bookmark_borderLetter to Peter Kreeft

Dear Dr. Peter Kreeft,
I have recently been studying your Argument #7, the Argument from Contingency:
http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#7
In the second premise, you provide a definition of “the universe”:

2. The universe—the collection of beings in space and time—exists.

Although I appreciate the attempt to clarify the meaning of this phrase, the definition itself seems unclear to me, and I am hoping that you can provide some clarification of the definition, so that I will understand what you mean by the phrase “the universe”.
First, it seems to me that there needs to be a reference here to time. Your example of something that needs a cause of existence is that of a person, and in that example you focus in on the cause of a person’s existence right now:
…you know that right now, as you read this book, you are dependent for your existence on beings outside you. Not your parents or grandparents. They may no longer be alive, but you exist now.
This suggests that premise (2) is also talking about the existence of “the universe” right now. I take it that it is an important feature of the Argument from Contingency that it does NOT deny the possibility of an infinite regress of cause-and-effect backwards in time. It leaves open this possibility, but instead denies an infinite regress of current causes of existence.
In commenting on this argument, you confirm my interpretation that this argument is based upon the premise that “the universe” exists right now:
But the proofs have given us some real knowledge as well: knowledge that the universe is created; knowledge that right now it is kept in being by a cause unbounded by any material limit, that transcends the kind of being we humans directly know.
Although you are talking about multiple “proofs”, it seems clear to me that it is the Argument from Contingency, among the first six proofs, that has the potential to provide “knowledge that right now it [the universe] is kept in being by a cause unbounded by any material limit…”.
So, I take it that premise (2) should be understood as referring to a particular moment of time:

2a. The universe—the collection of beings in space and time—exists right now.

But when we specify a particular moment of time, the definitional phrase “the collection of beings in space and time” becomes ambiguous between two different meanings:

2b. The universe—the collection of every being that has ever existed in space and time—exists right now.

2c. The universe—the collection of currently existing beings in space and time—exists right now.

This ambiguity in the second premise of the Argument from Contingency appears to constitute a fallacy of equivocation, because on the first interpretation (2b) the premise is clearly false, but on the second interpretation (2c), the definition of “the universe” is clearly mistaken or misleading, which results in a problem later in the argument:

4. What it takes for the universe to exist cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time.

If the expression “the universe” is talking ONLY about things or beings that currently exist, then the inference that what it takes for “the universe” to exist “cannot exist within the universe” ONLY implies that what it takes for “the universe” to exist cannot be one of the things that exists in space and time RIGHT NOW.  But there have been many physical objects (“beings in space and time”) that have existed in space and time in the past that no longer exist RIGHT NOW. Those objects are not within “the universe” as this expression is defined in premise (2c), but they were, nevertheless, “beings in space and time”.
So, my question is this:
Does the expression “the universe” in this argument mean, “the collection of every being that has ever existed in space and time” or does it mean, “the collection of currently existing beings in space and time”?
Or is there some other interpretation of the expression “the universe” that you would propose?
Sincerely,
Bradley Bowen
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RESPONSE FROM PETER KREEFT  (06/25/18):
=============================
BB:
Although that chapter and this proof was largely the work of Fr. Tacelli, I will answer your question about it.  Obviously, 2c rather than 2b is what “the universe” means in this argument.  So the argument as it stands does not exclude infinite temporal regress into the past.  That possibility has been refuted, not by this argument, but by Big Bang cosmology.  And (here is the tricky part) if time is relative to matter and if all matter had a beginning, then so did time.  Thus there is only finite regress in time.  I do not think this radically changes the essential argument, though.  But it at least apparently requires the cause of the universe to be not a being in time, since the part cannot cause the whole.  Thus the God proved by the combination of Aquinas’ contingency argument and modern Big Bang cosmology is a being that is not determined by or part of matter, or time, or space.  And this applies even if our universe is only one of many in a “multiverse,” since the same logic must apply to whatever whole this universe might be a part of, even if that whole does not necessarily have the same kind of matter, time, or space as our universe does.  And Christianity suggests such a possibility in positing a universe of pure spirits, or angels, who are not in chronological time but spiritual time.  They too need a cause for their existence, however their “time” relates to their existence.
PK
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REPLY TO PETER KREEFT (6/25/18):
=============================
Dear Dr. Kreeft,
Thank you for taking the time to answer my question about the definition of “the universe” in the second premise of the Argument from Contingency.   That eliminates one ambiguity in the definition, which in my view reduces the number of possible interpretations of that phrase from sixteen down to just eight.
There is another ambiguity in the definition of “the universe” that I am hoping you can help me to eliminate; the phrase “in space and time” has at least two different meanings.
In theory, there are four different kinds of things or beings:

I. In space and in time

II. In space but not in time

III. Not in space but in time

IV. Not in space and not in time

 The phrase “in space and time” could be interpreted in two different ways:

  1. BOTH in space AND in time
  2. EITHER in space OR in time  [inclusive “or”]

 
When “the universe” is defined in the Argument from Contingency as “the collection of beings in space and time”, does the phrase “in space and time” have meaning #1 or meaning #2?
Sincerely,
Bradley Bowen
==========================
RESPONSE FROM PETER KREEFT (6/26/18):
=========================
BB:
Good point, since acts of thinking and willing are in time but not in space, though for us they are dependent on things in space, material things like brains and nervous systems.  In one sense these acts are not part of the universe, or nature, but are supernatural.  In another sense, they are.  Angels make up still another class: created, finite spirits, not the Creator, but not in or dependent on matter or space or the time (kronos) that is relative to matter and space, but only in another kind of time, spiritual time (kronos).  Thus we have a complex hierarchy:  (1) God, (2) angels, (3) human spiritual souls that are dependent on matter, and (4) matter, which itself is hierarchical (animals, plants, minerals).  The contingency argument is about (1) vs. everything else, not about the divisions of “everything else,” so it works best on a metaphysical level of act and potency rather than on a cosmological level of matter and mind.
PK
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REPLY TO PETER KREEFT (6/28/18):
=============================
Dear Dr. Kreeft,
Thank you for again taking the time to respond to my question about the definition of “the universe” found in the Argument from Contingency.
You appear to agree that something can be “in time but not space”, so you see the ambiguity in the phrase “in space and time”.
But I’m still not clear which of the two meanings of this phrase was intended (or which is the best interpretation):

  1. BOTH in space AND in time
  2. EITHER in space OR in time  [inclusive “or”]

How do you interpret the phrase “in space and time” in this context?
Sincerely,
Bradley Bowen
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RESPONSE FROM PETER KREEFT (6/29/18):
=====================
BB:
If “the universe” means the material universe, then 1.  If it means all of creation, including angels, it means 2.
PK
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REPLY TO PETER KREEFT (6/30/18):
=============================
Dear Dr. Kreeft,
You have graciously answered two of my questions about the definition of the phrase “the universe” found in premise (2) of the Argument from Contingency.  I have saved what might well be the most challenging question about the definition for last:
What does “beings” mean?
The definition of “the universe” that is given in premise (2) is as follows:
…the collection of beings in space and time…
 The general principle stated in premise (1) of the Argument from Contingency applies to whatever can be said to be “something” that exists.  So, in order for that principle to apply to a “part of the universe”, the part of the universe must be “something”  that exists.  This raises questions about the relationship between the concept “X is something” and “X is a  being”:

  • If X is something, then X is a being.  (True or False?)
  • If X is a being, then X is something.  (True or False?)

