William Lane Craig’s 5 Arguments Part 1: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

William Lane Craig is perhaps the most popular Christian apologist out there. In almost every debate I have seen of his, he begins with the same 5 arguments for the existence of God. I thought I would give a series of 5 articles addressing each one of these arguments in turn, starting with the Kalam Cosmological argument.

 

The argument goes something like this:

1. Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe has a beginning of its existence.
Therefore:
3. The universe has a cause of its existence.
4. If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.
Therefore:
5. God exists. [1]

 

There are a number of problems with the first premise alone. Nothing truly has ‘a beginning of it’s existence’ it is simply a recycling of matter in a different form, yes there are certain things that cause matter to take on a different form such as chemical reactions or nuclear fusion etc, but the only real ‘beginning of existence’ was the beginning universe itself – which created all the matter that recycles itself into different forms according to different causes. We do not currently know what, if anything caused the big bang to happen. So if nothing that we can observe actually begins to exist, it is merely the recycling of existing materials, the only beginning of existence is the beginning of the universe itself – which we simply do not know the cause of, or even if the beginning of the universe required a cause in the same way that existing matter requires a cause in order for it to take on a different form.

 

In fact the only thing that we can observe that begins to exist, rather than being a recycling of existing matter is virtual particles, and these appear spontaneously without cause [2] – this is in direct contradiction to the assertion of the first premise. In short, there is absolutely no reason to grant the first premise of this argument; matter can be caused to take on different forms – but this is very different from beginning to exist, and our observations of things that do begin to exist contradict the assertion that they require a cause.

 

The second premise is also problematic. The universe as we know it began with the big bang, but this is not to say that it did not begin from some prior state of existence. However, even if it did begin to exist, I have shown that the first premise is faulty; things that begin to exist do not necessarily require a cause, so even if we grant the second premise the conclusion does not follow from the second premise alone.

 

The forth premise, that the universe had to have been caused by God is a completely unfounded assertion. If we assume that the universe had a cause for it’s existence, it does not necessarily have to be God. M-Theory provides a cause for the big bang that is not God, rather a collision between membranes [3] – although M-theory is currently not supported by any evidence (it predicts some known facts about the universe though), it is an example of a theoretically sound explanation for the cause of the big bang that is not necessarily God, demonstrating that the fourth premise is merely an assertion that is unsupported and does not follow even if we grant all the premises in the argument so far.

 

This argument simply does not prove God’s existence no matter how confidently Craig asserts that it does. The Kalam cosmological argument is not a good argument.

 

——–

1. http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/theistic-proofs/the-cosmological-argument/the-kalam-cosmological-argument/

2. http://www.desy.de/user/projects/Physics/Quantum/virtual_particles.html

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_M-theory

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “William Lane Craig’s 5 Arguments Part 1: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

  1. Sorry, DBS, but there are some clear issues with your refutations.

    On premise 1, your rebuttal only works if you pre-suppose matter. Since the primary use of the argument is to explain how that matter came to be, you’re using the existence of matter to prove that matter exists. Circular reasoning.

    But that’s not even the biggest issue with your refutation. You say, “Nothing truly has ‘a beginning of it’s existence’ it is simply a recycling of matter in a different form…” However, this is a false assertion, because not all things are made of matter. What about language, ideas, logic, principles of mathematics? These are not made of matter; you cannot stub your toe on language. So there is a clear hole in such an assertion, because matter is not all there is.

    In fact the only thing that we can observe that begins to exist, rather than being a recycling of existing matter is virtual particles, and these appear spontaneously without cause…

    Again, this is a false statement. The energy still existed previously as dark matter, which is still matter. Once again I urge you to read this blog post by a fellow atheist on this issue of something coming from nothing. It does a really good job of making clear what “nothing” actually is. My argument for intangible concepts like language and ideas also applies here.

    The second premise is also problematic. The universe as we know it began with the big bang, but this is not to say that it did not begin from some prior state of existence.

