MOD EDIT: Title changed to better reflect the nature of this posting.
As promised I’ll offer a brief case for Theism which we can discuss. In the interest of time I’ll present why I think the evidence shows the universe had a beginning and this leads to Theism via a cumulative case.
Some have asked that I also present some evidence for the claims of Christ. I’ll do so in another post. When combined, I hope my friends can see that one does not have to commit “intellectual suicide” or rely on “blind faith” to be a follower of Christ, who said to “love God with all your heart…and mind….”.
What is the Kalam Cosmological Argument?
The famous KCA seeks to show that the universe (all time, matter, energy, space, and anything contingent on them) came into existence a finite time ago. And anything which begins to exist is subject to the metaphysical principle that anything which begins to exist has a cause for its existence.
The next step in the KCA is a conceptual analysis of what this “cause” would be like. Given that it is the cause of the universe, what attributes would the cause have?
The premises of the argument:
1). Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2). The universe began to exist.
3). Therefore, the universe had a cause.
The first premise seems so obviously true that it makes more sense than any of its negations. Our observations confirm this but also, metaphysically, “from nothing, nothing derives”! For our purposes I’ll define “nothing” as “the complete absence of anything material or physical or subject to time and space. “Nothing” cannot produce anything! Nothing does not even have potential!
A common objection is that Quantum Mechanics and theory are an exception. However, the quantum field from which fluctuations arise is not nothing! And one still resorts to saying “nothing caused (the event), it just happened”. But again, “nothing” cannot do anything! As philosopher of science Dr. Robert Deltete says, “There is no basis in ordinary quantum theory for the claim that the universe itself is uncaused, much less for the claim that it sprang into being uncaused from literally nothing.”
That the universe came into existence a finite time ago (some 13.7 billion years ago) is supported by two lines of evidence.
1). Scientific Evidence. Big Bang Cosmology, at its broadest form, increasingly confirms the beginning of the time/space/material universe.
2). Philosophical Evidence. It is impossible to traverse an actually infinite number of concrete things by subsequent addition. In fact, an actual concrete infinite does not exist anywhere in nature. It is only an idea that can be contemplated.
As to the first line, the standard BB model has survived all attempts to discredit it with newer theories such as Multi-verses, M-theory, World Ensembles, and oscillating models (most of which just put the beginning of the universe back a step). Further, there is no good evidence for such theories. They are highly speculative and often an attempt to avoid a universe with a beginning. But an eternally-existing universe also falls prey to philosophical evidence.
The second line makes the distinction between a potential infinite and an actual concrete infinite. The former describes the potential to “count down” toward infinity. One could count forever but would never arrive. An actual infinite cannot be completed.
Some mathematicians think numbers and set theory provide for an actual infinite. Yet, at best, this would be abstract and not concrete. Other think there are not even an actually infinite number of numbers (or abstract objects), only a potentially infinite number of numbers that could be eternally counted but never completed.
A concrete infinite would be comprised of concrete objects like atoms, coins, particles, or horses. Moments of time would be in this category.
An eternally-existing universe would entail a history of moments prior to today stretching back without beginning. There would be no first moment or event! But this would mean “today” would never have arrived! It would be like physically counting down all the negative numbers and arriving at -1. Where would you even begin?
For example, imagine an auditorium of 500 people. Starting at the end of the back row one person stands and sits. The person in the next seat stands and sits. This continues until the last person at the end of the front row stands and sits. After a relatively few moments the exercise is completed.
Now imagine an auditorium with an infinite amount of seats and people. When would the last person on the front row finally stand and sit? The answer: never! For an infinite amount of people would have to stand and sit prior to the last person. The last person (or the person next to him) would represent a completion of the exercise. But an actual infinite cannot be completed by subsequent addition.
In the same way, if the moments of the universe stretched back into eternity without beginning, today would never arrive. But today has arrived! Therefore, the universe began a finite time ago.
The auditorium shows why the great mathematician David Hilbert said an actual concrete infinite exists nowhere in nature. In an infinite auditorium, one could remove all the people in the odd-numbered seats and still be left with an infinite number of seats and people. One could remove an infinite number of odd seats and still have an infinite number of seats!
(What about God’s eternity? First, God is not an actually infinite number of things but is simple in his nature. As an immaterial being, God is not composed of parts.
Further, God’s knowledge would not be comprised of one thought at a time in sequence, but would involve an intuitive knowledge of all true propositions at once. Dr. Craig and others have suggested that God could condescend to time upon creation of it, and thus act in sequential moments and events, etc.)
The universe is subject to this and is why oscillating models and multi-verses still predict a beginning. As Hawking said, “Almost everyone now believes the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang”.
Since the universe requires a cause, and being cannot come from non-being, something must have always been (something necessary, non-contingent, etc.) What attributes can be uncovered concerning the cause? First, it brought about time, so it must timeless. It brought about matter and energy so it must be immaterial. It brought about space so it must be space-less. What kind of entity would fit the description: timeless, immaterial, and space-less, etc.? Philosophers think there are only two candidates: abstract objects or a (disembodied) mind.
But abstract objects do not stand in causal relations. They can’t do anything, i.e. the number “7” cannot cause anything.
That leaves something of the order of mind. That points to God.
The KCA itself is religiously neutral. Yet it can serve as a major first step in a cumulative case for God. It is a deductive argument so, granting the premises, it is not an attempt to plug a gap in scientific knowledge with God. It is based on what we do know and what current cosmology predicts.
One objection to address: some point out that a moment is required for God in which to create. There would be a moment in which God has not created followed by a moment in which he does. And there are no moments prior to the Big Bang. However, God would be the efficient cause apart from temporal chronology. As Kant has pointed out, a cause and effect can be simultaneous.
For example, a bowling ball sitting on a cushion from all eternity would be the efficient cause of the indentation in the cushion. The ball and the cushion in that state would be a simultaneous cause and effect.
Many have asked for evidence for God. And while standards of evidence vary from person to person the KCA is nevertheless evidence for God. I’ll stop here for now for discussion.
Replies are closed for this discussion.
There was no "reply" function on your other post so I'll do it here. Views of physics and philosophy of time goes back and forth. My post points out that there are newer considerations since Einstein that argue for A-Theory.
Bill Craig also points out that many physicists are not philosophers (or are not very good ones). On my latest podcast with Bill, we discuss Sean Carroll. It just went up today at www.reasonablefaith.org.
It is not an inappropriate Appeal to Authority to quote experts in their fields. This does not prove a proposition but can merely lend weight to the argument. The men I quoted merely point out that there are trends building due to better measurement capabilities.
Did you even read doone's responses? His response to the KCA was in his very first post. You are arguing from a false premise, and as such the entire argument is invalid.
We do not know that the universe had a beginning. We know the history of the universe back to Planck time, but before that point we only have hypotheses as our current understanding of quantum gravity is inadequate to calculate further back than that.
The Singularity model that you are proposing, that this universe came from nothing, is not the only hypothesis, nor is it even the most likely one. Alternate hypothesis, such as M-theory, are more likely. At this time they are only hypotheses, as our current level of technology does not allow for testing them. (Although the LHC may be able to test a couple, once it gets up to full power)
Therefore, the answer to 'Did the universe begin to exist' is "We do not know", and as such the KCA is not evidence of a deity of any sort.