The Worst Objection to the Kalam Cosmological Argument
by guest blogger Randy Everist
Sometimes it amuses me when I see to what lengths some people will go in order to deny the cosmological argument. Sometimes, they are good, thoughtful objections. Other times, they are bizarre rants. This is an example of the latter:
“1. God did not have a cause (according to theists)
2. God did not BEGIN to exist at some point (according to theists)
3. Therefore, God does not exist (my conclusion per Kalam argument in reverse)”
This is not a logically valid argument. There is no rule of inference of the form “X is not-Y. X is not-Z. Therefore, X is not A.” This is the fallacy of four terms. Further, I’m not sure what “kalam in reverse” even means. The kalam, as one may recall, is:
4. Whatever begins to exist had a cause.
5. The universe began to exist.
6. Therefore, the universe had a cause.
The only thing I can think of is that the objector is trying to use modus tollens on the first premise. But then all that follows is:
7. Therefore, God did not begin to exist.
What they really need in order to be successful is the premise:
8. Whatever did not begin to exist and does not have a cause does not exist.
However, this is just question-begging. That is, without other argument(s), the only reason to take (8) as true is because one already believes (3) is true. Further, we seem to have decided counterexamples to (8). First, consider numbers, rules of mathematics, and laws of logic. There are Platonists and neo-Platonists who believe these things exist, and do so necessarily (that is, independently of a cause). For really, (8) necessarily implies:
9. There are no necessarily-existing objects.
(9) seems absolutely unsupportable.
But further, consider the atheist herself has a defeating counterexample to (8), and hence (9). The universe itself! For most atheists will claim the universe has always existed, and, since they deny the conclusion of the kalam, deny it has a cause. But then the universe fulfills both conditions for non-existence, and hence by accepting (8), one accepts the absurdity that the universe does not exist.
Finally, it is unclear which, if any, premises of the kalam this was supposed to undercut or defeat. In theory, this is perfectly consistent with the causal principle, the universe’s coming into existence, and therefore the universe’s having a cause. It simply eliminates a God who was not caused and/or did not begin to exist—but only if successful (which obviously, it was not). This was just an academic exercise, and yes, I picked the worst objection to the kalam I have seen in a while. But it sure was interesting.
About Randy Everist: “I earned my Master of Arts in Religion from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA in the summer of 2011. I would love to earn my PhD in either philosophy of religion or theology. My heart’s desire is to help brothers and sisters who have genuine questions about the faith that they either have not been able to ask or to which they have not received adequate answers.” Randy Everist blogs at his website, Possible Worlds (Randy Everist) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0