Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology

26 February 2006

In Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, Christian philosopher William Lane Craig debates atheistic philosopher Quentin Smith in a series of technical essays. The book is separated into three main sections.

In the first section, Craig and Smith debate the possible existence of the actual infinite in the real world. Craig contends that the infinite is applicable only, if at all, in the realm of the mathematical. While admitting the applicability of Cantor’s set theory, he tries to show that an actual infinite instantiated in the real world would lead to contradictions. He also argues that it is impossible to create an infinite by successive addition. He therefore concludes that the universe had a beginning. Smith counters Craig by attempting to resolve the supposed paradoxes, and establishing the reasonability of an actual infinite.

In this section Craig also attempts to argue from the beginning of the universe to the necessity of a personal cause. Smith contends that, although the universe did begin to exist in the Big Bang, it is impossible to prove that it requires a cause and is therefore reasonable to assume that the universe began to exist without a cause.

In the second section, Smith attempts to construct an atheistic cosmological argument. He claims that the Big Bang singularity will emit all configurations with equal probability, and, therefore cannot be guaranteed to result in a life-permitting universe. He concludes that the unpredictability of the first states of the universe is incompatible with divine creation, since God would want to ensure a life-permitting universe. Craig addresses this by denying the actual existence of the singularity and by countering that God’s interaction in the world to ensure a life-permitting universe is compatible with His attributes.

In the final section, Craig critiques Hartle-Hawking Cosmology, which purportedly eliminates the need for a Creator. Craig shows that this cosmology only averts the need for a Creator by utilizing metaphysically absurd concepts such as “imaginary time.” Smith agrees that the cosmology needs some changes in order to remain coherent, and in the final essay he attempts to improve the metaphysics of the cosmology in order to construct a plausible alternative to Divine Causation.

This book, while extremely informative and interesting, was also very technical. Thus, it is recommended only for those who have a great interest in the topics discussed and who are looking for an advanced treatment of the issues.


  1. I gotta get this!

    — Parvinder    Jun 4, 02:53 PM    #
  2. I just received it from Barnes and Nobles!

    — Parvinder    Aug 2, 02:18 PM    #
  3. What this book really proves is how foolish an intelligent person can be. While sounding technical some of Smiths arguments are so absurd in terms of their liklihood that they beg for credulity.

    — Ryan Blood    Jan 30, 11:29 AM    #
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