• John Gould
    52
    I think the Kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God is one of the strongest defences for Theism that I have read.

    If anyone has any material objections to the Kalam proof , I would be interested in hearing them.
  • Michael
    14.5k
    P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
    P2. The universe began to exist;
    C1. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
    P3. 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;
    C2. Therefore, an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.

    One could take issue with any of the premises. Perhaps, in lieu of any actual constraints, spontaneous occurrence is possible. Perhaps the universe is beginningless. Perhaps the universe having a cause doesn't entail the existence of an uncaused, personal Creator who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.
  • Brian A
    25
    Here is an objection that occurs to me: the Kalam cosmological argument does not necessarily lead to an omni-benevolent and personal God. Granting the premise that the universe must have a cause, what prevents us from holding the view that the first cause might be impersonal and indifferent (not omni-benevolent)? And if the the first cause is impersonal and indifferent, it does not follow that divine justice will be eventually rendered in reference to the actions of humanity. Therefore the usual view of God is not established.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.7k

    As much as this does not demonstrate that God is "personal", there are ways to derive the conclusion that the first cause is very likely the type of cause which is commonly referred to as "final cause". Final cause is exemplified by freely willed actions. This is why it is often said that the existence of the universe is according to the will of God.
  • Brian A
    25
    That seems unintelligible, for how can a first cause be simultaneously a final cause? Perhaps you mean that the final cause of the universe, viz. its teleology, demonstrates the hand of a Creator, as it were. But that would be the teleological argument, not the Kalam cosmological argument mentioned in the first post.

    The mere fact that the universe has a cause does not necessarily entail the view that the universe has a teleological purpose evidencing God. The latter may be so, but something beyond the poster's argument is necessary to establish it.
  • _db
    3.6k
    Our common notion of causality requires the passage of time. What does it mean for something to "begin" to exist, or "have a cause" outside of time?
  • TheMadFool
    13.8k
    Our common notion of causality requires the passage of time. What does it mean for something to "begin" to exist, or "have a cause" outside of time?darthbarracuda

    (Y)

    Without time, the cosmological argument doesn't make sense.

    A cyclical universe could be posited to counter the Kalam argument. Each point in the cycle is both the end and the beginning. Since infinite regress doesn't come into the picture, we don't need to have a first cause.
  • Beebert
    569
    I dont like any arguments that obsesses itself with thinking in causes like that. I would rather call it one of the weakest arguments. And plus, what need do we have for this kind of pseudo-proofs? None. If one has Faith, one shall follow God. God doesnt reveal himself in "proofs" made by logical arguments.

    "P3. 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;"

    Here is where Everything is lost. I would venture to say that the argument is even confused and weak right from the start. Part of learning to know God and realize he is seems to me to be to stop reasoning about him like that.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.7k
    That seems unintelligible, for how can a first cause be simultaneously a final cause?Brian A

    "Final cause" refers to a type of causation, the "final" does not refer to a temporal order. So there is nothing unintelligible about the first cause being a final cause. This would just be to say that the first cause is that type of cause, in comparison to an efficient cause for example.
  • John Gould
    52
    Beebert,

    My claim is that the Kalam argument is, to date, very strongly supported by philosophical reasoning and hard experimental, empirical scientific evidence and thus it gives us powerful grounds for believing in the EXISTENCE of a creator God. I did NOT say that the Kalam argument provides a means for us to KNOW anything about the nature of this God as He actually is in Himself. The Kalam argument is the product of human reasoning, it logically suggests that IN OUR CRUDE, VAGUE,LIMITED, AND INADEQUATE HUMAN TERMS we might describe the God ( divine being) who created the universe we inhabit 14 billion years ago as a beginningless, uncaused, atemporal, a -spatial, changeless, non-physical/immaterial, unconditional, enormously powerful, Personal creator.

    Insofar as you are asking WHO this God is -what is His true nature as He is in Himself that is an entirely different question; a question the Kalam argument does not seek to answer. All we can ultimately say is that this God -whom the Kalam argument gives us good reason to believe does exist is that with respect to humanity, He is transcendent and "wholly other". For us, He is utterly unknowable, unspeakable, unthinkable and totally incomprehensible; He Himself is forever hidden from our view. If He were not, then He would not be God; or, as Saint Augustine put it -" Si Comprehendis non Deus est" - i.e. if you understand Him , then he is not God. Briefly, there is, to be precise, no divine predicate/affirmation, no divine concept that contains in particular that which the God who created the universe is, there is only the divine subject as such and in Him the fullness of His divine affirmation.

