysical nothing that was understood in the 17th century. WLC defends this by stating that such a “nothing” is not in itself a “thing,” but rather, the universal negation of all things. This is one of those tricky assumptions that has to be used carefully in logical arguments. If I have a set of things, I can take the complement of the set an talk about the things that are not in the set. This is metaphysical when applied to reality, because we do not know all the properties of the set of all things and need some justification to take the complement of that set (universal negation) and thus tie physical nothing to the notion of a null set of “things.” What has been demonstrated in the laboratory is that no amount of taking things away gets to a “nothing from which nothing comes.” Thus, the very existence of the metaphysical nothing of Leibniz (outside of just an abstract concept) has not been shown as possible, in itself.

    WLC goes on to put up his bullet points for the argument from contingency attributed to Leibniz:

    1) Every existing thing has an explanation of its existence (either in the necessity of its own existence or in an external cause).

    2) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

    3) The universe exists.

    4) Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1 and 3).

    5) Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God (from 2 and 4).

    WLC then asserts that to escape the “air tight” logic of the argument, the “atheist” must show that one of the premises is false. Here comes WLC’s most common rhetorical trick, burden shifting. No, the atheist does not have to show any of the premises to be false, WLC has the burden to show that they are each necessarily true. Not just maybe true, but demonstrably true in order to use them in a forcing argument. WLC can’t show that (1) and (2) are true, so he resorts to “more plausibly true.” However, that is exactly the trick of using something you have not show to be true to force the acceptance of a proposition as true that you can’t directly show to be true.

    The justifications for (1) presented by WLC are full of the usual holes. We don’t know of any actual thing with “necessary” existence. Abstract concepts are not “things” with the kind of existence we notice in the rock that has just caused us to stub our toe. Mathematical objects are tautological consequences of chosen axioms, and did not exist even as ideas before there where human minds to explore those consequences. We also have quantum events that are neither necessary nor contingent. WLC then proceeds to the fallacy of composition by asserting that a property that we hold independent of size would necessarily apply to the Universe itself (the biggest thing). However, we judge a property to be independent of size by comparing things of different size to see if it still holds, but you can’t get outside the Universe and compare it to anything else, so that test no longer makes the property necessarily true. (It is amusing to hear WLC try to make a joke about someone stating existence of a ball as a brute fact without explanation, all the while that is exactly what he is asserting about his deity.)

    Premise (2) is even more flim flam. There may be any number of explanations for the existence of our Universe. Nothing says we have evolved enough brains to understand those explanations, or have ways to put them to the test. There may be an explanation, there may be multiple explanations, but untestable, or their may be no explanation. Pulling out a deity for the job is the ultimate God-of-the-Gaps that WLC keeps (falsely) claiming that he does not do. His claim that atheists generally agree with (2) is completely bogus, and the next few minutes are devoted to a straw man completely made of his imagination. (Note: “atheism” is not a proposition that can be true or false, it is a position of lack of faith.)

  7. I strongly suspect WLC does not believe his own arguments. Maybe at some point he did, but not any more. A man of his intelligence – let’s face it, he is not a stupid man – cannot still believe arguments that bad. His arguments and “logical proof” have been shown to be invalid or extremely implausible so many times that I simply cannot believe he doesn’t understand it. Sometimes smart people err, and that’s OK, but smart people also understand their mistakes when they are pointed out to them. How could it be that WLC does not understand his mistakes?

    I’m more in favour of the second explanation for why he still peddles his tired ramblings: pride and the Concorde fallacy. He has been doing his thing for such a long time, and he has such a high standing in certain circles, that he feels he cannot at this point admit to being wrong. I guess this is very human, but at the same time one would think he would like to be included in the large intellectual community that disagrees with his views. All it would take for him to be included among serious philosophers would be to admit that he knows his arguments are full of holes. That would alienate many of his current supporters, but he would surely gain much more by finally being taken seriously. It’s just so sad to see him trying to wrestle with his thoughts and being shown to be wrong over and over again. There is no way he hasn’t figured out yet that he is juggling fallacies.

  8. OMG (goodness) did anyone catch the very last line of the 2nd debate by WLC?

    As they start to wrap up (around 1:42:15), discussing what can be considered a source of knowledge, at Craig’s behest Krauss widens his scope of the definition of science to include empirical investigations and rational thought of the type that even a literary critic might undertake. Fair enough. Then just under the wire (1:44:45) Bill slips in “OK then theology will be a science under that definition.”

    EXACTLY. He just gave the game away, and placed theology squarely in the domain of FICTION, from a scientific perspective. Yes, for understanding of the human condition, even the study of Aesop’s Fables can provide valuable insight, especially for children. (Although I would argue most biblical lessons are of considerably lesser value than most Peanuts cartoons.) In his books and interviews, Professor Dawkins himself recalls with honest respect some of the biblical literature and music that was taught to him in his formative years (and can himself still recite quite a few verses and hymns to boot!).

    I’m just saying that it was nice to hear Craig finally admit that theology amounts to nothing more than science fiction!

  9. WLC admits that his evidence is the “evidence of introspection”! In other words he thinks his version of events must be correct because he thinks it is so! He needs to learn a thing or two about what constitutes evidence.

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