There has been much discussion lately about the need to bring a measure of sophistication to the table when discussing philosophical issues. I get it. It is annoying to hear creationists insist that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. This is sheer ignorance. I have no doubt that trained philosophers feel the same way when they hear some of the things I say. But there is a difference between scientific and philosophical ignorance. Scientific facts are not matters of opinion, and are not matters of debate. The creationist is not only ignorant about thermodynamics, but he is demonstrably, factually wrong. Period. On the other hand, someone who asks the question "Who made God?" may be philosophically ignorant, but he's not factually wrong. The necessary being or the self-explanatory nature of God is not a demonstrable fact. It's something that one can reasonably reject. It is a matter of debate.
Many people think that Richard Dawkins asked "Who made God?" in response to the Cosmological Argument, and they heap scorn upon him for his philosophical ignorance . Actually, Bertrand Russell asked that question in his essay Why I Am Not A Christian, while discussing the Cosmological Argument. Russell is not usually regarded as being ignorant of philosophical matters. But then, Bertrand Russell was not a "New Atheist". He apparently believed it was reasonable for someone who doesn't accept theological assumptions about the nature of God to ask such a question. When these charges of ignorance are leveled against someone like Dawkins, it seems to be under the assumption that he doesn't think the philosophers who formulated these arguments had ever considered questions like that before. But why make such an assumption? Why not be a little more charitable and assume that like Russell, Dawkins simply doesn't accept the answers (or non-answers) they give. And so the question remains worth asking.
In The God Delusion, Dawkins actually raised the question of who made God in response to the Teleological Argument of Aquinas, who postulated that an intelligence is needed to explain complex order and purposeful functionality. Dawkins reasons that if this postulation is true, then the designer would also require a designer. If one accepts the idea that there must be an uncaused cause for the world, that still doesn't imply that it must be intelligent. So this is a different issue from the Cosmological Argument. The question posed by Dawkins is not about first cause, but in response to the postulation that only an intelligent designer can explain the existence of functional complexity. If that's true, then it seems reasonable to ask "Who designed the designer?"
William Lane Craig is one of those sophisticated philosophers who has been vocal in his criticism of Dawkins. But I have to give him credit in this case, anyway. While most theists seem to think that Dawkins asked "Who made God?" in response to the Cosmological Argument, Craig at least correctly recognizes which theistic argument Dawkins was addressing, and he accords it a measure of legitimacy by responding. But in my opinion, his response is exactly the kind of unsatisfying non-answer that justifies people like Dawkins or Russell continuing to ask "Who made God?" Craig's reply to Dawkins is: The explanation (God as designer) doesn't require an explanation.
But sophisticated philosophy notwithstanding, this isn't a real answer. This is evading the question. If you reason that all complex things are explained by an intelligent designer, but then say that the designer is exempt from the same reasoning, then your reasoning is not self-consistent. It's called special pleading. It is providing a special exemption to the rule that you say should apply to everything else.
I'm sure most theists believe in the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which says that everything must have an explanation. And now Craig is claiming that that's not true. But Craig, in an effort to avoid the appearance of special pleading, tries to make the case that explanations are generally not required. This is his specific claim:
In order to recognize that an explanation is the best, you don't have to be able to explain the explanation.And he backs it up by giving some examples, including this:
Suppose astronauts were to find on the backside of the moon a pile of machinery that had not been left there by American or Russian cosmonauts. What would be the best explanation for that machinery? Clearly it would be some sort of extraterrestrial intelligence that had left that machinery there, and you don't have to have an explanation of who these extraterrestrials were or how they got there ...Really? According to Craig, the discovery of alien artifacts on the moon would be explained by "some sort of extraterrestrial intelligence", and then everyone would be happy, and no further questions should be asked about who they are or where they come from. Our philosophical explanation, "some sort of extraterrestrial intelligence", needs no further explanation, and it would be stupid for some philosophically ignorant scientist to ask "Where did they come from?" Craig is conflating two very different things. One is the idea that there is no possible explanation for what is postulated, and the other is that the explanation is unknown at present.
This is what passes for philosophically sophisticated logic in the land of the theistic delusion, but I don't buy it. There is no explanation for the omniscience of God, and they know it. Nor is there any good reason to think that such a thing is required to produce the world as we know it, given our scientific explanations of how complex order arises without the involvement of any intelligent designer. The theist, having no solid basis for postulating God as the intelligent designer, is left with trying to discredit those who would dare to cast doubt on his reasoning. There's an elephant in the room that he refuses to acknowledge. It's called science.