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More Objections to kalam

October 06, 2008     Time: 00:21:33
More Objections to kalam


Conversation with William Lane Craig

Transcript More Objections to Kalam


Kevin Harris: Dr. Craig, I don’t think a day goes by that the kalam cosmological argument doesn’t come up somewhere on the internet or in conversations at Starbucks. You made quite a splash with your development of this argument. We’ve got a question about it from someone who has read your material that we want to address here in just a moment. I am wondering if you have ever heard this objection. But before that it is interesting how, when your book on the kalam cosmological argument first came out in what? 1979?

Dr. Craig: Right, 1979 is when it appeared.

Kevin Harris: It didn’t exactly tear up the best-sellers list.

Dr. Craig: [laughter] No, as David Hume said, it fell stillborn from the presses. It went almost immediately out of print. It was an utter failure in terms of a literary product. So Macmillan, seeing that it wasn’t selling, just immediately sold off all the remaining copies for two dollars a piece and the book went out of print.

Kevin Harris: But what happened was somebody got a hold of it because it began to be examined and grappled with and it led to some other works of yours. But Quentin Smith made an interesting comment as well.

Dr. Craig: Yes, in the Cambridge Companion for Atheism that came out this past year Smith says that the kalam cosmological argument has become the most discussed argument for the existence of God among philosophers today. He said whether they like it or hate it, philosophers can not leave the kalam cosmological argument alone which suggests that it has got something going for it or it at least raises some deep questions about the nature of the universe. So it has been gratifying to see after its very halting start that this argument has had some impact.

Kevin Harris: You’ve written on it in other works including the third edition of Reasonable Faith and I think also in the cosmological argument book that you wrote. But aren’t people now, since that seed has been planted and there is more interest than ever, people are going to go back and read that initial work.

Dr. Craig: That is the hope. Wipf & Stock has republished the original Kalam Cosmological Argument so it is back in print today, not with the original publisher but with this reprint company. And it does continue to sell every year. It sells a few score copies. So that is gratifying.

Kevin Harris: I am curious if there has been very many revisions when you look back to 1979. Has it held up to where you haven’t really had to go back and revise anything or reword anything?

Dr. Craig: There has been very little, Kevin, about the original book that I would retract. There have been a couple of things where I would retract it and formulate the argument differently. For example, the Tristram Shandy paradox about the man who writes his autobiography so slowly that it takes him an entire year to record the events of a single day. I think that in my subsequent work I have rephrased this paragraph in a way to avoid an obvious objection that the original formulation was open to. But basically the work that I have continued to do on the argument has been a matter of updating it in terms of more recent discoveries in cosmology and astrophysics and also of augmenting the argument by surfacing the theory of time that the argument presupposes, and then providing a very robust defense of that view of time. I am talking here about a view of time that sees time as dynamic, that temporal becoming is real. [1] Things really do come into and go out of being. There is a difference between the past, the present, and the future ontologically speaking. The past is real, the future is not yet real. I think it has been that defense of this view of time that has also helped to strengthen the original argument. In the original book, I was aware of this underlying view of time but I did not know how controversial it was. So it has been very, very interesting for me, and I’ve learned a lot through exploring the nature of time and being able to shore up the argument by giving a defense of that underlying presupposition.

Kevin Harris: What do philosophers call that theory of time that you embrace?

Dr. Craig: It is variously called the A-Theory of time, after John McTaggert who was a Scottish philosopher in the early 20th century who distinguished between these two views of time. He just called them the A-Theory and the B-Theory. Those labels seem to have stuck. Now those labels aren’t very descriptive unfortunately – A and B. So sometimes the theories are called the tensed theory of time versus the tenseless theory of time. Other times it is called the dynamic view of time versus the static view of time. All of those would be different nomenclatures that are used to characterize these two contrasting views of time.

Kevin Harris: For people who want to explore that further, what book of yours would you recommend?

Dr. Craig: If the listener is a layperson who is not a professional philosopher, I would highly recommend my book Time and Eternity published by Crossway. This has a thorough examination of the pros and cons for these different views of time and then discusses how that will impact your view of God’s relationship to time. I am convinced that your view of divine eternity stands or falls upon the view of time that you adopt. So this is all explained in layman’s language very clearly in the book Time and Eternity. For more advanced readers, I published a pair of books – one called The Tensed Theory of Time: A Critical Examination and the other The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination. Both of those are available through Springer-Verlag, which is a German publisher though the books are in English.

