Chapter 6: God's Existence

15 March 2006

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In this chapter, Krueger deals with the Design Argument (also known as the Teleological Argument) and the Cosmological Argument. He attempts to show that these two philosophical arguments for God’s existence are faulty.

The Teleological Argument

Before I began analyzing Krueger’s objections to the Teleological Argument, it is important to mention that he is quite mistaken when he claims that the theist must assume that order can never come from disorder. Instead, the theist need only show that the order found in the universe is most likely to have been the product of a designer. Who cares if some instances can be found in which order comes from disorder? It only matters if such a case can be compared to the universe as a whole.

Krueger brings up a common objection to the Argument from Design- that the Designer Himself would require a designer as well. Therefore, the Argument from Design is unsuccessful. However, this is quite mistaken. According to Craig:

“This popular objection is based on a misconception of the nature of explanation. It is widely recognized that in order for an explanation to be the best explanation, one needn’t have an explanation of the explanation (indeed, such a requirement would generate an infinite regress, so that everything becomes inexplicable). If the best explanation of a disease is a previously unknown virus, doctors need not be able to explain the virus in order to know it caused the disease. If archaeologists determine that the best explanation of certain artifacts is a lost tribe of ancient people, the archaeologists needn’t be able to explain the origin of the people in order to say justifiably that they produced the artifacts. If astronauts should find traces of intelligent life on some other planet, we need not be able to explain such extraterrestrials in order to recognize that they are the best explanation. In the same way, believing that the design hypothesis is the best explanation of the fine-tuning doesn’t depend on our ability to explain the designer.” 1

Moreover, it doesn’t seem to me as though God would require a designer if He were eternally and timelessly existent (which is a subject of the Cosmological Argument, to be discussed below)

Next, Krueger brings up the objection that the supposed analogy between the universe and artifacts is weak, because there is much dissimilarity between the two. However, the “artifact analogy” is merely a single argument used in favor of the Argument from Design- and even if Krueger is correct that the analogy is weak, he will have only shown that one of the arguments for the Design Argument are faulty. Needless to say, this falls much short of his goal.

Many of the differences Krueger mentions are not necessarily true. For example, he states that all artifacts we have seen have been built by beings with physical bodies and built using labor. But suppose we discovered artifacts on another planet that were made by aliens that did not comply with these rules? It is quite likely that we would still declare that they were artifacts in need of a designer explanation.

In any case, the differences Krueger mentions seem to be insignificant. The only thing that matters is that artifacts, like the universe, are complex things that cannot be explained with regard to blind chance. And that is enough for the artifact analogy to be useful as one argument for the Argument from Design.

What Type of Creator?

Krueger claims that the Design Argument fails because it does not show that the God of Christian theism exists. However, this is a misrepresentation, for the Design Argument need not attempt to conclude such a thing. It is not the burden of the Design Argument to prove the existence of all the characteristics of the Christian God. The argument need only prove that the universe requires a designer to be successful. For example, consider Craig’s formulation of the argument:

1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either law, chance, or design.
2. It is not due to law or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.

The Design Argument is successful if it shows that the universe was designed. The identification of the agent or agents responsible is a topic of discussion that can be considered once premise [3] is confirmed.

Nevertheless, it is indeed my belief that the Argument from Design is strong evidence for God’s existence. However, I will not say that the argument proves many of the divine attributes. I believe that the argument is enough to show that some sort of god exists. The further identification of that god as the Christian God can be confirmed through other arguments (see HERE). But what does Krueger have to say about the identification of the designer?

1. The argument does not prove that there is a single creator.

First, it must be mentioned that atheism is dead wrong whether there is one creator or one million creators. And though it cannot be “proved” that there was only one creator of the universe, the evidence does point that way. This is because Occam’s Razor (the principle that explanatory entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity) implies that it is most reasonable to assume that there is only one Creator of the universe.

2. The argument does not show that the creator still exists.

In what seems to be quite a stretch, Krueger argues that there is no way to prove that the creator of the universe still exists. I think it is highly unlikely that an immaterial entity that created the universe would die. Is it even possible for an immaterial entity to die? In any case, the Design Argument need not prove that the creator still exists today. I will just say that one would have to question the sincerity of the atheist who tried to avoid the strength of the Design Argument by supposing that the creator is now dead.

3. The argument does not show that the creator was omnipotent.

It is certainly true that we cannot determine how much power would be needed to create the universe.

4. The argument does not show that the creator was omnibenevolent.

The moral quality of the creator cannot be determined on the basis of the Design Argument, nor should we expect it to.

5. The argument does not show that the creator was omniscient.

Although the Design Argument cannot prove omniscience, it does seem to prove a significant amount of intelligence. Any being that could balance the parameters of the universe so well as to narrowly allow for life to exist must be of significant intelligence.

The Cosmological Argument

Krueger starts his critique by mentioning what he calls the “Principle of Sufficient Reason”:

Anything which happens or which exists is always caused to happen or to exist.

This is almost, but not quite, parallel to the second premise of my favorite version of the Cosmological Argument, which is as follows:

1. The universe began to exist.
2. Anything which begins to exist requires a cause. (Note that this premise is quite similar to Krueger’s, but slightly different in that it clarifies that the thing or event which exists must have a beginning in order to require a cause.)
3. Therefore, the universe requires a cause.

Krueger’s first line of attack is to claim that Cosmological Arguments, even if true, do not show that the Christian God exists. However, just like the Design Argument, the Cosmological Argument need not prove the existence of the Christian God in order to be successful. However, the argument does demonstrate quite a few important characteristics of God. To quote myself extensively:

I will argue that the nature of the First Cause in this instance requires exactly the same entity as outlined by my minimalist definition of God. For convenience, I will list the three major points of my minimalist definition of God here, and we will see whether or not the First Cause in question requires such characteristics.

1.) An entity that is above and beyond the laws of the universe, and not subject to the laws of the universe.
2.) An eternally existing entity.
3.) An entity with the ability to make decisions.

We’ll look at each of these in turn.

1.) An entity that is above and beyond the laws of the universe, and not subject to the laws of the universe.

This characteristic seems to be necessary for the First Cause in question. Since the universe contains physical laws, the entity that created the universe would have to be separate from these laws. Therefore, the entity would be operating in a different realm, and would not be subject to the laws of the universe it created. The universe could not be created by its own physical laws, or else it would be creating itself, which is a notion I have refuted previously. Therefore, it seems that this characteristic of God is a necessary component of the First Cause entity in question.

2.) An eternally existing entity.

As mentioned earlier, it is necessary that the First Cause entity is eternal, or else that entity would require a cause itself, based on the principle “Everything which begins to exist requires a cause”. It therefore is true that the First Cause entity in question must have existed eternally, otherwise leading to an infinite regression of events, which is a logical impossibility.

3.) An entity with the ability to make decisions.

This is the most important point with regards to the identification of the First Cause entity. If you have an entity that makes decisions, you basically have God. A naturalistic cause does not have the ability to make decisions. Therefore, if this point is proven, it seems inevitable that we will be forced to admit that God is the only logical possibility for the First Cause in question.

Such a justification is possible. The First Cause in question requires an entity with the ability to make decisions, because an eternally existing cause without such an ability is not capable of creating something unique. This is because, since it has existed forever, the naturally occurring cause would have already created the universe. An automated, inanimate cause cannot will something into existence, because such a cause only responds to conditions. Since it would have existed forever, such conditions would have been met an eternity ago and our universe would have already existed forever. Either that or the conditions would have never been met, and our universe would not exist. On the other hand, God has the ability to make decisions, and thus can “will” something into existence even in the absence of any automated condition to do so. An inanimate, eternally existing cause cannot create something unique, while an entity that is able to make decisions can.

Due to these three reasons, we are forced to conclude that God is the only reasonable solution to the question of why the universe exists, if in fact the three premises of the Cosmological Argument are valid.

Krueger also claims that the CA cannot prove that the cause was personal rather than mechanical. An inanimate physical process, object, or substance could be the “First Cause” that the CA necessitates. However, Krueger is wrong in this instance because the specific case of the universe’s creation requires a personal entity, as shown above in the third point of my quoted portion.

