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The Kalam Cosmological Argument and Responses
The greatest question that can be asked by any individual is “how did anything that is come into existence?” All fields of study have joined hands into seeking answers the question and one of the arguments proposed has been the Kalam Cosmological argument. The Kalam Cosmological argument provides that by supporting the fact that the universe at some point began to exist shows that the world in itself fails to stand out as a necessary being and as such does not offer a sound basis for the self explanatory as to its beginning. In the contemporary world, everything that happens to exist must essentially have a cause and as such a super natural cause as to the existence of our universe ought to be valid through some form of explanation. This research paper seeks to look into possible arguments in support of the Kalam cosmological argument as well as responses from scholars of philosophy on the subject.
The Kalam Cosmological argument
This argument provides that there is a given point in time in which the universe began to exist. However, going backwards to this point in time has remained a challenge for many scholars as much as there have been great scientific and technological advances in the recent past. It is said to have been originally formulated by the monotheist religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity in an attempt to discredit the eternity of matter doctrine as provided by Greek mythology. The doctrine of the eternity of matter simply states that since everything is already in existence, the reason as to why things came into being needs no explanation as what is already is.
The Kalam cosmological argument as postulated by Craig (1991, 85-96) as;
2.1 Argument showing the impossibility of an
2.11 An actual infinite cannot exist.
2.12 An infinite temporal regress of
events is an actual infinite.
2.13 Therefore, an infinite temporal
regress of events cannot exist.
2.2 Argument based on the impossibility of
the formation of an actual infinite by
2.21 A collection formed by successive
addition cannot be actually infinite.
2.22 The temporal series of past events
is a collection formed by successive
2.23 Therefore, the temporal series of
past events cannot be actually
Critically delving into the first statement, ‘Everything in existence has a valid cause of its existence.’ One can provide that as the sun is there, it’s cause for its existence is the coming into being of all planets and other matter in space around it. That is the 9 planets and asteroid belt that exist in the solar system. As such it is possible to come to the conclusion that the other elements of the solar system derive their existence from the existence of the sun. As such, the universe has to have a point to which it comes into existence. According to astrophysicists, the universe is continually expanding as it did at the very point of its coming into existence. The point of the universe coming into being as provided by astrophysicists is not as defined by the monotheist religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It is based on scientific facts which define the existence of the universe as being as a result of the Big Bang Theory.
At the very beginning of the universe, it is presupposed that it was quite tiny and maybe could have been smaller that the hydrogen atom. As such the amount of energy within the universe at its conception is believed to have made the temperature of the atom to be quite high to the trillions and trillions of degrees. According to the laws of physics, at such temperatures energy and matter are believed to be interchangeable. Einstein provided that matter is in essence just a little bit more congealed state of energy. This presents scholars of the Big bang Theory with the same densely concentrated flux of both matter and energy which are in a continuous state of interchangeability similar to the degree of chaos reflected in the numerous traditional myths relating to the creation story. The modern account of the Big Bang Theory provides that the universe expanded at speeds which human beings cannot possibly conceive and thus the resultant rate of expansion brought about the very first distinct differences which developed into the very first patterns.
From the argument provided above, one can clearly deduce that the second statement, ‘the universe begun to exist’ is the strongest of the three and the other two simply seek to support it. Sub statement 2.1 serves to support the second statement such that actual infinite cannot possibly exist if the universe indeed came into existence at some point. An actual infinite provided in sub-statement 2.11 essentially implies that the set of numbers in a given collection at one point reaches a finite state. That is it cannot progress further and with regard with the existence of the universe this would in essence present an infinite possibility of untold absurdities. Sub-statement 2.12 supports statement 2 in that before the universe came into being, there must have been past events which are essentially actual infinite in that they have an end as they had no possible way of explaining their own beginning. Sub-statement 2.13 is in essence a logical means with which to support statement 2. This is because there is no possible set of events which can be attributed to prior to its coming into existence follows that the universe simply began to exist.
The second supporting sub-statement for statement two provides that distinctly differs from the first supporting sub-statement 2.21 such that, it highlights the impossibility of explaining the existence of the universe on the basis of successive additions on an actual infinite. Sub-statement 2.22 supports statement two in that, since it is not possible to reach infinity, it is also impossible to count backwards from infinity to the present day state of the universe. As such the universe came into being in a manner that cannot be expressed with utmost clarity. Though time towards getting to infinity is in itself infinite, the possibility of reaching such a point is unattainable. Sub-statement 2.3 serves to logically stem from sub-statements 2.21 and 2.22. it purports that if the beginning of the universe’ existence cannot be traced back to a finite moment in time, the present point in time could not have been in the least, remotely possible.