Kevin Harris: Dr. Craig, a few years ago you were really studying philosophy of mathematics for a while. Did that shed any light or anything on your kalam cosmological argument?

Dr. Craig: It does. I am still working on that. That is my major research project right now. This again would be a further advancement or deepening of the kalam cosmological argument because in the argument I claim that an actually infinite number of things cannot exist. Many mathematicians and philosophers think that there are an actually infinite number of abstract objects – numbers, for example, or sets, or propositions, or other sorts of mathematical entities. So I have been exploring the metaphysical or ontological status of abstract entities to see whether or not these things really exist. Because if they don’t exist then they are not a counter example to the claim that an actually infinite number of things cannot exist. So I am working on developing what is called a nominalistic view of abstract objects like numbers and sets and so forth according to which these things don’t actually exist.

Kevin Harris: If you had an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters, would one of them eventually write a sonnet from Shakespeare?

Dr. Craig: If they are typing randomly they would. That is right. In fact, it would be typed an infinite number of times.

Kevin Harris: That is it, not only would they type it once but perhaps an infinite number of times.

Dr. Craig: Right, if it’s random. If that is the way the monkeys are working then that is one of the possible arrangements of all these letters and so in infinity it would occur.

Kevin Harris: There was a compelling objection to that that I heard one time and that is an eternity doesn’t necessarily contain everything. It may be that that monkey would type randomly for an infinity and never type a sonnet.

Dr. Craig: Right.

Kevin Harris: Does an eternity contain everything?

Dr. Craig: No. Well, I think what we were thinking of there would be where the monkey would have a limited amount of letters to type. Say he would type 365,000 letters and that would count as one work. Then he would type 365,000 again, and that would count as another work. And 365,000 again. [2] And eventually, this would produce Hamlet because that is one possible arrangement of all of these letters. But clearly you are right in one sense. If you don’t divide it up, the monkey could just type letters forever and it wouldn’t produce any single work because it would just be an infinite sequence of letters and there is an infinite number of different infinite sequences of letters. But if we think of it as divided up into separate works, eventually this would occur somewhere.

Kevin Harris: That is fascinating. Let’s get to this objection. Gypsy Scholar was a person who was interacting with your work and it looks like his objection is if there really is a state that can only be described as the absence of absolutely anything, nothingness, then there is not even a principle. There are no principles. If there are no principles then there is no principle of causality. Therefore, something could pop into existence uncaused because there is no principle to say otherwise. Do you see where he is going.

Dr. Craig: I think I understand what he is saying but I think that it is misconceived. I think it is not correct. He seems to think that it is the principle of causality that constrains things somehow. That it is the principle that is responsible for whether or not things can come into being uncaused from nothing or not. And that is simply false. The principle, if it even exists at all and this is what we’ve just been talking about, would be an abstract object. A principle isn’t just, say, a sequence of letters on a piece of paper or sound waves produced in the air by someone uttering it. The principle, if it exists at all, would be some sort of an abstract entity, like a proposition. But abstract entities, by definition, by their very nature don’t causally impact anything. The number 7, for example, is causally effete. It has no causal effects. It has no impact upon anything. So the principle of causality, if it exists, is utterly impotent causally. It doesn’t do anything. It would just simply express a truth. It is true that whatever begins to exist has a cause. And it seems to me that that is true and that therefore whether we are talking about the universe existing or we are talking about nothing existing, it is the case that something cannot come out of nothing. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. The reality of the principle has simply nothing to do with that. My own inclination is to think that the principle doesn’t exist at all; that there isn’t any such thing as the principle. Rather, it is simply true that whatever begins to exist has a cause or to make it even simpler just whatever begins to exist has a cause. To reify this into some kind of a thing, a principle, I think is just quite wrongheaded and in any case irrelevant to the truth of the premise.

Kevin Harris: May I say that people are being really stubborn about this first premise. You didn’t expect people to attack the first premise. You thought the second premise of the kalam – that the universe began to exist – was the one.

Dr. Craig: That is clearly the controversial premise. I think it is testimony, frankly Kevin, to the strength of the argument. The first premise, I think, is virtually undeniable for any sincere and sane person.

