The Kalam Cosmological Argument




There is an argument for God’s existence known as The Kalam Cosmological Argument. This argument for God’s existence is one of my favorites. It is was crafted by a mideval Muslim theologian named Al-Ghazali and one of its more modern day defenders is the Christian Apologist and Philosophers William Lane Craig. This argument seeks to prove the existence of a Creator by means of the law of causality and the universe’s origin.

What are the premises of this argument?

1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2: The universe began to exist.
3: Therefore, the universe has a cause.

This is a very simple and easy to memorize argument. It only consists of these 3 steps. You can easily memorize these 3 steps and subsequently attempt to share them with another person. This argument is logically valid. That is to say, the conclusion follows from the premises by the laws of logic. All that requires for this argument to be a good argument is for both of the premises to be true. That’s really all you need for a good argument; a logically valid syllogism and for all of the premises of the syllogism to be true.

So, are these premises true or are they false? Well, let’s take a look at them.

Premise 1: Whatever Begins To Exist Has A Cause

The first premise states that “Whatever Begins To Exist Has A Cause”. That is to say, if something didn’t exist before but at some point in time came into existence, then there must have been something which brought it into existence. I think that the truth of this premise of the argument is indisputable. Why do I say that? Well, there are 3 reasons why we should accept this premise as true.

1: Something cannot come from nothing.

To claim that something can come into being from nothing is, as Philosopher William Lane Craig puts it, “worse than magic”, He says “When a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, at least you’ve got the magician – not to speak of the hat!” But if you deny premise 1, you have got to say that the whole universe just appeared at some moment in the finite past for no reason! But I do not think that any sane person sincerely believes that things can pop into being out of absolute nothingness.

2: If things can pop into being out of nothing, why don’t more people observe this happening more often?
If things really can pop into being out of nothingness, then why don’t we see this happening more often? Atheists who deny the doctrine of creation will often say that the universe came into being out of nothingness, with no cause, in denial of the first premise. But if it’s really possible for things to pop into being without a cause, why did this spontaneous coming-into-being-from-nothing event only happen once 14 billion years ago? Why don’t we see more things than just our universe coming into being from nothing? Why has no one ever heard a news report of a woman being mauled to death in a park while jogging because a grizzly bear materialized out of nothingness? How come we’ve never heard of people having car accidents because a house just materialized out of thin air right there in the middle of the highway, causing the driver to crash into it?

Why is it we never hear of these things? Maybe we never hear of them because they never happen. Maybe they never happen because they can’t happen.

3: Common Experience and Scientific Evidence constantly confirm this premise, and never falsify it. 
 
Premise 1 is constantly verified and is never falsified. In our experience, whenever we see things coming into being, we see the cause of it. If I witness a sandwich being made, I always see a person putting it together. A person takes bread out, puts it on a plate, puts the ham, or bacon, or peanut butter, or whatever onto the slices of bread, and then they give it to me, but I’ve never seen a sandwich just *poof!* itself right in front of me. Whenever I see a sandwich coming into being, it always has a maker, a cause for its being. When we see houses and buildings coming into being, we see construction workers following carefully devised blueprints to put everything into place. We never see houses and buildings just materialize out of nowhere! 
 
Whenever someone witnesses something coming into being, whether it’s a car, an animal, a person, a computer, or whatever, it has something or someone that caused it to come into being. Every temporal event likewise has a cause. When people get sick, doctors look for the cause of the symptoms, and often times, they find the cause. No one thinks a person is merely sick for no reason. There’s a virus or cold that’s causing the person to feel the way he does. In every case of a thing coming into existence, we see the cause. We never see things popping into existence out of absolute nothingness. 
 
For these 3 reasons, I think the first premise is true.

So this whole universe popping into the being out of nothing? Nothing can do nothing. Nothing can produce nothing. You know why? Because nothingness has no properties.

Premise 2: The Universe Began To Exist

But what about premise 2? Is it true or is it false?

Scientific Confirmation 1: The Big Bang Theory

Albert Einstein, in the early 1900s, presented his General Theory of Relativity. Einstein’s equations predicted a universe that was in a constant state of either expansion or contraction. Einstein wasn’t fond of the implications of his theory, so he added a constant to the theory which would allow the universe to walk a fine line in between expansion and contraction. But this model of the universe was an unstable one. If a single portion of matter traveled from one part of the universe to another, the stability would be disturbed, and the universe would begin either expanding or contracting.

During the 1920’s, the Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman and the Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaitre managed to independently formulate models of the universe that predicted an expansion.

