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The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Part 3- God is the Cause)
I’ve attempted to demonstrate in the two previous posts that the the universe had a beginning. The Kalam argument states that whatever begins to exist has a cause; the universe began to exist; therefore the universe has a cause. In this post I would like to show that the cause of the universe is what we call God. Some atheists, at this point, undoubtedly cry out if everything needs a cause then what caused God? This argument has been dealt with elsewhere but let me briefly state that we are not arguing that everything needs a cause. We are arguing that all contingent things need a cause and the universe is a contingent thing. There have been attempts to refute the idea that things which have a beginning (contingent things) need a cause. I will not attempt here to respond to those arguments because I think it is sufficinet to simply state that- nothing is nothing, nothing can do nothing, therefore nothing can cause nothing. Everything that comes into being is caused to come into being- It did not spring out of non-being.
Must the cause of the universe be God? Philosopher Douglas Geivett in his work on the Kalam argument states: “Something identifiable can reasonable be proposed as the cause of the beginning of the universe…such that it fulfills the requirements of an adequate causal explanation for the origin of the universe.” Dr. Geivett calls this Cause, God and argues for several characteristics that describe this Being. I don’t intend to go into much depth regarding the conclusion that an Agent of very similar characteristics as that of classical theism has indeed created the universe. Here is the line of reasoning- briefly.
Dr. Geivett argues that the Agent exposed in the Kalam is One which is “fully transcendent” standing apart from the created order as a timeless being. This Being appears self-subsistent in that it is timeless and uncaused- not self caused. Furthermore this Being is a personal being, acting from the intention to create a physical world. The Agent is mindful likely having a purpose to create. Also, the production of the physical universe ex-nihilo (out of nothing) implies the work of a tremendously powerful and unimaginably intelligent Agent. I think the argument at some level also implies that the Agent is very good (despite the problem of evil)- considering the order, beauty, and goodness we observe. Finally, Dr. Geivett writes:
“Since our actual physical universe would not exist if this Agent had not created it, the whole of the physical universe is a source of evidence to be further excavated and developed, with the very good prospect of finding out more about the Creator and learning something about the Creator’s intentions…the Kalam sets the stage for a fuller inquiry into the nature of God and God’s relationship to the world, a world especially remarkable for being inhabited by other agents. The evidence of design, of moral repsonsibility, of beauty, of consciouosness, of the human hankering for the Transcendent, of religious experience, of patterns in history, and so forth, all acquire a compelling cumulative force pointing to a fuller composite description of the Creator of the universe.”
The Kalam argument makes a strong case for the existence of a Being of unimaginable power who caused the universe to come into existence. If successfull, the Kalam refutes naturalism. Because of the tremendous import of the question of a Creator, we ought to take the conclusions of the Kalam and further seek to uncover our Creators identity- an identity which seems to parallel the God who is revealed in the Bible. This is just one of many arguments that point to a personal Creator God. Lord willing I will develop others in future posts.
2 responses to “The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Part 3- God is the Cause)”
The universe is not a “contingent thing.” The universe is the set of all things that exist. The universe contains the causes of all contingent things. The universe is what it is regardless of our ability to perceive and comprehend it. We perceive a space-time continuum spanning ~16 billion light years. Is that the set of all things that exist or do our current powers of observation limit our perception? I like to refer to the observable universe by the term “cosmos” instead of “universe.”
The Kalam argument only establishes the need for a cause sufficient to have generated the singularity event from which our cosmos derived (which is pretty impressive). However, this agent need not be eternal or even still in existence. I see no need for the cause of our cosmos to be personal, intelligent or good. These are products of anthropomorphic wishful thinking.
Furthermore, according to your philosophical arguments, God must have existed for an eternity – an infinite series of moments before deciding to create the material universe.
God has all the physical properties of nothing. God is not material – no mass, no density, no elemental composition, no location. Nothing creates nothing. Is God an “immaterial mind?” Minds do not create anything material without material inputs – if they did my “honey do” list would be all caught up. What you have left is magic. God is the sum of all magic and magic really exists in our minds.
Neil, you make some good points- each of which I have thought about considerably in my jouney. You mention that the universe is not a contingent thing. I have to disagree. Is there anything in the universe that is not contingent? I think you would be hard pressed to find something in the universe that is not contingent. The cosmos is nothing more than a collection of contingent things. If everything that makes up the cosmos is contingent then the universe is contingent as well- and contingency requires a necessary Being. This argument really enters another form of argumentation for the existence of God that is closely related to the Thomistic argument from contingency. An absolutely superb case for the necessity of an Independent Being is made by Avery Dulles in his work “Metaphysics.”
You’re partially right about the limitations of the Kalam. It does not necessitate the biblical God as the cause of the universe’s beginning. Rather the Kalam makes it clear that the universe had a beginning and that things that begin need a cause. I think in my post I made that case. I do think the Kalam implies the Creator to be personal, intelligent, and good but there is only som much time to write. The Kalam is not the only argument for God. Other arguments generate these attribute more readily. My conclusion are not simply wishful thinking but rather critical thinking on the evidence available for observation and analysis.
Also, you said that God must have “existed for an eternity- an infinite series of moments before deciding to create the material universe.” I should say that there is quite a bit of dispute as to God’s relationship to time and space, but in this particular argument I would not necessarily agree with your definitiion of eternity as an infiite series of moments. It is quite likely that God is timeless and not a infinite series of moments
Finally your last paragraph seems to forget that for something to be real in the metaphysical sense it does not need to be physical. Many things that are not physical exist such as moral values, numbers, laws of logic, our souls, God, angels, thoughts,etc. God is very much a something though He is not a physical something. You are correct that human minds don’t create things ex nihilo (out of nothing)- that they must fashion existing matter in order to create new forms. However, God does appear to have the power to bring matter into existence and sustain that existence because he is the First Cause of all things and must be as the Necessary foundation of all reality. However, the interesting point is not how can theism explain materiality, but how can naturalism explain immateriality?
Hope you are well- friend
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