bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part #30: Phase 2 of the Kalam Argument

WHERE WE ARE AT
In Part 29,  I criticized Phase 1 of Peter Kreeft’s Argument #6: the Kalam Cosmological Argument.  In this post, I will begin to analyze and evaluate Phase 2 of Argument #6.
Phase 1 of the Kalam Cosmological Argument goes like this (HCA, p.58):

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its coming into being.

2. The universe began to exist.

THEREFORE:

3. The universe has a cause of its coming into being.

Based on the conclusion of this argument, Kreeft lays out further reasoning in support of these conclusions:

4. The cause of the coming into being of the universe is eternal.

5. The cause of the coming into being of the universe was a person.

 
THE ARGUMENT FOR THE CAUSE OF THE UNIVERSE BEING ETERNAL
Here is a summary of Kreeft’s reasoning in support of claim (4):

3. The universe has a cause of its coming into being.

10. IF the universe has a cause of its coming into being, THEN the cause of the coming into being of the universe is the cause of the entire universe of space and time.

11. IF the cause of the coming into being of the universe is the cause of the entire universe of space and time, THEN the cause of the coming into being of the universe must be outside the limitations and constraints of space and time.

THEREFORE:

12. The cause of the coming into being of the universe must be outside the limitations and constraints of space and time.

A.  Anything that is outside the limitations and constraints of space and time is eternal.

THEREFORE:

4. The cause of the coming into being of the universe is eternal.

 
EVALUATION OF THE ARGUMENT FOR THE CAUSE OF THE UNIVERSE BEING ETERNAL
Premise (3) appears to be true, assuming the following definition of “the universe”, which comes from Kreeft’s definition plus some clarifications that Kreeft provided via email:

X is “the universe” IF AND ONLY IF:
X is the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time.

So, the first two premises of the argument for the cause of the beginning of “the universe” being eternal should be interpreted this way:

3a. The collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time has a cause of its coming into being.

10a. IF the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time has a cause of its coming into being, THEN the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time is the cause of the entire universe of space and time.

The phrase “the entire universe of space and time” in the consequent of premise (10a) is ambiguous.  On the one hand, the word “entire” could be read simply as emphasizing the notion of “all” in the previous phrase “the collection of all of the things…”.  In that case,  (10a) is TRUE because the consequent of (10a) is a tautology, making (10a) itself a tautology.
On the other hand, the word “entire” could be read as referring to everything in the entire history of things that have existed in both space and in time.  In that case, (10a) would be making a substantial claim, but a claim that appears to be FALSE.  The antecedent of premise (10a) talks about a cause of the “collection of all of the things” that CURRENTLY EXIST “in both space and in time”, so if the consequent of (10a) is talking about a cause of the “collection of all of the things” that HAVE EVER EXISTED “in both space and in time,” then the consequent of (10a) goes well beyond the information provided in the antecedent.
There is no good reason to believe that the cause of what currently exists in both space and time  must also be the cause of everything that has ever existed in both space and in time.  That is clearly a hasty generalization, and is NOT a logical implication of the antecedent of (10a).  Thus, on this interpretation, premise (10a) is FALSE.
But if we interpret the consequent of (10a) to be merely a tautology, then we should restate (10a) to make the tautology obvious:

10b. IF the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time has a cause of its coming into being, THEN the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time is the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time.

This is clearly an uninformative and useless premise, and in order to make this premise logically connect with premise (11), we would need to restate (11) in similar terms:

11b. IF the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time is the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time, THEN the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time must be outside the limitations and constraints of space and time.

On this interpretation premise (11b) is FALSE, because although the antecedent of (11b) is necessarily true, the consequent can be false, and we have good reason to believe that the consequent of (11b) is in fact false, so (11b) is itself FALSE.
As I argued in Part 29, “the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time” did not begin to exist until about 400 million years after the Big Bang, because the first galaxies began to form about 400 million years after the Big Bang.  Galaxies are about the largest and most significant “things” that currently exist, and none of the galaxies that currently exist existed prior to about 400 million years after the Big Bang.  Thus, “the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time” did not begin to exist until the first galaxies began to exist.
But the cause (or causes) of the coming into being of the first galaxies was NOT something “outside the limitations and constraints of space and time”.  For example, the process of star formation is an important part of the “cause” of the formation of galaxies.  But stars did not develop until about 100 million years after the Big Bang, so the development of stars took place INSIDE of space and INSIDE of time.  We have good reason to believe that the cause (or causes) of the coming into being of galaxies were perfectly natural causes that existed both in space and in time.
 
