Why WL Craig's Kalam Cosmological Argument Fails

First of all, ironically, the Kalam Cosmological argument has Islamic roots, so  one of WL Craig favorite arguments that he uses as a defense for Yahweh, is also a defense for Allah.   However, the argument is weak in either case. The argument as stated below "presumes too much."

1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2) The universe began to exist
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause

Many Christians believe the universe came from nothing, and that their god created everything from nothing, but they do not agree that the universe could come from nothing on its own without their god, or that the universe has always existed. Did the universe begin to exist? Not necessarily. As Stephen Hawking points out in "A Brief History of Time":

"...the quantum theory of gravity has opened up a new possibility, in which there would be no boundary to space-time and so there would be no need to specify the behavior at the boundary. There would be no singularities at which the laws of science broke down, and no edge of space-time at which one would have to appeal to God or some new law to set the boundary conditions for space-time. Once could say: "The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary." The universe would be completely self contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE." (A Brief History of Time, p. 175)

Thus, we have another plausible explanation for the existence of the universe , which makes P1 questionable, and makes this a very weak argument for the existence of any god. The universe did not necessarily begin, and therefore, does not necessarily require a cause.

In any case, if we assume it was caused by a god, that god would not necessarily be the Christian god, or the Islamic god, or the Jewish god--even though they ARE the same god! If this argument was a good argument, it would only prove that some gods and goddesses may have caused the universe. It could apply to Zeus, or Jupiter, or Brahman or any number of the thousands of gods and goddesses created by humanity. Via Ockham's razor, and quantum mechanics, the BEST plausible explanation in this case would be via science and the H-D method, in which case no gods or goddesses need apply.

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Comment by Albert Bakker on May 7, 2011 at 4:38am

I think to refute the premises of the syllogism what is called the "no boundary condition" or the Hartle-Hawking model is a possibility pertaining to premise 2. But it is unproven and open to counter-attacks. For example one could make the argument that since the Hartle Hawking model predicts a closed universe (in the sense that it is self contained, in the since it has no beginning or end outside it) it naively at least also predicts a global space-time symmetry and it seems from observations of supernova explosions that the universe began to expands at an accelerating pace some odd couple of billion years ago. I might even be that the acceleration of expansion is itself accelerating and cause a diverging expansion resulting eventually in a Big Rip. The point is that this predicted and necessary symmetry in the no boundary model seems to be refuted by the observations.

Current thinking in quantum gravity runs counter to the no boundary proposal and time must exist before the Big Bang (meant in the colloquial sense) as it does so naturally in loop quantum cosmology by the way space and time are quantized. It does so too in other proposals:

Video Renate Loll:  http://www.sg.uu.nl/2010/09/13/jubileum-lezing-6/ 

As pertaining to premise 1, the non-zero vacuum energy will suffice to refute that and Hawking radiation and the Casimir effect provide nice illustrations of the principle.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 7, 2011 at 11:31am

For the longest time it seemed that physicists were rather fascist about 'time'.  For years I ran into post-grad physics students who wouldn't tolerated a notion of 'before the big bang' and that really lent credence to W.L. Craig.  It was irritating as hell because they would literally condemn the notion that 'before' was a concept that existed in human language outside of physics.


Furthermore, the idea that 'whatever began must have had a cause' is very Newtonian, and that view really 'began' to fall apart before I was even born.  In a more philosophical sense, where did William Lane Craig come from?  Even if you stick to a very Newtonian concept of predicting that his atoms would come together, the notion of William Lane Craig began when his family named him, and attributes were accumulated as he was observed and indeed as he observed himself.  Does he truly believe that he was 'caused' then?  If so, do we actually even make choices or is this not all just atoms moving in predictable ways, all predetermined by his concept of an initial cause?


Finally, even if an initial cause for all of this existed - there is no reason at all to assume it was a conscious prime mover.  Even if the prime mover was conscious, it could as easily be a precocious child from a 9 dimensional world playing with the quantum set he got for a birthday present - there is no reason to assume an old bearded man named Yahweh had anything to do with it.


Yes, though, your rebuttal for WLC addresses these issues very well.

Comment by Luke Scientiae on September 6, 2011 at 7:53am

You might be interested in my blog post about the Kalam Cosmological argument, which includes some interesting videos about the physics it is clearly at odds with:


Comment by Terrion Bolt on September 6, 2011 at 8:18am

Or you could also argue against premise 1, where whatever that began to exist has had a cause. As Luke above me said, there are things in that happen which have no cause, like radioactivity, virtual particles, de-excitation of electrons, etc. 


Also, from what you said that "Many Christians believe the universe came from nothing", there are Physicists who believe that the universe still is nothing, that the total energy of the entire universe is 0. So even if there were a God, it didn't make something out of nothing, for the entire universe is still nothing. 

Comment by Luke Scientiae on September 6, 2011 at 10:37pm

I get the impression we're not going to change anyone's mind here on Think Atheist about the KCA because everyone here recognizes it for the crock it really is. What we need to be doing is challenging the believers about this on forums where they congratulate themselves on what a wonderful argument they've got. Medieval and illogical as it is. There are some out the that get millions of hits. That's where we need to be putting up resistance and countering them with the facts and logic.


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