bookmark_borderCases for God

I’m thinking about which cases for the existence of God to focus in on, for my evaluation of Christianity.  Right now, I’m thinking about examining the cases of four well-known Christian apologists:

  • Norman Geisler
  • William Craig
  • Peter Kreeft
  • Richard Swinburne

I just realized that two of these philosophers are Thomists, and two are not Thomists.
Geisler is a conservative Evangelical Christian, but his favorite argument for God is a Thomist cosmological argument, and his concept of God is clearly shaped by the thinking of Aquinas (see his Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics entry “God, Nature of”, especially the sections on “Simplicity” and on “Immutability”).
Kreeft is a Catholic philosopher of religion, and his favorite arguments for God are the “Five Ways” of Aquinas (which reflects a complete misunderstaning of Aquinas, since the “Five Ways” are NOT arguments for the existence of God), and Kreeft has written a commentary on selected sections of Summa Theologica by Aquinas (called Summa of the Summa).  The commentary is an attempt to make the thinking of Aquinas about God and theology more accessible to the general public, because Kreeft admires Aquinas and believes most of what Aquinas has to say about God.  So, Geisler and Kreeft are both Thomists.
Craig, however, rejects the key Thomist notion of God’s “simplicity”:
According to the doctrine of divine simplicity God has no distinct attributes, he stands in no real relations, his essence is not distinct from his existence, he just is the pure act of being subsisting.  All such distinctions exist only in our minds, since we can form no conception of the absolutely simple divine being.  While we can say what God is not like, we cannot say what he is like, except in an analogical sense.  But these predications must in the end fail, since there is no univocal element we assign to God, leaving us in a state of genuine agnosticism about the nature of God.  Indeed on this view, God really has no nature; he is simply the inconceivable act of being.
[…]
The doctine [of divine simplicity] is open, moreover, to powerful objections.  For example, to say that God does not have distinct properties seems patently false: omnipotence is not the same property as goodness, for a being may have one and not the other. … (Philosophical Foundations For a Christian Worldview by J.P. Moreland and William Craig, p.524)
It’s wonderful to have Craig’s help to destroy the cases for God by Geisler and Kreeft, since Craig provides some powerful reasons for rejecting the Thomist concept of God as incoherent and as logically implying “agnosticism about the nature of God”.  I’m starting to like Craig a bit more now.
Swinburne clearly rejects the immutability and timelessness of God, which are key aspects of the Thomist concept of God, so Swinburne also provides some very good reasons for rejecting the Thomist concept of God, and thus one of the brightest and best modern Christian philosophers will also help me to destroy the cases for God by Geisler and Kreeft.
My work is already half done, and I have not even begun!
====================
UPDATE on 10/12/16
====================
William Craig made a podcast earlier this year in which he criticized the Thomist concept of God:
http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-it-possible-god-is-not-personal
“Is it Possible God is Not Personal?”
Dr. Craig takes on two interesting questions on the personhood and nature of God.
[Transcript of a podcast with Kevin Harris and William Craig. Date: 04-09-2016]
Edward Feser replied to Craig’s criticisms (in the above podcast) of the Thomist concept of God :
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/04/craig-on-divine-simplicity-and-theistic.html
FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2016
“Craig on divine simplicity and theistic personalism”
[blog post by Edward Feser]
 

bookmark_borderNaturalism, Theism, and Moral Ontology: A Reply to William Lane Craig

(Reposting since this seems to be so popular. So far as I am aware, neither WLC nor anyone else has responded to this.)
Abstract: This paper considers William Lane Craig’s metaethical argument for God’s existence. Roughly, the argument is that the existence of objective moral values provides strong evidence for God’s existence. I consider one by one Craig’s various reasons in support of the argument’s major premise, namely, that objective moral values and the nonexistence of God are at odds with each other. I show that Craig’s supporting arguments play fast and loose with the meaning of objectivity, and that they have no force whatsoever. I conclude that Craig’s argument does not succeed in showing that the existence of objective moral values, by itself, makes God’s existence more probable than not.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH5B5UZvuhw[/youtube]
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bookmark_borderChristian Apologists Ignore the Best Objections to the Moral Argument

