The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

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John J. Bannan
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The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

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Post by John J. Bannan »

THE FOURTEEN COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

By John J. Bannan (5/24/2020)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. God is the creator of the cosmos. The cosmological arguments prove the existence of God by demonstrating the necessity of a Creator for the cosmos. The cosmological arguments offer good reason through circumstantial evidence taken from the nature of the cosmos itself to believe in God. The following is a listing and explanation of all the known cosmological arguments for the existence of God:

I. THE DICHOTOMY OF EXISTENCE
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The dichotomy of existence proves the existence of God by demonstrating the necessity of an uncaused Creator with the power to create any or all of the infinite potentials for physical reality to the fullest extent logically possible under everythingness. In terms of the uncaused, there are only two possibilities. The first is the uncaused reason for the existence of all physical reality. The second is the uncaused absence of any reality called absolute nothingness. These two are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive of all logical possibilities forming an abstract metaphysical dichotomy of existence. Because each side of the dichotomy is uncaused, there can be no cause for either of the two being real. Rather, one side is real and the other is not real without reason or necessity. Moreover, an uncaused thing does not have parts, because it would otherwise be caused by those parts. Because an uncaused thing does not have parts, an uncaused thing cannot be destroyed because destruction demands the disassociation of parts. As a result, the side of the dichotomy that is real can never be destroyed, and the other side that is not real can never become real.

Because physical reality can differ in the most minute way logically possible from another potential physical reality, there is no good reason to believe that the uncaused reason for the existence of all physical reality could not also create that potential physical reality. Because this uncaused reason can create this potential physical reality, then it can also create another potential physical reality differing from the former potential physical reality in the most minute way logically possible. Repeating this ad infinitum, this uncaused reason must be capable of creating any or all of the infinite logically possible physical realities called everythingness. Because potential physical realities can be created, there must be a reason for the existence of physical reality and the creation of any or all infinite potential physical realities. This reason must be uncaused, because the creation of any or all physical realities is contingent on this reason which leaves this reason without anything else to cause it.

Because the creation of less than everything that is logically possible is itself a logical possibility falling within everythingness, then this uncaused reason must necessarily be able to decide what to create out of the infinite possibilities for physical reality. This uncaused reason must have knowledge of all the infinite potentials for physical reality, the power to create any or all of these potentials, and a presence to control, sustain, alter or destroy any such creation. Moreover, this uncaused reason must have the greatest decision-making ability logically possible in order to be able to create up to the fullest extent of everythingness. We call this uncaused real side of the dichotomy of existence God.

II. THE FIRST CAUSE ARGUMENT
(BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS)
The first cause argument proves the existence of God by demonstrating that all causes and effects in the cosmos must ultimately derive from a very first cause we call God. In the cosmos, we observe that for every cause, there is an effect. We also observe that every effect is itself a cause for a subsequent effect. Like a line of falling dominos, the first falling domino causes the fall of the second domino, and the second falling domino causes the fall of the third domino. The cosmos unfolds as a series of causes and effects over time.

Because an infinite regress in time of causes and effects is impossible, there must be a very first cause of the cosmic series of causes and effects. We observe that cause and effect in the cosmos follows an order where A causes B, and B causes C, whether the intermediate cause B is only a single cause or several causes. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there is no cause A, there will be no ultimate cause C, nor any intermediate cause B. But, if an infinite regress in time of causes and effects were possible, there would not be a first cause, and so neither would there be an ultimate cause, nor any intermediate cause. Therefore, the existence of the series of causes and effects over time in the cosmos necessitates a very first cause for the beginning of the series.

The very first cause in the beginning of the cosmic series of causes and effects over time must not itself be caused. If it were caused, then regress would continue backward in time infinitely, which is impossible. Moreover, the very first cause cannot be self-created. It is impossible for a thing to cause itself, because it would have to exist prior to itself. Therefore, the very first cause must itself be uncaused. We call this uncaused first cause God.

Because God is uncaused, God cannot be made of parts. A thing that is made of parts is caused by those parts. God being uncaused cannot Himself be caused by parts. We call this principle that God is not made of parts – divine simplicity. Divine simplicity is a mystery, because we cannot imagine a thing without parts. However, because we know a very first cause is necessary for the cosmos to be created, and we know that this very first cause cannot be made of parts, we know that divine simplicity is real. An ancient classical philosophical truth known as “ex nihilo nihil fit” states that nothing comes from nothing – or that you can’t get something from nothing. Because nothingness cannot create the cosmos, an uncaused very first cause of the cosmos is necessary to which we give the name God.

III. THE FIRST ORDER ARGUMENT
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The first order argument proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the cosmos must have had an initial order created by an uncaused orderless cause we call God. We observe from the cosmos that everything has an order. This order is the relative position or arrangement of things in physical reality at any given moment in time. We observe that this order is caused by an antecedent order, and that this antecedent order is caused by an earlier antecedent order. Because an infinite regress in time of antecedent orders is impossible, there must be a very first order.

We observe that order in the cosmos follows a pattern where order A causes order B, and order B causes order C, whether the intermediate order B is only a single order or a series of consecutive orders. Now to take away order A is to take away order B. Therefore, if there is no order A, there will be no ultimate order C, nor any intermediate order B. But, if an infinite regress in time of consecutive orders were possible, there would not be a first order, and so neither would there be an ultimate order, nor any intermediate order. Therefore, the existence of the series of consecutive orders over time in the cosmos necessitates a very first order for the beginning of the series. This first order requires an orderless cause, because a first order cannot come from nothing. A cause without order is a cause without parts, and therefore must be uncaused because otherwise its parts would be its cause. Because all physical realities possess an order, this orderless cause cannot be any sort of physical reality. We call this uncaused orderless immaterial cause of first order God.

IV. THE BEGINNINGLESS TIME PARADOX
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The beginningless time paradox proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the beginning of time itself must have an uncaused timeless cause we call God. If time in the cosmos had no beginning, then there would be an infinity of prior moments in time before the arrival of the present moment. An infinity of prior moments of time could never be fully traversed, because there would always be a prior moment in time that had not yet been traversed because infinity is unending. If all prior moments in time are not fully traversed, then paradoxically the present moment in time could never arrive. Because the present moment in time does arrive, then time in the cosmos must have had a beginning. Because time must have had a beginning, then time must have been caused to begin from something besides nothing because nothing cannot cause anything.

The cause of the beginning of time not having time for its own cause must therefore be uncaused. Moreover, the cause of time itself cannot be something subject to time, because the existence of anything subject to time is contingent on the existence of time. The beginning of time itself cannot have a physical explanation, because all physical explanations would be subject to time. Accordingly, there must be an uncaused immaterial explanation for the beginning of time itself we call God.

V. THE BEGINNINGLESS CAUSATION PARADOX
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The beginningless causation paradox proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the beginning of causation itself must have an uncaused immaterial cause we call God. If causation in the cosmos had no beginning, then there would be an infinite regression of causation exhausting all possible causes. However, if causation were infinite, then causation could not become exhausted. Therefore, causation cannot be infinite, but must have had a beginning.

The cause of the beginning of causation not having a cause for its own beginning must therefore be uncaused. The beginning of causation itself cannot be a physical explanation, because all physical explanations would be caused. Accordingly, there must be an uncaused immaterial cause for the beginning of causation we call God.

VI. THE PRIME MOVER ARGUMENT
(BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS)
The prime mover argument proves the existence of God by demonstrating that all motion in the cosmos must ultimately be derived from an unmoved mover we call God. We observe that in the cosmos some things are in motion. Now whatever is moved is moved by another. Things move when potential for motion becomes actual motion. Only an actual motion can convert a potential for motion into an actual motion. Nothing can be in both potentiality and actuality in the same respect simultaneously. If both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another respect. Therefore, nothing can move itself.

Each thing in motion is moved by something else. If that by which it is moved be itself moved, then this also needs to be moved by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go onto infinity, because then there would be no first mover. Without a first mover, there would be no movement at all, because all subsequent movers move only inasmuch that they are moved by the first mover. For example, the staff moves only because it is moved by the hand. Therefore, it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, moved by no other; and this we call God.

VII. THE NECESSARY BEING ARGUMENT
(BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS)
The necessary being argument proves the existence of God by demonstrating that there must be some being we call God that exists out of His own necessity in order for contingent beings to exist in the cosmos. We observe that in the cosmos things come and go into being called contingent beings. Every being is a contingent being, because objects in the cosmos come into being and pass away. Indeed, it is possible for those objects to exist or for those objects not to exist at any given time. For each contingent being, there is a time it does not exist. Therefore, it is impossible for these always to exist. Consequently, there could have been a time when no things existed.

If there were a time when no things existed, there would have been nothing to bring the currently existing contingent beings into existence. Therefore, nothing would be in existence now. Such an absurd result undermines the assumption that all beings are contingent. Therefore, not every being is a contingent being. There must be some being which exists of its own necessity, and does not receive its existence from another being, but rather causes them. We call this necessary being God.

VIII. THE ARGUMENT FROM COMPOSITE PARTS
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The argument from composite parts proves the existence of God by demonstrating that an uncaused singular non-composite we call God is necessary for the existence of all composites in the cosmos. We observe from the cosmos that all composites are caused by their parts. Causation itself is the formation of a composite from parts in physical reality. The cosmos itself is a composite made of parts consisting of each moment in time with its physical reality. We also observe that composites themselves are made of composites. However, a composite cannot be made without parts, and because more than one part is a composite, a single part which causes all composites must be real because composites cannot come from nothing. That single part which causes all composites must be an uncaused non-composite, because parts would otherwise cause it to be a composite. Because all physical reality forms a composite with spacetime, then the single uncaused non-composite cannot be any sort of physical reality. We call this single uncaused immaterial non-composite God.

IX. THE ARGUMENT FROM TIME
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The argument from time proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the existence of time requires an uncaused timeless cause we call God. Time is the creation, destruction and re-creation of physical reality at the smallest scale at relative rates. Because nothing comes from nothing, the cause of time cannot be nothing. Rather, the cause of time must have a cause outside of time. This cause of time must also remember the prior order, placement and time flow of physical reality in order to re-create physical reality at every moment in time. This cause of time not having time for its own cause must therefore be uncaused. However, the cause of time itself cannot be something subject to time, because the existence of anything subject to time is contingent on the existence of time. There are no physical explanations for the beginning of time itself, because all physical explanations would be subject to time. We call this uncaused timeless immaterial cause of time God.

X. THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
(BY WILLIAM LANE CRAIG)
The Kalam cosmological argument proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the cosmos had a beginning caused by a personal agent that transcends spacetime we call God. We observe from the cosmos that everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence. The cosmos began to exist. Therefore, the cosmos has a cause for its existence. The cosmos began to exist, because an actual infinite cannot exist. A beginningless temporal series of events is an actual infinite. Therefore, a beginningless temporal series of events cannot exist.

Actual infinities that neither increase or decrease in the number of members they contain would result in absurd consequences, if they were to exist in reality. For example, a library with an infinite number of books would not be reduced in size at all by the removal of a specific number of books (short of all of them). Or, before the present event could occur the event immediately prior to it would have to occur. But, before that event could occur, the event immediately prior to it would have to occur; and so on ad infinitum. One gets driven back and back into the infinite past, making it impossible for any event to occur. Thus, if the series of past events were beginningless, the present event could not have occurred, which is absurd.

The collection of historical events is formed by successively adding events, one following another. The events are not temporally simultaneous, but occur over a period of time as the series continues to acquire new members. Even if an actual infinite were possible, it could not be realized by successive addition. In adding to the series, no matter how much this is done, even to infinity, the series remains finite and only potentially infinite. One can neither count to nor traverse the infinite.

If something has a finite past, its existence has a cause. The cosmos has a finite past. Therefore, the cosmos has a cause of its existence. Because spacetime originated with the cosmos and therefore has a finite past, the cause of the existence of the cosmos must transcend spacetime. Because the cause of the cosmos’ existence transcends spacetime, no scientific explanation in terms of physical laws can provide a causal account of the origin of the cosmos. Because no scientific explanation can provide a causal account of the origin of the cosmos, then the cause must be a personal agent. If the cause were an eternal, nonpersonal, mechanically operating set of conditions, then the cosmos would exist from eternity. Because the cosmos has not existed from eternity, the cause must be a personal agent we call God who chooses freely to create an effect in time.

XI. THE ARGUMENT FROM SUFFICIENT REASON
(BY GOTTFRIED LEIBNIZ)
The argument from sufficient reason proves the existence of God by demonstrating that an explanation for the existence of the cosmos is necessary, which must be a transcendent God who has within His own nature the necessity of existence. We observe from the cosmos that there must be an explanation, or sufficient reason, for anything that exists. The explanation for whatever exists must lie either in the necessity of its own nature or in a cause external to itself. A sufficient reason for the existence of the cosmos cannot be another contingent thing (and on into infinity), because to explain the existence of any contingent thing by another contingent thing lacks a sufficient reason why any contingent thing exists. The explanation of the existence of the cosmos must lie in a transcendent God, because the cosmos does not have within its own nature the necessity of existence and God does.

XII. THE ARGUMENT FROM ABDUCTION
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The argument from abduction demonstrates that something must be uncaused and the best explanation is an uncaused metaphysical reality we call God. We observe that in the cosmos something has got to be uncaused, otherwise there would be nothing. It is impossible that physical reality is uncaused. Any aspect of physical reality claimed to be uncaused can be eliminated as impossible or ultimately caused, including but not limited to infinite regress, actual infinities, self-creation, time travel, eternality in time, timelessness, and acausal physics. Therefore, the best explanation that remains is an uncaused metaphysical reality we call God.

XIII. THE ARGUMENT FROM GRADATION OF BEING
(BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS)
The argument from gradation of being proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the existence of all things requires as their cause a maximum being we call God. We observe from the cosmos that there is a gradation to be found in physical reality. Some physical things are better or worse than others. Predications of degree require reference to the uttermost case. For example, a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest. The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus. Therefore, there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection. We call this God.

XIV. THE ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN
(BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS)
The argument from design proves the existence of God by demonstrating that non-intelligent natural things must be directed in their purposes by a supernatural intelligent being we call God. We observe from the cosmos that natural bodies work toward some goal, and do not do so by chance. Most natural things lack knowledge. But, as an arrow reaches its target because it is directed by an archer, what lacks intelligence achieves goals by being directed by something intelligent. Therefore, some intelligent being is real by whom all natural things are directed to their end. We call this intelligent being God.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

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Post by The Tanager »

Quotes are in italics. My responses are regular.

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

Objection #1: Ad hoc phrasing

Craig finesses his P1 by using the phrase "begins to exist", opening the obvious escape hatch that God did not begin to exist, because He is eternal.

Logically, things that exist could have always existed (are eternal) or have begun to exist (are temporal). This premise makes a claim about one of those categories (temporal things) based on the principle of causality (I share the reasons in response to objection #12 below because it seemed to fit that objection well). Doing so says nothing about whether there are any actually existing eternal things or not. This phrasing avoids begging that question either way, which is what good arguments do. Yes, this leaves open the possibility that an eternal God could come into play, but it also leaves open that other eternal beings could come into play. Closing such a possibility off (i.e., closing the escape hatch) would be begging the question in the opposite direction. This phrasing, therefore, is not ad hoc.

Objection #2: Begging the question

The KCA of Craig is an example of begging the question or circular reasoning. Craig presumes that the phrase "whatever begins to exist" includes everything apart from God, whom Craig assumes is the ultimate cause of, well, everything (by way of being both omnipotent and omniscient as well as the creator of the universe). This presupposition puts God into the premise of the argument that was supposed to prove his existence in the first place. This is also most likely an example of special pleading, as the first premise, "Everything that begins to exist has a cause", can be rewritten as "Everything that is not God has a cause" (unless there exists some other thing or things which did not begin to exist).

First, neither the KCA nor Craig talking about the KCA speak of omnipotence and omniscience. Theists believe that about God for other reasons irrelevant to an analysis of the KCA.

Second, neither KCA nor Craig presume this phrasing includes everything apart from God. This phrasing is a part of a logical categorization of reality into eternal things and temporal things. There are other members of the eternal category: Plato's World of Forms, eternal energy, etc. This phrasing does not even assume any member of the eternal category, including God, actually exists. The phrasing is the logical result of a rational categorization of reality. This phrasing is, therefore, not equivalent to "Everything that is not God has a cause" and does not beg the question.

Objection #3: Conservation of Mass

In physics, things do not begin to exist. The conservation of mass means that things form from other things already in existence. So it is meaningless to state that they have a cause because they begin to exist.

The conservation of mass concerns closed systems. In a closed system, there will be no loss or gain of mass, just transformation into different forms. This says nothing about whether the closed system began to exist or not. It also says nothing about the system "opening up" and gaining mass from an outside source.

Objection #4: Quantum uncaused events

In quantum mechanics, things happen which are not caused, such as radioactive decay, or when an atom in an excited energy level loses a photon. No cause is evident in the decay of a radioactive nucleus. Craig has said that quantum events are still "caused" just in a non-predetermined manner — what he calls "probabilistic causality". Craig is thereby admitting that the "cause" in his first premise could be an accidental one, something spontaneous and not predetermined. He therefore destroys his own case for a predetermined creation.

First, it is in some interpretations of what happens at the quantum level that quantum events are uncaused. Many physicists (theist and atheist) are dissatisfied with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. Most interpretations are, in fact, deterministic. Speaking of quantum cosmologists, Craig writes that " Quantum cosmologists are especially averse to Copenhagen, since that interpretation in a cosmological context will require an ultramundane observer to collapse the wave function of the universe."

Second, radioactive decay may not have an efficient cause, but that does not mean it is uncaused. That sense of 'cause' is narrower than the KCA is (and should be) using the term. Radioactive decay requires a prior material cause (the radioactive element) to occur. The loss of a photon requires the atom to be in an excited energy level. The virtual particle, if such a thing actually exists and is not just a useful fiction, requires the energy of the quantum vacuum. All of these events have prior causes.

Third, a "probabilistic cause" is still a cause, so this would support the truth of premise 1. This does not undermine the KCA, however, because the possibility of a probabilistic cause is different than a probabilistic cause being the cause of the universe. The arguments that count against this come in premise 4, concerning the cause being immaterial, timeless, personal, etc.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

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2. The universe began to exist.

Objection #5: No definition of 'universe'

The KCA fails to identify one of its key concepts (the universe) and define its essential properties, either through its syllogism, or subsequent explanations for its syllogism.

That is simply not true. Obviously, the syllogism cannot define every single word or it ceases to be a useful shorthand of the basic reasoning of the argument. The definition of the 'universe' is given in the subsequent explanations from theists like Craig. The article even accuses Craig's definition of undermining his argument, later! You can't have it both ways.

Objection #6: Wrong definition of 'universe'

Craig's KCA insists that the Big Bang was the beginning of everything and if it is not, then a part of existence is unaccounted for. This larger whole may be eternal, or may never have begun to exist, or caused the Big Bang (as a local inflationary expansion), or caused the rest of the multiverse.

Here the author seems to think the 'universe' refers to the state of the universe we are currently in, post-Big Bang. While Craig invokes Occam's Razor to argue that the Big Bang as the beginning of everything is the best scientific answer we have right now, he does not frame the KCA to rely upon that being true.

If, instead, Craig was to define the universe in his KCA as the totality of existence, the argument would again be rendered nonsensical, because the universe could not have been created by something outside itself under this definition: For something to create the totality of that which exists, we end up with the creating agent being non-existent. Furthermore, if the universe is defined as the totality of existence, it could never have been caused as a whole, since that would entail that at one point existence was non-existent, which is simply incoherent.

This is not how the KCA defines 'universe,' either. The universe refers to all spatio-temporal matter, even such matter prior to or outside of our post-Big Bang observable universe, if such states exist(ed).

Objection #7: Definition of 'universe' assumes supernaturalism is true

The second premise, "The universe began to exist", forces us to draw an inference between the items in the set (things within the universe) and apply it to the set as a whole (the universe itself). For that to be valid, one must fallaciously presuppose a realm beyond the universe in which the universe itself is part of a larger set within which it is contained, limited, and defined.

This leads to another compositional error, via begging the question, since such a realm beyond the universe adds another, entirely unsubstantiated and unexamined, speculative realm (this also verges on bringing up infinite regress issues).

