Kalam Cosmological Argument

William Lane Craig and JP Moreland, 2003


1.       KCA: Originally developed by Arab Islamic scholars in Middle ages




3.       One: Kalam Cosmological argument for first cause of beginning of universe

          a.       Universe had a beginning at some moment in finite past and since something can’t come from nothing, there must be a transcendent cause which brought the universe into being

          b.       Argument employs

                    i.        Philosophical arguments against existence of infinite temporal regress of past events

                    ii.       Contemporary evidence of astrophysical cosmology for a beginning of space /time

                              (1)     Big bang theory, space-time universe originated ex nihilo 15 B years ago

                    iii.      Ex nihilo origin cries out for transcendent cause

          c.       Kalam arguments aim to show finitude of past


4.       Two: Thomist Cosmological argument for a sustaining ground of being of world

                    i.        First cause not in temporal sense but in rank

                    ii.       Argued for God on more difficult assumption of eternity of the world

                    iii.      Each thing has an essence and for it to exist it must have that essence conjoined with an ongoing act of being;

                              (1)     w/o this bestowal of being the essence could not exist

                    iv.      No substance can actualize itself; to do so it would have to already be actual

                              (1)     Nothing can bring itself into existence

                    v.       Every finite substance is sustained immediately by the ground of being

                    vi.      Such a being is not composed of essence and existence and requires no sustaining cause

                    vii.     Can’t say its essence includes existence (as existence is not a property, but an act the instantiating of an essence)

                    viii.    So this being’s essence just is existence; it has no essence, it is a pure act of being

                    ix.      It is the act of being itself subsisting

                    x.       This is god


          b.       Distinction

                    i.        Natural contingency (each thing’s existence requires natural forces like temperature, pressure, etc)

                    ii.       Metaphysical contingency in sense of the need for being/existence to be continually added to their essence lest they be spontaneously annihilated.


5.       Three: Leibnizian Cosmological argument for sufficient reason why something exists rather than nothing

                    i.        Every being or fact needs an explanation (sufficient reason)

                              (1)     There can be no brute (unexplained) facts

                    ii.       The need for a sufficient reason does not apply only to finite beings

                    iii.      Sufficient reason can’t be in any individual thing in universe, nor collection of such things which comprise universe, nor in earlier states of universe or even in these if they regress infinitely

                              (1)     Why not?

                              (2)     Because there must be sufficient reason for everything, including for why the world has always existed, if it has

                    iv.      Must exist a being that is metaphysically necessary, whose non-existence is impossible

                    v.       Sufficient reason for its own existence and of every contingent thing.


          b.       Two kinds of beings

                    i.        Necessary–exist of own nature and have no external cause

                    ii.       Contingent--whose existence is accounted for by causal factors outside of themselves.

          c.       Argument from contingency says if there are contingent beings there must be a necessary being


          d.       Atheists might object

                    i.        The universe exists inexplicably (denies P. of sufficient reason)

                    ii.       Universe is its own explanation, it is a metaphysically necessary being

          e.       This is Hume’s argument:

                    i.        Universe is necessary existent being

                              (1)     How can anything that exists from eternity have a cause, since that implies a priority in time and a beginning of existence?

                    ii.       Another alternative is that the universe has always existed (or came into existence) not of necessity, but as a brute contingent fact

          f.       Craig/Moreland reply: Strong intuitions support idea that universe is contingent

                    i.        A world in which no concrete objects exists seems conceivable (and thus logically possible)

                    ii.       So it is possible that world might not have existed and so it is not necessary that it exists

                    iii.      Yes, but it is less clear that a possible world with no time/space could exist?

                    iv.      Craig and Moreland include time/space in their view of the universe

                    v.       Can one conceive of a world with no space time? Perhaps not.


          g.       How does one argue that the world is metaphysically contingent?

                    i.        Craig/Moreland distinguish natural contingency (each thing’s existence requires natural forces like temperature, pressure, etc) from metaphysical contingency in sense of the need for being/existence to be continually added to the essence of each thing lest they be spontaneously annihilated.



6.       The Kalam Cosmological argument can help show that universe is contingent

          a.       Essential to metaphysically necessary and ultimate being that it be eternal (w/o beginning or end)

          b.       If universe is not eternal, then it could not be necessary (as Hume suggests)

          c.       Aim of Kalam argument is to show that universe is not eternal but had a beginning

          d.       And this implies the universe is contingent

          e.       And Kalam argument show universe is contingent in a special way

                    i.        It came into existence out of nothing

          f.       So atheist who says universe’s existence is a brute fact, exception to principle of sufficient reason, is forced to say not merely that universe exists eternally w/o explanation, but for no reason at all it popped into being out of nothing

          g.       Kalam argument is independent argument for TR creator and a valuable supplement to Leibniz’s argument (from contingency)