(Redated post originally published on 2 August 2014)
To be precise, there are many kinds of moral arguments for theism. The question in the title is really talking about what we might call “ontological” or “metaphysical” moral arguments, the kind which claim that we need God in order to have an “ontological foundation” for objective or absolute morality.
People who defend a version of this kind of argument include a veritable “Who’s Who?” of contemporary Christian apologists: C.S. Lewis (see here and here), Alvin Plantinga (see here and here), William Lane Craig, Paul Copan, J.P. Moreland, Randal Rauser, David Baggett, Jerry Walls, Norman Geisler, Frank Turek, Roger Olson, Michael Horner, and so forth.
While there have been many critics who seem to be clueless about how to refute such arguments (see here and here for just two of probably 100+ available examples), there are many other philosophers who understand the arguments perfectly well and–gasp!–actually offer relevant objections. (What a concept!) In my opinion, the two best critics of ontological moral arguments are Erik Wielenberg (see here and here) and Wes Morriston (see here and here). Why, then, do apologists who’ve written on the topic in the last decade continue to ignore Wielenberg and Morriston?
I’m starting to think Ex-Apologist has a great explanation, albeit one he didn’t invent specifically for this topic. In fact, I think he has a great name for this great explanation. In a post entitled, “Proposal for a New Entry in the Philosophical Lexicon,” he calls this behavior “craiging.” Here is how he defines it.

craig, v. (a) to engage in dialectically illegitimate argumentative maneuvering, such as (e.g.) construing an interlocutor as offering a rebutting defeater for P when it’s more charitable to construe them as offering an undercutting defeater for P[1]; (b) to maintain a somewhat positive image of one’s positions in part by choosing not to address, mention, or cite the strongest criticisms of them; (c) to take up, critique, and/or ridicule an uncharitable construal of the theses and arguments of one’s interlocutor.

——————————————-
[1] Relatedly: to infer or otherwise assume that because a reply fails to rebut P, it also fails to undercut P.

It is (b) which I think applies to contemporary defenders of ontological moral arguments for theism: they simply act as if these critiques don’t exist.

bookmark_borderMoreland on Consciousness

(redated post originally published on 14 November 2011)
Re: http://www.jpmoreland.com/2010/11/18/critique-of-graham-oppys-objection/
There have been some further developments in this discussion. See:
Graham Oppy “Critical Notice of J. P. Moreland’s Consciousness and the Existence of God” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 3, 1, 2011, 193-212
J. P. Moreland “Oppy on the Argument from Consciousness: A Rejoinder” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 3, 1, 2011, 213-226
Graham Oppy “Consciousness in not Evidence for Theism” in C. Meister, J. P. Moreland, and K. Sweis (eds.) Oxford Contemporary Dialogues Oxford: OUP, forthcoming. (Should be out early in the new year. Also contains a chapter by Moreland, defending his argument from consciousness, which I haven’t yet seen.)
Re the above link to Moreland’s blog: In Arguing about Gods, I discuss two arguments from consciousness. First, I (briefly) consider the argument in Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding that is critiqued by Mackie in The Miracle of Theism. Second, I provide a fairly lengthy discussion of the argument in Swinburne’s The Existence of God. I do not think that the main criticism that I make of these argument in Arguing about Gods is that “the theist’s use of personal explanation regarding consciousness is a bogus form of explanation” (cf. the claim in Moreland’s blog). (See p.401 of Arguing about Gods for a summary of five of the criticisms that I make of Swinburne’s argument. The claim that Moreland attributes to me is not among these five criticisms ….)
The most important point to note — vis a vis this discussion — I think, is this: The worst case for the naturalist is one in which ‘conscious state’ is an ideological primitive, with an ideologically primitive connection to ‘neural state’ (or the like). But, for theists like Moreland, ‘conscious state’ is evidently an ideological primitive — for, of course, Moreland thinks that God is conscious, and does not suppose that God’s consciousness is explained in terms of something else — and the connection between consciousness and the rest of God’s ‘state’ is also ideologically primitive. So, on a proper accounting of theoretical costs, the worst case for the naturalist is no worse than par with the view that Moreland defends. (And, of course, if the naturalist can provide a ‘reduction’ of consciousness, then the naturalist has a theoretically more virtuous position.) But, if this is right, the considerations about consciousness cannot possibly favour theism (regardless of the outcome of attempts to provide a naturalistic ‘reduction’ of consciousness).

bookmark_borderI Don’t Care

Thomas Aquinas pulled a classic BAIT-AND-SWITCH move in Summa Theologica:
 “Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, moved by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.”
“Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.” 
“Therefore we cannot but admit the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.” 
“Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every perfection; and this we call God.” 
“Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.” 
(Summa Theologica, Third Article: Whether God Exists?, emphasis added by me)
My first response to Aquinas’ Five Ways is: I DON’T CARE:

  • I don’t care whether there is a first unmoved mover.
  • I don’t care whether there is a first efficient cause.
  • I don’t care whether there is something that has of itself its own necessity.
  • I don’t care whether there is something that is the cause of the existence or the goodness of all beings.
  • I don’t care whether there is an intelligent being by whom all natural things are directed to their end.

What I care about is whether GOD exists or not.  Aquinas spells out his “Five Ways” in a section titled:
Whether God Exists?
This title leads one to believe that Aquinas will address the issue of whether GOD exists, not whether there is a first unmoved mover, not whether there is a first efficient cause, etc.  So, this is a classic bait-and-switch deception by Aquinas.  Aquinas does NOT address the question at issue.  At any rate, he FAILS to answer the question at issue.
Of course, one can REPAIR the defective arguments presented by Aquinas by simply tacking on a conditional premise at the end:
1.  IF there is a first unmoved mover, THEN God exists.
2. IF there is a first efficient cause, THEN God exists.
3. IF there is something that has of itself its own necessity, THEN God exists.
4. IF there is something that is the cause of the existence or the goodness of all beings, THEN God exists.
5. IF there is an intelligent being by whom all natural things are directed to their end, THEN God exists.
Tacking these additional premises onto the end of Aquinas’ Five Ways makes the arguments relevant to the question at issue, but that hardly gets us to any sort of conclusion on the issue.  NONE of these premises is self-evident, and as far as I can tell, NONE of these premises is true.
I understand that some people believe these premises, and some people argue for some of these premises.  But, I don’t think there is a single premise in this group that is easy to prove to be true or easy to show to be highly probable.  In any case, Aquinas makes no effort, in this passage at least, to provide any reasons or arguments in support of any of these DUBIOUS ASSUMPTIONS.
Aquinas is not alone among great philosophers who lay out obviously CRAPPY arguments.  Most, if not all, of the great historical philosophers that I have read have their bad days and their obviously bad arguments.  Nevertheless, you would think that this embarassing example of obviously CRAPPY arguments for the existence of God would have served as a warning to all future philosophers of religion and Christian apologists to avoid simply asserting such DUBIOUS ASSUMPTIONS without providing some well-thought-out reasons and arguments to support them.
But when I read presentations of the cosmological argument by William Craig and by J.P. Moreland, for example, they tend to provide only the skimpiest of arguments to support this kind of KEY PREMISE in their arguments for God.  Although they do give some sort of reasons, the reasons are often stated in just one, or maybe two sentences, and then they move quickly on to some other subject.
So, here we are 740 or so years after the publication of Summa Theologica, and Christian philosophers are still pulling the same BAIT-AND-SWITCH move:  pretending to present an argument for the existence of GOD, while actually presenting an argument for something else (e.g. the cause of the beginning of the universe).

bookmark_borderMoreland: Christians are biased, but less biased than naturalists

(redating post originally published on 14 January 2006)
According to Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland (as paraphrased by Melinda Penner), Christians are biased, but they are less biased than naturalists. In Melinda’s own words:

when a Christian deals with issues like science and faith, or the historicity of the Gospels, it’s fair to say that he’s biased in that he has a point of view, like everyone else. But a Christian’s bias doesn’t inform his conclusions in the same way that biases inform the conclusions of a naturalistic scientist–like Carl Sagan–or a liberal critic of the Life of Christ–like Jesus Seminar’s Marcus Borg.

