Skip to main content

Morriston's Latest Reply to Craig

Here.  I find Morriston's "future praises" argument fascinating. However, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Morriston has a slew of other papers in which he has offered undercutting defeaters for every last one of Craig's philosophical (i.e., a priori) arguments against the existence and traversability of actual infinites. Also worth noting is that many of these papers are over a decade old, and, to date, Craig has failed to adequately address even a single one of them. To his credit, though, Craig has attempted to reply to a number of Morriston's other criticisms of the kalam cosmological argument (e.g., Morriston's criticisms of the causal premise, of the a posteriori (i.e., empirical) arguments for a finite past, and of the grounds for inferring that the cause of the beginning of the universe is a personal agent). I leave it to the reader to decide if any of those replies are successful.

Comments

In which paper paper does Craig reply to Morriston's criticisms of his argument that the cause of the universe must be a personal agent?
Chad said…
Given the way Craig straddles the popular and academic life, it's reasonable to infer that the man couldn't proceed to other topics that interest him in his academic life (i.e., divine aseity) if he replied to every article coming from someone trying to make his or her career out of refuting him.
exapologist said…
Hi Chad,

That may or may not be the case, but it does nothing to change the fact that every single one of Craig's a priori arguments against the existence and traversability of actual infinites suffers from an undercutting defeater, and that this has been so for over a decade. (Perhaps it's also worth noting that hasn't adequately responded to Draper's criticisms, either).
Chad said…
Thanks for drawing my attention to Draper's objections, Ex. I wasn't aware of them.

But how is Draper’s first objection different than Morriston’s in “Must the Past Have a Beginning?”, or the objection Craig attributes to Mackie and Sobel in BCBT, pp. 119-120? Though his remarks are terse there, Craig says a lot more to that objection in “The Finitude of the Past” pp. 238-239; and also in TA&BBC, ch. 3. You can also find replies to that objection as far back as Bonaventure.

The second of Draper’s objections is more interesting. My old prof Stephen Wykstra raised the same objection in conversation once. , and I am not aware of any response to it from Craig. Moreland, however, does address it in "A Response to a Platonistic and to a Set-Theoretic Objection...". I think there's a straightforward response, but I won't clog up your combox here (I'll write a blog post on this over at appeared-to-blogly).

But psychologizing is fun. So it might be that Craig has surely thought of the response I'll mention in due corse over at AtB, but for whatever reason does not think it significant enough to pursue in print. Or he might think that his colleagues have already dealt with it. Or, wrt Draper’s first objection—which seems to be a rehash of Morriston’s, which seems to be a rehash of Sobel’s, which seems to be a rehash of Mackie’s—it might be that Craig feels he’s already responded adequately to the original, and therefore doesn’t feel compelled to respond to rehashes.
Marc Belcastro said…
Here are two, quick objections to Morriston's "future praises" argument. What are your thoughts?

1. If Gabriel and Uriel offer alternating praises to God forever (one each celestial minute), Morriston asks how many praises will be offered. He argues that the only sensible answer is infinitely many, despite the fact that there never will be a point in the future at which infinitely many praises will have been offered. It seems to me that this evacuates the meaning or content from the word "will" or from phrase "will be." Suppose, for example, I were to tell you that Black will kill Smith in the future, and then I also tell you there never will be a point in the future at which Black will have killed Smith. If there's never a point at which Smith is killed or will have been killed, it doesn't seem to make sense to say that Black will kill Smith.

2. Suppose that, in addition to commissioning the alternating praises of Gabriel and Uriel, God commissions the angel Michael to do something else. God places Michael two feet from a wall, and He instructs Michael to take a step toward the wall each time he hears a praise offered by Gabriel or Uriel. God further instructs Michael that the distance of each step must be one-half his current distance to the wall. Consequently, upon hearing the first praise, Michael steps a distance of one foot, and upon hearing the second praise, he steps a distance of 1/2 a foot, and so forth. If it's true, as Morriston argues, that the number of future praises is infinite, then we can place the number of praises and the number of steps in a one-to-one correspondence. (There will be just as many steps as there will be praises.) And if we can place them in a one-to-one correspondence, then we may conclude that Michael will hit the wall. This is because (from what I understand) 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 . . . = 2, and Michael began two feet from the wall. But this result seems absurd. How can Michael have a final step in the sequence, and how can he arrive at the wall by taking a step and traversing one-half his present distance from the wall?
exapologist said…
Hi Marc,

I haven't yet had a chance to give Morriston's new paper a careful read, but I hope to read it soon and compare it to your critique.