CONCLUSION
Premise (11b) is clearly FALSE.  But in order to make use of premise (10b), we must interpret premise (11) to mean what (11b) means.  So, either premise (10)  is a true claim but a tautology and premise (11) is a FALSE premise, or else premise (10) makes a more substantial claim and premise (10) is itself a FALSE premise.  Therefore, either premise (10) is FALSE or else premise (11) is FALSE, and in either case, the Argument for the Cause of the Universe Being Eternal is UNSOUND, and should be rejected.
Furthermore, as I have previously indicated, if this argument were SOUND, that would mean that Argument #6 proves the existence of a being that is OUTSIDE OF TIME, and such a being cannot change, and thus cannot be a person, and cannot be the creator of anything, and therefore cannot be God.  So, if Phase 1 of Argument #6 was a SOUND argument, and if the Phase 2 Argument for the Cause of the Universe being Eternal was also SOUND, then Argument #6 would prove the existence of a being that is clearly NOT God.
If Argument #6 is UNSOUND, then the argument FAILS.  If Argument #6 is SOUND, then the argument FAILS.  Either way, Argument #6 FAILS to show that God exists.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part #29: Evaluation of Premise (2)

Here is the second premise of Argument #6 (the Kalam Cosmological Argument) in Peter Kreeft’s case for the existence of God, from Chapter 3 of his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA):

2. The universe began to exist. (HCA, p.58)

In order to be able to rationally determine whether this claim is true or false, we need to first understand what it means.
Based on a definition of “the universe” from Kreeft, plus some clarifications of that definition that were also provided by Kreeft, I understand this phrase as follows:

X is “the universe” IF AND ONLY IF:
X is the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time.

We can revise premise (2) in accordance with this understanding:

2a. The collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time began to exist.

If (2a) is true, then (2) is true.  If (2a) is false, then (2) is false.  So, we need to determine whether (2a) is true or false.
Because we have clarified the meaning of this claim, it becomes fairly easy to evaluate this claim, and it is now clear to me that this claim is in fact TRUE.
 
THE COLLECTION OF ALL OF THE THINGS THAT CURRENTLY EXIST…
What is “The collection of all the things that currently exist in both space and in time”?
Well, basically, this is the collection of the currently existing GALAXIES:
Galaxy
    A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter.[1][2] The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias (γαλαξίας), literally “milky”, a reference to the Milky Way. Galaxies range in size from dwarfs with just a few hundred million (108) stars to giants with one hundred trillion (1014) stars,[3] each orbiting its galaxy’s center of mass.
    Galaxies are categorized according to their visual morphology as elliptical,[4] spiral, or irregular.[5] Many galaxies are thought to have supermassive black holes at their active centers. The Milky Way’s central black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, has a mass four million times greater than the Sun.[6] As of March 2016, GN-z11 is the oldest and most distant observed galaxy with a comoving distance of 32 billion light-years from Earth, and observed as it existed just 400 million years after the Big Bang.
    Recent estimates of the number of galaxies in the observable universe range from 200 billion (2×1011)[7] to 2 trillion (2×1012) or more,[8][9] containing more stars than all the grains of sand on planet Earth.[10]
There is a little bit of gas between galaxies, but it is roughly correct to say that “The collection of all the things that currently exist in both space and in time” is “The collection of galaxies that currently exist.”  So, we can clarify the second premise a bit more:

2b. The collection of galaxies that currently exist began to exist.

