One may get the feeling that I’ve been circling back a bit, and I hope that doesn’t induce any mental motion sickness (or too much tedium). I’ve heard somewhere that a speaker must state a thing five times in order for it to be retained by the hearer.
Alas, we will take the KCA as a step in this process, and now discern where it might lead. At the very least, I will now co-opt William Lane Craig’s hard work and twist it for my purposes.
Craig points out that, if the KCA is successful, it gives us a cause for the Universe (all time, space, matter, and energy) which transcends the Universe. He also notes that this cause must be unimaginably powerful. Is not the creation of the Universe the mightiest act you can conceive of?
And, in what seems to be a later addition to his thought on the subject, Craig notes that the KCA may even give us a personal cause – that is, a cause that acts, when it could have chosen not to act.
To further draw out the distinction: If the laws of physics really are responsible for the creation of the Universe, they would seem to constitute an impersonal cause. If I understand correctly, even Hawking would say that the laws of physics were simply bound to create the Universe (by necessity, which is a heavy idea in philosophy), and so no choice would have been involved.
We have to ignore some of the metaphysical problems with this idea (why did they create the Universe at the “moment” when they did, and not “sooner”? In what way were they catalyzed to create? What about the constants and quantities of nature – did the laws set those, somehow, to permit the Universe we see? How did they drum up elementary particles out of nothing?*) to come to our point without delay.
Rather, we have to consider what kinds of things stand outside of time, matter, space, and energy – those seem to include abstract objects (like numbers and propositions) and minds, says Craig. And since abstract objects don’t cause anything, the only thing left which could act as the cause of the Universe is a mind.
And why not a mind? This brings a certain satisfaction to many disparate features of reality: A sense of order in the Universe, the efficacy of math and logic, the setting of initial constants and quantities, the coherence of reality (the laws of physics appear to be constant across space and time), our sense of beauty, the question “why?”, the plethora of features which convince us that survival is not the sole purpose of our existence.
Do you have to accept that it was a mind? No. But you do have to improve upon the explanation if you’re going to defeat it, which may be a particularly difficult challenge if the KCA is successful. I, for now, accept that it was a mind, and this mind I call God.
Why call it God?
Well, one of the attributes typically ascribed to God is that of being “omnipotent,” or all-powerful. As I asked above, can you imagine a mightier act than the creation of the Universe (all space, time, energy, and matter)? Is there any logically consistent act you can imagine which this same mind could not perform? Would you like to see stars exploding, or galaxies colliding? Nevermind your earthly mountains and trees…
So this mind and “God” seem to have in common the attribute of being all-powerful. The role of “First Cause” has also typically been applied to God, and this is the role filled by our mind from the KCA. When it becomes appropriate to identify a “thing” as God is probably a good question, and I don’t want to be seen as attempting a sleight of hand.
Nevertheless, it would seem that the success of the KCA seems to add to (or not, if it is unsuccessful) the rationality of belief in God, and it does not seem to apply in this way to any other being. There does not seem to be an entity competing with God for the attributes wrought from the KCA (and other such arguments).
And so, I’ll use “God” primarily, and you can stop me if I seem to be taking any unjustified liberties.
In the next post, we’ll explore what it means to be all-powerful.
*Some of these questions are leveled at God, which we may come to at length. Suffice for now to say that I don’t believe I have all the answers, though the existence of God seems to provide a better grounding for those answers than His non-existence.