Brandon Vogt

The Simplest, Most Direct Argument for God’s Existence

Kalam

William Lane Craig is one of the sharpest Christian apologists today, especially on questions about God’s existence, Jesus’ Resurrection, and objective morality. The Evangelical philosopher travels around the country giving workshops and lectures, but he’s best known for his public debates with well-known atheists and skeptics. (You can watch many of them online through his excellent Reasonable Faith website.)

During these debates, Craig has a very short time to make a clear and compelling case for God. One of his favorite arguments, on which he wrote his doctoral dissertation, is the kalam cosmological argument. Christians have many arguments for God, but the kalam has become increasingly popular because it is straightforward, easy-to-remember, and modern physics affirms one of its crucial premises (note: the argument doesn’t depend on science, but the latest science strongly affirms it.)

The kalam argument is fairly simple:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being, outside of itself.

Yesterday, Craig released a short five-minute video covering the basic argument. Watch it a few times, remember the in’s and out’s, and you’ll be prepared next time someone tells you, “There’s no evidence for God!”
 

 
(If you can’t see the video above, click here.)
 
If you’d like to go deeper with this argument and others, I’d suggest Craig’s popular book, On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason and Precision. For a more academic perspective, check out Fr. Robert Spitzer’s challenging New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy. Finally, explore the articles and discussions at StrangeNotions.com where we cover arguments like this almost every day. Dr. Edward Feser recently contributed an especially interesting post titled “So You Think You Understand the Cosmological Argument?
 
(HT: Matt Fradd for sharing the video)

  • Гусейн Гурбанов Азербайджан

    Logically complete cosmological concept. /due to lack of knowledge of the English language was not able to correct the translation Implemented by Google/

    In order to present the unlimited space originally Elementary:

    1. variety (homogeneous) сompleted – enough to postulate the presence in it of two elements with SIMPLE and COMPLEX /closed systematically manifested the essence/

    2. heterogeneous completed – enough to postulate the presence in it of one more element – the Most High and Almighty God – with open exhibited systemic nature.

    Not hard to imagine that even at the lowest possible deployment intangible components the nature of God – the Spirit of God – for the level of the original downwardly directed continuous deployment the material component of the essence of God, there is a curtailment of SIMPLE and COMPLEX /i.e.. their decay occurs due to blocking of origin upwardly directed constantly deploy components of their intangible essences/, as the maximum possible heterogeneous nature of God to the minimum possible number of cell uniformity (№1h) and God on the basis of the material components of the minimum possible №1 deploys heterogeneous to its essence as possible numerical element uniformity (№2H). The process of clotting №2H begins at a certain point in time God begins at the end of its deployment. Curtailment of the Spirit of God to the level of initial deployment again unfolds №1H – God’s potential for transformation into a №1H in №2H and №1H in №2H limitless!

  • Cicero

    Haha ‘believing that something can pop into existence without a cause is more of a stretch than believing in magic’- how did God come to exist? Did he pop?

    You missed out one fairly massive premise somewhere in between ‘the universe has a cause’ and ‘that cause must be God’.

  • cesinco
  • cesinco
  • cesinco
  • cesinco
  • cesinco

    Simplistic arguments based on inductive reasoning don’t apply in this case. Your imagination is bound by the reality in which you live and in which things have a cause in order to exist, but this simple argument doesn’t work at the limits of our reality, where time and space began to exist. And in any case, we can use the same inductive reasoning to come to the similar conclusion that god(s in general) began to exist and therefore had an external cause, leading you to an infinite regression. If you’re going to postulate that god must have always existed to avoid the infinite regression, why not skip a step and postulate that the universe (in a shrinking and expanding form), or a multiverse had always existed? Or why not be completely honest about it and say “I don’t know how the universe came into existence” instead of conjuring up a supernatural being to insert into questions for which we don’t yet have answers?

  • Is William Craig a Catholic?

  • d

    If your fisrt cause is exempt from the first cause argument, please provide proof of it’s existance. My first cause is physics itself. A first cause of god indicates, from reading the book that are all about him/her, that the universe was set up with definite, predictable laws for the behavior of everything contained by an irrational, subjective being who only went to all that trouble to have a way to play a great big game of ‘gotcha’ with one of the millions of species of sentient creatures he/she created, and no concern for the creation at large as evidenced by the focus on the ‘spiritual’ world to the exclusion of the physical. While my first cause is undirected and impersonal, it more closely fits the EVIDENCE that is being uncovered on a daily basis by it’s priests and servants, scientists. You can not even claim that your god could be considered as being equivalent to physics, he/she is much to unpredictable and irrational. Please provide EVIDENCE, not pablum

  • Troy

    The Kalam’s argument is mistaken on #2:

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being, outside of itself.

    Why assume the universe began to exist? Let us be humble. What you need to deal with is the problem of infinite regress. If the universe always existed, you would have had an eternity to come into being before now, so you should have already happened. Contradictorily as well, you should never have existed because a past eternity would still be going on never reaching this point. Hence, the problem of infinite regress is not only faulty but self-contradictory.
    William Lane Craig makes lots of these mistakes. And he is not a Christian because he admits he rejects the God of the Bible who keeps His elect so Craig does not repent to the cross as a helpless sinner to receive this Jesus. John 10.28 says those who are born-again “they shall never perish” but Craig says they can. Salvation is not by works lest anyone should boast. You can’t keep yourself saved that’s arrogant to think you could.

    • Troy

      Craig is exposed here,

      biblocality.com/forums/showthread.php?5299

  • CorneliusJMountbatten

    Hi Brandon!

    The Kalam Cosmological Argument can be refined, the premises remaining true, yet the outcome changes completely. Like this…

    1) Everything that begins to exist has a physical cause and is formed from pre-existing matter/energy.

    2) The universe began to exist.

    3) Therefore the universe has a physical cause and was formed from pre-existing matter/energy.

    The
    line of reasoning remains the same. The premises remain completely
    true. Yet the outcome totally destroys your claim of a god.

    What do you think? Atheist yet?

    • Hey, Cornelius. Thanks for the comment. While I agree the logic is sound, the first premise is flawed. It’s not true that everything that begins to exist has a physical cause, nor is it true that everything that begins to exist is formed from pre-existing matter/energy.

      By definition, the universe *includes* all time and space, matter and energy. Therefore it cannot have a physical cause or material origin.

      • CorneliusJMountbatten

        The universe also contains all time if you define it in such terms. So cause and effect is meaningless outside of the universe, being as it is a necessary product of time.

        Not only that, if you define the universe as “everything which exists” which you seem to be, then by definition there is nothing outside of the universe, as it would not exist.

        Can you please name me some things which do not have a physical cause and are not formed from pre-existing matter/energy?

        • CorneliusJMountbatten

          Sorry, I missed the word “time” in your reply, but you get my point I’m sure.

        • Dan Carollo

          It sounds like what you’re saying is that the existence of the universe (ie. “everything that exists”) is basically a tautology. In other words, there is no need to explain it’s existence — it exists entirely in and of itself. The physical universe is the un-caused cause of itself.
          If cause and effect is meaningless outside of the universe (how do you know?), than the universe just IS.
          In other words, the universe itself (which lacks agency, will, intention, creative power) can be the “brute fact” that requires no explaination — whereas God (who does possess the powers of agency, will, intention) cannot be?

  • Tim

    This logic doesn’t work at the quantum level. Particles pop into and out of existence all the time without cause. Additionally, time may just be an illusion of our brain’s perception to connect different states of the universe. Just as we use math to describe the universe, time may just be a construct we use to explain our observation of the universe. Not my theory, look it up.

    • Blushingun

      Particles don’t “pop into and out of existence all the time without cause.” They come from the quantum vacuum.

      • Tim

        And the “quantum vacuum” is what exactly? It is a term to describe that which is outside our existence.

        • Blushingun

          No, everything we see in the universe is of the universe. It’s been here since the beginning. The quantum vacuum is, for simplicity’s sake, a sea of fluctuating energy. And energy cannot be created or destroyed. It stays inside of the isolated system.

  • Chuck O’Connor

    Brandon, you have not addressed the problems I stated with the KCA and its reliance on post Big Bang temporality to define Pre Big Bang causality. That needs clarification in P1. It offers a conclusion “God did it” but not an explanation. It also seems disingenuous to your intent in this post to use naturalism as a properly basic ground for evidential argument then dismiss an appeal to it as a priori bias. I was once a practitioner of Christan apologetics so that kind of equivocation is what I mean by arrogant. It is also illogical and therefore casts doubt to Christian truth claims.

  • Ron Van Wegen

    If “William Lane Craig is one of the sharpest Christian apologists today” how come he not a Catholic? If he applied himself to the absurd philosphy of the protestant heresy he might find himself in a bit of a quandary methinks.

  • Rajinohio

    It seems to be simple common sense. To deny a
    cause is refusal to accept the obvious and an attempt to avoid
    consciousness of guilt.

  • Rajinohio

    It seems to be simple common sense. To deny a
    cause is refusal to accept the obvious and an attempt to avoid
    consciousness of guilt.

  • I’ll translate this post into Portuguese to http://www.logosapologetica.com

  • Chuck O’Connor

    Laurence Krauss just wrote a book showing the Universe did not need a cause to begin. Nuclear decay and quantum effects also show that actions can occur independent of csuses. In fact, Krauss and Victor Stenger both tried to show Dr. Craig’s special pleading in his appeal to intuition with the use of the Big Bang. He makes a good syllyogism but unfotunately his unwillingness to include the latest physics (like M-theory) only makes the Kallaam a “god of the gaps” fallacy.

    • JohnDale49

      Completely false, as has been shown by many philosophers. The morons you mention mistake a quantum vacuum for ‘nothing’. A quantum vacuum is not nothing, It’s a quantum vacuum.

      • Chuck O’Connor

        The authors I cite are physicists, not philosophers and therefore operate by evidence and mathematical proof, not syllogism, thus defeating the conclusion that the Kallaam offers an evidential argument for the existence of god. Also, if a quantum vacuum is not nothing then how can you be confident that god created ex nihilio as the Kallaam concludes? The KCA rests on a category error and equivocates with its appeal to intuition. There can be no begin prior to the big bang because space and time were created in that instant. It affirms the consequent by leaving vague the P in its formation.

  • Wintery Knight

    Shared on Facebook and tweeted on Twitter.

  • DPierre

    Great post, Brandon.

    I have been lucky to see Dr. Craig speak a number of times. He is simply amazing.

    His work has actually made me a stronger Catholic!

  • Bob

    To say that the universe is not eternal because it has no beginnling is not true. The universe is eternal and does have a beginning and an end. God is all changing yet remains the same. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega; in Revelation 21:1 we read of a new heaven and earth with the old one passing away.
    With regards to the question of whether God exists can be believed by the skeptic or atheist from John 4:24, which reads that “God is spirit”; anything that anyone says produces a spirit, such as happiness, sadness, grief, joy etc…We Christians say that “all good things come from God”, so God does exist and we worship him in “spirit and truth”.

  • Matt

    i’m new to reading this blog, so forgive me for jumping in late. the way i see it, the root of atheism is pride. And we all know as people who tackle pride daily that it blinds our faculties, starting with reason. While these proofs edify those who believe and challenge those on a genuine search for truth, an atheist has already made an illogical step not to believe and no amount of logic will get them to face that decision without them first facing their pride. People desire to be there own God for many reasons – fear, a lack of trust, etc. The only way to open the mind of a proud person is to earn their trust and get them to reconnect with their heart. It is not logic but true Christian charity lived out that proves God, logic forms the supporting arguments.

  • Bob Drury

    “the argument doesn’t depend on science, but the latest science strongly affirms it.”
    The video gives only the testimony of scientists claiming that the universe began to exist. Based on the video I would then believe in the existence of God based on my faith in the competence of scientists.

    • Bob, the *video* may have only referenced scientific evidence to affirm the second premise, but the *argument* doesn’t depend on it. For example, there are several philosophical reasons why an infinite-past universe is implausible. The books I mention above each cover this line of evidence.

  • Andres Rodriguez

    I’ve noticed that often the Athiest will not work with our Catholic understanding or definition of God. Same as with our philisophical definition of “nothing”. Is not also true that no one arguement for the existence of God is the “silver bullet”? But if you take the Kalam arguement and say the Design argument you could have proof of “something”that exists outside the universe AND be intelligent, which could point to God?

  • J

    So if it is possible that there is something that did not “begin to exist”, even necessary, why can’t we simply say that the “stuff” of the universe never “began”; that the only thing that did begin was what ever process has lead to its present formation? In other words, the truth of point # 2 is not entirely clear. The universe as we know it began, but what “created” it might have been more of the same. We’re only talking about new arrangements, new compounds of primordial, perhaps eternal “stuff”. God is not necessarily inferred here.

    • J, thanks for the comment. Since the universe contains all matter, space, and time, there could not, by definition, be “stuff”–be it new compounds or primordial material–that exists outside of it. If there is, then you’ve misunderstood the word “universe” and need to expand it to include said “stuff.”

  • Paul Catalanotto

    I teach this to my 9th grade, but from Aquinas’s argument from cause.

  • pi2r2

    Atheism is the belief that there was once absolutely nothing, and nothing happened to the nothing until the nothing magically exploded for no reason whatsoever, creating everything everywhere, then the everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs.

    • FM

      Well careful that not all atheists assert that. Some claim there was ALWAYS a universe, and ‘it’s just there’.

      I agree that some atheists have often pretty ridiculous and silly beliefs, but not all atheists are that intellectually shallow.

      • pi2r2

        there’s really no difference in the argument you point out. Quite so, it is shallow.

        • FM

          Yes, but even if all atheist arguments were shallow, ridiculing the opponent is not a good thing.

          Sure atheist ridicule believers, often, but we should not be like that.

          It’s more effective, I think, showing why the arguments or criticism they put forward are flawed.

          • pi2r2

            Thank you, then I have done the effective thing, in your estimation, and we can agree. Then, following that, who are you to tell me how we should be and what is a good thing and not a good thing? Get behind me, you are uselessly frivolous. Thank you, bye.

          • Athanasius De Angelus

            Sometimes, it is good to put prideful people in their place!

  • Chris Shannon

    Dr. William Lane Craig has responded to all of these objections and many others and you can read those responses under the Q&A and Articles sections of his website. Check them out below and see what you think.

    Q&A
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/question-answer

    Popular Level Articles
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/popular-articles/existence-and-nature-of-god

    Scholarly Level Articles
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/scholarly-articles/the-existence-of-god

  • James Patton

    This argument falls under the logical fallacy of composition. It cannot be inferred that simply parts of a complex order that are true on the whole are true individually. Example: One is odd. Three is odd. Therefor, one plus three must be odd…LOL

    • James, thanks for the comment. I’m not sure you understand the fallacy of composition. I’d suggest reading this article below which shows why the cosmological argument *does not* suffer from this fallacy:

      “First, not every inference from part to whole commits a fallacy of composition; whether an inference does so depends on the subject matter. If each brick in a wall of Legos is red, it does follow that the wall as a whole is red.”

      http://www.strangenotions.com/fallacy-of-composition/

      • FM

        True but as I said above, I think that Kalaam does not even infer from a part to a whole, but rather he makes a general statement regarding causality.

    • FM

      What fallacy of composition?