And how, precisely, does it follow that a Christian’s bias doesn’t inform his conclusions in the same way that a naturalist’s bias informs his conclusions? Melinda continues:

Both Sagan and Borg start out, a priori, with the idea that there either is no God or that God does not directly intervene in the machinery of the universe. Their bias arbitrarily eliminates options before the game even gets started. These men must come up with conclusions that leave God out of the picture because their philosophy demands it. There can be no evidence for a miracle–whether the miracle of creation or the miracle of the resurrection–because miracles just can’t happen. A Christian is not so encumbered. He believes in the laws of nature, but is also open to the possibility of God’s intervention. Both are consistent with his world view. This means that he can follow the evidence wherever it leads him, unhindered by a metaphysical view that automatically eliminates supernatural options before even viewing the evidence.

So we have the following argument:

(1) Naturalists cannot consistently remain naturalists and conclude that a miracle (such as creation or the resurrection) occurred.
(2) Theists can consistently remain theists and conclude that a miracle (such as creation or the resurrection) occurred.
—————
(3) Therefore, theists can follow the evidence wherever it leads while remaining consistent with their convictions, whereas naturalists cannot.

Is this a good argument? As it stands, it is not. For starters, the conclusion of the argument makes an unjustified generalization on the basis of a small and extremely biased sample set (two theistic arguments). There are other pieces of data that are equally relevant but are not embodied by the premises of Moreland’s argument. Consider the argument from evil. Classical theists cannot consistently remain theists and conclude that there is pointless suffering. Naturalists, on the other hand, can consistently remain naturalists and “follow the evidence wherever it leads” regarding the existence of pointless suffering.
Or consider so-called incompatible-properties argument for God’s nonexistence. Theists cannot embrace the conclusion of such arguments as theists, whereas naturalists have the flexibility to embrace or reject such arguments according to their merits.
In short, since Moreland’s argument does not even attempt to consider all available relevant evidence, its conclusion is unjustified. (I think there are additional problems with the argument, but I will stop here.)

bookmark_borderWhat is the Conclusion of the Kalam Cosmological Argument? – Part 5

In this post I will examine the presentation of the kalam cosmological argument (KCA) found in Chapter 23 of  Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (hereafter: PFCW) to see whether it supports my view that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, as opposed to the less specific conclusion: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.

Philosophical Foundations of a Christian Worldview (by William Craig and J.P. Moreland, InterVarsity Press, 2003)

Chapter Title

KCA is the primary argument presented in Chapter 23, which is titled “The Existence of God I” (PFCW, p.463).  Because of the title of the chapter, one would expect that philosophical arguments presented in this chapter would be arguments for the existence of God, not arguments for the conclusion that the universe has a cause.  So, the title of Chapter 23 implies that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.

Chapter Introduction

In the final sentence of the Introduction to Chapter 23, Craig & Moreland confirm what the focus of the chapter will be (emphasis added by me):

Specifically, in this and the succeeding chapter we shall explore the question of the existence of God. (PFCW, p.464)

Once again, since KCA is the primary argument presented in Chapter 23, this remark implies that KCA is understood by Craig and Moreland to be an argument for the existence of God, which means that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.

