Kalam

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The Cosmological argument does not prove that the cause was a supernatural cause, or not a natural cause.
 
The Cosmological argument does not prove that the cause was a supernatural cause, or not a natural cause.
 
   
 
   
I will briefly examine some of the properties deduced as belonging to the Creator implied by proposition 3. These properties are : personal being, atemporal, powerful, and intelligent.
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Now, to examining some of the properties deduced as belonging to the Creator implied by proposition 3. These properties are : personal being, atemporal, powerful, and intelligent.
  
 
4.1 Argument that the cause of the universe is a personal Creator: 4.11 The universe was brought into being either by a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions or by a personal, free agent. 4.12 The universe could not have been brought into being by a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions. 4.13 Therefore, the universe was brought into being by a personal, free agent.  
 
4.1 Argument that the cause of the universe is a personal Creator: 4.11 The universe was brought into being either by a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions or by a personal, free agent. 4.12 The universe could not have been brought into being by a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions. 4.13 Therefore, the universe was brought into being by a personal, free agent.  
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4.25 The Creator is timeless. 4.251 In the complete absence of change, time does not exist, and the Creator is changeless. (4.23)  
 
4.25 The Creator is timeless. 4.251 In the complete absence of change, time does not exist, and the Creator is changeless. (4.23)  
I have noted a few times before that atemporality contradicts divine creation. If we accept the conclusion in 4.251, then we must conclude that the only possible first causes are first causes that begin to exist, thus contradicting premise 1.
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It was noted a few times before that atemporality contradicts divine creation. If we accept the conclusion in 4.251, then we must conclude that the only possible first causes are first causes that begin to exist, thus contradicting premise 1.
  
 
Dr. Craig does have a counter-argument, however, in that his position is more complex than “God is timeless”. Rather his position is that “God is timeless sans creation and temporal since creation” :
 
Dr. Craig does have a counter-argument, however, in that his position is more complex than “God is timeless”. Rather his position is that “God is timeless sans creation and temporal since creation” :
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''God had a timeless intention to create a Big Bang, but in terms of the actual causal exercise of His power, the actual volition, “Let there be?!” that would occur simultaneously with the Big Bang singularity.''
 
''God had a timeless intention to create a Big Bang, but in terms of the actual causal exercise of His power, the actual volition, “Let there be?!” that would occur simultaneously with the Big Bang singularity.''
  
When no actual causal exercise or volition can exist, by definition, in an atemporal state ?
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When no actual causal exercise or volition can exist, by definition, in an atemporal state?
  
 
4.27 The Creator is enormously powerful. 4.271 He brought the universe into being out of nothing. (3)  
 
4.27 The Creator is enormously powerful. 4.271 He brought the universe into being out of nothing. (3)  
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Surely Dr. Craig realized that by bringing up intelligent design and fine-tuning, he is foregoing all credibility. The belief that the universe is “fine-tuned” – for what, we cannot say – rests on no scientific ground. We simply do not know if any “tuning” is possible at all, and if so, what is its range and its effects. To assume otherwise is to claim more knowledge of cosmology than anyone has at the moment, and is as much an argument from ignorance as any other arbitrary claim about things we know nothing about.
 
Surely Dr. Craig realized that by bringing up intelligent design and fine-tuning, he is foregoing all credibility. The belief that the universe is “fine-tuned” – for what, we cannot say – rests on no scientific ground. We simply do not know if any “tuning” is possible at all, and if so, what is its range and its effects. To assume otherwise is to claim more knowledge of cosmology than anyone has at the moment, and is as much an argument from ignorance as any other arbitrary claim about things we know nothing about.
  
Even if we assume that this “tuning” is possible and relevant, the argument from fine-tuning reduces itself to an argument from design, in that it attempts to prove design from natural facts. But it is never sufficient to jump from complexity to design, one must demonstrate that natural law is insufficient. This is unclear, for no matter how God acts in the natural world, he will act through the laws of logic and physics, therefore in all cases, we are justified in sticking with naturalistic explanations- ''God's fingerprints are nowhere to be found''. We have sufficient evidence, in Big Bang cosmology as well as more advanced theories such as the Hartle-Hawking wave function model of the universe, that natural law is sufficient.
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Even if we assume that this “tuning” is possible and relevant, the argument from fine-tuning reduces itself to an argument from design, in that it attempts to prove design from natural facts. But it is never sufficient to jump from complexity to design; one must demonstrate that natural law is insufficient. This is unclear, for no matter how God acts in the ''natural'' world, he will act through the laws of logic and physics; therefore in all cases, we are justified in sticking with naturalistic explanations- ''God's fingerprints are nowhere to be found''. We have sufficient evidence, in Big Bang cosmology as well as more advanced theories such as the Hartle-Hawking wave function model of the universe, that natural law is sufficient.
  
 
===So what===
 
===So what===

Revision as of 14:57, 25 June 2010

The Kalam argument is an altered form of the cosmological argument. It is an argument that intends to circumvent the infinite regress problem contained within the traditional version by altering the premises.

Contents

Apologetics

William Lane Craig's version:

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

The distinction between this and the traditional cosmological argument is that it distinguishes effects in general from those that have a beginning. This qualification leaves open an interesting possibility that some things in the universe might exist that never began to exist. But Craig is not that sloppy, so before we jump on this observation, we need to address the Kalam argument's second premise and its support.

The Kalam argument's second premise—"The universe began to exist"—is a claim that seems more of a presupposition than a fact, but watch how it is supported:

  1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
  2. A beginningless series of events is an actual infinite.
  3. Therefore, the universe cannot have existed infinitely in the past, as that would be a beginningless series of events.

The important term here is, of course, "actual infinite." Wikipedia has the following to say about actual infinities:

Actual infinity is the notion that all (natural, real etc.) numbers can be enumerated in any sense sufficiently definite for them to form a set together. Hence, in the philosophy of mathematics, the abstraction of actual infinity is the acceptance of infinite entities, such as the set of all natural numbers or an arbitrary sequence of rational numbers, as given objects.

The mathematical meaning of the term 'actual' in 'actual infinity' is synonymous with 'definite', not to be mistaken for physically existing. The question of whether natural or real numbers form definite sets is therefore independent of the question of whether infinite things exist actually in nature.


The most extensive version of kalam runs as follows:

1. “Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.”

2. “The universe began to exist [because infinite time is impossible].”

3. “Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.”

4. “If the universe has a cause of its existence, then [we find that] an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans creation is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful and intelligent.”

5. “Therefore, an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans creation is “beginningless,” changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful and intelligent.”


Premise 1 is, without doubt, the least supported premise, even though its validity is crucial for any attempt to arrive at the conclusion. What evidence does he have to prove that whatever begins to exist must have a cause ? In his opening case, he states :

[T]he premise that whatever begins to exist must have a cause of its existence I think is so intuitively obvious that scarcely anybody could sincerely deny that it is false.

He does support it by using two arguments : our observation of the caused entities around us, and causality as a principle of human thought. Dr. Craig is no doubt aware, however, that to infer a necessary causality on a whole – the universe – on the basis of observation of such attributes in the parts – the existents around us – is a [fallacy of composition][1]. Our best definition of "cause" is a relation that holds between events that are connected by physical (and temporal) laws. Transposing the term to a realm where no physical laws and no time exists is nonsensical. Thus we cannot generalize from caused entities around us to the universe in this matter.

We do agree that causality is a necessary principle for our understanding of the universe. This does not mean, however, that we are prevented from realizing that an entity or property breaks this principle. In the same way, logic is a necessary principle for our understanding of the universe, but we can still detect fallacies. Furthermore, our understanding of causality is based on recombination of pre-existing entities and properties, which does not apply for divine creation. Therefore there is an equivocation here as well.

We have to conclude that there is no evidence whatsoever to support the first premise. Furthermore, we already have counter-examples. For instance, the radioactive decay of an atom is scientifically proven to be both uncaused and have a beginning. Dr. Craig is aware of a general form of this argument, since Quentin Smith used this in debate against him. To which he replied :

The motions of elementary particles described by statistical quantum mechanical laws, even if uncaused, do not constitute an exception to this principle. As Smith himself admits, these considerations “at most tend to show that acausal laws govern the change of condition of particles, such as the change of particle x’s position from q1 to q2. They state nothing about the causality or acausality of absolute beginnings, of beginnings of the existence of particles.

This is a highly unsatisfactory rebuttal, as it shifts the goalposts of his first premise. Dr. Craig (by proxy) isolates “absolute beginnings” as being important, but his first premise only states that “whatever begins to exist” has a cause. He should very well know that physics has shown that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, thus making any such example impossible. But this does not detract to the strength of the counter-example. The radioactive decay of an atom is indeed “something”, it is a property of the atom in question. Thus “something began to exist”.

Counter-apologetics

Counter-argument

Let S1 = a state of affairs in which the Universe did not exist, and S2 = a state of affairs in which the Universe did exist.

