A theist and an atheist enter into a friendly dialogue about all things science, philosophy, theology, and where they overlap.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

By Miles Donahue

I. Introduction

In this extensive article, I will be presenting and defending the famous kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God. In his 1979 book of the same name, William Lane Craig brought this argument to the forefront of philosophical discussion. The issues, objections, and counter-objections surrounding the argument are many, and form a fractal-like pattern. So in this article I will not respond to objections, but will wait for them to be raised by L.A. Mitchell. First, I’ll sketch the basic premises of the argument, then define key terms used, next outline supporting arguments for each premise, and end with concluding thoughts.

The formulation of the kalam cosmological argument I will be defending goes like this: [1]
  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. If the universe has a cause, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful.
  4. Therefore, the universe has a cause (from 1 and 2).
  5. Therefore, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful (from 3 and 4).

II. Preliminary Definitions

By "cause", I mean either an efficient cause or a material cause, or both. An efficient cause is something which brings its effect into being; this is generally what we mean by "cause". A material cause is the stuff out of which something is made. For example, when a sculptor makes a mug, the sculptor is the efficient cause of the mug, and the hunk of clay from which the mug is made is the material cause. Premise (1) merely asserts that everything that begins to exist has some sort of causal conditions, either an efficient cause, a material cause, or both.

By "universe", I mean a connected or contiguous spacetime; I don’t mean everything that exists or even all physical reality. If two things are causally connected within time and space, then they are part of the same universe. As cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin clarifies:
“It [the universe] is certainly more than what we can have access to. Regions beyond our cosmic horizon are included. But if there are other universes whose space and time are completely disconnected from ours, those are not included. So, by ‘universe’ I mean the entire connected spacetime region.” [2]
Under this definition, there can be other universes, for there can be other disconnected spacetimes “out there”. All that I’m claiming is that this connected spacetime which we find ourselves in began to exist. Another universe cannot be the cause of this universe, because by definition it would be causally disconnected from ours, and thus cannot be the cause of our universe.

By “begins to exist”, I mean the following, where “t” can be a non-zero, finite interval of time, not necessarily an instant of time: [3]
A. x begins to exist at t if and only if x comes into being at t. 
B. x comes into being at t if and only if (i) x exists at t, and the actual world includes no state of affairs in which x exists timelessly, (ii) t is either the first time at which x exists or is separated from any t′t at which x existed by an interval during which x does not exist, and (iii) x’s existing at t is a tensed fact.
Clause (i) asserts that if, for example, a table begins to exist at 5:30, it must exist at 5:30, and that there is no state of affairs in the actual world were that table exists timelessly (if the table has a timeless state of existence and "then" becomes temporal at 5:30, it wouldn't begin to exist). We’ll be discussing timeless existence below. Clause (ii) makes clear that things can begin to exist twice. To use the previous example, the table might have come into being at 5:00, but then have been dismantled. So long as there is an interval of time between 5:00 and 5:30 at which the table does not exist, it can begin to exist again at 5:30 (perhaps the carpenter doesn’t like wasting wood).

Clause (iii) ties the kalam cosmological argument to an A-Theory of time, according to which tense and temporal becoming are real features of the world. In other words, the present exists, but the past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist. Past events did exist but no longer do, and future events will exist but do not yet exist. By “temporal becoming”, I mean that things really do come into being and pass out of being. The strongest argument for an A-Theory of time is the fact that we experience tense and temporal becoming constantly (you experience yourself waiting for things to happen, you experience things passing out of being, and you experience change). And in the absence of overwhelming arguments for thinking the A-Theory of time is false, we should conclude that our experience of temporal becoming is objective and real. The key idea here is that we should assume our experience of something is objective/veridical in the absence of reasons for thinking otherwise, which seems like an eminently plausible principle. [4]

By “sans the universe”, I mean “without the universe in existence.” The reason I’ve used this language is that if the universe had a beginning, the cause of the universe can’t exist before the beginning of the universe, because time is by definition part of the universe, and nothing can exist before the beginning of time. Thus, we must speak of such a cause as existing without the universe in existence; such a cause would exist timelessly is this state. The creator of the universe is causally prior to the beginning of the universe, but he is not temporally prior.

In summary, I’m arguing that our connected spacetime manifold came into being a, as defined above, at some point in the past and that it therefore requires some sort of causal conditions to account for its coming into being, which exist causally prior to the beginning of the universe. With these clarifications out of the way, let’s move on to the argument.

