The Kalam Cosmological Argument Part 1: The Structure of the Argument

There are a number of arguments for the “existence of God.” One class of arguments are known as the “Cosmological arguments” which argue from the universe itself that God must exist. There are actually a number of these “Cosmological arguments,” though this is sometimes discussed in the singular (ie some authors will speak of the Cosmological argument, while all cosmological arguments share certain common elements, they are distinct, and some authors will use more than one. Thomas Aquinas had three distinct versions, for example in a famous “Five ways of knowing” a medieval apologetic that existed primarily for something called today “theological prolegomena”).

I consider several Cosmological arguments to be both “valid and sound,” (logic speak for I find them to be useful, and accurate). One cannot treat the various cosmological arguments in a single article, and even within the cosmological arguments from cause, minor changes really change the nature of the argument.

The Kalam Cosmological argument has become a central discussion in William Lane Craig’s various books and debates. This is not my favorite cosmological argument, but it is one of the simplest, and so the first one I will attempt to discuss here. The argument can be stated this way:

1. All things which have a beginning, have a cause.

  1. The Universe had a beginning.
  2. Therefore the Universe had a cause.
  1. All things which have a beginning have a cause

This premise is generally assumed, based on our observations. Our experience though, provides no exceptions to the principle. This is sometimes treated as saying, “Everything has a cause” but this would actually not be true – what is the cause of the existence of abstractions, such as the number 3, for example? As Christians we may assume abstractions have beginnings, but this cannot be demonstrated, so it does not play a role in this argument.

  1. The Universe had a beginning.

This second point can be demonstrated in at least two ways:

  1. It is impossible to have an infinite regression of causes

 

Since the days of David Hume, the general assumption by most atheists is that there is no first cause but that every cause had one that came before it, and thus matter and energy are eternal. This concept is known as an “infinite regression of causes,” which is impossible. In the case of an infinite regression of causes, that would mean an infinite number of “event states,” (or moments in time, or to the physicist “Planc units”) must have happened before the present, but if that were the true, there could be no “present” we could not have reached this point in time yet (as it is impossible to count to infinity).

In some cases, some atheists will appeal to mathematical constructs, such as infinite set theory. But this is actually a weak answer that sounds more intelligent than it actually is. Not all mathematical concepts necessarily reflect the real world, after all, imaginary numbers may be useful for solving some problems, but we would never suggest that there can be the Square root of negative 1 event states before the present either, since the number cannot exist in the real world.

 

  1. The Red Doppler shift indicates that the universe had a beginning.

           

Currently, even those who do not accept creationism the universe admit that the universe had a beginning. The basis for the “Big Bang Theory” is known as the Red Doppler shift, and it indicates that the universe is expanding. If the universe is expanding (or to put it another way, it is growing). If the universe is growing, that growth must have had a point of beginning – it can only have been so small in the first place. Though I am a young earth Creationists, even if I conceded the possibility of the Big Bang, this would then be a beginning. There have been a number of challenges to the Big Bang theory (many of which appear to be metaphysically motivated, as even one of the theorists involved in these theories has admitted), but there is currently no viable theory that would demonstrate how the universe could be self-sustaining, without a beginning.

  1. All things which have a beginning have a cause

This conclusion flows logically from the first premise. As matter, time and space are all elements of the universe we inhabit, we can infer that the universe is caused, but not by actions that fit our current understanding.

I will leave the evaluation of what this means until next time, but this is the “structure” of the Kalam Cosmological argument.

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