    But it would still have began to exist in some sense at some point in time, unless you pre-suppose it as past-eternal, for which there is absolutely no foundation. I make this patently clear in my defense of the KCA on my blog, that what has an end must have a beginning. And since science is certain that we are moving toward maximum entropy and heat death of the universe, science has proven that the universe began to exist. Premise 2 is supported by naturalistic science, and is not to be debated.

    So since your rebuttal of premise 1 is predicated on a false assertion, and science has verified premise 2, conclusion 3 logically follows deductively. The only issues can then be with premise 4, for 5 follows deductively from 4. And all 4 asserts is that God is the best explanation for 3. There is some evidence to suggest 4 is most plausible, while as you state yourself there is no evidence for M-theory or even the multiverse hypothesis.

    I am willing to entertain your own rebuttals to see where you think my reasoning is faulty here. It seems pretty sound to me.

  2. Doctor Bad Sign

    Premise 1 is faulty for the following reasons.

    The computer you are using did not begin to exist in the same way that the universe began to exist. The atoms that make up your computer have existed since the beginning of the universe. Whilst it is undoubtedly true that there must have been a number of causes to get those atoms to rearrange themselves as a computer – it does not follow that because atoms require a cause for their rearrangement that the atoms themselves require a cause for their coming into existence.

    The things that we have observed that begin to exist rather than being a recycling of matter, actually spring into existence uncaused – which goes against the assertion of the 1st premise.

    Now I am not saying that things definitely do not require a cause for beginning to exist – what I am saying is that we just don’t know, and to claim either the positive or the negative is unfounded. Premise 1 requires evidential support – which it lacks. In order for premise 1 to be true you’d have to show me evidence that something beginning to exist necessarily requires a cause, there is no such evidence, therefore premise 1 can be dismissed as unfounded.

    Premise 2 is faulty because whilst we know that the universe in it’s current state began to exist – we have evidence for that. However a growing number of scientists are dismissing the notion that there was no ‘before’ the big bang. As long as it is plausible that the universe arose from a prior state – which plausibly could have been eternal then premise 2 is unfounded.

    Again I’m not making a positive claim – just highlighting the fact that the claims of the argument are not the only plausible explanations. Science has verified premise 2 in terms of the universe in its current state, but prior to that is anyone’s guess. There is no positive evidence for the possibility that the universe arose from a prior eternal state, but there doesn’t need to be, the plausibility of it undermines the argument.

    There does not need to be evidence for M-Theory for it to undermine premise 4, again so long as it is plausible that the universe as we know it was caused by something that is not necessarily God then again it undermines the argument. The argument states that the only plausible cause is God, M-Theory is not proven, but it is plausible which demonstrates that premise 4 is an unfounded assertion.

    Premise 1 is an unfounded assertion
    Premise 2 is an unfounded assertion
    Therefore 3 does not necessarily follow
    (Even if we grant 1 & 2) Premise 4 is unfounded
    Therefore 5 is not the only possible conclusion

    If you provide evidence that all things that begin to exist require a cause, that the universe truly began to exist rather than arose from a prior eternal state, that God is the only necessary cause of the universe then the argument would be sound. Without evidence for these things it remains a weak argument.

    I don’t have to prove anything to refute it, merely raise the plausibility that the premises aren’t true. If you prove that they are necessarily true with evidence rather than assertions, then great, I’ll see you in church.

  3. Your logic is mind-boggling. How can you believe this stuff? Where shall I start…

    Whilst it is undoubtedly true that there must have been a number of causes to get those atoms to rearrange themselves as a computer – it does not follow that because atoms require a cause for their rearrangement that the atoms themselves require a cause for their coming into existence.

    So the computer requires a cause to form, but the atoms don’t require a cause to exist? This sounds like special pleading.

    In order for premise 1 to be true you’d have to show me evidence that something beginning to exist necessarily requires a cause, there is no such evidence, therefore premise 1 can be dismissed as unfounded.

    I already have. What about language? What about the principles of math? You can’t just ignore the evidence I gave and them dismiss premise 1 because you don’t like it.

    As long as it is plausible that the universe arose from a prior state – which plausibly could have been eternal then premise 2 is unfounded.