III. Examining Premise (1)

There are three lines of evidence for premise (1), “whatever begins to exist has a cause”:

1.1 Something Cannot Come from Nothing

First, something cannot come from nothing. This seems obvious, when you think about it. The potential for something’s existence is always logged in something else. The potential for a boat is logged in previously existing wood. For something to come into being from nothing, the potentiality for its existence couldn't be logged in anything, and therefore there is no potentiality for such a thing's existence. But if something came into being without any causal conditions, it would come from nothing (in other words, it would not come from anything). Therefore, whatever comes into being must have some sort of causal conditions.

For these reasons, I can't help but agree with the words of Dr. William Lane Craig,
"Like C. D. Broad, I find this notion [that something can arise without a cause] insupportable, and any world view taking this thesis on board will be eventually pulled under by its weight. The principle that something cannot come out of absolutely nothing strikes me as a sort of metaphysical first principle, one of the most obvious truths we intuit when we reflect philosophically." [5]
1.2 Denial of (1) Leads to Absurdities

Second, if something could come into being out of nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why anything and everything don’t come into being out of nothing. If universes can come into being out of nothing, why can’t horses and potatoes likewise do so? If they can, then why don’t they? Why aren’t lions and tigers and bears coming into being right now, if it’s possible that they can? You can’t respond that only things of a certain nature come into being uncaused, because a thing's nature cannot cause it to begin to exist uncaused. In other words, a thing's nature has no relevance to the state of affairs explanatory prior to that thing, lest we invoke self-causation. If someone affirms that something came into being without a cause, not only can they not explain why that thing exists, they cannot explain why an infinity of infinity of other things do not exist. If you agree that it's absurd for a lion to come into existed uncaused, then you will agree that it's absurd for anything to come into being without a cause.

1.3 Empirical Support

Third, the causal principle is constantly verified in experience and rests on a wealth of empirical support. We constantly observe things coming into being by causes, and never observe things beginning to exist without a cause. Premise (1) is so universally verified by experience that its hard to say that it’s not, at the very least, more plausibly true than false. From our experience of things beginning to exist, we can make an empirical generalization that whatever begins to exist has a cause.

IV. Examining Premise (2)

There are four lines of evidence for premise (2), “the universe began to exist”:

2.1 Argument from the Impossibility of an Actual Infinite

First, the argument from the impossibility of an actually infinite number of things. An actual infinite is a collection of things whose total number of members is infinite. It is not growing towards infinity, it is complete and actual. “À0” (aleph-null) is the symbol used to represent such a collection. An example of this would be the set of all positive numbers {1, 2, 3...}. On the other hand, a potential infinite is a collection that is growing towards infinity as a limit, but is always finite; such a collection is indefinite, not infinite. The familiar symbol “¥” represents this sort of infinity. I will argue that an actual infinite, so defined, cannot exist because its real existence leads to absurdities.

The argument can be summarized as follows:
(2.11) An actual infinite cannot exist. 
(2.12) An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite. 
(2.13) Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.
Two considerations show the truth of premise of premise (1). First, if an actual infinite could exist, contradictions would result. To see this, imagine an infinite collection of boxes. Suppose that each box has a number printed on it, created a one-to-one correspondence between a box and a positive number. Because the set of boxes is actually infinite, every positive number is used up; every positive number is labeled on some box. But then it would be impossible to add to the collection of boxes, because then we'd have to create a new positive number. But this is surely absurd, because any entity in reality can be numbered, and any collection in the real world can be added to. But if such a situation is really absurd, it follows that the existence of an actual infinite is likewise absurd.

Second, if an actually infinite collection could exist, such a collection could not be added to, which is absurd. To understand this, imagine an infinite collection of marbles, numbered 1, 2, 3, and so on out to infinite. You want to give your friend some marbles because he doesn’t have any. You take away all the even numbered marbles and give them to your friend. How many marbles do you have left? An infinite amount, for you still have all the odd numbered marbles. Here infinity minus infinity equals infinity. But now rewind the scenario, so that you have all the marbles again. This time you decide to give your friend all the marbles numbered three and above. How many marbles would you have left? Well, two. Here infinite minus infinite equals two. But this contradicts the answer we got in our first thought experiment. Thus, the real existence of an actual infinite leads to contradictions.