Statement (2b) is clearly a true statement, and since (2b) is roughly equivalent to (2a), the fact that (2b) is clearly true, provides us with good reason to believe that (2a) is true, and if (2a) is true, then (2) is also true.  So, we have good reason to believe that premise (2) is true, assuming Kreeft’s definition of “the universe”.
Furthermore, although the galaxies that currently exist might not include absolutely everything that currently exists in both space and in time (because, for example, there is some gas between the galaxies), those galaxies (and the contents of those galaxies) clearly constitute MOST of the things that currently exist in both space and in time.  So, if those galaxies (and the contents of those galaxies) began to exist, then MOST of the things that currently exist in both space and in time began to exist, and thus “The collection of all the things that currently exist in both space and in time” began to exist, because that collection did NOT exist until those galaxies began to exist.
Based on current Big Bang astronomy,  stars did not begin to form until about 100 or 200 million years after the Big Bang.  So, for the first 100 million years after the Big Bang, there were no stars and no galaxies (or very few stars and galaxies).  The oldest galaxy that we know of formed about 400 million years after the Big Bang (see the quote above from an article on Galaxies). But stars and galaxies exist NOW, so the collection of currently existing galaxies BEGAN TO EXIST no earlier than about 400 million years after the Big Bang.  Clearly, premise (2b) is TRUE.
Did the collection of galaxies that currently exist begin to exist about 400 million years after the Big Bang?  Well at least ONE of the currently existing galaxies began to exist about 400 million years after the Big Bang.  But not all galaxies began to exist at the same time.
Our galaxy is the Milky Way Galaxy, and the nearest galaxy to ours is the Andromeda Galaxy.  The Andromeda Galaxy formed about 10 billions years ago (see article on the Andomeda Galaxy).  So, two of the currently existing galaxies are the Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy.  Since the Andomeda Galaxy is one of the currently existing galaxies, “the collection” of currently existing galaxies did not exist, one might reasonably assert, until the Andromeda Galaxy was formed about 10 billion years ago.  In that case, “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” did NOT exist prior to about 10 billion years ago, so it did not begin to exist prior to 10 billion years ago.
Since there are between 200 billion and 2 trillion galaxies that currently exist, it seems likely that some of those galaxies came into existence after the Andromeda Galaxy, perhaps sometime in the last billion years.  If one of the currently existing galaxies was formed in the past billion years, then “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” BEGAN TO EXIST less than one billion years ago, it would seem.
But did “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” begin to exist only when the most recently formed galaxy began to exist?  Or could “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” begin to exist sometime before every single galaxy in that collection was formed? For example, someone might reasonably claim that “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” began to exist when the oldest galaxy (among currently existing galaxies) began to exist.  Since the oldest currently existing galaxy that we know of formed about 400 million years after the Big Bang, on this view “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” began to exist about 400 million years after the Big Bang.
We can see now that the phrase “began to exist” is somewhat VAGUE when we are talking about collections of things.  On the one hand, it is somewhat reasonable to say that “the collection of currently existing galaxies”  began to exist when the oldest galaxy in that collection began to exist, even though billions of other galaxies would develop over the course of the next three billion years.  On the other hand, it is also reasonable to say that “the collection of currently existing galaxies” began to exist when the most recent galaxy began to exist (perhaps 10 billion years ago, or maybe less than one billion years ago).
Because of the vagueness of the phrase “began to exist” it is not clear whether “the collection of currently existing galaxies” began to exist about 13 billion years ago (when the oldest known galaxy formed), or 10 billion years ago (when the Andromeda Galaxy formed), or less than one billion years ago (when the most recent galaxy formed).  But one thing is clear: the collection of currently existing galaxies began to exist no earlier than hundreds of millions of years AFTER the Big Bang.
 
REVISED VERSION OF PHASE 1 ARGUMENT
We can reformulate the Phase 1 Argument to conform with the clarifications that we have developed above:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its coming into being.

2b. The collection of galaxies that currently exist began to exist.

THEREFORE:

3b. The collection of galaxies that currently exist has a cause of its coming into being.

In this reformulation of the argument, we can clearly see two important points:

  • Premise (2b) is clearly TRUE.
  • The conclusion (3b) is clearly IRRELEVANT to the question “Does God exist?”

