the kalam cosmological argument for the existence of god l.
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THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. The Philosophic goldfish. What caused the bowl? Could it be within the bowl?. ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY. The Holy Qur’an called Muslims to reasoning and to seek learning.

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Presentation Transcript
the philosophic goldfish
The Philosophic goldfish
  • What caused the bowl?
  • Could it be within the bowl?
islamic philosophy
ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY
  • The Holy Qur’an called Muslims to reasoning and to seek learning.
  • Islamic philosophy had an identity separate from Theology and was referred to as kalam - but it also depended on religion.
  • The SHIA, particularly the ISMAILI branch of the Shia, had a particular dedication to philosophy and its application to expanding understanding of religion and revelation.
the kalam argument
THE KALAM ARGUMENT
  • William Lane Craig has re-visited the Kalam argument which originated amongst Islamic philosophers. His statement of it is as follows:
  • 1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause
  • 2) The Universe began to exist
  • 3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
  • Premise (1) seems probable. The problem is with premise (2). It relies on rejection of the possibility of an infinite regress (something that Leibniz sought to establish by the Principle of Sufficient Reason – think of the conversation earlier in the lesson).
kalam contingency arguments
KALAM & CONTINGENCY ARGUMENTS
  • NOTE the difference between the KALAM argument and the argument from CONTINGENCY
  • The Contingency arguments (e.g. arguments such as St. Thomas Aquinas’ ‘Five Ways’) seek to establish the dependence of the universe on God now. They seeks to show there is something DE RE necessary on which the contingent Universe depends
  • The Kalam argument, by contrast, seeks to establish the Universe has a beginning and that this beginning was caused.
premises of the kalam argument 1
PREMISES OF THE KALAM ARGUMENT (1)
  • ‘Whatever begins to exist has a cause’
premises of the kalam argument 2
PREMISES OF THE KALAM ARGUMENT (2)

‘The Universe began to exist’

craig s a priori argument against an infinite regress
Craig’s a priori argument against an infinite regress
  • Craig rejects the possibility of an infinite regress.
  • Library – Red/Black books
actual versus potential infinites
Actual versus potential infinites
  • Aristotle distinguished between:
  • ACTUAL INFINITES – which would be an infinite at a given moment in time, and
  • POTENTIAL INFINITES – which would be an infinite that was not actualised but which we were moving towards.
  • Central to Craig’s argument is whether the Universe is an ACTUAL infinite if it had no beginning. If it is, then his argument seems cogent. If it is not, then his argument fails as it only applies to actual infinites.
the big bang
The Big Bang
  • The Big Bang, the initial singularity, exploded at a rate faster than the speed of light. Nuclear explosions took place giving rise to concentrations of hydrogen and helium and some of the lithium found in inter-stellar space.
  • After, perhaps, 300 000 years, the initial fireball dropped to a temperature a little below the present temperature of the sun allowing electrons to form orbits round atoms and releasing photons or light.
  • This initial flash can today be measured as background radiation at microwave frequencies equivalent to a temperature of about 2.7 kelvin (The kelvin scale begins at absolute zero and this temperature is equivalent to - 273.16 degrees centigrade).
  • The big bang theory appears to explain a great deal, but recent observations also cast doubt on it:
problems with the big bang theory
Problems with the Big Bang theory
  • The Hubble Space telescope has been measuring distances to other galaxies and these observations suggest that the universe is much younger than the big bang theory implies. This is because the universe is expanding much faster than previously assumed – this implies a cosmic age of as little as eight billion years - about half the current estimate. On the other side, other data indicates that certain stars are at least 14 billion years old.
  • A group of astronomers who have become known as ‘The Seven Samaurai’ have found evidence of what they call ‘The Great Attractor’ located near the southern constellations of Hydra and Cantaurus which draw stars towards it.
  • Big Bang theorists maintain that the initial explosion was extremely smooth - this is based on the uniformity of the background radiation left behind. However Margaret Geller, John Huchra and others at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophy’ have found a great wall of galaxies about 500 million lights years in length across the northern sky. These seems difficult to explain based on a uniform big-bang.
if the big bang theory is true
IF THE BIG BANG THEORY IS TRUE
  • There are still two rival hypotheses:
  • The Oscillating Universe model. This holds that the universe goes through an infinite series of cycles, expanding and then contracting into a singularity before expanding again.
  • The Infinitely expanding Universe model. This holds that there was an initial explosion from the singularity and the Universe will keep expanding forever from this.
  • The Kalam argument depends on the second of these being true as on the first there need be no beginning.
science cannot help
SCIENCE CANNOT HELP!
  • There is no certainty from science on the origins of the Universe. The Big Bang theory still seems plausible but there are many alternatives.
  • One theory is ‘continuous creation’ - that matter is continually coming into existence.
  • Even if the Big Bang theory is right and the Universe is expanding infinitely, there seems no way of proving that the universe might not have had a cause.
  • One trouble with the Kalam argument is that the more it seems to rely on science, the more vulnerable it is to science offering alternative explanations.
the key issue
THE KEY ISSUE
  • The key issue for all the Comsological arguments is possibly whether the world as a brute fact (Russell) is more self-explanatory than God (Copleston) as the cause of the Universe.
  • Hick and Swinburne take different views on this. It is essential, if the argument is to succeed, to show why God is the better ultimate explanation.
  • Swinburne ('The Existence of God') maintains that God is a SIMPLER explanation than the brute fact of the universe because God provides a personal explanation - but this is debatable. Aquinas considered that God was metaphysically simple (this is the defining characteristic of the Thomist God on which other features such as God's timelessness, immutability, spacelessness, etc. depend) but this is VERY different from saying that God provides a simple explanation.
  • Also, it is one thing to say God is personal, but it is far from clear what this means when applied to the wholly simple God - it certainly cannot be understood univocally, it does not have a similar meaning to a human being who is seen as personal.
back to the goldfish
BACK TO THE GOLDFISH
  • The philosophic Goldfish may not be able to conclusively prove that God exists by using the Cosmological argument BUT his questioning may nevertheless be entirely valid.
  • Why SHOULD there be a bowl? What caused it? Where did it come from? These are entirely reasonable questions.
  • Similarly the human questions about the origin of the Universe, about where it came from and what meaning and significance it has for our lives are as valid today as ever in the past. There may be no simple answers, but that does not mean the search for answers is not of central importance for all human beings.