Because the real existence of an actual infinite leads to absurdities and contradictions, it cannot exist in reality. But, as premise (2.12) asserts, if the universe were beginningless, then there would have been an actually infinite number of events in the history of the universe prior to today, and this seems like an unobjectionable premise. Because an actually infinite number of past events cannot exist, the universe cannot be beginningless. Rather, it had a beginning.

2.2 Argument from the Impossibility of Forming an Actual Infinite

Second, the argument based on the successive formation of past events. Even if the first philosophical argument is false, the past still cannot be infinite because of it's successive nature, as we shall see. The argument goes like this:
(2.21) A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite. 
(2.22) The temporal series of past events is formed by successive addition. 
(2.23) Therefore, the temporal series of past events is not actually infinite.
Premise (2.21) asserts that an actually infinite collection cannot be formed successively. The word "successive" is key here. A collection formed successively is a collection formed by adding one member after another; the entire collection is not given all at once, but is formed over time. Seeing that a collection formed in this way cannot be actually infinite seems obvious when we consider counting to infinity. If I start counting at 1, no matter how fast I count I will never actually reach infinity. This is because À0 has no immediate predecessor; you can always count one more number before reaching infinity. This has been called “the impossibility of traversing the infinite”. 

Now someone might agree that an actually infinite collection cannot be formed by counting to infinity, but nevertheless such a collection could be formed by counting down from infinity, as would be the case in a beginningless universe. But it seems to me that it’s even more evidently impossible to count down from infinity than counting to infinity. Imagine walking into a forest and finding an old man lying down counting. You overhear him say, “-3, -2, -1, 0! I’ve finally reached 0!” When you ask him what he was doing, he tells you that he just finished counting down all the negative numbers from eternity past. Now, the man looks rather ancient, so he just might have counted all the negative numbers.

But there are two reasons the man could not have counted them all. First, before he could count 0, he would have to count -1. But before he could count -1, he would have to count -2. But before he could count -2, he would have to count -3, and so on out to infinity. Before the man could count any negative number, he would have to count the number previous to it. Therefore, he could never count any number. Indeed, before he could count any number, he could have to count an infinity of negative numbers prior to it! The man is pushed back and back into the infinite past, unable to count even a single number. 

Second, there’s no reason why the man didn’t reach 0 sooner than he did. Let us stipulate that for every hour, the man counts one negative number. One year previously, an actually infinite number of hours had already transpired. We can match up every negative number with an hour in the past, starting one year ago, so that the man had one hour to count each number an entire year before he finished. So why didn’t he finish one year ago? Indeed, for any point in the past you pick, the man should already be done, because by then an actually infinite number of hours had already transpired, plenty of time to finish counting. The man should always be done at any point in the past, and thus he should never be counting! From these two considerations, it follows that a collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite.

These two considerations apply equally well to past events. First, before any event could occur, an event before that would have to occur; no event could actually transpire. Second, for any event in the past we pick, we can ask, why didn’t that event occur sooner? And by the same reasoning, we are led to conclude that in any point in the past, any event should already have transpired, and thus no event could ever occur.Turning to premise (2.22), this seems obvious. The series of past events isn’t “given all at once", but is formed successively throughout, and I’m sure Mitchell would agree. The conclusion therefore follows that the number of past events in the history of the universe is not actually infinite; it is finite. We must get back to a first event, the beginning of the universe. Even if the first philosophical argument turns out to be unsound, this second argument still goes through, because they are independent of one another.

2.3 Big Bang Cosmology

Third, modern Big Bang cosmology implies an absolute beginning of the universe. In 1915, Albert Einstein formulated his General Theory of Relativity (GR). One of the disturbing implications of GR was that the universe could not be in a static, unchanging state. A few years later physicists Alexander Friedmann and Georges Lemaître found solutions to the equations of GR which predicted an expanding universe. In 1929, Edwin Hubble observed the light from distant galaxies was shifting towards the red end of the spectrum, which implied that they were moving away from us at fantastic speeds. This in turn implied the universe was expanding. Hubble's observation was the first of many empirical confirmations of what later became known as the Big Bang theory, or the Standard Model.

