#154

March 28, 2010

Lightning Strikes Again

I’m still clearing out my inbox! So I decided to do another lightning round of questions that can be quickly answered. Some of these come from overseas visitors, so please be patient with their broken English. In some cases I'll give references where I've addressed the issues more fully.


Question 1:

Dear Dr. Craig,

I came up across a new cosmological model developed by Roger Penrose called Conformal Cyclic Cosmology where he claims that when the universe reaches its ultimate destiny of maximal entropy it somehow "loses" track of time due to the absence of matter and comes into being once again through a new Big Bang. His theory argues that there is only one universe which goes through different phases or eons as he calls them. Each eon begins with a Big Bang and ends with maximal entropy, which in turn implies that entropy goes back to zero and transforms into a new big bang and so forth. A video of one of his presentations can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ-D5AUGVcI

I am wondering if this theory is sound. If so, how does it impact the Kalam Cosmological Argument?

Many thanks,

George

- country not specified

Jim Sinclair and I are co-authoring a piece on the beginning of the universe, and Jim is interacting with Penrose’s new conformal cosmological model. Jim argues persuasively that the phases of the model are not temporally ordered as earlier and later but are instead actually two universes with a common past boundary. Penrose’s model is thus really a model of a multiverse with a beginning.

Question 2:

Dear Dr. Craig, i had attented two of your talk when you were in hyderabad and i had learned so much from both your talk. My question is regarding idol worship, this question arose because one of my hindu friend says that christian do practice idol worship and when i said no, she pointed out that catholic do practice idol worship. I could not agree with it but she says that the statue of Jesus and Mary in the catholic church do signify their idol worship. And i ask some of my christian friends whether its true that catholic do practice idol worship. Some of them said yes. Is it true then, that having statue of jesus or Mary in the Church, make that church fall into the category of idol worship? If you can clarified this question of mine i will be very gratefulto you.

God Bless you!

Thank you

khrienuo

- country not specified

Wonderful to hear from you in India! I so enjoyed visiting your country for the first time.

The Catholic church does not at all endorse the worship of statues of Jesus and Mary. The Catholic church opposes idolatry.

The problem is that in an idolatrous Hindu culture like India’s, where idols are everywhere, the danger of popular abuse of statues for idolatrous worship is acute. Given that danger, I think churches ought not to have such statues, lest the masses be misled.

Question 3:

Craig have said "To have Meaning you need both God and immortality". Why do we need immortality?

If Craig have written anything on the subject, just refer where I can find that text, popular or scholarly.

Sincerely

Jesper

- country not specified

Your question also troubled the author of Ecclesiastes, who was a theist but lacked a belief in immortality and so saw life as meaningless. Read that book and take a look at chapter two of my Reasonable Faith.

Question 4:

Dear Dr. Craig. I've been wondering what exactly your views are on evolution, what you lean more towards and why you do not accept Darwinian evolution? Evolution is being pushed as a scientific fact so I'd like to know your thoughts. I am a 16 year old christian and undecided on evolution and quite frankly tired of hearing Young Earth Creationist arguments.

Thanks for your time!

Lane

- country not specified

I incline toward progressive creationism of some sort as the best explanation of the evidence. Listen to my Defenders podcast on Doctrine of Creation for an account. Also take a look at my debate with Francisco Ayala for my lack of confidence in the currently available explanatory mechanisms of evolutionary change.

Question 5:

Is it valid to formulate an argument from the first law of thermodynamics based on the fact that the law does not allow for energy to be created?

If it was to come into existence on its own, then the limitation established by the law would only apply after it successfully created itself.

If this concept is valid, can you help construct a basic syllogism?

Thank you for such wonderful work you do for our Lord.

Wilfredo

- country not specified

Depends on what you’re arguing for! Some popular-level detractors of the kalam cosmological argument mistakenly think that an absolute beginning of the universe violates the first law. They don’t seem to realize that if that were true, then the standard Big Bang model would violate the laws of nature! But as you point out, the law only holds once the natural realm exists. It governs everything in spacetime but not the origin of spacetime itself. You needn’t worry that the law created itself or the universe, since the law is not a concrete thing but at most a proposition or abstract object which has no causal relation to anything. In any case, self-causation is impossible in a temporal sense, since in order to cause itself the effect would have to exist prior to its existence, which is self-contradictory.

Question 6:

Dear Dr. Craig,

Today in my philosophy class I was introduced to Divine Command Theory and the problems it poses for objective morality being grounded solely in God. The atheist with Euthypro's Dilemma can claim God's morality is arbitrary and ultimately subjective. How does a theist work around this because I'm having trouble finding a rejoinder.

