Here is the Discovery Institute's take on it - just the same as all the other Christian apologists, note!
For this post, I will focus on Craig's argument, which he summarises:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its beginning.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause of its beginning.
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its beginning
1. Something cannot come from nothing. To claim that something can come into being from nothing is worse than magic. When a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, at least you’ve got the magician, not to mention the hat! But if you deny premise (1'), you’ve got to think that the whole universe just appeared at some point in the past for no reason whatsoever. But nobody sincerely believes that things, say, a horse or an Eskimo village, can just pop into being without a cause.Quantum mechanics has proved that our every day experiences are a very bad guide to how matter behaves at the quantum level. In the same vein, it would seem bizarre to use how horses and Eskimo villages behave as a guide to how time and/or the universe behaves.
2. If something can come into being from nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why just anything or everything doesn’t come into being from nothing. Think about it: why don’t bicycles and Beethoven and root beer just pop into being from nothing? Why is it only universes that can come into being from nothing? What makes nothingness so discriminatory? There can’t be anything about nothingness that favors universes, for nothingness doesn’t have any properties. Nor can anything constrain nothingness, for there isn’t anything to be constrained!As far as I can tell, this is the same as point 1!
3. Common experience and scientific evidence confirm the truth of premise 1'. The science of cosmogeny is based on the assumption that there are causal conditions for the origin of the unuiverse. So it’s hard to understand how anyone committed to modern science could deny that (1') is more plausibly true than false.And again, this would seem to be the same again.
All three points are saying that our experience of things in general can be extrapolated to the universe itself. It seems to me that there is a fundamental difference between the universe on the one hand and horses, Eskimo villages, bicycles, Beethoven and root beer on the other.
As an analogy, consider this argument:
- All minds that we know of are rooted in an organic substrate
- God supposedly has an immaterial mind
- Therefore God does not exist
It is also worth pointing out that the net total of the universe may well be zero. Zero total energy, zero total charge, etc.
Thus this is a case of nothing from nothing.
2. The universe began to exist.Craig spends a lot of time saying that infinity cannot exist, starting with:
Ghazali argued that if the universe never began to exist, then there has been an infinite number of past events prior to today. But, he argued, an infinite number of things cannot exist. Ghazali recognized that a potentially infinite number of things could exist, but he denied that an actually infinite number of things could exist.He later looks at Hilbert's hotel, among other things.
He is wrong. Infinity is counter-intuitive, and so we get apparent paradoxes like Hilbert's hotel, but it is not impossible, and in fact it looks increasingly likely that we live in a spacially infinite universe. If infinity really was impossible, cosmologists would immediately reject an infinite universe.
Craig's second argument:
Ghazali has a second, independent argument for the beginning of the universe. The series of past events, Ghazali observes, has been formed by adding one event after another. The series of past events is like a sequence of dominoes falling one after another until the last domino, today, is reached. But, he argues, no series which is formed by adding one member after another can be actually infinite. For you cannot pass through an infinite number of elements one at a time.This feels more reasonable to me at first glance. But this is the case for anything that has existed for eternity... including God! And it is the fact that this is a problem for any scenario that makes me wonder if it is a problem at all.
Craig's third argument:
The standard Big Bang model thus predicts an absolute beginning of the universe. If this model is correct, then we have amazing scientific confirmation of the second premise of the kalam cosmological argument.This is just wrong. The Big Bang only says there was a brief period of very rapid expansion; it does not say the universe started at that point. Scientists have tried to extrapolate back as far as possible, but cannot see anything abot the first instant of the Big Bang, or what was before.
That the universe started then seems reasonable, but it is not at all certain, no matter how much Craig would like it to be.
This article proves cosomologists are taking the idea seriously.
See also here:
Because of confidence that a correct theory of origins needs to incorporate quantum theory, hardly any twenty-first century physicist believes our universe arose from a singularity, nor even that the first event, if there was one, was at t = 0, but nearly every physicist agrees that the universe once had an extremely tiny volume.Craig also offers:
As if this weren’t enough, there is actually a second scientific confirmation of the beginning of the universe, this one from the Second Law of Thermodynamics. According to the Second Law, unless energy is being fed into a system, that system will become increasingly disorderly.The science is fine, but it misses at least one possible scenario; the universe existed in an eternal, static, compacted form until the Big Bang (a constant, extremely low entropy state), and it was only since the Big Bang that entropy has been increasing - prior to that it remained constant.
We have to wonder what would cause the Big Bang after infinite time, but this is a problem with any scenario. What prompted God to create the universe after an eternity?
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its beginning.Let us suppose that Craig's claims are correct, what can we conclude?
What properties must this cause of the universe possess? This cause must be itself uncaused because we’ve seen that an infinite series of causes is impossible. It is therefore the Uncaused First Cause. It must transcend space and time, since it created space and time. Therefore, it must be immaterial and non-physical. It must be unimaginably powerful, since it created all matter and energy.Well, no.
For one, the cause of our universe could have a cause which was in turn uncaused. As an example, God could create angels, which in turn create the universe. Thus the angels caused the universe, but were not uncaused. But let us suppose Craig is here talking about the ultimate cause.
Transcend space and time? I think that is a given. The multiverse (in the sense of a container for all the universes) transcends space and time. It would therefore be immaterial and non-physical.
Unimaginably powerful... What does that mean? Or more specifically, powerful in what way? Is there anything that indicates the First Cause must be powerful within our universe? No. None at all. By using this vague term, Craig is slipping some big assumptions in to the discussion.
The Craig says:
Here’s the problem: If a cause is sufficient to produce its effect, then if the cause is there, the effect must be there, too. For example, the cause of water’s freezing is the temperature’s being below 0 degrees Celsius. If the temperature has been below 0 degrees from eternity, then any water around would be frozen from eternity. It would be impossible for the water to begin to freeze just a finite time ago. Now the cause of the universe is permanently there, since it is timeless. So why isn’t the universe permanently there as well? Why did the universe come into being only 14 billion years ago? Why isn’t it as permanent as its cause?This is a real problem, but is "free will" a solution?
Ghazali maintained that the answer to this problem is that the First Cause must be a personal being endowed with freedom of the will. His creating the universe is a free act which is independent of any prior determining conditions. So his act of creating can be something spontaneous and new. Freedom of the will enables one to get an effect with a beginning from a permanent, timeless cause. Thus, we are brought not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe but to its Personal Creator.
Does it make sense that God existed for eternity, and, after an infinite amount of time, suddenly decided to create the universe? Does calling it "free will" make that sound any more reasonable? No, it really does not.
A partial solution comes from saying time itself started when he universe was created. So now we have an entity outside of time suddenly deciding to create the universe. But wait, If the entity is outside time, then "suddenly" makes no sense. There was no time prior to the sudden decision.
This is a real problem for any scenario we can imagine, but wishing it away with "free will" is not a solution.