Monthly Archives: May 2009

Kalam Cosmology and Agent-Causation

By far, one of the commonest sort of objections to the Cosmological Argument I see, is that the cause of the universe need not be God.  This is a big intellectual problem for some people.  As for me, I have a handful of arguments that tend to suggest that the famous “first-cause” simply has to be God.

You see, this sort of problem only comes about when we refuse to expand the Kalam Cosmological Argument and leave it hanging peculiarly at “Therefore, the universe has a cause for its existence”.   That’s a really vague sort of conclusion for an amazing argument which claims to demonstrate the existence of God, don’t you think?  Actually, that is the precise reason why I and many others abhor the thought of presenting the Kalam Cosmological Argument alone without any extrapolation or expansion.  William Lane Craig does exactly what I do with it, and expands it.  Unlike me, however, Dr Craig does not include his expansion in with the argument proper.  I add on a massive string of minor premises and subconclusions in order to arrive at a familiar sort of conclusion which more or less reads “Therefore, something exists which is so suspiciously similar to the Christian God as to make non-theism implausible.”

Here is the Expanded Cosmological Argument:

“1 Everything which begins to exist must have a cause for its existence.

1.2 The universe began to exist

1.3 Therefore the universe had a cause for its existence

2 The universe is primarily the expansion of time, space and matter

2.1 Therefore time, space and matter were caused.

3  An effect may be no greater than its proper cause

3.1  A thing may not cause itself to exist

3.2 Therefore the cause of the universe is eternal and immaterial.

4  If the cause of the universe was non-temporal, and the effect was temporal, then the cause of the universe was a free-agent.

4.1 The cause of the universe was non-temporal, and the effect was temporal.

4.2 Therefore the cause of the universe was a free-agent.

5 The difference between nonbeing “in reality” and being “in reality”, is an infinite difference

5.1 The difference between nonbeing “in the mind” and being “in the mind” is an infinite difference

5.2 The free-agent in question created something from nothing, and it follows that it conceived something from nothing

5.3 To create something from nothing is an infinite power, and to conceive something from nothing is an infinite act of conception or knowledge.

5.4 Therefore the cause of the universe is an eternal, transcendent, omniscient, omnipotent mind, which can properly be called God.”

Now, I’m no fool.  I knew that premises 4, 4.1, and 4.2 are absolutely crucial to the argument as they make the leap from a rather unknown cause to an agent-cause.  Indeed, they require a good bit of explanation on my part.  It is, however, my policy to not include any explanations or answers to objections to posts within the posts themselves.  I instead wait for people to object, and then answer their objections.  It saves me a lot of work.  It has recently come to my attention, through communications with a certain member of William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith Team, that the aforementioned permises may not be valid.  Very well then, I shall have to explain them.

First, imagine a glass of frozen water.  The cause of the water’s freezing can be said to be subzero temperatures, an entirely non-personal cause.  Important: Causally prior to the universe, there was no time.   If the subzero temperatures were in existence from eternity, or “atemporally”, then the frozen state of the water would have always been there.  Without time, the effect would have to coexist with the cause.  Where the temperature is below zero, the water is frozen.  When there is no freedom or choice involved, and also no time, but only objects and laws or sufficient conditions which act upon them or not, the cause exists in the same atemporal state as the effect. 

But that’s not how it is, is it?  We know for a fact that causally prior to the universe, there was an atemporal cause for the universe, and yet the universe does not exist in the same state of timeless-ness!  Here we have an instance of an atemporal cause giving rise to a temporal effect.  There are two types of causes for things: causes which are people, and causes which aren’t people.  An atemporal impersonal cause would have to coexist with its effect atemporally, yet we know that the atemporal cause of the universe does not coexist with its effect (the universe) atemporally.  Therefore, the atemporal cause in question could not be of the sort which aren’t people.  Therefore, the cause of the universe was a person.

 However there is a second way to formulate (4):  there are only two sorts of things which can exist immaterially and non-spatially:  abstract objects and minds.  An abstract object (as opposed to a concrete object) are things like numbers, natural laws, and facts.  They aren’t made of anything, and they can only reside in a mind, otherwise they don’t exist.  They are not like concrete objects, which are like stones, chemicals, and physical things.  Unlike concrete objects, which are capable of existing in causal relations, abstract objects are causally effete.  They cannot cause anything.

Minds, like abstract objects, exist immaterially and non-spatially.  They aren’t made of “stuff”, and they don’t really have a specific location.  Before I get blasted for making assumptions, I’m going to admit that I am indeed aware of the fact that I am operating under the assumption of dualism, the notion that one part of a person is their body, and the other part their mind or soul or what have you.  I will defend that position later, but not here.  For now, I will not defend, but rather accept for the sake of argument the notion that the mind is immaterial.  Now, even though the mind is immaterial, it is capable of existing in causal relations. 

Since the thing which was the cause of the universe was immaterial, it must have been either a mind or an abstract object, but since (being a cause) it was obviously capable of existing in causal relations (and by obviously, I mean most obviously…) it had to be a mind and not an abstract object.

The rest of my Expanded Kalam Cosmological Argument follows very convincingly and logically once the key premise that creation was an instance of agent-causation is accepted.  The above two arguments acheive the goal of demonstrating the validity of said premise, thus leading directly and clearly to the inevitable conclusion that the cause of the universe was an immaterial, eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent mind, which can be properly called God.

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