Logic, Science, & God: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

|

June 1, 2015

One of my favorite arguments for God’s existence is called the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA). It consists of two premises that lead to a logically deductive conclusion. The syllogism goes as follows:

1- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2- The universe began to exist.

3- Therefore, the universe had a cause.

Premise One

Let’s begin by analyzing the first premise: “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” We see examples of this every day in our lives. Through the decay of uranium, lead is caused to come into existence, the car factory causes the car to come into existence, and your parents caused you to come into existence. This premise seems intuitively obvious.

Moreover, a primary metaphysical principle states, “out of nothing, nothing comes.” Consider the fact that if something could come from absolutely nothing, then anything and everything could come from nothing at any time. Moreover, we should be surprised that things don’t come into existence out of nothing all the time. Pizza, music, and Ferraris should just pop into existence out of nothing every day! If something can actually come from literally “no thing,” then why can’t anything or everything come into being from nothing? Why is it just universes? “What is it about nothingness that makes it so prejudiced against everything else but universes?”[1] Obviously, this is a premise that is self-evident.

Premise Two

Since we have established the rationality of the first premise, let’s examine the second: “The universe began to exist.” One common argument against premise (2) is that the universe did not begin to exist but has always been here. Is this logically possible or even scientifically accurate?

Philosophy of Infinity

One philosophical argument promoting this premise involves the logical impossibility of creating an actual infinite number of events in physical space and time to exist. For example, if you start counting 1, 2, 3… you could count forever and never reach a time when you finish counting to infinity. You could count forever, but whatever number you were counting at that exact moment would be an actual finite number. You can always add one more to the number you were currently saying; therefore, you could never reach the end of infinity.

So, is there such a thing as infinity future? Yes, but it will never get here. Is an infinite past possible? If the universe did not begin to exist, then it had to have always been here from past infinity, but then the number of events that happen in the universe would have to be infinite because the universe would be infinite. It would then be impossible to answer many questions. For instance, consider al-Ghazali’s thought experiment regarding two beginningless series of coordinated events.[2] He encourages us to envision our solar system existing from infinity past. The planet’s orbital periods would correspond that for every one orbit Saturn would complete, Jupiter would complete 2.5 orbits around the sun.

Here’s the rub: if both Saturn and Jupiter have been orbiting the sun for past infinity, which planet has completed the most orbits? Initially, you might want to answer Jupiter because it is closer to the sun and orbits 2.5 times faster, but you would be wrong. If both planets have been orbiting from infinity past, the correct mathematical answer would be that Jupiter and Saturn have completed the exact same number of orbits. This is ludicrous because Jupiter orbits 2.5 times faster than Saturn, and it would seem that if they have been orbiting the sun from infinity past, then, Saturn should have fallen infinitely behind Jupiter. This is a ridiculous paradox demonstrating the absurdity of an actually infinite past. Since this is absurd, it is logically evident that the universe did begin to exist, and is therefore, not actually infinite.

As I demonstrated earlier, it is impossible to reach an actually infinite future through successive addition because we can always add one more to any number we are currently counting. The same is true when considering the infinitude of the past while counting down backwards through the negative numbers. But, if it were possible to have a past infinity, then the current moment of right now would never be here.

Comparatively, this idea would be akin to affirming the proposition that one could jump out of an infinitely tall bottomless pit. This would be logically impossible, even for a superhero with infinite jumping power, as there is no foundation for him to jump from. Since the present moment is real, and we are really here right now, then, logically, it had to have been preceded by a finite past. Therefore, there must have been a first event, and the universe came into existence.

Scientific Validation

Perhaps your philosophy is that you don’t like philosophy. Okay then, let’s look at scientific data that the universe is not infinitely old. Take the second law of thermodynamics, for instance. It states that all of the useful energy that already exists in the universe is being used up and is being transformed into non-usable energy. This refers to a process called entropy. If the universe were infinitely old, then it would have already used up all of its usable energy an infinite amount of time ago. Therefore, we would have reached a temperature of absolute zero, and the heat death of the universe an infinite amount of time ago.[3] There would be no heat, no light, no life, not just in our galaxy, but also anywhere in the entire universe.

Now, since there are pockets of useful energy left in the universe, the universe had to have had a starting point. Moreover, scientists can show us through the study of big bang cosmology that we live in an expanding universe.[4] Imagine watching a video of the expansion of the universe. Push “pause,” and then hit the rewind button. Eventually you will come to the beginning of what was expanding. It must have had a starting point.