Why is the conclusion (3b) irrelevant to the existence of God?  We already have a fairly good scientific explanation for how the collection of galaxies that currently exist came into being, for how this collection of galaxies began to exist.
For one thing, we know that they did NOT come into existence from out of nothing.  First there was the Big Bang, and about 100 million years later stars began to develop, and about 400 million years after the Big Bang, the first galaxy (among those that still exist) developed.  For at least the next three billion years more and more stars and galaxies developed.  Astronomers and astrophysicists can provide evidence-based theories and explanations of how the billions of galaxies that currently exist began to exist, so we have no need of the hypothesis of God to explain this phenomenon.
One more conclusion that we can draw here is that Kreeft has FAILED to properly define the phrase “the universe”.  So, the clarified version of the Phase 1 Argument of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is based on a BAD definition of “the universe”.  But the phrase “the universe” is a key concept in this argument, and in order to present a solid proof or argument for God, one must provide clear definitions of the key concepts in the argument, so it is Kreeft’s responsibility to provide a GOOD definition of “the universe” and he has FAILED to do so.
 
CONCLUSION
Kreeft’s Argument #6 FAILS because without a definition of “the universe” the argument is too UNCLEAR to be rationally evaluated, but with Kreeft’s definition of “the universe” the argument is IRRELEVANT to the question at issue: “Does God exist?”.  Either way, Argument #6 FAILS.

bookmark_borderGeisler’s First Argument

Norman Geisler’s case for God appears to consist of five arguments for the existence of God.
Here is my critique of the opening paragraph of Geisler’s case, and my critique of his first argument for the existence of God:
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NOTE: I forgot that my plan was to put my posts on cases for God here at The Secular Oupost, and put my posts that are more specifically about Jesus and Christianity over on my own blog site.  So, I have moved my post about Geisler’s first argument for the existence of God from my blog site to here.
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Before we examine Geisler’s first argument for God, we need to carefully consider the opening paragraph of his case for God in When Skeptics Ask (hereafter: WSA).  He makes some very important points in this first paragraph:
The existence of a personal moral God is fundamental to all that Christians believe. If there is no moral God, there is no moral being against whom we have sinned; therefore, salvation is not needed. Furthermore, if there is no God, there could be no acts of God (miracles), and the stories of Jesus can only be understood as fiction or myth. So the first question that must be addressed in pre-evangelism is, “Does God exist?” The second question is very closely related to the first: “If God exists, what kind of God is He?”  (WSA, p. 15)
COMMENTARY
The existence of a personal moral God is fundamental to all that Christians believe.
This seems right to me.  If there is no God, then most of the basic beliefs or doctrines of Christianity are false or are probably false.

