Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Ready for the Craig-Carroll debate? review the BGV theorem and quantum tunneling

UPDATE: My brief summary of the Craig-Carroll debate is now posted. I may do a longer one next week if they release audio/video. Otherwise, the short summary will be it.

In the debate between William Lane Craig and Peter Millican, William Lane Craig presented the arguments for theism, including his standard Kalam cosmological argument which asserts that the universe had a beginning. The atheist, Peter Millican, raised several objections to the notion of a beginning to the universe. But Craig was able to establish the beginning of the universe by appealing to something called the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem. This theorem is new – but it is worth learning about.

First, let’s review Craig’s cosmological argument:

A1) The origin of the universe

  1. The universe began to exist.
  2. If the universe began to exist, then the universe has a transcendent cause.
  3. The universe has a transcendent cause.

The origin of the universe is confirmed by philosophical arguments and scientific evidence.

There cannot be an actual infinite number of past events, because mathematical operations like subtraction and division cannot be applied to actual infinities.

The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin (BGV) proof shows that every universe that expands must have a space-time boundary in the past. That means that no expanding universe, no matter what the model, can be eternal into the past.

Even speculative alternative cosmologies do not escape the need for a beginning.

The cause of the universe must be transcendent and supernatural. It must be uncaused, because there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. It must be eternal, because it created time. It must be non-physical, because it created space. There are only two possibilities for such a cause. It could be an abstract object or an agent. Abstract objects cannot cause effects. Therefore, the cause is an agent.

So he appealed to the Bord-Guth-Vilenkin theorem right from the start in order to guarantee a space-time boundary in the past – i.e., a beginning of the universe, which is his premise 1.

Ok, now let’s take a look at some videos on this theorem.

The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, explained

From the Craig-Millican debate:

The BGV theorem also came up in the Craig-Krauss debate:

See my summary of the Craig-Krauss debate for more. I also wrote about after the debate, where it was shown that Krauss misrepresented the BGV theory to favor naturalism. So that’s why we all need to be familiar with what it says and how it is misrepresented by naturalists in debates. That will prepare us to understand what is happening in tonight’s debate.

I also expect quantum tunneling to come up in tonight’s debate, and here is a clip from Dr. Craig’s first debate with Lawrence Krauss at North Carolina State University.

Further study

If you would like to read a nice LONG article about Craig’s cosmological argument, just check this post I wrote a while back. And it even contains a nice peer-reviewed paper that Craig wrote for an Astrophysics journal – and the abstract is online on Springer.

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