Figure 1 - The Standard Big Bang Model

Because the Standard Model is based on the equations of general relativity, it doesn’t predict that galaxies are being pushed apart from a central point, but rather that space itself is expanding. As you trace the expansion backwards in time, space gets smaller and galaxies get closer together. The universe gets denser and denser, until you reach a time when everything is crushed down to a point. The density of the universe at this point is infinite. Before this, the universe did not exist. As physicists Barrow and Tipler explain, "At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo." [6]

Four of the world’s most prominent astronomers comment:
“The universe began from a state of infinite density. . . . Space and time were created in that event and so was all the matter in the universe. It is not meaningful to ask what happened before the Big Bang; it is like asking what is north of the North Pole. Similarly, it is not sensible to ask where the Big Bang took place. The point-universe was not an object isolated in space; it was the entire universe, and so the answer can only be that the Big Bang happened everywhere.” [7]
Thus, we can be confident that according to the Standard Model, the universe had an absolute beginning in the finite past. But the question remains, is this prediction of the Standard Model correct? There are three principle arguments in favor of the Standard Model: (i) the observed abundances of helium and hydrogen, which were predicted by the Big Bang theory, (ii) the observed temperature of the cosmic background radiation, which was also predicted by the Big Bang theory, and (iii) the “red-shift” of light from distant galaxies, which is best explained by the expansion of the universe. And, insofar as general relativity predicts an expanding universe, all of the evidence for the general theory of relativity will count in favor of the Standard Model as well.

Some object that because general relativity breaks down at the first split-second of the universe (10-43 seconds), we cannot say what happened during this time. Perhaps the universe arose from the quantum vacuum. While it’s true that the Standard Model is incomplete for these reasons, it’s irrelevant. In 2003, three cosmologists, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin crafted the BGV theorem, which shows that any universe which is on average in a state of cosmic expansion throughout its history cannot be eternal in the past. In their own words:
"Our argument shows that null and time-like geodesics are, in general, past-incomplete in inflationary models, whether or not energy conditions hold, provided only that the averaged expansion condition Hav> 0 holds along these past-directed geodesics. This is a stronger conclusion than the one arrived at in previous work in that we have shown under reasonable assumptions that almost all causal geode-sics, when extended to the past of an arbitrary point, reach the boundary of the inflating region of spacetime in a finite proper time..." [8]
A remarkable feature of the BGV theorem is that its independent of the physical conditions of the universe in its early stages, so a quantum theory of gravity wont affect the fundamental prediction of the Standard Model of an absolute beginning to the universe. Alexander Vilenkin remarks,
“A remarkable thing about this theorem is its sweeping generality. . . . We did not even assume that gravity is described by Einstein’s equations. So, if Einstein’s gravity requires some modification, our conclusion will still hold. The only assumption that we made was that the expansion rate of the universe never gets below some nonzero value.” [9]
So long as our universe is on average in a state of cosmic expansion, it doesn’t matter what the physics of the very early universe turn out to be. Loop quantum gravity models, no-boundary models, and closed time-like curve models have all been proposed to restore an eternal universe, but they all fail. Indeed, the consistent failure of supposed “past-eternal” models testifies to the strength of the evidence for a cosmic beginning. If Mitchell suggests a model as a possible defeater of premise (2), I will respond to it then.

2.4 The Second Law of Thermodynamics

Fourth, the second law of thermodynamics predicts a beginning of the universe. The second law asserts that any closed system tends towards a state of equilibrium; all closed systems tend to run down and quit. In such a system, the usable energy is running out. Another expression of the second law is that warm bodies radiate their heat to cold bodies. In the bath, for example, the water is never hot on one side and cold on the other; the heat diffuses itself evenly throughout the tub.

The same can be said about the universe. Even in the nineteenth century, physicist realized that the second law had grim implications for the universe as a whole. For the universe is a closed-system, and thus it is heading towards a state of heat death, where everything will be equally diffused throughout the universe; there will be no complex structures to speak of. All matter, energy, and heat, will be spread out through the cosmos, becoming every darker and colder. There will be no sun, stars, planets, or life. But the inevitable question arises: if, given sufficient time, the universe will reach such a state, why is it not now in that state? If the universe were eternal in the past, then we should have reach equilibrium an infinite time ago! This suggest that the universe is not eternal, but began to exist at some point in the past.