My intuition is that time is something, but that time is NOT a being.
My intuition is that space is something, but that space is NOT a being.
My intuition is that a law of physics is something, but that a law of physics is NOT a being.
These are, however, my linguistic intuitions, and what is important here is not what is the “correct” use of these words, but rather what is the intended meaning of these words in this particular context.
The context appears to be, in part, Thomistic philosophy, and you are more familiar with Thomistic philosophy than I am, so you might have a very clear and specific understanding of the words “something” and “being” in the context of the Argument from Contingency.
Thank you again for your help clarifying the meaning of the definition of “the universe” in this interesting argument.
Sincerely,
Bradley Bowen
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RESPONSE FROM PETER KREEFT (7/1/18):
=====================
BB:
Aristotle gave the best and most commonsensical answer to your question.
PK
 

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part 26: The Unclarity of Argument #7

WHERE WE ARE AT
There are only two more arguments in Kreeft’s case that we need to evaluate:  Argument #7 (the Argument from Contingency) and Argument #6 (the Kalam Cosmological Argument).  In Part 24, I did an initial analysis of Argument #7, and I pointed out some significant problems with that argument, based only on the conclusion of the argument.
At best, the argument shows the existence of a bodiless being (i.e. a bodiless thing, not necessarily a person) that is the cause of the current existence of the universe. Furthermore, the conclusion of Argument #7 asserts that the cause of the current existence of the universe is OUTSIDE OF TIME, which means that this being is absolutely UNCHANGING, which means it cannot be the creator of the universe,  which means it cannot be God.  Thus, even if Argument #7 was a sound argument, it would prove the existence of a being that was NOT God.
 
ARGUMENT #7: THE ARGUMENT FROM CONTINGENCY

1c. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: if that thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1, then there must exist something else at time t1 that  is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

2a. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–exists at time t1.

A. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–depends on something else for its existence at time t1.

THEREFORE:

3c. There must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes for the universe to exist at time t1.

4a. What it takes for the universe to exist at time t1 cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time.

THEREFORE:

5a. What it takes for the universe to exist at time t1 must exist at time t1 and must transcend both space and time.

THEREFORE:

6. There is EXACTLY ONE being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe, and this being exists right now and is OUTSIDE of both space and time, and this being is NOT finite or material.

 
THE LOGICAL STRUCTURE OF ARGUMENT #7
Click on the image below for a clearer view of the argument diagram:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
THE BASIC PROBLEM WITH ARGUMENT #7
Usually it only takes ten or fifteen minutes for me to examine a “proof” of the existence of God in order to find two or three major problems with the argument.  Often there are one or two premises that are false or dubious.  Often there are one or two inferences that are logically invalid.  I have previously pointed out some serious deficiencies with Argument #7, but I have been struggling for about three or four weeks trying to identify one or two specific objections that would clearly show this argument to be unsound.  A couple of days ago I realized the reason why I was struggling so much with this argument, why it was taking so long to evaluate it.  In short, the argument is so unclear and ambiguous that there are at least 33 million different possible interpretations of this argument.
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EXPONENTIAL INCREASE IN UNCLARITY
Unclear words and phrases usually allow for two or more interpretations (ambiguity).  Every instance of an ambiguous word or phrase can double or triple (or even quadruple) the number of possible interpretations of a statement or argument.  There are 25 instances of unclear words or phrases in the premises supporting (6a), not including the instances of unclear words or phrases in (6a) itself.  If each of these unclear words or phrases has at least two different possible meanings, then the number of possible interpretations of the premises of this argument are at least 2 to the 25th power:
2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2
= 2 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4
= 2 x 16 x 16 x 16 x 16 x 16 x 16
= 2 x 256 x 256 x 256
= 2 x 16,777,216
= 33,554,432  different possible interpretations of Argument #7 (ignoring any ambiguities in the conclusion)
The problem with ambiguous words and phrases in an argument, is that every instance of such a word or phrase can double or triple the number of possible interpretations of the argument.  Ambiguity increases the the number of possible interpretations exponentially.
If I spent just one-half an hour evaluating each of the 33 million interpretations of Argument #7, it would take 16.5 million hours to evaluate all of the possible interpretations.   There are about 8,760 hours in a year  (24 hours/day  x 365 days = 8,760 hours), so in order to evaluate all of the 33 million interpretations of Argument #7 would take me over 1,883 years, working day and night, seven days a week (16,500,000 hours x  1 year/8,760 hours = 1883.56 years).  So, it is not humanly possible to evaluate every one of the millions of different possible interpretations of this argument.
===================
Clarity is a gateway standard of critical thinking.  A statement that is unclear cannot be evaluated, at least not as it stands.  I attempted to clarify Argument #7 so that it would be possible to evaluate this argument.  But the above revised and clarified version of Peter Kreeft’s Argument from Contingency still contains more than a dozen unclear words and phrases.  Furthermore, those unclear words and phrases appear multiple times in the argument, multiplying the ambiguity and unclarity, resulting in millions of possible meanings of this argument.
I have put the problematic words and phrases in bold red font below, to show how frequently such unclear words and phrases occur in this argument:

1c. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: if that thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1, then there must exist something else at time t1 that  is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

2a. The universethe collection of beings in space and time–exists at time t1.

A. The universethe collection of beings in space and timedepends on something else for its existence at time t1.

THEREFORE:

3c. There must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes for the universe to exist at time t1.

4a. What it takes for the universe to exist at time t1 cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time.

THEREFORE:

5a. What it takes for the universe to exist at time t1 must exist at time t1 and must transcend both space and time.

THEREFORE:

6. There is EXACTLY ONE being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe, and this being exists right now and is OUTSIDE of both space and time, and this being is NOT finite or material.

 
UNCLEAR WORDS AND PHRASES IN ARGUMENT #7

  1. something  (1 instance): Is time “something”?  Is space “something”? Is a law of physics “something”? Is an idea or a feeling “something”? Is the number 3 “something”?  Why or why not? If X is something, does that LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is a being?  If X is a being, does that LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is something?  
  2. depends on (2 instances): Does this refer to logical dependency or causal dependency or to both kinds of dependency?  Does this refer to necessary conditions or sufficient conditions or to both kinds of conditions (or to criterial conditions)?
  3. something else (4 instances):  “something” is ambiguous, and so is “else”. Does a part of a whole thing count as “something else” in addition to the whole?  Does a whole containing parts of two other things count as “something else” besides those two other things?
  4. what it takes for  (4 instances):  If the existence of X at a particular moment depends on Y does this LOGICALLY IMPLY that Y is what it takes for X to exist at that particular moment?  What if Y is only ONE of MANY different things that could have caused the existence of X at that moment?  Does what it takes for X to exist at a particular moment refer to logical dependencies of the existence of X or to causal dependencies or to both kinds of dependency?  Does what it takes for X to exist consist of necessary conditions or sufficient conditions or to both kinds of conditions (or to criterial conditions)?
  5. The universe (7 instances): although this word is defined in premise (2a), the definition is itself very unclear and has many possible meanings. The highly ambiguous definition makes the term “universe” highly ambiguous as well.
  6. the collection (2 instances): the universe contains a different set of things at different times, so “the collection” is ambiguous between the set of all the things that have existed in the entire history of the universe and the set of all things that exist at a particular moment in time.
  7. beings (4 instances): If X is something, does that LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is a being?  If X is a being, does that LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is something?  Is time a “being”?  Is space a “being”? Is a law of physics a “being”? Is an idea or a feeling a “being”? Is the number 3 a “being”?  Why or why not?
  8. in space and time (2 instances): Is the requirement that the thing in question be BOTH in space AND in time? or just that the thing in question be EITHER in space OR in time?  The word “and” is ambiguous in this phrase.
  9. within the universe (1 instance): If X is within the universe, does this LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is a being in space and time?  If X is a being in space and time, does this LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is within the universe?  If so, then the ambiguity of “being” and the ambiguity of “in space and time” apply to this expression.  For example, is time within the universe?  Is space within the universe?  Are laws of physics within the universe?
  10. bounded by space and time (1 instance):  If X is bounded by space and time, does this LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is in space and time?  If X is in space and time, does this LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is bounded by space and time?  If so, then the ambiguity of “in space and time” applies to this expression.  Does being bounded by space and time mean being BOTH in space AND in time? or just that the thing in question be EITHER in space OR in time?
  11. transcend both space and time (1 instance): If X is not in space and time, does this LOGICALLY IMPLY that X transcends both space and time?  If X transcends both space and time does this LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is not in space and time?  If so, then the ambiguity of “in space and time” applies to this expression.
  12. OUTSIDE of both space and time (1 instance):  I don’t think this was part of Kreeft’s wording, so this is a phrase that I added.  This should probably be revised to “transcend both space and time” which was Kreeft’s own wording.  In that case this would be a second instance of the unclear expression “transcend both space and time”.
  13. finite (1 instance):  Does this mean finite in EVERY respect, or finite in AT LEAST ONE respect?
  14. material (1 instance): If X is in space and time, does this LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is material?  If X is material, does this LOGICALLY IMPLY that X is in space and time?  If so, then the ambiguity of the expression “in space and time” applies to this word.