    In short, The Kalam argument provides strong evidence for the existence of a divine creator God - God as a "known unknown".

    Regards

    John
  • Beebert
    569
    "P3. 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;"

    Well this is a grotesque leap from the former statement in the formula that the universe has a cause. Why not as well say "If the universe has a cause, that cause must be an effect of an effect of an effect" or "If the universe has a cause, that cause must be random" or Whatever other stupid thing one might invent in one's stupid and proud head? I by the way claim that one can question that the universe even has a cause. And Why must this creator be personal? Why not say that he must be mindless and stupid and without any power because he was FORCED to create?

    "changeless"
    Especially this is stupid. If he creates and is a cause, "he" becomes the the one who created.

    There are so many other things worthy to question

    "The Kalam argument provides strong evidence"

    This would probably even make Immanuel Kant laugh, despite his belief in synthetic judgements apriori or whatever. For one thing, to even be able to even claim that "Whatever begins to exist has a cause;" is true, one needs experience. But explain to me why this statement is even true?
    Also, if God is all those things Kalam said he is (timeless etc), does that mean then that from God's point of view, the world has eternally and timelessly existed? If not, isnt he then changing?
  • Beebert
    569

    "Saint Augustine put it -" Si Comprehendis non Deus est" - i.e. if you understand Him , then he is not God. "

    And yet this sadist called Augustine did Everything be could to "understand" this God with the help of a book, so that he could imagine him condemning as many People as possible to hell from before the foundation lf the world(before the foundation of the world... What an illogical contradiction in terms in this case)
  • John Gould
    52
    You say, "Why not say if the universe has a cause, that cause must be an effect of an effect of an effect" ? Here you are challenging img premise two ( P2) of the original Kalam argument : "The Universe BEGAN to exist"; you are asking why we should not suppose that the universe NEVER began to exist, rather, there was an infinite number of past cause -and -effect events prior to today? The reason is that an infinite number of things cannot exist. A POTENTIALLY infinite number of things can exist, but not an ACTUALLY infinite number of things. If one begins to argue than an ACTUALLY infinite number of things can exist certain absurdities inevitably result. The best illustration of this is "Hilbert's Hotel", the brainchild of the great German Mathematician David Hibert. Google "Hilbert's Hotel" for yourself, it a very accessible piece of reasoning written in clear and simple English ( even you Beebert will understand it and find the logic irrefutable)If you stil need further explanations/demonstrations re why ACTUAL infinities are fictions that exist only in the domain of mathematical discourse and not actual realities, I will provide them for you.

    Secondly, you ask why the universe could not have come into existence as a random phenomenon? Here you are challenging the first premise ( P1) of the traditional Kalam argument , namely : "Whatever begins to exist must have a cause for its beginning" Your objection is easy to rebut because to claim that something can just suddenly, randomly, "pop" into existence "ex nihilo" ,as it were, without any reasonable cause is worse than magic. When a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, at least you've got the hat, not to mention the magician. But if you deny P1. You are arguing that the whole universe just appeared at some point in the past for no reason whatsoever. But NOBODY - even you - SINCERELY believes that things, say a kangaroo or a Rolls Royce car or a sky-scraper just pop into being without a cause. Right ?
  • John Gould
    52
    NB: with regard to why the creator of the universe was (a la the Kalam argument) a PERSoNAL God, I'll explain that for you in detail tomorrow when I have more time. And as for your vexed query re the notion of eternal punishment in Christian theology, please let's try to keep this discussion on track, I.e.as an invitation to present and debate substantive philosophical/scientific objections to the Kalam cosmological argument. St Augustine's position on the question of "eternal punishment" is a totally separate issue, and at present I am not interested in explaining to you. It's something for a separate thread ( or your psychiatrist) Right?
  • fishfry
    3k
    What makes anyone thing the universe "began to exist?" For all we know it's like the negative integers ..., -3, -2, -1. Every element has a predecessor (or "cause" if you like) but there is no first cause.