The theist is trying to claim that the Universe began to exist, that is, there was a state in which there was God, "and then" there was a state in which there was the Universe. In other words, they want to say S1 "and then" S2. In order to do that, they must show that S1 and S2 are distinct. The possibilities are:

  1. The Universe never began to exist
  2. The Universe never existed
  3. S1 and S2 follow each other in time
  4. Some agent in S1 is the atemporal cause of S2

If we can eliminate all three latter examples, then there is no way to distinguish between the two states. If that is the case, then there is no "beginning" - no state at which the Universe began to exist, thus undermining the conclusion.

If we try to prove by contradiction that the Universe never began to exist, the contradiction becomes evident. By assuming the Universe began to exist, it rules out (1). The Universe exists, so that rules out (2). (3) is disproven by the fact that time is a property of the Universe, and therefore can't be applied outside of the Universe. (4) can't be true because Craig defines "atemporal causation" as follows:

To borrow an illustration from Kant, a heavy ball’s resting on a cushion is the cause of a depression in the cushion, even if the ball has been resting on the cushion from eternity past.

However, this cannot be used to distinguish between S1 and S2 because it requires cause and effect to be simultaneous. S1 and S2 cannot be simultaneous, as the Universe would exist at the same instant that it doesn't exist - a contradiction.

By assuming that the Universe began to exist, we have ruled out all explanations for how it could have began to exist. Thus, we cannot distinguish at the moment between S1 and S2 - undermining their conclusion.

In Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, Robin Le Poidevin writes:

[T]he causes which we have experience of take place in time and space, and this is not an accidental connection. We suppose things to have causes because we want to explain why those things came into existence at the times and places they did. We therefore look for the causes of those things in the conditions which obtained just before, and in the vicinity of, the thing in question.

Conditions which obtained elsewhere or at other times cannot provide the relevant explanation. Causation, then, is a temporal concept. (It is perhaps also a spatial concept, but I do not want to insist on that here.) It is this aspect of causation which threatens the inference from what we experience to a conclusion about everything which begins to exist. To say that causation is a temporal concept means that causation occurs in the context of time — that causes and effects take place within time. Typically this means causes occur “before” effects, but even if the reverse could happen, cause and effect are still occurring within a temporal context. The idea of a-temporal causation is, as far as we can tell, incoherent.

Of course, “time” is an aspect of our universe — but this means that we can’t speak of “causation” outside the context of our universe. This means that a “cause” of our universe is an incoherent concept. To rescue the argument, one has to develop a new conception of “causation” which is not dependent upon time. Perhaps this is possible, but it’s not immediately obvious that it is or, even if successful, that it’s a concept which refers to anything which actually exists.

This places all arguments about how the universe needs a cause on very uncertain footing. It would appear that they are insisting on the necessity of something incoherent and impossible, at least according to our current understanding. At the very least, they need a new conception of causation — but if they manage that, they will no longer be able to analogize between causation within the universe to causation of the universe. The fact that events in our universe require causes cannot logically entail that the universe requires a “cause” in this new, hypothetical sense.

We must now turn to point 2. Before I continue, I have to clarify something about its formulation :

2. “The universe began to exist [because infinite time is impossible].”

In the actual point, the arguments used to support that the universe began to exist, only prove that the universe has existed for a finite amount of time.

Given this, we must answer that no, we cannot justify going from

2a. The universe has existed for a finite amount of time.

to

2b. The universe began to exist.

Dr. Craig seems to assume that this passage is obvious, since he does not even bother to validate it, but a finite past is not a sufficient condition to deduce the existence of a beginning. It is perfectly coherent to posit, as many atheists do, that the universe has a finite past and yet had no beginning. Modern cosmology agrees with this position. As Mark Vuletic correctly points out in “Does Big Bang Cosmology Prove the Universe Had a Beginning ?”, we cannot explain with any precision what happened prior to Planck time :

The problem is that prior to the Planck time, the universe is so small that quantum mechanical effects become very important. Therefore, a correct description of the behavior of the universe prior to the Planck time requires a synthesis of quantum mechanics and general relativity—a theory of quantum gravity, in other words. And to this date, no full theory of quantum gravity has been developed, much less attained the consensus status that post-Planck-time Big Bang theory enjoys. Without such a theory, we cannot draw from cosmology any conclusions about whether the universe had a beginning or not.

Interestingly, to assume that the universe began is incorrect even from Dr. Craig’s perspective, since he states in many places that he holds the position that the Creator is atemporal “prior” to divine creation (whatever this means in such a context). Therefore the universe cannot exist within a larger framework of time, and thus cannot have a beginning.