    Show me the evidence for the plausibility of a past eternal. Show me evidence for something having an end but no beginning in any other example that we have. An end demands a beginning. This is scientific fact. Don’t go against the MN you love so much. If you cannot show me evidence that something can have an end but no beginning, your assertion is false and premise 2 stands. I can’t believe you’re arguing this. No reasonable scientist and almost no reasonable atheist would argue against premise 2.

    There does not need to be evidence for M-Theory for it to undermine premise 4, again so long as it is plausible that the universe as we know it was caused by something that is not necessarily God then again it undermines the argument.

    As I said before, premise 4 is about weighing the hypotheses to determine the best explanation for the cause of the universe. Something “as plausible” doesn’t even really undermine the premise, but even if it did all you would get to is that atheism is just as likely as theism based on this argument alone. Given the other arguments in favor of theism and no other positive arguments in favor of atheism, the weight of the evidence then necessarily lands on the side of the theist, and atheism becomes an irrational worldview.

    But that assumes that the evidence makes M-theory “as plausible” as the God hypothesis. And there is NO evidence of M-theory, as you have stated yourself. So for you to argue that M-theory is “as plausible” as the God hypothesis when there is absolutely zero evidence for the former and mounds of evidence for the latter, this is a ridiculous claim. You could claim that YOU created the universe, and by your definition that is as plausible as the God hypothesis, because all you have to do is imagine a godless scenario and it becomes as plausible, even without evidence.

    Wow. Just wow. Feel free to respond, but I’m done responding with this one because your logic is just so mind-blowingly irrational. I think even Hitchens would scorn you for this showing.

  4. Doctor Bad Sign

    “So the computer requires a cause to form, but the atoms don’t require a cause to exist? This sounds like special pleading.”

    What I am saying is that atoms rearranging themselves into a different form, is not the same thing as beginning to exist. The atoms that make your computer began to exist at the big bang – for which we do not know the cause, or even if such an event requires one.

    “I already have. What about language? What about the principles of math? You can’t just ignore the evidence I gave and them dismiss premise 1 because you don’t like it.”

    How does that prove that all things require a cause? Abstract concepts like logic and maths have been used to argue that there are eternal things that exist outside of the material universe rather than things that require a cause to exist – how are you using them to argue the first premise of this argument? I ignored them because I don’t see how they support the first premise in any way.

    “Show me the evidence for the plausibility of a past eternal. Show me evidence for something having an end but no beginning in any other example that we have. An end demands a beginning. This is scientific fact. Don’t go against the MN you love so much. If you cannot show me evidence that something can have an end but no beginning, your assertion is false and premise 2 stands. I can’t believe you’re arguing this. No reasonable scientist and almost no reasonable atheist would argue against premise 2.”

    I corrected you in my first comment. I’ll correct you again. Science shows the universe as we know it began with the big bang, we do not know what was before that. Premise 2 is correct as far as the universe AS WE KNOW IT is concerned, and it is correct that the universe as we know it will end, we don’t know that the universe did not arise from some prior state – which will continue to exist even after the death of the universe as we know it. In fact as I stated many scientists are starting to look into notions of a ‘before the big bang’.

    Imagine a pool of water, in which a bubble arises, the end of the bubble does not spell the end of the pool. If we imagine that the pool is the prior state from which the universe arose, and will eventually end – it does not imply the end of the prior state, which might well be eternal.

    Again I do not have to prove to you that this is true. The argument is stating God is the only plausible explanation – I am arguing for other plausible explanations ergo God is not actually the only plausible explanation.

    “As I said before, premise 4 is about weighing the hypotheses to determine the best explanation for the cause of the universe. Something “as plausible” doesn’t even really undermine the premise, but even if it did all you would get to is that atheism is just as likely as theism based on this argument alone. Given the other arguments in favor of theism and no other positive arguments in favor of atheism, the weight of the evidence then necessarily lands on the side of the theist, and atheism becomes an irrational worldview.”

    The conclusion of the argument is ‘God exists’ this does not follow from the argument as I have shown. There are many problems with the other arguments for God’s existence which I shall go into in future blog posts, and feel free to debate them when I finish the posts.

