The Cosmological Argument

9 December 2005

The Cosmological Argument is perhaps the most commonly used argument for the existence of God. As such, it has been subjected to intense critical analysis by a variety of non-theist sources. The purpose of this article is to explain the Cosmological Argument, and to offer rebuttals to common atheistic objections.

The raw, simplistic version of the Cosmological Argument involves three premises:

1.) Everything which begins to exist requires a cause.
2.) The universe began to exist.
3.) Therefore, the universe requires a cause.

One must remember that if (1) and (2) are true, then (3) follows logically and inescapably. Therefore, the only way to refute this argument is to call into question either (1) or (2). However, it is fairly obvious that these three premises do not necessarily lead to the conclusion that God is the cause of the universe. That is why theists generally attempt to go from (3) and then add on additional arguments for why God is the only reasonable explanation for the creation of the universe. I will do this later on in the article.

Before I begin addressing atheistic objections, it is important to know what exactly I am stating when I claim that God exists. I have provided a brief definition HERE. I will mainly be attempting to demonstrate the definite existence of the “minimalist” definition of God.

Atheistic objections to the Cosmological Argument are quite varied. Below, I list all of the major objections.

A. The universe has existed eternally.
B. Our universe is merely the result of a “Super-cosmos” spewing off smaller universes.
C. It is not true that everything which begins to exist requires a cause.
D. Stephen Hawking’s Quantum Cosmology refutes the Cosmological Argument.
E. If it is true that everything which begins to exist requires a cause, then God requires a cause also.
F. Even if all three premises are true, the first cause is not necessarily God.
G. The Cosmological Argument is just circular reasoning since the only possible eternally existing entity is God.
H. The Cosmological Argument is merely God-of-the-gaps.
I. The mere existence of atheistic objections demonstrates that God is not necessary.

Now, I will review each and every objection and attempt to show that it fails to affect the conclusion of the Cosmological Argument.

 A. The universe has existed eternally.

This used to be the most common objection against the Cosmological Argument, but it has lost some popularity recently due to scientific findings. Unfortunately for the non-theist, nearly all of the scientific data confirms that the universe had a beginning. Although the Steady-State model used to be considered a scientifically tenable theory, I will not critique it unless upon request. The only seriously considered scientific theory which purports to allow an eternally existing universe is the oscillating model. I will now show a healthy sampling of the numerous scientific evidences against this failing theory. (For an explanation of the oscillating universe model, please see Appendix 1)

a.) There is no evidence that the universe does oscillate. Lacking any evidence for the theory, it is at most an ad hoc suggestion that has a possibility of being true. As such, there is no real reason for an individual to prefer the oscillating model over any other model of the universe’s origins.

b.) There is no known mechanism for a supposed “bounce back” after a theoretical “big crunch.” As the late Professor Tinley of Yale articulated: “even though the mathematics say that the universe oscillates, there is no known physics to reverse the collapse and bounce back to a new expansion. The physics seems to say that those models start from the Big Bang, expand, collapse, then end.” 1 (Note: I realize that the absence of a proposed mechanism does not necessarily mean that there is no potential mechanism. Perhaps, in the future, scientists will think of a possible source for such an astounding physical event. However, the fact that the oscillating model cannot even produce a mechanism is further evidence that the theory ought to be rejected.)

c.) Recent measurements by scientists have shown that the universe is expanding at “escape velocity”. This means that the universe is moving too quickly to ever collapse back into a “big crunch”, thus making the oscillating model impossible. According to scientists Sandage and Tammann, “Hence, we are forced to decide that . . . it seems inevitable that the Universe will expand forever”; they conclude, therefore, “the Universe has happened only once.” 2

d.) Thermodynamic properties of the universe dictate that, even if the universe did oscillate, an eternal universe could not occur. This is because, the farther back in time one goes, the shorter the time span of oscillations, or rotations. Thus, the universe could not be eternal. A scientific team under Duane Dicus came to the following conclusion: “The effect of entropy production will be to enlarge the cosmic scale, from cycle to cycle. . . . Thus, looking back in time, each cycle generated less entropy, had a smaller cycle time, and had a smaller cycle expansion factor than the cycle that followed it.” 3 Based on this data, Novikov and Zeldovich stated: “The multicycle model has an infinite future, but only a finite past.” 4 Thermodynamics- the most overriding laws governing the universe, prevent oscillating models from working. 5

e.) According to the best estimates the universe still has only about half the mass needed for re-contraction. This includes the combined total of both luminous matter and non-luminous matter (found in galactic halos), as well as any possible contribution of neutrinos to total mass. 6 (Note: Some may claim that dark matter accounts for this difference, but, as it stands, dark matter is largely theoretical and mysterious. Until the scientific standing of dark matter is on solid ground, I believe that this particular scientific evidence against the oscillating universe stands. Moreover, even if the universe has a significant amount of dark matter, it is unlikely that this matter will be able to account for the large difference between the mass needed for re-contraction and the mass we observe.)

A firm conclusion can be made based on this scientific evidence. It is plain to see with the previous evidences alone that the oscillating model is untenable. There is no actual support for the theory, and the theory also contradicts several well-known scientific facts. Due to these considerations, I don’t think the atheistic objection that the universe is eternal is on a solid foundation.

However, there is an additional flaw with the proposed oscillating model. The oscillating model assumes that an infinite number of events can actually exist. However, this is by no means certain. The problem is that an infinite number of events leads to logical absurdities. This problem has been articulated by many esteemed philosophers. 7

The problem of an actual infinite number of things becomes obvious when one considers an analogy. Say, for instance, that there was a line of people waiting to ride a roller coaster that was infinitely long. In other words, an infinity of people are anxiously waiting to ride this new attraction. Now, let’s say that half of the people in this line decide that the wait is too long and they all head over to wait in the line for the Merry-Go-Round. Now, several inconsistencies appear. Even though half of the people left, the line for the roller coaster is still infinitely long! Additionally, the Merry-Go-Round also has an infinite number of people waiting in line! So now, there are two rides with an infinite number of people, instead of only one, even though the only thing that has happened is the transfer of half of the people from the roller coaster to the Merry-Go-Round. As is easily seen, this scenario has lead to numerous inconsistencies and contradictions.

Now, this analogy shows clearly that an actual infinite number of events cannot exist. Obviously, if the universe existed eternally, then there would have been an infinite amount of events. Therefore, it is concluded that the universe cannot be eternal. This serves only to reinforce the scientific evidences mentioned earlier.

Another related objection that a few atheists propose is the supposed possibility that, even though the universe as we know it has not existed forever, it is nonetheless possible that the universe has existed forever in some form. The atheist may claim that before the supposed “Big Bang”, the universe had existed forever in a condensed plasmic state. For example, Secular Web denizen Kyle Gerkin argues:

“The Big Bang tells us the universe began to expand approximately 14 billion years ago. But it existed prior to expansion in a form of unbelievably condensed matter and energy. When did this incredible ball of matter/energy come into being? For all we know, it could’ve been eternal.” 8

The problem with this hypothesis is that it claims that the condensed matter and energy could exist for an eternity and then suddenly create the universe, but this is just confused. There is no logical way that an eternally existing ball of matter could spontaneously create something. Since this ball of condensed matter and energy had existed forever, there is no reason that it would have suddenly created the universe a mere 14 billion years ago, rather, it would have created it before that. In fact, it would have created our universe an infinity ago. Either the conditions that would lead to the creation of the universe would have to be present for eternity, or the conditions that would lead to the creation of the universe would never exist. Thus, our universe would have to be eternal, and then we have to deal with the numerous scientific and philosophical objections that contradict the eternal universe hypothesis.

With both the philosophical and scientific evidences in mind, it is clear to see that the atheistic objection A (the universe has existed eternally) should be rejected.

B. Our universe is merely the result of a “Super-cosmos” spewing off universes.

This objection seems to be an extension of the old “our universe has existed eternally argument”. However, instead of our specific universe existing forever, other “Super-universes” or what-not have existed forever, and have directly resulted in the creation of the universe we are familiar with.

Now, it must first be mentioned that these theories totally lack evidentiary support. In fact, they seem to be completely ad hoc. It is not even theoretically possible for us to locate evidence for the existence of some supercosmos. So, in this regard, how can this theory possibly be any better than the God hypothesis? (Note: It is often argued that God is not an appropriate explanation because men can never know the mind of God, or can never “investigate” God. If this is true, though, then the atheist must admit that this particular objection fails, because there seems to be no way for us to investigate any alternate universes or “Super-cosmos” if they do in fact exist. Of course, it is false that God is not an appropriate explanation, which I demonstrate later on in this article.)

However, the real problem with these “Super-cosmos” lies not with their ad hoc nature, but with the fact that they are logically contradictory.

a.) Firstly, the “Super-universe” that created the universe we inhabit must have existed eternally, or it would require a cause. So, in order for this atheistic hypothesis to work, we must suppose that it is logically possible for an actually infinite number of events to occur. As shown previously, however, this is a rather dubious suggestion.

b.) The greates problem with the “Super-universe” is that it would have created our universe an infinity ago. If the “Super-cosmos” has existed forever, and it has the ability to create universes, then it would have never created our universe a mere 15 billion years ago as some suggest. If 15 billion years ago, why not 16? The conditions for creating the universe would have already existed for an eternity. There is simply no way that the “Super-cosmos” could create our universe unless our universe has existed eternally. Of course, there are numerous scientific problems with the hypothesis that our universe has existed forever.

It is quite clear then, that the “Super-cosmos” hypothesis alluded to by some atheists is fatally flawed and totally lacking evidential support. In fact, it is merely an added hypothesis tossed in the mix to support the idea of an eternally existing universe. Rather than solving any of the problems inherent in the idea of an eternal universe, this theory compounds them. Due to this, we are justified in totally disregarding this objection.

C. It is not true that everything which begins to exist requires a cause.

Perhaps surprisingly, this is one of the most common objections to the Cosmological Argument today. However, its popularity has not always been as prevalent. This objection used to never even be considered. 9 In my view, this objection has become popular recently primarily because science and philosophy have conclusively shown that the universe began to exist, essentially leaving this objection as the only actual atheistic alternative other than ignorance.

With this objection, atheists are claiming that something can come from nothing for no reason. This may come as a surprise to some, because it seems intuitively obvious (at least to me) that nothing will never create something. Surely this is hard to take seriously. For, if literally nothing exists, how is it going to create something? Nothing has no power to do anything. It has no resources to “distribute” for the creation of something, and it has no reason to create something.