Section Title
The presentation of KCA occurs in a section of Chapter 23 that is called “2 The Existence of God” (PFCW, p.464).   This is the third indication (in the first two pages of Chapter 23) that KCA is considered by Craig and Moreland to be an argument for the existence of God.
Opening Paragraph of Section
In the final sentence of the opening paragraph of the section “2 The Existence of God”, in which KCA is presented, Craig and Moreland describe the contents of Chapters 23 and 24 (emphasis added by me):
Alvin Plantinga…has defended what he calls “Two Dozen (or so) Arguments for God’s Existence.”  In the space of these chapters [Chapter 23 & 24] we shall examine four of the most important. (PFCW, p.465)
So, at just three pages into Chapter 23, we already have a fourth and very clear indication that the content of Chapter 23 will be a presentation of one or more “Arguments for God’s Existence”.  Since KCA is the primary argument presented in Chapter 23, and in the chapter section called “2 The Existence of God”, it is clear that Craig and Moreland believe that KCA is an argument for the existence of God, and thus that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.
Subsection Title

The title of the subsection of Chapter 23 in which KCA is presented is: “2.1 The Cosmological Argument”.  Obviously, since “cosmological argument” is part of the name of KCA, and since KCA is presented in a subsection that is called “2.1 The Cosmological Argument”,  Craig and Moreland believe that KCA is a “cosmological argument”.  Do Craig and Moreland think that the “The Cosmological Argument” is an argument for the existence of God?  If so, then this would be a further confirmation that they view KCA as an argument for the existence of God.
In Chapter 24, Craig and Moreland present three arguments for the existence of God:  (1) the teleological argument (p.482-490),  (2) the axiological argument (p.490-496), and (3) the ontological argument (p.496-499).  As we saw earlier, Craig and Moreland state that they will cover FOUR arguments for the existence of God in Chapters 23 and 24 (see p.465).  Since they cover THREE arguments for the existence of God in Chapter 24, that means that they cover ONE argument for the existence of God in Chapter 23.  Based on the outline of Chapter 23, it is clear that the ONE argument for the existence of God covered in Chapter 23 is “The Cosmological Argument” (see outline on p.xvii):
23  THE EXISTENCE OF GOD (I)
1  Introduction
2 The Existence of God
…..2.1 The Cosmological Argument
……….2.1.1 Exposition of the Arguments
……….2.1.2 Evaluation of the Arguments
Chapter Summary
Checklist of Basic Terms and Concepts
Based on this outline of Chapter 23, it is clear that the focus of Chapter 23 is on “The Cosmological Argument”, and since the content of Chapter 23 consists of the presentation of ONE out of FOUR arguments for the existence of God, it is clear that Craig and Moreland take “The Cosmological Argument” to be an argument for the existence of God.   
Therefore, since Craig and Moreland take the cosmological argument to be an argument for the existence of God, and since the primary argument discussed in the subsection called “The Cosmological Argument” is KCA, this shows that KCA is viewed as a version of the cosmological argument, and thus is viewed by Craig and Moreland to be an argument for the existence of God.  This means that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.
Initial Summary of KCA
When Craig and Moreland give an initial summary of KCA, it is possible to interpret the summary in such a way that they assert that the conclusion of KCA is something less than that GOD EXISTS (emphasis added by me):
It [KCA] aims to show that the universe had a beginning at some moment in the finite past and , since something cannot come from out of nothing, [the universe] must therefore have a transcendent cause, which brought the universe into being.    (PFCW, p.465)
The conclusion suggested in this initial summary is that the universe had a transcendent cause (or a transcendent cause brought the universe into being).  But note that this conclusion is more specific and more relevant than the conclusion THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  If the cause of the universe is inferred to be transcendent, then the cause of the universe is something rather unusual and beyond ordinary things and experiences, something like God.  So, although the explicitly stated conclusion here falls short of the conclusion GOD EXIST, it also goes beyond the very simple and general conclusion that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, and clearly leans in the direction of the conclusion GOD EXISTS.  Therefore, this brief summary statement rules out the view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, but it leaves open the possiblity that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.
Given that there have already been five indications that KCA is viewed by Craig and Moreland as an argument for the existence of God, the failure to explicitly state that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS does NOT rule out this interpretation of KCA.  Given a choice between the alternative conclusions THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE and GOD EXISTS, the latter is clearly the more likely interpretation, based on the evidence we have reviewed so far.