    “But that assumes that the evidence makes M-theory “as plausible” as the God hypothesis. And there is NO evidence of M-theory, as you have stated yourself. So for you to argue that M-theory is “as plausible” as the God hypothesis when there is absolutely zero evidence for the former and mounds of evidence for the latter, this is a ridiculous claim. You could claim that YOU created the universe, and by your definition that is as plausible as the God hypothesis, because all you have to do is imagine a godless scenario and it becomes as plausible, even without evidence.”

    Mounds of evidence for the existence of God? You’ve got to be kidding me. Is that a joke? The only reason that atheists exist is because there is no convincing evidence in favour of the existence of God. All there is in favour of the existence of God is unconvincing philosophical arguments.

    The conclusion of the argument is that God must necessarily exist because of these premises, I’m not saying M-Theory is the best explanation, merely using it as an example to show that God is not the only explanation, that we can come up with equally plausible explanations that do not require God, completely undermining this argument. That’s all I needed to show to disprove the argument.

    “Wow. Just wow. Feel free to respond, but I’m done responding with this one because your logic is just so mind-blowingly irrational. I think even Hitchens would scorn you for this showing.”

    And please stop with your condescending attitude of rational superiority. Christians are not morally and rationally superior, and neither are atheists. The reason that atheists exist is because some people are not convinced by the arguments in favour of God’s existence. Some of the greatest minds have been atheists, or agnostics – there is nothing rationally inferior about atheism.

  5. philosopher145

    I recommend that you read Dr. Craig’s published work, where he addresses all of you objections. Also see his Q&A on Reasonable Faith: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=q_and_a_archive

    • Doctor Bad Sign

      Can you point me to the specific articles where he addresses my objections? There’s a lot of stuff on there, and it’s not always clear from the titles which objection he is answering. Thanks

  6. philosopher145

    Google:
    “reasonable faith” “Q & A” “virtual particles”
    “reasonable faith” “Q & A” “material cause”
    “reasonable faith” “Q & A” “M-Theory”
    “reasonable faith” “Q & A” “cause of the universe”

    • Doctor Bad Sign

      I’ll do so soon, once I’ve had some sleep, and I’ll let you know what I think (I’m not sure whether I’ll leave a comment or make a new post yet, either way I’ll let you know).

  7. I wrote a post about it in my blog recently. (here:http://trippleblue.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/the-project-self-humiliation-extreme-redundancy/)

    Also, I might grant the first premise as a matter of human observation, meaning that “we” may see things having a begining, and logically there is no problem to shape it as a statement.

    But, There is no reason to believe the second premise of that argument. The reason for that is fairly simple: We still don’t know.

    • Doctor Bad Sign

      Indeed, and even if we grant premises 1,2 and 3, 4 does not necessarily follow from those. If the universe does require a cause it does not necessarily have to be God, there are other theories that explain the big bang (M-theory for example) that provide a cause (the collision of two hyper dimensional membranes) that is not God.

      • I guess it didn’t sink in to you that 4 is an argument from the inference to the best explanation. 4 is not supposed to follow from 3; 4 is a new premise that supposes the best explanation for 3. 3 only needs to follow from 1 & 2 for 4 to be at play, and 5 needs to follow from 4. It is therefore up to the skeptic to show 1) why premise 4 is not the best explanation of 3, and 2) a better alternative to 4 then what is currently there.

        If you deny 1, 2 or 3, then M-Theory is dead as well. You must accept the conclusion 3 in order to assert M-Theory as a possibility.

        It’s not just enough to say “M-Theory exists so that shoots down 4.” You need to show why M-Theory is a better explanation than the supernatural one. And that is what you fail to do, and why your rebuttal (and Truthful Heretic’s) fails as a reasonable objection.

  8. Doctor Bad Sign

    It didn’t sink in because it is not the best explanation. M-Theory is better simply because a lot of the maths works, and it even solves some of the problems with the Inflation model. Why is 4 not a good explanation? Where does God come from? How does such a being create a universe from nothing? Premise 4 is no better than saying ‘it was magic’ or ‘a giant magical dinosaur did it’ or any other stupid thing I can think of. Claiming magic as the explanation for the universe is not scientific – ergo any scientific explanation is far superior.