Counter Example

There's nothing in the laws of physics which demands that the law of cause and effect be more than generalizations for interacting with the world above the quantum level.

Within quantum mechanics there seems to be real counter examples to the first premise of the argument. "Everything that begins to exist has a cause." For example, when Carbon-14 decays to Carbon-12 the radioactive decay is a perfectly random causeless event and thus though the Carbon-12 began to exist it wasn't caused to exist. Likewise, when matter and antimatter (particle-antiparticle formations) such as electron-positron creation, they can be said to have started to exist but not to have been caused to exist. While radioactive decay of particle-antiparticle formation can be predicted and serves a function, such as stabilizing the atom and equaling out the energies from two-photon interactions, there is no reason why such a thing should happen at those specific space and time coordinates. The underlying probabilities can be calculated and are extremely accurate, but alien from the classical sense of cause and effect.

Further, similar quantum considerations could have direct analogies to the Big Bang which might be causeless as well. Resolving other issues like the atemporal causality seen above as quantum phenomenon does force us to consider simultaneous instances of X and ~X, for example where X is "Schrodinger's cat is dead". Ignoring this speculative cosmology, the counter example suffices to disprove the premise (things can begin to exist without being caused) and thus demonstrate that the argument is unsound.

Kalam Cosmological Argument for Atheists

From Quentin Smith's essay ( http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/cosmology.html )


(1) If God exists and there is an earliest state E of the universe, then God created E,

(2) If God created E, then E is ensured to either contain animate creatures or lead to a subsequent state of the universe that contains animate creatures.

Premise (2) is entailed by two more basic theological premises, viz.,

(3) God is omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly benevolent.

(4) An animate universe is better than an inanimate universe.

Given (4), if God created a universe that was not ensured to be animate, then he would have created a universe not ensured to be of the better sort and thereby would be limited in his benevolence, power or wisdom. But this contradicts (3). Therefore, (2) is true.

Some of the scientific ideas articulated in the last section, mainly the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems, provide us with the summary premise

(5) There is an earliest state of the universe and it is the big bang singularity.

(5) requires a terminological clarification regarding 'the universe'. By this phrase I mean the 4D spacetime continuum and any n-dimensional physical state that is earlier or later than the 4D continuum. Since the universe has a zero radius at the singularity, it is not then 4D, but since the singularity is a physical state earlier than the 4D continuum it can be considered to be the first state of the universe (this is discussed further in section VI).

The scientific ideas also give us the premise

(6) The earliest state of the universe is inanimate since the singularity involves the life-hostile conditions of infinite temperature, infinite curvature and infinite density.

Another scientific idea enunciated in the last section, the principle of ignorance, gives us the summary premise

(7) The big bang singularity is inherently unpredictable and lawless and consequently there is no guarantee that it will emit a maximal configuration of particles that will evolve into an animate state of the universe. (A maximal configuration of particulars is a complete state of the universe, the universe as a whole at one time.)

(5) and (7) entail

(8) The earliest state of the universe is not ensured to lead to an animate state of the universe.

We now come to the crux of our argument. Given (2), (6) and (8), we can infer that God could not have created the earliest state of the universe. It then follows, by (1), that God does not exist.


Further in the essay, Quentin Smith states all the objections to this argument and refutes them; the potence of the argument becomes most apparent when these responses are given.

A Cosmological Argument for A Self-Caused Universe

Another essay by Quentin Smith challenging kalam, providing a compelling case for atheism.

See: A Cosmological Argument for a Self-Caused Universe


The Non-Cognitive Nature Of Infinity

See Main Article: Impossibility of Actual Infinity against God

In a debate with Craig, Michael Tooley has tried to use another analogy to prove that infinities can be actual. He argued in his first rebuttal that unbounded space admits an infinite number of regions of equal length. But the case of unbounded space is an apparent infinity, not an actual one: we know very well that there is a qualitative limit to such space even if we can move around freely within it, just like we know that the surface of a sphere is limited even though it is unbounded.


However, if the impossibility of infinity is asserted then the atheist must turn to God's reasoning process, which must begin to have any meaning; an infinite series of thoughts or of volition-entailing acts is absurd.

Theists regularly talk about a place "beyond" the universe, a transcendent realm where God exists "outside of time."

Dan Barker:

Yet theists continue to describe this "timeless" being in temporal terms. Phrases such as "God decided to create the universe" are taken by us mere mortals to be analogous to such natural phrases as "Annie Laurie decided to bake a pie." If such phrases are not equal or analogous to normal human language, and if they are not redefined coherently, then they are useless. We may as well say "God blopwaddled to scrumpwitch the universe."

The word "create" is a transitive verb. We have no experience of transitive verbs operating outside of time (how could we?), so when we hear such a word, we must picture it the only way we can: a subject acts on an object. Considering the point at which an action is committed, there must be an antecedent state "during" which the action is not committed, and this would be true either in or out of time.

To say that "God created time" is not comprehensible to us. But if he did it anyway, in spite of our lack of imagination, then it couldn't have happened "after" the decision to commit it, because there was no "before." However, we might still imagine the act of creation as "following" the decision to create. Or, to avoid temporal terms, the creating succeeds the deciding in the logical order. (In logic we say that a conclusion "follows," though we do not mean this happens in space or time. Craig writes that "the origin of the universe is causally prior to the Big Bang, though not temporally prior to the Big Bang.")

Either in or out of time, the decision of a personal agency to commit an action happens antecedent to the action itself. Even if the deciding and the acting happened simultaneously, it would still not be true that the acting was antecedent to the deciding. Imagine God saying, "Oh, look! I just created a universe. Now I'd better decide to do it."

This means that there must exist a series of antecedent causal events in the mind of a time-transcendent creator, if such a being exists. Since the Kalam argument claims that "an actual infinity cannot exist in reality," it shoots itself in the foot: although Kalam deals with temporal succession, the same logic applies to non-temporal antecedent events, if such things are a part of reality. If the series were infinite, then God never could have traversed the totality of his own antecedent mental causes to arrive at his decision to say "Let there be light." Therefore, sticking with Kalam, there must have been a "first antecedent" in the mind of an actual God, which means that God "began" to exist. (This means "began causally," but theists have conceded the appropriateness of expressing non-temporal actions in temporal language.)

If theists counter that the Kalam argument applies only to the impossibility of an actual mathematical infinity within the material universe and that the transcendent, timeless domain of the Creator is an entirely different kind of "infinity" that is not subject to the same laws, then they are begging the question, again. Exempting the conclusion, by definition, from the premises by excluding the supernatural (the very thing theists are trying to prove) is circular reasoning. If it is true that an "actual infinity cannot exist in reality," then a being who is actually infinite cannot be a part of reality. In other words, the Kalam disproves the reality of a beginning-less God. If infinity is just a concept, as Kalam insists, then an infinite God is just a concept.

If we take Kalam seriously, there is no escaping the fact that God (if he exists) had a beginning, either in or out of time. Since this is true, the phrase "Everything that begins to exist" includes God, and sticking with the cosmological argument, it follows that God has a cause.

At this point, the theist might remind us that we do have scientific knowledge of the beginning of the universe, but we have no such evidence regarding God. That is true, but it is self-incriminating. Yes, science is a material endeavor--it is impossible to probe the supernatural (whatever that is) with the tools of the natural world--but to say that we have no evidence that God had a beginning is to underscore the fact that we have no evidence about God at all. The Kalam argument was being propounded a millennium before scientists embraced the Big Bang, and its merits were then, as now, nonscientific.

And we have to ask, what does it mean for a god’s knowledge, power, benevolence, and presence to be qualified by “infinite”?

The word “infinity” is defined negatively. An infinite set is a set having a cardinality greater than any finite number, to which no finite number can be added. An infinite set can also have a one-to-one correspondence with one of its subsets. The second premise is a corollary of the first. In short, infinity is what which is not finite and does not partake of the properties of finite numbers.

This is satisfying in mathematics: indeed, we use infinity for many useful tasks. But to posit an actual infinity is to place ourselves outside of the realm of unitary existence, indeed to deny it. Just as the hypothesis of infinite regress demands us to reject moments of time, the existence of an actual infinite cardinality demands us to reject unitary existence altogether.

But if this is the case, then the concept’s specificity is automatically nil. There is nothing that it could possibly mean for us for something to be infinite, or to have infinite cardinality.

This argument is limited in terms of application, since most theologians try to rationalize incoherency arguments by limiting God’s power. We can admit that a god’s attributes need not be infinite in the mathematical sense. It is probable that only unsophisticated accounts of theism fall prey to this problem. Nevertheless, it remains important to restrict theistic arguments to finiteness, if they are to have any sense at all.

