Back down from the mountain (as Guy would put it
). In that time period, believe it or not, I took a very short trip to our homeland--ah, how good it was! Sorry Jaf, you're just gonna have to deal with your jealousy.
Okay, I have some important thoughts to interact with. To make it easier to read, I'm just going to copy and paste the particular quotations to which I want to respond and then post my own replies.
But once again, the premises used in the argument are not factual statements but merely reflections of man's intellectual limitations in formulating concepts of eternity and infinity, which (literally) make the transfer of such characteristics to a supra-rational entity seductively more acceptable
I must respectfully and completely disagree. The two premises in question are:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
The first premise is all around us. In fact I submit that we cannot find one example on the contrary of that statement in our experience or studies. Is there anything that we know of that began to exist without a cause? I really do not think so. Now this may not be held with complete certainty, and that is fine. The premise does not need to be known with certainty in order for it to be true or in order for it to lead to the validity of the conclusion. The more probable the premises, the more probable the conclusion. Even if we were to conclude "Therefore it is more probable that God exists", it would still make theism more reasonable than atheism.
Premise 2 is not a mere reflection of our intellectual limitations. Rather it is a conclusion based on philosophical arguments from what we DO understand about infinity and from scientific evidence that, to my knowledge, has been widely accepted by the majority of scientists in the field, namely that the universe is only about 13.7 billion years old--in other words, it has a beginning!
So from those two premises it does follow that therefore the universe has a cause.
for in the end the question need not be asked: if God exists, what caused it to exist and when (as in… time before time) did it begin to exist? To those questions, we can simply answer that, by definition, it always was and always will be, and leave it at that… [“this cause must be an uncaused, changeless, timeless, and immaterial being of unimaginable power”. Hmm… hmm!]
There is actually nothing fishy going on here. First, the starting point for those attributes of God is the fact that the universe has a cause which we have demonstrated with our above argument. Now we must ask ourselves what that cause must be like insofar we can know anything about it. I tried to present a shorter version of the argument so I would not bore too many people with the much longer detailed argument which actually gives further argumentation (so it's not just assumed or taken for granted) for the fact that the cause of the universe must be uncaused, changeless, timeless, and immaterial being of unimaginable power.
If the the beginning of the universe is also the beginning of time, space and matter (as the Big Bang tells us) then it follows that the cause of this whole thing must be transcendent to those things. So it is timeless (and therefore changeless, for time is a measure of change; this also means it does not need a cause to make it begin since to begin is something that only happens in time, but there was not time "before" time), spaceless (because it caused all space to come into being from nothing, immaterial (because all matter is part of the universe which it caused). It has unimaginable power because it can create a universe. Indeed this seems to be a lot, but we must be able to travel as far as the evidence leads. And this cause sure is at least starting to look like that God which the Christians have claimed to have created the world out of nothing with unimaginable power. For a good discussion of the uncaused cause see Thomas Aquinas' Five Ways in his Summa Theologica which can be found online at www.newadvent.org
Note that it is not at all my purpose to attempt to prove that God does not exist. I believe that I believe [not a typo] in a divine nature that is immensely greater than anything that I can possibly conceive and for that matter that any passionate human advocate of "God" can.
Unless He Himself has left clues in nature, in the human person, in the Bible and especially in a person called Jesus. Yes I realize the Kalam argument is far from getting to all those conclusions but you see where I'm going.
The argument appears logical, but it belongs not in the field of logical proof, but in the realm of metaphysical thinking that make some feel righteous about their innate certitudes about the how and why they exist.
If the argument only appears logical, what makes it not actually so? And, I am not sure if I understand the second part of the objection, but I think it is important to use Logic as a tool in all fields from physics to metaphysics. I make the argument not to feel righteous but to help others see the reasonableness of a belief in God.
Tayi, whenever you say the word "God", I feel absolutely certain that you cannot divorce yourself from the concept of the Biblical God, because your faith in him is irrevocable and not subject to any logic, other than that which appears to support it. Truly, your aim is to prove that the Biblical God exists, as you reject other notions of God. Yet, the argument presented does not advance one iota the identification of that metaphysical Supreme Being with that of the Biblical God which you have been educated to believe in by an accident of history, culture, and geography.
You are right in many ways. I only believe the Christian God, but there are many things I cannot prove with reason alone about my God. Nonetheless there are still many attributes of Him that CAN be proven such as His existence, his being timeless, his being spaceless, etc. by using logic. I am the first to admit that the Kalam argument does not prove all the qualities of the Christian God, but it does provide the basis for theism in general, and that is a good start. As we move further, we can look at arguments based around Jesus of Nazareth and His resurrection which I believe has good historical support (I'm wondering why no one has yet tackled the thread on the historicity of the resurrection...)
The Biblical God exists because we have Faith in his Word, that which is commonly referred to as the Bible. We do not doubt the Word, and we definitely do not even want to, because the Word tells us that would be excessively dangerous to our bodies and souls. Ultimately, God exists because "the Bible says so" ... and as you surely know, the Bible is the Word of God. Case closed, due to its obvious circularity.
Here you attack a straw man for that is not quite my position. In fact the Bible presupposes the existence of God rather than set out to prove it as you portray.
I will not set out to prove nor to disprove that God exists, just that our various concepts of the nature of the biblical God...are as fanciful as the texts which inspire them.
The "..." in your quote represents what you feel are alleged contradictions in our concepts of the nature of the Biblical God. I am reminded of a quote from Jman "That may sound confusing at first, but a lot of things are when viewed with anthropocentric theories and man-made concepts that the universe apparently doesn't care to compensate for. "
Replace "universe" with "God" or "Bible". In your own theory of the divine nature you do not think we can even conceive much of him, but suppose this God entered our lives, would you not expect that there would be some things in His actions that would simply leave us baffled. Now I do think you misunderstand many of the alleged contradictions, but even when there are true tensions in the different attributes and actions of God I try to apply your own humility. I don't have to have all the answers.
Some may see tension in: a God who is just and yet has mercy upon sinners; a God who is infinite and yet entered the world of finite creatures; a God who has infinite dignity and yet stoops to the level of His creatures to call them back to a relationship with Him...Those are actually beautiful mysteries that show the awesomeness of God!
my own faith obliges me to believe that your descendants will be probing without resolution the same arguments two millennia hence...
My dear big brother, do not let that discourage you. The existence of God does not DEPEND on the arguments, as you well know. Even if all the arguments for theism were suddenly all falsified, that still would not negate the existence of God. Do not forget the personal experience we can have with God. Yes I do believe God wants us to have a much deeper intimacy than to just be in a state where we are not even sure if we can conceive of Him. Therein lies the Beauty of the message of Christ. He came to reveal the heart of our Father to us, a Father who is constantly pursuing us. Perhaps we can humbly pray "Father, I believe. Please help my unbelief"
Those so-called proofs of the existence of God do not come close, except in making it self-evident that there are as many concepts of God as there are human beings on Earth [past, present, and future].
No one proof can demonstrate all the attributes of God, but taken together they can paint a fuller picture of the Supreme Being. The list that I provided in another thread containing twenty arguments for the existence of God does just that. The different "concepts" in these arguments are not mutually exclusive but complementary and even overlapping.
I am also aware of my own great limitations of actually convincing someone of the existence of God so I pray that God himself will reveal Himself and His love to all.
As a side note for all of us, I realize that arguments can be "fun" and informative, I do pray, however, that they do not distract us instead from the true essence of the question of God. May the arguments help us to reach a greater openness to Him rather than push us away. Forgive me if I have done anything to alienate any of you.