A Response To Baronthini On The Kalaam

This is a post responding to Nathan Baronthini's* blog post "The Heavens Proclaim the Greatness of God - A Look at the Kalam Argument"

Nathan tries to mount a defense of the Kalaam cosmological argument as defended by William Lane Craig. He makes an arrogant proclamation at the end of his post that "the Kalam argument passes all three "tests," survives all objections, and definitively demonstrates the truth of its conclusion. In other words, Kalam has proven that God must necessarily exist. "

Before I continue, I would like to object in the strongest terms to such declarations. Even William Lane Craig would not make such a bold assertion about the Kalaam, because in philosophy it is almost certain that there will always be objections and unknowns. People like Craig believe that the assumptions (I did say that) of the Kalaam are reasonable ones that we should accept, but that we cannot conclude absolute truths from his arguments. Craig would certainly not present any other argument if his argument was a sure thing.

With that aside, my objections follow:
" If we take a step back and consider what the universe is (all of space, time, and matter)"
This is based on a poor understanding of what materialists mean when they refer to matter. Matter is not a collection of the particles we observe. Matter is the fundamental substance of reality. With that in mind the universe as defined by a materialist does not end at the boundary of spacetime, and thus the Kalaam is weakened to include only the observable universe. Nathan's universe is too small, just like the ancient cosmologists who thought that there was a ceiling beyond which heaven existed. The Kalaam is at least as effective at demonstrating that this fundamental material substance is the cause of the universe as it is at demonstrating that a god is, and it wins in the department of parsimony because it doesn't assume that the cause of the universe also had a fish and wine business in the ancient world. It also meets both causal requirements by being both an efficient and material cause. 
"As the cause created all of time, it must not be contained within time, therefore it must be eternal."
Maybe I don't understand this bit, but something that seems to "exist" sans time (whatever that may mean) cannot be defined as eternal. It exists at no time. In other words it never exists. 
"As the cause created all of matter, it must not itself be material, therefore it must be immaterial. "
If you understood materialism you would not make this argument. Materialists do not claim that material must be extended in space and exist in time. It just refers to the most basic substance of existence. The material that materialists refer to offers a perfectly valid explanatory framework for the existence of the universe, and although admittedly vague and fraught with conjecture, still relies on less assumption than positing a mind that "exists" somehow in the absence of time and space. 
"As the cause created the entire universe, it must be inconceivably, indeed all, powerful, therefore it must be omnipotent."
I don't see how this follows. Do ants in an ant farm that become sentient reason that I, the creator of the antfarm must be all powerful and all knowing? At best I could know everything about the antfarm. What theists presuppose is that yahweh exists ultimately and uncaused, and this assertion is never defended except by sloppily pointing back to the theological definition for yahweh they have crafted, that manages to sneak in the presupposition that yahweh is uncaused even though the entity has not yet been demonstrated. 
"As the universe doesn't exist eternally with its cause (that is, the cause of the universe doesn't necessarily bring forth the universe), the cause must have a will, it must be personal. "
This is based on the reasoning that something needs to decide for the universe to come into existence. However if we consider a realm that is timeless (if that is even possible) there would be no time at which such a decision could be made and so such a decision seems impossible and unnecessary. Proponents of the KCA ask us to rely on our intuition when it comes to things beginning to exist but to throw it out when we need to consider things that are supposed to be timeless but at once also be able to make decisions. 
" Such a being is obviously what men mean when they speak of "God." "
Of course he means yahweh, but he hasn't demonstrated that, so even if his argument succeeds, it fails to demonstrate that said being is yahweh. It is perfectly plausible that yahweh is a fiction and that the god that created the universe has nothing to do with it. Nathan comfortably ignores any alternate hypotheses in order to reason himself back to the conclusion he so confidently reaches in the final paragraph of his post. We are expected to believe that a god that creates the universe also asked middle eastern people to cut their genitals, which contradicts any kind of common sense. Unfortunately, this is the kind of thing people do when they try to do philosophy backwards. 

This is only a treatment of one of Nathan's paragraphs. I don't know if my objections succeed, and I will save any confident pronouncements and leave you, the reader, to make up your own mind. 


* I am not linking to Nathan's Google+ profile here as I usually do, because I do that for the purpose of mentioning someone so that they can respond, and since Nathan has blocked me he will not receive the mention.
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