Moreover, if this wasn’t enough, three of the leading physicists in the world today, Arvind Borde, Allan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, constructed a theorem (the BGV theorem of 2003) which reaches the same conclusion – nature had an absolute beginning. No matter what model one holds, none of them can be extrapolated into past infinity. Dr. Guth (The “G” in BGV) concluded there was a “mother of all beginnings” and stated: “… Even within the context of inflation with many bubbles forming, there would still be somewhere an ultimate beginning.”[5] Dr. Vilenkin makes this point even stronger:

It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.[6]

Therefore, if nature had an absolute beginning, it is incoherent to state, “Nature existed before nature existed.” Therefore, the cause of nature must be something other than nature. This is what philosophers call “supernatural.”

The Logical Conclusion

So if the two premises that we have examined are true, it leads us to a startling, but very logical conclusion: Therefore, the universe has a cause. The definition of the word “universe” is anything and everything that is in time and space, including time and space, that is physical, material, and can be tested scientifically.[7] Given this definition, the “cause” cannot be anything that fits within the definition of the universe. Otherwise the universe would have had to exist before it existed. But, what could have caused the universe to exist if nothingness (not anything physical) existed before the universe began to exist?

“Nothingness” is causally impotent, so what could have caused the universe to “bang” into existence? This leads to some very important questions. What could exist apart from space-time and matter and still have a causal relation with the material universe? If so, what attributes or properties must this cause possess?

The Rational Inferences

If the cause of the universe transcends space-time, then, it must have been “timeless.” This means that whatever the cause was would have had no beginning (i.e., eternal), because a beginning necessitates time to already be in existence. If the cause existed apart from time and had no beginning, we can infer logically that this cause had no cause of its own, as it logically never began to exist, and therefore, it exists necessarily.

Moreover, as the big bang was the beginning of space-time, then it follows that the cause of the universe also had to have been “spaceless.” This means that the cause would have no size or shape. It was utterly immaterial. Accordingly, the KCA takes atheistic naturalism off the table as a possible model of reality because this argument has provided evidence that a supernatural Cause of the universe exists.

What other inferences can we discover regarding the cause of the universe’s attributes and properties? Well, this cause must be enormously powerful. I can’t think of anything which requires more power than creating a universe from nothing! Moreover, the universe’s immaterial cause had to have been timeless, spaceless, and it necessarily had the power to spontaneously bring the world into existence without anything causing it to do so because then, whatever the cause of the cause was would be the cause. But since this cause exists outside of anything physical, temporal, or material, none of these things could logically cause or force this cause to do anything. Therefore, this cause has its own volition or free will. Apart from anything abstract (which are causally impotent anyway),[8] only an unembodied mind (or soul) could logically exist “in nothingness” and transcend space-time.

Persons are the only types of things that could possibly possess immaterial minds with free will; therefore, we can decipher that the cause of the universe was personal. If it is personal, then it’s at least possible that “it” can have a personal relationship with other personal beings. We are personal beings. Therefore, it’s possible that we can have a personal relationship with the cause of the universe.

I call the cause of the universe “God,” but one is free to call this cause whatever they’d like; however, “a rose by any other name smells just as sweet.” To this point I have only appealed to logic and science and have not even touched any religious book whatsoever. Be that as it may, the attributes we have drawn from the conclusion correspond perfectly with the way the Bible describes God’s properties. The KCA provides evidence of the Ultimate Mind behind the universe, which also makes perfect sense regarding immaterial minds that humans seem to have.[9]

It’s amazing that by simply employing science, philosophy, and logic, we reach the conclusion that God exists. Moreover, we can infer that it’s possible for us to have a personal relationship with him. This is exactly what the Bible teaches too, and what we can learn through the logical study of the universe (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20-21).

Stay reasonable (Phil 4:5 ESV),

Tim Stratton


NOTES:

[1] William Lane Craig said this while I was a student in his classroom (an experience I will never forget)!

[2] William Lane Craig, Key Philosophical Issues for Apologists: course notes, Biola University, 2012, (28)

[3] Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 97

[4] Tim Stratton, Stealing Defeat From the Jaws of Victory, http://freakengministries.com/stealing-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory/

[5] Closer to the Truth, http://youtu.be/Z79FGmh50Xo (Accessed 8-30-14)

[6] Alexander Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006), 176.

[7] JP Moreland, Arguments For the Existence of God, The Christian Apologetics Program Biola University

[8] Tim Stratton, The Abstract Dagger of Platonism, http://freakengministries.com/the-abstract-dagger-of-platonism/

[9] Tim Stratton: Freethinking Argument Against Naturalism, video presentation, http://vimeo.com/97290020

 

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About the Author

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

Tim pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (B.A. 1997) and after working in full-time ministry for several years went on to attain his graduate degree from Biola University (M.A. 2014). Tim was recently accepted at North West University to pursue his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a focus on metaphysics.

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