After failing to refute the Leibnitzian Cosmological Argument, Chris Hallquist turns to the Kalam Cosmological Argument. For those who don’t already know the Kalam, I’ve argued for it both here and elsewhere.
Always slightly more reasonable than the average New Atheist, Hallquist doesn’t object to the first premise of the argument (“Whatever begins to exist has a cause”). He’s a little glib, as if he’s doing Craig a personal favor by allowing an obvious truth that is fundamental to science to pass without argument.
Still, he does allow it.
Rather, he argues against premise two (“The universe began to exist”). But, in the end, there isn’t much in the way of argument made here.
The closest he gets is a claim that there are models of the universe consistent with the evidence that are past-infinite. But he never says what these models are, or addresses any of Craig’s specific arguments against these claims. Rather, he simply claims this, apparently hoping that no one will notice that he hasn’t actually made a cogent point.
Really, anyone who is so quick to accuse Craig of basing arguments on bravado, rather than facts, should support his case with facts.
There is one shining exception to this pattern, though. He’s one of the only atheists who is actually willing to address Craig’s repeated use of the Borde, Guth, Vilenkin theorem, which (according to Craig) shows that the universe cannot be past eternal.
However, all he does is quote a passage from another New Atheist writer, who in turn quotes Alexander Vilenkin out of context to imply that there is no reason to think that the universe has a finite past. While it is true that Vilenkin personally thinks a reason will be found to restore an eternal universe, he admits that there is no reason to think this, and has no answers for Craig’s argument that this is impossible.
So, while Hallquist is right to say that many past eternal universes have been proposed by scientists, it is wrong to say that any of these are anywhere near as plausible as the past finite standard model. Rather, they are speculations specifically designed to avoid a beginning of the universe, but which have failed to do this.
So far as I’ve read, no one has been able to point to a valid piece of evidence that the universe is past-eternal (and there is much evidence to the contrary). Those who believe that evidence is required for a belief, then, should conclude that it is not.
Hallquist also complains that Craig doesn’t apply the same standards to “the God hypothesis”, but, here, he’s simply confused. The idea that there is such a thing as a “God hypothesis” is a fantasy of Richard Dawkins. The scientific hypothesis Craig is arguing for in the second premise of the “KCA” is the idea that the universe began to exist. Everything beyond that is logical analysis based on that conclusion. To demand that we apply scientific tests to metaphysics is to quit doing serious thinking and simply to insist on Scientism.
More than that, Hallquist consistently avoids offering an alternative for equal examination when it does happen to be pertinent–as we’ll see later in the series.
But Hallquist has one more line of argument on this point: “What if there’s an undiscovered exception to the second law of thermodynamics?”.
I honestly don’t see how that’s any more scientific than the obvious reply: “Yes, and what if that exception turns out to be God?”.
Hallquist, in fact, insists that the idea that God created the universe would have to be an exception to the second law of thermodynamics, and therefore false. Not only, then, is he insisting that what he himself suggests is impossible, but he completely overlooks the very simple answer to this:
A law pertaining to time and space wouldn’t apply to the first moment of time and space–nor to a God that transcends time and space.
So, for all his implication that he respects science, Hallquist seems to dismiss it here. Anyone who claims to follow the evidence where it leads has no business making an argument from “what if the fundamental laws of science are wrong”. This is the crudest form of wishful thinking.
But Hallquist has more to say about the Kalam. I’ll address that next.