Home > Cosmic Origins, General Cosmology > Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin’s Past-Finite Universe

Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin’s Past-Finite Universe

Whenever William Lane Craig is forced to retreat from his use of the Standard Big Bang model, he will often cite a paper by Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin:

…three leading cosmologists, Arvin Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, were able to prove that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary.

-W.L Craig “Contemporary Cosmology and the Beginning of the Universe”

The 2003 Borde-Guth-Vilenkin paper (pdf) shows that “almost all” inflationary models of the universe (as opposed to Dr. Craig’s “any universe”) will reach a boundary in the past – meaning our universe probably doesn’t exist infinitely into the past.

Dr. Craig seems to interpret this information as “the universe definitely began to exist” although that is a bit presumptuous. For example, this theorem doesn’t rule out Stephen Hawking’s no-boundary proposal which states that time may be finite without any real boundary (just like a sphere is finite in surface area while it has no “beginning”).

Furthermore, the author of the Arizona Atheist blog asked Vilenkin if his theorem with Guth and Borde proves that the universe had a beginning, and Vilenkin responded:

[I]f someone asks me whether or not the theorem I proved with Borde and Guth implies that the universe had a beginning, I would say that the short answer is “yes”. If you are willing to get into subtleties, then the answer is “No, but…” So, there are ways to get around having a beginning, but then you are forced to have something nearly as special as a beginning.

However, Craig’s main problem is that a beginning of the universe can still be described in scientific terms. Nothing in the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin paper suggests a beginning from “absolute nothingness” (as Craig often claims). In fact, the opposite is true. The authors write,

What can lie beyond the boundary? Several possibilities have been discussed, one being that the boundary of the inflating region corresponds to the beginning of the Universe in a quantum nucleation event.

This “quantum nucleation event” refers to a paper Vilenkin wrote in 1982 (pdf) which discusses the universe coming into being through quantum mechanics. Interestingly, many theists use Vilenkin’s paper as evidence that the universe came from “literally nothing” but Craig has already criticized this work.

Oddly, I’ve been unable to find any article of Craig’s (scholarly or otherwise) which actually quotes from the 2003 Borde-Guth-Vilenkin paper. Instead he almost exclusively quotes a paragraph from Vilenkin’s 2006 book Many Worlds in One (amazon) which discusses the 2003 paper:

It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning (pg. 176).

Now that’s a pretty straight forward quote which at least seems to favor Craig’s argument, but on the very same page Vilenkin writes,

Theologians have often welcomed any evidence for the beginning of the universe, regarding it as evidence for the existence of God … So what do we make of a proof that the beginning is unavoidable? Is it a proof of the existence of God? This view would be far too simplistic. Anyone who attempts to understand the origin of the universe should be prepared to address its logical paradoxes. In this regard, the theorem that I proved with my colleagues does not give much of an advantage to the theologian over the scientist.

Vilenkin then concludes this statement by suggesting that cosmic origins could be described in “purely scientific terms” – a task which he attempts in the chapter which follows.

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  1. oarobin
    10/23/2010 at 2:24 AM

    two interesting comments and a paper.

    sean carroll says in comment 100 ” Hi George — That’s a good idea, I’ll try to do it some time when I’m less busy. I’ve described my favorite model before, e.g. here. I should also mention that the Borde/Guth/Vilenkin theorem is (1) completely classical, not quantum, of course, and (2) a little less definitive than you make it sound, as they assume an “averaged expansion condition” which certainly may be violated along some geodesics. But it’s a good theorem, no question.” @ http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2006/10/29/the-god-conundrum/

    anthony aguirre says in comment 2 “A couple of brief comments, hopefully more later. First, Borde, Guth & Vilenkin did *not* prove that eternal inflation has singularities to the past. As you know, most singularity theorems prove geodesic incompleteness, and this is the case here. What all of their theorems do are (a) write out a set of conditions which they consider to correspond to eternal inflation, then (b) show that the region in which these conditions hold is geodesically incomplete. This would indeed be consistent with eternal inflation “emerging from a primordial singularity”, but it is also consistent with eternal inflation just being grafted onto some spacetime region that is not eternally inflating by their definition. This is exactly what Steven & I did in various ways in our paper; and in most cases we argued that the ‘extra’ region was indeed eternally inflating, just not in accord with their criteria for eternal inflation.” @ http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2007/04/27/how-did-the-universe-start/

    anthony paper is @ http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0301042

  2. Matt
    12/18/2010 at 8:37 PM

    Science is provisional–so of course the Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin theorem doesn’t prove that the universe had a beginning, but it does show that it’s more plausible than our universe having no beginning.

  3. 03/24/2011 at 1:53 PM

    I agree–science can’t prove anything 100 percent; so not sure how Craig is debunked. This is a case of what is most plausible, assent to the incoherence of an infite regress, and a basic understanding of the entrophy associate with thermodynamics seems to underpin a significant failure of the multi-universe theory, no matter how you construct your model. The entire mutli-universe seems to be used as a very small possibility, simpley to avoid a creator. It makes more sense to me that matter is a result of an infite mind, rather than the mind developing from matter. Science is permeated with assumptions that cannot be scientifically accounted for: intial conditions found in physics, purpose, self, asthetics, mathematics & logic–even science itself cannot be proven by science.

    • Luiz Fernando
      05/10/2012 at 11:38 PM

      If Science is permeated with assumptions that cannot be scientifically accounted for, at least it has some assumptions that we can account for. Craig´s metaphysics, of course, is made 100% of assumptions that he can´t, not even in principle, account for, because if he can, it´s not metaphysics anymore, it´s science. Craig´s entire case rests in the assumption that a mind can create matter outside a brain, space and time, having to cross the infinity of his own mental processes, the same infinity Craig can “prove” it is impossible to cross. In others words, Craig thinks he can prove that God is the cause of the Universe by assuming that God is the cause of the Universe. You need a Phd to reach this conclusion, of course.

      Happily for the average atheist, you need only half a neuron to understand why this is bullshit, just a fallacious maneuver to impress those who can´t live knowing that their belief in god is not compatible with rationality. And I don´t see much problem with this. A lot of people (my ex-wife included) can live with the irrationality of their beliefs. Faith is enough for them, they know it´s impossible to justify their beliefs and they are honest about it. Others need to lie to themselves, and even build an entire career based in their need for self-deception. You usually recognize them under the spurious name they brand themselves: “christian philosophers”.

      • 09/09/2012 at 8:10 PM

        I’d never be able to put it any better…

      • Jo
        12/03/2012 at 10:31 AM

        Problem is, atheism and agnosticism are the least logical and rational world views:

        (1) Everything that exists has an objective explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
        (A) If atheism is true, the universe has no objective explanation of its existence.
        (B) If the universe has an objective explanation of its existence then atheism is not true.

        (2) If the universe has an objective explanation of it’s existence, that explanation is God.
        (3) The universe exists.
        (4) Therefore, the objective explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

      • 12/29/2012 at 6:45 AM

        “Happily for the average atheist, you need only half a neuron to understand why this is bullshit, just a fallacious maneuver to impress those who can´t live knowing that their belief in god is not compatible with rationality.” — Wow, this reads like bullshit. While I am myself not theist (neither would I want to associate with new atheism because from my point of view that’s not simply non-theism, its more like peeing in our pants on just hearing the word theism), I would say the average ‘militant’ atheist relies all too often on pseudo-rationality. I am by no means a fan of Craig’s way of arguing, but I don’t see how he would be wanting to simply “impress” others any more than you are trying here to make a solid case of atheism being the only mindset that is truly “rational”, eh? Come on.

        And “belief in god not compatible with rationality” – you know what? Atheists seem to fall more and more into the trap of not being able to distinguish the basics anymore. A belief in God is not necessary, but depending on what kind of god it is one believes in, it is far from rational to simply deny rationality to a “god-origin” of any kind. I have some atheist friends who believe in some kind of Creator or Creating force (they are not decided about that) – they just reject it would be anything like an Abrahamic God of some kind. Now those are the kind of atheists who make real sense if you ask me. If atheism is just about being a group of folks who want to be very special and distinguish themselves from the rest of mankind just because so many others have some concept of god, I wouldn’t call that anything close to true humanism and secularism. To make commonsense you need to be daring to deal with differences in world view.

        Granted, most of us want the typical “Far right Evangelical” or the boasting Republican (who may not even know what drosophila means) to keep their mouth shut – but there’s an argument for that. But to call other views a “fallacious maneuver to impress” is already an ad hominem fallacy, a strawman, even a fallacy of equivocation, and is also simply bypassing the good practice of argument. And by the way, argument is not the most important thing in the world. When I meet Christian friends, I can see how they are just reasonable and loving beings who don’t hate atheists – they rather see them as human beings exactly as any other human being. Their idea of God is usually vague and they identify god as a god of love. I never argue against such a god – I could just as well argue against love having a beginning. “Logic” cannot replace our humaneness in relationships.

