or more specifically, ‘Why I Think The Kalam Cosmological Argument Is profoundly wrong’ and other thoughts.
I like to review some definitions when I think about the meaning of something that has been said. In this case it is the definition of the words used by William Lane Craig ( let’s just call him Bill ) to state his contemporary format of the Kalam Cosmological Argument
William Lane Craig has formulated the argument as follows:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause.
- This cause is the God of Classical Theism, and is a personal being, because He chose to create the universe.
Whatever: Merriam-Webster defines it as ‘anything or everything’
Begins: Merriam-Webster gives –2 a : to come into existence : arise b : to have a starting point
Exist: Merriam-Webster says:
1 a : to have real being whether material or spiritual [did unicorns exist] [the largest galaxy known to exist] b : to have being in a specified place or with respect to understood limitations or conditions [strange ideas existed in his mind] 2 : to continue to be [racism still exists in society] 3 a : to have life or the functions of vitality <we cannot exist without oxygen b : to live at an inferior level or under adverse circumstances [the hungry existing from day to day]
Cause: Merriam-Webster says:
1 a : a reason for an action or condition : motive b : something that brings about an effect or a result c : a person or thing that is the occasion of an action or state; especially : an agent that brings something about d : sufficient reason [discharged for cause] 2 a : a ground of legal action b : case 3 : a matter or question to be decided 4 a : a principle or movement militantly defended or supported b : a charitable undertaking [for a good cause]
The KCA Breakdown
Whatever includes both the universe and gods and … well, everything. The word ‘begins’ seems straightforward as well, though the word existence gives some wiggle room to argue that it does not really apply well to the thing Christians describe as their god, that point can be taken up later in this post. For now let’s get mired in the definition of exist. It’s the last of the four words of interest in the first premise that is most troubling. All of the defined uses of the word ’cause’ imply or specify intention as though the word is short for ‘intentional cause’ or ‘intended cause’. On this point I do not think that Bill will argue even though I think he should. Imagine you are hovering over the ocean on a dark and starless night. A wind blows and causes a wave to rise. As this waves crests and crashes back to the ocean body it causes a splash. From that splash there are several drops of water that go flying off in varying directions. Each of those flying drops of water has begun to exist, but none of them began to exist as a result of an intentional cause, nor due to the intentional action of some agent. The water itself gave rise to the beginning of existence of the water drops. It may be argued in some circles that gravity gave rise to the existence of the water drops but that argument takes a lot of time and physics to explain, and does not include provisions for intention or independent agents so really doesn’t have to be made. I refute the first premise in this way – it is not always true and therefore cannot be cleanly applied to ‘anything and everything’. The first premise is false.
Wait! What if the water drops are not considered to have come into existence? There would be no need of an intentional cause or intentional action by some independent agent. Lets cover that a bit as we talk about premise number two.
Bill is off to a not-so-good start. When he moves on to the second premise we are witness to more folly. He will claim that science proves that the universe began to exist, quoting some scientist or other who talks about the big bang event. The trouble is that we don’t know that the universe and all it’s ‘information’ did not exist prior to the big bang event. He is misunderstanding scientists and seems to presume that scientific theorems cannot change in light of new evidence. So the second premise might or might not be true. Which is it? We don’t know yet. If the water drops above existed before the big splash event, the second premise is false if the universe was created in similar way from an ocean of ‘space’. If they only began to exist after the big splash event then perhaps the second premise is true but it still leaves us with the problem of intentional action by an independent agent. Simply put, the doubt here makes this a weak premise. Bill says that he has spent a great deal of time studying philosophy. This argument, so far, does not look like it was made by an ardent and capable philosopher. If the statement is not known to be true, it is a false premise. That is strike two. If this were baseball, Bill’s team would be getting ready to ‘take to the field’.
Lets look at the third and stronger premise. Oh, wait…. oops!
This argument is based on just two premises. One is false and the other is not known to be true. Of course you can say that the water drops did not begin to exist so the first premise stands but you cannot say that the universe did not come to be as it is in a similar manner to those water drops, so premise two still fails. In either case the two premises do not make a good argument. You most certainly cannot in good faith and honesty arrive at the conclusions which Bill does using these two premises as he has. Yes, I know that Bill did not originate this argument, however he did revive it from an almost certain philosophical death and has been making a living by talking about it for several decades. He removed the fallacy of special pleading to make it sound more reasonable and almost acceptable… at least if you’re not thinking critically of his argument.
