The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God's Existence
by Josh Hickok
The Simple Version - from C.S. Lewis
“The laws of physics, I understand, decree that when one billiards ball (A) sets another billiards ball (B) in motion, the momentum lost by A exactly equals the momentum gained by B. This is a law. That is, this is the pattern to which the movement of the two billiards balls must conform. Provided, of course that something sets ball A in motion. And here comes the snag period. The law won’t set it in motion. It is usually a man with a cue who does that, but a man with a cue would send us back to free-will, so let us assume that it was lying a table in a liner and that what set it in motion was the lurch of a ship. In that case, it was not the law that which produced the movement; it was a wave. And that wave, though it certainly moved according to the laws of physics, was not moved by them. It was shoved by other waves, and by winds, and so forth. And however far you traced the story back you would never find the laws of nature causing anything.
The dazzling obvious conclusion now arouse, in my mind: In the whole history of the universe the laws of nature have never produced a single event. There are the pattern to which every event must conform, provided only that it can be induced to happen.”
God in the Dock, “The Laws of Nature” (1945), p. 77.
The Semi-Technical Version
The Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) is an argument that travels from effects to a beginning cause. Over the years, its technical layout has changed, but the general argument has remained similar. It goes something like this:
Here is a more detailed layout of all the nuances in the argument (this is a popular rendition used by William Lane Craig):
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe began to exist.
2.1 Argument based on the impossibility of an actual infinite.
2.11 An actual infinite cannot exist.
2.12 An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
2.13 Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.
2.2 Argument based on the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition.
2.21 A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite.
2.22 The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition.
2.23 Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
If you’re scratching your head right about now, you needn’t worry about this one just yet. Let’s have a look at the three main premises of the first argument.
Virtually no one will disagree with this first premise. Let’s take a look at the alternative: Everything that begins to exist could have caused itself. What sort of nonsense is this? That would be like saying “I was there to give birth to myself”. This is radically untenable, which most people would agree on.
Another objection is to say that nothing can produce something. Now before you scoff at the apparent foolishness of such a claim, many of the world’s foremost physicists would claim such a thing not only CAN happen, but DOES and HAS happened. They would say that the big bang is such an example. Now, before one drags out the assumptions of these “objective” scientists, let’s have a look at what they do say. For one, they would claim that quantum fluctuations in a vacuum pop mysterious particles into existence before they vanish. Using this same sort of idea, they apply it to our beginnings. The universe popped out of nothing, and there is no need to look to some shadowy god-figure.
There are a few problems here:
1) Even though some particles do indeed pop out of quantum vacuums, they are not vacuums in the traditional sense of the word. They are ripe with energy, take up space, and are governed by laws. It is not nothing at all, and it’s interesting to note that the vacuums very existence comes from the intelligent planning of scientists.
2) It violates the principles of causality. Every single scientific experiment takes the constant conjunction of two or more events as related, and to deny these principles would destroy the basis of science. Science is the search for what causes what, and to tinker with it would conjure up strange theories and nonsense explanations.
3) It doesn’t line up with our experience. No one in their right mind is afraid of a mountain lion, or a train, to pop out of thin air and demolish them. It just doesn’t happen.
So, with the first premise under our belts, and with us feeling like we could whup any skeptic (Hawking, Shmawking), its time to peer at premise #2.
2. The universe began to exist.
This sentence has gained more than a few critics over the years, with names like Immanuel Kant, Bertrand Russell and the more recent Quentin Smith. Most of them contend more or less the same thing, but in different formulations.
First things are first- why should one believe that the universe had a beginning at all? Perhaps it has always been. This could be a universe of constancy, one that has always been and will never end. What evidence or arguments would convince someone otherwise? Well, there are two main lines of reasoning that the KCA uses- the first is mathematical or philosophical, the second is scientific.
1) The philosophical/mathematical evidence- This is a rather technical point in the argument, so I’ll do my best to explain it. What it claims is that since an infinite series of past events is impossible, there must be a finite past. Say what? We’ll try it like this- Say I want to count ALL the numbers after 1. So I count “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 …186,385, 186, 385….” That would take a long time. In fact, it would take so long, that it would never get done. No matter what number I got up to, I could always add one more number before I reached ‘Infinite’. This is why mathematicians are absolutely forbidden to do addition in trans-finite arithmetic. Now translate this to a timeframe- how long would it take to get to where we are now? If the universe has always been, then you would have to have had an infinite timeframe which we have seen ends in frustration and possible bodily harm (especially the brain!).
2) The scientific evidence- This is a point that I am not to keen on, mostly because it entails a sketchy physics theories and anti-creationist scientists. But, if we give them the big bang, then they must face the atheist’s nightmare- the singularity. This is a point out of which came the whole universe- they say you can rewind our universe’s expansion to this singular point. Many nonsense theories have come to rescue the failing atheist interpretation of General Relativity. But all seem to come up short, and we are left with one question- What caused this point of dense matter and energy?........we are still waiting……
So, we are left with the sound conclusion, “Therefore, the universe has a cause”. I would be happy to see any objections that a person could have against this argument, so feel free to drop me a line with your comments or concerns.
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