Certainly, anybody who would claim that it is possible for nothing to create something for no reason would shoulder the burden of proof. The most common attempt to demonstrate that this is possible is in “quantum vacuum fluctuations”. 10

Before we consider quantum vacuum fluctuations, however, is there any reason to hold that premise 1 is true? Is there any reason to agree with the statement that everything which begins to exist requires a cause? I think there are at least three good reasons:

a.) We have a vast experience of causes and effects. Every event we observe or hear has a cause. When a rational man hears a thud in the next room, he does not confidently declare, “That noise just happened for no reason.” Rather, he declares that there is a reason that the suspicious noise was made, even if he has no evidence whatsoever that there was actually an event that caused a thud. The reason we feel confident to assert that the thud had a cause is because every single event that we investigate has an underlying cause. As such, it is rational to believe the first premise of the Cosmological Argument on our own experience alone.

b.) This premise seems to be an inherently obvious truth. In fact, it seems to be implied by the nature of the term “nothing.” If “nothing” had the ability to create “something”, then would it be “nothing” at all? Nothing has no resources to contribute to the creation of something, and absolutely no motivation to create something. Why, one must ask, would it create something? For no reason? Surely one must consider it more rational to believe that nothing will create nothing, rather than that nothing will create something. Such a concept seems to introduce a new kind of “nothing” altogether. Applying the principle of Occam’s Razor 11, it would be much simpler to posit that nothing created nothing, rather than that something came from nothing. There is no real reason to believe that something can come from nothing, and even if it could, there is no reason to think that it would.

c.) Atheists are fond of asserting that the positing of God will result in the breakdown of the scientific method. If this is so, then it is even truer that the postulation that something occurred for no reason would be damaging to science. Science is all about discovering the underlying causes for events. If we are to exclaim, “That event just happened because it did”, we are certainly not expanding upon our knowledge of how the universe operateds. Using the God hypothesis is actually an answer (as I demonstrate later on in this article). However, boldly exclaiming that “it just happened” is not an actual answer by anyone’s standards. To exclaim that something can come from nothing for no reason is simply the breakdown of rational thought and analysis.

That said, it is indeed imperative that we investigate any and all claims which purport to allow the creation of something from nothing for no reason, particularly ones that provide evidence that this is indeed possible. This brings us to “quantum vacuum fluctuations”.

Now, according to these theories, our universe was created by a quantum vacuum fluctuation that occurred in the so-called vacuum. In this case, the vacuum is an infinitely large “universe-as-a-whole” that causes the spawning of multiple mini-universes. Just as sub-atomic particles supposedly emerge from the vacuum, our universe could also emerge as a result of a quantum fluctuation. So even though there was originally absolutely nothing, our universe came about as a result of a quantum fluctuation. (This is just a summary of the theory, for a more comprehensive analysis, please see Appendix 2). Several objections can be urged against this theory.

a.) It is untrue that the quantum vacuum is “nothing”. The so-called “vacuum” is a “sea of continually forming and dissolving particles, which borrow energy from the vacuum for their brief existence.” 12 This has been confirmed by many scientists, including proponents of the quantum fluctuation paradigm. Davies, a proponent of this theory, admits: “The processes described here do not represent the creation of matter out of nothing, but the conversion of pre-existing energy into material form.” 13 As Kanitscheider points out, “From the philosophical point of view it is essential to note that the foregoing is far from being a spontaneous generation of everything from naught, but the origin of that embryonic bubble is really a causal process leading from a primordial substratum with a rich physical structure to a materialized substratum of the vacuum.” 14 Therefore, the term “vacuum” in this case is misleading, because in actuality the vacuum is more than nothing. This throws a wrench into the whole quantum fluctuation scheme. If anything at all can be said to have existed prior to the creation of the universe, then that which existed would have existed forever and it would have caused the creation of our universe an infinity ago. Redefining “nothing” to mean “something” is no more than semantic gymnastics and obfuscation. 15 Therefore, the quantum “vacuum” which atheists use as a parallel for the their atheistic cosmology is in fact not a successful example of something coming from nothing.

b.) These theories contradict observations. Given infinite past time, there will be an infinite amount of times in which a vacuum fluctuation caused the creation of a universe. Such an infinite amount of universes, all expanding, would result in the collision of universes, which is something we do not observe. This is unavoidable, unless one posits an expanding universe-as-a-whole, but then we are right back to where we started, because this universe-as-a-whole would require a cause.

c.) Finally, there is no reason to suppose that the “quantum fluctuation” hypothesis is better than the God hypothesis anyway. This hypothesis involves the existence of a wider “universe-as-a-whole”, which is by nature unknowable. Clearly, this theory is in no better shape than the hypothesis that God created the universe. It seems that, even if there was no evidence against the “quantum fluctuation” hypothesis, the decision as to whether it was God or a quantum fluctuation that caused the universe would have to be made based upon personal preference.

As a side note, it is commonly claimed that quantum vacuum fluctuations and other quantum events such as the motions of elementary particles that are supposedly without cause undermine premise 1 whether or not they can be forged into a successful cosmological model. However, at most this shows that premise 1 should be slightly altered, or, the definition of “begin” clarified. For the form of beginning which is important to the argument is “absolute beginning.” Perhaps the supposed acausality of elementary particle motion shows that things can “begin” to exist in that they can change position, speed, or form without cause, but this really does not even begin to increase the plausibility of the universe literally arising from nothing.

We therefore see that premise 1 (Everything which begins to exist requires a cause) is well-supported for a few powerful reasons, and we also see that the attempt to avert the truth of this premise has failed.

D. Stephen Hawking’s Quantum Cosmology refutes the Cosmological Argument

An interesting cosmology, known as the Hartle-Hawking model, was articulated in Stephen Hawking’s best seller, A Brief History of Time. This cosmology purports to eliminate the need for a First Cause, even while maintaining that the universe has not existed forever. If true, the Hartle-Hawking model undermines the need for the God hypothesis.

Unfortunately for the non-theist, a demonstration of the bad metaphysical and philosophical assumptions employed in order to eliminate the need of a First Cause undermines this model. Namely, the Hartle-Hawking model uses the concept of “imaginary time” by plugging numbers such as the square root of – 3 into equations. Since there is no real number for the square root of – 3, it is referred to as an imaginary number. The Hartle-Hawking model uses these numbers in order to create a concept called “imaginary time”, which, when plugged into the equations, eliminates the need for a First Cause. However, this whole line of thinking is just confused. The positing of imaginary time is bad metaphysics. What are we supposed to make of the concept of “imaginary time”? Those who promote the Hartle-Hawking model have the burden of proof to enlighten us as to what this combination of words really means. Otherwise, we might as well say that “blarks” eliminate the need for a First Cause. Postulating “imaginary time” is akin to postulating “imaginary inches”. Just as “imaginary inches” is totally useless as an actual concept, so is supposed “imaginary time.”

However, Hawking counters that imaginary time is “a well-defined mathematical concept.” 16 Of course, it is apparent to many that a mathematical concept does not always relate to reality. The late Sir Herbert Dingle argued this effectively:

“Suppose we want to find the number of men required for a certain job under certain conditions. Every schoolboy knows such problems, and he knows that he must begin by saying: ‘Let x = the number of men required.’ But that substitution introduces a whole range of possibilities that the nature of the original problem excludes. The mathematical symbol x can be positive, negative, integral, fractional, irrational, imaginary, complex, zero, infinite, and whatever else the fertile brain of the mathematician may devise. The number of men, however, must be simply positive and integral. Consequently, when you say, ‘Let x = the number of men required’ you are making a quite invalid substitution, and the result of the calculation, though entirely possible for the symbol, might be quite impossible for the men.

“Every elementary algebra book contains such problems that lead to quadratic equations, and these have two solutions, which might be 8 and –3, say. We accept 8 as the answer and ignore –3 because we know from experience that there are no such things as negative men, and the only alternative interpretation-that we could get the work done by subtracting three men from our gang-is obviously absurd….

“So we just ignore [one] of the mathematical solutions, and quite overlook the significance of that fact-namely, that in the language of mathematics we can tell lies as well as truths, and within the scope of mathematics itself there is no possible way of telling one from the other. We can distinguish them only by experience or by reasoning outside the mathematics, applied to the possible relation between the mathematical solution and its supposed physical correlate.” 17

Therefore, we see that the mere fact that imaginary time is a “well-defined mathematical concept” does nothing to support the notion that it corresponds to reality. But, once imaginary numbers are converted back to real numbers, the First Cause for the universe once again becomes necessary, and we are forced to admit that God is the best answer to the question of why the universe exists.

Another problem with plugging imaginary numbers into the time dimension in these equations is that it forces one to recognize time as another spatial dimension. However, this is more bad metaphysics, since space and time are inherently different. According to Craig:

“Space is ordered by a relation of betweenness: for three points x, y, and z on a spatial line, y is between x and z. But time is ordered in addition by a unique relation of earlier/later than: for two moments t1 and t2 in time, t1 is earlier than t2, and t2 is later than t1.” 18

Thus, it is seen that time and space are distinct. Therefore, the Hartle-Hawking model receives a further blow. Given that the theory involves at least two metaphysical absurdities, we are justified in rejecting the Hartle-Hawking model as a valid cosmology.

A brief side note should be mentioned. The name of Stephen Hawking carries with it a massive amount of respect and perhaps even polemical value. He is possibly regarded as the smartest man on the planet, for good reasons. He is surely a brilliant man deserving of high praise. But this does not mean that his theories must be accepted without a grain of salt. Even the most brilliant men are prone to make mistakes or reach unfounded conclusions, particularly due not to the scientific data, but the philosophical and metaphysical assumptions present in their theories. As we have seen, the Hartle-Hawking model presents serious metaphysical assumptions that remain unverified and must not go unchecked. We must not simply stand back and assume that “Hawking’s got it all figured out”. I only mention this because I have been accused of “implying that Stephen Hawking is an idiot”. I have attempted to do no such thing here. Rather, I have merely attempted to show that Hawking’s model is undermined by bad metaphysical assumptions that have remained unverified.

E. If it is true that everything which begins to exist requires a cause, then God requires a cause also.

This objection fails to recognize that God has existed eternally and thus requires no cause. Theists don’t argue that “Whatever exists requires a cause”, but rather, “Whatever begins to exist requires a cause”. Therefore, since God never began to exist, He does not require a cause.

Most atheists are willing to grant that if God does exist, then He has existed forever, since this seems to be one of the traditional characteristics of God (I also include this characteristic in my DEFINITION). Theists have always defined God as existing eternally, to the best of my knowledge. Eternality is also a characteristic of necessary beings, which is a title most have bestowed upon God, if indeed He does exist. It is not question begging to assert that God is eternal due to His status as a necessary being, because atheists in the past used to identify the universe as a necessary being. That was, of course, before the discovery of the numerous scientific and philosophical evidences against the supposed eternality of the universe. Therefore, the atheist has no valid ground to declare that pronouncing God as eternally existing involves special pleading.

Additionally, it is argued that, if one admits that God does not require a cause if He does not have a beginning, then we should be within rational confines to claim that the universe did not have a beginning and does not require a cause. However, as already mention, there are numerous philosophical and scientific evidences against the eternality of the universe. This was already shown in my refutation of objection A.

The atheistic objection here is groundless, and is based upon a misunderstanding of the theistic position.

 F. Even if it is true that the universe requires a cause, God is not necessarily the best explanation.

Here the atheist claims that, even if all of the premises of the Cosmological Argument are true, there is no reason to suppose that God is the only reasonable explanation for the existence of the universe. I will argue that the nature of the First Cause in this instance requires exactly the same entity as outlined by my minimalist definition of God. For convenience, I will list the three major points of my minimalist definition of God here, and I will then demonstrate that the First Cause in question requires such characteristics.

1.) An entity that is above and beyond the laws of the universe, and not subject to the laws of the universe.
2.) An eternally existing entity.
3.) An entity with the ability to make decisions.

We’ll look at each of these in turn.

1.) An entity that is above and beyond the laws of the universe, and not subject to the laws of the universe.

Since the universe contains physical laws, the entity that created the universe would have to be separate from these laws. Therefore, the entity would be operating in a different realm, and would not be subject to the laws of the universe it created. The universe could not be created by its own physical laws, or else it would be creating itself, which is a notion I have refuted previously. Therefore, it seems that this characteristic of God is a necessary component of the First Cause entity in question.

2.) An eternally existing entity.

As mentioned earlier, it is necessary that the First Cause entity is eternal, or else that entity would require a cause itself, based on the principle “Everything which begins to exist requires a cause”. It therefore is true that the First Cause entity in question must have existed eternally, otherwise leading to an infinite regression of events, which is a logical impossibility.

3.) An entity with the ability to make decisions.

This is the most important point with regards to the identification of the First Cause entity. If it can be shown that the entity responsible for the creation of the universe makes decisions, you are basically forced to acknowledge the existence of God in one form or another. A naturalistic cause does not have the ability to make decisions. Therefore, if this point is proven, it seems inevitable that we will be forced to admit that God is the only logical possibility for the First Cause in question, or at least the most plausible possibility.

Such a justification of this characteristic is possible. The First Cause in question requires an entity with the ability to make decisions, because an eternally existing cause without such an ability is not capable of creating something unique. This is because, since it has existed forever, the naturally occurring cause would have already created the universe. An automated, inanimate cause cannot will something into existence, because such a cause only responds to conditions. Since it would have existed forever, such conditions would have been met an eternity ago and our universe would have already existed forever. Either that or the conditions would have never been met, and our universe would not exist. On the other hand, God has the ability to make decisions, and thus can “will” something into existence even in the absence of any automated condition to do so. An inanimate, eternally existing cause cannot create something unique, while an entity that is able to make decisions can.

This concept can be difficult to grasp. Imagine that there was a giant lever, and if this lever was pulled down, the universe would be created, if it is left as it is, the universe will not be created. There are three possibilities for this lever:

1. It may never be pulled, so that no universe is created.
2. It may be pulled from eternity (in other words, it is always pulled down).
3. It may be pulled at a certain time, say, fifteen billion years ago.

Option 1 is false because the universe exists. Option 2 is theoretically possible, but it would result in an eternally existing universe, which has been demonstrated to be false. This leaves Option 3. How could this lever be pulled down after waiting for an eternity at a certain time? Let us postulate a Rude Goldberg machine, in which an extraordinarily complex chain reaction lasting trillions of years leads to the eventual pull of the lever. Could this explain the origin of the universe, in theory?

No, because even an extremely long Rude Goldberg machine would not cause the universe to be created a finite time ago. From the standpoint of eternity, a machine that takes up 10 trillion years has no effect. Infinity – 10 trillion = Infinity. There is simply no way for the machine to effect the infinity. Thus, even a Rude Goldberg machine lasting 10 trillion years would result in Option 2, which is untenable. Thus, a personal agent with the free decision to create the universe (or, to follow the example, pull the lever) is required.

At least three characteristics of God line up perfectly and essentially with the necessary characteristics of the First Cause, including the all-important attribute of being a personal agent with free will capacities. We are forced to conclude that God is the only reasonable solution to the question of why the universe exists, if in fact the three premises of the Cosmological Argument are valid.

G. The argument involves circular reasoning since the only possible eternally existing entity is God.

The objection here is the claim that premise (1) (Everything which begins to exist requires a cause) is circular reasoning, since the set of all things that exist eternally (according to the theist) consists only of God. In other words, since God is the only eternally existing entity, the premise might as well state:

Everything except God requires a cause.

The atheist then complains that this is nothing but circular reasoning or special pleading. However, it is not the theist’s contention that God is the only potential eternally existing entity. For instance, it is possible that there exists more than one god (obviously, this is just a theoretical possibility, not potential Christian doctrine). Or, it is possible that there are physical objects that have existed forever outside of the universe (for example, it is possible that God has a book, and that book has existed alongside Him forever). Therefore, since it is at least possible that something other than God has existed eternally, it is not circular reasoning to claim that everything which begins to exist requires a cause. (Note: To this point, many atheists respond that, if it is possible that objects have existed alongside God for eternity, then why cannot the universe be eternal as well? Of course, I have thoroughly critiqued the notion that the universe has existed eternally above, and so in order to maintain this objection the atheist will have to refute all of the evidence that the universe had a beginning.)

However, the atheist may argue further and say, “If you admit that other things could have existed for all eternity, then why should I believe in your god? What if there are multiple gods, or what if the first cause was an inanimate object that created the universe?” Well, it must first be mentioned that it is impossible for an eternally existing inanimate object to cause the creation of something unique, as I have argued previously. However, the question remains, “How do I know that only one God exists?” Rather ironically, this makes no difference for the atheist, because whether there is one God or one thousand, atheism is still refuted. However, there is no way that it can be “proved” that only one God is responsible for the existence of the universe. The purpose of this essay is to attempt to prove the “minimalist” definition of God. I never claimed that I could absolutely prove that the Christian God exists with reference to the Cosmological Argument. So, even if the argument leaves open the possibility of multiple gods, it is still successful. Thirdly, it could be argued on the basis of Ockham’s Razor 11 that we should consider it more likely that one God is responsible for the creation of the universe rather than many gods. So, we are still compelled to believe in the existence of one God on the basis of the Cosmological Argument.

In conclusion, the atheistic objection here is ineffective because the theist admits the possibility of other eternally existing entities.

H. The Cosmological Argument is merely God-of-the-Gaps.

It is often objected that God is not an appropriate answer to the question of the existence of the universe. This argument is, of course, just an extension of the usual “God-of-the-gaps” claim, which I have addressed more thoroughly HERE. However, for the purposes of this article, I will examine this claim more closely in the context of the Cosmological Argument. In the link just provided I argue that in order to effectively claim that “God-of-the-gaps” is being used, reasonable evidence should be put forth that naturalistic explanations are likely to exist and/or be discovered in the future. Therefore, I will attempt to show that there is little hope that atheistic explanations will be forthcoming.

a.) Is there any reason to believe that, in the future, we will discover that the universe is indeed eternal and has existed forever?

One must look at the trend of data in order to consider this. Theories of eternal universes used to be standard, but have been waning in recent years. Almost all of the discoveries that have refuted eternal universe models have been uncovered fairly recently. Scientists seem to have all but abandoned hope for the oscillating model, steady-state model, etc. In addition to this, theists have recently provided detailed arguments that attempt to show that an actual infinite number of events cannot exist. If it is true that an infinite number of events cannot exist, then it is absolutely impossible for an eternally existing universe to be a reality. Therefore, it seems that the trend of data, both scientific and philosophical, is consistently refuting the notion that an eternal universe is possible. I think it is fair to claim that it is very unlikely that the idea of an eternally existing universe will become plausible again in the future.

b.) Is there any reason to believe that, in the future, we will discover that it is indeed possible for the universe to come into existence uncaused out of absolutely nothing?

Admittedly, it is true that many scientists and philosophers are beginning to consider this idea. Is their interest in this possibility justified? Previously I have shown that their recent efforts to demonstrate that this sort of event is possible have been ineffective. Is there any reason to suppose that they will be more successful in the future? I don’t think so. Our vast experience with causal relationships gives us little reason to doubt that everything which begins to exist requires a cause. Additionally, this principle seems to be a very simple, logical truth. Absolute nothing has no power to create anything. If “nothing” creates something, is it really “nothing” at all? In sum, even though many scientists are now beginning to believe that it is possible that something can come from nothing for no reason, there is no good reason to suppose that they are right nor that future studies will vindicate them.

c.) Is there any reason to believe that, in the future, we will discover evidence that there are “alternative universes” or “Super-cosmos” or something of that nature?

Admittedly, this is the hardest objection to prove either way. Ultimately, the existence of such “alternate universes” does not seem to be testable. Basically, these “alternate universes” are a proposed substitute for God. These theories seek to understand why and how the universe was created, and they are therefore, in essence, a proposed substitute for God. However, as I have shown, these theories are hopelessly contradictory and illogical. Additionally, these theories are not generally supplemented with actual evidence; thus they are usually merely ad hoc suggestions. In any case, I see no trend in the development of newer, better theories, nor the production of evidence for the older ones. Additionally, there are many philosophical issues that need to be dealt with, including the problem of infinity, for these theories to be accepted as even possible. Therefore, I don’t think it is very likely that new evidence will be forthcoming in this area.

d.) Is there any reason to believe that, in the future, scientists will discover a naturalistic First Cause?

As I have argued previously, the idea of a naturalistic First Cause seems to violate logical principles. It is impossible for an eternally existing entity to suddenly create something unique. I see no way around this contradiction, and so thus it seems impossible that science will be able to discover a naturalistic First Cause in the future.

I again refer the reader to the article linked previously for a closer examination of this objection. However, it seems to me that there is little reason to suppose that atheistic solutions to the existence of the universe will be forthcoming. With that in mind, the “God-of-the-gaps” objection is merely an attempt to sidestep the issue.

I. The mere existence of atheistic objections demonstrates that God is not necessary.

When one looks at the tremendous amount of atheistic objections considered in this article, it is quite mind-boggling. Atheists have attacked the Cosmological Argument from every side in every way possible. This, I think, is a great testimony to its success, not to its supposed failure. However, many atheists would have us believe that, merely because objections have been tossed in the air, the Cosmological Argument fails to establish the existence of God.

1.) It is claimed that any naturalistic scenario is superior to the God hypothesis. Therefore, even if a remote possibility exists that any of the various alternatives offered by the atheist is true, it is more rational to believe in the naturalistic hypothesis than the supernatural hypothesis. A few counters can be made to this claim.

I have dealt with just about every alternative offered by atheists for the reason the universe exists. In most cases, the problem with the atheistic hypothesis is not merely lack of evidentiary support, but outright logical contradictions. Since it is impossible for a logical contradiction to be true, these atheistic alternatives are not even viable options, let alone superior to the God hypothesis.

2.) Most of these “naturalistic” alternatives are not really very naturalistic at all. As is the case with the “alternate universes” or the “universe-as-a-whole” scheme prompted by the quantum vacuum fluctuation hypothesis, these scenarios involve aspects of reality that are not only unknown, but also unknowable. Since we are confined to our own universe, there is no way that we could even begin to analyze or test “alternate universes” or whatnot. As such, these “naturalistic” scenarios are no more natural than the God hypothesis.

3.) These atheistic theories all boldly fly in the face of empirical evidence. As is particularly obvious in the eternal universe objection, scientific findings have completely undermined these theories while at the same time supporting the God hypothesis.