I'll get to the claims of compositional error later. Let's focus on whether the KCA assumes supernaturalism through it's definition of 'universe'. The KCA does not assume anything beyond the physical universe. It simply does not rule out such a supernatural realm. At this point it does not claim that the supernatural exists. That's what good definitions do. To say that the physical universe is all that exists (by definition) is to beg the question in favor of naturalism.

This does not point to a possible infinite regress of some realm outside of that and some realm outside of that, etc. The categorization is concerning the only two logically possible categories here: the natural and the non-natural/supernatural. That is logically exhaustive.

Objection #8: Logical contradiction

About the one thing that we do know about a singularity like the big bang, however, is that nothing from before the big bang could have affected anything that came after it. This is because the very premise of the universe itself, of time itself and of reality - in the most literal sense - was set up at the point of the big bang. This, despite the way our primitive apeloid cerebrum struggle to grasp the implications of that.

It would thus appear entirely contradictory to claim that the big bang was in fact caused by anything that preceded the singularity -


The idea that there could be a being existing before the Big Bang to cause it is not a contradiction unless you believe naturalism is true. No case is made for naturalism here, so I can't analyze that. It seems to be an assumption. If the spacetime universe came into existence at the Big Bang, then all this does is rule out the cause being material. There is nothing logically contradictory about an immaterial, timeless state being the cause.

Objection #9: Assumes the cause is God

The KCA's second premise of his argument is also flawed, because it simply assumes that the universe has a beginning.

No, it doesn't simply assume that. Theists address the scientific theories, many of which point to a beginning. Many of those that don't posit a beginning have been rejected by the scientific community, remain purely speculative, and still run into other problems. Theists like Craig and James Sinclair talk about those. But the KCA does not rely on scientific confirmation, so assume agnosticism there. Theists offer two philosophical arguments in support of the second premise. Craig calls them:

(1) Argument from the impossibility of an actual infinite
(2) Argument from the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition

The author does not critique these arguments, so I won't give the lengthy defense here unless someone asks for it. Craig and others do give pages of reasoning, however. They clearly do not simply assume the universe has a beginning. For what it's worth, I think (1), which talks of Hilbert Hotels, fails, but there is a recent article I've been meaning to read in defense of that argument. Regardless, I think (2) is sound.

Objection #10: We don't know enough

Not enough is known about the early stages of the Big Bang or about what, if anything, existed before it. We don't know what the universe was like before the first 10−43 seconds after inflation started and, contrary to Craig's assertions, it is far from certain that the universe had a beginning.

...

and since even the laws of cause and effect that we observe in our universe today had broken down at the point of the singularity, it's not even a plausible premise to conclude that the principles of cause and effect must have operated, never mind existed, before the big bang.


These claims misunderstand the Causal Principle. We don't have to know what the first moments were like or what prior states, if they existed, were like in order to apply the Causal Principle. This principle isn't a physical principle or law, which is contingent upon the laws of nature. It is a metaphysical principle: something cannot come into existence uncaused from nothing. This is not dependent on the natural kinds of things that exist for its truth; it applies to all of reality. Therefore, our lack of knowledge of this period is irrelevant to the truth of this premise.

Instead, various possibilities exist.

1. Before the expansion started, the universe existed in a stable state eternally.
2. The multiverse could have existed before our universe started.
3. There could have been a Big Crunch prior to the Big Bang. In fact, published cosmological models, such as the Steinhardt–Turok model and Baum–Frampton model describe such Universes.
4. Something else entirely could have existed.


1. If the impersonal stable state existed eternally, then all conditions for the expansion existed already and, therefore, the effect (the Big Bang) would also be eternal. Impersonal states can't hold off the conditions like that.

2. The multiverse is part of the 'universe' as the Kalam uses that term because it is part of all natural matter.

3. Every model should be looked at. Craig and Sinclair talk about the ones mentioned. That discussion is lengthy, so I'll advise the reader to look into it rather than just taking me at my following words. To give my summary understanding, the problem with Steinhardt-Turok's Ekpyrotic/cyclic model is that it really does have a beginning (being subject to the BVG singularity theorem). The problems with the Baum-Frampton model are: (1) that to make it work one seems to need to introduce explicit fine-tuning (and, hence, a fine-tuner) to defeat the BVG singularity theorem, (2) in this model, entropy should already have grown to an infinite value, but it hasn't, and (3) the presence of any matter or radiation during contraction would prevent the cycling. Sinclair talks about more work needing to be done here to meet this unanswered questions, so he's not passing full judgment on it. Perhaps more work has been done since then and I'd be interested in reading about it.

4. Yes, but it couldn't be material since the universe refers to all matter, not just the current state we live in.

Objection #11: Pick and choose science

Another problem is the way apologists like Craig only seem to pay any mind at all to the laws and limitations of physics when (they think) these help to prove their point, disregarding the rest of them, as if doing that constitutes anything but a pseudoscientific approach to the implications of cosmology.

Proponents of the KCA do not need to explain every single scientific law when talking about the KCA. They bring in the ones they feel are relevant. If opponents feel that other laws are being ignored, then they should bring those in and say how they are relevant and defeat the conclusions the theists offer.

Behind this may be the view that science is the only valid approach to knowledge (i.e., scientism), which is obviously absurd since it is self-defeating (i.e., that science is the only way to knowledge is itself not a scientific claim). The KCA brings in scientific knowledge and philosophical claims.

Objection #12: Compositional fallacy

An even simpler problem with premise one is that it's actually about things beginning to exist within the universe (aka spacetime) which it then applied to the question of the origin of the universe itself (premise two) to which it cannot simply be assumed to apply. An analogy would be to claim that since a monarch is defined as the offspring of another monarch, the only possible explanations are either the obviously false one that monarchs and monarchies are eternal or that there must have been some mystical divine prime mover behind their origins. This of course ignores that a royal line of succession necessarily requires the prior existence of a monarchy, just like Craig's inductive examples of things "beginning to exist"[15] necessarily requires the prior existence of the universe.

The KCA is not commiting this fallacy. As I've said above, the Causal Principle is not a contingent feature of our particular natural reality, but a metaphysical principle that applies to all of reality (if anything outside spacetime exists). In other words, the first premise is not about things beginning to exist within the universe, but things beginning to exist in any kind of reality. The inference is not from a part to the whole, but applying a universal principle. Therefore, the inference is valid in applying it to the origin of the spacetime universe, as well, as it is one part of reality. And remember that this isn't assuming the supernatural exists; it's simply not ruling it out by definition. The spatio-temporal universe, if it began to exist, would conform to the Causal Principle, not because the state of that universe that we see as chairs, people, planets, etc. conforms to it, but because all of reality conforms to it if reality makes any rational sense at all.

Objection #13: Actual infinites can/do exist

Craig rejects the existence of actual infinities as being anywhere in Nature as being an absurdity[22], and yet he will cite singularity theorems from cosmologists while not mentioning to his audiences that a singularity, in physics, is an "actual infinite" (in particular, where the space-time metric becomes infinite.)

Craig does accept the "Argument from the impossibility of an actual infinite," which I currently reject as sound but this does not matter if the "Argument from the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition." Still, I think the author commits an error here. Singularities are not actual infinites, which is a technical mathematical term basically talking about an infinite number of discrete segments. Singularities aren't made of discrete parts. Singularities aren't even things, but a mathematical error (division by zero). In physics, we can't squeeze any amount of matter into zero volume. Singularities are conjectures and more of a way of saying the math breaks down at this point, not that the math holds up and gives us an actual infinite in existence.

Objection #14: God is an actual infinite

Craig contradicts his own assertions of actual infinities being absurd; in his debate with Professor Daniel Came,[23] Craig acknowledged that God knows the future (such as by allowing "pointless evils," such as the Holocaust to occur in the past and/or present, so that "outweighing goods," even if such occur centuries in the future, may occur), which means that God's knowledge of the actual future, which consists of an infinite number of events, must also consist of knowing an infinite number of propositions, which would, as Professor Wes Morriston also argues,[24][25] constitute an actual infinite.

First, I wonder what exactly is meant by "pointless evils." To me, allowing human free will keeps even the tremendously evil Holocaust from being completely "pointless," although don't misunderstand that to say that the Holocaust was somehow necessary for the exercise of free will.

Second, an actual infinite is a precise mathematical term, talking about having an infinite value of finite, discrete segments or parts. A potential infinite is also a precise mathematical term where the value keeps growing with "infinity" as a boundary that is never actually reached. The future is a potential infinite. The number of events keeps growing forever, but never actually reaches an infinite value.

Third, also realize that when theists call God infinite, they don't have the mathematical terms in mind, nor that God has always existed (i.e., is eternal). They are talking about God having certain superlative characteristics, like being unlimited in power, knowledge, etc. Regardless, those characteristics are irrelevant to the KCA.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

Post #73

Post by The Tanager »

3. Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

Objection #15: Invalid

Another reason why the KCA is invalid is because it can be expressed in a competing syllogism.

(P1) Everything that is sentient has a cause.
(P2) The Abrahamic god is (said to be) sentient.
(C) Therefore the Abrahamic god has a cause.


This does not show the argument to be invalid. This "competing syllogism" is perfectly valid. That doesn't mean it is sound. But replacing one term in an argument with another term is no way to see if the original premise is true. Take this perfectly sound argument:

1. Every bachelor is an unmarried man.
2. Johnny is a bachelor.
3. Therefore, Johnny is an unmarried man.

Now replace "bachelor" with "husband." The argument is still valid but unsound because the first premise would now be false. Every husband is not an unmarried man. The unsoundness of this argument has nothing to do with the original first premise being true or false. Every bachelor is truly an unmarried man.

So, the question is whether the premises are true. Theists offer reasons to believe that everything that begins to exist has a cause. There are three main reasons to consider:

(1) The metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing. Some people have called creation ex nihilo something akin to magic. Assuming they are making a rational point rather than emotional rhetoric, let's run with the phrasing. To believe something to come into being uncaused by anything for no reason would be akin to magic without a magician. If one thinks 'magic' is absurd, how could she think magician-less magic is a good alternative to the first premise of the KCA?

(2) Assuming we could have this "magic without a magician," why think such magic is limited to universes? Does nothingness have some characteristic that favors universes coming to exist and not anything else popping into existence uncaused? If it did, then it isn't truly nothingness and this 'something' would be a cause of the supposedly uncaused universe.