If there is no moral God, there is no moral being against whom we have sinned; 
This conditional claim appears to be false.  We can “sin” against (or wrong) other human beings even if God does not exist, and human beings are moral beings.  So, we can sin against moral beings even if God does not exist.
Now, if one defines “sin” as meaning “an act of disobedience towards God”, then obviously the non-existence of God would, on that definition, logically imply the non-existence of “sin”.
But if we understand “sin” more generally to mean “an act that is bad, morally wrong, or evil”, then it seems that we could “sin” even if there were no God.  
Geisler will argue against this possibility later, but he has not argued that point yet, so he is not yet entitled to simply assume that no action could be morally wrong if there was no God (i.e. to assume that morality exists only if God exists). To make that assumption at this point in the game would amount to the fallacy of begging the question.
Also, I’m not sure that the qualifier “moral” is essential here.  One could “sin” against a non-moral creature.  If a person raised a dog from a puppy and treated the dog in kind and loving way as it grew up, and then one day took the dog into a basement, chained the dog to a table, and then brutally tortured the dog for hours until the dog died from the pain, shock, and loss of blood, then one would have “sinned” against a non-moral creature.  So, the adjective “moral” seems unnecessary here.  Human beings can do morally wrong actions against non-moral creatures (such as dogs).
therefore, salvation is not needed.
Clearly, if one has never “sinned” or done something that is bad or evil, then one has no need of “salvation” from one’s sins.  That is obviously true.
However, it is NOT in any way obvious that “salvation” MUST be conceived of as “salvation from one’s sins”.  Different religions and worldviews have different conceptions about what the fundamental issue or issues are for human beings.  Different religions diagnose the “disease” or basic problem(s) of human beings differently.  Christianity asserts that the basic human problem or “disease” is sin, but other religions and other worldviews do not accept this view of human nature or of the human situation.  Thus, Geisler appears to be begging the question, begging a very basic worldview question here in favor of the Christian religion or worldview.
Furthermore, if there is no God, there could be no acts of God (miracles)…
It is certainly true that if there is no God, then there are no “acts of God” either.  But Geisler then sneaks the word “miracles” into this claim in parentheses, making the claim significantly more problematic and dubious.  
If we simply define the term “miracle” to MEAN “an event brought about by an act of God”, then clearly the above claim would be correct.  However, the term “miracle” can be used in a broader sense, to mean “an event brought about by any sort of supernatural being or force.” On such a broader defintion, it would be possible for “miracles” to occur even if there were no God.  
God is NOT the only possible supernatural being nor the only possible being who has supernatural powers.  Many Christians believe that there are angels and demons, and they believe that these are supernatural beings who have supernatural powers.  So, even within the Christian worldview, there is the belief that there are supernatural beings and supernatural powers other than God and other than the powers that God directly exerts.
Furthermore, if there is no God, … the stories of Jesus can only be understood as fiction or myth.
This statement is clearly false.  
Geisler is assuming that the alleged supernatural events and supernatural powers asserted in the Gospel accounts of the life and death of Jesus could be true ONLY IF God exists.  But as I just argued, supernatural beings and supernatural powers can exist even if there were no God.  
According to traditional Christian belief and theology, angels and demons exist, and these are supernatural beings who have supernatural powers, and thus they can bring about supernatural events.  We can conceive of a world in which there are angels or demons but no God, and in such a world there would be supernatural beings and supernatural powers, but no God.  
The non-existence of God, therefore, does NOT logically imply that the Gospel accounts of the life and death of Jesus are “fiction or myth”.  The “miracles” in the Gospel accounts could have been brought about by a supernatural being other than God, or by some animal or human who possessed supernatural powers.
We see in the first few sentences of the opening paragraph of Geisler’s case for God, that his thinking is infected with some false beliefs and some illogical reasoning related to God.  This does not inspire confidence that his case for God will be based on true premises and logical reasoning. But the final sentences of the opening paragraph indicate that there is a very serious problem with Geisler’s case for God.
So the first question that must be addressed in pre-evangelism is, “Does God exist?”
While this statement has some initial plausibility, I believe Geisler is completely wrong on this point, and that this statement represents a very fundamental error in Geisler’s thinking, an error that destroys or severely damages his case for the existence of God.  
The first question that must be addressed in any evaluation of Christianity is, rather, this:

  • What does the assertion “God exists” mean?

