God: The Failed Hypothesis Review: Cosmic Evidence

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’ve lately been reviewing some of Victor Stenger’s books and tonight, we’re dealing with chapter 4 of “God: The Failed Hypothesis” on the case of cosmic evidence.

This chapter is a search of the cosmos for evidence of God’s existence and it right off starts with miracles. Now I would think a chapter like this should have started with a discussion of the cosmos, but okay. Stenger claims that cosmological evidence should show evidence of well-established laws of nature or a causal ingredient not understandable in material or natural means alone.

To begin with, why should there necessarily be miracles throughout the history of the cosmos in order for God to exist. Is Stenger saying that if there are no miracles, there is no God? A deist would have just said “Of course there are no miracles, but there is still God.” This is not science then but theology. It is saying that if God exists, He must act in such and such a way and to say how He must act is theology. As for whether the universe itself needs a cause, we’ll look into that as we go on.

So let’s do that. The first is the creation of matter. Stenger tells us that matter can be created out of energy and disappear into energy. Where does energy come from? Stenger does grant that it has to come from somewhere. Stenger doesn’t say where. He just says that the positive and negative energies in the universe cancel each other out. Once again, the question is where did those energies come from? Stenger doesn’t say. Instead, that the universe is so finely balanced seems to argue more for an intelligence than anything else.

What about order? Stenger tells us that since we have a universe starting in a Big Bang, then there wasn’t order. It started as chaos and then turned to order.

However, Stenger is again doing theology. Upon what basis does he argue that God must begin with everything orderly instead of God using laws of physics to bring order to the universe? Why must God create the exact way Stenger wants Him to create to exist? Stenger should keep in mind the title “Big Bang” was at first a pejorative title for the theory. This wasn’t a chaotic explosion but an orderly event.

Does the universe have a beginning? Most of us use the Kalam argument to demonstrate that and we use the horizontal version (Although I prefer the vertical one). The argument includes the point that if the universe existed for an infinite number of moments in the past, we would never reach today because we would have completed an infinite number of moments and an infinite set can’t be completed.

Stenger’s answer is that we can always have one event precede another and one event come after another.

This is why people who do physics should stick to physics instead of philosophy. Stenger doesn’t even get the point that it is being argued that an infinite set can’t be completed. To say “We can add one more before that” does not deal with the Kalam argument

Stenger also gives us the syllogism for the Kalam argument.

Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
The universe began to exist.
Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Stenger tells us that William Lane Craig, famous for defending this argument, takes the first premise to be self-evident. He also says Craig does this with no justification other than common every day experience. This is the same experience that teaches us that the world is flat. In reality, events at the atomic and subatomic level are observed to have no evident cause.

First off, anyone who has actually read Craig notes that Craig is well-aware of objections to the first premise and defends against them. Many Christians have read the Lee Strobel books and this is an argument that Craig even deals with in “The Case For A Creator.” That Stenger is unaware of this indicates to me he hasn’t really read Craig’s material.

Second, common experience teaches us many beliefs that we hold to be true that we would be hard-pressed to prove. For instance, I believe there is a world outside of my mind and I believe that matter is real. I believe it’s self-evident that it’s wrong to torture innocent children for fun. To say that common experience is not a good teacher is simply false. It is where most of us learn our most basic beliefs.

Third, Stenger is again falling for this flat Earth myth which shows me just what kind of researcher he is when he steps out of his field. Aristotle taught the Earth was a sphere. The ancient Greeks knew it well. The medieval church continued the tradition. However, we have known for some time that Stenger is a man of faith.

Finally, to say that the events at the atomic and subatomic level have no evident cause is not the same as to say they are uncaused. Either causality, a principle we’ve understood for years, is in error, or else we are lacking in our understanding of a field that’s still relatively new. I’ll wager for the latter.

Stenger asks that even if the universe is caused, why does that cause have to be something other than a natural cause? That’s the point however. The argument is that nature itself needs a cause and nothing is self-caused. Not only that, matter is always in a state of potential moving from one mode of existence to another. It has limited existence and not pure existence. It is limited by something greater than itself. We have covered this in our look at simplicity in our study of the doctrine of God in the Summa.

Stenger eventually gets us to where the laws of physics came from. What’s his explanation? I’ll quote him here.

“They came from nothing!”

Hard to believe Christians are supposed to have the absurd position when Stenger believes laws can just come into existence from non-existence. I am even more amazed that some people find this to be an explanation. Let me spell something out Stenger. Nothing is non-existence and it is incapable of causing anything.

Why is there something rather than nothing? Stenger comes to this question and quotes a philosopher who says the answer is “There has to be something.” Why? Why does there have to be anything?

Stenger asks about conceptual problems. How do we speak of nothing. What are its properties? This has already been answered. Nothing is non-existence. It does not have properties. It has no causal power, aside from in the atheist universe where apparently it can somehow make everything.

Stenger also asks why is there God instead of nothing? The answer is that God is the basis of existence itself because He is being without limits. God’s existence is not caused but rather He is His existence. His unawareness of history answering this objection or even presenting any arguments shows me the lack of research on Stenger’s part.

Stenger instead tells that the transition from nothing-to-something is a natural one because nothing is instable. Again, it isn’t. It is just nothing. You cannot say what nothing is other than describing it as nothing. However, for Stenger, that something exists is evidence enough that there is no God.

Because if there was a God, there would obviously be nothing…..

Except God is something…..

We shall have to see if the rest of the work is more pleasing> For now, Stenger just gives cop-outs and has lazy research on his topic. Let him stick to physics, for he cannot do philosophy or theology.

We shall continue tomorrow.

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