Circularity

In Dan Barker's article Cosmological Kalamity, he writes

The curious clause “everything that begins to exist” implies that reality can be divided into two sets: items that begin to exist (BE), and those that do not (NBE). In order for this cosmological argument to work, NBE (if such a set is meaningful) cannot be empty[2], but more important, it must accommodate more than one item to avoid being simply a synonym for God. If God is the only object allowed in NBE, then BE is merely a mask for the Creator, and the premise “everything that begins to exist has a cause” is equivalent to “everything except God has a cause.” As with the earlier failures, this puts God into the definition of the premise of the argument that is supposed to prove God’s existence, and we are back to begging the question.

In other words, the set of items that do not begin to exist must be pluralized - otherwise it is just another word for God.

Problems with actual infinites

Mathematicians such as Georg Cantor and Michael Dummett have argued that actual infinites can, in fact, exist. This is a problem within mathematics, not a solved problem that the kalam argument can use without protest. As Arnold T. Guminski has elsewhere argued, the application of "Cantorian set theory to the real world…does not generate counterintuitive absurdities." In the mathematical sense, Craig's premise that an "actual infinite cannot exist" does not appear to be the case unequivocally. The question is whether it is in this sense that Craig really intends to use it or not.

In this sense, the entity in question seems to be time, or more correctly space-time, which the following:

  1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
  2. A beginningless series of events is an actual infinite

designed to support the kalam argument's second premise;

2. The universe began to exist.

seems designed to support. So the real question is whether time itself is infinite, which seems to be what Craig and other proponents of the kalam argument seem to be answering as "no."

One of Craig's examples of an actual infinite is a bookshelf with no end, but the same point is made. The idea is that there must be a point where the books end, otherwise they would fall, either over or down (to where, I wonder).

Scientific research about the universe's origins seem to point to a beginning to the universe in its current form, but not necessarily to the beginning of matter itself, and thus not of time either. Considerable debate exists over this question among scientists, so it is premature to declare that space-time is, by default, a thing with a beginning. The events at the singularity itself, as predicted by the big bang theory, are not understood by current cosmologists. Before a certain point, we cannot say what happened, let alone any possible events that took place before the singularity. This having been admitted, ignorance is not a justification for an insertion of supernatural causation.

Our inability to comprehend the nature of this enigma, however mind-boggling it is, is not sufficient to insert an answer that would require the same explanation. This god of the gaps argument—that because we don't know some supernatural deus ex machine must intervene—is not reasonable. There is no reason to reject, out of hand, that the universe can't be an actual infinite (or, for that matter, that it is incapable of self-cause) no matter how non-sensible it sounds. Without a conclusion as to why an actual infinite can't exist or why time cannot be infinite we cannot accept kalam's second premise.

Furthermore, the disputed fact that an "actual infinite cannot exist" does not prove that there was time before the Universe in which God created the universe. It just proves that there could not be an infinite amount of time between the first moment of the Universe and now.


Special pleading

The kalam argument seems to have been worded specifically to address the refutation of the cosmological argument, as it made the qualification that only things that begin have causes. The kalam arguer will simply state that God didn't begin, and so no regress occurs and no Creator of God is necessary.

However, this answer seems flawed. The essential criticism can be pin-pointed in an arbitrary choice, a form of the fallacy of special pleading, that must be made. As Richard Dawkins put it, the cosmological argument makes "the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress." Whether we qualify the first premise to exclude non-beginning things (as the kalam argument does) or not (as the cosmological does), the essential question is why it is more logically defensible to claim that for the rule that everything (or at least things that begin) must have a cause, an exception is made for God but not for the natural universe as a whole? Why does god not begin? It appears to be a wholly arbitrary choice, as in either case the rule must be violated, but with the proposition of God, we have to add something to the theory that adds nothing else to it.

If God not having a beginning is not a problem for Craig and other defenders of this argument, why is it a problem for the natural universe? To answer this, we must look at a further problem. This problem concerns the definition of god used in both arguments. A theologian might reply this counter argument and insist that the decision is not arbitrary, and that god must be allowed to have these attributes that the kalam argument seems to imply. He may say that the argument is an attempt to show the need for there to be a God that has the attributes that we cannot find in the universe. He might say that because we know that everything in the universe needs a cause and that the idea of infinite time is non-sense, there must be this being with these unique attributes. That is, there must be this being that does not begin, has no creator, and is thus able to create the universe. However, this suffers from the same problem from, and is in fact the same as, the ontological argument.

The ontological argument strives to define a god into existence. Essentially, it asks us to imagine the most perfect of all beings, and says that it must exist because existence is better than non-existence, and if this being is truly perfect it must have this attribute as well. The problems with this argument are two-fold; merely thinking or imagining some being does not imply the being has actual existence outside of it being conjured in the imagination.

This choice is not only unnecessary, it is not parsimonious. In order to explain something apparently designed and which cannot create itself, a being is conjured into existence which would require even more unlikely explanation.

The Kalam argument attempts to circumvent the problem of infinite regress but steps right into the problem of special pleading so is no better off.

Fallacy of Equivocation

Craig says in his first premise that "everything that begins requires a cause" and says in his conclusion "therefore, the universe must have a cause". The word "cause" is used in a different sense in the first premise than in the conclusion. For when we say something that begins to exist has a cause, what we really mean is pre-existing materials were combined by something or someone in order to form a new entity. Craig's second premise, "the universe began to exist", implies that there were no pre-existing materials. Without pre-existing materials from which to form the universe, the cause of the beginning of the universe would not be equivalent to the cause of other things that begin to exist by a rearrangement of pre-existing materials.

"Comparing apples and oranges"

In the first premise, Craig declares "everything that begins requires a cause," and goes on to place the universe at the same logical level as its contents.

In an article titled Cosmological Kalamity, Dan Barker writes:

The first premise refers to every "thing," and the second premise treats the "universe as if it were a member of the set of "things." But since a set should not be considered a member of itself, the cosmological argument is comparing apples and oranges.

See Russell's paradox for issues that arise from allowing a set to be a member of itself. Also see the Fallacy of Composition for issues with properties of all of the parts being true for the whole (every atom in my body is invisible to the naked eye, therefore I am invisible to the naked eye).

False dichotomy

The Cosmological argument does not prove that the cause was a supernatural cause, or not a natural cause.

Now, to examining some of the properties deduced as belonging to the Creator implied by proposition 3. These properties are : personal being, atemporal, powerful, and intelligent.

4.1 Argument that the cause of the universe is a personal Creator: 4.11 The universe was brought into being either by a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions or by a personal, free agent. 4.12 The universe could not have been brought into being by a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions. 4.13 Therefore, the universe was brought into being by a personal, free agent. To explain why a mechanical set of conditions cannot give rise to the universe, he gives the following argument :

For how else could a timeless cause give rise to a temporal effect like the universe? If the cause were an impersonal set of necessary and sufficient conditions, then the cause could never exist without the effect. If the cause were timelessly present, then the effect would be timelessly present as well. The only way for the cause to be timeless and the effect to begin in time is for the cause to be a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time without any prior determining conditions.

But this is a complete non sequitur. Nothing tells us that a mechanical set of conditions must remain unchanging : and if it must, then so must the Creator’s context as well. Other facts tell us that this distinction is purely semantical :

•Whether the Creator is a mechanical set of conditions or a personal being, the fact remains that an atemporal being cannot effect anything, since actions require change.

•There is no reason to posit that a mechanical set of conditions could not effect the same states of affairs than a personal being. To put such limitations on immaterial properties implies that Dr. Craig can define immateriality positively, which he obviously cannot do since it is a negative term. As Michael Martin concludes :

Why these events are created at one moment rather than some other by these mechanical causes is surely no more mysterious than how a personal agent operating timelessly creates something at one moment rather than another. (Atheism : A Philosophical Justification, p104)


•An atemporal being cannot be a personal being. Dr. Craig has attempted to address such concerns elsewhere, and he states, for instance :

Now [J.R.] Lucas is clearly correct, I think, in maintaining that a succession of contents of consciousness in God’s mind would itself be sufficient to generate a temporal series (...). But what if God’s mental life in the absence of any created world is not discursive, but changeless? Why could the contents of God’s consciousness not be comprised of tenselessly true beliefs (...) and be such that He never acquires and never loses any of His beliefs? Would not such a changeless consciousness of truth be plausibly regarded as timeless?

And by saying so, claims that God can know everything and be conscious of everything. He also gives similar arguments in reply to other objections, especially in assuming that God can create other beings, despite such creation being inherently temporal.

But it is easy to see the error in the quote above. Obviously there is an equivocation on consciousness here. No one disputes that God may very well possess all knowledge, but in the absence of temporality, it cannot be conscious of such knowledge. Atemporality entails that specific states are possible, but not actions. Thus the notion of an atemporal Creator fails even the most basic test for consciousness.

4.25 The Creator is timeless. 4.251 In the complete absence of change, time does not exist, and the Creator is changeless. (4.23) It was noted a few times before that atemporality contradicts divine creation. If we accept the conclusion in 4.251, then we must conclude that the only possible first causes are first causes that begin to exist, thus contradicting premise 1.

