Via The Uncredible Hallq, I bump into a new argument. Or maybe it’s just the first time someone made it explicit instead of implicit:
William Lane Craig claims that atheists agree with him that, “if the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.” It seems to me a pretty clear example of Craig’s tendency to falsely claim his opponents agree with him, but there’s one way of defending Craig’s claim that I know occurred independently to both me and at least one other person: invoking material conditionals.
His post goes on to explain the twisted logic Craig might be using with material conditionals to make this assertion. If he does mean it the way Hallq illustrates, it really strikes me as part of the dark side of a philosophy education: Using context-heavy, narrow definitions of words and equivocating them with similar phrases as they’re used in casual language.
So, for any Craig fans who might show up, here’s my position on the issue, intended to be interpreted in relatively casual language:
- I don’t know if the universe has an explanation for its existence.
- If the universe does have an explanation, it seems likely to me that there is a very large set of possible explanations, including ones people have yet to imagine and ones we’re simply incapable of imagining.
- Gods are one possible explanation, but I have no reason to believe they are probable as an explanation.
- If I had to gamble on one explanation, I would listen to cosmologists and scientists in related disciplines and base my guess on their input because they are generally more aware of and responsive to new evidence and hypotheses. I would ask critical questions in my inquiries to spot possible fallacies and contradictions to the best of my ability. The critical questions are intended to determine which of their hypotheses is most consistent with the available evidence and if their inferences from that evidence appear reasonable.
I am a counterexample to what Craig appears to be asserting: I am an atheist who has no favoritism towards theism as the explanation for the universe, if there is such an explanation. If there is an explanation for the universe’s existence, given the very large range of possibilities that come from the data shortage, I would say it’s not likely to be a god or gods, and even less likely to be Craig’s specific god hypothesis. This is, as far as I can tell, a mainstream position among atheists.