Where Did it all Come From?

eso0936bIt may surprise some to learn that I’ve never actually defended the Kalam Cosmological Argument in debate.

This is not because I don’t find it a good argument, but rather for two reasons:

1. It has been well-defended elsewhere

2. I didn’t find it persuasive until recently

The second of these two reasons is, to me, evidence that Craig (who has championed the argument) doesn’t rely nearly so much on pure rhetoric as his detractors insinuate. I don’t find him terribly good at pathos, myself. I was disenchanted with his presentation of the “KCA”, but, realizing that this wasn’t a reason to reject a line of thinking, I decided to read up and think on it.

By the end of that, I’d reached the conclusion that it was a good argument.

I say all this in the hopes of forestalling the common accusations that there is nothing in the argument but pathos. Really, both of the premises of the argument are well in line with both metaphysics and modern science:

Premise 1 (“Whatever begins to exist has a cause”) is fundamental to science. The scientific method is based on discovering the physical causes of things, and to suggest that the very notion of causation is suspect, let alone false, is to argue that science is without rational foundations.

Premise 2 (“The universe began to exist”) cannot claim to be as fundamental as the first premise, but is well-attested to by the evidence itself. Admittedly, I’m not an expert in cosmology, but I’ve found no mention of any evidence that the universe is eternal, and much evidence in its favor (and encountered statements from experts claiming the same).

Though I’m not actually a fan of the common materialist refrain that “whatever is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” (for reasons I’ll not get into here), it seems strange that proponents of this idea should present, without evidence, the idea that the universe is past eternal.

There have also been a number of attacks on the logical structure of the argument, as though traditional modus ponens reasoning doesn’t apply here. All such objections struck me as unintentional sophistry. Thus, the conclusion (“The universe has a cause”) seemed almost tediously obvious.

Rather, my questions all involved Craig’s analysis of what a cause of the universe might be.

Taking as my assumption that reasonable people will agree that there is a cause to the universe, I’ll be putting up some posts on what I think are the better objections to the Kalam, along with the reasons why I, eventually, decided that they were not destructive to the argument.

But what I see no reason to seriously entertain is the idea one should reject the argument so far. There really is no reason to think that the universe is causeless.

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7 responses to “Where Did it all Come From?

  • Ben Nasmith

    I’ve found that when I’ve put this argument forward, the skeptics have mostly appealed to the hope that we’ll one day discover the natural cause of the universe. Never mind that this requires the universe to be self-caused. “There must be a natural explanation” has been the mantra.

  • dusk

    I always found this argument to be rather worthless due to the real problem being to figure out when do you actually have the first cause and also what does it mean that a universe began to exist in a 10 dimensional meta-verse. What are the properties a first cause must have other than starting the process.

    I feel it doesn’t help with getting to the actual deities, proponents usually want to end up with, and it makes too many assumptions along the way. There is only one universe. That which was before this one is the first cause.
    It is used to explain too much with too little and concludes even more. The whole “argument” is IMO nothing more than an assumption one can go with but not a proof and nor an argument.
    Consider it an axiom of monotheism. Calling it a proof neglects to account for what the math of our universe already tells us.

    • Debilis

      First and formost, greetings to you!

      But, to get to the discussion…
      I completely agree that the interesting issue here isn’t “did the universe have a cause”, but “what sort of cause must it have been”. I’m going to go through a series about that in the near future.

      I’d say that there are good reasons, from this argument, to believe that the cause of the universe shares some traits with a monotheist God. It certainly doesn’t get us all the way to one (let alone the God of a particular religion).

      Still, I think it tells us some things with reasonable certainty, and that is better than simply halting inquiry. I’m going to see how far this argument can go without becoming axiomatic.

      That’s the plan for the future posts on this, anyway.

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