This is a thread that has been cooking in my mind for some time. It deals with theism, cosmology, creation ex-nihilo, “standard” physics, and the nexus of metaphysics with creation. Initially, I was going to start a great debate, but I think this is more appropriate for the Pit.
Let me paint the picture:
Now, Dr. Craig is not a cosmologist or even a scientist, so I have a number of objections to his formulations. First of all, his insistence:
seems to me to be a based on taking the “standard model” of the Big Bang and extrapolating to a point that we don’t have a model to describe. There is no reason that the universe has to have a singularity, but if we take this singularity model to describe the universe, the first time we have something meaningful to say about the universe is at the so-called Planck Time, 10^-43 seconds after this “singularity”.
The only problem is, since we don’t have any models that even begin to make sense before this time at 10^-43 seconds, there is no way we can say that a singularity exists. To do that, we’d have to have a model of quantum gravity that would make predictions for the behavior of energy densities described by the Planck scale.
Those of you who are still following may now see where I think Craig utterly fails. His opinion is that science was “uncomfortable” with an ab initio point and therefore the atheist establishment conspired to construct fantastical scenarios that didn’t require a singularity. Of course, since we have no idea what happened before the Planck Epoch, it makes little sense whatsoever to talk about what went on at that time except to make sure that whatever model is proposed matches up with current theory and observation. To that end, there are a number of models that are presented that do not require a cosmic singularity that Craig dismisses by means of some rather backhanded maneuvers.
First of all, Craig talks about the first debate involving the Steady State Model which we now know to be false. His dispatching of the Steady State Model is framed in a way to let the audience feel that the atheists were defeated in their indignation. However, I think this is your basic red herring as he doesn’t establish until the very end his (nebulous) reasoning that a cosmic singularity indicates a creator. The Steady State vs. Big Bang debate was not about whether the universe was created. One could believe in a Steady State Universe and still have a creator, for example.
He then goes on to talk about other models which effectively remove the singularity (the cyclic, ekpyrotic, eternal inflation, Hartle-Hawking etc.) with a basically incorrect critique of each. I won’t go into the details, but I am willing to debate anyone who thinks that he has effectively dispatched any of these models.
My basic objections are three-fold.
One: Is it really important for theists (and Christians in particular) to have science inform their beliefs about God creating the universe? In other words is it important that there be an ab initio point for the universe in time? If we discover that there isn’t, does that really present a problem for those who believe in a creator? I feel that the answer to this is “no”, but I’d be interested to hear other opinions.
Two: Who the fuck does William Lane Craig think he is? I mean, I work in the field of astronomy and I was the ONLY person from the field to hear is talk. I sincerely think the reason is because he makes declarations such as follows:
Now, as I have described above, there is not only evidence to say that this isn’t true: the “standard model” isn’t even really a “model” in the scientific sense of the term. His criticisms of the physics of brilliant scientists are not only pedestrian, they are filled with such “uncomfortabilities” as not liking imaginary numbers because they are unphysical! Excuse me, Billy, but that’s a debate for the ages. So Craig ends up attracting a crowd that isn’t familar with the field and furthermore has a vested interest in hoping to see he’s correct (basically fellow theistic Christians). Talk about preaching to the choir.
Three: How dangerous is this sort of game-playing? I don’t care if you’re a theist, but to say that science and philosphy point to a neccessary monothestic construct that is centered around your belief system seems highly problematic from a purely objective standpoint. Why is it that people such as Craig and Hugh Ross feel that they can imprint their own designs onto science and then claim that this is evidence of “Intelligent Design”? The only “design” I see is the one they forced upon observations and theory.
So, there’s my rant.