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#727 Creation and Change

April 11, 2021

Dear William lane , Craig

I am very moved by the Cosmological argument however I have found a rebuttal to it by Philosopher Schopenhauer

1. The relata of the causal relation are changes.

2. Every change is an alteration.

3. Every alteration presupposes a substrate of alteration that does not change in respect of its existence and identity.

4. Some, but not all, substrates of alteration are non-ultimate: there must be ultimate substrates of alteration.

5. If there are ultimate substrates of alteration, then they do not come into existence or pass away.

6. Because changes occur, there are ultimate substrates of alteration.

7. There are ultimate substrates of change that do not come into existence or pass away, and are thus sempiternal. (5, 6)

8. The existence of these sempiternal substrata are at the basis of all causation.

Therefore 9. The existence of the ultimate substrata of change cannot have a cause, divine or otherwise.

Therefore 10. Cosmological arguments, presupposing as they do that causation of existence makes sense, are one and all unsound.


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Dr. craig’s response


The flaw in the argument, Gabby, is that premiss (5) is false. You might be interested to know that Thomas Aquinas agreed that in every change there is some enduring substrate that lasts through the change from one state to another. For Thomas prime matter is an ultimate substrate that endures through the generation and corruption of material beings.

It is precisely for that reason that Thomas held that creation and annihilation are not a change, for in creation and annihilation there is nothing that endures from one state to the next. Rather in creation a substance comes into being de novo, and in annihilation it simply ceases to be without remainder. So prime matter can itself be created or annihilated by God.

Since creation is not a change, but an absolute beginning to be, premiss (1) is also false. The beginning of the universe caused by God is not a change because there is not an enduring substratum. So if the kalām cosmological argument is correct that the universe began to exist, the beginning of the universe is not itself a change but an instance of creation.

- William Lane Craig