September 28, 2011

The '1969' GTO Kalam Cosmological Argument

I will attempt in this post to sequentially explain the Kalām Cosmological Argument. Within William Lane Craig’s book Reasonable Faith he argues for two premise both of which I will attempt to clarify in the order which they are presented. Because this portion of his book uses 50+ pages to explain the argument I will simplify it into approximately two pages of single space 12 font Times Roman. I believe Craig made it way more complex than it had to be by adding superfluous scientific explanations that were (1) riduculously complex and (2) fraught with potential logic errors and other minutiae that atheists will use to refute his argument. Because atheists really can't refute the validity and truth of the Bible's authority they often usually attack their own scientific theories embedded within theistic arguments and premises as being outdated or questionable. Case-in-point: The Idea of the Big Bang. Most scientists now realize that to preclude a divine being from their theories....they need to find a way to make the universe an eternal entity. If they don't do this they have to concede from logic that the universe had a beginning and therefore...a cause or a Creator. This would require a supernatural or metaphysical being....and they will not do this in their intellectuality because they believe it is to akin to believing in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. (3) Much of what Craig posits as evidence from science is absolute psychobabble.

If I haven't bored you already...we shall proceed with caution...

The Premises

Premise #1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause
Premise #2: The Universe began to exist. The universe therefore had a cause

I will then surmise and create a synopsis that encapsulates Craig’s conclusion.

The Argument

The Kalām Cosmological Argument (KCA) primarily falls out from or is derived from the “normal” Liebnizian Cosmological Argument from Gottfried Leibniz that says that: (1) Anything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. (2) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God (2) The Universe exists (4) Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (1 & 3) (5) Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God (2 & 4). This premise itself is based in the idea of sufficient reason which says that (1) anything that exists needs an explanation for its existence and (2) seems to be an argument for causation from sufficient reason. In other words: If something is dependent on something else for its existence there must be a cause of its existence or a reason why it exists. Christians and theists in general posit that that reason is the Christian God or Aristotle’s “Uncaused Cause”.

Explanation of Premise #1

As such the KCA adds additional stipulation(s) or criteria to this argument that include that (1) Anything that has a property of being (ontological) that exists by necessity of its own nature is that it be eternal (no beginning or end). This means if that the universe is not eternal which many atheist contrarily claim it is eternal, then it could “fail to exist” by necessity of its very nature. The Kalam argument specifically argues that the universe is not eternal but actually had a beginning. If it had a beginning it therefore is contingent or dependent and therefore…has a cause (or Creator). Craig actually pushes this theory/argument to its extreme by positing that not only is the universe “dependent” or contingent on a cause/Creator it is a special dependency because it came into existence ex nihilo or “out of nothing”.

The KCA can then be summed in three succinct statements as noted in the text. (1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause—Things that exist have a reason for being, things do not just “pop” magically into existence. Things can come into existence ex nihilo but they still need a cause. (2) The universe began to exist (3) Universe has a cause. The implications of this line of thought is this: If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God. If the universe’s cause is God…then God must exist. Craig later elaborates on this last thought by saying that not only did it have a cause, it had to have had a cause from outside of itself in God. Why? Because if the universe is all there is physically, it stands to reason that whatever create/caused the universe, if it had a definitive start point in the past immemorial, that cause is wholly “Other” or beyond the universe. We in Christianity understand this to be God since He is Spirit, pervades all things (not pantheistically or panentheistically) but is wholly distinct from the Creation.