Kevin Harris: There are a few stubborn holdouts it seems. Maybe they are getting smaller.

Dr. Craig: Well, I think that the fact that atheists, in order to deny the argument, are driven to deny this almost self-evident first premise that whatever begins to exist has a cause is simply testimony to the force of the argument. Because apart from that, I don’t think anyone would be driven to deny the truth of the causal premise. When you think about it, to deny the causal premise is worse than magic. To say that things just pop into existence uncaused out of nothing is really worse than magic. In magic at least you have got the magician who pulls the rabbit out of the hat. But in this case, the rabbit or the universe is supposed to pop into being out of absolute non-being which to me is simply intellectually irrational to believe.

Kevin Harris: When you said that abstract objects don’t cause anything, the number 7 doesn’t cause anything, a principle doesn’t cause anything as an abstract object – you tie that in in your work with why God is a personal God. [3]

Dr. Craig: Yes. One of the main challenges with a cosmological argument is to show that the ultimate cause of the universe is a personal being. Otherwise, you just have some sort of impersonal cause of the universe. I think we have a very compelling argument for the personhood of the first cause and it would go like this. The cause of the universe as the cause of space and time must be beyond space and time and therefore must be an immaterial, timeless being. Now there are only two kinds of things that fit that description – of being a timeless and immaterial being. Either an abstract object like a number or else an unembodied mind or consciousness. But an abstract object cannot stand in causal relations because they are causally effete. They don’t have any causal impact upon anything so they cannot be the cause of the origin of the universe. Therefore it follows logically that the cause of the universe must be an unembodied, personal mind.

Kevin Harris: Would the maneuver of perhaps the atheist philosopher at that point try to dispel that minds can be unembodied where they say that dualism is false and that your mind is your brain?

Dr. Craig: This is the response that I have been getting lately from atheists. It rather surprised me but it made me realize how deep seated is the skepticism about the reality of mind today. Some people simply do not believe that there can be an immaterial self or mind or soul. It is because they adopt a materialistic or physicalist view, I think, of human persons. They think that we are just electro-chemical machines, bags of chemicals on bones, and that there is no immaterial self or soul to us. Therefore they can’t believe that God could be an unembodied mind either. They simply can’t make sense of this. Of course this isn’t just a refutation of the cosmological argument. As I point out to these atheists, if you are not willing to be open to the idea of an immaterial mind then you can’t even get started on theism. You can’t even entertain the possibility that God exists if you don’t think it is possible for there to be a mind that is distinct from the physical body. So this is a very deep, deep underlying issue about what persons are and whether minds can exist. If the kalam cosmological argument is sound, it gives us, I think, a good reason to believe that there can be minds that are distinct from physical substrata. That there can be an immaterial self who in this case is the creator of the world. Then it is up to the atheist now to give us some argument as to why it is impossible for there to be minds. He needs to give some argument for mind-body identity or reductionism or materialism and to show us why it is impossible for there to be minds. But that is definitely the route that many atheists would go at this point.

Kevin Harris: I think I am just now starting to see this, Bill, that this actually is an argument for disembodied minds or for dualism. Rather than attack that notion that there can be a disembodied mind, they are missing the point that this could be an argument.

Dr. Craig: I think it is.

Kevin Harris: Because if the only two choices are an abstract object or a disembodied mind, because that’s the only things we know of, and it can’t be an abstract object, we’ve got a case here for mind as separate from body.

Dr. Craig: I think that is right. And it is a non-circular case. It begins from premises having to do with the origin of the universe and the existence of a finite past and it issues, finally, in the conclusion that there is an immaterial personal creator. So it is an argument, I think, for the idea of mind. It means then that the atheist will have to give us some sort of an argument against the possibility of mind. He can’t just simply say, “Well, I don’t believe in minds.” We’ve just given an argument for a mind and he needs to then show us why this is impossible.

Kevin Harris: I think this brings up how important this whole philosophy of mind is to the Christian faith. Many writers think that advances in neuroscience and study of the brain are actually doing to be the death knell of Christianity by showing that there is no soul or there can’t be a disembodied mind. I actually saw a response to your Christianity Today article that said this is an awesome article and let me encourage everyone if you want to be an apologist for the future, study the mind-body problem. [4] I thought that was pretty good.

