The Kalām Cosmological Argument – A Deceptively Good Argument for God

There is discourse among apologists on the beginning of the universe, and how it seems to point towards a cosmological argument for theism. The most popular of these, the Kalām cosmological argument, states that: Everything that begins to exist has a cause, the Universe began to exist, with these two premises one can surmise that the Universe therefore has a cause. There are a few major problems with this argument that I want to expunge upon in this blog post.

For one, let’s begin by analyzing the premises. The first premise states that everything that begins to exist has a cause. This seems to be pretty straight forward, surmising that since I have a beginning, I have a cause. It also seems to check out when you observe the universe as an endless fractal of causation. This is, to my mind, an oversimplification and false interpretation of what a beginning is in our universe. To my mind, when we make an assertion of beginning, such as the birth of a person, a star, or the manufacture of an automobile, we are in fact making a completely arbitrary statement based on change. I am a person because of the arrangement of atoms and molecular structures at a certain temperature in an atmosphere of a certain composition. I am an ever evolving system of change, and my very existence you could say “began” with a certain type of change that resulted in my and every other living thing being what it is. Nothing was created, it was simply changed, or evolved into what it is now.

The second part of the syllogism, that the universe itself has a beginning is a very large assumption being made and relies on a totally homogeneous interpretation of the nature of causation in the universe, that is that the homogeneity of the cosmos itself expands to the universe itself. This is an assertion being made about an unobservable universe as well as the observable universe. We can only see in a sphere roughly 13 billion light years in radius. The current model of the universe does not assert that we can see all of existence and therefore making the statement that the universe is causally homogeneous and that the universe itself was caused is an appeal to ignorance.

In an apologetics article written by Catholic Author and Speaker Brandon Vogt, he makes a rebuttal against the infinite universe hypothesis using St. Bonaventure’s infinite series argument. The argument goes that if the universe always existed, then there are an infinite number of days before today, and since, in any mathematical series, you cannot arrive at an infinity, time must have began at some point for us to get to a today. I am going to attack this point from two angles. Firstly, if we take the set of real numbers, any number in that set has an infinite set of numbers on either side of it, as the set of real numbers is defined as the set of integers from negative infinity to infinity. In mathematical terms, in that series there is an arbitrarily large number of integers to either side of any imaginable number. This would get us back into a horizon of knowledge problem that in a temporally infinite universe means that we will never know the edges of it. Secondly, I want to offer a response even if the Kalam cosmological argument is in fact true as an axiomatic premise and that St. Bonaventure’s argument does hold some water. I will go back to Vogt’s article on this as he makes the theistic conclusion.

Thus, the cause of the universe must be something beyond the universe, something beyond all matter, energy, space, and time. In other words, it must be transcendent (beyond the universe), it must be immaterial (beyond matter and space), it must be eternal (beyond time), and if it has created something so massively complex as the universe, it must be tremendously powerful and intelligent.

Vogt (2020)2

Vogt’s conclusion, while enticing, has a few holes. His conclusion hides a colossal leap to bridge the gap to get an anthropomorphic creator to work in this conclusion within several reasonable statements. He stated that the god must be transcendent, or beyond the universe. That is quite reasonable. He also states that it must be immaterial, which he defines as beyond matter and space, which once again seems reasonable by that definition. It must be eternal, or beyond time, and this would make some sense. Finally, he makes the claim that the cause of this universe must be “tremendously powerful”. This still is a reasonable claim to make, but the word powerful in this context we begin to get into anthropomorphic language. Now, the last thing he says is that the cause must be intelligent. This claim is where he makes a quite large and strange jump in logic to use a directly anthropomorphic term to describe a cause to the universe. What about a cause to this universe has to be intelligent? There is nothing ontologically relevant to a cause to the universe being intelligent unless you believe that the universe is finely tuned and ordered by nature such that it must have an intelligence behind it. That argument, the argument of a finely tuned universe is one that I will refute in a later article.

References/Further Reading

1 A Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument and the B-Theory of Time Metkalfe (2013)
2 How to Talk to Atheists with Clarity and Confidence Vogt (2020)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *