The cosmological argument for the existence of gods finally emerges

A few days I wrote about my conversation with Mike, who had started down the road of committing the argument from ignorance fallacy by suggesting something can be true, just because it has never been proven not to be true.

That’s a tricky tactic and it’s tough to argue against precisely because it’s built on fallacious reasoning. It has taken some time, but we have finally arrived at an affirmative claim, which is a more intellectually honest starting point. That’s not to say that Mike was being purposefully deceptive here. He likely thought he had a sound starting position. I’ve been doing this for quite a while, so I suspected there was a god belief underpinning his approach somewhere, and sure enough it has finally emerged.

Mike said:

“The only arguments for naturalism are arguments against theism.”

And went on to suggest that:

“…the Cosmological Argument is an argument for the existence of God and Premise 2 of the argument is supported by multiple lines of evidence.”

He then went on to explain how in his opinion, the evidence for Big Bang cosmology, is actually evidence for the Cosmological argument for the existence of a god.

Good old William Lane Craig and the Kalam Cosmological argument. I’ve also written about that argument here when I talked about Bill the Creationist Engineer. But in this case, I’m using Street Epistemology, so rather than try point out the deficiencies in the argument itself, and there are many, I told Mike the following:

“…And just an observation here, but it’s also really interesting that you bring up Big Bang cosmology as evidence for the existence of a supernatural being. I know of a Hindu guy who has latched on to some of William Lane Craig’s arguments, especially his revival of the Kalam Cosmological argument, but rather than use it as an argument for the existence of the Hebrew god, he says it proves the existence of Purusha. Which makes me wonder, how reliable is an argument if it can be used to “prove” the existence of two mutually exclusive things?”

I’ll be sure to let you know if that last statement placed a pebble in his shoe.

 

Don’t argue science with someone who doesn’t understand science

I was giving someone some advice who asked the following:

“I don’t really know much about cosmology. But there seems to be lots of these arguments that there was a place and time before the big bang, or a place and time beyond space time, etc., where a potential deity could exist (I sense huge false probability from believers [sic] part on this, as I cannot prove them not existing). Any good responses to this kinda stuff?”

My response has two parts.

First, learn science for the sake of science. Learn about cosmology because it’s freaking amazing to think about. In other words, read science books because you want to know how things actually work. For cosmology, I recommend the following popular science books: A Brief History of Time (Hawking), A Universe from Nothing (Krauss) and Why Does E=MC2 (Cox/Forshaw).

Second, don’t let Young Earth Creationists and other anti-science apologists suck you in to arguments about science. While these discussions are often fun, they also often result in the backfire effect. If your interlocutor valued the scientific evidence, then they wouldn’t believe as they do in the first place. The goal should be to highlight the deficiency in their epistemology.  Most of these people started out being told a belief is true, believed it using “faith,” and just now are trying to back fill the belief support with some semblance of scientific evidence.

They are not weighing all of the evidence and forming a belief, rather they are selecting for the fragments of evidence, little slivers here and there, that might support the belief they already have. The only successful intervention here is to help them see the hollowness of their starting epistemology (i.e., faith) as a way of knowing.

What I do find interesting as that many of the theists (and others) who want to argue design, Big Bang, evolution, etc., are implicitly agreeing that evidence is a more convincing device by which to support a truth claim. So with these folks, my questions are usually around, “How could you know that your belief is incorrect?” and “Have you ever considered what evidence it would take for you to change your mind on the belief that your God is real?” – those kinds of questions.

If they can’t think of anything, then I ask them, “Since there is no evidence that would change your mind, is evidence really that important to you? Let’s talk about what you’re really using to support the belief: faith. Is faith a reliable method for determining what’s true?”

Happy critical thinking!