The Thomist Cosmological Argument
Craig and Moreland discuss three versions of the cosmological argument:  (1) the Thomist version, (2) the Leibnizian verion, and (3) the kalam version.  They devote only one page to the Thomist version.  There is no standard-form argument (with numbered premises) for the Thomist version, but it is fairly clear that the ulimate conclusion of the Thomist version of the cosmological argument is that GOD EXISTS.  Consider the very last sentence of the short explication of this argument:
Thomas identifies this being [“the Ground of Being”] with the God whose name was revealed to Moses as “I am” (Ex. 3:14).  (PFCW, p.466)
In other words, IF the Ground of Being exists, THEN God exists, and the Ground of Being does exist, thus: God exists.  So,  although Craig and Moreland fail to explicitly state the conclusion of the Thomist cosmological argument, they clearly imply that the conclusion is: GOD EXISTS.  This supports my view, which is that although they also fail to explicitly state the conclusion of the kalam cosmological argument, they also clearly imply that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.  This also supports the previous point that in the view of Craig and Moreland, the cosmological argument (i.e. each version of the cosmological argument) is an argument for the existence of God.
The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument
We see the same pattern in the presentation of the Leibnizian cosmological argument.  Craig and Moreland write only two pages on this version of the cosmological argument.  This time they do summarize it in a standard-form argument:
1. Every existing thing has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3. The universe is an existing thing.
4. Therefore the explanation of the existence of the universe is God.  (PFCW, p.466)
The conclusion does not explicitly state that GOD EXISTS, but the argument clearly implies that GOD EXISTS, since in order for God to explain the existence of the universe, God must actually exist.  Furthermore, in the exposition of this argument on the following page, Craig and Moreland do state the conclusion explicitly (emphasis added by me):
Since, as premise (3) [of the Leibnizian cosmological argument] states, the universe is obviously an existing thing…, it follows that God exists.  (PFCW, p.467)
So, although the ultimate conclusion of the Leibnizian cosmological argument is clearly that GOD EXISTS, the conclusion of the standard-form summary of this argument does NOT explicitly state the conclusion to be that GOD EXISTS.  This supports my view of their understanding of the kalam cosmological argument.  First, this provides additional confirmation that Craig and Moreland view the cosmological argument (i.e. each version of cosmological argument) as being an argument for the existence of God.  
Second, although the standard-form argument summarizing the Leibnizian cosmological argument does not explicitly state the conlusion to be that GOD EXISTS, it is clear that the ultimate conclusion of this cosmological argument is that GOD EXISTS.  Thus, this provides support for my view that although Craig and Moreland do not provide a standard-form summary argument for KCA in which the conclusion explicitly states that GOD EXISTS, it might still be the case that they believe that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS.
Both the Thomist and Leibnizian versions of cosmological argument are clearly arguments for the existence of God, even though Craig and Moreland fail to explicitly state the ultimate conclusion that GOD EXISTS in summaries of these arguments.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument
Craig and Moreland devote a dozen pages to their discussion of KCA. Clearly, they believe this to be the best and most important version of the cosmological argument, and thus the best cosmological argument for the existence of God, since that is the whole point of discussion the cosmological argument as one of four of the most important types of argument for the existence of God (PFCW, p.465).
In the very first paragraph of this twelve-page exposition on KCA, Craig and Moreland describe the argument this way:
Thus the kalam argument…constitutes an independent argument for a transcendent Creator…   (PFCW, p.468)
Craig and Moreland clearly view the conclusion of KCA to be something more specific than just the general claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  They believe that KCA shows the existence of “a transcendent Creator”.  “Transcendent” suggests or implies supernatural, and “Creator” implies an intelligent person.  Clearly, the concept of  “a transcendent Creator” is getting very close to the idea of “God”.   So, we can see that if KCA can show that “a transcendent Creator” exists, then KCA might well be used as an argument for the conclusion that GOD EXISTS.
Craig and Moreland provide a standard-form summary argument for KCA:
1.  Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.  (PFCW, p. 468)
One could point to this summary of KCA, and argue that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, since that is the explicitly-stated conclusion of this standard-form summary argument.  However, we have already seen a great deal of evidence indicating that the ultimate conclusion of the cosmological argument (i.e. of each version of cosmological argument) is that GOD EXISTS.
Furthermore, we have seen that Craig and Moreland do in fact view the ultimate conclusion of the Thomist and Leibnizian versions of the cosmological argument to be that GOD EXISTS, even though they fail to explicitly state this conclusion in summaries of those two versions of the cosmological argument.  Thus, we have good reason to doubt that the conclusion (3) is the ultimate conclusion of KCA.
Furthermore, the sentence that immediately follows the above summary argument, implies that there is more to KCA than what is contained in the summary argument (emphasis added by me):
Conceptual analysis of what it means to be a cause of the universe then aims to establish some of the theologically significant properties of this being. (PFCW, p.468)
In other words, additional reasoning is required to get from the general sub-conclusion stated in (3) to the ultimate conclusion: GOD EXISTS.
 Closing Two Paragraphs on KCA
If the ultimate conclusion of KCA was that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, then we would expect the discussion of KCA to come to an end once that conclusion had been reached.  But the discussion of KCA in Chapter 23 continues for two paragraphs after reaching that conclusion, and the second paragraph is a long one, taking up about one half of a page (and the pages are of substantial length in this book).  Recall that the entire discussion of the Thomist cosmological argument took up only one single page.  The combination of the final two paragraphs on KCA is about 3/4 of a page, so this additional discussion after the conclusion is reached that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, is clearly of significance.
In the first of the two closing paragraphs on KCA, several characteristics of “the cause” of the universe are inferred:
Conceptual analysis enables us to recover a number of striking properties that must be possessed by such an ultramundane being.  For as the cause of space and time, this entity must transcend space and time and therefore exist atemporally and nonspatially, at least without the universe.  This transcendent cause must therefore be changlesss and immaterial, since timelessness entails changelessness, and changlessness implies immateriality.  Such a cause must be beginningless and uncaused,  at least in the sense of lacking any antecedent causal conditions.  Ockham’s razor will shave away  further causes, since we should not multiply causes beyond necessity.  This entity must be unimaginably powerful, since it created the universe without any material cause.  (PFCW, p.479)
All of this reasoning is based on the prior conclusion that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  Clearly, this reasoning gets us much closer to the view that God created the universe, and thus to the conclusion that GOD EXISTS.
The second and final paragraph on KCA continues with further reasoning about “the cause” of the universe (emphasis added by me):
Finally, and most remarkably, such a transcendent cause is plausibly taken to be personal.  Three reasons can be given for this conclusion. … (PFCW, p.479)
Near the end of the final paragraph on KCA we read the following statement:
Thus we are brought, not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe, but to its Personal Creator.  (PFCW, p.480)
So, clearly the conclusion of KCA is at least that THERE EXISTS A TRANSCENDENT PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE,  which is much more specific than the simple conclusion that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  Furthermore, it is easy to see how the conclusion that there is a TRANSCENDENT (i.e. timeless, changeless, immaterial, and unimaginably powerful) PERSONAL (i.e. an intelligent person) CREATOR (i.e. who designed and created the universe), would be the basis for a further inference to the conclusion that GOD EXISTS.  Thus, it is clear that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is NOT that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, but rather that GOD EXISTS.
In summary, the Chapter title, the section title, and the subsection title all support my view that the conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS.  Furthermore, the introduction of the chapter, the opening paragraph of the section “2 The Existence of God”, and the expositions of both the Thomist and Leibnizian versions of the cosmological argument, support my view that the conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS.  Finally, the lengthy discussion of KCA, including the opening paragraph, the initial description of KCA, and the final closing paragraphs about KCA, all support my view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS.