By failing to address this very basic question, Geisler dooms his case for “God” to failure. We can see that he is making this great mistake here by considering his next point.
The second question is very closely related to the first: “If God exists, what kind of God is He?”
Here Geisler clearly reveals that he is following in the footsteps of Thomas Aquinas.  
In the standard view of Aquinas, Aquinas provides Five Ways of proving the existence of God, and then proceeds to prove that God has various divine attributes.  This is exactly the way that Geisler builds his case for the existence of God.  
But this is ASS BACKWARDS. One must first clarify the MEANING of the word “God” and THEN proceed to prove the existence of God. 
The meaning of the word “God” is ordinarily (and properly) defined in terms of various divine attributes, such as “eternal”, “omnipotent”, “omniscient”, and “perfectly morally good”, and “creator of the universe”.  Such a definition reflects the ordinary meaning and use of the word “God” in relation to Christian belief and theology.  
Apart from clarifying or defining the word “God” we literally do not know what Geisler is talking about, and thus we have no rational way to evaluate the strengths or weaknesses of his arguments for the existence of “God”.
Suppose that I want to persuade you that GORPU exists, and I present you with the following argument:
1.  If grass is green, then GORPU exists.
2.  Grass is green.
Therefore:
3. GORPU exists.
This is a perfecly logical argument.  The inference from the two premises to the conclusion is a valid deductive inference.  But would you accept this argument?  Of course not.  You don’t know what “GORPU” means, so you have no way to determine whether premise (1) is true or not.  
Before you can evaluate this argument, you must first understand what the assertion “GORPU exists” means, and since I am the one who is presenting the argument, it is up to me to clarify or define the meaning of this expression, so that you will be able to understand what it means and thus be in a position to rationally evaluate premise (1).
Geisler is violating one of the most basic principles of critical thinking: BE CLEAR, and clarify the meanings of the key concepts that you use in your arguments (especially when those concepts are abstract ideas and/or controversial ideas and/or vague ideas):
Clarity is the gateway standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don’t yet know what it is saying. (“Universal Intellectual Standards” by Richard Paul and Linda Elder)
Before Geisler, or anyone else, can prove that “God exists”, it is necessary to clarify or define the meaning of this assertion:
To prove or to produce evidence that a certain being, x, exists, is, one might say, to prove that a certain set of compossible properties is actualized.  That is, we cannot prove or know that x exists without at the same time knowing something about the nature or essence of x
To prove the existence of God is, then, to show that the properties ascribed to the Christian God in the Bible are actualized in one and only one being.  (“Thomas Aquinas” by Knut Tranoy, in A Critical History of Western Philosophy, p.110)
Because Geisler fails to clarify or define the meaning of the assertion “God exists”, his case for God appears to be doomed to failure even before he presents the very first premise of his first argument for the existence of God.
Argument #G1: The universe was caused at the beginning 
1. The universe had a beginning.
2. Anything that has a beginning must have been caused by something else.
3. Therefore, the universe was caused by something else, and this cause was God.   
(WSA, p.16)
The first thing to note about argument #G1 is that it is clearly logically invalid.  It is clear that the conclusion (3) does NOT follow logically from the premises. 
The following argument form is logically valid:
1.  x is a B.
2.  Everything that is a B is also a C.
Therefore:
3. x is a C.
But the form of #G1 has an additional claim in the conclusion:
1.  x is a B.
2.  Everything that is a B is also a C.
Therefore:
3. x is a C  AND y is G.
But the premises of #G1 do not mention anything about G,  so the added claim “y is G” does not follow logically from the premises.
Suppose that there is no God, but that there was an angel who existed before the universe came into being.  Suppose that angel caused the universe to come into being.  In that case the universe “was caused by something else” but was NOT caused by God.  
This scenario is completely compatible with the truth of the premises of #G1.  It is compatible with the claim that the “universe had a  beginning” and it is compatible with the claim that “anything that has a beginning must have been caused by something else.” 
Thus, it is possible for premise (1) and premise (2) to both be true, and yet for the added conclusion “this cause [of the universe] was God” to be false.  Since we can conceive of circumstances in which the premises of #G1 are true and the conclusion of #G1 is false, this argument is logically invalid.
But we can fix Geisler’s embarrassing logical GOOF quite easily, by removing the added claim that Geisler had mistakenly inserted into the conclusion:
Argument #G1revA
1. The universe had a beginning.
2. Anything that has a beginning must have been caused by something else.
Therefore:
3a. The universe was caused by something else.  
This argument, unlike #G1, is perfeclty valid.  However, it will not do, because it is missing a very important phrase:
God exists.
In order to repair Geisler’s first argument for the existence of God, we must remove the reference to “God” from the conclusion of the agument. But if we do this, then it is no longer an argument for the existence of God!
In order to prove that God exists, one must provide an argument which has as its conclusion, the claim that “God exists” or that “There is a God”.  An argument that concludes with the claim “the universe was caused by something else” is NOT an argument for the existence of God.
So, either we leave argument #G1 alone and reject it because it is logically invalid, or else we correct the logic of this argument and then reject it because it is no longer an argument for the existence of God.  Either way, the argument fails to prove that God exists.

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).