God Bless,

Ben

- country not specified

Your prof. evidently construes the Divine Command Theory to be voluntaristic: that God just made up moral values. But that’s not the best formulation of the theory. Read William Alston’s essay, “What Euthyphro Should Have Said,” in my Philosophy of Religion (Rutgers University Press, 2002) or look at my treatment of God’s goodness in the chapter on divine attributes in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (IVP, 2003).

Question 7:

What is the difference between Molinism and Open Theism?

William

- country not specified

Open Theism denies that God has foreknowledge of future contingent events (such as free choices) or middle knowledge of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom (such as “If McCain were President, he would not have pushed a health care initiative through congress.” Molinism affirms both. See my The Only Wise God (Wipf & Stock, 2000).

Question 8:

Dr. Craig,

First I wanted to say that I enjoy your work and I admire your knowledge and wisdom to the utmost.

My question deals with something that is outside the norm of topics asked on your site and is becoming very contentious and controversial within the Body of Christ today. What are your views and thoughts regarding prosperity theology or the prosperity gospel as it has also been called. I have heard opponents say it is a false doctrine and an abomination and I have heard proponents say it is trying to get people out of the condemnation and small mindedness taught at large in a lot of churches today. I am confused about what to think of all these secondary doctrines in the church today. Please help me Dr. Craig!

Sincerely and Thankfully,

Don

- country not specified

I think that the prosperity gospel of health and wealth is a false doctrine and an abomination. That gospel won’t preach in Darfur, Iraq, North Korea, or a thousand other places, and if it won’t preach there, it’s not the true Gospel.

Question 9:

I recently read Dr. Hugh Ross' books, The Creator and the Cosmos, and Beyond the Cosmos. He explains much of God's interactions with humanity and our spiritual decisions through an extradimensional framework. I wondered if you had read his books, particularly with regard to those sections on the extradimensional aspects of God. Does this material seem plausible to you? If you have read it did you see anything that seemed problematic?

Craig

- country not specified

You can find my critique of Hugh’s views in “Hugh Ross’s Extra-Dimensional Deity,” Philosophia Christi 21 (1998): 17-32; “Hugh Ross’s Extra-Dimensional Deity: A Review Article,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 42 (1999): 293-304; and in Time and Eternity (Crossway, 2001). Yes, I find it very problematic.

Question 10:

Dr Craig,

As a teenager, I fell away from faith in the Latin Rite church, when I began asking questions that my local church leaders could or would not answer. Years later, my now Fiancée's parents bought me "The Case for Christ", which put me onto your debate with Frank Zindler, and onto the apologetic world as a whole.

Imagine my relief to discover that the Christian world view I had been born into was not only intellectually reasonable, but also more satisfying to my inquisitive mind than any of the other world views I have researched!

In the four or so years since I reaffirmed my belief in God, I have since struggled with the idea that because my belief in God is evidence based, and not on faith, my relationship with him is somehow diminished. Standing up the back of a church service, and seeing my friends and church fellows singing and waving with heartfelt abandon, I often felt like this is where God was, and that this is where I wasn't.

My question is this: I have recently begun to allow myself to take joy in research and philosophical conversations. In declaring God to be worthy of my time and intellectual pursuits, I believe I am, in the etymological sense of the word, giving him worship.

I still pray, and seek him out with my heart, but just as my getting to know my wife to be more and more by talking to her, finding out about her past and considering everything she has said to me leads me to love her even more, couldn't this be the same for God?

Is it possible that God has wired us to know him with our minds, as well as our hearts?

Kind regards,

Michael

- country not specified

Oh, my goodness, the answer to your last question, Michael, is, “Yes, yes, YES!” Jesus taught that the greatest of all the commandments (and thus our principal moral obligation) is to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind. We are to love God holistically, with both our intellect and our emotions. Your analogy of your relationship with your wife-to-be is exactly right.

My concern is that you seem sympathetic to a religious epistemology according to which belief in God in the absence of (propositional) evidence is irrational. That is an option for the Christian philosopher, but it is not, I think, correct. To deny that propositional evidence is necessary for justified or warranted belief in the great truths of the Gospel is not to espouse fideism, but to maintain that God can provide non-inferential sources of warrant for Christian beliefs. Look at my opening chapter in Reasonable Faith (Crossway, 2008) or, if you’re ambitious, Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief (OUP, 2000).

Let me encourage you, too, not to abandon corporate worship. This is vital to Christian discipleship and is commanded by God (Heb 10.24-5). You can find a church where emotions are not on such public display, so that you feel comfortable worshipping the Lord in such a context.