Partial Notes: Morriston's "A Critical Evaluation of the Kalam Argument"

As we saw in the previous post, Morriston's (2000) paper, "Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause?" critiques the second stage of Craig's kalam cosmological argument -- i.e., his argument that the cause of the universe must be a person. (For a statement of that argument, see section 1 of the notes in the previous post).  However, Morriston makes further remarks on the argument in section 7 of his (2002) paper, "A Critical Evaluation of the Kalam Argument" that I think are also worth considering. The following notes aim to cover that section.

1. Stage 2 of the Kalam Argument: Craig's "Eternally Sitting Man" Analogy
1.1 In his defense of stage 2, Craig introduces a thought experiment involving an eternal man sitting from eternity past who then freely and spontaneously wills to stand up.
1.2 This is supposed to be analogous to how an eternal God could exist timelessly, and yet eternally will to create a universe that has a beginning in time.
1.3 Craig realizes that (if his arguments for a finite past succeed) this entails that God’s decision to create cannot involve a change in God, as that would involve a temporal sequence, which is ruled out by his arguments.

2. Worries Morriston Raises But Does Not Pursue
2.1 Craig's model of personal agency is extremely controversial among philosophers of action
2.1.1 Many of them think acts of will  are not the ultimate causes of our actions. Rather, these willings are caused by a person's beliefs, desires, and preferences, which in turn are caused by other things.
2.1.2 There are therefore reasons to doubt that personal causes work  the way Craig thinks they do (e.g., maybe libertarian agency isn’t real)
2.2 Perhaps there are more types of causes besides “mechanical” and “personal” (N.B. Indeed, if it should turn out that (a) contingent concrete reality had a beginning, (b) such a beginning requires a cause, and (c) neither personal nor “mechanical” causes are epistemically viable candidates for such a causal rule, then one has grounds to G.E. Moore shift one’s way to the conclusion that there are more than these two types of cause).

3. Morriston's Main Worry: Craig's Analogy Breaks Down:
3.1 In humans, a free act:
3.1.1 (a) requires a change in the agent — one that ultimately traces back to a decision in the mind
3.1.2 (b) the effect of the act is straightaway — indeed the effect often occurs faster than the effect of natural, “mechanical” causes.
3.2 But the problem is that both (a) and (b) can’t apply to God in Craig’s scenario:
3.2.1 (a) requires temporal change/succession, which is problematic on at least two counts: (i) it seems incompatible with God’s omniscience (for then it seems God didn’t always know what to do and what he was going to do); and (ii) it contradicts Craig’s scenario here, according to which God is existing in a timeless state. (But even if we grant some time prior to creation, Craig’s arguments against an infinite past require that God’s decision have its ultimate origination from God “while” in a state of timelessness.)
3.2 In a nutshell, Morriston’s main objection is that Craig’s timeless personal cause of the universe (God) faces the same dilemma as the one Craig poses for a timeless, natural, “mechanical” cause:
3.2.1 Either (a) God decision was with him in his timeless state, or (b) it wasn’t.
3.2.2 If (b), then it seems God could never will to create a universe., in which case the universe would have never arisen.
3.2.3 But if (a), then either the analogy holds or it doesn't.
3.2.4 if the analogy holds, the effect of creation should be as eternal as the cause, which contradicts his conclusion. (N.B. maybe there’s no problem with that if the universe can be a 4D block, even if it destroys Craig’s argument).
3.2.5 But if the analogy doesn’t hold, then his case for a personal cause loses its epistemic force.
4. Morriston's Reductio Argument: 
4.1 The reductio
Craig’s argument for a personal cause assumes:
1. An eternal sufficient cause must have an eternal effect. 
But since it’s natural to assume Craig thinks God needs no help in creating a universe, he seems to also accept: 
2. God’s will to create a universe with a beginning is sufficient to produce it.
 Now we’ve seen that Craig asserts:
 3. God’s will to create a universe with a beginning is eternal.
 But from (1)-(3) it follows that
 4. A world with a beginning is eternal. 
Which is self-contradictory. (N.B. again, assuming real temporal becoming and rejecting a 4D block universe view, which Craig thinks he must reject to keep the need for a cause for the beginning of the universe.).
Craig therefore must reject at least one of (1)-(3).
4.2 Craig's first reply: God's will as a necessary but not sufficient cause
4.2.1 In print, Craig seems to reject (2).
4.2.2 However, this is problematic: it seems incompatible with God’s omnipotence: How can God’s eternally willing a universe fail to accomplish its effect? It seems that that would accomplish its effect if anything would.
4.3 Craig's second reply: intending vs. undertaking
4.3.1 Craig attempts to mitigate the problem by making a distinction between intending and undertaking: God timelessly, eternally intends a universe with a beginning but it doesn’t occur until he undertakes the task by exercising his causal power to bring about his intention.
4.3.2 Problem: This only pushes the problem back a step: What’s the relationship between God’s willing/intending and his undertaking? If his willing/intending to create is sufficient for his undertaking/exercising causal power to create, then his undertaking/exercising causal power to create should be eternal, in which case the universe should be eternal. The only way out is to deny that God’s will/intention is sufficient for both creating the universe and (even) for undertaking to create the universe. But this is implausible. For to keep the analogy between human and divine willing/personal causation going, we have to keep the analogy between the cases where willing and undertaking come apart. But the problem is that the analogy breaks down. For there are three main causes for the coming apart of intending and undertaking in human willing, and none apply to God: (i) When the chosen time to act has not yet arrived: God is in a timeless state “when” he both intends and undertakes to create, and thus can’t delay in creating. (ii) When we change our mind/plans: God is omniscient, and thus can’t change his mind/plans; (iii) When we succumb to weakness of will: God is omnipotent, and thus can’t succumb to weakness of will.

No comments:

Elliott Sober Discusses his New Book on the Design Argument...

...on New Books Network . Thanks to Yujin Nagasawa for the pointer.