Kalam Cosmological Argument for the existence of God

Discussion in 'Religion' started by James R, Jan 11, 2016.


Does the Kalam Cosmological Argument convince you that God exists?

  1. Yes.

    1 vote(s)
  2. No.

    25 vote(s)
  3. I'm not sure that I properly understand the argument.

    1 vote(s)
  4. No opinion or would rather not answer.

    0 vote(s)
  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    You'll note that Jan has basically ignored the bulk of your previous response, and what response there is amounts to little other than a restatement of the KCA (twice), that it does what is says on the tin, and that everyone who doesn't agree is wrong. No arguments, no refuting of the points made. Personally I would save your time.
    As is quite apparent in this thread, it seems.
    To be fair, one could say that even creating a universe makes one "enormously powerful"... until you find out that they made one in the LHC (whatever a "rainbow universe" is): http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/physics/lhc-accidental-rainbow-universe/

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    Certainly in terms of providing "proof" but I find it quite useful in establishing what I consider more rational, accepting the notion that it could be entirely wrong. When used as part of a proof to effectively discard one option in favour of another, it is conveniently only dragged out when its mis-use leads to the conclusion one desires.
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Believe me, I've barely got started on the many reasons why the Kalam argument is not valid. Right now, we're just trying to get Jan to understand the very first objection I raised - the issue of begging the question. He hasn't made any progress towards understanding that point yet.

    But, seeing as you've brought it up, let's discuss another objection.

    The logical fallacy you're pointing out here is the fallacy of composition.

    This is the assumption that what is true of parts of a thing is also true of the whole. An example of such reasoning that illustrates the fallacy is this:
    1. No part of a bird (e.g. its eyes, its feet, its wings) can fly under its own power.
    2. Therefore, a (whole) bird cannot fly under its own power.
    The fallacy of composition is snuck into the first premise of the Kalam argument, too:
    1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
    We might well ask: What is meant by "everything"?

    "Everything" usually means "every thing", so the premise appears to be talking about "things". The "things" we are familiar with are things that exist inside the universe - they are parts of the universe - such as stars and planets and people or, as you put it, "physical events". So we might indeed try to re-write the Kalam argument with premise 1 clarified as you have suggested:
    1. Everything physical thing within the universe that begins to exist has a cause.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore the universe has a cause.
    But we immedately see the problem with this. Premise 1 refers to physical things within the universe, while premise 2 refers to the universe as a whole. We are asked implicitly to assume that the universe as a whole is just another "thing" like all the physical things inside the universe. But this is a fallacy of composition.

    We are asked to draw on our "common sense" about physical things in the universe - that if they "begin to exist" they are caused. However, we are then expected to apply the same "common sense" to the universe as a whole. But the universe as a whole is a different kind of "thing" from the physical things that we are invited to consider.

    Essentially, we are being asked to assume from the start that the universe as a whole needs a cause. But again, that is what the Kalam argument is supposed to be proving. So, we're back to begging the question again, just in a differnt way this time.

    Notice also that physical events in the universe all have physical, natural causes, as far as we can tell. Those causes occur within time, inside a universe that includes space and time as physical "things". So we are asked to accept (implicitly) the following argument:
    1. All physical events within the universe have causes that occur in time (i.e. temporally). That is, they have temporal causes.
    2. The universe began to exist in the absence of time (i.e. atemporally).
    3. Therefore, the universe had an atemporal cause.
    ... and then we move on as usual to the claim that the atemporal cause was God - not only atemporal, but actually supernatural as well.

    So we see clearly that that the conclusion (3) does not logically from the premises (1) and (2). Thus, again, the Kalam argument is shown to be logically flawed.
    Yazata likes this.
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Jan Ardena:

    We can do that, sure, but we haven't got to arguing that the first premise is false yet.

    What has been shown - and you have said nothing that refutes this - is that the KCA is logically invalid as an argument. That is, the conclusion we are asked to accept does not follow logically from the premises. Rather, we are asked to accept the KCA on the basis of one or more question-begging assumptions that have been snuck into the argument itself.

    To put it another way, just to be clear, I have argued above that the KCA starts by assuming the conclusion that it is said to prove - that God exists and caused the universe. The KCA is therefore not really a logical argument at all - it just masquerades as such. It is just an attempt to bamboozle people who are not skilled in logic or rhetoric into accepting an a priori assumption and into believing that the assumption has in fact been logically justified.

    As I have shown, it tries to sneak in the assumption that there is one exception to the statement that everything needs a cause: God. It does this by creating up-front a category of things that "do not begin to exist", which is assumed to contain only one thing: the God that the KCA is supposedly trying to prove.