If Chapter 23 of  Philosophical Foundations of a Christian Worldview was our ONLY source of information about KCA, then we would quite reasonably infer that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, and that the claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE is only an intermediate conclusion on the path towards the ultimate conclusion of KCA.

 
 

bookmark_borderNaturalism, Theism, and Moral Ontology: A Reply to William Lane Craig

Abstract: This paper considers William Lane Craig’s metaethical argument for God’s existence. Roughly, the argument is that the existence of objective moral values provides strong evidence for God’s existence. I consider one by one Craig’s various reasons in support of the argument’s major premise, namely, that objective moral values and the nonexistence of God are at odds with each other. I show that Craig’s supporting arguments play fast and loose with the meaning of objectivity, and that they have no force whatsoever. I conclude that Craig’s argument does not succeed in showing that the existence of objective moral values, by itself, makes God’s existence more probable than not.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH5B5UZvuhw[/youtube]
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bookmark_borderBiola University Offers Course on Apologetics vs. Philosophy

LA MIRADA, CALIFORNIA–BIOLA (Bible Institute of Los Angeles) University will offer a course, “Apologetics vs. Philosophy,” as part of its M.A. in Christian Apologetics program, which will focus on the differences between Christian apologetics and philosophy.
In a press conference with an equal number of reporters, apologists, and local Awana kids, program spokesman J.P. Moreland cited renowned Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga. “In his advice to Christian philosophers, Alvin Plantinga once wrote, ‘Christian philosophers, however, are the philosophers of the Christian community; and it is part of their task as Christian philosophers to serve the Christian community.’ Like any good Christian philosopher, we worship the ground Plantinga walks on, but we think he didn’t go far enough.”
Moreland explained: “Rather than practice philosophy as Christian philosophers, we think the entire discipline of philosophy should be abolished and replaced with Christian apologetics.”
Moreland said the university will also be adding new lower division courses to serve as the prerequisites for the new upper division course. “As we were writing the syllabus, we realized that students would have an unfair disadvantage if we didn’t provide them with the right academic foundation. So we also plan to add courses on quote mining, understating the evidence, and–my personal favorite–how to strawman naturalism by conflating it with eliminative materialism.”
Not all Christian scholars were enthusiastic about the change, however. Julia Swinburne-McGrew, a Christian philosopher from Western Michigan University who attended the press conference, asked, “If we abolish philosophy (and so with it inductive logic), how will we equip the next generation of Christian apologists to answer Draperian, evidential, Bayesian arguments against theism and for naturalism?”
William Lane Craig, a Research Professor with Talbot’s School of Theology, stepped forward to the podium. “That’s easy,” he said. “We’ll just do what we’ve always done, which is to ignore such arguments as much as possible. When that’s not possible, we’ll simply use deductive arguments to mask uncertainty.”
Other Christian philosophers were more circumspect. Channeled with the help of a Ouija board, the late Christian philosopher Robert Adams–who once taught at UCLA, not far from Biola–said, “Considering how much damage Biola did (and continues to do) to the philosophy of religion, it was only a matter of time before they decided to undermine the discipline of philosophy as a whole.”
Sporting a meticulously groomed hairdo and a smokin’ corduroy jacket, a chipper Craig Hazen responded to Adams. “Well, I think that’s right. We’ve already implemented policies which suppress genuine philosophical inquiry, such as our fundamentalists-only admissions policy for students, our policy on continuing fundamentalism as a condition of employment for professors, and our publication policy whereby we don’t publish articles by non-Christians in our sectarian journal unless they are immediately followed, in the same issue, with a rebuttal by a Christian professor. Taking on philosophy as a whole just seems like the logical next step for us.”
In a bizarre twist, Biola rivals known as ‘presuppositionalists‘ celebrated the announcement. “It’s about time,” said the late Greg Bahnsen, appearing as a Force Ghost to a stunned crowd. “Van Til always said that our evidentialist brothers were ‘giving away the store’ by not blatantly begging the question and using circular arguments to argue for the triune God. But even Van Til never came up with an idea so radical as the abolishment of philosophy. This is genius, pure genius. Praise God!”
Outside observers speculated that this move is connected to Biola’s new “Center for Christian Thought.” One Biola professor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “In truth, however, we’re still thinking about that.”