 
REDUCING THE NUMBER OF POSSIBLE INTERPRETATIONS
Not only are there numerous unclear words and phrases in Argument #7, but many of them occur multiple times in the argument.  Each instance of an ambiguous word or phrase multiplies the number of possible interpretations of the argument. Thus the premises of this argument have at least 33 million different possible interpretations.
There is a simple way to dramatically reduce the number of possible interpretations of this argument: we can simply assume that ALL instances of an expression have the SAME meaning.  If the meaning of an expression changes in the course of an argument, then that usually breaks the logic of the argument and results in an invalid inference or a false conditional premise, making the argument UNSOUND.  So, if we assume that all instances of an expression have the same meaning, that eliminates many versions of the argument that are, in all likelihood, UNSOUND because of the fallacy of equivocation.  So, in making this assumption we are eliminating obviously bad versions of the argument and focusing on a small subset of possible interpretations, which at least have the potential to be good, sound arguments.
So, rather than looking at how many instances there are of unclear words and phrases, we can focus on how many unique words and phrases are unclear.  There are eleven unique words and phrases that are unclear in the premises supporting (6a), not including (6a) itself.  The phrases “depends on”, “something else”, and “the universe” each have four possible meanings, and the eight other unclear words and phrases each have at least two possible meanings.  So, if we assume that ALL instances of each of these eleven unique words and phrases have the same meaning, that none of these words or phrases shifts in meaning in the course of this argument, then the number of possible interpretations would be 4 to the 3rd power times 2 to the 8th power:
(4 x 4 x 4) x (2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2)
(4 x 4 x 4) x (4 x 4 x 4 x 4)
= 64 x 256
= 16, 384 different possible interpretations of Argument #7 (ignoring any ambiguities in the conclusion and assuming all of the expressions are used unequivocally)
If we spend just one-half hour on evaluating each of these possible interpretations, that would require 8,192 hours of work.
If we work on this 40 hours per week, then it would take about 205 weeks or nearly four years to finish evaluating all of those different possible interpretations (8,192 hours x 1 week/40 hours = 204.8 weeks).
I don’t know about you, but this argument does not seem promising enough to want to spend four years of my life evaluating all of the 16,384 different possible versions of it (on the assumption that all expressions in the argument are used unequivocally).
I do think it is worth spending some time thinking about the various possible meanings of the unclear words and phrases in this argument, but this argument is much too UNCLEAR to be worth any more of my time.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part 25: Clarification of Argument #7

WHERE WE ARE AT
There are only two more arguments in Kreeft’s case that we need to evaluate:  Argument #7 (the Argument from Contingency) and Argument #6 (the Kalam Cosmological Argument).  In Part 24, I did an initial analysis of Argument #7, and I pointed out some significant problems with that argument, based only on the conclusion of the argument.
At best, the argument shows the existence of a bodiless being (i.e. a bodiless thing, not necessarily a person) that is the cause of the current existence of the universe:

  • it does NOT show the existence of an omnipotent person
  • it does NOT show the existence of an omniscient person
  • it does NOT show the existence of a perfectly morally good person
  • it does NOT show the existence of an eternal person
  • it does NOT show the existence of a person who is the creator of the universe
  • it does NOT show that there is JUST ONE being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe

Furthermore, the conclusion of Argument #7 asserts that the cause of the current existence of the universe is OUTSIDE OF TIME, which means that this being is absolutely UNCHANGING, which means it cannot be the creator of the universe,  which means it cannot be God.  Thus, even if Argument #7 was a sound argument, it would prove the existence of a being that was NOT God.
 