        As I said, I don’t really like W. Lane Craig. But I don’t like Dawkins either (I don’t like ANY scientist who does not separate his science from his atheism – just as I don’t like it when theists don’t understand that science is not about either faith in or disbelief in god). That doesn’t mean these people are not arguing honestly in defense of their views.

  4. Daniel
    04/13/2011 at 12:04 AM

    Hi there.

    I will revisit this again, however to quickly respond. Vilenkin, though not taking this to be proof of any theistic conclusion, clearly states in his 2006 work that “past-eternal inflation without a beginning is impossible” p-175. Craig doesn’t need to engage what Vilenkin thinks this may or may not prove. He he simply getting the scientific information as to support his philosophical argument.

    Also, by his own admission in “A Brief History of Time”, Hawking’s model only works in an anti-realist construal of metaphysics as the theory would not work without the use of imaginary numbers, which unfortunately do not translate to real space and time.

    Though we clearly disagree on issues and William Lane Craig’s work itself, I appreciate the blog and the discussion of the issues.

    Take care!

    • Mason Colbert
      08/02/2011 at 8:58 PM

      “The conclusion that Borde and collaborators had proved that the universe had to have a beginning was disputed the same year by University of California-Santa Cruz physicist Anthony Aquirre and Cambridge astronomer Steven Gratton in a paper that Craig ignores.”

      “I contacted Vilenkin…I first asked Vilenkin if Craig’s statement is accurate. Vilenkin replied:
      “I would say this is basically correct, except the words “absolute beginning” do raise some red flags….[details of BGV Theorem following]”

      “I sent this to Aquirre who commented that the “infinitely rare” particles have worldlines [trajectories in space-time] that extend intdefinitely into “the past,” and can prevent there being a “time” as which the universe is not expanding/inflating.”

      “I then asked Vilenkin, “Does your theorem prove the universe must have had a beginning.” He immediately replied:
      “No. But it proves that the expansion of the universe must have had a beginning. You can evade the theorem by postulating the universe was prior to some time.”

      “I also checked with Caltech cosmologiss Sean Carroll…here was his response:
      “I think my answer would be fairly concise: no result derived on the basis of classical spacetime can be used to derive anything truly fundamental, since classical general relativity isn’t right. You need to quantize gravity. The BGV [Borde, Guth, Vilenkin] singularity theorem is certainly interesting and important, because it helps us understand where classical GR breaks down, but it doesn’t help us decide what to do when it breaks down.”

      Source: Victor J. Stenger, The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning, 2011.

      Now, on Sean’s point- Anthony Aqurrie made a few corrections on Carroll’s point on the BGV Theorem.

      “Anthony A. Says:
      Sean,

      A very nice post on a very interesting question. The part where you sort out “big-bang” (well-tested evolution of an expanding homogeneous hot patch) from “big-bang” (an initial singularity) is important, as the two are often conflated even by people who know better.

      A couple of brief comments, hopefully more later. First, Borde, Guth & Vilenkin did *not* prove that eternal inflation has singularities to the past. As you know, most singularity theorems prove geodesic incompleteness, and this is the case here. What all of their theorems do are (a) write out a set of conditions which they consider to correspond to eternal inflation, then (b) show that the region in which these conditions hold is geodesically incomplete. This would indeed be consistent with eternal inflation “emerging from a primordial singularity”, but it is also consistent with eternal inflation just being grafted onto some spacetime region that is not eternally inflating by their definition. This is exactly what Steven & I did in various ways in our paper; and in most cases we argued that the ‘extra’ region was indeed eternally inflating, just not in accord with their criteria for eternal inflation.”

      Sean later replied:
      “Sean Says:
      Anthony, thanks for the clarification about the BGV results.”

      Source: Sean Carroll’s blog, website: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2007/04/27/how-did-the-universe-start/
      (You must see the comments section below!)

      “It should first be pointed out that imaginary numbers aren’t any more “imaginary” than most real numbers. As mathematicians John Conway and Richard Guy write, imaginary numbers “turn out to be invaluable in many applications of mathematics to engineering, physics, and almost every other science. Moreover, these numbers obey all the rules which you already know for ‘real’ numbers” (The Book of Numbers, pg. 212).”

      So, can imaginary numbers be used to describe the concept of time in the very early universe? Luckily, this is discussed at length in A Brief History of Time (pg. 139). ”If the universe really is in such a quantum state, there would be no singularities in the history of the universe in imaginary time. … In real time, the universe has a beginning and end at singularities that form a boundary to space-time and at which the laws of science break down. But in imaginary time, there are no singularities or boundaries. So maybe what we call imaginary time is really more basic, and what we call real time is just an idea that we invent to help us describe what we think the universe is like.” Hawking then suggests that asking the question “which is real” might be irrelevant, “It is simply a matter of which is the more useful description.””

      Source: Andy Burke, Tuseday Afternoon (Blog), William Lane Craig vs. Stephen Hawking.

      Before Craig can use this “information” to build his case for his philosophical argument, he might want to make sure he has fact-checked his interpretations of the theorem. This is the same problem Dr. Stenger had written about in his previous books on Craig’s use of the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems. He used them to make his case for the universe’s beginnings, but overlooked the flaws Hawking and Penrose themselves admitted within their theorem… they failed to consider quantum mechanics!

      • Jo
        12/02/2012 at 1:38 AM

        My principal complaint against Hawking’s model was that it cannot be construed as a realistic description of the origin of the universe because of its dubious metaphysical presuppositions. I have no objection to treating Hawking’s model instrumentally as a description of a universe with a beginning using the formalism of quantum mechanics, in which the beginning is suppressed. One might consider profitably the analogy of the use of imaginary numbers for the time coordinate in the metric of Minkowski space-time, a mathematical trick which suppresses the curvature in space-time and so allows one to treat a pseudo-Euclidean four-space as a Euclidean four-space. Space-time itself, as an (ex hypothesi) objectively existing reality, is not changed by this re-description. It is still a pseudo-Euclidean four-space, but we can treat it as if it were Euclidean by using imaginary numbers for the time coordinate. The only change that occurs is on paper. In a similar way, Hawking’s use of imaginary numbers for the time variable allows one to redescribe a universe with an initial cosmological singularity in such a way that that point appears as a non-singular point on a curved hyper-surface. Such a re-description suppresses and literally spatializes time as well, which makes evident the purely instrumental character of the model. Such a model could be of great utility to science, but it would not, as Hawking boldly asserts, eliminate the need for a Creator

      • Jo
        12/02/2012 at 1:45 AM

        Hawking himself admits, “Only if we could picture the universe in terms of imaginary time would there be no singularities . . . . When one goes back to the real time in which we live, however, there will still appear to be singularities.” Hawking’s model is thus a way of re-describing a universe with a singular beginning point in such a way that that singularity is transformed away; but such a re-description is not realist in character.

        Hawking has recently stated explicitly that he interprets the Hartle-Hawking model non-realistically. He confesses, “I’m a positivist . . . I don’t demand that a theory correspond to reality because I don’t know what it is.” Still more extreme, “I take the positivist viewpoint that a physical theory is just a mathematical model and that it is meaningless to ask whether it corresponds to reality.”In assessing the worth of a theory, “All I’m concerned with is that the theory should predict the results of measurements.”The clearest example of Hawking’s instrumentalism is his analysis of particle pair creation in terms of an electron quantum tunneling in Euclidean space (with time being imaginary) and an electron/positron pair accelerating away from each other in Minkowski space-time.This analysis is directly analogous to the Hartle-Hawking cosmological model; and yet no one would construe particle pair creation as literally the result of an electron’s transitioning out of a timelessly existing four-space into our classical space-time. It is just an alternative description employing imaginary numbers rather than real numbers.

        Significantly, the use of imaginary quantities for time is an inherent feature of all Quantum Gravity Models. This precludes their being construed realistically as accounts of the origin of the space-time universe in a timelessly existing four-space. Rather they are ways of modeling the real beginning of the universe ex nihilo in such a way as to not involve a singularity. What brought the universe into being remains unexplained on such accounts.

  5. Brad
    02/29/2012 at 8:19 AM

    I’m curious, what are the ramifications of a possible eternal dimension of time on the probability of a boundary to space time?

  6. GLORIAN
    04/19/2012 at 11:35 AM

    You should check out the implications of m theory, as proposed by Neil Turok. In
    this, the universe do not have a true origin or even a true big bang.

  7. Clay
    08/09/2012 at 12:32 PM

    This author sets up a straw-man argument by saying Craig retreats from the Big Bang theory. He does not, he uses Vilenkin as further proof of the big bang. I don’t think Vilenkin would have a problem with that. Craig also admits that it would take quantum mechanics to understand the universe at the beginning. He also admits to Hawking’s boundaries theory, as to it is some kind of beginning.

    The other problem is citing Vilenkin as a philosopher at the end. Which is it, scientist or philosopher? How is it up to him whether God exists or not? This is a question for philosophy, Craig’s realm, and not science.

    • Luiz Fernando Zadra
      08/20/2012 at 12:47 PM

      What determines if a question can be addressed by science is science, not philosophy. I dont remember Vilenkins asking for Craigs help with the origin of the Universe, but I do remember him saying that Craigs interpretation of his theorem is flawed.

      Being outside the reach of science does not automatically qualify a question to enter the realm of philosophy. I dont remember Einstein consulting any epistemologist before shaking the foundations of our understanding of the nature of space/time. Its laughable to suppose that philosophy can answer the question of what came before the Bigbang (if theres any before at all) when it cant even answer if there was a BB or not.

      The case here is pretty clear. If time begins with BB, theres no sense in asking what came before it. If it makes sense to ask such thing, the nature of the thing that preceeds us is outside our reach for now. Invoking bronze age myths to cure our ignorance will not help either, especially because if theres something before time, this something will fall pray of the old infinite regress problem, so the origin of reality remains unanswered.

      >

    • Luiz Fernando Zadra
      08/20/2012 at 12:49 PM

      What determines if a question can be addressed by science is science, not philosophy. I don´t remember Vilenkin´s asking for Craig´s help with the origin of the Universe, but I do remember him saying that Craig´s interpretation of his theorem is flawed.

      Being outside the reach of science does not automatically qualify a question to enter the realm of philosophy. I don´t remember Einstein consulting any epistemologist before shaking the foundations of our understanding of the nature of space/time. It´s laughable to suppose that philosophy can answer the question of what came before the Bigbang (if there´s any before at all) when it can´t even answer if there was a BB or not.

      The case here is pretty clear. If time begins with BB, there´s no sense in asking what came before it. If it makes sense to ask such thing, the nature of the thing that preceeds us is outside our reach for now. Invoking bronze age myths to cure our ignorance will not help either, especially because if there´s something before time, this something will fall pray of the old infinite regress problem, so the origin of reality remains unanswered.

      • Jo
        12/02/2012 at 1:18 AM

        Let’s grant for the sake of argument that the singularity was a real physical state. The claim seems to be that since the initial cosmological singularity is a boundary point to spacetime rather than a point of spacetime, therefore there was no time at which God could have created the singularity.

        But this conclusion follows only if we equate time with physical measures of time. This reductionistic view is clearly wrong. A sequence of mental events alone is sufficient to generate relations of earlier and later, wholly in the absence of any physical events. So if God were counting down to creation, “. . . , 3, 2, 1, Let there be light!” God would exist in time even if He were not in physical time (that is, the physical measure that stands for time in the General Theory of Relativity). So there could be a time at which God created the initial cosmological singularity, even if that moment is not in physical time. Such an appeal to metaphysics is not illicit because Hawking is making a metaphysical claim that God cannot create the universe because the singularity is not in physical time, a reductionistic move which no theist should accept.

        In any case, even if we do accept this reductionistic move, all that follows is that God did not create the universe at a time. We can still say that God’s creating the universe was coincident with the singularity (that is, they occur together at the boundary of spacetime), and by creating the singularity God created the universe.

      • Jo
        12/02/2012 at 1:20 AM

        The point is that there are truths which we grasp that are not scientifically accessible, among these aesthetic truths. The defender of scientism is forced to deny that there are any objective aesthetic judgements. Recognizing this fact simply raises the price of embracing scientism: you have to deny that anything—any scene, any music, any art—is really beautiful. If someone wants to hold that, fine; but for many of us the price exacted by a consistent scientism starts to look too high to pay. There’s no reason to adopt scientism, so if you think that there are objective judgements of beauty, as many of us think, you will reject the narrow epistemology of scientism.

      • Luiz Fernando
        01/01/2013 at 11:03 AM

        Nobody is embracing scientism. There’s a sea of difference between “science can’t explain all facts about the history of the Universe” to “your question begging metaphysics can solve the problems that science can’t”. Maybe we will never know the full history of reality. This does not grant you the right to fill the gaps in our knowledge with flawed logic, mythology and anthropomorphization of reality.

    • Luiz Fernando
      01/01/2013 at 10:28 AM

      “If atheism is true, the universe has no objective explanation of its existence.”

      If theism is true, God has no objective explanation of his existence. If your God can be his own explanation, why not the Universe? Not to forget, also, that the Universe may have an external explanation for its existence that is not a god. Your Leibnizian line is nothing more than special pleading for God. A worldview that needs to resort to special pleading, circular devices and other types of fallacious reasoning is not coherent, much less rational.

  8. Lyte Lee
    10/10/2012 at 3:43 AM

    This is such claptrap really. Whether it’s expansion, inflation, or quantum gravity, it’s all a vain attempt to escape the obvious beginning. All the gymnastics of imaginary numbers or imaginary universes and contractions used to avoid the creator betrays science. Where does the evidence lead is the question that should be asked. As Richard Lewontin remarks, you won’t “allow a divine foot in the door” because or your “prior committment to philosophical materialism.” That can hardly be called science. The most baffling question of all is why does anything exist at all but even more baffling if you postulate a purposeless universe that didn’t have us in mind. Why something instead of nothing? At the heart of the matter is that you do not want give glory to a creator. You are reserving that for yourselves.

    • PB
      03/09/2013 at 7:58 PM

      Do you see what you wrote ? You accuse others for their ‘priors’ but you do the very same thing by having the answer beforehand …

    • Rand al'Thor
      07/07/2013 at 1:39 AM

      Hmm… let’s see – you are able to enjoy the modern day marvels such as medicine, automobiles, and blog site such as this, because people in the past refused to use God of Gaps as the answer and actually investigated, experimented, and find the explainable, falsifiable, repeatable answer.

      Science at the end of the day has a simple premise – explain what you observe, and prove it by falsifying it. That’s a standard that no theism can stand up to – because even if BGV is true – it still doesn’t logically lead to your God as the reason – it’s actually mine ;)

      Until everyone in the world can agree to the same God, which will require the same falsifiability demanded of science, it’s pointless for science to even attempt that as an explanation, as all science needs to be provable, or else it’s just a conjecture.

  9. maxavail
    11/17/2012 at 7:25 AM

    So, in his last quote, Vilenkin says that scientists can explain the absolute beginning of space-time better than the theologians, because they use quantum mechanics to show that something can come from apparently (but not truly) nothing and thus, resolve the logical paradoxes of the origins.
    But that does nothing to dismiss Kalam’s second premise, namely that “the universe began to exist”, it only proposes a different cause other than God, namely quentum nucleation.
    Until both of Kalam’s premises are proven false, WLC’s cosmological argument stands and its conclusion remains: the universe HAD a cause.
    The second point is to realize what the nature of that first cause is. If we admit it’s supernatural, then fine, there is a God. If we admit it’s in fact natural (quantum nucleation), then we’re confronted with another problem, namely the fact that you are applying math to write an equation describing the probability of something coming into existence from a zero volume singularity, instead of realizing that zero radius points can contain no real energy fields and thus cannot be subject to quantum mechanical laws and processes. So, instead of using math to express a zero volume member of an equation, you might rightfully write off that member entirely, as realistically impossible.
    Craig nails it best: a zero-volume singularity is not something which exists and has a zero radius, it’s something that doesn’t exist because nothing that exists in the physical universe can exist but within a volume. So, to write an equation describing a zero- volume singularity is an exercise in futility and logical incoherence. That, by the way, is precisely what WLC criticized about Vilenkin’s work.

    • Luiz Fernando
      01/01/2013 at 10:55 AM

      “zero-volume singularity is not something which exists and has a zero radius”

      If the singularity does not exist, then Hawking is right. There never was a singularity and the Universe does not originate from such thing. If the singularity is something that exists, it was a real state of affairs of the Universe 13.7 billion years ago, then there is a thing that exists with zero-volume and zero-radius. Unless you are going to say that God is an zero-volume, zero-radius physical thing, please move on. Your god of the gaps hypothesis, as always, is not needed.

    • Ron
      02/05/2013 at 4:37 PM

      Now THAT is someone with a strong background in Quantum Cosmology!

      And I thought that singularities in physical equations are artifacts due to break downs of the underlying theory or at least the approximations. Hence meaning that a more fundamental theories are necessary, or..well…better approximations. And wasn’t the whole point of Vilenkin’s quantum nucleation that his instanton does not have a singularity?

      But I’m glad we have great Physicists such as Craig, with his two Doctorates in Philosophy and Divinity, who set us scientific worker bees straight when it comes to the flaws of our own theoretical models.

      “A zero-volume singularity is not something which exists and has a zero radius”, huh? Great stuff.

    • Rand al'Thor
      07/07/2013 at 1:44 AM

      Sorry but this is shifting the burden of proof.

      It’s up to those who makes a claim to prove its correctness, not the other way around. KCA doesn’t “stand” until its premise are proven false; KCA needs to prove its premise are true, and that the conclusion which follows is the one and only conclusion.

      That’s the same criteria held for every scientific claims – since KCA appeals to science it shouldn’t have difficulty to be hold to the same standard.

      Otherwise it’s a conjecture.

  10. Luiz Fernando
    01/01/2013 at 10:47 AM

    A sequence of mental events occurs in time. No exceptions known. If such thing as “thinking without time”, or “time without time” is possible, the burden is on you to show that these are possible, otherwise you are just assuming your own conclusion. The technical name for this sort of reasoning is “to make shit up”.

    And if God indeed exists in some kind of non physical time (whatever this thing is), then he will be affected by the infinite regress problem theists themselves say can’t be solved. God can’t traverse the infinity of his past mental events to reach the Big Bang.

    Nobody is claiming that appeals to metaphysics are illicit. Metaphysics, however, is not the art of making shit up. If you can appeal to a never seen mind outside a brain and time that is able to cause matter to pop into existence when there’s laws of conservation in this universe and when we know that causation is something changing state in time, then is allowed to me to explain the universe by appealing to anything I want: The universe was caused by an fart of a giant Mickey Mouse. In other words, the giant Mickey Mouse did it. Done.

  11. 02/24/2013 at 7:27 AM

    Where exactly is the debunking?

    “In this regard, the theorem that I proved with my colleagues does not give much of an advantage to the theologian over the scientist.”

    Not “much” of an advantage? So then the BGV theorem does indeed offer some advantage.

    Debunking you say? Hmm.

    Great discussion. Refreshing thoughtful honest.

    “I contacted Vilenkin…I first asked Vilenkin if Craig’s statement is accurate. Vilenkin replied:
    “I would say this is basically correct, except the words “absolute beginning” do raise some red flags….[details of BGV Theorem following]”

  12. Dr Erick Smith
    02/26/2013 at 5:43 PM

    Then you don’t like science at all because science requires a null hypothesis. Science is atheist by it’s very nature.

    Jcm Manuel :
    “Happily for the average atheist, you need only half a neuron to understand why this is bullshit, just a fallacious maneuver to impress those who can´t live knowing that their belief in god is not compatible with rationality.” — Wow, this reads like bullshit. While I am myself not theist (neither would I want to associate with new atheism because from my point of view that’s not simply non-theism, its more like peeing in our pants on just hearing the word theism), I would say the average ‘militant’ atheist relies all too often on pseudo-rationality. I am by no means a fan of Craig’s way of arguing, but I don’t see how he would be wanting to simply “impress” others any more than you are trying here to make a solid case of atheism being the only mindset that is truly “rational”, eh? Come on.
    And “belief in god not compatible with rationality” – you know what? Atheists seem to fall more and more into the trap of not being able to distinguish the basics anymore. A belief in God is not necessary, but depending on what kind of god it is one believes in, it is far from rational to simply deny rationality to a “god-origin” of any kind. I have some atheist friends who believe in some kind of Creator or Creating force (they are not decided about that) – they just reject it would be anything like an Abrahamic God of some kind. Now those are the kind of atheists who make real sense if you ask me. If atheism is just about being a group of folks who want to be very special and distinguish themselves from the rest of mankind just because so many others have some concept of god, I wouldn’t call that anything close to true humanism and secularism. To make commonsense you need to be daring to deal with differences in world view.
    Granted, most of us want the typical “Far right Evangelical” or the boasting Republican (who may not even know what drosophila means) to keep their mouth shut – but there’s an argument for that. But to call other views a “fallacious maneuver to impress” is already an ad hominem fallacy, a strawman, even a fallacy of equivocation, and is also simply bypassing the good practice of argument. And by the way, argument is not the most important thing in the world. When I meet Christian friends, I can see how they are just reasonable and loving beings who don’t hate atheists – they rather see them as human beings exactly as any other human being. Their idea of God is usually vague and they identify god as a god of love. I never argue against such a god – I could just as well argue against love having a beginning. “Logic” cannot replace our humaneness in relationships.
    As I said, I don’t really like W. Lane Craig. But I don’t like Dawkins either (I don’t like ANY scientist who does not separate his science from his atheism – just as I don’t like it when theists don’t understand that science is not about either faith in or disbelief in god). That doesn’t mean these people are not arguing honestly in defense of their views.

