"And if anyone knows anything about anything," said Bear to himself "it's Owl who knows something about something," he said, "or my name's not Winnie the Pooh," he said. "Which it is," he added. "So there you are." (Milne, 1977)We can only be sure of the truth of the conclusion if the argument is valid and we are sure of the truth of the premises. Now Craig cannot, none of us can, establish the truth of his premises beyond doubt. What he seeks to do is adopt premises that are “more plausible than their negations” (2010)
This is problematical. Accepting that the premise adopted is more plausible than its negation may lead the reader, or debate attendee, to believe that the premise adopted is the most plausible premise. Were the only options to be that premise and its negation this would be the case. Take, however the Kalam Cosmological Argument:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.2. The universe began to exist.3. Therefore, the universe has a cause(Craig 2010)
There are a number of alternative first premises other than "not everything that begins to exist has a cause", each with good arguments for its adoption:
Alternate A: Not everything has a cause
Argument for: We might consider that "everything has a cause". However causes happen before effects, meaning that each effect has a predecessor. As each cause is "something" and requires it's own cause, a cause which also requires a cause further back. The regress, if everything had a cause, would never terminate. There are good arguments for this being impossible: meaning that as there is something not everything had a cause. (Note, for later, that if an effect can precede a cause or be simultaneous with its cause there is no obstacle to everything having a cause")
"Alternate A or Alternate B or Alternate C" is more plausible than "Craig's first premise"
And what does he have to do to establish this? He has to persuade us that the universe had a cause even though there was no time for the cause to be in. If he succeeds in doing that he must either allow simultaneous causes (which allows us to curtail the infinite regress mentioned in Alternate A, which allows "everything has a cause") or exempt the universe from this rule. If we can exempt the universe from the rule to have a prior cause we can just as well exempt the universe from having a cause.
It is the dichotomy created by the "more plausible than its negation" that allows other, more plausible, alternatives to be ignored and Craig's need to argue for a cause of the universe tout court to remain hidden. It's the dichotomy which allows a startlingly implausible argument to look plausible.