After that, in 1929, the American astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the light coming from distant galaxies appeared to be much “redder” than it should be. Now, what do I mean when I say that Edwin Hubble saw that the light from the distant galaxies appeared redder than they should be? In physics, a red shift is when light or other electromagnetic radiation from an object has a wavelength that is stretched to the point that its light is shifted to the red end of the light spectrum. In fact, regardless of whether or not the light or radiation is in the visible spectrum, “redder” means an increase in wavelength -- equivalent to a lower frequency and lower photon energy, in accordance with, correspondingly, the wave and quantum theories of luminosity. The galactic red shifts are an example of The Doppler Effect. The Doppler Effect is a change in frequency or wavelength of either light or sound caused by the motions of the source itself to the observer of the source. Let me give an example of The Doppler Effect in action. Let’s say you’re standing on the side of the road and you hear an ambulance approaching. As the ambulance gets closer and closer to you, its siren gets louder and louder, but once the ambulance passes you, the siren grows quieter and quieter. This is because as the ambulance approaches you, the sound waves grow closer and closer together, but as it moves away from you, the sound waves grow farther and farther apart.

Well, Hubble noticed this same sort of stretching in the light shining from the distant galaxies. Since the light waves were being stretched, Hubble concluded that the galaxies are moving away from us, and the reason that they’re moving away from us is because the universe is expanding. Now, for the first time, we finally had empirical evidence predicted by the theoretical work of Einstein, Friedman, and Lamaitre.

This had astounding implications. The fact that the universe is expanding meant that the universe had an absolute beginning. How so? Because if the universe is getting bigger and bigger as it gets older and older, then it must have been smaller in the past.

It’s like video footage of a fireworks display. As you run the film forward, the firework explodes and goes outward, but if you rewind the film, the explosion gets smaller and goes inward. If the universe is getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, as it gets older, and older, and older, and older, then if you rewind the expansion back in time, the universe gets smaller, and smaller, and smaller, until the universe is smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. Rewind the expansion even farther back than that, and the universe reaches a point of infinite density.

The universe began expanding from a point of infinite density about 14 billion years ago, in a violent and rapid explosion-like expansion! This event that marked the beginning of the universe was dubbed by Fred Hoyle “The Big Bang Theory”.
We have an abundance of scientific evidence for The Big Bang Theory. The theoretical and empirical evidence for the expansion of the universe point to a beginning of the cosmos. There are other pieces of evidence confirming the big bang theory, but space does not permit me to get into that material here.

Fourteen billion years ago, matter, energy, space, and time came into being out of nothing!
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There’s other scientific evidence for The Big Bang Theory than what I have space to cover here. If you want to look at the other evidence for The Big Bang, click on this URL --> http://www.reasons.org/videos/is-there-evidence-for-the-big-bang  

Scientific Confirmation 2: The Second Law Of Thermodynamics

There’s other scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe. As if this were not enough, there is a second scientific confirmation of the beginning of the universe based on the second law of thermodynamics. According to the second law of thermodynamics, processes taking place in a closed system always tend toward a state of equilibrium. The second law brings disorder from order, disequlibrium to equilirbrium and also it transfers heat from hot bodies to cold bodies ((this is how the ceramic heater in my bedroom keeps the entire room warm at night. The second law causes the heat to spread throughout the room rather than merely being confined to a corner)). If you were to inject a bottle with gas and were to close the bottle, it’s far more probable that the gas would spread throughout the bottle rather than being confined to a small corner.

Now our interest is in what implications this has when the law is applied to the universe as a whole. For the universe is a gigantic closed system, since it is everything there is and no energy is being fed into it from the outside. The second law seems to imply that, given enough time, the universe will reach a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, known as the "heat death" of the universe. This death may be hot or cold, depending on whether the universe will expand forever or eventually re-contract. On the one hand, if the density of the universe is great enough to overcome the force of the expansion, then the universe will re-contract. William Lane Craig writes about the implications the second law will have in an article on ReasonableFaith.org titled “The Existence Of God and The Beginning Of The Universe”. This is what Dr. Craig wrote

