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)

  • cesinco
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  • 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?

  • http://www.davidlgray.info/ David L. Gray

    Is William Craig a Catholic?

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      Nope. Evangelical.

  • 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?

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      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.