The Kalam Cosmological Argument is one favored by apologists to establish that God caused the universe. Except it doesn't work. A lot.
I love me a bit of the Kalam. Well, more accurately, a bit of criticism of the Kalam.
What am I talking about? What is this Kalam? Well, the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) is a short, three-lined syllogism that supposedly shows that the universe required a cause for its existence, and with some mental gerrymandering, this cause is God:
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence.
- The universe began to exist.
- There, the universe has a cause for its existence.
Pretty simple. Of course, (3) follows from (1) and (2). But are (1) and (2) sound?
Simply put, no.
This argument has long been favored by white knight of Christian rhetoric, debate, and philosophy, William Lane Craig. Indeed, he wrote a book on it.
I wrote a book on the argument to counter his about which Richard Carrier recently stated:
Reviewed in the United States on May 28, 2021
There are two books that together complete the definitive take-down of the Kalam Cosmological Argument for God and are required reading for anyone intending to debate or defend: Fodor’s Unreasonable Faith, and Pearce’s Did God Create the Universe from Nothing? Both books are thorough and cogently argued. Anyone who claims to be an expert on it or even an enthusiast, pro or con, should have both in their library, and read them carefully.Review forDid God Create the Universe form Nothing? Countering William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument
Over the years, Craig has trotted this argument out in debates and books of his, tailored to an audience that often doesn’t challenge what he says. In fact, he is openly disingenuous about his claims. To a layperson audience, he will say of infinity, for example, that it gives logical contradictions, but then to a small group of experts in the field, he will concede to doesn’t, but hat it is intuitively problematic and might instead offer a metaphysical contradiction (which he does not define).
The argument usually concerns establishing that the universe began to exist by deferring to some kind of expert(s), showing that it cannot be past infinite because actual infinities obtain contradictions, showing that everything has a cause and that God can be the only prime mover or initial cause, and so on.
Craig likes to invoke authority a lot by appealing to scientists and experts, unsurprisingly, to establish his claims. Except he cherry-picks his experts and, worse, cherry-picks the claims of his experts. And his experts disagree with him.
I’m not going to go to great depths to show how the KCA doesn’t work and to show how Craig manipulates and cherry-picks and uses poor argumentation. My book does that, and looks at all of these areas.
No, what I’m going to do is show you a video put together by Phil Halper who, with his wife, has taken it upon himself to create videos that debunk many of the claims William Lane Craig makes in different contexts (from the KCA to animal suffering). His videos are superb, and of very high quality. In fact, Halper has also gone to the lengths of getting a qualification in astronomy and interviewing the world’s greatest minds in the sphere of cosmology and theoretical physics. The list of interviewees is staggeringly good.
And always at running as an underlying current to the cosmological documentaries is a desire to deconstruct the KCA. If you know Phil Halper, you know this is one of his driving forces.
This is borne out by their latest video, an amalgamation of previous interview clips edited together as a narrative that completely deconstructs Craig’s KCA, and his usage thereof.
It is brilliant.
It should be compulsory viewing for all wannabe apologists.
The conclusions are broadly this:
- The KCA is based on outdated views of mathematics, claiming infinity is both a contradiction and not a contradiction. Mathematicians accept infinities, but Craig does not. Craig claims the infinite past is incoherent, but the infinite future is embraced. He embraces a singularity for the beginning of the universe, but this entails infinities.
- The KCA is based on outdated views of physics and cosmology (such as an incorrect understanding of the Big Bang).
- Craig relies on understandings of time (A-Theory) that doesn’t appear to hold with theories of relativity. He also special pleads a neo-Lorentzian theory of physics that is fringe and not really believed by anyone (and allows for faster than light travel). This is to get him an absolute time frame, as opposed to relativistic time, not because the evidence points that way, but because he needs it for his KCA argument.
- It assumes that causality must hold for God creating the universe outside of space and time even though causality can only be understood in terms of space and time.
- Appealing to everyday assumptions and generalisations about material reality are also problematic, since we can use everyday assumptions to claim that:
- Every event is usually preceded by another event.
- Everything that comes into existence has a material cause, if it has a cause at all, for its existence (not a non-material cause like God).
- Indeed, causation is a philosophical topic that has no agreement at all.
- We see that all intelligent agency in the universe is material in basis.
- And so on—none of these support the Kalam.
While you are here, I will furnish you with an interview I conducted myself with Phil Halper:
For some reason, I have seen the KCA hit public consciousness again recently with videos like Halper’s hitting the algorithms, but also with presentations and discussions like these, which are often very good:
Please take a look at some of my previous writing on the topic, or my book:
- Causality and Kalam
- Free Will & the Kalam: Causes & Reasons
- The Kalamity of the Kalam Cosmological Argument
- The Kalam – On Time: Metaphysics and Theories of Time
- The Kalam – On Time: Relativity, Simplicity and Science
- Defending the Kalam with the B-Theory of Time
- The Kalam – On time: Craig’s inconsistent appeals to science
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