Argument from Contingency

Hello Dr. Craig,

I have a question about the "mystery of existence" basically. I’m an agnostic who used to be a Christian and I continue to think about theological questions and am open minded (I also have listened to all your podcasts and am continually engaged with your work). I recently watched a part of the "Closer to Truth" Series with Robert Lawrence Khun which you appeared on, but this segment was with the Physicist Steven Weinberg. His statements help to formulate my question and get you to see what I’m driving at.

Robert was asking him, “Some people say that science will hit a wall where they will get to something that will be beyond the bounds of scientific explanation and that's where religion comes in and purportedly has an answer" (I’m paraphrasing). He said that he agrees about what they say about science but doesn't agree with the part about religion. He basically says that if science is lucky, it will hit that wall, and have some final theory that is as far as it can go and that at the end of it you can ask "why this?" He grants that there is an "irreducible mystery (which I think is interesting since you definitely wouldn't hear that from someone like a Lawrence Krauss) but he thinks that the religious person has an equal mystery. He says if you ask a religious person "What is God like?" and they say I have no idea, then the notion really has no content and is just a three-letter word. But if they go on to say things like, "He’s kind, all powerful, loving, merciful, or humorous etc..." then the question must come up, "Why that?"

I think you would probably respond with things like the ontological argument, moral argument, God's being a metaphysically necessary being etc. but as an agnostic I have (and even as a believer) wondered, if God exists, why does he exist? This led me to think about "mystery" concerning the view of the naturalist/atheist and the theist, and I think there might be a reason why the theist might have an upper hand in this case.

If the naturalist is a physicalist, and lets also say takes a tenseless view on the nature of time, thus leaving you with a 4 dimensional space-time block, there would just be this block existing inexplicably and timelessly. This would seem to remove the need to answer such questions as "What was before the Big Bang, or what caused it" and such problems, but you would still be left with this mystery of an inexplicable block.

But if there were a God as roughly conceived by Theists, it seems to me the Theist would have the following advantage over the naturalist as regards the mystery of existence. In the naturalists case (as I’ve conceived it) you have this block that exists timelessly and inexplicably in the sense that there's no reason why its there (and its not like you can ask it why it exists) but in the case of God, who lets say is something like a mind, and is therefore relational, and if we are also roughly minds as well, it seems that we could relate to this Being in a way that we couldn't to the ultimate reality of the b-theory naturalist's space-time block in that we could ask God why he exists. Granted its probably not possible that He/It could answer us in a language or a semantic sense, he could possibly make it known to us in a relational way, by knowing us intimately and communing with us so that we could in a sense "become apart of “or share in the knowledge of his necessary existence and eternality. In any case I think it would be less mysterious if God existed than the block because God is a mind and you can relate to a mind (even though there would be a lesser kind of mystery in the sense that God is infinite and thus cant be exhaustively known or comprehended).

I wonder if you think that the theist does have a advantage in this way and if you disagree with Weinberg about the theist being equally perplexed at the mystery of existence.

Thank you.


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