(3) Experiential confirmation. This premise is constantly confirmed. Not a single disconfirmation exists. This premise is the foundation of so much of the scientific knowledge we have. Adding other empirical generalizations, such as every sentient being we know of having a cause, or every thing that begins to exist having a material cause, or causes always standing in temporal relations to their effects, does nothing to defeat the claim that everything that begins to exist has a cause.

But couldn't the same be said for "every sentient being has a cause"? It does have (3) experiential confirmation, but that alone is not enough or there would be no black swans.

What about (1) metaphysical intuition? Compare sentience arising from nonsentience versus sentience always existing. I would argue that sentience arising from nonsentience is much more absurd a concept. But, even if you think the opposite, the case of our two premises being compared is not equal. Nothing giving rise to something is more intuitionally absurd than an eternal sentient being.

I also don't see an equivalent argument to (2) in favor of this "competing syllogism." The KCA is not claiming that the only sentient being without a cause is God. That's not to say that theists believe in other uncaused sentient beings, but just that the KCA does not address that question (and doesn't need to). KCA proponents are not defining terms in ways to beg that question; they leave the possibility open. Theists who speak of the KCA only admit God (as far as an analysis of the KCA is warranted) as an uncaused sentient being because of the reasoning of the KCA. If other arguments are offered in favor of other uncaused sentient beings, then we will listen to and analyze those arguments.

The most common apologetic evasion of this problem is an unabashed handwave: define God as being exempt from the laws of logic He is purported to have created. This is a textbook example of moving the goalposts.

I certainly did not do this above. Nor is it common, at least not from academics making the argument. The academic theists I know of that talk of God being exempt from the laws of logic are Descartes and some Reformed epistemologists, neither of which promote the KCA.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

Post #74

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4. If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful.

Objection #16: The first 3 premises are not enough

Even if this syllogism is valid, it does not imply what that cause is. To state that the cause is a god, the Christian God, or any other entity requires additional statements,

Proponents of the KCA agree that the first 3 premises are not enough. They never claim that it is. The KCA/Kalam-plus/whatever name you want to give it has 2 additional premises, where 5 simply logically follows from the truth of (3) and (4). Premise 4 does come from the logical implications of the first 3 premises.

In addition, if some things exist did not begin to exist, then even accepting the other premises does not lead to the Christian God as the answer. Craig offers no evidence for a god (or God), but merely asserts that a god must have been the cause. Craig's description is an example of an argument from ignorance.

This speaks to the author's ignorance of what proponents of the KCA, like Craig, have actually said and written in the literature. It is also contradicted by some of the very critiques this article raises, which address those arguments given. Theists do offer evidence.

Objection #17: Why not a natural cause?

Even if the KCA was sound, why would the cause itself not be natural?

The 'universe' refers to all spatio-temporal matter, i.e., all natural matter. To say the cause of all natural matter is natural would be self-causation. Self-causation is illogical. It would require something to exist before it exists, which is nonsense. Therefore, the cause must be supernatural (or immaterial or non-physical if you use those in place of talking about the 'natural' universe).

Objection #18: Not timeless

However, Craig's version is (as usual) even more convoluted: Craig cannot use the obvious eternity escape hatch, because he argues elsewhere that infinity is impossible in the physical world (as opposed to in mathematics). This is Craig's attempt to get around the possibility that the universe might be eternal (i.e. infinitely old) and thus not fit his P1 which would invalidate his conclusion. Thus, Craig can't call God eternal, since that would exclude God from the physical world and turn Him into something intangible like a mathematical concept. Instead, Craig invents the term "timeless".

[This follows objection #1 in the article, if you are wondering about the "however".]

First, Craig does not invent the term 'timeless,' it has been a part of philosophical discussion for thousands of years.

Second, a timelessly eternal being is different than an actual infinite (the precise mathematical term being talked about, in support of premise 2). An eternal being has always existed (at least in the sense being used here), before time did. Being eternal does not mean being made up of an actual infinite number of discrete segments. Even if an eternal being began to experience reality in a temporal way after creating time, this experience would not be an actual infinite, but a potential infinite (both of these are precise mathematical terms). A potential infinite keeps growing with "infinity" as a boundary that is never actually reached. If the spatio-temporal universe has always existed, it would have to be an actual infinite (formed by successive addition), which the KCA proponents argue cannot exist. *Note that it is there (in support of premise 2) that eternal matter is argued against, not through the phrasing of the first premise. *Also note that being eternal does not make a being something like a mathematical concept.

One of Craig's online Q&As makes his mental contortions jarringly obvious. Craig defines an entity (e) "beginning to exist" using four criteria, one of which seems to serve the sole purpose of creating a God-shaped hole into which Craig can slot his preferred deity:

“”(iii) there is no state of affairs in the actual world in which e exists timelessly.[21]

Since Craig thinks only God exists timelessly,[note 8] he has essentially written God into one of the premises in an argument that is supposed to demonstrate God's existence.


This argument does not make the claim that only God exists timelessly. Whether someone thinks God is the only timeless being or not is irrelevant to this argument. It has nothing to do with it. It has nothing to do with Craig's defense of it.

