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Kalām Cosmological Argument. Victorian Atheist Society East Melbourne April 9, 2013. The Argument. 1. Whatever began had a cause. (Premise) 2. Natural reality began. (Premise) 3. (Therefore) Natural reality had a cause (From 1, 2)

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kal m cosmological argument

Kalām Cosmological Argument

Victorian Atheist Society

East Melbourne

April 9, 2013

the argument
The Argument
  • 1. Whatever began had a cause. (Premise)
  • 2. Natural reality began. (Premise)
  • 3. (Therefore) Natural reality had a cause (From 1, 2)
  • Natural reality = the sum of all natural causes and causings.
  • If natural reality had a cause, then (by definition) that cause is supernatural.
another argument
Another Argument
  • 1. Whatever began had a cause. (Premise)
  • 2. Causal reality began. (Premise)
  • 3.(Therefore) Causal reality had a cause. (From 1, 2)
  • Causal reality = the sum of all causes.
two arguments compared
Two Arguments Compared
  • 1. Whatever began had a cause.
  • 2. Natural reality began.
  • 3. (Therefore) Natural reality had a cause
  • 1. Whatever began had a cause.
  • 2. Causal reality began.
  • 3. (Therefore) Causal reality had a cause.
two observations
Two Observations
  • The second picture is more complicated than the first.
  • The pictures both contain one circle from which an arrow emerges but to which no arrow points.
two arguments again
Two Arguments Again
  • Naturalists say that there are none but natural causes.
  • Theists say that there is also as least one supernatural cause.
  • 2. Natural reality began.
  • 2. Causal reality began.
causal reality does not have a cause
Causal reality does not have a cause
  • Casual reality is the sum of all causes. A cause for causal reality would be distinct from the sum of all causes. But every causes belongs to causal reality.
  • Question: Can something be its own cause?
  • (If God could be causa sui, then surely natural reality could also be causa sui!)
infinite regress
Infinite Regress?
  • Our pictures represent causal reality as having a first cause: something that causes other things, but that itself has not cause.
  • The pictures can be amended so that each contains an infinite regress – but the argument in favour of naturalism remains the same.
summary to date
Summary to Date
  • If there were an infinite causal regress, that would not favour Theism over Naturalism.
  • If there is an initial cause, then the assumption that that cause is causa sui does nothing to favour Theism over Naturalism (and, in any case, that assumption seems unintelligible).
back to our two arguments
Back to our two arguments
  • Is it true that everything that began had a cause?
    • If not, then the argument with which we began clearly fails (and the other argument fails in the same way)
  • Is it true that causal reality began?
    • If not, then the second argument clearly fails. But since the Naturalist thinks that causal reality = natural reality, it is clear that the Naturalist is also entitled to think that the first argument fails, and for the very same reason.
uncaused first cause
Uncaused First Cause
  • Is there a reason why an uncaused supernatural first cause is more plausible than an uncaused natural first cause?
    • Might it be objected that a supernatural first cause would be eternal?
    • No: this argument has nothing to do with time. (It’s an argument about causes.)
time and cause
Time and Cause
  • There are many naturalists who deny that all of natural causal reality is temporal.
  • Time has a much richer structure than causation. In particular, time has metrical properties.
  • But both time and cause involve asymmetrical priority relations: temporal priority and causal priority. These relations should not be confused!
uncaused first cause cont
Uncaused First Cause (cont.)
  • Might it be objected that an uncaused supernatural cause would be necessary?
  • No, because a naturalist can equally well insist that an uncaused natural cause is necessary.
  • If you allow that there is a necessary first cause, then, clearly, you can allow that the necessary first cause is the initial state of natural reality.
final remarks
Final Remarks
  • Two parallel discussions: one about arguments, and one about competing worldviews.
  • I say: a successful argument for one worldview would have to based on considerations that favour that worldview above the other.
  • It is clear that the considerations that we have examined do NOT favour Theism over Naturalism.
  • Indeed, if anything, the relevant considerations actually favour Naturalism over Theism!
comment
Comment
  • What do we mean by “began”.
  • Recall earlier comments about time and cause—time is irrelevant in this context.
  • There are two possibilities for “causal beginning”:
    • (a) having a cause (in which case the first cause is not a causal beginning, but everything that begins has a cause);
    • (b) not having a cause (in which case the first cause is a causal beginning, but not everything that begins has a cause).