“Cosmology” (koz-MAH-lah-jee) is a field of science that studies the origin and properties of the universe.
The word “kalam” (pronounced “kuh-LAHM”) is a word that refers to medieval Islamic theology. In the 1100s AD, there was an Islamic scholar named al-Ghazali. He argued that the idea of a beginningless universe was absurd. There had to be a cause. He was right.
What is a “cosmological” (koz-muh-LAH-jih-kul) argument? It’s an argument in natural theology for the existence of God based on studying the universe and drawing inferences about what caused it.
THE KALÄM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
The Islamic scholar al-Ghazali created a very simple argument for the existence of God that is easy to memorize, and it goes like this:
Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
Premise 2: The universe began to exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Now if that convinces you that God exists, then you don’t need to read any further. However, if you want to hear the best attacks on this argument and our responses, then feel free to read the rest of this blog and the next.
Premise 1 says, “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.”
We think most of our atheist friends will recognize that premise 1 is extremely sound because:
1. Something cannot simply come from nothing uncaused. To claim such a thing would be worse than claiming that magic is real. At least with magic you have a magician.
2. Our question: If the universe did just spring into existence out of nothing uncaused, why doesn’t everything pop into existence out of nothing and uncaused? Why not a car, a vegetable, a bicycle, a person, a building? If you really believe the universe sprang into existence uncaused, why just the universe?
3. Common experience and scientific evidence confirm the truth of premise1. This premise is constantly verified and never falsified.
At this point, an atheist might ask, “Alright, if everything has a cause, what caused God to come into existence?” It’s surprising how many people feel this is a profound question, but they actually misunderstand premise 1. It says everything that begins to exist or comes into being has a cause. God had no beginning. Premise 1 doesn’t apply to God. We maintain that God is eternal and uncaused. Nothing about God’s existence would undermine premise 1.
Now, atheism makes the same argument about the universe, that it is eternal and uncaused. But we know from big bang cosmology and a lot of scientific evidence presented in the preceding blogs that the universe was not past eternal but definitely had a beginning.
It seems pretty clear that premise 1 is correct in saying, “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.”
Premise 2 says, “The universe began to exist.”
Since premise 1 is difficult to argue with, many atheists focus their attack on premise 2. Instead of having to explain “a cause for the universe popping into existence,” they decide that it might be easier to just deny premise 2 altogether and say they don’t buy the idea that the universe had a beginning.
But in light of the following scientific evidence, we’re not sure how someone could reasonably deny a beginning of the universe:
• Einstein’s general theory of relativity,
• Hubble’s discovery of an expanding universe
• Penzias and Wilson’s discovery of “cosmic background radiation,”
• Penrose and Hawking’s singularity theorem.
• the law of entropy, and
• the Borde-Guth-Valenkin singularity theorem, which proved that any universe that is expanding CANNOT be past eternal, but MUST have a beginning.
Once they realize that it’s pointless to attack premise 2, a small number of atheists decide they better go back to premise 1 and attack it. But how?
That’s a steep hill to climb. How does anyone legitimately claim that there are things that exist that have no cause? We never hear examples from any of our atheist friends. The fact is, there aren’t any!
So it appears that premise 2 is more likely to be true than not.
So does the conclusion of the kalam argument logically follow from its premises? See our next blog!