Dr. Craig does have a counter-argument, however, in that his position is more complex than “God is timeless”. Rather his position is that “God is timeless sans creation and temporal since creation” :

With the creation of the universe, time began, and God entered into time at the moment of creation in virtue of His real relations with the created order. It follows that God must therefore be timeless without the universe and temporal with the universe.

But this does not solve the problem of the act of divine creation being performed by an atemporal being, since God was still timeless before the act of divine creation. Rather, it introduces a further problem of how an atemporal, changeless being can be transformed into a temporal being. This is as contradictory as a person in a painting suddenly rising up and leaving his material frame.

Given this, how are we to make sense of argument such as :

God had a timeless intention to create a Big Bang, but in terms of the actual causal exercise of His power, the actual volition, “Let there be?!” that would occur simultaneously with the Big Bang singularity.

When no actual causal exercise or volition can exist, by definition, in an atemporal state?

4.27 The Creator is enormously powerful. 4.271 He brought the universe into being out of nothing. (3)

It seems here that Dr. Craig is committed to the illogical position that something can come out of nothing. A hypothetical Creator acting on nothing cannot bring something out of it, in defiance of the laws of logic. If we accept this fairy tale, we might as well accept any hypothetical belief, since we have lost all criteria for reasoning. Nothing can come from nothing.

4.28 The Creator is enormously intelligent. 4.281 The initial conditions of the universe involve incomprehensible fine-tuning that points to intelligent design.

Surely Dr. Craig realized that by bringing up intelligent design and fine-tuning, he is foregoing all credibility. The belief that the universe is “fine-tuned” – for what, we cannot say – rests on no scientific ground. We simply do not know if any “tuning” is possible at all, and if so, what is its range and its effects. To assume otherwise is to claim more knowledge of cosmology than anyone has at the moment, and is as much an argument from ignorance as any other arbitrary claim about things we know nothing about.

Even if we assume that this “tuning” is possible and relevant, the argument from fine-tuning reduces itself to an argument from design, in that it attempts to prove design from natural facts. But it is never sufficient to jump from complexity to design; one must demonstrate that natural law is insufficient. This is unclear, for no matter how God acts in the natural world, he will act through the laws of logic and physics; therefore in all cases, we are justified in sticking with naturalistic explanations- God's fingerprints are nowhere to be found. We have sufficient evidence, in Big Bang cosmology as well as more advanced theories such as the Hartle-Hawking wave function model of the universe, that natural law is sufficient.

So what

See also: Which god?

Although some other variation of the Kalām argument or Cosmological argument may be internally consistent even if all the terms given are agreed upon by all parties concerned, the argument actually makes no effort to demonstrate anything tangible in nature regarding the manifestation of a God. An example analogous to the Kalām argument would be a geometry proof on some type of polygon. Even though the entire table of proofs is totally internally consistent, it does not demonstrate that the actual polygon exists in nature. An exhaustive effort to prove all the angles of a triangle will always add up to 180 degrees says nothing about whether or not triangles exist.

External links

http://www.strongatheism.net/library/atheology/incoherency_of_divine_creation/

http://www.strongatheism.net/library/atheology/

http://www.strongatheism.net/library/counter_apologetics/


v · d Arguments for the existence of god
Anthropic arguments   Anthropic principle · Natural-law argument
Arguments for belief   Pascal's Wager · Argument from faith · Just hit your knees
Christological arguments   Argument from scriptural miracles · Would someone die for a lie? · Liar, Lunatic or Lord
Cosmological arguments   Argument from aesthetic experience · Argument from contingency · Cosmological argument · Fine-tuning argument · Kalam · Leibniz cosmological argument · Principle of sufficient reason · Unmoved mover · Why is there something rather than nothing?
Majority arguments   Argument from admired religious scientists
Moral arguments   Argument from justice · Divine command theory
Ontological argument   Argument from degree · Argument from desire · Origin of the idea of God
Dogmatic arguments   Argument from divine sense · Argument from uniqueness
Teleological arguments   Argument from design · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Laminin argument · Argument from natural disasters
Testimonial arguments   Argument from observed miracles · Personal experience · Consciousness argument for the existence of God|Consciousness argument · Emotional pleas · Efficacy of prayer
Transcendental arguments   God created numbers · Argument from the meaning of life
Scriptural arguments   Scriptural inerrancy · Scriptural scientific foreknowledge · Scriptural codes
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