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT #7
In this post,  I will work on further clarification of Argument #7:

1a. If something exists at time t1, then there must exist at time t1 what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

2a. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–exists at time t1.

THEREFORE:

3a. There must exist at time t1 what it takes for the universe to exist at time t1.

4a. What it takes for the universe to exist at time t1 cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time.

THEREFORE:

5a. What it takes for the universe to exist at time t1 must exist at time t1 and must transcend both space and time.

NOTE: the phrase “at time t1” doesn’t have a specific meaning; it is a placeholder.  It is intended to be a clarification of the word “now”.  But we can fill in this placeholder expression with something more definite, like “at 9:40 pm Pacific Time on May 21st, 2018”.  Once we specify a particular point in time, the premises become meaningful factual claims that can be evaluated as true or false.
The ultimate conclusion of the argument is based on (5a):

6. There is EXACTLY ONE being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe, and this being exists right now and is OUTSIDE of both space and time, and this being is NOT finite or material.

 
CLARIFICATION OF PREMISE (1a)
Here is the first premise of the Argument from Contingency:

1a. If something exists at time t1, then there must exist at time t1 what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

Although adding the reference to a specific moment in time clarifies the meaning of this premise, it is still ambiguous.  Here are three different possible interpretations of it:

1b. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: there must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

1c. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: if that thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1, then there must exist something else at time t1 that  is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

1d. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: if that thing depends on something else existing at time t1 for its existence at time t1, then there must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