    What is the evidence for assumption P2?
  • John Gould
    52
    Fishfry,

    What you are presuming is that actual infinities really exist. Actual infinity, however is merely an abstract notion , or, if you like, a fiction in the realm of the philosophy of mathematics which proposes that mathematical objects like , say the infinite sequence of negative numbers you refer to above can form a complete totality or "set", I.e. a given object that is a true actual infinity. Actual infinities, though, do not exist, they are not realities. To understand why this is you should google up and read the mathematician David Hibert's famous thought experiment , "Hibert's Hotel".
  • Beebert
    569
    Your arguments dont seem more solid than the those made by a logical positivist. Why do you assert that your reason is infallible and can interpret the world as it really is by itself? That logical statements made by our fallible language can derrive at such mystical conclusions as proof for a personal creator? Why havent you ever even questioned the idea that Perhaps the whole idea of cause and effect is an illusion etc? Would you agree if someone Said that the law of cause and effect can only be applied to things that doesnt have independent and continuing being? I guess you would. Would you also agree that there then cant be any causal relationship between between entities that exist by their own power independent of the environment?
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    To understand why this is you should google up and read the mathematician David Hibert's famous thought experiment , "Hibert's Hotel".John Gould
    Fishfry and, I expect most of the others that have responded to your thread, is/are perfectly familiar with Hilbert's Hotel, and why it is not an argument for any statement other than 'aren't infinities interesting?' Ditto for Aristotle's notions of potential and actual infinities.

    Kalam has been discussed ad nauseam on this forum and its predecessor. You are very unlikely to come up with any arguments in its favour that have not already been considered and dismissed. Don't you think that, if it stood up to scrutiny, non-religious logicians might have noticed and written supportive papers about it?

    If you want to believe in a personal creator God, based on your personal spiritual experiences, it's perfectly reasonable for you to do so, and you can ignore the arguments as to why there is no God, which are as flawed as the ones in favour.

    But try not to be tempted into the hubris of believing that the correctness of your belief can be logically proven, and the non-believers are just too silly to see that.
  • Beebert
    569
    "If you want to believe in a personal creator God, based on your personal spiritual experiences, it's perfectly reasonable for you to do so, and you can ignore the arguments as to why there is no God, which are as flawed as the ones in favour."

    +1
  • jorndoe
    3.4k
    Some select objections from the trenches …

    • even if sound, the argument does not suggest anything “divine”, sentient, conscious, thinking, caring, loving, warranting worship or prayer, so the argument requires more to be of particular relevance
    • if gods/God can be atemporal (changeless, “outside of time”, or something), assuming that makes sense, then we might suppose any such “origin” of the universe
    • if there was a definite earliest time (or “time zero”), then anything that existed at that time, began to exist at that time, and that includes any first causes, gods/God, or whatever else
    • phrases like “before time” and “a cause of causation” are incoherent, violates identity (the 1st law)
    • by contemporary cosmology (e.g. Big Bang) spacetime is an aspect of the universe …
      • spatiality and temporality are aspects of the universe
      • causation is temporal
      • therefore causation is an aspect of the universe, not somehow “outside”
    • dichotomistically …
      • if some God of theism could create something out of “nothing”, as it were, then nihil fit ex nihilo is already violated, and we might as well dispose of the principle, in which case said God is an extraneous hypothesis
      • if some God of theism created the universe from something already existing, then whatever comprise the universe “always” existed, perhaps “eternally” (to the extent that’s meaningful), and we might as well dispose of the extras, including said God
      • therefore God is neither implied nor necessary, and may be shaved off and flushed by parsimony
    • there are viable alternatives to a definite earliest time, including an infinite past duration (which does not imply a contradiction however counter-intuitive), or a no-boundary, “edge-free” universe (which is not infinite in past duration)
    • the 1st premise may be questionable or ambiguous in light of virtual particle pairs, quantum fluctuations, radioactive decay, spacetime foam/turbulence, the “pressure” of vacuum energy, the Casimir effect, Fomin’s quantum cosmogenesis (and successors), etc
    • God = not spatiotemporal incorporeal mind ⇒ such an “entity” would “be” no-where and no-when; thinking, decision making, acting, etc, would be impossible; such an entity could not be characterized as “free”
    • a supposed supernatural “beyond” is like an explanation that isn’t really much of an explanation to begin with (gaps, creative inventions)
  • jorndoe
    3.4k
    Fishfry and, I expect most of the others that have responded to your thread, is/are perfectly familiar with Hilbert's Hotel, and why it is not an argument for any statement other than 'aren't infinities interesting?' Ditto for Aristotle's notions of potential and actual infinities.andrewk