Dr. Craig: That may well be prescient because I do think that philosophy of mind is intimately connected with belief in God, because if you are a theist you have to believe in the existence of an unembodied mind which is independent of the material universe. If that idea is incoherent, as materialists and physicalists claim, then you simply cannot be a theist. So this area of philosophy of mind is critical to Christian apologetics. [5]

Transcript More Questions on the Kalam


Kevin Harris: Welcome to the Reasonable Faith podcast with Dr. William Lane Craig. I'm Kevin Harris and am privileged to be in studio with Dr. Craig. Bill, we always get questions on the kalam cosmological argument. An infinite number of questions on the kalam cosmological argument! It just goes to show how fascinating this is. I want to read this one letter that we got. It says,

Dear Dr. Craig, while an atheist, I do admire the intellectual rigor which you apply to your beliefs. It is refreshing to see someone defend their faith with such intelligence. My question is concerning whether the kalam commits the fallacy of composition. That is, assuming something whole has the same properties as its parts. For example, the alphabet is made up of letters but is not itself a letter.

Bill, why don't you discuss the fallacy of composition first.

Dr. Craig: The fallacy of composition, as he says, is reasoning that because all of the parts of something have a certain property therefore the whole has that property. For example, if every little piece of an elephant is light in weight, then the whole elephant is light in weight. That would be committing the fallacy of composition. It is not true that because every part has a property that the whole thing composed of those parts has the property. I think, Kevin, the allegation here is supposed to be against the premise that says every thing that begins to exist has a cause. The reader apparently is under the impression that one justifies seeking a cause of the universe by arguing compositionally – that because everything in the universe has a cause, therefore the universe as a whole has a cause. That is just manifestly incorrect. That is the fallacy of composition. But if you read my work I think you will find nowhere in anything that I've ever written or published or said have I defended the causal principle or there being a cause of the universe by composition. That would be obviously fallacious. Rather what I argue is that the principle “everything that begins to exist, everything that comes into being at some point, must have a cause which brings it into existence.” This is rooted in the metaphysical truth that something can't come out of nothing. Moreover, I think that this principle is constantly confirmed in our experience. So I would not think to try to justify the kalam cosmological argument's conclusion by arguing from composition. That would just be wrong, but he is setting up a straw man here which no one has defended.

Kevin Harris: What if I were to say that all the tiles on the floor are brown, therefore the floor is brown?

Dr. Craig: Yes, what that illustrates is that sometimes the whole does possess the property of its parts. If every piece of the floor is brown then the whole floor is brown. That seems obviously true. So sometimes the whole will have the property of its parts. Other times it won't. Therefore you can't just automatically assume that because every piece or part of a whole has a property, therefore the whole has it. It may indeed have it but you can't reason that just because the part has it therefore the whole has it. You would have to give some sort of justification for thinking that the whole would have the property that its parts do.

Kevin Harris: This says,

Hello, Dr. Craig. I, like you, believe that God exists. However, I'm a bit skeptical on the merits of your arguments against infinite successions. In fact, Gale and Pruss encapsulated some of my suspicions within some of their most recent work. [And he quotes their work.] These arguments against an actual infinity however are all based on the confusion between two notions of “bigger than.” One notion is numerical – a set is bigger than another if it has a greater number of members. The other notion is in terms of part-to-whole relations. A whole is bigger than any proper part. When dealing with finite quantities anything that is bigger in the part-to-whole sense is also bigger in the numerical sense. But this is not so in the case of infinite quantities. Although in the part-to-whole sense there are more people in the hotel after a new guest arrives and there are more members than the original series of events; in the numerical sense they are not. Indeed, mathematicians take the failure of the part-to-whole sense of bigger-than to imply the numerical sense to be the defining feature of infinity.

I know some people's eyes glazed over on that but he is quoting from the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion. Break this objection down for us.

Dr. Craig: The idea here is that when you ask “How many people are in the infinite hotel?” the answer numerically is there are an infinite number of people. [6] If more people check into the hotel – additional people – numerically there aren't any more people in the hotel because infinity plus any natural number is infinity. So there aren't any more people. But in what he calls the part-whole sense there are more people in the hotel because there was the group that was already in it and then there's the group that now has checked into the hotel and this new group is not a part of this larger group that was already there. So in one sense there are additional people in the hotel. Not in a numerical sense but in the sense that the whole group of people in the hotel now has persons in it that weren't there before.

