For last weeks Argument Against Atheism, click here.
For those who, like myself, have come from the theist world, you will probably have memories of using this argument in the past. I can remember many times when I would use the cosmological argument as proof for a creator thinking that it made sense and was logically sound. As my faith left and my beliefs began to wane I found that this argument is actually illogical and actually quite asinine.
The cosmological argument has long been used by theists and philosophers to explain the existence of the universe. In its most basic form it can be laid out as such:
1.) Something Exists
2.) Something must have caused that thing to exist
3.) Something exists that caused the other thing to exist.
Let’s put it in a simple logical form.
1.) Puppies Exist
2.) Puppies must be born in order to exist.
3.) Therefore mother dogs must exist.
The basis of this argument seems logical but it has long been debunked due to the fact that whatever causes one thing to exist must also have a cause by itself. So the argument soon is destroyed when god enters the picture. If everything that exists must have a cause then for god to exist, he or she must have a cause as well, then the next being would also have to have a cause and so on and so forth.
So theologians have decided to change things up a bit. The Kalam Cosmological argument is what is now often referred to whenever someone uses the cosmological argument, since it is seen as fixing the issues of the original one. People like, William Lane Craig, constantly refer to this argument during debates thinking that it is an improvement but we will see that this argument is just as faulty in its assumptions.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument can be explained in the following manner:
1.) Everything that has a beginning must have had a cause
2.) The universe had a beginning
3.) Therefore the universe had a cause.
The key word that is meant to fix the errors of the original argument is the word “beginning.” Since god is supposedly eternal and the universe is finite, god cannot exist within the universe and is therefore outside of it able to be the cause of creation. This is made known because then the supporters of this argument will add the following stipulations,
4.) Whatever caused the universe must be separate from it.
5.) Therefore god, who is separate from the universe, created the universe.
So for the first issue let’s talk about beginning. For things to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, you must have time. Time as we know it is really nothing more than motion from one moment in space to another moment in space. For time to exist you must have the vast expansion of space. So when everything in the universe was condensed prior to the big bang, what sense of time would there have been?
Secondly for something to have a cause then they must be able to initiate that cause. That would in essence mean a beginning to a beginning, which if something exists outside of time, such as god, it would have no capability of existing both within and without time. Therefore god could not initiate the cause anymore than it could initiate the thought of initiating the universe.
However the main idea that I want to discuss is the assumptions made in the argument. As finite beings, generally living less than a hundred years, how could we have any knowledge of something that infinitely exists. This might at first seem like a, Ken Ham, “were you there” argument, but if you give me just a second I think you will understand what I mean.
For this argument to work first we have to agree that the universe is finite and that it needed a cause to exist, then we must presuppose that god is eternal and capable of causing the universe to exist. In order to presuppose that god is eternal and capable, we must also presuppose that god exists. In order to presuppose that god exists we must also presuppose to have knowledge and evidence of this god character. We must then take the next step to state that the universe existing is the evidence of that god character.
What you end up with is circular reasoning at its finest. The argument itself actually becomes this…
1.) Everything that has a beginning must have had a cause
2.) God has no beginning
3.) The universe had a beginning
4.) God exists outside of the universe
5.) Therefore the universe was created by god.
For this argument to work we must add into it that god is eternal and that he or she exists outside of the universe. We must also claim that we have knowledge of these two facts and the only knowledge that we have is to say that the universe is finite and thus an infinite being must have created it. While this might seem to fix the initial issue yet it actually is open to the same issues.
Let’s say our universe is finite, and god exists outside of it. What prevents us from saying that the area outside our universe, in which god exists, is also finite, and thus there must also be another god outside of that finite space in order to give creation to our god. We can then continue outward ad infinitum. The universe can become like one of those russian dolls where you take off one layer only to find a smaller layer.
So we should now see that the Kalam cosmological argument is no better than the original cosmological argument and is susceptible to the same issues. It does nothing to prove that god actually exists, or that god is eternal, or that god is infinite. It also does absolutely nothing to describe the nature of that god if it were to exist.
I always find it funny to hear theists use this argument in an effort to prove their god or gods existence. If this argument were actually sound, it would only point to a god, giving absolutely no indication which god it would point to. Aren’t all god’s eternal? Aren’t all god’s considered omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient to some degree? What from this argument would make Yahweh more likely than Krishna, Allah, or Cthulhu?
Next you would have to prove the aspects of your god which this argument does nothing toward. A cause does not equate to love, goodness, mercy, or justice. It does not equate to a god that created the universe with us in mind. In this scenario, perhaps we are nothing more than a mold that formed on god’s yogurt cup that he left in his dorm room closet. Maybe our entire universe sits on the rim of a cup that god has been too lazy to clean in 13.8 billion years of our time? Would the Kalam cosmological argument disprove this? It would not.
So in conclusion, the argument does absolutely nothing to solve the issues of the original cosmological argument. It does nothing towards proving the existence of a creator, especially not a loving one, or a Christian one. All it does is create its own assumptions and presuppositions in order to prove the speakers already held beliefs, and in that it is nothing more than a fallacy.
I hope I have done this justice, to hear another take from some folks who I believe are much smarter than I am, here are a couple of hosts from the Atheist Experience speaking on the topic…
While you are here, find out more about me by reading my journey away from faith, found here.