7.       Kalam cosmological argument formulation

                    i.        Premise One: Whatever begins to exist has a cause

                    ii.       Premise Two: The universe began to exist

                    iii.      Conclusion: Universe has a cause

          b.       Understanding what it means to be a cause of universe gets some theological significant properties of god


8.       Premise one: Obvious that whatever begins to exist has a cause

          a.       Something cannot come into being from nothing

          b.       Experience affirms it too: we don’t experience uncaused things

9.       Is subatomic physics a counter example?

          a.       Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics claims subatomic events are uncaused

                    i.        Not all sci agree and many are dissatisfied with this interpretation and explore deterministic theories

                    ii.       Even with non-deterministic views, particles don’t come into being out of nothing but are “spontaneous fluctuations of the energy contained in subatomic vacuum, an indeterministic cause of their origin”

                    iii.      No basis for the claim that quantum physics proves things can begin to exist w/o cause, much less the universe from nothing.

10.     Some claim premise one is true of things in universe but not the universe itself

                    i.        But it is a metaphysical principle that applies to everything: being can’t come from nonbeing; something can’t come into existence uncaused from nothing, and this applies to the universe too



11.     Premise two: The universe began to exist

12.     Craig and Moreland give 4 arguments for this

          a.       Two deductive-philosophical. args and tow scientific inductive


13.     First argument for view universe began to exist (not always existed): impossibility of existence of an actual infinite

                    i.        An actual infinite can’t exist

                    ii.       An infinite temporal regress of physical events is an actual infinite

                    iii.      Therefore infinite temporal regress of physical events can’t exist

                              (1)     And the temporal series of past physical events had a beginning

                              (2)     So universe had a beginning


14.     Arguments for first premise: that actual infinite can’t exist

          a.       While in set theory–a universe of discourse--there can be an actual infinite there can’t be an actual infinite in the spaciotemporal real world

                    i.        Many absurdities would result if actual infinite in the real world

15.     Hilbert’s hotel: Shows the impossible or the absurd consequences of assuming there is an actual infinite

          a.       Infinite # of rooms, all full, new guest arrives and proprietor moves guy in room 1 to room 2 and so on and puts new guest in room one.

                    i.        But all rooms were supposed to be full

                    ii.       According to mathematicians, no more persons in hotel than before; the number of people is still infinite

          b.       Put person in room 1 in 2, in 2 in 4, in room 3 in 6–all guests end up in even rooms and odd rooms become vacant and infinity of new guests can stay

                    i.        Also same number of guest before and after this process

                    ii.       Same number of guests check out if all but 3 leave leave as if 1, 3, 5, 7, leave but in former case hotel is nearly empty and latter it is full still

16.     Shows not possible for actual infinite number of things to exist in spatiotemporal reality

          a.       Not true that we don’t really understand nature of infinity for infinite set theory highly developed and well understood

                    i.        Absurdities result cause do understand them


17.     Claim that ability to divide a finite line segment infinitely proves an actual infinite exists

          a.       Confuses potential infinite and actual one:

          b.       For one can continue indefinitely to divide line segment, but you never reach an actual infinite

                    i.        Begs the question to say the line segment is already composed of actual infinite number of parts. P. 39

                    ii.       Can’t we write a formula that specifies an infinite number of parts of the line segment?

          c.       “There theories (of transfininte math) have no relation to real world”


18.     Premise two: infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite

          a.       Actual number of events occurred

          b.       All absurdities of actual infinite apply here


19.     Second argument against possibility of infinite past: Impossibility of forming an actual infinite by successive addition

                    i.        Temporal series of physical events is a collection formed by successive addition

                    ii.       A collection formed by successive addition can’t be an actual infinite

                    iii.      Thus, temporal series of physical events can’t be an actual infinite


          b.       Not assuming actual infinite impossible, but arguing that if it can exist, it can’t be formed by successive addition

          c.       Premise ii: “impossible of traversing the infinite”

                    i.        In order for us to have arrived at today, temporal existence would have had to traverse an infinite number of prior events

                    ii.       Before the event of today happens, a prior event must happen

                    iii.      No event could ever arrive, as before it could, there will always be one more event that had to have happened first

                              (1)     Does this beg the question?

                    iv.      If series of past events were beginning-less, present event could not have arrived and this is absurd.


          d.       Does the argument against traversing an infinite past commit the same fallacy that Zeno’s paradox does?

                    i.        Zeno’s paradox shows motion impossible as before you cross stadium you have to go half way and before that 1/4 way and before that 1/8 and so on infinitely; so no way Achilles could cross the stadium (or even move)

                              (1)     But we know he can

                    ii.       Disanalogy Zeno’s paradox and infinite past

                              (1)     Zeno: the intervals traversed are potential and unequal and infinite past intervals are actual and equal

                              (2)     Claim that Achilles must pass through infinite number of halfway points in order to cross the stadium is question-begging (for it already assumes that the whole interval is a composition of infinite number of points)

                                         (a)     Seems to me it is plainly true!

