The Kalam Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God

This week brings us to the final video expressing an argument for the existence of God. This is the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is a formulation of the Cosmological Argument that derives from Ilm al-Kalam “science of discourse”. Craig formulated this version of the argument from Arabic philosophers that argued against the existence of actual infinities. The Cosmological Argument, as a whole, goes back to the idea of causality and the First Cause, or prime-mover, introduced by Aristotle (or possibly further). The argument for a First Cause was passed down and developed through the ages leading it medieval Islamic theology, to medieval European philosophy, and on to modern philosophy. Therefore, it has a somewhat rich history encompassing different cultures.

The Cosmological Argument can be formulated as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. (Reasonable Faith, 111)

We have good reason from experience to believe that things that begin to exist have a cause. We have factories that create our computers, phones, or tablets that we are using to read this sentence. These were created by engineers and inventors that came up with the ideas. In turn, those people came into existence by the meeting of their parents. This cannot go on ad infinitum, or for infinity, in the past. Therefore, there needs to be a First Cause to begin the string of events to bring us here.

Craig uses Hilbert’s Hotel to show the absurdity of actual infinite number of things were to exist. Hilbert’s Hotel is though experiment created by David Hilbert involving a hotel with an infinite number of rooms. Although, this is a good example, I tend to find it tedious and a bit confusing. Instead, I prefer Zeno’s paradox of Achilles and the tortoise to show that the universe cannot exist ad infinitum in the past. The paradox was recounted by Aristotle as such:

In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead. (Physics VI:9, 239b15)

In other words, Achilles will always have to reach where the tortoise was to be able to overcome him. Since the tortoise is always moving, Achilles will always have a new point to reach. Let’s simplify this by stating a runner has to cross the finish line from the starting point. Before he can cross the finish line, he must reach the halfway point. Before he reaches the halfway point, he must reach the quarter point ad infinitum. If we continue this line of reasoning, we see that the runner can never cross the finish line.

Now, we know from experience that this is not true. We’ve watched runners finish races before, and we know that no matter the head start a slow runner receives, the faster runner will eventually overtake him. Traversing physical space does not work like this. If we apply this to time, though, then we see that the present could never be reached if the past is infinite. Time is a series of events that we experience one after the other. We are not privy to redo’s or skips. If there is not beginning point in time, then the present cannot be reached. Craig states it as such:

1. The series of events in time is a collection formed by adding one member after another.

2. A collection formed by adding one member after another cannot be actually infinite.

3. Therefore, the series of events in time cannot be actually infinite. (Reasonable Faith, 120)

The second law of thermodynamics helps to show that the universe had a beginning. For us less scientifically minded, Craig succinctly states that the second law of thermodynamics states “processes taking place in a closed system always tend to a state of equilibrium (Reasonable Faith, 140-141). In other words, unless energy is being fed into the system, then it will eventually run out. We see this when we take a bath. The heat evenly spreads throughout the tub and will eventually cool off if no further heat is added. This has grave implications on the universe. If the universe has existed forever, then why has it not reached a state of equilibrium and “heat death” yet?

We know that the universe is expanding due to Hubble’s discovery of the redshift of light from distant galaxies. This is a Doppler effect indicating that these light sources were receding in the line of sight. This implies that galaxies were once closer together before spreading apart. This also implies that there must have been a starting point for the expansion of the universe.

With the expansion of the universe and the second law of thermodynamics, we can conclude there was a beginning to the universe. Otherwise, if the universe existed infinitely, then it should have reached a point of equilibrium and died out by now.

If the universe had a beginning, then what was this first cause that began the expansion of the universe and “wound up” the universe’s energy? The best explanation of this is something that transcends all of space-time matter, i.e., God.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument can be further formulated as:

  1.  The universe has a cause.
  2.  If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.
  3.  Therefore, an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.




4 thoughts on “The Kalam Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God

  1. Pingback: Conclusion of Arguments for the Existence of God | Thomas Hoch

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