You probably noticed Note 8 in the previous quote. That note says Otherwise, Craig would allow for other entities to replace or supplement God in the creation of the universe.

The KCA (and Craig) do allow for it because they choose definitions in ways that don't beg questions. This part of the objection completely misunderstands what is done in the argument. Craig doesn't get the conclusion of a cause and then just throw God in by definition. Craig argues to God (a narrower concept than his full blown Christian theism) from the characteristics in analyzing what a cause of all matter would have to be like. It is those characteristics that rule out the other entities.

According to Craig, God being "timeless" apparently means that He isn't infinitely old, but instead that He somehow exists outside of time from where He can apparently pop in to rant against foreskins, impregnate virgins, get "killed", or appear on your toast as required.

Timeless, by the definitions used throughout history means something like experiencing reality in a non-temporal way. Or, in other words, existing outside of time. That's not like a seperate physical abode that a being leaves to enter our physical abode.

Objection #19: A-theory of time is (possibly?) wrong

The KCA is also dependent on the controversial A-theory of timeWikipedia (aka the "tensed" theory of time),

I think this is correct.

The common objection to the A-theory comes from Einstein's theory of relativity, which states there is no absolute present moment and time is relative. Opposing this, Craig has written a lot of books on the subject of time, promoting an interpretation of relativity that he calls Neo-Lorentzian and which includes an absolute present moment. Craig claims that such an interpretation is observationally equivalent to special relativity. Of course this is seriously disputed, but even if this is the case, there is no reason why we should prefer Craig's interpretation (which is very complex) to Einstein's interpretation (which is simpler and works completely fine by itself).

While which theory is correct is seriously disputed, I don't think that predictive/observational equivalence is. The author doesn't explain why he/she thinks Craig's view is more complex.

Addressing the issue of why we should prefer his "Neo-Lorentzianism" and the A-theory of time, Craig writes:

“Besides all this, we have good reasons for believing that a neo-Lorentzian theory is correct, namely, the existence of God in A-theoretic time implies it, so that concerns about which version is simpler become of little moment.[29]
So, it seems that Craig is saying that:

The existence of God implies "Neo-Lorentzianism".
"Neo-Lorentzianism" is needed for the A-theory of time to be correct.
A-theory of time is necessary for the KCA to work.
The KCA proves the existence of God.
That is clearly circular. Craig tends to defend this line of reasoning by pointing to his other arguments as tipping the scales in favour of the existence of God and thus lending credibility to his divine “Neo-Lorentzianism”. However, contrary to the Craig’s claim, his other arguments are neither cumulative, nor do they fare much better under scrutiny than the KCA.


First, this critique ignores context. In this article Craig is talking about time, not the KCA. It is wrong to assume Craig includes the KCA in his argument for the A-theory of time. If Craig does, then he is wrong to do so, but he has other arguments that would remain, providing support for his A-theory of time. Those arguments do provide a cumulative case for theism. And each must be taken on their own merits. I believe they fare much better than the author(s) of this critique do. Of course, that discussion must be heard out (which I won't delve into here).

Second, note that the quote begins with "Besides all this". The article ignores the bulk of Craig's support of his view. To maintain this objection one would need to address those reasons, instead of focusing on this one support alone.

Objection #20: What is God?

not to mention that it contains no definition of "God" or "god", making Craig's discussion fail in several ways.

The KCA does not pre-define the concept of God and shove God into the argument at some point. That's a good thing. The KCA, through rational arguments, concludes that an uncaused, personal creator of the universe, that (sans the universe) is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful. One then looks at the candidates that fit this description and sees that this fits a core notion of the classical concept of God. The proponent of the KCA doesn't go beyond this. A Christian doesn't just throw in the Trinity, omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, etc. Those characteristics come from different arguments.

Objection #21: Maybe not a mind

It follows from the above that the conclusion is inconclusive, because even if we reason that the universe has a cause, we know nothing about the nature of this cause and certainly not enough to ascribe godhood (with properties such as awareness and intelligence) to it. The cause of the universe may very well lack mind or will.

"It follows" refers to what was said in Objection #10. I gave reasons why that objection was not a good one. We do have good reasons to ascribe a basic idea of godhood with properties like agency to it. Arguments (which I've stated several times in this thread) for the cause being personal.

Objection #22: Not the Christian God

There is even less reason to assume the cause of the universe is the Abrahamic God

I agree with this. It's not a true objection because proponents of the KCA are not claiming this argument gives us Christianity over every other theistic worldview. That's the work of other arguments.

Objection #23: Who designed God?

Furthermore, Occam's razor comes into play (as it always does when people try to multiplicate unnecessary hypotheses), reminding us that even if we entertain the conclusion that the cosmos was created by a God, it still doesn't explain where that God came from - who designed the designer?

I don't see how this is Occam's razor coming into play. I could understand someone claiming this would lead to an infinite regress, perhaps. Regardless, this objection completely misunderstands the argument. The argument does not say that all things that exist must be caused. It says all things that begin to exist must. The Kalam-plus gives us that the universe needs a cause that is eternal. Eternal things have always existed; they aren't caused/designed. Something undesigned needs to exist. Theists give reasons to connect that something with what we have traditionally called God, in a core sense, most prominently through the arguments given for the cause of the universe being personal rather than impersonal.

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