                              (3)     **Moreover Zeno’s intervals are unequal and sum to a merely finite distance whereas intervals in an infinite past sum to an infinite distance

                              (4)     Thus Zeno’s thought experiment different from task of traversing an infinite number of equal and actual intervals to arrive at our present location.


                    iii.      To say that the infinite past could have been formed by successive addition is like saying that someone has just succeeded in writing down all negative numbers ending at -1


20.     Third argument for universe’s beginning: Based on Big Bang Theory

          a.       Inductive (and based on science)

          b.       Based on expansion of universe

          c.       Problem with Einstein’s general theory of relativity (a gravitational theory) were resolved by assuming an expanding universe

                    i.        Light from distant galaxies also gives evidence of expanding universe

          d.       This expansion is not of material content of universe into pre-existing empty space, but expansion of space itself

                    i.        Particles are seen to be at rest with respect to space but recede from one another as space itself expands

                              (1)     Like buttons glued to surface of balloon would recede from each other as balloon inflates

          e.       Reverse this expanding universe and get idea that universe was once in a state of infinite density in finite past

          f.       Temp, pressure, density, space-time curvature become infinite

          g.       No outside or no before with respect to big bang

          h.       Standard big bang model describes universe not eternal in past but one came into being a finite time ago

          i.        And posits an absolute origin ex nihilo

          j.        All matter energy and space and time come into being at the initial cosmological singularity

                    i.        If time came into being then and not before, there could be no prior cause of it, for priority requires time.


21.     Fourth argument for finitude of past: Based on 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

          a.       Based on thermodynamic properties of universe

          b.       2nd law of thermodynamics: processes in a closed system tend toward state of equilibrium

          c.       Universe is (on a naturalistic world view) a gigantic closed system: it is everything there is and there is nothing outside it

          d.       Given enough time universe/processes will run down and come to equilibrium

          e.       Heat death of universe; no further change is possible

                    i.        Hot heat death everything gets swallowed into a black hole coextensive with universe

                    ii.       More likely is universe will expand forever; cold death; and elementary particles spread out completely

          f.       If given enough time the universe will reach heat death

          g.        If the universe has existed forever from eternity, we would be in the state of heat death now (but we are not), so it couldn’t have existed from eternity

                    i.        If universe did not begin to exist, it would be now in a state of heat death

                    ii.       Like a ticking clock, it should by now have run down


22.     Summary of Kalam argument:

          a.       The universe appears to have been created a finite time ago and its energy was somehow simply put in at the creation as an initial condition.

          b.       These four arguments give good reason to accept 2nd premise of Kalam Cosmological argument: Universe began to exist

          c.       Follows that universe has a cause

                    i.        Assuming coming into existence requires a cause


23.     Considerations that show this cause of the universe is a personal god

          a.       We can figure out properties of this cause

24.     As cause of space time, this entity must transcend space and time, exist atemporally and nonspatially

25.     Transcendent cause that is changeless (timelessness implies changeless) and immaterial (changelessness implies immaterial)

26.     This cause must be beginning-less and uncaused, in sense of lacking any antecedent casual conditions

          a.       (Because it is outside time and so makes no sense to say something came before (or not before) it.

27.     Such a cause/entity must be unimaginatively powerful, since it created universe without any material cause


28.     Plausible to see this cause as personal

          a.       One: Only two types of causal explanation and by process of elimination we can deduce that universe has a personal explanation

                    i.        Scientific (initial conditions and laws)

                    ii.       Personal in terms of agents and their volitions

                    iii.      First state of universe can’t have scientific explanation as nothing before it

                    iv.      So it must have a personal explanation

          b.       Two: Personhood of cause of universe is implied by timelessness and immateriality

                    i.        Only entities we know that can possess such properties are minds or abstract objects, and the latter do not stand in causal relations

                    ii.       So TR cause must be a mind (or like one)

          c.       Third: Personal god follows from fact we have a temporal effect from a timeless cause

                    i.        If origin of universe was impersonal set of necessary and suff conditions; impossible for cause to exist w/o its effect

                              (1)     For necessary and suff conditions of the effect are timelessly given (is this the same as being outside of time? Makes it sound like they are always there?)

                              (2)     And so their effect are given as well

                              (3)     Only way for cause to be timeless and changeless but effect to originate anew is for cause to be a personal agent who freely chooses to bring effect w/o antecedent deterministic conditions

                                         (a)     but this free choice would seem to be a change in this being?

29.     So we get a transcendent cause of the universe who is a personal creator.