4.) What about the claim that anything is more likely than the God hypothesis? Should any atheistic theory, no matter how badly undermined by scientific findings, be considered more rational than the existence of God? This is not necessarily so. When an atheist claims this, he is basically raising the white flag and admitting defeat, even though he may foolishly announce his victory. If the evidence for God is so persuasive that one must embrace theories which apparently involve logical contradictions, and also have a myriad of scientific findings flying in their face in order to hold to atheism, then, I say, the existence of God is firmly established. One thing atheists are fond of claiming is that atheism is the result of an unbiased and rational search for truth. But when the atheist starts grasping on to theories which are irrational purely for the reason of avoiding the obvious conclusion that God exists, then they undermine their entire worldview. If atheism cannot be defended with rationally defensible concepts, then it utterly fails, and theism remains as the only rationally acceptable worldview.

It is seen that, just like the “God-of-the-gaps” charge, this objection is nothing but an intellectual white flag. To hold on to this irrational objection is to destroy the entire atheistic worldview that the non-theist wishes to support.

Conclusion: What to Make of it All:

In this article I have defended all three premises of the Cosmological Argument. Additionally, I have dealt with just about all objections that have been thrown against this argument. The vast amount of objections that have been thrown at this argument from every side, in my mind, highlight the Cosmological Argument’s success.

The question starts off quite simply, “Why is there something instead of nothing”? In the end, the answer may not be an inventive new cosmology, or a breakthrough concept of the fundamental nature of reality. It may be that the ultimate answer has been postulated since the dawn of mankind- that God created the universe. This may be a disturbing conclusion to many, and its implications are certainly far-reaching.

In the end, it is up to the reader to decide whether or not the arguments presented here and elsewhere in dealing with the Cosmological Argument are valid or invalid. Whether they are reasonable or unreasonable. Surely though, the thing which would be most invalid, the most unreasonable, would be to fail to consider the evidence fairly. The question over whether or not God exists is of paramount importance.

APPENDIXES

Appendix 1: The Oscillating Universe Model

The oscillating universe model is perhaps the only seriously considered cosmological model which purports to allow an eternally existing universe. This model closely follows “Big-Bang” cosmology, with one major exception. Instead of the “Big-Bang” being the point in which all space and matter, and even time itself, comes into existence, the oscillating model postulates an infinite number of “Big-Bangs” occurring in the infinite past. After a “Big-Bang”, the universe begins to expand (such as our universe does currently). However, this expansion does not occur forever. Rather a point is reached in which expansion no longer occurs, and the universe begins to contract. This is referred to as a “Big-Crunch”. After the “Big-Crunch”, another “Big-Bang” occurs, and this process repeats ad infinitum.

Appendix 2: Quantum Fluctuation Cosmology

The quantum fluctuation cosmology theorizes an infinitely large “universe-as-a-whole”, from which multiple mini-universes appear as a result of fluctuations. In this “universe-as-a-whole”, virtual particle pairs constantly fluctuate with energy. This can supposedly lead to the naturalistic creation of our material universe.

NOTES:

1. Beatrice Tinsley, personal letter. Cited from Craig, William Lane at http://www.leaderu.com/truth/3truth11.html

2. Alan Sandage and G.A. Tammann, “Steps Toward the Hubble Constant. VII,” Astrophysical Journal 210 (1976): 23, 7.

3. Duane Dicus, et.al. “Effects of Proton Decay on the Cosmological Future.” Astrophysical Journal 252 (1982): l, 8.

4. I.D. Novikov and Ya. B. Zeldovich, “Physical Processes Near Cosmological Singularities,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 11 (1973): 401-2.

5. See illustration below for the thermodynamic implication:

6. Schramm, D.N. and Steigman, G., 1981. Relic Neutrinos and the Density of the Universe. Astrophysical Journal 243:1-7.

7. William Lane Craig, http://www.leaderu.com/truth/3truth11.html

8. Kyle Gerkin, http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/kyle_gerkin/objections_sustained/obj2.shtml

9. See George H. Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God p. 241

10. See http://www.ldolphin.org/zpe.html for a short overview of the Quantum Fluctuation Theory. This article discusses things such as Zero-point energy and other essential concepts to know where quantum theorizers are coming from.

11. Occam’s Razor is the concept that, if two ideas are presented, the idea that is least complex should be preferred.

12. Craig, William Lane, Cosmos and Creator, Origins and Design 17:2. This article can be accessed at http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od172/cosmos172.htm

13. Paul Davies, God and the New Physics (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983), pg. 31.

14. Kanitscheider, B. 1990 “Does Physical Cosmology Transcend the Limits of Naturalistic Reasoning?” In Studies on Mario Bunge’s “Treatise”,15 ed. P. Weingartner and G.J.W. Dorn, p. 346-47. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

15. For example, it is claimed that “The properties of the Universe come from `nothing’ where nothing is the quantum vacuum, which is a very different kind of nothing.” This was quoted from http://blueox.uoregon.edu/~karen/astro123/lectures/lec15.html

16. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, p. 134.

17. Herbert Dingle, Science at the Crossroads (London: Martin, Brian and O’Keefe, 1972) pp. 31-32.

18. Craig, William Lane, Reasonable Faith (Wheaton: Crossway books, 1994) p. 112.


More on the Cosmological Argument

To see a catalog of responses to objections in the literature, see my series Here.




Recommended Further Reading

1. William Lane Craig, Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe, found at http://www.leaderu.com/truth/3truth11.html

2. Shandon L. Guthrie, Theism and Contemporary Cosmology, found at http://www.sguthrie.net/theism_and_contemporary_cosmology.htm

3. Reasonable Faith, Chapter 3, The Existence of God (pages 92-122) See REVIEW.

4. Scaling the Secular City, Chapter 1, The Cosmological Argument. See REVIEW.






——————————————————————————————————————

  1. I would appreciate your (or anyone else’s) thoughts regarding the Kalman Cosmological Argument:

    “1.) Everything which begins to exist requires a cause.

    2.) The universe began to exist.

    3.) Therefore, the universe requires a cause.”

    A. First Law of Thermodynamics, “Conservation of Energy”:

    Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

    A.1. Matter is or can be created from Energy.

    “1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.”

    True

    “2. The universe began to exist.” False

    a) The universe is made of Energy as matter can be created from Energy (Stanford Linear Accelerator as a small-scale example).

    b) Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

    Therefore the universe was never created (though it has changed form) and has no beginning.

    Thank You in advance,


    David Fabrycky    Apr 11, 03:19 PM    #
  2. Hi David. I think the problem is that you are thinking of the law “energy can neither be created nor destroyed” as a metaphysical law, rather than a law that only applies within nature. But the evidence clearly shows that the universe did have a beginning, so we should construe the law as operating within our universe but not being metaphysically necessary. I hope that helps.

    Kyle.


    Kyle Deming    Apr 13, 10:59 PM    #
  3. Thank you Kyle,

    Certainly when I initially contemplated the “Cosmological Argument” I mentally added a provision, “”Energy can neither be created nor destroyed” BY MAN” thereby placing the concept in the natural sphere.

    Generally, I find the “Cosmological Argument” very interesting and compelling AND really appreciate your (or anyone’s) thoughts on how to properly analyze same.

    Regards,

    P.S. If anyone would like to provide me with further enlightenment off-line; david_fabrycky@hotmail.com


    David Fabrycky    Apr 14, 03:01 AM    #
  4. Concerning “Objection C”:

    The statement “the universe has a cause” is meaningless. Cause and effect is by definition a pattern that applies only within spacetime. The Big Bang (according to the theory) is the beginning of spacetime itself – that is, it is the first moment of time. Thus, a phrase such as “before the Big Bang” can have no meaning. In the sense of modern theory, the universe cannot have been “created” in any familiar sense of the word.

    This may seem an absurd picture, but think of it this way: We are in spacetime, trying to explain all that we can. We cannot use spacetime concepts to explain things that hypothetically lie outside of spacetime. So the Big Bang does not represent the limit (in the past) of what exists, but rather, of what can be understood rationally.


    Rob R.    Apr 15, 10:27 AM    #
  5. Rob, you argue that the statement “the universe has a cause” is meaningless because the Big Bang marks the beginning of time, and causality is a strictly physical process that requires time.

    There are three things I’d say in response. First, the causal principle operative in the kalam argument is a metaphysical principle, not a physical one. Being metaphysical, it applies to all of reality, even in the absence of physical reality. Second, there is no problem in holding that the cause of the universe existed, not temporally prior, but causally prior to the universe’s beginning, such that its act of causing the universe to begin is simultaneous with t=0. Third, one could always hold that the Big Bang marked only the beginning of physical time. Prior to inception of physical time at the Big Bang, the cause of the universe could have existed in an undifferentiated metaphysical time. On this view it would be entirely coherent to maintain that the cause of the universe existed temporally prior to it beginning.


    — SMG    Jul 3, 02:40 PM    #
  6. With respect to the contention that the universe’s beginning to exist would violate the first law of thermodynamics, or the law of conservation of energy, I have a comment as well. According to nomic necessity theory, laws of nature are simply universal inductive generalizations. On such a view it is impossible for there to be a violation of natural law. For natural laws are just generalizations based on experience, and anything which happens must be taken into consideration. If some event happens which a law does not encompass, then the law will have to be revised accordingly. In application, the universe’s beginning to exist is not a violation of natural law, but is simply a factor which needs to be taken into account.


    — SMG    Jul 20, 01:26 PM    #
  7. I have an additional comment on the objection from the first law of thermodynamics: If the universe began to exist, then it is not the case that there was a time at which the first law of thermodnamics did not apply. After all, it was not the case that anything physically existed prior to the universe’s beginning—not even time. So there was no time at which the first law was ever “violated” (granting, for the sake of argument, that violation of natural law is possible). Indeed, there were no physical laws to be violated, since physical reality didn’t even exist until the universe began. The first law came into being concomitantly with the universe, when matter and energy originated. Thus, there was no time at which the first law did not apply and it has applied at every time the universe has existed.


    — SMG    Jul 21, 09:57 AM    #
  8. Firstly congratulations on the quality of this article, you have actually done a fairly good job at explaining the (Kalam) cosmological argument and its major objections. The accuracy and scope of this article then are quite good, especially compared with some of the other articles which appear on this website. No doubt you have read some of Craig’s writings on the cosmological argument and part of your success can probably be attributed to the clarity and technical proficiency which Craig brings to his advocacy of the Cosmological argument.

    Nevertheless, I should point out that there is a particular mistake you make in the way you classify the cosmological argument. What you present as the cosmological argument is only one version of the argument called the Kalam cosmological argument. There are other versions of the cosmological argument such as the Thomistic version and Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason which are distinct from the Kalam version.

    Now for anyone that looks at the Kalam cosmological argument the biggest concern should probably be how one can go from the conclusion of the first part of the argument ‘the universe has a cause’ to a theistic conclusion ‘the cause of the universe is god’. You do not really provide an answer to this difficulty except to refer the reader to another article where you define god in some minimalist sense. Presumably you are suggesting that this minimalist definition of god is such that if the universe has a cause that cause must have the characteristics of this definition. However you provide no arguments to support this link (and I think you would be very hard pressed to find any), and anyway your minimalist definition of god is so far from what ordinary folk and religions mean when they use the word god, that it barely deserves the name (for example an evil demon could satisfy your definition).