Premise (1b) generates an infinite regress of current causes of existence.  One thing exists at t1, so a second thing must exist at t, so a third thing must exist at  t1, and so on.  According to (1b) if God exists at time  t1, “then there must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes” for God to exist at time t1.  But God is supposed to be the exception to the rule; the one thing that does NOT depend on something else for its existence.  God is supposed to be what stops the regress of causes of existence.  So, it appears that interpretation (1b) will not work, because it implies the existence of the very infinite regress that this argument seeks to deny.
Premise (1c) on the other hand, only has implications when a “thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1,” so this leaves open the possibility that there could be things that DO NOT depend on something else for their current existence.  The same is true of premise (1d); it also leaves open the possibility that there could be things that DO NOT depend on something else for their current existence.
The main point of (1c) appears to be that in order for one thing X to cause the current existence of some other thing Y, the thing X must exist at the very same moment in time as the moment of Y’s existence that it is causing.  This assumption seems contrary to our intuitive belief that things that currently exist will tend to stay in existence.
If something vanishes into thin air, we are surprised and perplexed, because we expect things to continue to exist.  It is when something ceases to exist that we seek a cause or explanation.  But if a table was here in the dining room a few seconds ago, we are not surprised if we see that the table is still here in the dining room now.  Tables, chairs, people, rocks, and trees all tend to stay in existence.  Why is there a table here in this room right now?  Because there was a table right here in this room just a second ago.  Therefore, a natural explanation for the current existence of this table here and now, is that this table existed here just a moment ago.  The CAUSE of the current existence of this table appears to be the existence of this table a moment ago.
The chair here in the room did not cause the current existence of the table.  The air in the room did not cause the current existence of the table.  If the table had been built by some person in the room, we might be tempted to say that this person is a cause of the current existence of the table, but it seems more accurate to say that the person who built the table caused the table to come into existence, but once the table came to exist, it no longer depended upon the existence of the person who built it.  The table can continue to exist even if the person who made the table ceases to exist.  So, although this specific table would not exist here and now if it had not been built by the person who made it, its current existence does NOT depend on the current existence of its maker, so the person who made the table is NOT the CAUSE of the current existence of the table.
But if the current existence of a table is caused by the previous existence of the same table, then that table does not depend on “something else” for its current existence.  But when the table was first constructed, its first moment as a table was not caused by the previous existence of the same table, because it did not previously exist.  So, it seems that we should attribute the cause of the first moment of the existence of the table to the person who made the table.  The cause of the first moment of existence of the table is the person who made the table, and the cause of the following moments of existence of the table were caused by the previous existence of the same table:
Person at time t1 –> Table at time t2 –> Table at time t3 –> Table at time t4 –> …
Sometimes things dissolve.  Sometimes things burn up.  Sometimes things fall to pieces.  Sometimes things explode.  Sometimes things melt.  This table has not dissolved; it has not burned up; it has not fallen to pieces; it has not exploded, and it hasn’t melted.  Why not?
Not everything continues to exist in the stable way that most tables continue to exist, so one might seek an explanation for why tables tend to continue to exist while other things quickly dissolve, burn up, fall to pieces, explode, or melt.  A very basic explanation for this is that there are various laws of physics that allow tables to continue to exist in a stable way under “ordinary” circumstances that we find here on Earth.
In short, the laws of physics are such that tables tend to stay in existence, at least for several years or several decades.  For this reason, we might say that the current existence of this table here and now depends upon the laws of physics.  If the laws of physics were different, then tables might tend to quickly dissolve, burn up, fall to pieces, explode, or melt under the typical physical circumstances that we find on the Earth.
In this sense, the current existence of this table depends upon the current character and operation of various laws of physics, and upon various circumstances that are typical on Earth (temperature, pressure, chemical composition of the atmosphere, gravitational forces, etc.), so we might reasonably conclude that the current existence of this table depends upon “something else” other than just the table itself (and other than just the existence of the table in a previous moment of time).  Tables tend to continue to exist for several years because of the operation of particular laws of physics and because of the character of the physical environment here on the Earth.
For a table to continue to exist requires that the laws of physics and the physical environment of the table remain the same, or undergo only minor changes.  Major changes in the laws of physics or in the character of the physical environment around the table might well cause the table to be destroyed, to cease to exist.  To the extent that the current existence of the table depends on the continued stability of the laws of physics and the continued stability of its physical environment, the current existence of the table does depend on the current character and operation of those laws of physics and the current character of various aspects of its physical environment.
This point about tables appears to be generalizable: the continued existence of ANY physical object depends upon the laws of physics and on the physical environment around that physical object, so the current existence of EACH and EVERY physical object depends on the current character of the laws of physics and on the current character of various aspects of its physical environment.  Thus, premise (1c) appears to apply to all physical objects, and it appears to be true, at least about physical objects.
Premise (1d) also appears to be true, but it appears to be a tautology:  IF something requires X to be the case in order to exist, then, of course, that thing would not exist unless X is the case.  But this gives us no significant information.  In order to make use of (1d), Kreeft would need to show that everything in the universe (a) depends on something else for its current existence, and (b) the something else must exist at the very same instant that the thing in question is having its existence caused.  So, premise (1d) although true, does not appear to be useful for the purposes of this argument.  Thus, premise (1c) appears to be the best interpretation of (1a), because it appears to be both true and also useful for the purposes of this argument.
 
REFORMULATED INITIAL INFERENCE
Premise (1c) appears to be the best interpretation of premise (1a), so we should reformulate the initial inference of Argument #7 accordingly:

1c. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: if that thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1, then there must exist something else at time t1 that  is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

2a. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–exists at time t1.

THEREFORE:

3c. There must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes for the universe to exist at time t1.

This argument is logically INVALID, because (1c) has an additional condition that has not been asserted to be satisfied: “if that thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1” .
So, to make the argument valid, we need to add another premise that asserts this added condition to be satisfied:

1c. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: if that thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1, then there must exist something else at time t1 that  is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

2a. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–exists at time t1.

A. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–depends on something else for its existence at time t1.

THEREFORE:

3c. There must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes for the universe to exist at time t1.

We already have a reason for thinking that premise (A) is true: the current existence of ALL physical objects depends on the current character and operation of the laws of physics and on various aspects of their current physical environment/circumstances.
 
LOGICAL STRUCTURE OF ARGUMENT #7
Click on the image below for a clearer view of the argument diagram: