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Reasonable Faith Response to “WLC Quotes Anthony Kenny”

09/07/2010 5 comments

You may recall that my very first post on this blog addressed William Lane Craig’s use of the Anthony Kenny quote, “A proponent of the Big Bang Theory, at least if he is an atheist, must believe that the universe came from nothing and by nothing.” If you would like to read my full criticism, you’ll find it by clicking here. Otherwise, here is a brief summary of my contentions:

1: The full quote only refers to the “matter in the universe” not the universe as a whole.  2: Kenny simply asserts the claim, no argument or evidence is given.  Moreover, Kenny is a philosopher (not a physicist) but Craig never mentions this. 3: The quote is 40+ years old and, thus, any pertinent cosmology is likely outdated anyway.

Well, awhile ago I received a response to these points from a volunteer named Tom at Craig’s ministry Reasonable Faith.

1. Dr. Craig elided the words because they could mislead someone (like yourself) to think that Kenny was differentiating between the universe and its matter, when, as the words ‘from nothing’ show, no such distinction was implied.

2. Kenny is making a metaphysical, not a physical point. On the standard model, of which he is speaking, coming into being out of nothing is necessitated. Kenny is an eminent metaphysician whose credentials are impeccable.

3. Dr. Craig is quoting Kenny, not in defense of premise 2, but of premise 1 of the KCA. He is speaking of the standard model, and what he says always has been and always will be correct of that model.  When it comes to the defense of premise 2, you will find in Dr. Craig’s work cutting edge discussions of current cosmological models.

Well, I figured I should respond to the above points.

1. Kenny specifically referred to “the matter in the universe” not “the universe.”  I fail to see how “from nothing” implies that Kenny was making no distinction between the two. What if Kenny had written, “an atheist must believe the horses in the universe came from nothing and by nothing?” Does “from nothing” still imply that he was making no distinction between the horses in the universe and the universe as a whole?  Besides, if it’s a confusing quote, why use it in the first place?

2. As to the point about Kenny being “an eminent metaphysician whose credentials are impeccable,” I don’t see how this is very relevant.  Metaphysics is very, very different from physics. As far as I can tell, Kenny is not credentialed in any field of science or mathematics, and therefore his expertise on the Standard Big Bang Model is questionable . At least, it’s questionable enough for me not to simply take his word on it.

Furthermore, I simply don’t see how “on the standard model . . . coming into being out of nothing is necessitated.” As Alan Guth (an actual physicist and cosmologist) wrote in the preface to his book The Inflationary Universe, “the standard big bang theory says nothing about what banged, why it banged, or what happened before it banged.” For more on this discussion, see my post here.

3. I’m not quite sure why it matters whether Craig is defending premise 1 or 2, my point is simply that the cosmology of his source is 40+ years outdated. Again, I have to take issue with the claim that, “what [Kenny] says always has been and always will be correct of [the Standard Big Bang model],” but as I’ve pointed out in another post, the Standard Big Bang model has been known for quite awhile to be problematic.

To once again quote Guth, “The traditional big bang theory has become widely accepted because, as far as we can tell, it gives an accurate picture of how our universe has evolved . . . However, although the standard big bang theory is very successful, there is good reason to believe it is incomplete.”

In summary, I think the Reasonable Faith response to my post is (to put it bluntly) a completely worthless piece of meta-apologetics.