As the universe contracts, the stars burn more rapidly until they finally explode or evaporate. As the universe grows denser, the black holes begin to gobble up everything around them and begin themselves to coalesce until all the black holes finally coalesce into one gigantic black hole which is coextensive with the universe, from which it will never re-emerge. On the other hand, if the density of the universe is insufficient to halt the expansion, as seems more likely, then the galaxies will turn all their gas into stars and the stars will burn out. At 10 {30] years the universe will consist of 90% dead stars, 9% supermassive black holes, and l% atomic matter. Elementary particle physics suggests that thereafter protons will decay into electrons and positrons, so that space will be filled with a rarefied gas so thin that the distance between an electron and a positron will be about the size of the present galaxy. At 10[100] years some scientists believe that the black holes themselves will dissipate into radiation and elementary particles. Eventually all the matter in the dark, cold, ever-expanding universe will be reduced to an ultra-thin gas of elementary particles and radiation. Equilibrium will prevail throughout, and the entire universe will be in its final state, from which no change will occur.
Now the question which needs to be asked is this: if, given sufficient time, the universe will reach heat death, then why is it not now in a state of heat death if it has existed for infinite time? If the universe did not begin to exist, then it should have run out of energy by now. If the universe has always existed (and thus, the galaxies have always been converting their gas into stars and stars have always been burning) then all of the stars should have died by now. Stars burn hydrogen. That hydrogen runs out eventually. When the star has no more usable hydrogen, when it has no more hydrogen to burn, it dies. The when and the how a star dies depends on just what type of star it is (and also how big or small it is). Stars that are massive and have extreme solar luminosity have a much shorter life span than stars that are smaller and have much less solar luminosity. Enormous stars violently explode, while smaller stars gradually swell, then minimize to a faint flicker. When stars pass away, they either become black holes, white or black dwarfs (our sun will become a white dwarf), or something called a neutron star.

But in any case, given an infinite amount of time, you’d expect all the stars in the universe to have burn out. There should be no stars left in the universe, no usable energy left. And yet…there is!!! How is this to be explained other than that the universe hasn’t always been here and that these stars have been chugging away their gasses for a finite amount of time? As an analogy, if you were walking through the forest and found a flashlight on the ground that still had some juice left (that is to say, there was still light shining from it) and you knew that the batteries inside of the flashlight only had a finite amount of energy to cause the flashlight to shine light, what would you conclude? I don’t know about you, but I’d conclude that the flashlight had only been shining its energy for a finite amount of time. It wasn’t turned on from eternity past.

Philosophical Argument: You Cannot Traverse An Infinite Number Of Events

In addition to the abundance of scientific evidence for the origin of the universe, there’s a philosophical argument for the beginning of the universe. There are actually two different philosophical arguments based on the nature of infinity that argue for the origin of the universe, but in order to keep this blog post from being longer than necessary, I’ll just stick to this one philosophical argument.

The argument goes that if the universe had always existed then that means that we would have traveled through an infinite number of past events. But it’s impossible to form an actually infinite number of things by forming one member after another. Because no matter how many new members you add, you will never be able to add an infinitieth member.  

One illustration to demonstrate this could be if you needed to borrow money from a friend but before you could get the money, your friend had to get it from someone else, and then he had to get it from someone else and so on and so on to infinity. Before you get the money, friend 1 would have to obtain it from friend 2, but before friend 2 could give it to friend 1, he’d have to get it from friend 3, but before friend 3 could have it, he’d have to obtain it from friend 4, but before friend 4 could give it to friend 3, he’d have to get it from friend 5, so on out to infinity! Let me ask you, if there is no one who originally holds the money in his hands (meaning he doesn't need to get it from someone else), would you ever obtain the money? No, because no matter how many times the money passes on to another person, there will always be an infinite more to go before it gets to you.

Perhaps another illustration would help. Imagine the present event is the number 0. In an eternal universe, you would have to count from negative infinity to arrive at the number 0 (the present event). But no matter how long you count, you will NEVER make it to the number 0! Because you could count 0, you would have to count the number -1, and before you could count the number -1, you would have to count the number -2, before you could count -2, you’d have to count -3, before you could count -3, you would have to count -4 and so on out to infinity. And in that case, the present event could not have taken place because before any number could be counted, the number before it would have to be counted so that no even could ever take place. But to say that this moment isn’t taking place right now is absolutely absurd. In that case, the universe must have had a beginning. There must have been a starting point.

Another illustration that''s been used is that of a coffee cup. If the coffee cup is infinitely deep, then no matter how long you fill it, you'll never fill it up to the top.

In the same way, if we had to travel through an infinite amount of past events to get to today, then we would never be able to live in the present moment (which vis absurd) because before one event was able to come about, the event before it had to come about, and before that event could come about, the event before it had to come about, and before that event could come about, the event before it would have to come about and so on to infinity. So no moment in time could ever come to pass because there would always be a moment in time that had to come to pass first, thus, the present event would never arise. But obviously the present event HAS arrived. Therefore, the universe must not be eternal but had an absolute beginning.

We therefore have both philosophical argument and scientific confirmation for the beginning of the universe. Thus, confirming premise 2 of the argument.

Conclusion: Therefore, The Universe Has A Cause.