    Now even if ignore the problems with the second stage of the argument that I describe above, there may still be intractable objections to the first stage of the argument which your article focuses on. In my opinion there is one particularly robust objection. I think there are no good reasons to believe the first premise, that whatever begins to exist has a cause. You examine this style of objection in section C of your article. You somewhat rhetorically suggest that this objection has only arisen in recent years because the other objections have failed, however this is simply mistaken. You are talking about the Kalam cosmological argument which only became prominent in the late 70’s when Craig started advocating it and prior to that it was virtually unknown in the west (it can be traced back to some 11th century Arab theologians). Now Mackie advocates this objection in his 1982 book The Miracle of Theism, so as you can see it’s almost as old as the revival of the Kalam argument which it challenges.

    There are two arguments which have been advanced to support premise 1. The arguments that you present (in section C) all come down to these two arguments. First there is the argument that premise 1 is supported by an inductive generalisation (This is what your talk about the experience of cause and effects is alluding to). The idea is that all things observed to begin to exist have had a cause so thus we can generalise that everything which begins to exist has a cause. The problem with this is that cosmogony seems to be on a totally different level when compared to our empirical experiences. Our empirical experiences seem irrelevant to cosmogony because cosmogony concerns the beginning of the universe where space and time (as defined by physics) originated, whereas our empirical experiences are firmly based in space and time.

    Second, there is the argument that premise 1 is supported by intuition, that the premise, or the idea that something cannot come from nothing is intuitively know to be correct. This argument is often vague and unclear (what does it mean to say that it is just intuitively known) and rhetorical (no one in their right mind doubts it). At the heart of the argument is the claim that everybody (or almost everybody) finds premise 1 intuitive, for if only some people found it intuitive then those who don’t find it intuitive could claim that it is intuitively not the case. Anyone who takes this position should read the work of Grunbaum and Leslie who suggest that the idea that something cannot come from nothing emerged with Christian theology and that ancient Greek and Indian thinkers did not consider such a notion intuitive at all. Leslie says “When modern westerners have a tendency to ask, why is there anything at all, rather then nothing, possibly this is only because they are heirs to centuries of Judaeo-Christian thought.” However even if we put aside the Grunbaum and Leslie objection and assume that people have always found premise 1 intuitive, there is still the issue of why the fact that everyone finds a particular notion intuitive makes it likely that that notion is correct. I have some more arguments and a good thought experiments to show that this is not the case however I think I’ll end my comment here as it is going on to long.


    — Matt    Sep 10, 04:57 AM    #
  9. Matt,

    Thank you for the compliments on the article, as well as your criticisms. This article is actually due for a major overhaul- this was one of the first articles I ever wrote for the site (back when I was 16 years old). You are correct that I should make a distinction between the Kalam Cosmological Argument that I defend here and the other varieties of argument that exist. Furthermore, I was only vaguely aware of the argument’s history four years ago. Finally, I should update the article with considerations of the work of Grunbaum and also Wes Morriston.

    In any case, several of your objections are a bit misplaced. For example, you charge that I do not make a connection between the third premise (the universe has a cause) to my ultimate conclusion (God caused the universe). However, section F is dedicated to defending the connection. It seems that you simply missed it. You also seem to worry that my minimalist definition of God is too vague to be of much use. I also find this objection mistaken. So what if the minimalist definition allows the possibility of an evil god? An evil god is still a god, and thus if I succeed in demonstrating the existence of the ‘minimalist’ god, then I will have refuted atheism and proven theism. This is no mundane conclusion- it has far-reaching implications. So I am not troubled at all by the fact that the Cosmological Argument leaves open the possibility of an evil god.

    However, you do make some good criticisms concerning my arguments for the first premise. Consider, however, that I do not need to prove that the first premise is true in order to justify the conclusion, I only need to show that it is more likely true than false. Now you offer several objections to the first premise, but you do not offer any evidence in favor of spontaneous origination or whatever you would call it. Of course, you can’t use the beginning of the universe as evidence of the possibility, because that would be begging the question. So in absence of philosophical or empirical evidence for spontaneous origination (or the possibility of such), we are, at best, at middle ground.

    This means that arguments in favor of the premise need to only sway slightly in favor, just enough to make it more probable then not. Thus, I argue that empirical evidence confirms the causal principle. This is far from an airtight argument, but it does lend some credibility to the premise. After all, if we did live in a world where things spontaneously originated all the time, then the Kalam Cosmological Argument would be trash. The fact that the causal principle is constantly upheld is, I think, some evidence that premise 1 is true.

    Now, you object that the beginning of time is different. But why is this germane to the issue? You need to show the relevant difference. Why should we think that, although the universe may not be able to come into existence if there are preceding moments of time, the universe can come into existence if there aren’t any preceding moments of time? Since the empirical data supports causality, you must show the relevant difference that makes uncaused beginnings possible when there are no preceding moments of time compared to when there are preceding moments of time.

    My second argument is that the principle is intuitively obvious. Once again, this is not airtight argument, but it lends credibility to the premise. What I mean when I say that it is intuitively known is that people naturally believe it, often without knowing why or being able to defend their belief. For example, everyone seems to intuitively believe in the existence of minds other than their own, even if proving that other minds exist is a difficult challenge. I am not sure what evidence Leslie and Grunbaum have concerning ancient Greek and Indian thinkers, so I will look into it. But in any case, anyone who finds the first premise intuitively plausible or certain does not need to be convinced of the premise, and since there seem to be no good arguments against the principle, they are justified in believing it. Further argument is only needed for the skeptic.

    Indeed, I do offer some sort of an argument for the intuitive plausibility of the first premise, claiming that it is basically true by definition. Absolute nothing has no resources to create anything and no motivation to create anything. Thus, the only way that something could come out of nothing is for literally no reason. But, it is simpler to assume that there is a reason rather than that there is not a reason, in part because all of our experience confirms that there usually or always is a reason. This means that, even if it were possible for the universe to spontaneously originate, it is very unlikely, so we are more rational to assume that there was actually a cause.

    Finally, I don’t think I provided this argument in the article, but there is one more major problem with the spontaneous origination hypothesis. Why on earth would a universe originate? Why not a banana or a 3-legged table made of silicon? There is no way that it is more “probable” for a universe to originate than any of these other things. There can be no probability when absolutely nothing exists. So, why a universe? If the possibiity of a spontaneous origination refutes the Cosmological Argument, it only does so at the expense of significantly beefing up the Teleological Argument. So, even if spontaneous origination out of nothing were possible, even if it were likely, even if it were necessary, it is still astronomically unlikely that a universe is what would originate. So then it would turn out that the theistic hypothesis was justified after all.

    Anyways, thanks for the comment, and I apologize for rambling on so long.

    Sincerely,

    Kyle D.


    Kyle Deming    Sep 10, 11:42 AM    #
  10. You say that “3.) These atheistic theories all boldly fly in the face of empirical evidence. As is particularly obvious in the eternal universe objection, scientific findings have completely undermined these theories while at the same time supporting the God hypothesis.”

    If this is true than how come 40% of scientists believe in God compared to a 75% of the average population?
    Loi P    Jan 8, 07:03 PM    #
  11. I think it’s a little sad that people dream up these ridiculous rhetorical devices to try and rationalize their beliefs.

    The most obvious problem with the argument is a blatant infinite regress. If God exists, he must have begun to exist, which means that he must have had a cause.

    Most religious folks will tell you that he exists “outside time” or that he has always existed. Since you have assumed the existence of “metaphysical time” and don’t believe in infinity, you can’t use either escape.

    I don’t have the time or patience to help you with all the oversights in this essay, but here’s one of the more grating mistakes:

    “The greates [sic] problem with the “Super-universe” is that it would have created our universe an infinity ago.”

    This is absolutely ridiculous. No matter “when” the creation occured, there would always be a point when the universe spawned is exactly as old as our universe is now. If this is too complicated, think of it this way: God has always existed, so he would have created our universe an infinity ago.


    Garrett    Jan 9, 03:39 PM    #
  12. Kyle – I take issue with your final argument of your last post. I have heard this argument used many times (usually in an attempt to disprove evolution). The argument is that it is extremely unlikely that something that happened, could have happened.

    Your claim is that: “even if spontaneous origination out of nothing were possible, even if it were likely, even if it were necessary, it is still astronomically unlikely that a universe is what would originate”.

    This is an absurd statement. It is absolutely not an argument against something happening. It’s like saying, “No one could have gotten exactly 3758 heads on 5000 coin flips, in the exact order you claim they were flipped, since the odds against that are astronomical.” The fact is that what has happened is absolutely independent from probabilities that we calculate. If it happened, it happened.

    Now, I’m not claiming that this disproves your other arguments. This argument has no bearing on whether your other arguments are true. I’m just telling you that this particular argument is bogus, and you should expel it from your repertoire.

    In addition, your “Why not a banana or a 3-legged table” argument seems wrong. First of all, assuming these things are all equally likely, then there’s no reason it couldn’t have been them, it just wasn’t. Do you think existence would have cared if it had been? It just happened that that wasn’t how it went.

    Now, notice that I said IF they were equally likely. I don’t believe that they were. Frankly, a chair is much more complicated than a Universe. It is a formed shape, extremely complex, and requires forces to hold it together and matter to function.

    A universe, on the other hand, is just a couple of simple rules. Then, the rules do the rest, and create an incredibly complex system. Much easier to pop into existence than a table.


    — Nate    Jan 12, 04:29 PM    #
  13. A. a.) Please take note as to your wording. ”[...] there is no real reason for an individual to prefer the oscillating model over any other model of the universe’s origins.” Even if this is true, it only means that it is as likely, not less likely, than the God thesis.

    b.) Read your note. Again, you don’t present evidence against, just a lack of evidence for. I’m not saying that this proves the theory, far from it. But the fact that you haven’t strictly disproven anything will become important when addressing your later arguments.

    c.) Again, lack of a mechanism doesn’t prove your point.

    d.) Unfortunately, I lack the knowlegde of the source material to address you here.

    e.) Most of this is scientific speculation by a non-expert (the author of this article). You need sources to claim that “it is unlikely that this matter will be able to account for the large difference between the mass needed for re-contraction and the mass we observe”.

    Your analogy is an analogy and not accurately representative of the universe. Please either make sensible arguments or cite sources.

    Your argument about the big bang and matter is equally nonsensical. Why is it necessary that a process based on chance happen instantly? You provide no background for this leap of logic, claiming that it’s self explanitary. That’s not how logical arguments work. You didn’t set your bases.

    Overall, you have made one good point about the oscillation theory, which may be shown wrong after further research. You have disproved nothing.

    Now on to:

    B. a.) As mentioned earlier, you showed nothing of the sort. You just provided an inadiquate analogy, then appealed to common sense. Common sense, however, is often shown to be incorrect.

    b.) Maybe it did create our universe 200 billion years ago. Then it did it again. If this process repeats itself, there’s no reason that this specific instance of the universe should have been created any time other than when it was.

    Therefore, you are not justified in totally disregarding this option.

    C. Frankly, I’m not even sure why you included this section here. It’s outside the scope of the argument you should be making in a philosophical paper. The basis of this paper is, as far as I can tell, that given the Kalman Cosmological Argument is true, it is likely that God exists. If you’re going to prove that the principal is true, it’s going to take a lot more space than this paper, and you’re going to have to make the arguments in a manner in agreement with philosophy rules.

