Remember, we’re doing summaries of summaries here; only bare sketches are possible. Buy his book for more detail.
Question IV is Cosmology. The most contentious scientific question is Article 10.
Article 1: Whether the order in the cosmos is teleological?
Yes. “[I]f objective teleology is an illusion, then eyes are not really ‘for’ seeing, ears ‘for’ hearing, legs ‘for’ walking, or stomachs ‘for’ digestion…”
We cannot confuse the[se] two questions, or reduce either one to the other: (1) What caused this effect? and (2) Why did it produce this effect rather than some other one? Efficient causality supplies the power, but final causality focuses it.
Teleology is not scientific in “the modern sense, since it cannot be detected, verified, or falsified empirically or quantitatively”. But this is nothing. Neither is mathematics scientific, though you don’t hear scientists railing against or rejecting it.
A direction in things might imply God, but a concept “is not refuted merely by claiming that it entails another concept”. We’re stuck with “Why?”
Article 2: Whether the cosmos exists for man?
The idea of man’s centrality (in meaning, not in space) is confirmed by the authority of tradition in all cultures, by religion, and even by science (the “Anthropic principle”)…
Kreeft doesn’t distinguish between the weak and strong versions of the Anthropic principle, which we can leave for another day. But it seems the universe is delicately balanced. Pick a force or constant and tweak it even a tiny amount, and life as we know it (i.e. us) would not have been possible. There are so many coincidences like this, that it appears there’s been some designing going on. Designing implies designer, and the only designer outside of time, space, matter, and energy is God (the God of classical theism; one link, among many).
Common fallacies are to assert man’s small stature; but if size matters then bears and even Buicks are more important than us. Another fallacy to say that man evolved by “blind forces”, which assumes without proof that these “blind” forces could not themselves have been designed to do just what they did. A third is to say that because man is only a few hundred thousand years old, he is therefore insignificant. That would make ferns and alligators worthier than us.
The very fact of the universe’s vastness and independence of man gives man an opportunity for awe, wonder, and humility.
Kreeft also gives no word on Fermi’s paradox, which is other scientific evidence that we are alone. The universe is big and old enough to have allowed, like us, other space-faring races to have evolved. They should have been here by now; they are not; therefore the suspicion (not proof) is that they do not exist.
Article 3: Whether the uniformity of nature is a necessary philosophical presupposition of all physical science?
Yes. Uniformity is a metaphysical assumption not a physical measurement. Nobody knows whether gravity works everywhere, because nobody has or could check it everywhere (as in everywhere). In this sense, it and all the other physical “laws” which we believe are unprovable beliefs.
It has not been proved that science is more certain than philosophy. In fact, it is often the reverse, since philosophy investigates unchanging and necessary truths while science investigates the changing world, which is contingent.
Article 4: Whether science presupposes real causality?
Yes. It must, because it can’t be seen. If you think it can, fill a bucket full of it and bring it to me.
Article 5: Whether there are four causes (formal, material, efficient, final)?
For a cause is either intrinsic or extrinsic to its effect [X]. If it is intrinsic, it is either (a) what X is, i.e. its essential nature or essence (e.g. a house)—and this is the “formal cause”—or (b) what X is made of or made from: the raw material that was formed, shaped, or determined to be X rather than Y (e.g. wood)—and this is the “material cause.” If it is extrinsic, it is either (c) the agent or origin that made or changed X (e.g. the carpenter)—and this is the “efficient cause”—or (d) the end or purpose of X, whether unconscious or conscious (e.g. to shelter a family)—and this is the “final cause.” Thus for every X, there is (a) that which, (b) that out of which, (c) that from which, and (d) that for which X is.
Article 6: Whether the cosmos is infinite in space?
No. “God alone is infinite, and the universe is not God, therefore the universe is not infinite.” Even if you don’t buy that, you certainly know about Einstein, so I can’t see you disagreeing.
Article 7: Whether time is infinite?
No. “[I]t is improper to speak of times’s past or future, for time is not a thing that continues or moves, but the measure of the continuing of moving of things.” Then this:
Just as there is an absolute beginning of all time which is not in time…so there can be an absolute end of all time. As the beginning term of the continuum of time has an “after” but not “before,” so the end term of the continuum of time can have a “before” but no “after.”
Again, I see few people objecting.
Article 8: Whether time travel is possible?
Yes. Perhaps not materially, only consciously. Sorry, no going back to stop your dad from dating your mom.
[W]e all experience a mild form of time travel (a) in memory, (b) in anticipation, and (c) in telling or hearing stories about other times. In all of these, our consciousness enters into other times, and occasionally does so with extreme vividness…There have been many well-documented cases of people (usually “primitives”) entering other times and places with their consciousness, e.g. “dream time” or “the dreaming” among the Australian aborigines.
Is that any kind of evidence? Chesterton:
All argument against these plain facts is always argument in a circle. If I say, “Mediaeval documents attest certain miracles as much as they attest certain battles,” they answer, “But mediaevals were superstitious”; if I want to know in what they were superstitious, the only ultimate answer is that they believed in the miracles. If I say “a peasant saw a ghost,” I am told, “But peasants are so credulous.” If I ask, “Why credulous?” the only answer is—that they see ghosts.
Kreeft, incidentally (elsewhere) does not argue for blanket credulity (do not subscribe to News of the World). To prove a man superstitious or credulous means you have proven his miracles mundane or his ghosts figments. No certain proof of that, means no certain proof of the other.
Article 9: Whether matter is only a projection of mind?
No. Idealism has been kicked to death long ago and it seems in bad taste to display its corpse once again. “If matter were merely mental projection, it could be changed merely by thinking, and no one would ever have to endure pain or death.”
Article 10: Whether mind is only a projection of matter?
No. You are not your brain, even though it’s a handy thing to have around. After my own heart, Kreeft says:
For all persons are immediately aware of their thinking, whenever they think, since ordinary thinking is simultaneously self-reflective or self-aware. This is data as immediate and indubitable as empirical data, and distinct from empirical data, since it does not depend on sensation and can be purely abstract (e.g. “I think, therefore I am.”).
Of course, all we need is “I think”—the rest is redundant. Only an I can think!
To claim that there are no minds, only material brains, which are like computers, is like claiming that there is no person behind a computer who designed or programmed it. No one would trust such a computer. So why does a materialist trust his brain?
What reason has a materialist to claim his reasoning reasonable? He can’t say evolution, for that either pushes the problem back one level, and we have to ask “Why trust evolution?” which assumes (in the word “trust”) what it sets out to prove (that believing evolution is reasonable), or else it ignores it. To say evolution created a brain is not to say that we are only our brains.
To produce an “explanation” of X in terms of [brain chemistry] X1, and Y in terms of [brain chemistry] Y1, is not yet not have proved that X1 and Y1 efficiently cause X and Y. If they occur simultaneously [say, thinking lights up an fMRI screen], it may be that X1 and Y1 are caused by X and Y. Or it may be that both are caused by a third thing…
(4) The fact a blow to the brain takes away thought does not prove that the brain is the sole cause of thought, any more than the fact that demolishing a microphone makes the speaker’s voice inaudible proves that the microphone was the sole cause, or even the cause at all, of the voice.
A lovely argument, that. Lastly,
If no one can think without a brain, this could be either because (a) the brain is the cause of thought, or because (b) the brain is the instrument of thought, or because (c) the brain is one of the necessary conditions for thought. A necessary condition is not the same as a sufficient condition.