Krueger also complains that the CA cannot prove that there is only one god. However, Krueger once again fails to recognize the fact that the principle of Occam’s Razor undermines his claim. Since it is unreasonable to multiply explanations beyond necessity, we should assume that only one God is responsible for the creation of the universe. But, even if this were not the case, the CA still undermines atheism. Whether there is one deity or one million, atheism is still false and theism is still true. And, once again, the CA does not need to prove the existence of the Christian God, so its success is not based upon whether or not it can be proved that only one creator is responsible.

Krueger’s next major objection to the Cosmological Arguments is that it cannot be shown that an infinite regress is impossible. In other words, there is no need for us to suppose that there is a “first” cause, for the causal chain could simply go back infinitely. However, it seems absurd to suppose that the causal chain leading up to the creation of the universe could have always been going. If that chain was started an “infinity” ago, then why is it that our universe just so happened to be created relatively recently? Wouldn’t the necessary cause that created the actual universe have occurred an infinity ago as well? If one is going to suppose that there could have been an infinite regress, then one will have to overcome the philosophical arguments against the possibility of an actual infinite. 2 Furthermore, it seems irrational to assume that there is an infinite amount of causes for the universe’s existence rather than one single cause (God), as suggested by Occam’s Razor. Finally, scientific finds have simply undermined the possibility of an infinite regress by showing that the universe began to exist, as well as time itself. Thus, a mechanical, infinite regress is simply not a possible explanation of the universe.

Krueger next objects to the idea of a “necessary being”, but the version of the argument I have defended does not rely on such a concept. 3

Krueger then argues that the universe itself could be the “First Thing”. He states:

“This explanation is simpler than the explanation that god and the universe exist. The simpler view is more likely to be true than its rival, since the “universe only” model assumes less than the other model. For any two rival theories, all other things being equal, the theory with fewer assumptions has the greater probability of being true.” [151]

It is quite ironic that he makes this claim, for this is the Occam’s Razor principle that I have been referring to and which Krueger, apparently, has failed to consistently apply. Although Krueger is right about the fact that the universe being the First Thing is simpler than the theory that God created the universe, he is incorrect in assuming that such is a possibility. Unfortunately for the atheist, the hypothesis of an eternal, always existent universe is undermined by scientific discoveries, as well as philosophical/mathematical considerations. See my article HERE (section A) for a discussion of a few of those reasons.

Krueger next attacks his “Principle of Sufficient Reason”, discussed earlier in this article. First, he says that we cannot “know” that the principle is true. He even claims “Since we cannot know that the PSR is true by observation or by reason alone, then it would seem that we cannot know that it is true, and the cosmological argument fails.” [153] This is quite an exaggeration, for we need not “know” that the principle is true in order to accept the Cosmological Argument. We need only know that the principle is more likely true than its negation. As long as it is more likely that the principle is true, the CA is successful.

Does Krueger give us any justification to suppose that the 2nd premise of the Cosmological Argument is most likely false, let alone obviously false? He mentions quantum theory, and claims that the theory undermines the claim that things cannot happen for no reason. However, this is not an obvious refutation of the 2nd premise of the Cosmological Argument. Quantum theory does not provide an example of something coming from nothing. According to Craig:

“This quantum phenomenon, even if an exception to the principle that every event has a cause, provides no analogy to something’s coming into being out of nothing. Though physicists speak of this as particle pair creation and annihilation, such terms are philosophically misleading, for all that actually occurs is conversion of energy into matter or vice versa.” 4

Thus, quantum phenomena cannot allow the atheist a method of escape from the problem of the universe’s existence.

Conclusion:

Krueger’s objections to the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments are unsuccessful. He fails to back up his points, repeatedly disregards Occam’s Razor, and consistently expects the arguments to be able to prove much more than they really have to. In reality, however, the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments are two very good reasons to believe in a personal Creator.


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NOTES:

1. Geisler, Hoffman, Why I am a Christian, Chapter Four (Craig) “Why I Believe God Exists”, (p 73)

2. Craig, The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe, found at http://www.leaderu.com/truth/3truth11.html

3. In my view, a “necessary being” could be construed as a being that must exist in order for any existence to exist at all. If God did not exist, neither would existence itself. In such a way is God a “necessary” being.

4. See Craig, Cosmos and Creator, found at http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od172/cosmos172.htm (The latter third of the article talks about quantum indeterminacy.)




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