1: Whatever Begins To Exist Has A Cause.
2: The Universe Began To Exist.
3: Therefore, The Universe Has A Cause.

Given the truth of the 2 premises, the conclusion logically and necessarily follows. Now the question is: WHAT exactly caused the universe to come into being. The atheist might agree “Yeah, I agree with all of your premises and your conclusion. The universe has a cause. However, why in the world does the cause have to be God? Couldn’t the cause be something else?”

To answer the atheist’s question; we don’t conclude that the cause of the universe is God per se. However, reason leads us to conclude that the cause of the universe has a lot of attributes that, when put together, bares a striking resemblance to God. How’s that?

We can infer logically that the cause must have certain attributes given the nature of the origin of the universe. For example, since the cause brought space into existence, it cannot be spacial. Since in order to be spacial, it would have to exist inside of space. But we know that space didn't exist until The Big Bang. So the cause must transcend space (i.e be spaceless). It must be timeless for the same reason. No time until The Big Bang, so it cannot be inside of time. It cannot be inside of the thing that it's bringing into existence. It must be immaterial since we know it's spaceless. Since material objects have mass and therefore occupy spacial dimensions, if there are no spacial dimensions until The Big Bang, if the cause were material, it wouldn't be able to exist.

We know it must be unimaginably powerful since it was able to create the universe out of nothing. It must be supernatural since nature began to exist at The Big Bang ((I think that "The Universe" and "nature" can properly be thought of as synonymous terms)). Since nature began to exist, the cause must transcend nature. That's the very definition of supernatural!

It must be uncaused since we have good reason to think that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes.

And it must be personal.

In addition, the cause of the universe must be a personal being because if it wasn’t, The Big Bang would have happened infinitely long ago and hence we would have an eternally old universe instead of a 14 billion year old universe. Let me give you an illustration. Let’s say that the cause of the universe was a spinning top. And let’s say that when the top made 1 spin, a universe was spawned and the top stopped spinning. After an infinite amount of time, when will the top have stopped spinning? The Answer: an eternity ago. Now, let’s say that the top spinned infinitely slow. Well, after an infinite amount of time, when will the top have made it’s rotation? The answer: it wouldn’t have spawned a universe at all and therefore, we wouldn’t exist! Now let’s say that the top never started spinning. If that were the case, then the universe would never have been spawned either and in that case we would not exist. But obviously we do exist and the universe is not infinitely old. This analogy of the spinning top was spelled out very nicely in Neil Mammen’s book “Who Is Agent X?” With a mechanistic cause that is eternally present, you either have the effect be co-eternal with its cause, or else the cause never produces the effect. But both of those conclusions contradict the evidence. Obviously the universe was spawned and it was not infinitely long ago (it was only 14 billion years ago). How is this to be explained? With Neil Mammen’s spinning top illustration (the non-intelligent cause) you only have 2 options: an infinitely old universe or no universe at all. But, if an intelligent being sitting from eternity decides to make the top start spinning all of a sudden, then it’s entirely possible to have a universe only 14 billion years old instead of infinitely old. For a personal free agent has the ability to make choices. He can be sitting from eternity and spontaneously decide to produce a new effect.

Another example has been given by philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig.

In fact, I think it can be plausibly argued that the cause of the universe must be a personal Creator. For how else could a temporal effect arise from an eternal cause? If the cause were simply a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions existing from eternity, then why would not the effect also exist from eternity? For example, if the cause of water's being frozen is the temperature's being below zero degrees, then if the temperature were below zero degrees from eternity, then any water present would be frozen from eternity. It would be impossible for the water to just begin to freeze a finite time ago. The only way to have an eternal cause but a temporal effect would seem to be if the cause is a personal agent who freely chooses to create the effect in time. Like a man sitting from eternity could….freely choose to stand up and hence we would have a temporal effect arising from an eternally existing cause. So we're not just brought to the first cause of the universe, but to it's personal Creator.
There’s another reason why the cause of the universe must be a personal cause (other the reason I mentioned above, about a mechanistic cause either causing an eternally old universe or no universe at all). Because the cause is immaterial, it therefore must be a mind. Why? Because there are 2 things that are immaterial: Abstract objects like numbers or unembodied minds. Now, abstract objects don't stand in causal relationship to anything. That’s part of what it means to be abstract. Therefore, the cause must be an unembodied mind endowed with freedom of the will which can choose at a certain point to produce the universe.

In summary, Whatever Begins to Exist Has A Cause, The Universe Began To Exist, Therefore, The Universe Has A Cause. And the universe must have been brought into being by a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, uncaused, supernatural, personal Creator. That sounds a lot like God to me.