    (Y)

    Hilbert’s Hotel and Shandy’s Diary, for example, are what we call veridical paradoxes, and do not imply a contradiction, but they do show some counter-intuitive implications of infinites.
  • jorndoe
    3.4k
    Need some counter-examples of causal closure.

    every physical effect (i.e. caused event) has physical sufficient causes — http://philpapers.org/archive/VICOTC.pdf
  • Chany
    352
    The Kalaam faces many issues. There are two big issues for me. First, because of premise 2, the argument is tied heavily with science and scientific discovery. This makes it dependent of scientific trends and to the winds of change. The cutting edge of scientific discussion will change the various aspects of causality, but also the nature of time itself. In other words, unless you constantly update the thing and hope the science continues in your favor, you are going to face a problem. Further, this makes it pragmatically useless to discuss in most cases because you need to understand the science behind it. Without the science, you effectively are just appealing to whatever authority you like.

    Second, and probably most importantly, the argument must turn into a different argument in a very short order. You will need to go back and defend another cosmological argument or similar proof of god because the premises are highly questionable. The argument takes an observation about what occurs in our universe- "Things that begin to exist have a cause,"- and then applies this observation to the nature of reality outside of the universe. It is currently unknown how reality outside of our universe would operate, if it exists at all. I could go on, but I think there are enough criticisms of the argument that stick to make it problematic.
  • fishfry
    3k
    What you are presuming is that actual infinities really exist. Actual infinity, however is merely an abstract notion , or, if you like, a fiction in the realm of the philosophy of mathematics which proposes that mathematical objects like , say the infinite sequence of negative numbers you refer to above can form a complete totality or "set", I.e. a given object that is a true actual infinity. Actual infinities, though, do not exist, they are not realities. To understand why this is you should google up and read the mathematician David Hibert's famous thought experiment , "Hibert's Hotel".John Gould


    Thanks for your comments.

    I disagree with you on three points, summarized as follows.

    1. Even if I were using actual infinity, so what? After all, actual infinity is no weirder than an all-knowing, all-powerful, benevolent uncaused cause.

    2. However, I am NOT using actual infinity. Your understanding of potential versus actual infinity is different than Aristotle's. My model "..., -3, -2, -1" only uses POTENTIAL infinity as defined by Aristotle. I will expound on this point in a moment.

    3. Hilbert's Hotel (HH) doesn't apply. You are correct that HH assumes actual infinity. But my example only requires potential infinity. I don't need all the numbers (or rooms) to exist all at once. I only need that given one, I can identify the next. I never assume I have them all existing at once. That's potential infinity.

    Here is more detail, especially on point #2.

    1. For the moment let me grant your (false) premise. Say I did need actual infinity (which I remind you I don't). So what? Craig wants us to conclude that there must be an uncaused cause, which he calls God. What if I call it absoulte infinity? I can't conceive of a worldview that would grant divinity but not infinity.

    Cantor himself thought that his Absolute infinity was God. But Cantor's Absolute infinity is a lot bigger than the infinity of the natural numbers.

    2. But #1 is irrelevant, since I don't use actual infinity, only potential. Let me outline the concept as seen by Aristotle. He said that we all have an intuition of the natural numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ... Now the "dot dot dot" means something specific as defined by the Peano axioms:

    * Inductive axiom: Given a number n, there is a number n' called the "successor" of n.

    Another notion for the successor of n is n + 1. So if 0 exists, then 1 does. If 1 exists then 2 does. If 2 exists then 3 does.

    So if you want to know, does 43242342 exist? Then you can recursively drill down all the way back to 0, the base of the induction, and you can show that any particular number exists.

    There is never any claim that we have all of them together all at once. We can imagine they don't come into existence till we need them. All I need is n + 1 given n. If I need a million, I make a million. I never have them all at once.

