Regarding  “God  and  the  Initial   Cosmological  Singularity:  A  Reply  to   Quentin  Smith”  by  William  Lane  Craig

 
While  I  appreciate  the  level  of  discussion  –  the  arguments  on  both  sides  are   reasonably  thought  through  and  argued  with  a  subtlety  one  would  expect  of  a   theologian  and  a  theologically  aware  atheist  –  the  premise  that  the  discussion   concerns  the  existence  of  God  appears  invalid.     In  actuality  the  pair  are  discussing   the  nature  of  a  God  already  admitted  as  ‘real’,  although  the  precise  ontological  status   of  either  God  or  the  ‘real’  initial  singularity  is  difficult  to  clarify.   In  terms  of  the  apparent  argument  regarding  whether  a  creator  is,  given  the  triad  of   assumptions:  beings  as  originating  only  via  techne  (everything  that  exists  has  to   have  a  cause),  reality  as  a  whole  being  projectable  as  a  ‘universe’,  and  that  universe   being  temporally  finite  in  the  historical  sense,  and  therefore  having  a  beginning,   Craig  is  in  an  a  priori  better  position  in  the  argument  than  Smith.     As  Craig  notes,   having  an  (apparently)  demonstrated  beginning  to  the  universe  would,  for  Aquinas,   have  relieved  the  burden  of  arguing  for  God’s  existence  from  the  notion  of  an  eternal   universe,  which  is  much  more  difficult  than  arguing  for  God’s  existence  when  a  first   cause  is  already  admitted.     That  the  singularity  takes  the  place  of  God  as  the  creator  being  for  Smith  only   changes  certain  aspects  of  the  nature  of  God,  since  structurally  it  remains  the  same   as  the  God  of  the  philosophers  and  theologians.  The  singularity  is  noted  as  being:   absolutely  unique,  the  origin  of  everything  that  is  without  an  origin  of  its  own,   existing  prior  to  and  therefore  outside  our  usual  conceptions  of  space-­‐time,  more   improbable  than  anything  observable  in  the  universe  but,  since  it  is  the  only   necessary  being  in  the  universe,  the  only  being  we  can  guarantee  to  exist  (or  have   existed).     Of  course  the  singularity  doesn’t  meet  all  the  requirements  of  the   Christian  theological  notion  of  God,  hence  the  disagreement.  The  singularity,  like   Plato’s  initial  idea  of  the  creator,  is  completely  dispersed  in  creation,  with  no  trace  of   itself  as  a  being  remaining.     That  the  singularity  is  not  the  Christian  God,  though,   doesn’t  make  it  any  less  ‘God’  in  terms  of  its  place  in  the  structure  of  reality.     A   radical  reading  of  Christianity,  in  fact,  could  construe  the  ‘holy  ghost’  as  precisely   the  empty  structural  place  of  the  God  which  is  no  longer.     A  common  conception  of   gods  across  cultures,  in  fact,  involves  those  gods  having  “passed”  by/away  and   therefore  no  longer  presencing.   Smith’s  book  is  in  certain  respects  similar  to  those  of  vulgar  atheists  discussing   theological  concepts,  in  that  the  nature  of  the  God  he  is  disputing  is  borrowed   wholesale  from  certain  populist  accounts  without  questioning  what  in  that  nature  is   a  necessary  attribute  of  a  creator  being,  and  what  is  not,  although  Smith’s  

conception  of  God  is  not  the  vulgarly  simplistic  God  that  someone  like  Dawkins   assumes  to  be  the  only  relevant  concept.     This  makes  it  simple  enough  for  Craig  to   question  specifically  those  non-­‐necessary  attributes  and  posit  theologically   plausible  alternatives  to  those  that  Smith  finds  objectionable.     Since  Smith  has,  by   believing  the  big  bang  theory  and  its  posit  of  the  singularity  as  the  origin  of   everything,  already  admitted  a  being  with  all  the  necessary  attributes  as  real,  it  only   remains  for  Craig  to  dispute  that  the  concept  of  God  requires  the  attributes  he  is  in   disagreement  with,  and  to  question  whether  the  singularity  coming-­‐to-­‐be  from   nothing  (although  there  is  no  temporally  prior  to  the  singularity,  the  nothing   remains  ontologically  prior)  is  in  fact  more  believable  than  God  always  existing.     Since  Smith  specifically  posits  the  singularity  as  temporal  and  not  “without  tense”   this  last  argument  is  simpler  than  it  might  be  otherwise  be.     If  the  singularity  is  not   without  tense  then  in  some  sense  it  did  “come-­‐to-­‐be”,  although  not  in  our  usual   sense  of  temporal  arising.  Since  outside  it  there  is  nothing,  not  even  time-­‐space  as   structural  elements,  it  had  to  come-­‐to-­‐be  from  nothing,  by  nothing.     It  is  easy   enough  for  Craig  to  point  out  that  beings  arising  from  a  being  is  more  “like  from  like”   than  a  being  arising  from  nothing,  and  satisfies  the  mechanistic  causality  both   subscribe  to.     The  Christian  concept  of  the  ‘living’  God  then  solves  the  issue  that  the   anthropic  principle  is  being  asked  to  support  unquantifiable  improbabilities  that   arise  due  to  difficulties  in  harmonizing  observed  reality  with  the  big  bang  theory   itself.     The  anthropic  principle  can  easily  be  seen  as  meaning  “unintelligent  design”   as  opposed  to  “intelligent  design”  given  that  the  assumption  that  all  beings  arise  via   techne  inherently  implies  a  designer  from  both  the  scientific  and  theological  view.   It’s  this  assumption,  functionally,  that  leads  to  the  notion  of  the  universe  having  an   origin,  and  therefore  the  big  bang  theory  itself  can  be  viewed  as  an  onto-­‐theological   mechanism  to  enable  the  assumption  of  beings  as  technical  to  remain  an   unquestioned  assumption.     As  philosophers,  theosophists  and  theologians  from  Plato  through  Philo  and   Aquinas  on  have  known,  once  a  beginning  is  admitted  a  first  cause  is  implicated.   How  this  first  cause  is  conceived  may  be  a  matter  of  argument  between  theologians,   but  within  a  given  view  of  reality  the  structurally  necessary  attributes  of  that  first   cause  are  already  determined  by  the  place  it  occupies  prior  to  the  question  of  its   being  even  being  asked.       Any  atheism  that  wants  to  survive  even  the  first  encounter  with  theology  has  to   question  the  fundamental  assumptions  that  support  that  theology  and  caused  it  to   arise  in  the  first  place.     This  can’t  however  be  done  within  the  assumptions  of  the   natural  sciences,  simply  because  in  studying  reality  “as  nature”  those  assumptions   are  already  part  of  the  required  structure  of  natural  science.     This  set  of  affairs  is   precisely  what  Heisenberg  was  implying  when  he  stated  that  “The  first  gulp  of  the   natural  sciences  will  make  you  an  atheist,  but  God  is  waiting  at  the  bottom  of  the   glass.”.     The  more  complete  the  picture  of  reality  a  given  science  paints,  the  closer   the  science  gets  to  the  bottom  of  that  glass,  and  at  the  bottom  of  every  glass  of  the   natural  sciences  are  the  theological  assumptions  that  gave  rise  to  modern  science  as   “natural”  science.  

           

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful