MOD EDIT: Title changed to better reflect the nature of this posting.

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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.

Premise 1

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.”

Premise 2

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”.

Conceptual Analysis

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.

Conclusion

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.

Tags: God, Hawking, Kant, argument, cause, cosmological, evidence, first, for, kalam, More…set, theism, theory

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Replies to This Discussion

the KCA also mega fails because it hinges an A-theory of time, which was abandoned in the 1920's  in physics by Einstein and Kaluza. lol. Under the current theory, the B-theory, the cosmos never "came into being", so premise 2 is false. 

 

How do we know the B-theory is correct?

it predicted eclipses down to a hair, it explained the orbit of Mercury, it predicted that if we flew atomic clocks in very fast planes around the Earth, they would have "slowed down time" when brought back compared to clocks on Earth. All of these things the A-theory failed to do. 

 

You may be wondering if time is tenseless, then how to we have change? Well, the arrow of time is due to entropy and increasing disorder in the cosmos. 

 

also, "God did it" is a terrible explanation and has the attributes of explanations used in pseudoscience. it is (1) untestable (unable to be falsified, survive falsification), (2) fails Occam's razor, (3) yields no predictions, (4) does not have an explanatory novelty, (5) is ontologically uneconomical, (6) provides no mechanic, and (7) fits in with failed traditions that stand against good explanations (astrology not astronomy, homeopathy not science based medicine). 

 

GG uninstall.

 

ps. I think the author didn't intend on an atheist that is well read in philosophy of religion, which I read on a graduate level ;-P. 

Very true that the A-Theory is required for the KCA in this form to go through. But I disagree with your conclusions about B-Theory. It is by no means the dominant view and is very problematic.
If you have not done so already, I recommend that you read Stephen Hawking's latest book, The Grand Design. Some of the more recent discoveries on causality at the quantum level seem to me to present some significant problems for the A-theory of time.

the A-theory doesn't work without the aether, which was dumped at the beginning of the 20th century because of the Michelson-Morley experiment. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelson%E2%80%93Morley_experiment

 

Kevin is just repeating BIll Craig's garbage without knowing anything about physics. 

have you ever talked to a physicist? the B-theory is the overwhelming consensus view. And what is problematic about it? The flow of time is beautifully explained by entropy. If you  could, explain to me why we should take Bill Craig's view of physics (which was dumped 90 years ago) over the view of Einstein, Kaluza, Dirac, Feynman, and modern physics.  Now time looks like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacetime

 

You didn't even address my point. 

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.

 

the physics doesn't go back and forth at all lol. apologists just say that because their arguments completely fail without it. you aren't quoting the consensus view, so it is most definitely appealing to authority. not only that, but you are using 80 years outdated physics.
The fact that time and space are one is undisputed!  There is no time without space, and no space without time. I.E. Einstein was correct to call it "time-space." In this case, reality really is stranger than fiction. Because time and space are interconnected, extremes of gravity can have a strange effect on time. Past a certain point [I forget the word for it] early time in the universe's history cannot be measured. The conditions in the universe at the time were so extreme and time itself was most likely warped... and thus, beyond this point, we do not know what happened.
we so need a "Pwned" sticker in the library.

Here's one! ^_^

You're my hero.
Wow! Pretty pictures but not one response to my arguments! The only attempt you made amounts to the get-rich quick guy doing a seminar and saying, "Okay, first you get a lot of money!"

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