Physicist Paul Davies comments,
“Today, few cosmologists doubt that the universe, at least as we know it, did have an origin at a moment in the finite past. The alternative – that the universe has always existed in one form or another – runs into a rather basic paradox. The sun and stars cannot keep burning forever: sooner or later they will run out of fuel and die. 
The same is true of all irreversible physical processes; the stock of energy available to drive them is finite and cannot last for eternity. This is an example of the so-called second law of thermodynamics, which, applied to the entire cosmos, predicts that it is stuck on a one-way slide of degeneration and decay towards a final state of maximum entropy, or disorder. As this final state has not yet been reached, it follows that the universe cannot have existed for an infinite time.” [10]
To summarize, on the basis of two philosophical arguments, the argument based on the impossibility of an actually infinite number of things, the argument based on the successive formation of past events, modern Big Bang cosmology, and the second law of thermodynamics, I conclude that premise (2) is more plausibly true than false. The universe began to exist at some point in the finite past, and thus, in conjunction with premise (1), there is a cause of the universe.

V. Examining Premise (3)

There are three lines of evidence for premise (3), “if the universe has a cause, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful”.

3.1 Conceptual Analysis

First, a conceptual analysis of what it means to be a cause of the universe establishes many of these attributes. As a cause of space and time, this cause must be spaceless and timeless. It must therefore be immaterial and changeless, because anything material is spatially extended, and anything changing must be temporal. This cause must be uncaused, for as we’ve seen there cannot be an infinite regress of causes; you must get back to an Uncaused First Cause. This cause must therefore be beginningless, for anything with a beginning has a cause, and this cause is uncaused. The cause of the universe must be enormously powerful, for it brought all of space and time, matter and energy, into being out of nothing. Thus, by conceptual analysis alone, we’ve seen that the cause of the universe must be uncaused, beginningless, timeless, spaceless, changeless, immaterial, and enormously powerful. The atheist should be getting pretty uncomfortable at this point, and the naturalist should be horrified.

3.2 Unembodied Minds Vs. Abstract Objects

Second, because the universe cannot be an abstract object, it must be an unembodied mind. As we’ve seen, the cause of the universe must at least be uncaused, beginningless, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and immaterial. Now there are only two conceivable entities which fit this description: unembodied minds and abstract objects (numbers, propositons, sets, ideas, etc.). But the problem is, abstract objects can’t cause anything. That’s definitional of an abstract object. Therefore, the cause of the universe must be an unembodied mind.

We can summarize the argument as follows: [11]
(4.11) If the universe has a cause, then that cause is either an abstract object or an unembodied mind. 
(4.12) An abstract object cannot be the cause of the universe. 
(4.13) Therefore, if the universe has a cause, then that cause is an unembodied mind.
The fact that we can’t conceive of a third alternative gives us prima facie reason to accept the truth of (4.11). If my opponent wishes to suggest a third candidate, I will discuss it. But until he does this, premise (4.11) must be considered complete. At this point, many object that there could be other candidates for a cause of the universe, but we just don’t know what they are. The problem, though, is that a dilemma (either a or b), can be valid even if there are logically possible options (c, d, etc.). So even if it’s logically possible that there is another candidate for a cause of the universe, an unembodied mind and an abstract object will still be the best explanations, for an unknown explanation can never be better than a known explanation. Premise (4.11) represents the two best explanations for the origin of the universe, and thus is true, even if there are logically possible exceptions.

3.3 Impersonal Conditions Vs. Personal Agents

Third, the cause of the universe must be a free, personal agent. The argument goes like this: [12]
(4.21) If the universe has a cause, then the cause is either a set of impersonal causal conditions or a free, personal agent. 
(4.22) The cause of the universe is not set of impersonal causal conditions. 
(4.23) Therefore, if the universe has a cause, then the cause is a free, personal agent. 
Looking at premise (4.21), the only evidence needed to establish its plausibility is simply the fact that no third alternative has ever been suggested. Again, the fact that we can’t conceive of a third alternative gives us prima facie reason to accept the truth of the premise. If Mitchell, or anyone else, suggests a third alternative, we will add it to the list and consider it. But until that happens, (4.21) must be considered exhaustive, and thus true. Turning to premise (4.22), the cause of the universe cannot be an impersonal set of necessary and sufficient conditions, because then the universe would be eternal. If the cause of the universe were beginningless, why is the effect (the universe) not beginningless as well? If the necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence of the universe were set from eternity past (which would have to be the case if the universe were an impersonal set of causal conditions), then the universe should exist from eternity past as well.

