I was challenged recently in discussion with an atheist to not merely attack atheism, but to offer arguments for the existence of God. I have done this numerous times in various places of course, but up until now I don’t think I have done so categorically and methodically. Part of the reason is that there are so many fallacious arguments out there for atheism, that it is a much easier task to blow those out of the water than the time and effort it takes to detail the positive arguments. Indeed, if atheism isn’t true, it would stand that God exists by default. Nonetheless, it’s good to know that one’s beliefs reside on a foundation of reason and logic. And so I have decided to start a new category on my blog, Arguments for God.
Perhaps one of my favorite such arguments is the Kalam Cosmological argument. It is an argument that is at least 1000 years old, in many forms perhaps much older – and it is a idea that has been arrived at independently by various thinkers around the world. Many of course see its age as some sort of fault, as if the fact that it has been around awhile somehow diminishes its power, but I think that makes it more likely – after centuries of discussion, there is no good argument against it. Indeed it has been revived with much success by William Lane Craig, a Professor of Philosophy at Biola University.
Enough background – this is how the argument goes:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
Fairly straight forward, isn’t it? One of the advantages of its age is that a number of its precepts have been chronicled. For example every evidence now indicates that the universe did indeed have a beginning point – it hasn’t always existed. This actually wasn’t evident until the 20th century, and not established until the ’60s. But there are another set of corollary arguments that demonstrate the impossibility of an actually infinite universe:
– 2.11 An actual infinite cannot exist.
– 2.12 An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
– 2.13 Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.
– 2.2 Argument based on the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition.
– 2.21 A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite.
– 2.22 The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition.
– 2.23 Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.
In other words, something cannot be actually infinite as a set of things. The way to think about it is this – imagine I say I have an ‘infinite collection of marbles’ – then you offer me another marble which I add to my set; my set could not have actually been infinite because it is now bigger by one – meaning it was less than infinite before the addition.
In much the same way the universe is a set of objects – as well as a set of successive moments. Every additional moment means that the previous state of the universe wasn’t actually infinite. So it had to have had a beginning, and a cause to its beginning.
But what could cause the universe to begin? Well at some level it must be an entity not composed of a set of objects added by succession, one that exists timelessly, one that is complete in its existence and unchanging in its essential nature – or what Christians know as God. God is a necessary requirement for a temporal universe, and the Kalam argument demonstrates how the existence of a temporal, finite universe is itself evidence of the existence of God. There is no substantive atheist argument to the contrary.