Now, far from eliminating the absurdity of the existence of an actual infinity, I think all this does is to elucidate it! It explains what the problem is; namely, that this part-whole and numerical sense of more fall apart for infinite quantities and you get these sort of absurdities where you have in one sense more people into the hotel but in another sense there aren't any more people in the hotel. I find that to be simply incredible. It seems to me that that is why the actual infinite cannot exist; it is because it involves this very peculiar feature.

But not all of the paradoxes or the puzzles about actual infinity are based simply upon this falling apart of part-whole and numerical sizes. For example, when people check out of the hotel and you start subtracting infinite quantities from infinite quantities, mathematically you end up with self-contradictory answers. There I don't think there is any escape from the argument in this sort of thing because what you have to say is you subtract identical quantities from identical quantities and you wind up with non-identical quantities. [7] That seems to me again to be absurd. While his analysis of the situation is correct, I just don't see that it does anything to alleviate the absurdity of the real existence of an actually infinite number of things.

Kevin Harris:

Dear Dr. Craig, thank you for your work. I am reading Victor Stenger's book [you've debated him a couple of times], God:The Failed Hypothesis. In the fourth chapter titled “Cosmic Evidence” he makes somewhat of a response to your cosmological argument. Would you please address on page 122 he says “Christian apologist William Lane Craig has made a number of sophisticated arguments that he claims show the universe must have had a beginning and that beginning implies a personal creator.” Then he mentions your using Hawking in support of this. He then continues, “However, Hawking has repudiated his own earlier proof in his best-seller A Brief History of Time. He avers, “There was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe.” How do you respond to this?

Dr. Craig: What I would say is that Vic Stenger has put a spin here on Hawking's work that is very misleading. Hawking did not repudiate his earlier proof. He is talking there about the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems which show that, under very generalized conditions, the General Theory of Relativity predicts that the past cannot be infinite but must terminate in a singularity – a point of infinite space-time curvature and density in the past. What Hawking did after that, in 1983, was develop a model of the universe based on the marriage of quantum physics with General Relativity that enabled him to escape the conditions that predicted a singularity. So it wasn't that he repudiated the proof. The proof still holds for the singularity theorems. But what he was able to do was to craft a model that was an exception to the conditions that would predict a singularity, and he arrived at a universe that has a kind of rounded off beginning rather like a badminton birdie where it doesn't go back to a point but the initial part of the universe is rounded off.

The interesting thing about this is that Hawking was able to achieve this result only by using imaginary numbers for the time variable. Imaginary numbers are numbers which are the products of the square root of -1. There is no real number that is the square root of a negative number because any number squared is always a positive number. So mathematicians call these imaginary numbers. The problem is that although these are useful tools in computations, nobody has any idea what it would mean to talk about imaginary time any more than talking about the imaginary volume of this room, or the imaginary area of a field. [8] The use of imaginary numbers is just a mathematical device to make the equations easier to solve. But to get physically significant results, the physicist always convert back to real numbers at the end. What Hawking admits is that when you reconvert to real numbers in his model, presto the singularity reappears. [9] The singularity is really there all the time, it is just concealed behind this mathematical artifice of imaginary time which has no physical significance.

Even if we do give physical significance to the Hartle-Hawking model, the overriding point that remains and that Stenger doesn't appreciate is that the model still begins to exist. It isn't infinitely extended in the past. It still has a beginning. It still comes into existence in the same way that the classical models did. It just doesn't do so at a point of infinite spacetime curvature and infinite density. Hawking himself says in his 1996 book The Nature of Space and Time coauthored with Roger Penrose that virtually everyone today agrees that the universe and time itself had a beginning at the Big Bang. [10] His quantum physical model does nothing to extend the universe into the infinite past and to remove the beginning of the universe.

Kevin Harris: Dr. Craig, I've noticed that some of these questions that have come in kind of ask the same thing. I am holding several in my hand here that ask, “How do we know that this is the only universe? That there weren't other universes prior to this one?” Is such an assumption justified? Are we in any kind of epistemic position to know or justifiably believe that there is no other material or temporal object that exists outside our universe?

Dr. Craig: This is a much discussed question in the field of cosmology. There are theories called multiverse theories which would suggest that our universe is just a tiny fraction of a much wider spacetime reality. The arguments that I give in the kalam cosmological argument for the second premise that the universe began to exist is fully in conversation with these sorts of theories. On the one hand there are the philosophical arguments against the possibility of an infinite regress. Those philosophical arguments, being metaphysical in nature, are not limited to this universe. It would apply to any wider sort of reality that this universe might be encompassed by and would show that there cannot be an infinite regress of events. You have to get back to an absolutely first cause; an uncaused cause of the universe. So the philosophical arguments are not in any way affected by the speculation that there might be a multiverse of which our universe is a part.

To address the question on a purely scientific level, the difficulty here is not only that there is no evidence for the existence of such wider parallel universes or encompassing mother universes, but rather that we have good reasons to think that such a multiverse does not exist or at least cannot be extended into the infinite past. I am referring here to the 2003 theorem that was developed by Arvind Borde, Alexander Vilenkin, and Alan Guth. The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem proves that any universe which is in a state of cosmic expansion on average throughout its history cannot be extended infinitely into the past but must have a past absolute beginning. Their theorem applies to the multiverse as well. So even if there is a multiverse of which our universe is a tiny part, it cannot be extended to the infinite past but must have a beginning.

In our most recent work published, for example, in the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, Jim Sinclair and I go into this in some detail looking at current speculations trying to avoid the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem and whether or not these are plausible. The fact is there just is no scientifically credible or tenable model that can be extended into the infinite past. Any tenable model has a beginning to its existence including these multiverse scenarios. [11] So I think that insofar as you go with mainstream science we are very justified even just scientifically, not to speak philosophically, in saying the universe began to exist.

Kevin Harris: This questioner says,

Hello, Dr. Craig. My professor has presented these two refutations of the kalam cosmological argument. Number one, he says that it begs the question. The first reason the kalam argument is invalid and refuted is that it creates the logical fallacy of begging the question. This is because the phrase “Whatever begins to exist” is not presumed to accommodate anything other than God. That puts God into the definition of the premise of the argument that is supposed to prove his existence in the first place.

Did you get that?

Dr. Craig: No. That is very strange. I am troubled that a professor would say something that incoherent. What I have heard, Kevin, is people on the internet say that the premise “Everything that begins to exist has a cause” begs the question because it assumes that the universe has a cause and that is supposed to be the conclusion of the argument. What these folks have failed to understand is the difference between begging the question and a deductive argument. A deductive argument by its very nature is simply an unpacking of what is already implicit in the premises. But that doesn't mean that it is question begging. For example, if I say:

1. All men are mortal.

2. Socrates is a man.

3. Therefore Socrates is mortal.

I am not begging the question in asserting the first premise. That is just the nature of a deductive argument. The conclusion is implicit in the premises and is derived from it then by logical rules of inference. Begging the question means that your only reason for adopting a premise is that you already believe the conclusion. That is what it means to reason in a circle or beg the question. That is not why, for example, you would believe “All men are mortal.” That would be based upon medical evidence and biological evidence about the human body and so forth. It is not begging the question. Similarly, the argument for everything beginning to exist having a cause would be based upon this metaphysical position that something cannot come out of nothing. Things just don't pop into being without having causes. So it is not because you believe the conclusion that you believe the premise. It is not begging the question in that circular way. Rather, it is simply the nature of a deductive argument that the conclusion is implicit in the premises and needs to be made explicit by the logical rules of inference.

Kevin Harris: The second objection this professor makes is:

The final and most powerful reason why the KCA is invalid and refuted can be expressed in a competing syllogism:

1. Everything that has sentience has a cause.

2. The Judeo-Christian God is said to have sentience.

3. Therefore the Judeo-Christian God has a cause.

Now that isn't an invalid argument. He hasn't shown it to be invalid. That is a logically valid argument. The problem is that his first premise is just false. It is not true that everything that has sentience has a cause. I would say that God has no cause. God is sentient. So I would simply say the first premise is false.

He is at liberty to say that there are things that begin to exist without a cause if he wants to. He can make that assertion. But then he is not disputing the validity of the argument. He is denying the truth of one of the premises. I just don't see any good reason to deny the truth of the first premise that everything that begins to exist has a cause. It seems to me that that premise is very plausibly true. [12]