Why the Universe Points to God, the Kalam Cosmological Argument
The Kalam Cosmological Argument is very popular among Christian debaters such as William Lane Craig. It goes something like this:
- Everything which begins to exist must have a cause (premise 1).
- The universe began to exist (premise 2).
- Therefore, the universe has a cause (conclusion).
But in order for this argument to be sound, both premises must be true – or at least more probably true than false. If they are true then the conclusion necessarily and inescapably follows as true. Let’s see if those premises stand up to scrutiny.
Premise 1: The Law of Causality
Perhaps the most fundamental principle in science is the Law/Principle of Causality. Scientists are always trying to find out what caused what and how it did so. If the Law/Principle of Causality were invalid, then there would be no basis on which to do science because everything and anything could pop into existence from nothing.
Now, Premise 1 of the kalam is true because something cannot come uncaused from absolutely nothing. To say something can come from nothing is to deny logic (e.g. out of nothing, nothing comes), it becomes inexplicable why everything and anything doesn’t pop into existence from nothing, it would be worse than magic, not to mention the fact that there is no evidence for it.
Also, for something to become actual (or begin to exist), then there must be the prior potential for it to become actual. If there is no potential for an actuality, then there will be no actuality. So if the universe came from nothingness, the nothingness would have to have the potential for the universe. But nothingness, by definition, cannot have any properties which means it cannot have potentiality. Therefore, the universe (actuality) cannot come from a state where there is no potential (nothing).
To deny the Law/Principle of Causality and say that something can come uncaused from nothing, is to deny rationality and even the basis for doing science itself.
Premise 2: Did the Universe Have a Beginning?
It was popular in times past to say that the universe is eternal. That is, the universe has always existed and may always exist; it never had a beginning and may never have an end. However, this is contradicted by philosophy and science.
Argument from Philosophy
If the universe is eternal in the past, then the series of past events is beginningless which means the number of past events must be actually infinite. But the problem is: there cannot be an actually infinite number of things because that leads to contradictions.
Take for example, Hilbert’s Hotel. There are an infinite number of rooms in the hotel, with a person occupying each room (so there are an infinite number of people). Suppose that people in rooms greater than 1 (an infinite number of people) checked out. So, infinity minus infinity equals 1.
Now suppose that all the people in odd numbered rooms checked out (an infinite number of people) so that only people in even numbered rooms (an infinite number of people) are left. Thus, infinity (total number of people) minus infinity (odd numbered rooms) equals infinity (even numbered rooms)!
In fact, infinity minus infinity can equal anything from zero to infinity, meaning it is contradictory. Thus, infinity is not something that actually exists, or can exist, but is an idea that isn’t actual.
Argument from Science
The First Law of Thermodynamics shows that the total amount of energy/matter in the universe is constant. In other words, we cannot create or destroy energy/matter.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics shows that the energy in the universe is constantly moving from a usable state to an unusable state. Every time you do something that uses energy, you are converting usable energy into unusable energy.
Since there is no way to make more usable energy, there would be no usable energy right now if the universe were eternally old. All energy would have become unusable an eternity ago (it’s mind boggling to think about)! But there is still usable energy today: stars are still burning, radioactive atoms are still decaying, and we can still perform work. This means that the universe is not eternal, for if it were, we wouldn’t be here to talk about it!
Scientific laws – which are the highest form of proof we can get in science – show that the universe had a beginning. So premise 2 of the argument can be counted as being true.
What conclusion can we draw from philosophy, the Laws of Thermodynamics, and causality? If we follow the laws of logic, it is a very simple one: the universe must have a cause. So what do we know from science about this cause?
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