    That said:

    a.) A generalization is not a proof. There are many times that generalizations only seem to be true, due to our lack of information. You’re appealing to common knowledge, and, as such, need a firmer argumentative base.

    b.) Again, appealing to common knowledge. Logical falicy.

    c.) Science will never claim that the event happened “because it did”. You’re hitting a straw man. If we conclude that not everything has a direct cause, it will be because we have another function that overrides it. We’ll keep looking.

    The arguments for God have always been outside the scientific method. This one, for example, is based on philosophy. Bring me back a scientific argument that purports God, and we can talk again. And don’t just come back with ID. ID has inconsistancies that have been pointed out in peer review, and have not been answered (or even addressed) by proponents.

    (quantum flux)

    a.) The problem is that people who are arguing this believe that the quantum vacuum existed forever, and have no need to prove that nothing came from something. You’re hitting a straw man again.

    b.) You’re not taking into account time. Everything happens eventually, but not at the same time. Then, things return to the natural quantum vacuum.

    c.) It’s somewhat better, because there’s support for how quantum particles work. No support for how God works.

    You do some hand waving, saying that all it would change is “definitions”. I think this would be harder on your argument than you admit, since your argument is based on very specific definitions.

    D. You make an analogy again. Please use an actual argument. Also, you claim other arguments against, but don’t cite them.

    E. You’re making an argument here that’s counter to previous arguments here. You claim that nothing can exist infinitely, but God can, because you DEFINED him that way. You say that it is too much to claim that not everything needs a beginning, since everything we’ve seen requires one. But God doesn’t, because you defined him.

    That would be like me saying, “There are boots that can have anti-gravity”, then you saying, “That’s impossible”, and me saying, “No it’s not, I defined them that way!”

    F. Your argument here requires accepting that the only thing which could have created the universe is a conscious entity, which you have not proven here. therefore all arguments in this section are not noteworthy.

    In addition, you have not proven that there is not a cause which is not in your previous arguments that could have created the universe.

    G. You’re trying to prove something outside the scope of your article again.

    Also, you’re not addressing things or patterns that are not conscious and exist from the beginning, having dismissed it out of hand.

    H.) Whether we discover a natural understanding has no bearing on whether there is a natural explaination. Saying that we’re not likely to find an answer does not mean that we should just fill it with God.

    This covers all of part H.

    I.) This has so far outside the realm of your philisophical argument that it’s not even relevent. It’s just a space to insult athiests.

    In conclusion, you have not proven that God is anymore likely than he was before you started, and this paper is an exercise of futility.


    — Nate    Jan 13, 03:15 PM    #
  14. One argument I would like to add to this discussion is similar to the cosmological argument, but rephrased somewhat. I’m sure this has already been discussed by various people, but I’m curious what people have to say about it.

    Specifically, where did the specific laws for this universe come from, and why does it follow these laws? Why do protons and electrons attract? Or taken to the string theory level, why are there little strings, and why do they vibrate?

    I’ve heard some theories that try to answer this. For example, I’ve heard a theory that any time a universe creates a black hole, the singularity for that black hole becomes the singularity at the heart of the big bang of another universe, and that universe then takes the laws of the parent universe and possible mutates them, as if universes are evolving for some purpose. But it still doesn’t answer the question – why does a new universe form, why did the parent universe follow its rules, what rule causes the rules to change for the new universe and why is that rule being followed?

    Or, if there are infinite universes that follow all possible combinations of rules, what rule states that there should be infinite universes, and why should that rule be followed?

    Why should matter exist and follow rules at all? Point being, at heart the universe is just a bunch of laws that are being followed, and unless there’s a way it can be proven that logically these are the only laws that could be followed, or that logically there cannot be a lack of universe, then this is a question that needs to be answered. Otherwise, it would make more sense for no universe to exist at all, if no God exists to create it and create the laws that it follows. It’s like a computer running a program – without a programmer, where did the program come from? Why does the computer exist at all?

    It’s a clumsy argument that I’m sure could be restated in a much better way, which is precisely why I’m posting it here. I’m sure there’s already a name for this argument, but I’ve never read it nor seen the arguments for and against, and it’s a questions I’ve always struggled to find any other answer for.


    — Josh    Jan 14, 09:51 AM    #
  15. By the way, the reason I like this argument over the cosmological argument is that it gets around the question of time. The argument I always hear about the big bang is that the question of what happened before the big bang or how the universe was created makes no sense because time didn’t exist before the big bang, but what rule stated that the big bang should have occurred? Why should the universe follow this rule? Why should the singularity have existed? I apologize for the double post, but I thought perhaps my argument needed expanding.


    — Josh    Jan 14, 10:05 AM    #
  16. How would you respond when an atheist brings up quantum foam?


    — Parvinder    Feb 11, 04:51 PM    #
  17. I would like to respond to some recent criticisms of my argument made in these comments.

    Loi P,

    The fact that fewer scientists than laypeople believe in the existence of God does not demonstrate that the God hypothesis is incorrect, but it especially doesn’t refute my specific contention that “these atheistic theories all boldly fly in the face of empirical evidence.” The fact of the matter is, whether or not scientists accept the existence of God, the majority of scientists have recognized that the cosmological models I critique are not true. That is why none of them have received anything near a consensus or even a healthy group of followers- they all are so ad hoc and contrary to empirical evidence that they have been abandoned or discarded.

    Garrett,

    Your response that the Cosmological Argument commits an infinite regress because we have to know what caused God is incorrect because, as pointed out in the article, God did not begin to exist and thus does not require a cause (unlike the universe). You say that I cannot claim that God has existed forever because I don’t believe that an actual infinite can exist in the real world, but this does not conflict with my view, since I think that God exists timelessly apart from the universe.

    As far as the creation of the universe is concerned, the dilemma you raise is no real dilemma because God is a personal agent who can freely will to create a temporal universe. But mechanically operating causes, such as Super-universes, have no such capability and thus would have created our universe an infinite number of years ago (contradicting observation and the evidence against the possibility of an actual infinite).

    Nate,

    The problem with your analogy of the 5,000 coin flips is that this event doesn’t have any specified probability. However, what if you learned that, unless the 3,758 heads came up in exactly the order they did come up, then a carefully positioned sniper was going to kill you? Would you then merely assume that you are the luckiest person of all time, or would you assume that the coin flipping was rigged (designed) so that you would not be shot? At the very least, I think that you should consider the possibility of design in the experiment.

    Furthermore, in response to my claim that a banana or a 3-legged table could have popped into existence out of nothing just as easily as a universe, you reply that they are much more complicated than a universe and therefore the universe is “much easier to pop into existence than a table.” But what are we to make of this statement that a universe could more ‘easily’ pop into existence uncaused out of nothing than a chair? In absolute nothingness, there is no way that there could be any prior probability of what is going to pop out of the void. You are already ascribing a law to the (non)universe- your law is “simpler things are more likely to pop into existence than complicated things.” But how could the (non)universe have any laws? It is nonsensical to claim that a universe, due to its simplicity, is more likely to pop into existence out of nothing.

    But we can let this pass, for there is a further problem with your proposed scenario. You say that a universe is simpler than a chair (a debatable claim I think, but we’ll grant it here.) But certainly, a smaller universe is more simple than a larger universe. Thus, the simplest thing that could pop into existence would be a universe composed of one simple particle. Needless to say, our universe is extraordinarily larger than this hypothetical one-particle universe. Why is this? Given your hypothesis, it is extraordinarily unlikely that a universe as big as ours should pop into existence out of nothing. This once again leaves us baffled, particularly because it is just such a large, comparatively complex universe which is required for our survival. This brings us back to an inference to design to explain why the universe supports life.

    Parvinder,

    Quantum foam might be used by someone to undercut the idea that everything which begins to exist has a cause. However, this is based on a misconception of quantum vacuum fluctuations which do not entail the creation of particles out of nothing but only the conversion of energy to material form for a brief time.

    Sincerely,

    Kyle.


    Kyle Deming    Mar 10, 08:52 PM    #
  18. Ok Nate, I would now like to consider your relatively comprehensive critique of my argument.

    On the oscillating model, you critique me for claiming that there is no positive evidence for the theory and then apparently concluding on this basis that the theory is incorrect. Well, first of all, I provide several arguments, many of which do not rely on lack of evidence but rather on positive evidence that explicitly contradicts the oscillating model.

    For example, you either dismiss or fail to address the arguments from thermodynamics and the universe receding at escape velocity. Both of these argument are eminently rational and supported by detailed citations. This makes me wonder why you then ask me to “Please either make sensible arguments or cite sources.” It is apparent that I have done both.

    Moreover, is the lack of a proposed (or even theoretical) method for a bounce back an irrelevant point concerning the oscillating model? It clearly is not, because if the oscillating model doesn’t even have a mechanism, then why should we believe it? There has to be SOME reason to accept the model! The fact that there is no mechanism, no evidence in favor, and plenty of evidence against the model cumulatively makes the case that the oscillating model must be abandoned. Honestly, you might want to take your stand elsewhere; supporting the oscillating model against this onslaught of evidence is not a good strategy.

    As for the possibility of a super-universe, you have not identified what is wrong with my analogy. Moreover, you object to my appeal to common sense with the claim that common sense is “often shown to be incorrect.” Fair enough, but does this mean we should instantly abandon all of our common sense notions and retreat into skepticism? I hardly think so- in actual fact we have no other option but to accept our common sense until it is proven to be mistaken. Common sense notions are a necessary foundation for the discussion of anything (if you disagree with me here, then try to make a philosophical argument without appealing to any common sense assumptions, including the assumption that successful arguments raise the likelihood of the conclusion!).

    You also misunderstand the logic of my critique here. The problem is that a super-universe is a mechanical cause, and if, ex hypothesi, the super-universe has existed forever, then it will have already had the necessary and sufficient conditions for creating our particular universe well earlier than a mere 15 billion years ago. This means that our universe would have been created earlier than 15 billion years ago. But where can we stop? Here we run into the essential problem of an actual infinite in the real world. Given the hypothesis that the super-universe has existed for an infinite number of years, our particular universe would have been created an infinite number of years ago, because there is no rational stopping point.

    As for my discussion in part C, you express surprise that I included the discussion in this article. I have no idea why this is so. This discussion is a defense of the first premise of my argument, and it is obviously necessary to defend the premise in order to defend the Cosmological Argument!

    As for the specifics, you object my use of empirical confirmation to confirm the principle. But while I will admit that generalizations aren’t always true, strongly supported generalizations do furnish an inductive argument for something’s truth. Thus, why shouldn’t we regard the overwhelming empirical confirmation of the first premise as a strong inductive reason to hold the premise true, at least generally?

    You then claim I erect a strawman and say that science will never claim that something happened “because it did.” This is precisely my point- scientists will never say this because scientists (rationally) accept the first premise. I am not sure what you mean concerning direct cause in this context.

    As for quantum fluctuations, your first point is simply an incorrect generalization, in my experience. Nevertheless, the problems with believing that the quantum vacuum existed forever include all the problems against the actual existence of the infinite, but quantum models based on the vacuum as you propose are further refuted by the second and third considerations that I mention.