      Here’s we are not claiming that because one part of the universe has property X, than the universe has property X.

      Rather the first premise states a general truth, that applies to anything simple or complex, not the property of one single particular part.

      Anyway:
      Take: a proton has charge, an electron has charge, then an atom is charged. THAT would be a fallacy of composition.

      But if I say “Any object that has a charge reacts to an electromagnetic field” I am NOT committing such fallacy. It applies to any charged object (and as a matter of fact even to neutral complex objects that contain paired chages in it, like neutral atoms).

      When we say “Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.”, we are not specifying a simple entity over a complex one.

      Different would be if I said:

      1- stars begin to exist.

      2- The universe is made of/contains stars

      3- then the universe began to exist.

      Kalaam does not state that or something like that at all, hence there is no fallacy of composition.

      So you are guilty of a straw man, I’d say.
      Funny when people cite fallacies and commit a fallacy themselves…

      As you said: LOL

      • James Patton

        “Rather the first premise states a general truth, that applies to anything simple or complex, not the property of one single particular part.”

        So? Explain how you can draw the conclusion the OP made without committing a composition fallacy.

    • Blushingun

      I take it you’re speaking of the first premise, “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” You’re arguing that we justify this premise by reasoning that because everything in the universe has a cause, the universe as a whole must therefore have a cause. Correct? Well, that’s just a straw man argument because we’ve said no such thing.
      We’re not defending the causal principle by composition. Rather, the premise is rooted in the metaphysical truth that something cannot come from, and by, nothing. This principle needn’t be shown as it is intuitively obvious. It’s constantly confirmed in our experience. And we’ve seen no reason to doubt it. In fact, denying it solely based on the beginning of the universe commits you to the taxicab fallacy.
      You may have another objection but as far as the fallacy of composition goes, it’s incorrect.

      • James Patton

        “I take it you’re speaking of the first premise,” No, I could care less about the validity of either premises. It is how the two premises are used to draw the conclusion that is the fallacy.

        • Blushingun

          The fallacy of composition you mentioned only applies to the first premise. Now that that’s resolved your contention now is that the conclusion has also committed an unspecified fallacy? Well, the argument itself is sound. It’s called a syllogism. The conclusion that the universe has a cause, follows necessarily if you agree with the two premises.

          If you think because we’ve never seen something come into being without a material cause and therefore cannot conclude that the universe has a cause then you’re mistaken. As I’ve explained in my first comment.

          • James Patton

            “The fallacy of composition you mentioned only applies to the first premise.”

            Now you have demonstrated that you don’t understand this fallacy at all. I recommend that you visit: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies to view the form and examples of this common fallacy.

          • Blushingun

            Here are your words; “It cannot be inferred that simply [SIC] parts of a complex order that are true on the whole are true individually.”

            You don’t even understand the fallacy yourself, you have it backwards. It should be, “It cannot be inferred that simple parts of a complex order that are true individually are true on the whole.” Which is true.

            But the fallacy, when applied to the Kalam Cosmological Argument, is speaking of CAUSES. Hence, it’s only applicable to the first premise, “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” which would then obviously make the conclusion fallacious, if true.

            You think it’s inferred because we look around and see that everything has causes, so we assume it must be true of the whole thing. So when we say “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” we have committed the fallacy because it includes the universe, though only if it began to exist (Which is why we have the second premise.).

            But as I’ve explained already, this fallacy is incorrect. Please read my first comment again, carefully this time.

          • James Patton

            “You don’t even understand the fallacy yourself, you have it backwards.” If you would enlighten yourself, both cases are presented as the same logical fallacy.

          • Blushingun

            Yes, but expressing it that way makes no sense when you’re speaking of the KCA. Because what we’re interested in knowing is whether the universe has a cause or not. But what you’re suggesting is that we already know that the universe has a cause (Or not), we just can’t infer if the things in the universe have causes (Or not) from this truth. That’s just backwards.

            Anyways, this is all besides the point as it doesn’t address my correction to your mistake in thinking that we’ve committed the fallacy of composition.

          • James Patton

            “That’s just backwards.”

            That is why you need your faith, for if you had a logical proof you wouldn’t need it.

          • Blushingun

            Okay, now the first premise isn’t to your liking; it isn’t logically impossible. First, your remark doesn’t make sense from what you quoted (It being backwards is true whether you believe the first premise or not), if I understand you right. Second, you’re just being inconsistent in your worldview, as well as being irrational. For out of nothing nothing comes – no rational person sincerely doubts that. It’s a metaphysically necessary truth. Something coming from and by nothing is metaphysically impossible. Meaning it’s incapable of actualization though there’s no logical contradiction. Third, the first premise is constantly confirmed in our experience and never falsified which provides us with the strongest of motivation to accept it. Yet you still irrationally believe it’s more plausible that “Out of nothing nothing comes” is false than the universe having a cause? What makes you think that? My guess is for the sole purpose of avoiding the conclusion of the argument, no matter how absurd.

            So actually, what you have is faith (Blind faith, I might add), not I. Anyways, it seems I’ve written too much for your short reply.

          • James Patton

            “Anyways, it seems I’ve written too much for your short reply.”

            Yes, I named the logical fallacy and you continue to worry about the validity of the premises, which is mute. It doesn’t matter if your premises and conclusion are true, once you committed this logical fallacy the discussion became irrelevant. I showed you all you need to educate yourself.

            The majority of your diatribe is based on your misunderstanding and applicability of quantum mechanics, a subject I hold some education on, that would be way over your head based on the fact that you haven’t studied 101 Logic.

          • Blushingun

            I don’t think you understand how the fallacy is applied to this argument. You said, ” It doesn’t matter if your premises and conclusion are true, once you committed this logical fallacy the discussion became irrelevant. ”

            The form of the argument is sound, it’s a logical argument. It goes,
            p ⊃ q
            p
            _____
            ∴ q
            It’s a syllogism, called, “Modus ponens.” Again, it is a valid argument form. Regardless, the fallacy isn’t dealing with the form of the argument, it’s dealing with the reasoning for the first premise. But if the premises are true without using poor reason then there can’t be a fallacy of composition.

            To be more specific, the fallacy of composition is an informal fallacy, where there is an error in reasoning that does not originate in improper logical form. It addresses the reasoning for a premise. But you’re treating the fallacy as if it were a formal fallacy, where there’s an error that stems from poor logical form. That’s where you’re simply mistaken, I’m sorry.

            As I’ve explained, we don’t think that everything that begins to exist has a cause because everything in the universe has a cause. It’s because of the metaphysical truth that something cannot come from nothing. Therefore, your fallacy, when applied properly, holds no water. Now, the issue should be about the plausibility of the first premise, if you were to continue to speak against the causal principle.

            I don’t see how quantum mechanics would help your case. Unless you think the quantum vacuum is nothing, which would also be a mistake.

            *Edited

      • cesinco

        “This principle needn’t be shown as it is intuitively obvious. It’s constantly confirmed in our experience.”

        And that’s the problem with intuition. It wasn’t that long ago that it was “intuitively obvious” that the sun revolves around the earth. There are still people alive today whose experience confirms for them on a daily basis that the sun revolves around the earth.

        Just because we can’t imagine something coming from nothing since we’ve never witnessed that in our universe does not give you carte blanche to insert a supernatural being as a creator, thereby committing the fallacy of of arguing from incredulity or from ignorance.

        • Blushingun

          There’s no lack of imagination, we’re just aware of what nothing is or rather, is not.

          The claim: Nothing can do something
          “In the absence of some defeater of what common sense and intuition tell us, we are rightly sceptical [SIC] of that viewpoint and perfectly rational to reject it. So while the deliverances of common sense and intuition are certainly defeasible and may on occasion need revision, still they are an indispensable starting point which should not be lightly abandoned.” – William Lane Craig

          And it’s not an intuition that the sun revolves around the earth, it’s an observation, a wrong one but an observation nonetheless.

