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KALAM Cosmological Argument. Did the universe begin to exist, and if so what caused it?. Defenders. John Philoponus (circa AD 580) Al-Ghazali (AD 1058-1111) William Lane Craig (present). KCA. Argument: Everything that begins to exists has a cause. The universe began to exist.

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kalam cosmological argument

KALAM Cosmological Argument

Did the universe begin to exist, and if so what caused it?

  • John Philoponus (circa AD 580)
  • Al-Ghazali (AD 1058-1111)
  • William Lane Craig(present)
  • Argument:
    • Everything that begins to exists has a cause.
    • The universe began to exist.
    • Therefore, the universe has a cause.
  • The argument is airtight. An opponent must deny premise 1 or 2.
dual aspects
Dual aspects:



The premises are supported by both philosophical and scientific arguments

premise 1
Premise 1
  • Ex nilhilonihil fit (Nothing comes from nothing)
    • ‘To suggest that things could just pop into being uncaused out of nothing is to quit doing serious metaphysics and resort to magic’ W.L.C.
    • Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could (Maria von Trapp)
  • If something can come into being from nothing then it becomes inexplicable why just anything or everything doesn’t come int0 being from nothing.
  • Common experience and scientific evidence confirm the truth of premise 1.
objections to premise 1
Objections to Premise 1
  • Virtual Particles
    • Space is a sea of energy.
    • Virtual particles are created from random perturbations in the sea of energy.
  • True of everything in the universe but not the universe
  • What caused God?
    • Reread premise 1.
    • God is eternal and uncaused.
premise 2
Premise 2
  • Philosophical
    • Actual infinites don’t exist
    • Cannot traverse an infinite sequence
  • Scientific
    • Expanding universe (Big Bang)
    • Entropy

Actual infinite

Potential infinite ∞

  • Georg Cantor: ‘a collection or set is infinite when a part of it is equivalent to the whole’
  • Bernard Bolzano: ‘infinites can be of different sizes…although one infinite might be larger than another, the individual elements of the two infinites could be matched together on a one to one correspondence’
  • Richard Dedekind: ‘a system is said to be infinite if a part of that system can be put into a one-to-one correspondence with the whole’
premise 21
Premise 2
  • An actually infinite number of things cannot exist.
    • Absurdities result if the number of past events is infinite.
    • Objection: Set theory
      • Provides a means of discussion
      • It is an idea that cannot be realised
      • Impossible is different to logical contradiction
premise 22
Premise 2
  • Hilbert’s Hotel.
    • Finite Hotel that is full needs to turn away new guests.
    • Infinite Hotel that is FULL does not need to turn away new guests
      • 1 new Guest arrives: Move Room 12, 23, 34, 45 etc, which makes a vacancy in Room 1.
      • An infinite number of new Guests arrive: Move Room 12, 24, 36, 48 etc, which makes an infinite number of vacancies (odd rooms).
    • Checkout
      • If all odd guests check out an infinite number of guests have checked out any yet there are just as many left behind.
      • If guests in all room numbers greater than 3 check out then there are only 3 guests in the hotel.
premise 23
Premise 2
  • You can’t pass through an infinite number of elements one at a time.
    • A series of past events is formed by adding one event after another
      • No series that is formed by adding one member after another can be actually infinite. As you can not pass through an infinite number of elements one at a time.
      • No matter how high you count there are always numbers left
      • If you can’t count up to infinity then how can you count down from infinity
      • Objection: every event in the past is only a finite distance from the present.
        • Fallacy of composition: just because any part of a series can be crossed doesn’t mean that the whole can be crossed.
    • Someone who claims to have been counting down from eternity past and is now finished.
      • Why did he finish today?
scientific arguments
Scientific Arguments
  • Edwin 1889-1953
  • In 1920s he observed distant galaxies were moving away from us
  • The universe is expanding
  • Must have had a begining
premise 2 scientific arguments
Premise 2 – Scientific Arguments
  • Big Bang Cosmology
    • Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity predicted an expanding or contracting universe.
    • Alexander Friedman & Georges Lemaitre
      • Red shift
    • Buttons on an expanding balloon.
    • Trace the expansion back in time leads to a singularity
    • Supported by creation of light elements i.e. Helium & Cosmic background radiation
  • Borde, Vilenkin and Guth (BVG) theorem: ‘any universe that has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary’
quote from vilenkin
Quote from Vilenkin

It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even and an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape; they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.

second scientific argument thermodynamics
Second Scientific Argument: Thermodynamics
  • 2nd Law of thermodynamics: unless energy is being fed into a system, that system will become increasingly disorderly.
    • The universe is a battery that is running down.
    • If the universe has existed for ever then why has the state of maximum disorder not been reached.
  • Boltzmann: suggested that our visible universe is a small region of order in a much larger universe that is on average at equilibrium.

We should observe a small universe: Our visible universe is larger than required for our existence.

Boltzmann Brain: The smallest observable universe is a brain that by chance appears from the collision of atoms, observes and then disappears.

alternate models
Alternate Models

Steady State: Creation of Helium, Background radiation

Oscillating: Disorder is carried over between oscillations, when matter nears collapse point it most probably causes a singularity, Observations show that the current universe will not collapse but expand forever.

Bubble Universes: our universe is just a bubble in a much larger “multiverse” of bubble universes. BVG theorem says that the multiverse as a whole must have a beginning.

Baby Universes: Black holes are tunnels through to new baby universes. The battery running down still applies and in addition Hawking radiation shows that the hypothesis is incorrect.

the nature of the cause
The nature of the cause
  • The cause must be: Transcendent Uncaused Timeless Spaceless Immaterial, non physical Powerful enough to create all matter and energy Personal
why personal
Why Personal?

Swinburne - two type of causal explanations:



Why is the kettle boiling?

Abstract objects or unembodied minds

Abstract objects don’t stand in causal relations.

Ghazali: If the cause is sufficient to produce its effect, then if the cause is present then the effect MUST be present too.

Minds have freedom of the will.


There are very good grounds to believe that the cause of the universe was God.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)

15 second grab
15 Second Grab

Something must be eternal and uncaused.

It is either God or the universe.

And it ain’t the universe.


Don’t get bogged down in the science.

The scientific objections can snowball.

extra models
Extra models

Vacuum Fluctuation: Given an infinite past all possibilities would occurred, hence we should be observing an infinitely old universe.

Quantum Gravity: Still has a beginning

String Scenarios: Given an infinite past all possibilities would occurred, hence we should be observing an infinitely old universe.BVG theorem extended to higher dimension cosmology