    • But you said yourself that there is no current evidence to support M-Theory, so we’re supposed to take an idea that has no evidence and say it’s a better explanation than a theory that has some solid evidence given its comprehensive case?

      I can see why it didn’t sink in. It’s called “hardened heart syndrome.”

      • Doctor Bad Sign

        M-Theory is a better explanation than God because people have actually sat down and spent time doing the detailed mathematics and working out the complexities of it, and as I said M-Theory actually does a good job of explaining the anomalies found in the standard model. Does God explain dark matter or energy? Using God as an explanation has no worth, it is no different than saying it was magic – an explanation that simply doesn’t fly with scientists.

        M-Theory might not currently have any evidential support, but it is a lot more scientific than saying ‘God did it’.

      • A supernatural explanation is not supposed to be scientific. The evidence that supports it is what’s scientific, and it is plentiful. Just because a guy sat there and dreamed up M-Theory with zero corroborating evidence, you are saying it’s a better theory than a different “dreamed up” theory that actually has some evidence?

        This is why I scorned your position to begin with. It’s completely illogical.

  9. Doctor Bad Sign

    There is no evidence that supports a supernatural explanation. When have we ever observed a divine being creating a universe from nothing? Every other observation we have is explained by natural processes.

    You can assert that there is evidence for God all you like, but it does not exist – if there was evidence that directly indicated the existence of God then the majority of the world’s cosmologists would accept that proposition. Our cosmos works fine without the assumption that a supernatural being created it.

    God is not a theory, please don’t delude yourself. Saying that the magic guy in the sky did it does not, and never will constitute a scientific theory.

  10. Udaybhanu Chitrakar

    God will exist scientifically so long as special theory of relativity will remain intact. God will exist scientifically so long as time and distance will go on becoming unreal at the speed of light. No scientist, however great, can ever be able to do anything against God so long as these two conditions are satisfied, that is, so long as time and distance can become unreal.

    With the help of special theory of relativity we can explain God’s spacelessness. With the help of special theory of relativity we can explain God’s timelessness. With the help of special theory of relativity we can explain God’s changelessness. With the help of special theory of relativity we can explain God’s immortality. With the help of special theory of relativity we can explain how God can be everywhere. With the help of special theory of relativity we can explain all the major attributes of God. When we find that science can explain God, why shall we have to think then that God is non-existent? If God is non-existent, then why has science explained God? Is it the job of science to explain a non-existent entity like God? So either that particular science is faulty that explains God; or, if that particular science is not faulty, then God is not non-existent.
    For further reading, please see
    http://scigod.com/index.php/sgj/article/view/50
    http://scigod.com/index.php/sgj/article/view/62
    http://scigod.com/index.php/sgj/article/view/63
    http://scigod.com/index.php/sgj/article/view/76

    • Doctor Bad Sign

      You are essentially stating that God is unfalsifiable. Science does not deal with unfalsifiable entities, as Karl Popper said: “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”

      How can you prove that a timeless, spaceless being does not exist? It’s not a falsifiable concept and is therefore useless to science.

      If God is some kind of creative mind-like entity then how can ‘he’ be changeless? A mind requires change in order to exist. Changes from one thought to another, from one decision to another etc. If a changeless entity was doing nothing or even something different before the creation of the universe, then surely the creation of the universe would require a change from doing nothing, or something different, to creating a universe? A changeless being could not create a universe. A changeless God who creates universes, and acts like a mind is a logical contradiction.

  11. Hi there

    I am a blogger and author who has a keen interest in the KCA and WLC. I am writing a paper on various objection to the KCA which I am turning into a series of posts. The first one is here:

    http://www.skepticblogs.com/tippling/2012/09/10/the-kalam-cosmological-argument-and-william-lane-craig-1/

    Check it out and see what you think. The next post, in a couple of days, deals with part of what you are saying here.

    Sorry for randomness, thought you might be interested.

    Jonathan MS Pearce

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