    That is exactly Aristotle's definition of potential infinity. In the following quote, Aristotle is speaking of the endless regress 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, etc. He says:


    "For the fact that the process of dividing never comes to an end ensures that this activity exists potentially, but not that the infinite exists separately."
    — Metaphysics, book 9, chapter 6.


    Now the sequence 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, ... may be identified with the the reverse sequence I gave earlier, ..., -3, -2, -1 by the simple mathematical trick of taking the base-2 logarithm of each fraction to get the corresponding negative integer.

    1/2 maps to -1, and 1/4 maps to -2, and so forth. So these two examples are really the same example in different forms.

    Aristotle calls this potential infinity. Does 5 exist? Yes, if 4 exists. So we can prove that any number n exists. But we can't say that ALL the counting numbers exist all at the same time. That would be ACTUAL infinity.

    It was the genius of Cantor to take the huge conceptual leap and say, What if we allow actual infinity into math? That was his brilliant history-changing leap of the imagination.

    Cantor's insight was to write the following notation:

    {0, 1, 2, 3, ...}

    The braces symbolize the COMPLETED SET of natural numbers. The inductive axiom gives us 1 (given 0) then 2, then 3, and so forth.

    The Axiom of Infinity says that there is a set containing all the natural numbers. That's actual infinity.

    We can summarize all this with a table. I apologize that I could not make the right column line up no matter what I did with tabs and spaces. Advice appreciated.

    Potential infinity           Actual infinity
    
    Axiom of induction      Axiom of Infinity
    
    Peano                          Cantor
    
    0, 1, 2, 3, ...           {0, 1, 2, 3, ...}
    
    n+1 given n                All of them at once
    
    Negative integers       Hilbert Hotel
    

    I hope this is helpful.

    3. HH is just a popularized visualization of the fact that an infinite set may be placed into bijection with one of its proper subsets. In fact this can be taken as the definining property of infinite sets.

    You are right that HH does assume actual infinity. But we do NOT need actual infinity to define the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, ... in their usual order, or ..., -3, -2, -1 in their reverse order, or 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, ... if you use base 2 exponentials and logarithms.

    I don't need the strength of the axiom of infinity to give my example. Only the Peano axioms, which define potential infinity. Given n I need n + 1. I never need to complete the process. I only need to take the next step. So Hilbert's Hotel is not relevant here.
  • John Gould
    52
    Fish fry,

    Thank you for your detailed and very interesting response, though I do not want this thread to be diverted too far into the domain of the philosophy of mathematics; therefore let's put aside "Hibert's Hotel" and the notions of potential and actual infinities altogether shall we, because there is, in fact, no stipulation in the Kalam argument that the cause of the origin of the universe must be chronologically prior to that origin. Let's hypothesise instead, like Craig, that (for example) the Creator may be conceived causally, but not temporally prior to the origin of the universe such that the act of causing the universe to exist is SIMULTANEOUSLY with its beginning to exist?

    Comments...?
  • John Gould
    52
    Chany,

    I agree with what you say about the Kalam argument and the "cutting edge of science", it is noteworthy, however, that in a sense, the history of 20th century cosmology can be seen as one failed attempt after another to avoid the absolute beginning of the universe predicted by the standard "Big Bang" model. That prediction is consistent with the Kalam argument and has now Stodden firm for nearly 100 years throughout a period of enormous change and tremendous advances in observational astronomy and creative theoretical work in astrophysics (?)

    You are right that the original Kalam cosmological argument refers only the space-time universe that we observe, that particular universe we human beings inhabit that is now believed by the majority of mainstream scientists to have come into being 14 billion or so years ago with the "Big Bang", etc. Regardless of what may exist beyond it, and regardless of any unanswered metaphysical questions about the true nature of absolute/ ultimate reality, our own universe is , in itself, no small, trifling thing , and in endeavouring to account for it the Kalam argument , in my opinion, is already addressing a formidable challenge. In short, limited in scope as it is merely to our universe, Kalam still, in my opinion, provides a vey strong, logically sound and rationally compelling case for the existence of a transcendent, supernatural Creator being. (And) that, for me, is quite enough food for thought just in itself !

    Regards

    John
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