Best,
EA
exapologist said…
Hi Chad,

Hmm...on pp. 119-120 of my copy of The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, I just find the standard reply to Mackie that Craig has given since at least his 1994 edition of Reasonable Faith. But here I think it's clear that Craig has misconstrued Mackie's argument. I offer (what I take to be) a more charitable interpretation of Mackie's criticism here.

In any case, I'm afraid I don't see that the reply you offer at your blog gets Morriston's and Draper's criticism right. For Draper's criticism, see the second page of the second set of notes I linked to in my previous comment (or here for convenience). The criticism of Morriston's that most closely capture's Draper's isn't to be found in "Must the Past Have a Beginning?" (which focuses mainly on some of Craig's arguments against the traversabilty of actual infinites). Rather, it's to be found in "A Critique of the Kalam Cosmological Argument" (section 1), "Must Metaphysical Time Have a Beginning", 299-301 (esp. the sections "Euclid's Maxim About Wholes and Parts" and "What is Infinity Minus Infinity?"), and "Craig on the Actual Infinite", pp. 151-ff.

So I guess I don't see that Craig has adequately answered the defeaters alluded to.

Best,
EA
Chad said…
Hey Ex,

We might have different ideas about what Draper's first argument amounts to. I still don't see the basic point of the objection as different than what Craig engages in what I cited above.

But Where do I go wrong in my statement of Morriston/Draper criticism?
exapologist said…
Hi Chad,

It looks like Marc already beat me to it (in the comments there). You two are quick! I wish I still had your energy.(Ah, to be young again...)

Best,
EA
Chad said…
Ex,

Marc raised an objection to *one* of my replies to the Morriston/Draper criticism, not a correction of how I stated it. Do you still think I have not stated it right? Or are you just throwing in with Marc's objection to *one* of my replies?
Rayndeon said…
Marc raised two quick objections. Here are a couple of quick replies.

(1) When Morriston states that infinitely many praises will be offered, I don't think the case is analogous to the case where Black will kill Smith. To say that there will be infinitely many occurrences of something is to say that for any time at which the event occurs, there is a later time at which it again occurs. In other words, if an angel praises God at time t, there will be some time t* for t* > t at which the angel praises God. So praising is going on and if one examines the set of times/occurrences at which the angel will praise God, the set is infinite in 1-to-1 correspondence with the set of natural numbers. This is what I interpret Morriston to be indicating.

(2) Michael, in your example, will never reach the wall. If we permit extremely small distances - the distances Michael traverses will quickly be less than a Planck length - then Michael will "reach" the wall after an infinite amount of time. Which is to say that he never reaches the wall. The reason this differs from your typical Zeno example is due to the time involved. In the case of Achilles and the flags, Achilles crosses each halfway mark in half the time for each prior halfway mark. So, supposing he crosses 1 km in some time t, it will take him time 1/2*t to cross an additional 0.5 km, time 1/4*t to cross an additional 0.25 km, and so on. Hence, when calculating the infinite geometric series, it takes Achilles no longer than a time of 2t to traverse the entire 2 km. He crosses an infinity of points in a finite amount of time.

In your example however, presumably Gabriel and Uriel alternate praises at some regular interval of time t. So, it will take Michael t seconds to cross 1 foot, an additional t seconds to cross 1/2 foot, an additional t seconds to cross 1/4 foot, and so on. This infinite geometric sequence does not converge; instead, it diverges to infinity. As long as Michael moves in accordance with Gabriel and Uriel's praises, he will never reach the wall. A question of a "last" step never arises.

I don't think 1-to-1 correspondence alone is sufficient to generate a veridical paradox - we also have to consider the metrics of time involved, in this particular example.
Rayndeon said…
Marc raised two quick objections. Here are a couple of quick replies.