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:3

The Explanation of Premise #2

If you managed to clear that first hurdle and understand that existence (of universe) presupposes a cause (or reason) for existence without your head spinning we then need to move on to the more difficult of the two premises (2) The universe began to exist. Not only did it begin to exist but did so ex nihilo “out of nothing”. It is at this point Craig goes into some extremely long-winded and somewhat convoluted arguments based in both deductive/philosophical reasoning or more confusingly, through inductive scientific arguments that are thoroughly bewildering and somewhat amusing in their innate complexity. They are bewildering not because they are hard to understand but in a way that they defy commonsense. I found it hard to believe intelligent people would go to such an extent to preclude the thought of the existence of God through dumbfounding and nearly unintelligible explanations. The explanations and meandering dissertations are formulated by scientists with wild but unbiblical imaginations that frankly seem ludicrous. They are ludicrous because their theories at times are so far-fetched they make the plausibility that God being the Creator a vastly easier idea to accept (think Occam’s Razor or lex parsimoniae/the law of parsimony). The inductive scientific arguments are all fluff and no substance (i.e.: fanciful and rambling theories).
In an attempt to “cut to the chase” and keep this essay within two pages I now proceed to the valid argument that comes out of Craig’s thought. Once we digest some of the theories of how the universe began to exist through things such as Quantum Gravity Models, String Theory, Chaotic Inflationary Model, Baby Universes, Oscillating Models, Multiverse, blah, blah, blah…Craig leads us to this section’s conclusion by stating there are 4 valid arguments or reason to believe that the universe had a beginning and has finitude. The primary and strongest one that he points to is based on Entropy or the 2nd Law of Thermodynamic, a premise that: Because energy is “winding down” in the universe and there is a finite amount of energy in the universe and it is still progressing towards disorder or absence of order…at some point in the future, the universe will suffer heat death or cease to exist…or use up the energy of the universe. The fact that the universe has a finite amount of energy and order and it has not lost all its energy or order since it is still being expended as we speak…argues heavily for the fact that universe was indeed created at a past date or point in time.. Therefore it is not eternal but created or caused which leads us back to the second premise of the KCA: The universe began to exist. If the universe does have a finite amount of energy and it hasn’t been exhausted shows that a quantifiable amount of “gas” was put in the gas tank of the universe at its creation as the “initial start-up condition” and before such time, the universe did not exist. After the “gas” runs out of the universe’s “tank”…it will end barring a catastrophic or cosmic calamity beforehand (like the Day of The Lord).

The '1969' GTO "Judge" Model

My analogy is that the universe is like a self-contained ‘69’ Gran Turismo Omlogato (GTO) "Judge" with a black paint job and black interior (think Munstermobile), that is given all the fuel it needs for its existence at the point the Creator creates it. Why? Because I like GTO's. Anyway...once the car runs out of fuel having reached the destination or the cause for which it was created, it ceases to function or in the case of the universe dies heat death or contracts back in on itself (implodes) or ceases to exist as an expanding entity. As for the GTO it sits on the side of the ontological highway nevermind.... 

As Christians we understand the heavens and earth will eventually “pass away” and there will be a New Heavens and a New Earth.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” Revelation 21:1.


In Craig’s conclusion, which I will also make my summary for this essay, Craig then argues for the nature of the first cause…or should I say First Cause? As stated earlier in my analogy of the universe as a car, the universe is essentially what is considered a closed system in physics and therefore finite. The universe is also all that is currently physical. It then stands to reason that the universe was indeed created at a definitive point in the past by and had a cause outside of the physical realm since whatever it was that created the universe or caused it had to be beyond the physical realm. This “ultra-mundane" being as Craig’s terms It/Him must have therefore transcended time also since physical space and time are linked together by Einstein’s Space-Time Continuum. Since there was no time as we understand it or one moment followed by another in sequential linear order, this “ultra-mundane being” must also have the characteristics of timelessness. If He/It is timeless He/It must therefore be changeless since changes require linear time. To be timeless, changeless and not of the physical realm dictates that this Being must also be immaterial and dare I say it spiritual and beginning-less or *(ahem)* uncaused since without time there cannot be an infinite backslide of causes. A sequence of causes implies a sequence of time which there was none of before the creation of the universe which we already have concluded had a beginning or inception! There are further non-theistic arguments against this line of reason but frankly, I am disinterested in pursing them since my brain has been thoroughly charred to a cinder by this topic and it is outside the scope of the paper to argue polemically for the validity of the non-theistic argument. Good day!


Stephen Phillip Porter said...

As a former atheist, I can say that the logic here is really inconsequential outside a given presumption. If you assume there is no God, an outside cause for the universe is foolishness. If you assume there is a God, it sounds great.

What causes the paradigm shift?

For me, I did the typical atheist deal of yelling out into the nothingness, "If you exists, say something!" An audible voice that sounded like rushing waters responded, "Give up those things that you love and follow me."

Arguments beget arguments. Revelation begets transformation.

Manifest Blog

Andy Pierson said...

I agree with your assessment in the longview. Too many of Craig's arguments (as I stated) revolve around science and a posteriori when God is wholly "other". Please understand this was a paper for Christian Philosophy class in seminary. We cannot argue for God's existence thru these you have said...He reveals Himself a priori. As a theology major I think along the spiritual line not the evidential naturalist line. Thanks for you comment. BTW, nice blog, I'll stop back...Andy

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