          An example of intuition is that the external world actually exists. So if you say we’re in the matrix then I’m perfectly rational to reject that idea until I’m presented with some defeater.

          By the way, no one is playing god-of-the-gaps. We’re using deductive arguments where the conclusions follow necessarily.

  • dmw

    Brandon, I’m curious about the viability of such fora as this to have theism debates. Do you have any evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that internet discussions–esp. ones in comment boxes–actually contribute to the discussion between theists and atheists? Does the Strange Notions blog produce good fruit? I know it’s all part of the “big picture” of evangelization and apologetics, but don’t you think that blogs and com boxes are so “up for grabs,” as it were, that no serious dialogue can effectively take place? Consider the title of this post versus the first commenter, who effectively said in response, “you’re stupid…God is a dumb idea.”

    • dmw, thanks for the comment. I’d agree that *most* places online are not conducive to serious dialogue. But there is the rare oasis where people who disagree can share high-minded dialogue with respect and charity. I think StrangeNotions.com is one of those places. We’ve had hundreds of productive discussion about all sorts of things, and cleared up misconceptions among both Catholics and atheists.

    • FM

      Well as everywhere dialogue produces fruits when the people DIALOGUE and not just spit out snap comments (which might be witty, but still void of any value, unless you are comedian).

      An atheist who is serious about dialogue will listen and perhaps present his difficulties, objections and problems.

      A theist will listen to such and, hopefully, provide an answer to the difficulties or problems.

      For example a criticism of Kalaam is “how do we know the universe began to exist”.
      That is indeed a legitimate question.
      A theist might have several scientific and metaphysical arguments to back up the premise.

      In a dialogue there are still errors and fallacies, but at least people try to avoid ‘straw man’ fallacies, since they are interested in the other people’s argument and not a distortion of it.

  • Aquinas lives.

  • Well, Brandon, reading the best (Edward Feser), it seems that kalam cosmological argument is not like you mentioned, since Feser said that Kalam argument try to show that universe had a beginning not a cause.

    • Pedro, actually it doesn’t try to prove the universe had a beginning. It presupposes that as its second premise.

      • Then Brandon you disagree with Feser. He said:

        “the kalām cosmological argument does claim that the universe had a beginning, but it doesn’t merely assume it. Rather, the whole point of that version of the cosmological argument is to establish through detailed argument that the universe must have had a beginning.”

        And:

        “Aquinas rather famously rejected what is now known as the kalām argument. He did not think that the claim that the universe had a beginning could be established through philosophical arguments.”

        • Pedro, thanks for your comment. Your second quote is irrelevant to the discussion; I never said St. Thomas supported kalam nor that he believed we could prove the universe had a beginning.

          Regarding the first quote, I think you may simply be misunderstanding Dr. Feser (or Dr. Feser is wrong here.) An argument aims to prove its conclusion, not its premises. It needs to *support* its premises, but the primary point of any argument is to show the truth of its conclusion.

          Since the kalam argument *assumes* the beginning of the universe per the second premise, it does not seek to prove that as its primary conclusion.

          I’d suggest reading William Lane Craig’s work on this question. He has plenty of resources on his website and is widely-considered the expert on the kalam argument.

          • Many thanks for your answer, Brandon. If you consider that Dr. Feser can be wrong, we can move on.

            I follow Dr. Feser blog and I am quite sure that Feser talked about his differences with Craig regarding Kalam in his blog. I also follow Craig blog and read his book “On Guard”. Both are fantastic.

            But consider this: why Craig is so worried about the new position of physics? While, the negation of Aquinas´s cosmoligical argument will mean the negation of physics (or science)?

          • Guest

            Full reditto Craig for allowing modern science to have a n ninlfuence upon his metaphysics. However, as one might have inferred, Craig affirms: “… for any entity e and time t, … in order for e to begin to exist there is no need for there to be a time prior to t at which e does not exist.” (Q/A section of his website)

            Yet his video’s supporting evidence for the character of ”begin” in the first premiss do NEED such prior time. All his examples of coming to be metaphysically require that there was a prior time. Yet the supporting evidence for the second premiss explicitly and necessarily denies such prior time, arguing (well) for an absolute limit to time (& space). So there is an important equivocation in his syllogism over the word “begin”.

            Such denial of prior time is at the heart of Aquinas’s point quoted above. His version of the Kalam argument argues not so much for a “beginning” (contra Feser’s above words) as a causative designer.

          • Fr Hugh MacKenzue

            Full credit to Craig for allowing modern science to have an inlfuence upon his metaphysics. However, as one might have inferred, Craig affirms: “… for any entity e and time t, … in order for e to begin to exist there is no need for there to be a time prior to t at which e does not exist.” (Q/A section of his website)

            Yet his video’s supporting evidence for the character of ”begin” in the first premiss do NEED such prior time. All his examples of coming to be metaphysically require that there was a prior time. Yet the supporting evidence for the second premiss explicitly and necessarily denies such prior time, arguing (well) for an absolute limit to time (& space). So there is an important equivocation in his syllogism over the word “begin”.

            Such denial of prior time is at the heart of Aquinas’s point quoted above. His version of the Kalam argument argues not so much for a “beginning” (contra Feser’s above words) as a causative designer.

          • Sorry, Father, but I do not believe that I fully understood what you said. It seems to me that you are agreeing with Feser and pointing out failures in Craig’s positions. Could you explain it again, it seems interesting and important?

          • Fr Hugh MacKenzie

            Thanks for the patience. Here’s my basic critique.

            Both premises are supported by the empirical observation of the first moment of an entity existing, respectively something in the universe and the universe itself. But the first premiss’s supporting observations are strictly prior to the entity’s first moment, whereas the second premiss’s supporting observations are strictly posterior to the entity’s first moment. And the prior character of the former observations are crucial for Craig to establish that this first moment is caused. Such observations are not available concerning the first moment of time itself. So logically this leaves open the possibility that only events within the flow of time are caused, not the whole universe.

            In his website’s Q/A on “Beginning to Exist” Craig argues that for an entiry e “to begin to exist [at time t] there is no need for there to be a time prior to t at which e does not exist”, only that all first moments are moments of “becoming” (defended through a
            “tensed” theory of time). But (i) this is to exclude the relevance of the observation of prior causes of intra-cosmic beginnings in the first premiss –as
            clearly crucial in his video, and (ii) all such “becoming” is true even within the life-cycle of things which have already begun, and is strictly intra-cosmic.

    • FM

      Well Kalaam is the “EASIEST” of the cosmological arguments, conceptually, albeit it has some sophistication itself.

      Aquinas’ argument are much more difficult conceptually (especially his teleological argument that atheists always confuse with Paley’s argument while they are completely different :P)

  • PaulKLittlefield

    If that’s true, then:

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.
    2. God began to exist.
    3. Therefore, God has a cause for its coming into being, outside of itself.

    God is Man’s creation, not the reverse.

    • ladycygnus

      God didn’t “begin” to exist. If we say the thing that caused the universe had a beginning then that thing would need a cause. At some point you need an uncaused cause to start the whole process off. You can’t have turtles the whole way down.

      The standard Christian viewpoint is that God is outside time. Physics generally supports this as it says that space and time are bound together in a continuum. In a sense you can’t talk about what happened “before” there was the universe since time is intricately connected with space. Without one you don’t have the other.

      • PaulKLittlefield

        God existing outside of time is the biggest stack of turtles I’ve ever encountered.

        • ladycygnus

          Why do you say that?