(1) When Morriston states that infinitely many praises will be offered, I don't think the case is analogous to the case where Black will kill Smith. To say that there will be infinitely many occurrences of something is to say that for any time at which the event occurs, there is a later time at which it again occurs. In other words, if an angel praises God at time t, there will be some time t* for t* > t at which the angel praises God. So praising is going on and if one examines the set of times/occurrences at which the angel will praise God, the set is infinite in 1-to-1 correspondence with the set of natural numbers. This is what I interpret Morriston to be indicating.

(2) Michael, in your example, will never reach the wall. If we permit extremely small distances - the distances Michael traverses will quickly be less than a Planck length - then Michael will "reach" the wall after an infinite amount of time. Which is to say that he never reaches the wall. The reason this differs from your typical Zeno example is due to the time involved. In the case of Achilles and the flags, Achilles crosses each halfway mark in half the time for each prior halfway mark. So, supposing he crosses 1 km in some time t, it will take him time 1/2*t to cross an additional 0.5 km, time 1/4*t to cross an additional 0.25 km, and so on. Hence, when calculating the infinite geometric series, it takes Achilles no longer than a time of 2t to traverse the entire 2 km. He crosses an infinity of points in a finite amount of time.

In your example however, presumably Gabriel and Uriel alternate praises at some regular interval of time t. So, it will take Michael t seconds to cross 1 foot, an additional t seconds to cross 1/2 foot, an additional t seconds to cross 1/4 foot, and so on. This infinite geometric sequence does not converge; instead, it diverges to infinity. As long as Michael moves in accordance with Gabriel and Uriel's praises, he will never reach the wall. A question of a "last" step never arises.

I don't think 1-to-1 correspondence alone is sufficient to generate a veridical paradox - we also have to consider the metrics of time involved, in this particular example.
exapologist said…
Hi Chad,

Seems to me that once it's pointed out that the appearance of a contradiction is based upon an equivocation, all the other problems evaporate with it. I couldn't see that any of your other replies were independent of the supposed contradictions. Perhaps I'm missing it, though.

Best,
EA
SebastianS said…
Ex,
Have you read Morelands response to Morriston objections yet? I don't have access to the paper so..
wissam h said…
@Sebastian Sandstet,

You asked about Craig's response to Morriston's criticism of the inference to a personal cause.
Here it is: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/must-the-beginning-of-the-universe-have-a-personal-cause-a-rejoinder
wissam h said…
Btw Ex-Apologist,

Why don't you argue against the inference to a personal cause? It seems to be a weak inference (at least that's how I see it).

Popular posts from this blog

Notes on Mackie's "Evil and Omnipotence"

0. Introduction
0.1 Mackie argues that the problem of evil proves that either no god exists, or at least that the god of Orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, does not exist. His argument is roughly the same version of the problem of evil that we’ve been considering.
0.2 Mackie thinks that one can avoid the conclusion that God does not exist only if one admits that either God is not omnipotent (i.e., not all-powerful), or that God is not perfectly good. 0.3 However, he thinks that hardly anyone will be willing to take this route. For doing so leaves one with a conception of a god that isn’t worthy of worship, and therefore not religiously significant.
0.4 After his brief discussion of his version of the problem of evil, he considers most of the main responses to the problem of evil, and concludes that none of them work.

1. First Response and Mackie's Reply
1.1 Response: Good can’t exist without evil; evil is a necessary counterpart to good.
1.2 Mackie’s reply:
1.2.1 this see…

Notes on Swinburne, "On Why God Allows Evil"

Notes on Swinburne’s “Why God Allows Evil”

1. The kinds of goods a theistic god would provide: deeper goods than just “thrills of pleasure and times of contentment” (p. 90). For example:
1.1 Significant freedom and responsibility
1.1.1 for ourselves
1.1.2 for others
1.1.3 for the world in which they live
1.2 Valuable lives
1.2.1 being of significant use to ourselves
1.2.2 being of significant use to each other

2. Kinds of evil
2.1 Moral evil: all the evil caused or permitted by human beings, whether intentionally or through negligence (e.g., murder, theft, etc.)
2.2 Natural evil: all the rest: evil not caused or permitted by human beings (e.g., suffering caused by hurricanes, forest fires, diseases, animal suffering, etc.)

3. The gist of Swinburne’s answer to the problem of evil: God cannot – logically cannot -- give us the goods of significant freedom, responsibility and usefulness without thereby allowing for the possibility of lots of moral and natural evil. This is why he has al…