AngryDrunkenTheist on Youtube posted an article from Huff Post entitled: "An Iron Clad Proof of God". Well he posted it on facebook, but since I'm not doc dropping him I'm referring to him as ADT. In it, Rabbi Adam Jacobs argues that, of course, the Cosmological Argument (or the Prime Mover argument) is so dreadfully fool proof that we can basically pack it in on the "god" question. The answer is "yes, there is a god" and now we can just focus on which one.
Well I regret to inform you, but this particular defense I find to be even worse than the "Kalam" Cosmological Argument proposed by Craig et. al. Maybe on a factual level it is no worse, but it is far more arrogant and includes what is an "Iron Clad" case of dishonesty. You can read the full article here, in case you want to follow along, but here is my response to the various points:
"For instance, inasmuch as there must be an ultimate non-contingent force, its non-contingency indicates that (as held in monotheism) it must be singular, for if there were more than one mover each would be limited----and hence contingent"
I see no reason to believe this follows. The idea of multiple space-times would seem to refute this statement.
"Such a force would also need to be immaterial as material things are changeable and therefore contingent."
Again, doesn't follow. If it did, then one could not say that this universe is "part of god" in any way, nor could Jesus be allowed as this is a change in the form of God, or at addition to the form, and thus goes against this definition. Even the Jewish version of god seems to change, or at least change his mind. It's okay though, since it doesn't follow this doesn't disprove monotheism.
"Inasmuch as that would include all powers, we would conclude that this being is all powerful and all knowledgeable."
This guy's brain must have grown legs because his is quite adept at leaps in logic. There is no reason to conclude this entity, should it exist, is even conscious. All that requires of it is an ability to somehow enable a scenario in which this universe exists. That is it. It doesn't need "all powers" nor does it entail it contains any knowledge at all.
"The reality is that most versions of the argument do not depend on particular scientific claims in any way."
Of course they don't, because those scientific evidences refute the argument.
"It's not a "God of the Gaps" argument. It is not intended to plug a hole in our scientific knowledge or asserted as a "best explanation" for evidence."
Except it is. As I pointed out, there are possible conceptions that would allow for the universe to be created by itself. The concept alone shows that this is relying on their "being no other way" which is at the very least a variation on the "god of the gaps" argument.
"It seems to me that an open-minded thinker, free of biases and misconceptions, would have no choice but to acknowledge the veracity of this argument."
It seems to me that he's making an argument then running a victory lap without hearing any rebuttals, as if he couldn't have made any mistakes along the way. That's right, our Rabbi spends not merely a sentence, but an entire paragraph patting himself on the back at how awesome an irrefutable his logic is and how silly it seems that anyone could find a flaw in what he's said.
Oh but fear not! This Rabbi knows why people just don't accept his perfect logic. He'll prove it with an Iron Clad quote-mine! Yes, the final word is an out-of-context quote from Thomas Nagel, who in "The Last Word" is discussing the nature of reason itself, citing that he prefers the idea of empiricism to that which would, in his mind, lead to "platonic harmony" as an explanation for reason. Reason, he opines, makes people nervous to think that is has some sort of foundation in this manner. However, this is what the Rabbi pulls from it:
"I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I am right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that."
Here's the preceding quote:
"The thought that the relation between mind and the world is something fundamental makes many people in this day and age nervous. I believe this is one manifestation of a fear of religion in which has large and often pernicious consequences for modern intellectual life."
So Nagel is in no way discussing anything to do with the cosmological argument, and this Rabbi is attempting to make it seem as though he's simply afraid to admit the veracity of it by ending the quote at "I don't want the universe to be that way". I'll admit, it's not truly an iron clad case of dishonesty (hence putting "Iron Clad" in quotes). However Rabbi Jacobs's only refuge from the label "dishonest" is a choice between lazy and ignorance. I do tend to lean towards him being dishonest, as he should be aware he could have posted that quote in response to any argument he made to make it seem like atheists are just too scared to see reason. It's an underhanded move if I've ever seen one. Claim victory and then show the poor scared atheist who clearly is just denying God out of some childish emotional hang-up.
I am truly disgusted by this display.