    This point has now been put to you a number of times by several different people. You can also find this objection in various places on the web; it is not my original idea.

    It is up to you to show, as a first step, that the KCA is a logically valid argument if you seek to rely on it to establish that God exists. Valid reasons have been give to you as to why the KCA is not a logically valid argument. You need to show that those reasons are themselves flawed or incorrect. Otherwise, you are merely asserting that the KCA is valid, sticking your fingers in your ears and trying to pretend that the objections were never presented to you.

    Rather than continuing to dodge the issue that has been raised by myself, Baldeee, Yazata, and Sarkus, you need to actually address the content.
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  7. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    Here's my 2c worth.

    Suppose God cannot be logically defined, then it follows that God's existence cannot be given a logical cause, therefore God does not logically exist.
    But suppose also that logic cannot define everything, logic is incomplete, therefore God cannot logically be shown to not exist, therefore it is still possible that God could exist if there is a possibility that something can exist without (logical) cause. We can't use logic to decide, which is why faith exists.
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    arfa brane:

    All well and good, but this thread is about the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which is claimed by some to be a logical proof that God exists. We are investigating whether that claim is justifiable.
  9. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    No, this argument is not convincing, even for this theist. Lacking even a rudimentary definition of God, or at least God's relationship to the universe, the conclusion cannot be so derived. I would restate these as:
    1. Everything that exists must have a cause.
    2. The chain of causes cannot be infinite, so there must be a First Cause which is itself uncaused.
    3. The First Cause must have the potential to be causative.
    4. Nothingness (perfect vacuum) would satisfy both, as per Guth's "ultimate free lunch".
    So the real question is, to what extent, if any, can nothingness be associated with god?
    • A perfect vacuum is unachievable in our universe, so it is not the effect of any, even theorized, cause.
    • Nothingness can spontaneously cause particle pairs, so it is capable of creation.
    So nothingness shares these characteristics with those attributed to god. Beyond this are only philosophical associations between the two, which of course are arguable. There is no way to prove any proposition about a god's existence (whether positive or negative) or its possible cause of the universe. It is largely the philosophical aspects that convince people one way or the other.
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Just to expand on the fun and games while I wait for some kind of substantive response from a believer in the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA)...

    I'd like to go off on a bit of a tangent and talk about Evil. Let's assume that the KCA is true. What then can we say about Evil? Here's KCA again, applied to Evil:
    1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
    2. Evil began to exist.
    3. Therefore, Evil has a cause.
    4. The cause of Evil is God.
    Notice the the only substitution here is the substitution of the word "evil" for the word "universe". If the KCA is valid in regards to the universe, then it is valid in regards to the origin of evil.

    A theist might object that Evil is one of those "things that did not begin to exist", so that premise (2) here is not valid. That would put Evil on the same footing as God, which would mean that the "universe" version of the KCA no longer establishes that God caused the universe. Indeed, it opens up the possibility that Evil caused the universe instead.

    Another possibility is that both God and Evil are eternal, powerful, timeless etc. (all those things that Craig listed in his "ontological" arguments that supposedly support the KCA). This would mean that God either cannot or does not want to destroy Evil.

    In summary, the KCA, if it is accepted as logically valid, allows us to conclude that (a) God caused Evil, or (b) Evil caused the universe, and/or (c) God either cannot eliminate Evil or chooses not to do so.
    Magical Realist likes this.
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    1. Everything that exists must have a cause.
    2. The chain of causes cannot be infinite, so there must be a First Cause which is itself uncaused.

    Seems to contradict itself. Everything that exists must have a cause, but there exists a first cause that is uncaused? Then not everything that exists must have a cause, and therefore the universe could in fact exist without a cause.
  12. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    To be clear, I do think the KCA is valid, with the addendum of equating god with nothingness in order to dismiss the apparent special pleading. But you asked if it was 'convincing.'

    Your arguments do not address the fact that some other effect may, in turn, be the cause of evil. Where the 'universe' is essentially every caused thing, and can only have one common cause, evil is not as monolithic. So evil could easily have a large variety of causes. In order to link these all back to a First Cause, you would also have to assert things like predestination.

    Now you've moved from the KCA to the problem of evil. God cannot eliminate evil without invalidating the universe, so the result makes the choice untenable.
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Doesn't the KCA do the trick of linking things back to God? Suppose the cause of Evil is X. If X began to exist, then X was caused. Let's say that X was caused by Y. Rinse and repeat for Y being caused by Z and so on. Eventually, or so says the KCA, we reduce all the causes back to the great Uncaused Cause, namely God.

