Twenty Arguments for God – Three – The Argument from Time and Contingency

This post is one of a serious that picks apart the arguments for god that can be found at the link below. This post addresses number 3:

http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#3

If you don’t want to click over there to read it, the full argument goes like this:

3. The Argument from Time and Contingency

We notice around us things that come into being and go out of being. A tree, for example, grows from a tiny shoot, flowers brilliantly, then withers and dies.
Whatever comes into being or goes out of being does not have to be; nonbeing is a real possibility.
Suppose that nothing has to be; that is, that nonbeing is a real possibility for everything.
Then right now nothing would exist. For
If the universe began to exist, then all being must trace its origin to some past moment before which there existed—literally—nothing at all. But
From nothing nothing comes. So
The universe could not have begun.
But suppose the universe never began. Then, for the infinitely long duration of cosmic history, all being had the built-in possibility not to be. But
If in an infinite time that possibility was never realized, then it could not have been a real possibility at all. So
There must exist something which has to exist, which cannot not exist. This sort of being is called necessary.
Either this necessity belongs to the thing in itself or it is derived from another. If derived from another there must ultimately exist a being whose necessity is not derived, that is, an absolutely necessary being.
This absolutely necessary being is God.
Question1: Even though you may never in fact step outside your house all day, it was possible for you to do so. Why is it impossible that the universe still happens to exist, even though it was possible for it to go out of existence?
Reply: The two cases are not really parallel. To step outside your house on a given day is something that you may or may not choose to do. But if nonbeing is a real possibility for you, then you are the kind of being that cannot last forever. In other words, the possibility of nonbeing must be built-in, “programmed,” part of your very constitution, a necessary property. And if all being is like that, then how could anything still exist after the passage of an infinite time? For an infinite time is every bit as long as forever. So being must have what it takes to last forever, that is, to stay in existence for an infinite time. Therefore there must exist within the realm of being something that does not tend to go out of existence. And this sort of being, as Aquinas says, is called “necessary.”

Did you notice the bait and switch in this one?

Before I address that though, I am noticing a pattern in these first three items. They all focus on the fact that the universe exists and because we (as in our current state of human knowledge) can’t explain why, therefore there must be a god that put it in place. At its most basic it is an argument from ignorance in that a god is inserted where there is no currently accepted explanation. The language has evolved into something more sophisticated and of course I would expect adherents to deny this assertion. They have to.

The issue that this item tried to answer is that of infinite regress, a subject that will be revisited by later items I am sure. Whatever exists must have something that existed before it. A tree came from a seed which came from a previously existing tree and so on. The universe exists and so must come from something that existed before it. Therefore god. But wait, what about before god? Where is the super god that created the universe god? Why stop at the first god that is assumed from the existence of the universe? How can the author of this argument be sure of anything regarding the god that supposedly caused this universe? They can’t be sure, that’s the problem. They’ve presupposed a god then created an argument to support it, but as with all arguments for god, they can’t step beyond imagining, the imagined god can never be tested or confirmed. We are supposed to just accept it.

This brings me to the bait and switch. See this bit.

There must exist something which has to exist, which cannot not exist. This sort of being is called necessary.
Either this necessity belongs to the thing in itself or it is derived from another. If derived from another there must ultimately exist a being whose necessity is not derived, that is, an absolutely necessary being.
This absolutely necessary being is God.

To paraphrase: before the universe, there must be something that caused it (not entirely unreasonable, but is it true? We should really test that before building arguments based on it.), that something must exist (so no test, just assume it’s true and carry on), that thing must be a being (oh?), and that being is god (boof, there it is!)

The bait and switch fallacy is explained more here: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Bait-and-switch

There is another issue with the argument that is presented in this item, which is the whole issue of before the universe. See this bit.

If the universe began to exist, then all being must trace its origin to some past moment before which there existed—literally—nothing at all. But
From nothing nothing comes. So
The universe could not have begun.
But suppose the universe never began. Then, for the infinitely long duration of cosmic history, all being had the built-in possibility not to be. But
If in an infinite time that possibility was never realized,

The author has forgotten (or maybe ignored) the very important detail that time is a feature of matter. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this already but I’ll do it again. How we experience time is directly related to our proximity to matter. The same is also true of how we experience gravity. This time experience is a calculatable and measurable phenomenon. It has to be accounted for in GPS satellites and it is the reason why your head is not the same age as your feet (https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2010/09/nist-clock-experiment-demonstrates-your-head-older-your-feet).

The ultimate conclusion from this is that time, as we understand and experience it, started with the universe. Thus the universe has existed for all of time and the question of what was before needs to first answer the difficulty of how you can have a before time. The author of this item has skipped a very important step in his rush to justify the god that he’s predetermined must exist.

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15 thoughts on “Twenty Arguments for God – Three – The Argument from Time and Contingency

  1. Well, you’ve obviously neglected to consider God Time. It’s just like time-time, in that it supports intention, identity, creation, etc.
    But in a non-sequential, static way completely unrelated to the way that time-time works.
    I’d have thought you would have thought of that.

      • Of course it is not a thing. Things have relative identity.
        God is clearly not a thing, and nothing about God is a thing, including God-time.
        And since you clearly cannot get some-thing from no-thing…Wait.
        God is not a thing, not temporal. Clearly. But god does things…I mean, God doesn’t ‘do’ things, the way a thing does things. Clearly.
        God ‘acts’, in a precisely analogous, yet essentially different, way that a thing acts.
        Oh, never mind.

  2. There is no bait and switch.

    That is because Aristotle from whom this argument originated never used bait and switch.

    “Bait and switch” in this case is the name the atheist gives to something he has never taken the time to understand.

    Clearly, the atheist fails to notice that this argument is yet another variation on the rift that nothing can happen all by itself.

    If the atheist can’t understand simple reasoning (common sense) maybe he would like to give modern science a try.

    I just wrote a post giving an example of how modern science has proven the existence of God:

    https://silenceofmind.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/proof-of-god-in-the-e-coli-bacteria/

    No bait and switch. Nothing up the sleeves. The fingers never leave the hand.

    It’s just honest science.

      • Limey,

        You presuppose that God does not exist.

        That is why no proof can ever work for you.

        “Seeing something cool” is an expression of total, ingrained ignorance.

        Science is indeed cool but it isn’t a magic trick. It’s real.

      • Saying something stupid is also not an argument against God’s existence…and reducing someone’s argument to a stupid childish mischaracterization is also not proof that God doesn’t exist…in other words nothing you have ever written even approaches an argument agauisnt God’s existence. You’re a dumbass. I’m not gonna be patient with you anymore, it’s time to call a spade a spade…in this case a dumbass a dumbass.

        I like this other guy though. Maybe he’s got some patience left for you.

  3. “You presuppose that God does not exist.”

    And that is exactly how it should be when people make fantastic claims about something for which there is no evidence.

    “Science is indeed cool but it isn’t a magic trick. It’s real.”

    Which is exactly why supernatural mythical beats are not evidenced and so not accepted.

  4. Pingback: An atheist stumbles around in the dark…part 1? – movies424one

    • Well at least you can insult me over there so I can’t delete them from my blog 🙂

      I’m really feeling the love of Jesus in your comments, I hope the Jesus in the Bible was as nice as you are.

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