For example, the necessary and sufficient conditions for water freezing are the temperature falling below 32 F. But if the temperature had been below 32 F from eternity past, then any water around would be frozen from eternity past as well. There would be no way for the water to begin to freeze at some point in time. Similarly, if the cause of the universe were a beginningless, impersonal set of necessary and sufficient conditions, then the universe should be beginningless as well. The only way out of this dilemma is through what philosopher’s call agent causation. Agents can freely will new effects in time, without any prior determining conditions. Thus, a man sitting from eternity could freely will to stand up at any point in the past. Similarly, a personal, beginningless cause can choose to create a universe with a beginning. Thus, premise (4.22) is more plausibly true than false.

VI. Conclusion

To conclude, we’ve seen that (1) everything that begins to exist has a cause, that (2) the universe began to exist, and that (3) if the universe has a cause, there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful. From these three premises it follows necessarily that the universe has a cause, and therefore there exists an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe who sans the universe is beginningless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, changeless, and enormously powerful. This should certainly disturb any atheist worth the name.

  1. This basic formulation comes from: William Lane Craig, and James Sinclair, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument,” in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology.
  2. Vilenkin, Alexander, as found at “What Does One Mean by “the Universe”?, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/what-does-one-mean-by-the-universe.
  3. Craig, William Lane, “J. Howard Sobel on the Kalam Cosmological Argument” Reasonable Faith. (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/j-howard-sobel-on-the-kalam-cosmological-argument) 14 Oct. 2013.
  4. What this analysis means is that x can still begin to exist even if there is no first instant of x’s existence. Indeed, in order for an object to begin moving, there cannot be a first instant of said motion. This definition also means that there needn’t be past moments of time prior to x in order for x to begin to exist. If there had to be moments prior to something in order for it to begin to exist, then asserting that time began to exist would be a literal self-contradiction, but clearly it’s not.
  5. Craig, William Lane, Theism, Atheism, And Big Bang Cosmology, New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Print. 273.
  6. John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 442
  7. Richard J. Gott, et.al., "Will the Universe Expand Forever?" Scientific American (March 1976), p. 65.
  8. Arvind Borde, Alan H. Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, “Inflationary Spacetimes are not Past-Complete” Web. (16 Oct. 2013) http://arxiv.org/pdf/grqc/0110012.pdf.
  9. Vilenkin, Alexander. Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print. 175.
  10. Davis, Paul, “The Big Bang – and Before,” The Thomas Aquinas College Lecture Series, Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Calif., March 2002.
  11. Craig, William Lane “Design and the Cosmological Argument” Leader U, 14 Oct. 1013, (http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/design-cosmoarg.html).
  12. Ibid.


  1. William Craig's tactic is to ramble off so many points that others in the debate have no way to respond to them all and bring up their own points; at which he then shrugs it all off by listing one of his points as having been missed, usually phrased, " failed to address " and moves on, thinking that this somehow justifies ignoring their other points when they made a good faith effort to address what he was saying. It looks like he has DEFINITELY strongly influenced your writing. These essays are so long winded that there is not really a strong cohesive conversation going on. Maybe dial back the use of your thesaurus and try one point at a time? No need to try and display your intellectual prowess, it comes off as if you both are trying too hard. Try to have an actual conversation rather than pretending that you're a Harvard professor (because you really aren't).

    1. William Lane Craig's debating tactics have about zero relevance to anything discussed on this website, so I'll simply ignore those remarks. As for whether he's influenced me, indeed he has! He is the foremost proponent and defender of the kalam cosmological argument, so of course he's going to influence me, and that's not a bad thing. It would be like accusing someone researching black holes of being influenced by Stephen Hawking. I appreciate your criticisms, but I think they're off the mark. We've based our dialogue on the model set in professional journals, for practicing our writing skills and just because it’s a good model. Yes, our articles are rather lengthy, but so are most journal articles. I apologize if we're coming off as if we're trying too hard, but I really don't know what to do differently. As for having a real conversation rather than pretending to be a Harvard professor, I'll simply dismiss the remark. For what it’s worth, I think Mitchell and I are having a great conversation of these issues, and I’m sorry you feel differently. I'm not sure why you're so hostile towards us, considering we've never met, nor have either of us said anything that could be taken as offensive. If you’re not actually going to give helpful criticisms free of hostility, then please don’t comment.

    2. It sounds like even being a Harvard professor without a thesaurus would hardly spare one the righteous scorn of Lilly Jones.

      Miles introduced the presentation as an extensive article and went on to give one. He did not abuse the reader.

      Now, it's true that length of expression requires briefer effort than achieving a brief expression of equal meaning. It takes time to get right, but so are all worthwhile things. Just keep writing, Miles. You can't go wrong that way!