Arguments for God: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

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.

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25 Responses to Arguments for God: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

  1. Bettawrekonize says:

    Good post.

  2. Bettawrekonize says:

    Good post.

    More stuff so that my post would actually make it through.

  3. trog69 says:

    So, did God make all of the universe, or did Jesus, mebbe with help from the Holy Space Ghosty?

  4. jackhudson says:

    Obviously Christians don’t distinguish Jesus or the Holy Spirit from God – though presumably He made all of it trog, even you. 🙂

  5. jackhudson says:

    For some reason Betta a few of your posts are getting caught in the spam filter – not sure why.

  6. trog69 says:

    It’s God telling Betta, “don’t go there, he’s an idiot.”

  7. jackhudson says:

    More evidence for the existence of God then I suppose…

  8. trog69 says:

    “Good post”

    …said the fence.

  9. Bettawrekoniz says:

    I think my belief in God is more reasonable than your belief in talking fences.

  10. trog69 says:

    I’m thrilled for you. Now, if you could just keep your religious nonsense out of the classrooms and public bldgs, I’d be much appreciative.

  11. Bettawrekoniz says:

    It’s not my fault you can’t defend your position. That’s no reason to try and critics and opponents who can defend their opposing beliefs or validly criticize yours.

  12. Bettawrekoniz says:

    try and censor *

  13. trog69 says:

    What position is that, deluded one?

  14. Bettawrekoniz says:

    It must be killing you inside that your atheistic beliefs and your beliefs in evolution are completely and utterly indefensible and that the only possible way you can convince others of their validity is to censor critics and opposing views and yet, despite all this, you are completely unable to. You don’t want anyone to discuss anything that disagrees with you on the matter because on a simple blog and on public forums we can, and have, refuted and utterly humiliated the entire “scientific” community by showing their entire paradigm is obviously and utterly undefendable and everyone has very convenient access to the atheistic communities refutations and many people are exposed to these refutations and those who are exposed easily and quickly learn that the entire “scientific” community on this subject is absolute nonsense. It must absolutely kill you, you want to censor us, you want to defend your position logically but you simply can’t and so your only resort is censorship but you can’t do that either and so you do the only thing you can do to try and censor us and that is you insist that we shut up, you resort to personal attacks, and you do everything in your power to censor us but it is not in your power to do so and so it just kills you inside. I understand.

  15. trog69 says:

    JACK, WE NEED FIRE EXTINQUISHERS, FAST! Don’t even think of lighting that cigarette, man! Don’t you know how flammable all that straw is? Whew, we gotta get outta here before she blows!

    I mean, unless you don’t wanna; I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that no one has more of a public podium from which to assert their nonsense as the religious right in the US today. Every representative and big wig in DC sucks up to your religious leaders, and you have the nerve to assert that YOU are the ones who are silenced?

    I’ll be sure to let the scientific community know that they’ve lost the war, and we can all go home now.

  16. Bettawrekonize says:

    “What position is that, deluded one?”

    I miss the good old days when atheistic evolutionists at least tried to make a valid point every once in a while but it seems like the realization that your position is undefendable and the fact that your attempts to censor those who disagree with you have failed is eating you up inside to the point that it has made you resort to nothing but insults and censorship demands against those who criticize you.

  17. trog69 says:

    It sounds like those good ol’ days you miss must have been in a mental ward. Who the heck is censoring you? I prefer you keep responding so I have a way for the grandchildren to tell when nutcases are posting on the internet.

    “See honey, how he blames people for things they haven’t done? He’s the type to stay away from, ok?”

  18. Bettawrekonize says:

    “I’ll be sure to let the scientific community know that they’ve lost the war, and we can all go home now.”

    It’s not my fault your position is untenable.

  19. trog69 says:

    Oh, please don’t think we blame you, because of course you’re right. Now, go pray to your sky fairy. Ninight.

  20. jackhudson says:

    Guys, 19 posts and none of them actually address the post I so carefully crafted. Are we to assume that means the claim, “Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence” can be considered a well established truth?

  21. trog69 says:

    Using logic to shoehorn a god, and especially the Christian mythology, into the explanation for the Universe is not reasoned thought, in my opinion. Please, present all of these thought exercises as proof of salvation through belief in Jesus Christ.

    The contortions are better seen than attempted, at least for me.

    “I love hard work; I can watch it for hours.”~S. Clemens, I think.

  22. jackhudson says:

    I am not sure how it ‘shoehorns’ god into anything – as I pointed out, it is a conclusion come to by a number of thinkers both inside and outside of the Christian faith. In fact, it derives it’s name from a Middle Eastern thinker who wasn’t a Christian.

    But you didn’t really answer the question – is the precept, that ‘anything that begins to exist has a cause of it’s existence’ basically true in your mind?

  23. Justin says:

    Jack,

    I just ran across your site today and saw this post. I’ve added this to my favorites, too.

    I’m a huge fan of William Craig, Ravi Zacharias, and others. I’ve seen Dr. Craig lecture on the KCA and it’s absolutely compelling. A few things to add, which I’m sure you’ve seen:

    First, when I’ve presented this argument I usually get the response that our universe was birthed by another universe through a black hole – or some unproven variation of that response. I usually remind the atheist that even if that were true, it only makes the “universe” even bigger, but the temporal aspect still remains and the argument stands.

    Second, when coupled with the argument from morality, these two arguments give us a good picture of “what” created everything. The Kalam clearly shows that the universe has a cause, and even some atheists might agree that there was a cause and posit that it’s not the Christian God. But, when you couple the Kalam with the argument from morality, it becomes compelling that the creator or cause is a personal being.

    I’ve just starting studying apologetics about 2 years ago, and it’s so compelling that my level of faith has increased immensely.

    Thanks for the great site. Will check back often.

  24. jackhudson says:

    Thanks Justin, appreciate the post – and welcome!

    One response I have gotten to the Kalam argument (with surprising frequency) is that the universe doesn’t need a cause, because there exist certain entities (virtual particles for example) in the universe that pop in and out of existence in seeming defiance of the law of conservation of energy. This is a bit of a red herring however – they aren’t actually ‘uncaused’ as they are thought to be the result of fluctuations in vacuum fields, and are really intermediate states as ‘real’ particles go through various processes, like decay.

    I especially find it odd that an atheist would argue this way as it seems to justify wholly magical thinking. If virtual particles can be used to justify the uncaused existence of the universe (and all it contains – stars, planets, life) from nothing, then what good is it to discuss causality at all, if it can be readily dismissed when it makes ones beliefs less likely? Atheists seem to want it both ways – a rigorous adherence to natural demonstrable causes for observable phenomena and the existence of objects, unless of course that reality requires the existence of God – in which case they simply dismiss the need for a cause all together, and objects and phenomena can *poof* into existence. It’s inconsistent.

    But I digress.

    I admire William Lane Craig as well – in fact, I am planning on going to the Apologetics Conference put on by the Evangelical Philosophical Society this November. Craig, Platinga, Habermas, and Francis Beckwith will all be speaking. It sounds like it will be a phenomenal time hearing from some of the greatest minds on the subject.

    Good hearing from you, hope you stop by again.

  25. […] this is a very simple version of the argument, which I laid out in its complete form here. But we will deal with his objections as he stated it. First, why not say Nature is the first […]

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