Responses to the Kalam Cosmological Argument
Response by Professor J. L. Mackie
Professor Mackie did not support the Kalam cosmological argument and provided that sub-statement 2.2 failed to incorporate the very nature of actual infinity. This sub-statement provides as it is impossible to count backwards from infinity to the present and the present has already reached today then the absurdity is indeed real. Professor Mackie on the other hand provided that the absurdities realized by Craig can be resolved. This he proposed that by considering infinite sets as components of a greater infinite set, then there is now way in which the parts can be greater than the whole. This is not possible for infinite sets though this holds true for finite sets. Similarly one can argue out that if infinite sets can be equated to have similar characteristics as finite sets, then the perceived absurdity can be eliminated. If a number of infinite sets can be viewed in this manner then a proper subset of infinite members can have the same number of parts as the whole thus eliminating the absurdity in 2.11 as provided for by Craig.
However, one can logically deduce that Professor Mackie’s assumptions tend to move away from the reality as the infinite set theory offers results which are not only ideally incredible but also leads to a cases of infinite absurdities. For instance, infinity can never be reached at since when one nears infinity another set of numbers precede what is purported as the last number. In essence as one reaches infinity, the further way from infinity one becomes and as such Craig provides that this is the nature of God’s existence.
According to Craig, Professor Mackie view on this matter presupposing the consideration of an infinitely distant beginning point has no philosophical or scientific basis. The character which has no point of initiation on the infinite set tends to imply that the entire series only seeks to compound the complexity of its subsequent formation via successive addition. It is therefore important to point out the fact that it is not at the least remotely feasible for one to relate with any possible essence of a beginning. As such, even for a remotely and infinitely distant start point only serves to compound a problem that is not present to begin with. Therefore, for a point that begins at any juncture in the expansive and infinite past provides that there can be only one finitely temporal distance through to what is now the present and as such can be disregarded as being irrelevant. It is also important to point out that the point of contention lies not with how any possible finite part of a temporal series is formed, but rather on how the entire infinite series can formulated. As such one can further argue that Professor Mackie fails to comprehend that since each segment within the series can be realized through successive addition does not necessarily imply that the entire series can be thus formed in a similar manner.
In essence, one can argue in support of William Craig that it is not possible to have no positive philosophical argument towards a rational basis to compel support for all seemingly rational individuals. This is due to the fact that, there exists procedural constraints on revisiting a stated beliefs which actually constitute rationality. As such these sufficiently serve to constrain chosen sets of beliefs adopted by reasonable individuals. This implies that there has to be some alternate conception as to the virtue held in provided arguments. One can therefore deduce that an argument can be considered to be rational on a provisional basis and more so serve as compelling to a select audience in the instance it is perceived as a logically compelling argument. As such, if it continues to begin at the premises for which intended audiences see themselves as conforming to. The intended audience would rather hold such a conclusion as true other than surrender a proposed premise while keeping all canons of rationality true.
Response by Adolf Grunbaum
Grunbaum, (1990) (1991) seems to doubt the statement that the universe began to exist. He provides that in the context of the scientifically acclaimed Big Bang Theory commonly accepted as the basis of the existence of the universe, there are two probable causes. A big bang theory model closed at the very instant of the Big Bang such that time is zero such that this represents the location of a singular, temporally first event in the history of the universe. The second model according to Grünbaum considers an open at the very instant of the Big Bang theory where time is also zero whereby this is not the only first temporal event in the universe’ history.
With regard to the first model, Grünbaum postulates that it may be erroneous to suggest that were events occurring prior to the big bang theory instant where time (t) is zero. As Craig provides, if x comes into being, then x should not be analyzed as “x comes into existence at time t and as such there is the possibility of there occurring other times (t-1) prior to which x did not exist. As such Craig is careful to point out that prior to t at which x came into being there existed no time t. God’s existence is therefore timeless and as such His existence resulted in the coming into being of the universe.
The truth highlighted in premises (1) and (2) logically lead us to believe in premise (3) such that our universe does indeed have a cause for its coming into being. In fact, it is important to point out that it is possible for a plausible argued is as a result of some personal Creator, in other words God. This is supported by the belief that with what other means could it be possible to have a temporal effect stemming from some eternal cause? If such a cause was as simple as a mechanically functioning set of optimized conditions existing from a point in eternity, then on what basis would such an effect not exist from eternity? Indeed, the cause of the universe to come into being may will from a single point in eternity to create some temporal effect, such that the causative agent realizes no change as a result of the existence or coming into being of the universe. As such, the very first cause resulting into the coming into being of the universe is the presence of the Creator, God. Therefore the basis of philosophical arguments as well as scientific confirmation provides it is plausible that the universe indeed began to exist. Therefore, on the basis of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, one can conclude the rational train of thought would be to hold on the belief God is in actual existence.
Grünbaum, A. (1990) “The Pseudo-Problem Of Creation In Physical Cosmology” in Leslie, J. (ed.) Physical Cosmology And Philosophy. New York: MacMillan, pp.92-112.
Grünbaum, A. (1991) “Creation As A Pseudo-Explanation In Current Physical Cosmology” Erkenntnis 35, pp.233-254.
Mackie, J. L. The Miracle of Theism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), p. 93.