So I was sitting on the porch by the lake reading a piece by Trent Horn on the first premise of the kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God, which is “Whatever begins to exist has a cause”, a premise no scientist disbelieves.
No: state that more clearly. Every scientist believes it1. And so does every non-scientist, though some of the latter have fun fooling around with the idea the premise is false. By some (as yet) unexplained miracle, these folks all have university jobs or were Detroit mayors. Never mind!
And speaking of miracles, this:
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.
Here we have a whole lot of something from plenty of nothing. Cause, please? Ockham didn’t cut himself shaving over the simplest explanation of God as grocer.
If we accept the first premise, the only way out of this, or any other miracle, is by dismissing the evidence. Something else happened other than that which was said to have happened. If not, then we’re stuck with God, so to speak.
Now for some “miracles”, this ploy is sufficient. What’s simpler to believe, the Lord Himself produced His blurry image on a tortilla so that it wouldn’t be smeared with refried beans, or that given enough chances burn marks on a flour patty will vaguely resemble a human face?
But a wave of the hand doesn’t work with the loaves and fishes. Too many people saw it happen, no contemporary sources dispute it, and alternate explanations are more of a stretch than Joe Biden giving up is Rogaine treatments.
The most common one is that, sure, the 5000 ate their reported fill, but they had the food concealed in their garments and only brought it out to fake a miracle. “Don’t tell all these people you have the lox, Morty, or they’ll want to share and we won’t have enough for ourselves. My, doesn’t Jesus’s beard shine in the sun? It fairly warms my heart. Oh, go ahead and show the fish, Mort. The rabbi’s speech put me in a generous mood. Wait…everybody else is brining out the biscuits, too. Now if we could only turn this water into wine, we’d have a party!” And never mind trying to get the stench of salted kippers, baked in the sun as you sit for a speech, out of your robes in the days before Clorox.
I’ve also see “mass hallucinations”, that staple of alternate explanations, tried. “Boy, Sarah, I feel full but I haven’t eaten. Only thing I can think of is that I must have had my fill of loaves and fishes. You too?” According to some skeptics the entire Bible is one long series of bad dreams set to paper. Strangely, these folks never invoke mind blur for bits of history favorable to their philosophy. But skip it.
Point stands that all these mental acrobatics take place only because of the obvious need to retain the first premise. And once you do, the rest of the kalam (almost) falls into place.
1Incidentally, if you are a scientist and you too would like the fame and glory which follows the stating of preposterous statements as if they were true and seek to deny the premise, then none of your life’s work means a damn. For if the premise were false, whenever you say “X caused Y” (such as in a grant application) we would be entitled to say, “No, you are wrong. Nothing caused Y” and you would have to keep your yap shut.
Incidentally number two: God doesn’t need a cause because He didn’t begin to exist. He always was. “God replied to Moses: I am who I am. Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”