          • PaulKLittlefield

            Because either he’s an inextricable part of the universe, therefore there’s no reason the universe couldn’t have started without him, or he exists outside the universe and beyond the ability of people to perceive or determine his nature, therefore we can’t imagine him.

          • “He exists outside the universe and beyond the ability of people to perceive or determine his nature, therefore we can’t imagine him.”

            Why do you think that?

          • PaulKLittlefield

            Either something is part of the universe and bound by its laws, or it’s outside the universe and beyond our ability to interact. You don’t get it both ways.

          • Paul, thanks for the comment. However, you’ve simply repeated what you said earlier instead of offering evidence for why it’s true. And an assertion is not an argument.

            To ask my question again, what reason do you have for believing that if something is beyond our universe, we can’t “imagine” or “interact” with it?

          • Chuck O’Connor

            He is simply offering a defeater to your definition of evidence. You continue to make the positive truth claim. The burden of proof remains on you.

          • FM

            Your arguments, or rather, assertions, have several flaws. A few among the many:

            Flaw 1:

            There is, in fact, NO logical contradiction in something being not part of the universe and not subject to its laws yet being capable to interact with it.

            Not only that if God is ‘creator’ God must indeed NOT be part of the universe.

            Flaw 2:

            It assumes as a fact that anything that could interact with something must also be part of something and bound to its laws.

            However such assumption is not trivial and most probably false.

            Flaw 3:

            Absoluteness of the laws of physics. This is also non-trivial, not even within our universe, let alone when speaking about something super-natural.

            And that’s the point SUPER-natural.

            It means ‘above’ the natural world, not part of it.

            Flaw 4:

            You say: “Because either he’s an inextricable part of the universe”

            But God is NOT part of the universe. No theists ever asserts that. You are either attacking a straw man or you are guilty of begging the question and circular reasoning.

            Flaw 5:

            “God existing outside of time is the biggest stack of turtles I’ve ever encountered.”

            Why? Some scientists, even atheists, claim time does not even exist.

            Some other think that time began with the Big Bang.

            Whatever the true reality of time is, your assumption that God must be time-bound (when it makes really no sense) is the real ‘stack of turtles’ and I’d argue.

            It’s in a way going back to an extremist level to the Newtonian ‘absoluteness of time’ that has been overthrown now for 100 year.

            So even modern science proves you wrong here I’d argue.

            Flaw 6:

            “God began to exist.”

            Since no one makes such assumption or assertion but you, you are attacking a straw-man. You are refuting your own idea. That’s good to argue against the man in the mirror, but not for anything else.

            Part 7

            “beyond the ability of people to perceive or determine his nature, therefore we can’t imagine him.”

            That is hardly a critique.

            We cannot ‘imagine’ what an electron is. Yet we can define it.

            True for some things like and electron we can find way to ‘perceive them’ empirically.

            But that is empiricism and empiricism is self-refuting.

            You cannot ‘perceive’ mathematical truths either (especially the more abstract ones) nor ‘prove them empirically), yet we CAN investigate them and say something about them.

            We might find troublesome to “imagine”, or visualizing what a spinor is or what a complex function is, but reason goes beyond imagination and visualization.

            —-

          • Chuck O’Connor

            Please provide evidence to support your assertions that an appeal to super-naturalism is consonant with our physical laws. I will even possibly accept an argument from analogy on this one.

          • MDK66

            Paul, God is outside the universe because He created it. If you were to take Play-Doh and create a little Play-Doh village, you would not be a part of that colorful clay village, you would be on the outside. People know God because He chose to reveal Himself to us, most especially through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.

          • Chuck O’Connor

            Because an appeal to something outside of our risible understanding (e.g. the natural world) only exists in imperfect imagination. Why do you say the KCA affords “evidence” for god. WLC doesn’t even claim that.

          • Well from the kalam argument we deduce a transcendent, eternal, immaterial, and immensely powerful cause of the entire universe.

            Assuming you’re an atheist, I’m curious what you would call such a cause?

            And even more, I’m curious how you could remain an atheist in light of this transcendent cause of the universe.

            PS. You’re wrong to say WLC doesn’t claim the kalam argument provides evidence for God. In fact after hearing you make this claim, I wonder if you’ve seen any of his debate or read any of his books. This is the primary argument he relies on to prove God’s existence.

          • Chuck O’Connor

            I find the KCA flawed because it relies on using something we know as a reality post- big-bang to define realities pre-big-bang. Even when I was a Christian I couldn’t accept it as argument because we know from physics that our understanding of space-time was created at the big bang. “Begin” is incoherent outside of the causality we have to come to know within space-time. Prior to that “begin” has no meaning. You beg the question by assuming causality with an understanding of an event after temporality was created. And it does not afford any evidence. I don’t know what caused the Big Bang but an honest understanding of parsimony (and the last 250 years of the scientific revolution) suggest it was probably nothing other than natural mechanisms. Your appeal to cosmology is simply the latest gap Christians are using to justify the human psychology to patterns and agency. It simply the latest “gap” for god now that teleology has been overturned through Darwinian Natural Selection. It is an argument from incredulity, nothing more.

          • Chuck, I’ll let this be my last reply to you. It’s clear you’re not interested in fruitful dialogue but merely in scoring cheap rhetorical points.

            In your last comment, you failed to offer even one serious objection to either of the kalam’s premises, it’s inherent logic, or the conclusion.

            You simply surmise–because of your a priori assumptions–that transcendent causes of the universe are “incoherent” or impossible and thus brush them aside. This is bad philosophy.

            However, I am impressed by your level of faith when you claim the universe was caused by “probably nothing other than natural mechanisms.” I wonder how you could possibly know that with such assurance. Other than mere conjecture, you’ve not provided any evidence or arguments to ground such a claim. It’s simply built on faith, and a strong faith at that, one which rejects a priori supernatural causes. I’d caution grounding your faith in baseless assertions.

            PS. I also detect in your comment a deep confusion surrounding time and causation. Causation is not dependent on time since a cause can instantaneously bring about it’s effect. For example, a flying brick can cause a window to break, but the breaking of the window and the causal entrance of the brick would occur at precisely the same moment.

          • Chuck O’Connor

            And I should have been clearer in my language. WLC doesn’t state the KCA offers evidence for the Triune Christian God. He extends the conclusion of the KCA to an historical argument based on his “empty tomb” syllogism (which also ignores the latest scholarship). WLC is a good debater and has done some interesting work in the philosophy of time but he isn’t a physicist nor an historian. His apologetics seems to prove that. He does a good job of preaching to the Christian choir but my examination of his arguments (and those that sought to defeat them) made me question my own Christianity, which then led to agnosticism and now a comfort in naturalistic atheism. I have no need for gods to define my understanding of reality and now see theist assertions as epistemically arrogant.

          • Chuck, thanks for the comment. Unforunately, again you’ve failed to offer any serious refutation of the kalam argument (or any of WLC’s other work.) Your only criticism is that WLC “isn’t a physicist nor an historian.” Any first year philosophy student would recognize this as a textbook case of the genetic fallacy. It’s bad philosophy and poor argumentation.

            (You make the same mistake when describing Christian epistemology as “arrogant.” Whether it seems arrogant has nothing to do with the real question at hand, namely whether it’s true.)

          • Chuck O’Connor

            Brandon,

            I don’t think you wish to discuss ideas but rather claim victory. I will exit the discussion and wish you well. Good luck to you.

          • dudesomejust

            Mr. O’Connor, you were never a Christian. If you had been, you would have been sealed and protected from your back sliding by the Holy Spirit. Just two confirmations – I’ll only cite two – are Ephesians 1: 13, 14, and 1 Peter 1: 5. So you have been spotted, and the spotlight is very bright. Perhaps you will want to remove this rather dull knife from your weapons bag. If you don’t, any educated Christian is going to spot you as a phony.

          • Dan Carollo

            “or he exists outside the universe and beyond the ability of people to perceive or determine his nature, therefore we can’t imagine him.”
            Some scientists believe physical laws themselves may have existed outside the universe — and yet THAT idea doesn’t seem to be beyond the ability to imagine it.

          • FM

            Well Dan, they MUST think they exist outside the universe as follows:
            1- The universe is governed by the laws of nature
            2- The universe began to exist
            3- Therefore the laws of nature must have existed before the universe.

            Although this reasoning (although the conclusion might or might not be correct in the end) is in my opinion flawed.

            (3) Does not really follow from (1), because the universe as a close system is ‘internally’ governed by the laws of nature, but this does not mean the laws of nature are responsible for it’s own formation.

            It’s more than plausible to think that the laws of nature were formed when the universe began to exist.

            One might argue that the laws of nature have no meaning at all outside the universe.

            I think that has been pointed out many times. That is why the newest atheist attempts to explain the universe really is a retread of the ‘ Eternal Universe’ from the XVIII century ideologies.

            Instead of having an ‘always existing universe as such’ now they claim a pre-existing ‘quantum singularity’…

            Although such explanations have several problems, scientific problems to begin with (there is FAR from a scientific consensus on such theories and they are not empirically verifiable either… which a scientific theory must be), not to mention metaphysical ones.

          • Dan Carollo

            Right — I agree with you. I was just pointing out that even cosmologists realize there is STILL fundamentally the chicken & egg problem with regard to the origin of the universe — and they are really forced to grasp for SOME kind of “uncaused, necessary thing”.
            Indeed — the “physical laws” are NOT agents in the same way that God can be an agent. Laws describe.

          • Dan Carollo

            Well said.

          • Chuck O’Connor

            Evidence please, which scientists?

          • Dan Carollo

            And Stephen Hawking. Again – here you have an example of “physical laws” functioning NOT merely as a scientific explanation — but more like a “meta explanation”.

            “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.” –Stephen Hawking (from the Grand Design)

            Paul Davies (an agnostic) has an interesting response:

            http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/article613773.ece

            “Can the multiverse provide a complete and closed account of all physical existence? Not quite. The multiverse comes with a lot of baggage, such as an overarching space and time to host all those bangs, a universe-generating mechanism to trigger them, physical fields to populate the universes with material stuff, and a selection of forces to make things happen. Cosmologists embrace these features by envisaging sweeping “meta-laws” that pervade the multiverse and spawn specific bylaws on a universe-by-universe basis. The meta-laws themselves remain unexplained – eternal, immutable transcendent entities that just happen to exist and must simply be accepted as given. In that respect the meta-laws have a similar status to an unexplained transcendent god.”

          • Dan Carollo

            In addition, the idea of multiverses — although ALSO beyond our ability to perceive or determine their nature — does not prevent some cosmologists from postulating them.

          • Britt

            True…if he exists outside of us and the universe and could not possible perceive or determine his nature..BUT…Jesus Christ came so that we may be able to do so..God in the flesh…

          • Rivka

            “beyond the ability of people to perceive or determine his nature” Actually, that is the Catholic teaching. The teaching of the Catholic Church is that we can know things about God, but we can’t fully truly comprehend Him.

        • Dan Carollo

          Why do you say that? Even cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin has suggested that something (in HIS case: physical laws) existed independently of space/time.
          It’s not an outlandish idea at all. There must be a termination in some uncaused, necessarily-existent “thing” somewhere. For some scientists (such as Vilenkin), this necessary “thing” is the physical laws themselves.

          See the second half of this video: http://www.closertotruth.com/video-profile/Did-Our-Universe-have-a-Beginning-Alexander-Vilenkin-/1402

          • FM

            Well since it became obvious from observation of the expanding universe that the universe as we know it was not always here, it has become clear that something must have pre-existed it, in some way.

            I think the problem with the statement that “physical laws are the necessary thing” is that physical laws basically describe interactions between objects, which is really the only think that we can ‘see’ (measurement itself is the fruit of interaction), or the behavior of some object (which is often a fruit of an interaction).

            If there is nothing around, do physical laws still hold a meaning?

            What meaning has the theory of electromagnetism or quantum electrodynamics if there are no fields, no charges, no object that can interact through those laws?

            Some philosophers, like Nancy Cartwright, call the laws of physics a ‘lie’, since, she claims, they are not something real, but just a model, a mathematical construct derived from observations, but not something real in themselves. Of course that is also debatable.

            These are indeed not trivial questions 😛

          • Dan Carollo

            Indeed — this is also the problem with multiverses. There is physically no way we could explain or describe universes whose laws may be completely different, and whose laws we have NO access to.

        • Chuck O’Connor

          So true. It gives a lie to the claim that the KCA offers evidence for god. It justifies an existence for a “god” (and an honest understanding of the KCA would imply Allah, not the Triune Christian God – even WLC admits that) due to human ignorance. It is a “just so” story based on the limits of what we know. That is all.

      • Foxhole Atheist

        So god is immaterial and outside space-time…so an observer the creation of the universe would observe something (the universe) coming from nothing (god is not a thing)…ergo something from nothing, which by virtue of Occam’s razor would be the simplest and most plausible explanation rather than the more convoluted ‘God did it’

        • Dan Carollo

          “so an observer the creation of the universe would observe something (the universe) coming from nothing (god is not a thing)…ergo something from nothing,”

          Foxhole: I think the keyword here is “observer”. Indeed — we ONLY have the power of observation (and philosophical inference).
          If you’re simply taking about a “methodological” limitation with science itself, then I agree 100%.

          As far as the science can tell us — the universe indeed is observed to “come from nothing”.
          But that is just a observed description — it says NOTHING about the question of agency.

          To answer the question “why something rather than nothing”, you must necessarily move beyond science — in other words, into the realm of philosophical argumentation. It seems to me, any sustainable objections against the KCA would need an as good or BETTER philosophical explanation.

          • Foxhole Atheist

            Does god exist?

          • Dan Carollo

            Do multiverses exist?
            God would be the ground for ALL existence (or being itself), not merely the greatest of all “beings” inside space/time.

          • Foxhole Atheist

            Okay, good, now we are getting somewhere.. Multiverses is an hypothesis pending evidence to support the claim…if evidence is not forthcoming, or the claim in not falsifiable then this hypothesis will be discarded in the great heap of nonsense claims (see cold fusion as a most recent example)…that is the beauty of science, it has a method to discern the information value of claims/assertions…now what is the similar method for the metaphysical? how do you discern information value from among all of the metaphysical claims.

            Suppose I were to claim that indeed god created the universe. But our universe-god is one among many – there are other universe-gods creating other universes…now I don’t need to regress to the infinite (even though the infinite argument by Craig is bogus) as I will posit that there is an uber god (uncaused) that created all those other universe-creating gods..is this a legitimate metaphysical claim? If not, why not?

            What are the constraints for metaphysics? How does one distinguish the possible from the probable?

            Moving on to some other aspects of the argument for god that Craig puts forward – Personal, perfect, moral – these are some of the other attributes of Craig’s god…but how does he get there?

            For example, how do we adjudicate the perfection of the universe?

        • ladycygnus

          God doesn’t have a body therefore God is not-a-thing or nothing. Yet we believe God is pure spirit, and a spirit is not “nothing”.

          The question isn’t so much “what caused the big bang?” we could very well find a non-divine cause. The question is “why does anything exist at all?” for which no scientific study can give an answer.

          It is quite clear that if you have nothing (no space-time; quantum fields; etc) then nothing can come from it. There must be something that gives rise to all other somethings.

          • Foxhole Atheist

            The first two sentences are contradictory…the question you raise in your second paragraph can be equally extended to god…why does god exist? The assertion that it is quite clear that something cant come from nothing is not clear at all given observations in quantum mechanics
            Now if we rely on daily observation and intuition we would fail to understand some of the more fundamental aspects of our physical world…for example the dual nature of light or special relativity

          • ladycygnus

            I’m sorry – the first sentence is what you wrote rephrased. The second is my response.

          • Foxhole Atheist

            My apologies for not understanding that…my original question stands…and now I have some follow-up questions..what is your concept of spirit? And how do you conceive spirit producing the material universe? By what mechanism?

          • ladycygnus

            No, you were right not to understand that – I had forgotten to finish the intro.

            “What is a spirit?” A spirit knows and loves and can animate a body (our own spirits are that by which we use our bodies to come to know the world around us and love others). Since it doesn’t occupy space it has no parts and cannot be destroyed (for destroying something involves tearing it apart). God is an eternal spirit who is existence itself, for if everything was a receiver of existence where would existence come from. There must be a being who simply has existence and didn’t receive it from another source. There is a really good explanation of this in “Theology for Beginners” by Keating.

            I’ve never considered before what mechanism would enable a pure spirit to create material things. The thing that comes to mind is that we can create thoughts and ideas which can take shape through our words. Our spirits are an imperfect image of God, so He can create through his spirit by thought and word. “In the beginning was the Word and … all things were created through Him.”

            As for your first comment, I don’t understand the last line. The one about QM I think I know where you are going, “In the vacuum of space, where there is ‘nothing’ we sometimes see things appear.” But ’empty space’ isn’t actually empty. There is the space-time continuum, electromagnetic fields, and gravity fields (among other ‘things’ I’m sure).

          • Foxhole Atheist

            what evidence can you amass in support of this spirit? i think you are positing a version of the Kalam Cosmological Argument as evidence of this spirit/god…i’ve addressed this argument here: http://goo.gl/6neIQc and a more in-depth debate can be read here: http://goo.gl/astqNO…this is a case of special pleading (positing things that begin to exist and things that don’t begin to exist and thus uncaused and requires no explanation of causality – you are just setting up the conditions a priori to give support to the conclusion you seek)…why can’t the process for universe creation be eternal and non-supernatural?

            Now i ask you did this spirit/god willfully create the universe? if so, how do you know? Could it not have been a reflex that occurs outside of will? Could it not have been an unintended consequence of some other action of this spirit/god? Is it possible that the spirit/god not be aware of this unintended consequence? The point i am driving at here is that to get to a personal god you have to make certain assumptions that are unwarranted if you are basing your argument purely on logic (in addition to the documented flaws in the KCA).

            Now as to the possible mechanism that a spirit (i am still not sure how to conceive of this) can create something from nothing – you mention human thought. But human thought is a product of the material world – destroy the brain and you destroy the capacity for thought.

            Btw, a minor point…you refer to ‘Him’…is this a convenience of language or is there something deeper at play here? I almost always (i say almost although i don’t recall otherwise) read or hear ‘Him’ or ‘God the Father’. Is god male? And why are all the prophets male? Could this possibly be a reflection of a MAN made entity? I wonder as we move towards gender equality if this aspect of the Christian creation story will undergo change.

            I am not talking about the ‘vacuum of space’, rather i am talking about events at the sub-atomic level (the Big Bang was a quantum event)…Krauss and Hawking are experts in this domain and have written on the subject…so i would refer you to them lest i butcher their arguments.

            As for the last sentence of my original reply to you it relates to the following:
            The Christian Apologist William Lane Craig argues that from everyday experience and human intuition we conclude that something can’t come from nothing…the wave-particle duality of light, and the constant speed of light (special relativity) are counter-intuitive and we would not discern these aspects of light from everyday experiences.

      • shrgngatlas

        You got it.

      • shrgngatlas

        You got it.

    • TimHaynes

      You missed the part where the cause for the universe must be timeless (i.e. “begin” is meaningless with respect to it). Your second premise is incorrect.

      • PaulKLittlefield

        The premise that god exists? Agreed, that is an incorrect premise. Included just for the sake of argument.

        • Paul, it’s clear you don’t understand the kalam argument. There is no premise that says God exists. That’s the conclusion the argument arrives at.

          • PaulKLittlefield

            No, the conclusion of the argument as presented is *something* was the cause. There’s a big bit of handwaving between that and “therefore God exists”. There’s a further stretch between this creator concept and an understanding of a particular deity.

            IF (and I state that it is just an “if”) we accept the premise that an agent outside the universe created the universe, it does not automatically follow that that agent is sentient. If we presume it is sentient, it does not automatically follow that this deity has any interest in humanity. If we presume it has an interest in humanity, it does not automatically follow that we humans are able to interact with or recognize it.

            Look, we simply don’t know what happened before the big bang. We are all agnostic there. Will we ever know? Possibly, but until then it’s just conjecture. If you choose to believe in a creator, that’s certainly a defensible possibility, but don’t claim it’s a certainty. And furthermore, don’t claim to have any reasoned proof as to the nature of that creator.

          • “No, the conclusion of the argument as presented is *something* was the cause. There’s a big bit of handwaving between that and “therefore God exists”.

            Paul, again thanks for the comment. I appreciate the back and forth.

            I agree that the argument, at its core, simply proves a cause of the universe. However, simple logical deduction can tell us much about this cause. For example:

            – The cause brought the universe into being, therefore it must be beyond the universe–it must be transcendent.

            – The cause is responsible for time, therefore it can’t be temporal–it must be eternal.

            – The cause is responsible for matter and space, therefore it can’t be material–it must be immaterial.

            – The cause is responsible for the most complex and expansive creative act our minds can fathom–it must be extremely powerful.

            The result is that we arrive, through reason alone, at a transcendent, eternal, immaterial, powerful, being which caused the entire universe. That’s a pretty big slice of what Christians mean by “God”, but I’m curious, as an atheist, what would you call it?

          • PaulKLittlefield

            …and there’s that extra step. Transcendent? OK. Eternal? Perhaps. Immaterial? Sure. Powerful? Granted. Being? Ay, there’s the rub. Theists put a being in control, atheists want proof.

            Further, even if we assume the creative force is a being, you need to take a lot more steps from there before arriving at a Christian god.

          • To act, you must exist, and therefore can be described as a “being.”

            However, you keep avoiding my questions. You seem to admit the kalam argument leads to a transcendent, eternal, immaterial, powerful, cause of the universe. Am I correct?

            I agree this doesn’t present the *fullness* of what Christians mean by God, but again, it’s a huge slice–far too big for any content atheist. Wouldn’t you agree?

            PS. To deduce God’s other attributes, and thus arrive at a fuller picture of him, we could turn to other proofs such as these:

            http://www.strangenotions.com/god-exists/

          • PaulKLittlefield

            Cart before horse, my friend. Who said anything about an act? That presupposes a being with intent. An action fits just as well.

            The kalam argument presupposes too much information. It is based on our currently accepted understanding of universal concepts, all of which are subject to modification, alteration, and improvement. We simply do not have a level of understanding and appreciation for what we know we don’t know, let alone what we don’t know we don’t know. There is too much missing in our understanding of how the universe works to assert any definite conclusions on something of this complexity.

            The kalam argument is a reasonable basis for believing in (but not asserting) the possibility of a divinity of some kind. That’s a foundation of sand. Sand can be a very valuable, enduring, and versatile building material suitable to a great many environments, a virtually permanent structure under the right conditions. But alter the conditions and it washes away in an instant.

          • FM

            “Cart before horse, my friend. Who said anything about an act? That presupposes a being with intent. An action fits just as well.”

            ???

            An action is an act. So is an intent, in the philosophical sense that Brandon is talking about.

            ” We simply do not have a level of understanding and appreciation for what we know we don’t know, let alone what we don’t know we don’t know. There is too much missing in our understanding of how the universe works to assert any definite conclusions on something of this complexity.”

            Well this makes much more the case for the Theist.

            The cosmological arguments, including Kalaam on some levels, do not in general depend on the understanding of the PHYSICAL universe as such.

            Besides these days it’s the atheists, like Krauss and Hawking, who write books claiming to have ‘all the answers’ (but offer NONE).

            Even if we discover the universe worked in a completely different way we thought (like when we discovered about quantum mechanics and relativity) this would not invalidate Kalaams.

            Kalaam presuppositions do not actually state any scientific law, but rather the concept that the universe began to exist.

            That is the only ‘weak point’, if one could prove the universe always existed… but it’s a weak point to ‘wash away’.

            Of course I personally am NOT a fan of the Kalaam argument, as it’s only one of many, and indeed the ‘weakest’ of all, perhaps.

          • PaulKLittlefield

            “To act” is different from “an action”. Verb, noun.

            As for the rest, if you believe a lack of answers somehow supports the theist case more strongly than the atheist case, we have a fundamental disagreement on reason.

          • Dan Carollo

            Of course, the Kalam doesn’t go so far to even say what “kind” of God he is. It simply is an argument for one aspect of such a God.
            The case for a personal, moral, intentional being would have to made based on the cumulative weight of the MANY different types of arguments (fine-tuning argument, moral argument, aesthetic argument, anthropological argument, various existential arguments, miracles, etc.).

            For a good start, see Peter Kreeft’s “20 Arguments For God’s Existence”: http://www.strangenotions.com/god-exists/

          • Foxhole Atheist

            but why a ‘being’? Why not a process?

            By your use of a ‘being’ I am assume that you are positing intent…is this true?
            If so, what is the nature of this intent? Could god have chosen to not make the universe? Could god have chosen to make other universes? If god made other universes, are they all the same? Are they all perfect? How do we adjudicate these possibilities? How do we adjudicate the perfection of the our universe? This question extends to other attributes of Craig’s god, such as god being personal, perfect, moral. Also, as Paul indicates, I don’t see the connective tissue from the claim of a transcendent, immaterial ‘being’ creating the universe to that being necessarily being personal, perfect, good, moral etc…

          • Dan Carollo

            Foxhole says: “If god made other universes, are they all the same? Are they all perfect? How do we adjudicate these possibilities? How do we adjudicate the perfection of the our universe?”

            ——–

            Interestingly — herein lies ALSO the major weakness of appealing to multiverses to explain why we just so “happen” to live in a universe with incredibly fine-tuned parameters.

            In order for the multiverse explanation to have any force, it requires there being a near infinite variety of universes — all with distinctively different variables (hence — this is why it is claimed that we shouldn’t be surprised — given infinite variety of multiverses — one just happens to have the right conditions suitable for life, etc.)

            But how do we know the multiverses are of variety: A, B, C, D, E, F, G….. Z ~ ?

            How do we know they are not: A, A, A, B, B, B

            Or even all the same?: A, A, A, A, A, A

            We’re assuming a statistically meaningful distribution of the many types of universes — when we have ZERO basis for making that assumption.

            In addition, it surely strains economy of explanation to appeal to a multiplicity of universes to explain our own kind of universe — rather accept a simpler explanation: That this universe (or multiverses) was brought into being by a singular something/someone with the will, power, intention, creativity to do so — who is “existence itself”.

            For a more comprehensive critique of multiverses, see George Ellis:

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=does-the-multiverse-really-exist

            key quote…

            “…The key step in justifying a multiverse is extrapolation from the known to the unknown, from the testable to the untestable. You get different answers depending on what you choose to extrapolate. Because theories involving a multiverse can explain almost anything whatsoever, any observation can be accommodated by some multiverse variant. The various “proofs,” in effect, propose that we should accept a theoretical explanation instead of insisting on observational testing. But such testing has, up until now, been the central requirement of the scientific endeavor, and we abandon it at our peril. If we weaken the requirement of solid data, we weaken the core reason for the success of science over the past centuries….”

            and this one…

            “But a key issue here is how many unverifiable entities are needed. Specifically, are we hypothesizing more or fewer entities than the number of phenomena to be explained? In the case of the multiverse, we are supposing the existence of a huge number—perhaps even an infinity—of unobservable entities to explain just one existing universe. It hardly fits 14th-century English philosopher William of Ockham’s stricture that “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.”

          • Foxhole Atheist

            First, you didn’t really address my questions.

            Second, multiverses is a hypothesis, not an assumption.

            Third, convenience isn’t simplicity. I can’t fathom why a ‘being’/’thing’ (?) with ‘the will, power, intention, creativity…” is necessarily more simple than an eternal universe-creating process; it is definitely more convenient.

            Fourth, “Because theories involving a multiverse can explain almost anything whatsoever, any observation can be accommodated by some multiverse variant.” if rewritten: ” Because god can explain almost anything whatsoever, any observation can be accommodated by some god variant.” This does not advance your case.

            Fifth, you refer in passing to the fine-tuning argument for god. I think this argument comports better with the notion of a universe from and of chance phenomena than an omnipotent ‘being’. Why would/should an omnipotent make a universe with such fine-tuning? If life is necessitated upon this fine tuning then god would be constrained and thus not omnipotent. But (at least the Christian) god steps outside of the fine-tuned laws of the universe (e.g. Christ’s resurrection) on occasion, so this would suggest that god is not constrained, so why create such a universe? Are there other universes created by god that does not follow this fine-tuning? Or is this god’s only universe? If so, why?

            Sixty, what are the boundary conditions for universe creation? Until we know this, we can’t apply Occam’s razor.

          • Cicero

            That’s a pretty big slice of what people mean by ‘No true scotsman’. Christians ascribe personality, intentionality and self-awareness to God. What you have described is a hitherto, unobserved ‘force’.

        • TimHaynes

          That God *began* to exist.

          I should know better than to feed the trolls.

          • FM

            A troll who straw-mans his own arguments, nonetheless… a pinnacle of incoherence 😀

        • FM

          It takes really awfully BAD thinking to straw man your OWN argument…

          Your second premise was ‘God began to exist’, not ‘ God exists’… that’s different.

          At least be coherent in your own thought process!

          • PaulKLittlefield

            The first casualty of the internet is sarcasm.

          • FM

            We are not interested in sarcasm, which is unwelcome when to people want to have a serious discussion.

          • PaulKLittlefield

            Except you’re not interested in a discussion.

            Below, you describe a dialogue as: “An atheist who is serious about dialogue will listen and perhaps present his difficulties, objections and problems. / A theist will listen to such and, hopefully, provide an answer to the difficulties or problems.”

            So an atheist presents problems, while a theist provides answers. It’s actually a pretty accurate description of the conversation – the atheist as skeptic, always searching for answers, while the theist makes assertions and never questions.

            Let me know when you want to have a discussion with me, instead of at me.

          • FM

            Straw man again, and again ad hominems.

            I never claimed that the Theist never ‘questions’.
            I was rather making a plea for ‘charitable discussion’ rather than just vomit attacks and ridicules.
            It was not meant as a ‘perfect guide to debate’.

            Moreover:
            To consider someone’s criticism is to question. To provide an answer you need to start with a question.

            If a person considers someone criticism maybe is a person that is also ready to take in considerations flaws in his arguments and rethink (some of) his positions. Not necessarily of course.

            Also when did YOU question and search answers? You only made statements (with no arguments often) and attacks.

            I think it’s you who is not interested in a discussion. Like the pot calling the kettle black.

          • JP

            The atheist can not prove that there is not a God; all he can do is attempt to refute the mountain of evidence that there is a God.

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