Sunday, June 5, 2011

Craig's Kalam Cosmological Argument, Pt. 2

I am cross-posting this from some discussions elsewhere. I'll go back and edit it for quality later.

I'm going to structure these one objection at a time and label them for the benefit of both of us.

Objection 1: Our intuitions can't be relied upon for this discussion.

Before we even start, I want to point out the biggest problem with the KCA and why it is a complete non-starter. It entirely relies on our intuitions about subjects where our intuitions don't apply.

Let's unpack that claim. We have evolved to experience subject matter at about the middle of the size in which events occur. Events that occur on massive scales and near the speed of light don't act in ways that correspond to our intuitions. More importantly events that are extremely small and occur near the speed of light (events that Craig must rely upon to make his points) also don't follow our intuitions.

It becomes impossible for us to rely upon our intuitions about these events because our intuitions have always been wrong. Wave-particle duality is just the crack in the box on this. If you want a good book on just how much modern physics and our understanding of the universe doesn't correspond to our intuitions, a good starting place is How to Teach Physics to your Dog.

So, the obvious response is to ask what can be relied upon for understanding Big Bang Cosmology. Well, science can take us quite a distance, but as Craig points out, science can only get us so far. As for right now, we don't have any uncontroversial evidence of "before the Big Bang." There are good cosmologists proposing possible sources of evidence for something that would qualify for "outside our universe", but all that does is push the problem back further.

I will remind you that Penrose is probably wrong. This data is quite preliminary and he may be drawing the wrong conclusions about it. But even the fact that scientists can have this conversation intelligently will raise problems for some of Craig's later points.

Here is a really good discussion of Penrose's ideas from a blog I occasionally follow.

Whew, okay, back out of that rabbit hole. So yeah, Science can say a lot, but it has limits by the very nature of the process. What can we say when we reach the limits? Not much, for now. Our intuitions broke down at sizes much larger and speeds much slower than where we end up, so to rely on intuitions about these subjects is patently wrong. All we can say is that we don't know about this or that question for one, or both, of two reasons:

1. The question isn't well formed.
2. We don't have access to empirical data that allows us to get at that question.

The topics Craig wants us to discuss run afoul of both.

We'll have to assume that I'm wrong about all of this to even bother going further.

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