Second Rebuttal - Mitch Hodge
I thought much of your response, rather than addressing what it was that my rebuttal contained, was a mere denial of any
problem and a reassertion of some of the same premises which I had called into question. There were also parts in your
response which seemed confusing, such the reference to the Kalam Cosmological Argument (which I am guessing you
addressed on your website), because I was not privy as to the source of your information. In short, then, I found your
rebuttal dissatisfying for a few reasons which I will outline here.
1). You rebutted that your argument made no hypostatic claims, but you seemed to have missed the point of my rebuttal. You seem to be thinking that I am talking about things and there causes, but that is not the case. Where I was claiming that the reification occurred was with the word 'universe'. My question my easily be phrased as such, "Is there really such a THING as the universe, or is it the set of things which physically exist?" It seems to me that you are treating the universe as a particular, land if it is not a particular as I maintain, then it is in some sense needless to ask if it has a (physical) cause. Further, if it is not a particular, then I challenge that you have made a fallacy of equivocation between the cause of a particular, and the cause of an abstract universal. Whereas your appeal to science could well produce support to the former, it will do nothing to provide evidence for the latter.
2) You seem to want to steer the direction of the discussion into the realm of the scientific. I resist this on two grounds. 1) I think it is as foolish for a theist to try and prove the existence of an immaterial entity (God) by empirical methods, as it is for an atheist to deny the existence of God by empirical methods; and 2), the metaphysical speculations which have arisen from Hawking's work, whether by himself or others, are still just speculation. Further, I was not bringing the Big Bang theory into question scientifically, but rather philosophically. Your original implied assertion was that the argument should be accepted because most people believe that the Big Bang is true. How I responded in a round about manner was that if the Big Bang Theory was true, then the Steady State Theory, and the competing Bang/Crunch theories would have to false. What I then stated was that it was not the case that these theories have been proven false. Therefore, I think it is somewhat presumptuous on your part to set the Big Bang Theory before us as true, when in the next post you readily admit that it is an argument to the best explanation. You then mention the observations of astronomers as evidence for the theory, but you fail to mention what any of those observations are. Perhaps you are referring to the phenomenon known as "Red Shift". If this is the case, then I have a philosophical difficulty with this observation. The Red Shift Theory tells us that the Stars are moving away from each other, particularly us, since the red shift can only be seen from our perspective at this point. This, some think, gives evidence that the universe is expanding. If the Big Bang theory is true, then the universe is expanding from its center. Yet was it not Hubble who from his observations concluded that the universe did not have a center? How is it that these conclusions are compatible?
3) You challenge me for not addressing your conclusion, and you are correct, I did not. But, at the time I thought your argument was severely lacking evidence, so I did not feel the need. But, since you have pressed the issue, there are a couple of points in your conclusion which I would like to address. In the premises, you spoke of a physical cause for the universe. In the conclusion you present however, you interject an efficient cause. You did this without sufficient explanation. Moreover, a physical cause can be supported scientifically, yet an efficient cause is the domain of philosophy. It was a large leap in your argument to state that the cause of the universe must be powerful and intelligent. The only way that you could have done this is again by the fallacy of equivocation between physical cause and efficient cause.
There are problems with the notion of efficient cause. Efficient cause means essentially means that the effect can never surpass the efficacy of the cause. This is like saying that a person who creates a beautiful piece of art must be a beautiful person. Or that a person who creates a computer must think faster than a computer. Or a person who builds a crane must be as powerful as the crane. As you can see, there are some philosophical difficulties with efficient cause.
4) My final problem with your rebuttal is this. You accuse me of confusing function with being, and accidents with essence. Actually, I would not have done so if it were not for the initial confusion with the theistic tradition. The theistic tradition asserts that God is a simple being, that he has no parts. If it is the case that God has no parts, then it cannot be the case that creating is an accident of God; it must be part of his essence. If it is part of his essence, then God must be a creator. If God was not a creator before he created the universe, but was a creator afterwards, then it is the case that God changed. This is a legitimate problem because of the aforementioned theistic assertions. There are some neo-platonic writers who recognized and attempted to solve this problem by the appeal to Form. As to whether you think these answers are sufficient, I will leave you to investigate. In short, then, if the response you gave in regards to accidents and essence are to be taken seriously, then they violate the understanding of God as set forth by the tradition I have taken you to be defending. If you were not defending the traditional God-concept, then shame on me for assuming, and on you for failing to set forth what God it was that you were defending.
After all this having been said, then, I think it is an overstatement for you to claim that your argument has not been scathed. It has, it just seems as though you were looking at straw rebuttals. I hope that you will take the time to respond to these replies.