    You say that I don’t take time into account concerning these models. This is incorrect; the very problem is that I DO take time into account, in this case, infinite time. As I point out, this would imply infinite universes all colliding and coalescing into one. In fact, this argument has led to the virtual abandonment of these types of models.

    As for Hartle-Hawking cosmology, you object to my use of analogy. But the analogy was merely used to demonstrate a commonly recognized fact- mathematical ‘consistency’ does not necessarily imply ontological possibility. You ask me to cite my arguments; if you want to find documentation for the claims I made (although I am not entirely sure that they really require documentation because they are philosophical arguments) then they can be found in Craig’s Reasonable Faith which I did in fact cite in note 18.

    As for the definition of God, I should clarify that I believe God exists timelessly, not for an infinite number of years. This dissolves your objection. Moreover, I don’t simply define God into existence, but, rather, God is inferred on the basis of the Cosmological Argument because of the type of cause required in this case.

    On part G, you once again accuse me of addressing something outside of the scope of the article. But it is certainly NOT out of the scope of the article, because the objection I consider in part G has actually been made by nontheists against the very argument! Why, then, is it not relevant?

    You then make the stock claim that the lack of evidence for atheistic alternatives ‘does not mean that we should just fill in God.’ This general claim is addressed in my article on the God-of-the-Gaps, but in any case it should be pointed out that the existence of God was inferred on the basis of the argument, whether we like it or not.

    Part I is not a space to insult atheists, it is a response to a claim that I have personally had to counter in conversations on the Cosmological Argument. I apologize if my tone seems insulting, but such was not intended.

    In conclusion, I think that all of the objections you raise are answerable by the proponent of the Cosmological Argument.

    Sincerely,

    Kyle.


    Kyle Deming    Mar 10, 09:53 PM    #
  19. Hi there Kyle!

    My compliments on your article, it was a great read.

    I have a question in regards to the first premise of the Cosmological Argument.

    1.) Everything which begins to exist requires a cause.

    I was wondering why the word cause is equivalent to the word creation. In the context that has been shown, everything would require a cause, anything created from nothing logically makes no sense.

    But what if the word cause was meant on a more literal basis. Lets say for the example you used with the sound coming from the next room. A trigger would have to result to create this sound. But instead of what created this sound, what does this influence around it? Does it have to influence anything?

    Perhaps it is simply taken on a persons interpretation. In the context you use the word cause, it is what “caused” something to come to being, a sound, an organism, a wave in the water, etc.

    However taken in a different context, a cause can be used as a reason of being, as opposed to reason of creation.

    My question is how do you that the first premise has been interpreted correctly?


    David    Mar 19, 01:57 PM    #
  20. How do you respond to an atheist that posits atom decay (they state that it’s uncaused) as a refutation of the 1st premise of the Cosmological Argument?


    — Parvinder    Apr 6, 03:47 PM    #
  21. You write:

    Another problem with plugging imaginary numbers into the time dimension in these equations is that it forces one to recognize time as another spatial dimension. However, this is more bad metaphysics, since space and time are inherently different. According to Craig:

    “Space is ordered by a relation of betweenness: for three points x, y, and z on a spatial line, y is between x and z. But time is ordered in addition by a unique relation of earlier/later than: for two moments t1 and t2 in time, t1 is earlier than t2, and t2 is later than t1.” 18

    However, Einstein’s Special relativity shows that 2 spacially separated events e1 and e2 may actually occur e1 before e2 in one frame of reference, and e2 before e1 in another frame of reference.

    Doesn’t this contradict your assertions?


    Ken Haley    Jun 13, 11:25 AM    #
  22. To clarify my previous post, this isn’t true of just ANY two events. The two events would have to be separated by a distance so large that the time it takes light to travel from the location of one to the other is longer than the time separating the two events. In that case, the sequence of the two events; that is, e1 before e2 or e2 before e1, depends on your reference frame. There is no absolute answer. Space and time are intertwined.


    Ken Haley    Jun 13, 11:40 AM    #
  23. I have to say that while the bulk of your article is well-argued, your refutation of Rob’s argument was poor and invalid.

    Firstly, exactly what does causally prior mean? Causality loses meaning outside of a time construct, as does the word prior. If we are looking at a system without time, this sentence makes NO sense.

    Secondly, what on Earth is metaphysical time? It sounds like something you just made up for convenience. Has anyone ever experienced or seen evidence of a “metaphysical time” dimension existing separately of time itself? If not, that argument holds no water.

    To intuitively understand the concept of timelessness is difficult (even our thoughts only exist, because of time after all), and it appears you have not grasped it at all.

    Essentially, (though I’m terrible at explaining these things) if you view time simply as a fourth dimension, then the Cosmological Argument becomes invalid. Outside of the universe, time doesn’t exist, so every single state of the universe co-exists simultaneously. We only experience the illusion of time because of constraints of how adjacent states of the universe must relate to each other (in other words, what we call physics.) So the universe exists. It doesn’t exist forever. It doesn’t exist for a blink of an eye. It doesn’t exist for 15 billion years. It just exists, because time is only internal to the universe. If that makes any sense.

    So if the universe just exists, from an external perspective it has never had a beginning or end, while also not being eternal, which refutes your arguments against infinity (because time doesn’t really exist). So there is no need for a cause for its existence.


    — Simon    Dec 21, 06:46 AM    #
  24. Recently, it occurred to me that if the Kalam’s causal premise was modified to better reflect our current understanding of causation, then traditional monotheism could be disproven. Although my argument may not be dialectically compelling against all critics, it ought to be compelling for those who find the KCA convincing.

    Kalam states:

    1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence. [Causal premise]

    2. The universe began to exist. [empirical and a priori premise]

    3. Therefore, the universe had a cause of its existence.

    My version states:

    1*. Everything that begins to exist has multiple causes and conditions of its existence. [Causal premise]

    2*. Causality is inherently reciprocal: it is always the case that the most immediate cause of any effect is affected by it in some causal way. [Causal premise]

    3*. The universe began to exist. [empirical and a priori premise]

    4*. Therefore, the universe had multiple causes and conditions of its existence. (from 1*, 3*)

    5*. Therefore, the most immediate causes of the universe’s beginning were affected in some causal way by the universe beginning to exist. (from 2*, 3*, 4*)

    6*. Therefore, there are no immutable beings—e.g. agents or entities that are causally unaffected by the effects they produce. (from 2*)

    7*. Therefore, traditional monotheism is false. (from 4*, 6*).

    It seems that my causal premises are as equally grounded-if not better-empirically as the Kalam’s causal premise. So, if proponents of the KCA want to say that (1) is rationally undeniable because it is always confirmed via experience and observation, then they ought to think that both 1* and 2* are rationally undeniable for the same reason.

    Hence, by their own lights, theists who think that the KCA is a sound argument for theism ought to abandon traditional monotheism.

    regards,

    Spencer


    Spencer    Jan 28, 08:48 PM    #
  25. The whole error in the Kalam Cosmoloical Argument, which supposedly “proves” that time can not be infinite, can be exposed with ease.

    For time to be measured, you need two points on the time line.

    Since we make the assumption here that time does not begin, we can place our two points arbitrarily. The distance we measure between the two points is a finite measure. And see: no infinities involved there!

    Yet, the timeline itself is clearly infinite, since we can always place our two points further apart, since there is no upper bound.

    Now, the Kalam Cosmological Argument supposes that time has been counted “from the begin” (else, how can one measure the time till now?).

    However since time does not have a begin, one can never start the count in the first place.

    The Kamal cosmological argument smuggles into the argument the thing it has to proof, namely that time had a begin.

    Since we can not conceive of a “begin of time” and since matter+energy are conserved, there has always been a universe.


    Rob    Jul 24, 08:51 AM    #
  26. The Big Bang as a scientific theory is not a theory about the origin of the universe or of space/time and matter/energy, as some here claim.

    Instead it is a theory about the development of the universe as far as we can detect it.

    We should not mix personal interpretations or extentions of the Big Bang theory with scientific facts.

    The so-called singularity of General Relativity was not in our past, since we do need to take other scientific laws into account.

    In more or less the same way the singularity which occurs in Newtonian gravity theory, when you bring two point masses at zero distance, neither does occur (since there is a repelling electromagnetic force, and since masses are not zero dimension).


    Rob    Jul 24, 09:02 AM    #
  27. And one last remark:

    All the arguments used by the Kalam Cosmological Argument are contradicting the conclusion, since if one supposes that God created the universe, he would also need a cause, and if it is argued that infinities do not exist, this would disallow the existence of God too.

    You can not have it both ways.

    So, in short, the argument is based on the fallacy of “special pleading”.


    Rob    Jul 24, 09:12 AM    #
  28. Remark on “infinity”.

    The whole problem that lies beneath the whole argument in the Kalam Cosmological argument is that of “bad” infinity.

    “Bad” infinity is the idea that an infinite series is already completed. Which is of course contrary to the idea of infinity itself, which states that the series does not end, and is therefore infinite.

    The seemingly contradiction in the infinite is that an infinite series only involves elements which are themselves only of finite measure.

    For example, assume we have two players, and each can in turn mention a number from the natural numbers. Each player has to mention a number bigger then the number mentioned before by the other player.

    It is clear that this game (unless ended by other means) will never end, since the natural numbers will never become exhausted.

    Yet, any number that one can mention is a finite, countable number.

    So the “real infinite” does not suffer from the problems that would otherwise cause contradictions, and the only thing that the Kalam cosmological argument is based on is on “bad” infinity (like an infinite timeline which supposedly is already traversed from begin to end – which in reality could not have happened,since there is no begin point on the infinite timeline to begin with).


    Rob    Jul 24, 11:38 AM    #
  29. “It seems that, even if there was no evidence against the “quantum fluctuation” hypothesis, the decision as to whether it was God or a quantum fluctuation that caused the universe would have to be made based upon personal preference.”

    I wonder whether you are not falling into the trap creationists fall into – that of assuming that a scientific (physical) account of creation, and a theological account of the same thing, are mutualy exclusive, rather than merely two different perspectives on the same phenomenon – and both are true.

    Also, that there must have been a pre-existent sea of energy prior to a vacuum fluctuation follows from the (humanly constructed) definition of energy. It tells you something about the definition, but it does not tell you anything about the universe, or the origin of the same.


    Leslie    Dec 7, 02:41 AM    #
  30. //God has existed eternally and thus requires no cause.//

    Unfortunately for theists, “eternally” is a measure of time. If God exists “eternally,” then he falls into the same problem of infinite regression that you so inaptly laid out earlier in your argument.


    Cooper    Jan 12, 12:29 PM    #
  31. finally! there is someone brave enough to argue! it seems like most christians are too scared to stand up for God to athiests for fear of not showing Gods love or fear of not thinking of an answer when challenged! this has definitely inspired me to do some more research and finally stand up for what i believe in!


    Sarena    Jan 15, 08:47 PM    #
  32. The very arguments against the atheist rebuttals can often be used against religion as well. For example, by saying that the universe was started by an infinite planar collision isn’t logical because those planes must have begun at some point in time, you also acknowledge the exact same logic being applied to your God, that he must have begun to exist at some point in time.
    Obviously you believe that your God has always existed, therefore you also can’t disprove that other things like planes upon which universes reside (for example) have always existed. It uses the same logic.