  13. Andre
    04/06/2013 at 1:39 PM

    A GREAT MIND SAID :

    “Der erste Trunk aus dem Becher der Naturwissenschaft macht atheistisch, aber auf dem Grund des Bechers wartet Gott” -Werner Heisenberg

    ;

  14. Andre
    04/06/2013 at 1:53 PM

    SORRY , IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND GERMAN HERE IS AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION:
    The first gulp of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.

  15. Lee Lavoie
    05/08/2013 at 8:58 PM

    Luiz…such a classy comment from an obviously classy guy. Your power of reasoning is overpowering…please continue to baffle us with you brilliant intellect. All this time I thought Mickey Mouse was just a cartoon character but you have given him “flesh”. You give so much more meaning to the term “mindless chance” so that we bow to your greatest (just kidding). Why are you so angry?

    • Luiz Fernando
      07/30/2013 at 9:04 PM

      [Why are you so angry?]
      I’m not angry. The problem with almost all theists is to think that any attack on their pet theories of cosmic origins is a personal attack. In the past believers could burn me, ban me or punish me severely to weaken my determination to not believe in bullshit. Fortunately for me, the world is very different today, and the most you can do now is to play the “don’t hurt my feelings” card. We have exceptions, like Islamic countries, of course, where I can be killed by saying the truth: your god is a delusion. Christians don’t do it anymore today because they lost political power and the church is just a lesser player today with no real muscle.
      Religion is so beautiful. I’m really surprised by the fact that the world gets more and more civilized every time we make religion less and less influential in our societies.

  16. 06/24/2013 at 6:52 AM

    I am but a simple student that loves to study Theodicy as well as Cosmology. However, I see no reason how a Scientistic view of the universe cannot be intigrated to an ontological framework that is emperical, rational as well as metaphysical. If only people had applied a systems approach to knowledge, in that, any new discovery by Science does not render previous discoveries by religion or philosophy obsolete but merely improves upon it, i.e. when Einstein’s Physics superceded Newtonian Physics, the former may have subsumed the latter but the truth of the latter still subsists. You see Militant Atheists fail to understand the perrenial nature of knowledge and just because they found some new-fangled explanation they’ll discard the the old ones, i.e. the classics (Scholastic Teleology) which is wrong since once both are properly calibrated, they harmonize. However, I see a problem in the way you (Luiz Fernado) polemicize against the common-sense teleological cosmology with ridiculous appeals to absurdity (Like that giant Mickey Mouse Example) denying the fact that our arguments are not circular but syllogistic and I would just like to point out that my fellow theist made a mistake when he assumed that God’s thoughts are under the law of time, but rather Time itself (Whether imaginary, relativist or real) is but a subclass in a higher category called reality and time follows the laws of reality, reality itself, only a creation of God. Thus to place God as being bound in Time is absurd and is bad metaphysics. Also you are wrong to say that God may not be perceivable. Although in totality, he cannot be grasped due to our finite nature as contrasted to his transcendental magnificence, yet you can still know God because he is a relational being.

  1. 04/20/2011 at 10:39 AM
  2. 11/03/2011 at 3:13 PM
  3. 03/03/2012 at 9:15 PM
  4. 07/11/2012 at 3:19 PM
  5. 09/25/2012 at 1:48 PM
  6. 10/14/2012 at 3:52 PM
  7. 10/17/2012 at 5:43 AM
  8. 11/27/2012 at 6:49 AM
  9. 01/25/2013 at 1:41 PM
  10. 02/20/2013 at 5:20 PM
  11. 04/20/2013 at 2:35 PM
  12. 05/26/2013 at 1:17 PM
  13. 07/30/2013 at 2:57 PM

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