Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God's Existence

Monroe County Community College

Notes For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion Students. (The Kalam Argument is one of the arguments for God's existence that is included in most philosophy of religion textbooks.)

The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God's Existence

1. State the argument.

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore. the universe had a cause.

If 1 and 2 are true, then the conclusion logically follows.

2. Defend Premise 1.

Premise 1 seems to be true, since things do not just pop into existence.

In order to prove Premise 1 false one would have to find something that begins to exist that is uncaused, and that seems unlikely. It also seems unscientific.

Further, if things just popped into existence, uncaused, then would the uncaused thing be a "universe?" Given no antecedent causal conditions, that a "universe" should suddenly appear rather then Elvis or a bottle of root beer is inexplicable.

3. Defend Premise 2.

Reason 1 - current cosmological theory states that our universe began to exist. This is also called the "Big Bang Theory of the Origin of the Universe."

Our universe has an age (13.7 billion years). Whatever has an age necessarily has a beginning (or birth).

Reason 2 - the impossibility of an actual infinite.

Craig uses mathematician David Hilbert in support of the idea that an actual infinite cannot exist, because it leads to absurdities.

For example, consider "Hilbert's Hotel." Imagine a hotel with an infinite number of rooms. Let's say the rooms are all occupied, one person in each room. How many people are in this hotel? The answer is: an infinite number. Next, suppose that persons in the even-numbered rooms check out. How many people leave the hotel? The answer is: an infinite number. How many are left in the hotel? An infinite number. But our "infinite hotel" is now half full. All of which is absurd.

A "potential infinite" exists, but potential infinites never reach actuality.

4. Why must the cause of the universe be God?

As the argument shows, it follows logically that the universe must have a cause.

Using conceptual analysis, or the Principle of Sufficient Reason, whatever caused the universe must itself be timeless (therefore changeless), non-spatial (therefore immaterial),  and very powerful. (The laws of physics do not apply to the cosmic singularity.)

It must also be personal (a personal agent who made a choice to make a universe), since if the cause of the universe was timeless and impersonal the conditions for causing a universe to exist would be timelessly there, and the universe would have always existed. But we have already seen that this is not the case (Premise 2).

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that a timeless, changeless, immaterial, non-spatial, very powerful person agent is the cause of our universe. And this describes (in part) what is meant by "God."

A Final Note - Here is William Lane Craig on the cause of the universe as a personal creator.

"Given the truth of premises (1) and (2), it logically follows that (3) the universe has a cause of its existence. In fact, I think that it can be plausibly argued that the cause of the universe must be a personal Creator. For how else could a temporal effect arise from an eternal cause? If the cause were simply a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions existing from eternity, then why would not the effect also exist from eternity? For example, if the cause of water's being frozen is the temperature's being below zero degrees, then if the temperature were below zero degrees from eternity, then any water present would be frozen from eternity. The only way to have an eternal cause but a temporal effect would seem to be if the cause is a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time. For example, a man sitting from eternity may will to stand up; hence, a temporal effect may arise from an eternally existing agent. Indeed, the agent may will from eternity to create a temporal effect, so that no change in the agent need be conceived. Thus, we are brought not merely to the first cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator."