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.

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Replies to This Discussion

How does that or anything you've written on in this thread get around the philosophical problem of an actual concrete infinite regress?

 

Remember, I made two basic arguments. You've only addressed possibilities concerning the first one.

 

"We don't know there is a cause. We observe what is and try to figure possible ways it came about."

"Cause" or "ways it came about"? Exactly!

I'm glad that we can agree, Kevin, that your arguments are not scientific. Where we part company is your statement that 'Science is limited to what may be "fingerprints" (e.g. the Big Bang) of something immaterial or transcendent.' This assumes the existence of the immaterial or transcendent. What we are discussing here is the origins of the Universe, a physical phenomenon. I absolutely fail to understand why you should think that this is not the province of science, let alone why it should be the province of philosophy. Scientific observation and methodology has given us detailed and testable knowledge about the origins of the universe. At the moment there is a gap in that knowledge, which you are seeking to fill with your philosophical construct. This really is just the 'God of the Gaps' in other clothes. Should we ever solve this problem, the answer will come from star gazing, not navel gazing!

I have pointed out repeatedly that the physical part certainly is the province of science (methodological naturalism). But the reflection on the ramifications, inferences, existential meaning, etc. is certainly not!

Star gazing leads to navel gazing! In fact, you have done this in your entire post and then denied it's necessary! So which is it?

If what you delight in is a purely intellectual exercise then good luck to you, but I'm afraid that the chances of your contemplations having any real bearing on the origins of the universe or the existence of God are vanishingly improbable. I'm irresistibly reminded of the debates that used to rage about the number of angels that could fit on the head of a pin ..... you are seeking to reason out the nature of something that is just as illusory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angels on a pin was a theological consideration (and a trivial one at that) mostly in the realm of Revealed Theology. What we're considering is why there is something rather than nothing, or origins,  which is Natural Theology (which does not consider Revealed Theology, but only what may point to God from what can be ascertained from nature. This would include physical science and philosophy).
All that exists had to have a beginning - & was caused. Right.  Who - what caused god ?     Re the 'big bang' 13.7 billion years ago - was that the FIRST big bang ?    Xianity was founded & funded early in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine. HE created the late J.C. via a bunch of ignorant men from a vast area. The bible is nothing but a sloppy compilation of hearsay, folklore & mythology spanning over 5 centuries. I forgot to mention fairy tales.  Too bad the brothers Grimm didn't live sooner. The good book could include "Jack & the Bean stock"

Good point! the Kalam Argument works on the basis that one cannot have an infinite regression of causes so that somewhere back at the beginning there needs to be an uncaused being (or thing). It sounds very promising but suffers from being entirely in the head of the proponent and not in any evidence. In fact the whole of Kalam Argument is based on a not very good understanding of science we did many years ago. 

 

William Lane Craig who is keen on the idea ought to get out from his study and work out some experiments we could do to prove one way or other if he is right.

All that exists had to have a beginning - & was caused. Right.  Who - what caused god ?     Re the 'big bang' 13.7 billion years ago - was that the FIRST big bang ?    Xianity was founded & funded early in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine. HE created the late J.C. via a bunch of ignorant men from a vast area. The bible is nothing but a sloppy compilation of hearsay, folklore & mythology spanning over 5 centuries. I forgot to mention fairy tales.  Too bad the brothers Grimm didn't live sooner. The good book could include "Jack & the Bean stock"

"entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity"

 

To explain something you should not bring in something even more complex. The biggest flaw in your argument will always be that you cannot explain the basic premise - where did your god come from?

 

That things have a cause is deceptive - the 'cause' can be the way things work rather than an active author.

 

You make many claims about the nature of god. These are things you cannot possibly know. They are conclusions that you have come to based upon the necessities of your argument rather than conclusions based in data.

If the universe had a cause, what attributes would the cause have? What can we rule out? What are some plausible options? Do we have to know every thing about the cause in order to know some things about it and build from there? 

Aren't these legitimate questions when conducting a conceptual analysis?

I act as a peer-reviewer only when I show you where you have inserted logical fallacies. You may think of this as an editor who circles grammatical errors. The purpose is to allow you to correct those errors.
1. "And anything which begins to exist is subject to the metaphysical principle that anything which begins to exist has a cause for its existence." -This is the classic first-cause logical fallacy. One cannot propose the answer to a question of complexity by asserting that something of greater complexity "created" it. This argument is effectively destroyed by Occam's Razor. "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem." ["entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity"] In otherwords... positing a creator of a universe multiplies the "entities" [factors] to be dealt with beyond necessity.
Second if "anything that begins to exist must have a cause" then we have a problem of the multiplying of entities extending into infinity. The argument becomes much like what happens when two mirrors face each-other... they reflect eachother infinitely.
If anything that comes into being must have a cause...
then the cause must have a cause...
and that cause must have a cause...
etc.

2. "That points to God." - This is yet another fallacy and the most common one theists make. "God of the Gaps." Essentially... one posits an unfalsifiable or evidence-free explanation for an event one doesn't understand. The lack of knowledge is the gap and theists often try to fill it with God. "I don't know why X happened... so God must be responsible for X." Unfortunately... God of the Gaps doesn't solve the problem. Like water slips through cupped hands... God slips right out of the "seal" he makes over the gaps and leaves them wide open again. The question isn't answered... it is just covered over by positing things that replace one phrase with another. In this case "I don't know" is replaced with "God." But the answer is the same no matter how it is phrased. The lack of knowledge is still there.

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