    SubJunk    Aug 17, 11:24 PM    #
  33. A lot of you are trying to use Einstein’s and Hawking’s math/cosmology.
    What you don’t realize is that they both believe in God. They don’t believe in a personal god, but a creator. Hawkings writes:“What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? …” Einstein didn’t want to beleive in a god, so he tried to prove that the universe had existed eternally. He later regretted it as the worse mistake in his life. So, stop using Hawking’s and Einstein’s arguments to prove that theres no god.


    — T.j.    Oct 19, 11:55 AM    #
  34. However, this whole line of thinking is just confused. The positing of imaginary time is bad metaphysics. What are we supposed to make of the concept of “imaginary time”? Those who promote the Hartle-Hawking model have the burden of proof to enlighten us as to what this combination of words really means. Otherwise, we might as well say that “blarks” eliminate the need for a First Cause. Postulating “imaginary time” is akin to postulating “imaginary inches”. Just as “imaginary inches” is totally useless as an actual concept, so is supposed “imaginary time.”

    Evidently you are straying outwith your comfort zone here, but as a refutation: You are essentially arguing that complex numbers are meaningless as they have no tangible physical presence, at least in this context. This is poor (and archaic, I might say) reasoning at best, as they appear, for instance, in probability amplitudes when considering quantum level events.


    — DJ    Dec 24, 12:32 PM    #
  35. Problem with Cosmological Argumment:
    ———————————————————————
    The first premise is a circular argument. The goal of the cosmological argument is to prove that the universe requires a cause; however if premise 1 includes the universe then it is begging the question.
    1) If premise 1 includes universe then it is a circular argument
    2) If premise 1 does not include universe it is a contradiction
    So, the statement of the argument itself has logical flaw. The logical flaw can easily be seen if the argument is stated as follows:
    1.) The universe began to exist.
    2.) Everything which begins to exist requires a cause.
    3.) Therefore, the universe requires a cause.
    Conclusion 3 is possible only if the universe is included in “Everything” of the premise 2; however including universe in premise 2 without any logical/scientific justification is simply begging the question.
    Consider the following illustration: the problem is to find out whether X has migrated from Europe. Premise 1 and 2 states the available information. The conclusion is drawn based on the two premises.
    1) Everyone migrated to United States in 20th century are from Europe
    2) X migrated to United State
    3) Therefore, X is from Europe
    Here the flaw in conclusion is quite obvious; there is not enough justification to include X as part of the people who migrated to United States in 20th century. X could have migrated in 21st century. If X is included as part of “Everyone” without any justification, then it begs the question. If that is the case, conclusion 3 cannot be stated with certainty.

    Applying the same logic, how can the universe considered as part of “everything”? If it is included without any justification, what is cosmological argument trying to prove? It is a circular reasoning.

    I am christian, but I think christians should abandon arguments like these (e.g KCA, fine tuning, ID, etc) as proof for the existence of God.


    — DR    Jan 9, 09:50 PM    #
  36. At the very beginning of the article, why do you refer to the third statement as a premise? It’s a conclusion.


    KJK    Jul 18, 05:36 AM    #
  37. Hi Kyle,

    I’m writing from the point of view of an agnostic who leans slightly toward theism. You make some very good scientfically based arguments against the assumption of atheists that there is and can be no God. I have one question regarding the following statement in your article:

    “The First Cause in question requires an entity with the ability to make decisions, because an eternally existing cause without such an ability is not capable of creating something unique. This is because, since it has existed forever, the naturally occurring cause would have already created the universe. An automated, inanimate cause cannot will something into existence, because such a cause only responds to conditions. Since it would have existed forever, such conditions would have been met an eternity ago and our universe would have already existed forever.”

    If this line of reasoning is correct, then wouldn’t said eternal being have necessarily had to meet the condition of “willing creation into being” from eternity? Rather than explaining the problem you cite, your argument seems to merely restate the problem.


    MRM    Apr 21, 01:55 PM    #
  38. Perhaps a better argument for the necessity of a conscious, eternal being lies within the principles of quantum mechanics. The theory is that “observers are necessary to bring the Universe into being.” This specific postulate is known as the Participatory Anthropic Principle. According to this principle, combined with the theory of quantum mechanics, since there would have been no one around to “observe” the Universe coming into being “before” the beginning of time, a conscious being must have been present observing the Universe at that time. The essence of the principle is that it has been observed in experiments with light that, when directly observed, the light behaves as a particle; when not directly observed, the light behaves as a wave. It is, however, important to acknowledge that this is only one of several possible solutions to the observer problem of quantum mechanics. It has also been shown that a “conscious” observer may not be essential to the existence of matter since some experiments have yielded similar results using only measuring devices, such as computers.


    MRM    Apr 26, 04:49 AM    #
  39. 1 is false. We don’t know it to be fact or necessarily true and quantum physics suggests otherwise with the whole random appearance and annihilation of sub atomic particles. Number 2 can also not be demonstrated to be true. It’s not something we can know, and the common sense expectation that it is is nonsensical for the reason that higher physics doesn’t operate on common sense. The beginning of the universe wouldn’t be the first bit of science to show the limit to common sense.


    Mike Wolfe    Jul 1, 09:08 AM    #
  40. Overall a good article, but I think there are some flaws to be found.

    C) You defended the first premise with 3 points. One is the fact that we have experience with cause and effect. However we don’t have experience with things coming into existence out of nothing, so judging whether or not there’s a cause needed based on observation seems untrue.
    In fact you even admitted this later in the section when discussing quantum particles where you said maybe the first premise needs to be altered to say “absolute beginning”. This shows my point how the first case for why premise 1 is true has no basis.

    Also doesn’t a cause need to happen before the effect? I could structure it like this:

    1. Time began with the beginning of the universe.
    2. The beginning of the universe is a result of a cause.
    3. The cause happened before the beginning of time.

    The logical contradiction is clear. How can a “cause” happen before time existed. Granted you could say God exists outside of our notion of time, yet to say he’s eternal does imply some notion of time. Is there another reality of time that this first cause took place in that spawned time as we know it? Maybe, but that seems like a lot to assume when dealing with an argument for something.

    Now I’m not denying that there may be a good argument to this, but I have not seen how the law of cause and effect (which is based in time) can be pinned to the creation of time in this article. So if you could answer this question it would be nice.

    But ok, lets assume that there is in fact a cause to the universe. (While I don’t think we can conclusively say a first cause is needed, I think it’s very probable there was one). You gave 3 points to what the first cause would have to be:

    1. “Above and beyond the laws of the universe and not subject to it.” Well if we’re happily ignoring the laws of physics when stepping outside the universe I see no reason why we keep the law of cause and effect. Regardless, let’s agree that this point is true about the cause.

    2. An eternally existing entity seems hard to define as eternally implies infinite time, but without time being present it doesn’t make a lot of sense. However once again, let’s grant you this point as well, that it existed forever in the sense that it never had a point of creation.

    3. This is the crux of making the cause be God, and you had me stumped at first admittedly. But I think your point is moot upon further thought. Whatever the cause was existed without time, so it’s not as if it had an ifinite amount of time to create the universe. At some point the beginning of time MUST have occurred, so the time spanning to this beginning will never be infinite.

    I have problems with a few other points, but this is getting long so I’ll leave it at that until, if ever, you respond (I do realize this is an old article).


    — Tim    Aug 28, 12:56 PM    #
  41. Good read.. but to successfully posit your Cosmological argument you need to explain:
    1. If God is a conscious actor (which he must be otherwise we cannot attribute omnipotence to him) what language does he ‘think’ in? One must have a language to think (this is irrefutable).
    2. How does this language manifest itself (what does Gods brain look like).. we know that as humans we need brain to think.. it’s up to you to tell us how God does it without any physical matter. If you say God is energy (photons let’s say).. ok, but those have a ‘cause’.. show me the thinking mechanism which doesn’t need a cause.
    3.I allow for a fluid view of time since time is only a result of matter, energy, and gravity.. so I’m not sure that you can hang your hat on what came ‘first’
    4. Finally, why the mystery and invisibility? If God is all powerful, he could certainly make it so that everyone has enough evidence to have knowledge of him (remember knowledge is justified (evidence)..true (logically follows).. belief (intensional brain state). Everyone does not hold this knowledge so clearly God does not want everyone to know him.. why?

    Thanks for the discussion.. there needs to be more respectful religious discussion on this planet!


    Nick    Sep 29, 03:16 AM    #
  42. Inferring that because something is true for the parts of X, that it must be true for X as a whole is committing the fallacy of composition. Basically, just because cause and effect applies to the parts of the universe and within the universe, it doesn’t mean it applies to the universe as a whole.

    Also the super-cosmos type theories like M-Theory is still the “lesser of two evils” when choosing a rational cause of the universe (This is assuming that claiming the universe needs a cause, isn’t a fallacy of composition in the first place).

    Theories like this are backed up by mathematics based on the laws of physics, theories like God are backed up by nothing of the sort.

    So even though both lack hard evidence one does make more sense. We don’t seem to live in a universe the coincides with the universe the people who wrote The Bible thought they were living in.


    Barrr    Mar 10, 05:28 PM    #
  43. I like the fact that you brought up the string theory. I have read much about it. an would like to hear what you think about the M-Theory with regards to which one of the million different ways that physicist think that the M-Theory works and which one you think is the best of the theories? Mathematics have backed up numerous things with the thought of string theory but they always run into problems. Please give me your insight.


    — Joel    May 7, 09:22 AM    #
  44. You’re full of it. Your unintellectual brain doesn’t have the ability to deny the beliefs of Dawkins, Hawking, and other brilliant scientists! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_science_and_technology here is a link to a list of more atheist scientists) By what your saying you, as one individual are arguing against ALL of these other more accomplished scientists. First off, how do you have the courage to speak so boldly about something completely incorrect? You are using something SO controversial (built on stories and fables) to argue against reasoning! I cannot understand how you can believe in Christianity. It is something that I feel so strongly against because I see all the flaws which you happen to ignore! How can you be just so ignorant?


    Nick    Sep 11, 04:41 PM    #
  45. Let’s take a quick walk. We’ll start with absolute nothingness. This, by it’s very definition, has no beginning and no end, as it does not exist. It is the lack of things. The only ‘things’ that can exist in nothingness are not actual things, but ideas and concepts we think of as ‘things’. These concepts, the laws of physics, don’t actually exist either, they are just our way of describing how things, or the lack of things, work. So we have nothingness, and it has it’s ways of (not) working. It is spread out infinitely. The thing is, probability is an aspect of the laws of physics. An aspect of the way things work. If you introduce probability on nothingness, which you must because it is a defining aspect of the laws of physics, then you have a space, an infinite expanse of ‘nothing’ that has probability. So, if you total that probability, you have infinite probability. Anything that is possible within the laws of physics, including the laws of probability, will eventually happen. God is not possible within the laws of physics, but the universe is. Therefore, God will not be, but man will.


    Don    May 13, 02:55 AM    #
  Textile Help