Atheistic Cosmological Argument
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In recent years, Quentin Smith has tried to turn the tables on theists by arguing that Big Bang cosmology, if true, is evidence for atheism. This page highlights the relevant articles that are available online.
Smith argues that the Big Bang theory is incompatible with Christian theism and other theist perspectives.
Smith argues that it is unreasonable to believe that God created the big bang.
“The book is composed mainly of previously published pieces. […] Given the cost of the book and the accessibility of the prior publications, it seems to me that this is not exactly value for money.”
A refutation of T. D. Sullivan’s claim that it is impossible for the universe to come to be without a cause. In the course of arguing that it is possible that the universe came to be causelessly, Smith outlines an argument that it is necessary that the universe began with a big-bang singularity if it began causelessly.
A Cosmological Argument for a Self-Caused Universe (Great Debate) (2008) by Quentin Smith
Quentin Smith challenges the view that naturalism leaves nature unexplained by arguing that the universe explains itself. Since space and time break down at the Big Bang singularity, there was no first instant–no earliest instant of time–of the finitely old time-series that makes up the universe. Each instantaneous state in any earliest interval is caused to exist and hence explained by earlier instantaneous states, leaving no logical space for God or any other external cause of the universe. Moreover, the contingency of the universe does not entail that there is no reason for its existence; every part of the universe has a reason in earlier parts, and the universe as a whole has a reason in the existence of its parts. Furthermore, there is a concrete sequence of causes and effects that actualized the possibility of a universe at least 15 billion years old and at least 13 billion light years in radius. This is why our universe exists rather than some other imaginable one.
In his opening case Quentin Smith argues that the existence of the universe is self-explanatory because it is self-caused, and that this conclusion is inconsistent with theism. However, to be consistent with his principle that a causal explanation of each part of the universe logically explains the existence of the whole, and that the Big Bang caused the sequence of states following it, he must claim that the Big Bang provides an additional explanation of the sequence of states following it. But then the theist can claim that this is the sort of additional explanation that God provides for the existence of the universe, and that God is essential to providing a complete explanation of our universe, even though the universe contains no beginning point. Moreover, Smith’s explanation of the existence of the universe may be fatally circular, or lead to an infinite regress where, no matter what part one starts with, the part of the universe doing the explaining is always further in need of an explanation–until one posits God to close the regress.
In his opening argument, Quentin Smith argued that universe explains its own existence, without remainder, even if the universe has a finite age, for the state of the universe at any particular moment is sufficiently caused by all of its preceding states. Since this complete explanation makes no reference to God, Smith argued, insofar as God is by definition a part of any complete explanation of the universe, God does not exist. In his response, Robin Collins cited the flight of a cannonball as a counterexample to Smith’s line of reasoning, but the counterexample is not analogous; unlike the universe, the flight of the cannonball does not have a historically complete explanation in terms of earlier parts of that flight. Being charitable to Collins, however, it is possible that although the universe has no first moment in physical time, it may in some metaphysical time series, allowing one to make room for God in a complete metaphysical explanation of the universe. Smith’s argument, then, might not demonstrate the nonexistence of God, but it nevertheless provides a probabilistic argument against the existence of God. And on Collins’ own “likelihood principle,” the fact that our best scientific theory of the origin and evolution of the universe supports a self-caused universe is much more likely on naturalism than on theism, and thus provides very strong evidence for naturalism over theism.
This is the transcript of a speech given before the 1996 Atheist Alliance Convention. Smith discusses two ways to prove atheism: scientific cosmology and gratuitous evil.
Citing both philosophical considerations and modern day physics, Smith argues that “it is nomologically necessary that a beginningless universe has an internal causal explanation (be it deterministic or probabilistic) but no external causal explanation.”
On the Argument from Quantum Cosmology Against Theism (1995) by Ned Markosian
In a recent article, Quentin Smith argues that classical theism is inconsistent with certain consequences of Stephen Hawking’s quantum cosmology. Although I am not a theist, it seems to me that Smith’s argument fails to establish its conclusion. The purpose of this paper is to show what is wrong with Smith’s argument.
In this online debate between Richard Carrier and Tom Wanchick, Carrier opens with a discussion of method followed by 5 arguments for naturalism and 2 arguments against theism, while Wanchick opens with 9 arguments for theism. In the first rebuttals, each debater criticizes the arguments offered by the other in the opening statements. In the second rebuttals, each debater defends their opening arguments against the criticisms of the other in the first rebuttals. Both closing statements focus on the purported deficiencies of the other debater’s overall case.
Smith argues that quantum cosmology implies atheism.
Smith defends his atheistic cosmological argument which claims that big bang cosmology is evidence for atheism over theism.
Stephen Hawking has recently argued that there is ‘no place for a creator,’ that God does not exist. Yet theists have jumped all over this statement, claiming it blatantly fails as an argument for God’s nonexistence. Specifically, they have argued that even if Hawking’s physical laws are true, that fact does not entail that the God of classical theism does not exist or even disconfirm the classical theistic hypothesis. It seems to me that a case can be made that Hawking’s physical laws are inconsistent with classical theism. I shall develop an argument to this effect in the present paper. Although this argument is not explicit in Hawking’s writings, it is arguably implicit in or based upon his theory. I shall argue that the proposition, “Hawking’s wave function law obtains,” entails the proposition that “God does not exist.”
There is sufficient evidence at present to justify the belief that the universe began to exist without being caused to do so.
Although the sorts of claims that science and religion make about the fundamental workings of the universe are compatible in principle, in practice they diverge. Using scientific methods to discriminate between fundamental pictures of reality leads one to a strictly materialist conception of the universe. Modern cosmology provides interesting clues about how an ultimate picture of the universe may be constructed.
Jeffery Jay Lowder maintains this page.