Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology
Craig (William Lane) & Smith (Quentin)
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Amazon Book Description

  1. Contemporary science presents us with the remarkable theory that the universe began to exist about fifteen billion years ago with a cataclysmic explosion called ‘the Big Bang'. The question of whether Big Bang cosmology supports theism or atheism has long been a matter of discussion among the general public and in popular science books, but has received scant attention from philosophers.
  2. This book sets out to fill this gap by means of a sustained debate between two philosophers, William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith, who defend opposing positions. Craig argues that the Big Bang that began the universe was created by God, while Smith argues that the Big Bang has no cause. The book consists of alternating chapters by Craig and Smith, with each chapter being either a criticism of a preceding chapter or being criticized by a subsequent chapter.
    • Part One consists of Craig's arguments that the past is necessarily finite and that God created the Big Bang, and Smith's criticisms of these arguments.
    • Part Two presents Smith's arguments that Big Bang cosmology is inconsistent with theism and Craig's criticisms of Smith's argument.
  3. The authors' arguments are based on Einstein's theory of relativity, and there is also a discussion of Stephen Hawking's new quantum cosmology.

Amazon Customer Review
  1. In this advanced work, Christian philosopher William Lane Craig debates atheistic philosopher Quentin Smith in a series of technical essays. The book is separated into three main sections.
  2. In the first section, Craig and Smith debate the possible existence of the actual infinite in the real world. Craig contends that the infinite is applicable only, if at all, in the realm of the mathematical. While admitting the applicability of Cantor's set theory, he tries to show that an actual infinite instantiated in the real world would lead to contradictions. He also argues that it is impossible to create an infinite by successive addition. He therefore concludes that the universe had a beginning. Smith counters Craig by attempting to resolve the supposed paradoxes, and establishing the reasonability of an actual infinite.
  3. In this section Craig also attempts to argue from the beginning of the universe to the necessity of a personal cause. Smith contends that, although the universe did begin to exist in the Big Bang, it is impossible to prove that it requires a cause and is therefore reasonable to assume that the universe began to exist without a cause.
  4. In the second section, Smith attempts to construct an atheistic cosmological argument. He claims that the Big Bang singularity will emit all configurations with equal probability, and, therefore cannot be guaranteed to result in a life-permitting universe. He concludes that the unpredictability of the first states of the universe is incompatible with divine creation, since God would want to ensure a life-permitting universe. Craig addresses this by denying the actual existence of the singularity and by countering that God's interaction in the world to ensure a life-permitting universe is compatible with His attributes.
  5. In the final section, Craig critiques Hartle-Hawking Cosmology, which purportedly eliminates the need for a Creator. Craig shows that this cosmology only averts the need for a Creator by utilizing metaphysically absurd concepts such as "imaginary time." Smith agrees that the cosmology needs some changes in order to remain coherent, and in the final essay he attempts to improve the metaphysics of the cosmology in order to construct a plausible alternative to Divine Causation1.
  6. This book, while extremely informative and interesting, was also very technical. Thus, it is recommended only for those who have a great interest in the topics discussed and who are looking for an advanced treatment of the issues.


OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (4 May 1995)

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