    Why can't God eliminate Evil without invalidating the universe? (Time for a new thread, perhaps?)
  14. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    What if we use "carrots" instead of "evil". Or even "lightbulbs". The jump to the cause being god, especially in the lack of any features about god, is just as severe. The line about the cause being god is a non sequitor and is at best attaching a meaningless label to the cause rather than an inference.
    The problem if evil is a problem for this universe; or rather, it is a problem for those people who want to believe in a loving god who created this universe.
  15. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Evil, in the Christian sense, comes from the Devil. The Devil was one time called Satan, and before that was called Lucifer. Lucifer, was the same character as the Devil, but an earlier version; 1.0, who was called the morning star. Lucifer was a useful part of creation. He represented chaos and change, which could lead to something useful, such as mutations on the DNA can lead to evolution. Or the death of a star can create the materials for a new solar system.

    Satan is connected to law of good and evil and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In this situation, change does not always lead to good but can also lead to evil and regression. There are some laws that are progressive and some laws are regressive, with violation of law sometimes good and sometimes evil. If one rebelled against the laws of slavery, this aspect of Satan; rebellion, is good. If we rebel against laws of killing and stealing this is evil.

    The Devil takes this to the next step, with all change leading to evil or only regression. This implies we have reached steady state, such as E=MC2. If we violate this natural law, it is never good, but leads to regression.

    In practical reality, all three aspects of change are in effect, with some change naturally good, some change good and bad and some change bad. These were defined so humans can make these distinctions. If we did not have these distinctions, this would imply a situation of no change and one never ending steady state. This is a rock, and not life. Life is about fluid flux.
  16. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    This is the view of some Christian factions, but not all. There are a multitude of beliefs about evil that one could ascribe to different factions of Christians, and not all Christians belief in the Devil nor in the specific mythology of Lucifer.
    This equation, even if presented correctly, does not represent a state of a physical system, steady or otherwise. It represents a mathematical relationship between mass content and energy content.
  17. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    You assume that the argument is invalid.

    Yes. You think the argument is invalid because you believe in attempts to sneak God into the premises, thereby begging the question.
    If it can be found that no such tactic is intended, does that make the argument valid?
    Is the argument invalid regardless of the intention behind the argument?

    Everything that begins to exist has a cause

    Do you agree that this premise could include God as something that begins to exist?
    Or are you jumping to the known conclusion, before the conclusion has been made.

    The universe began to exist

    Could God be included in this premise. I think yes, because we as yet have no indication of God being anything, let alone transcendental.
    So we must assume the universe is everything thus far.

    Therefore the universe has a cause

    Unless you don't agree that the universe has a cause, this is pretty air tight.
    God is either non existent, not necessary, or a thing that has been caused. up to this point.
    There is clearly no begging the question.

    You may not agree with the argument, but it is valid.

    So what caused the universe?

    If something that was caused, caused the universe, it begs the question what was the cause of that cause, and so on.
    An infinite regress has been shown to be at best problematic, so that can be thrown out.

    Did the universe cause itself? No, because the universe would have to previously exist in order to bring itself into being.

    Did the universe arise out of nothingness?
    Something cannot come out of nothing. Even if such an absurdity could occur, why is it only limited to universes?
    Why don't we see thing popping into existence all the time.

    So what are we left with?
    An uncaused agent.

    Just because you think it has been laid out, doesn't mean it is true.
    You are basically accusing Craig of sneaking God in, but you have no evidence of this. It is simply based of squirming of Dan Barker.
    Rather than distort an airtight argument with objections that have nothing to do with the premises (AS I HAVE LAID OUT), provide evidence that Dr.Craig's intention was to sneak God into the premises. Do you understand?

  18. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    You don't know that.
    It's not.
  19. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Logic has nothing to do with causation.
  20. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    I disagree.

    Causation entails a logical premise that a cause exists. Causation is an act or process which explains why something happens or exists. An act or process is logical.
  21. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    "The difference stems from the distinction between logical laws and laws of nature. A sentence can be said to be logically necessary just in case it's true in all worlds that satisfy the logical laws, that is, in all possible worlds. A sentence can be said to be causally or physically necessary just in case it's true in all worlds that satisfy those laws of nature.

    As regards the direction of implication between logical and causal necessity: what is logically necessary is true in all possible worlds, so it's true in all physically possible worlds and is thus also causally or physically necessary.

    The converse, however, is not true: it's not the case that what is physically or causally necessary is also logically necessary. What is true is that if we let N be the set of laws of nature, and S a causally or physically necessary sentence, then the conditional (N → S) will be logically necessary."--https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-logical-necessity-and-causal-necessity
  22. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    What pops into into being out of no thing?

  23. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Sub-atomic particles. The Casimir Effect.

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