With a false or very shaky set of premises, the deduction that the existence of this universe had a cause is incorrect, false, or otherwise not true. Everything else from this point in the argument is objectionable. It is objectionable because there are no facts to support the deductions. That is how this deductive logic thing works. If any of the premises are wrong then the argument fails because we cannot make the deductions that lead to the conclusion based on fantasy or imagination. It must be based on fact. If you want to then say “well, some universes may have an intentional cause through the intentional action of an independent agent” I will reply that this does not show that the only universe we know of had such a cause. The argument still fails to be true.
Step four in Bil’s argument is a bridge too far.
This cause [of the universe] is the God of Classical Theism, and is a personal being, because He chose to create the universe.
There are three conclusions here that cannot be supported:
- The unproven or maybe unprovable cause is the god of classical theism
- That god is a personal being
- He chose to create the only universe that we know of
Not one thing in the argument supports the first conclusion here. Despite the argument that such a god does not exist, there is nothing here that says such a being would intentionally cause the only universe that we know of to exist. If there was a cause it might have been entirely accidental… we do not yet know and cannot know with the information currently available to us.
Absolutely nothing in the argument describes any god. To say that this supposed god is a personal god is just wishful thinking. Even if this argument strongly argued for a god that is the cause of the existence of the only universe that we know of this argument does not show, prove, or hint at the idea that such a god doesn’t hate this universe and regret its very existence. Concluding that we know something about this god other than it created the universe in some way is profoundly wrong.
It’s not bad enough to be profoundly wrong in the second conclusion, Bill has to go on and opine that this supposed god ‘chose’ to create the only universe that we know of. The universe in which we live might well have been an accident while this god was working to create the universe that he actually wanted. To conclude that you know the mind of god based on this argument is fallacious in the highest degree. Lets leave the argument of whether a god is perfect so would not make mistakes for another post, one that is not talking about proof that such a god exists rather than the qualities of such a god. IE, the aesthetic beauty of a flower does nothing to prove that it exists, for no flower is needed to talk about aesthetic beauty of a flower, it can be an abstract idea.
I used the phrase ‘the universe that we know of’ several times for an important reason: We cannot yet know if there is more than one universe or if this is the smallest of many nested universes. This argument of Bill’s only speaks of this one, not any of the other possible universes. Even though we don’t yet know the origin of this universe it is worth mentioning because Bill’s snake oil pitch assumes only one, and further that he knows how it was created … or at least who is responsible. Clearly these are not things that we can yet know. This argument is ardently preached by Bill, to the point that it has to be called a lie. At the moment I rather favor the water drop hypothesis of universe origin.
Do you want data with that?
If the only universe that we know of began to exist in a similar way to how the water drops above began to exist then what Bill has presented here is no argument at all. I’m not saying that because ‘if I can imagine a thing then it must be true’. Lets look at some of the reasons that a person might agree with me.
The Water Drop Hypothesis
Disclaimer: I am not a physicist, professional scientist, or think tank member etc.
Edwin Hubble‘s work led to the realization that the universe is expanding rather than holding still in a steady state as much of religion had believed up to that time.There is quite a bit of chatter about what the shape of the universe is. The “global shape” of the universe and what effects dark energy and dark matter actually have are unclear. They are given as explanations for observations of the universe. Then you get string theory involved. Explaining string theory to an ape is like trying to tell a tropical fish that air is not nothing or emptiness. Yes, I know the meme, if you think you know string theory then you don’t know string theory.
The current statement of my Water Drop Hypothesis is this: While we can imagine an ocean of quanta vibrating to create the four dimensions of the only universe we know, we cannot quite imagine what might be outside that ocean (the only universe we know). If a drop of quanta were to be separated from the larger “ocean” it previously belonged to, and the perturbations of it’s shape causes fluctuations in the material of the drop so that we can see the 4 dimensions we believe we see today, I think several things might be possible;
- Time is the effect of dilution of the coherence of the vibrations. The faster you move through space (the more energetic the coherent wave is), the less time you experience.
- The point of separation of the drop from the ocean may have caused a strong reaction in the energy field(s), which in turn created the disturbances within the center of the drop to form the 3 dimensions of space.
- As the drop expands the ‘space’ of our universe expands while the properties of dilution of energetic coherent waves remains the same… the speed of light then appears to slow down.
There should be lots of math and use of scientific data for this, which I have not done. It’s an idea that occurs to me rather than an explanation for the data observed. It’s an idea that makes human apes even more inconsequential than any previous idea to my knowledge. Our entire universe is but a drop of quanta briefly separated from a puddle or ocean of it in a much larger existence. Clearly I have no scientific case to say that this is even close to possible but it is just as plausible and more useful than the Kalam Cosmological Argument. I’m willing to accept new data, new information and change my hypothesis. Once you say ‘my god did it’ you are done. Revising your ideas after that is to admit defeat.
If you know exactly why this hypothesis cannot be true please let me know in the comments. It will save me time searching.