Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How to defend the kalam cosmological argument just like William Lane Craig

UPDATE: Welcome readers from The Way the Ball Bounces! Thanks for the link!

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Colliding Universes! Thanks for the link Denyse!

This post is the first in a two part series. In case you missed it, here is Craig’s second argument about fine-tuning.

I’ve been watching Bill Craig debates for a long time now, ever since I did my first degree in computer science a dozen years ago. Today I thought we could all learn how to argue Craig’s first argument for God, which he used in his debate with Christopher Hitchens.

Let’s go over Craig’s kalam argument in brief.

The kalam cosmological argument

The argument goes like this:

  1. Whatever begins to exist requires a cause
  2. The universe began to exist
  3. Therefore, the universe requires a cause (M.P. 1,2)

The most important thing for you to realize is that nothing can be sustained in a debate unless it can be phrased as a valid argument according the rules of inference. All of Craig’s arguments can be broken down into logical propositions that use the standard laws of logical reasoning in order to force their conclusions deductively, so long as the premises are true.

Understanding the logical form of the kalam argument

The form of the kalam argument is valid because it allows for a modus ponens inference. (Here’s a primer on logical reasoning)

  • if p is true, then q is true
  • p is true
  • therefore, q is true

That means that so long as premise 1 and 2 are true, the conclusion follows necessarily. This is the same form of argument (deductive) used by Sherlock Holmes in his cases.

Proving the premises

Can the atheist deny that either or both of these premises are true?

  1. “Whatever begins to exist requires a cause”
    If the atheist denies this premise, then they are denying a fundamental law of natural science, namely, that matter can neither be created or destroyed. That is natural law.
  2. “The universe began to exist”
    The universe came into being. If the atheist denies this they are denying the state of the art in modern cosmology.

First, quantum mechanics is not going to save the atheist here. In QM, virtual particles come into being in a vacuum. The vacuum is sparked by a scientist. The particles exist for a period of time inversely proportional to their mass. But in the case of the big bang, there is no vacuum – there’s nothing. There is no scientist – there’s nothing. And the universe is far too massive to last 14 billion years as a virtual particle.

Secondly, atheists will say that the big bang is speculative physics that could change at any moment. But the trend is in favor of an absolute beginning out of nothing. We have had a string of solid, recent scientific discoveries that point in a definite direction, as follows:

  • Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and the scientific confirmation of its accuracy
  • the cosmic microwave background radiation
  • red-shifting of light from galaxies moving away from us
  • radioactive element abundance predictions
  • helium/hydrogen abundance predictions
  • star formation and stellar lifecycle theories
  • the second law of thermodynamics applied to nuclear fusion inside stars

So, insofar as atheists question these discoveries and the origin of the entire physical universe out of nothing, they are opposing the progress of science.

What came into being at the moment of creation?

You need to understand that the big bang theory states that space, time and matter were all created at the moment of creation.

  1. There was no space causally prior to the universe beginning to exist
  2. There was no time causally prior to the universe beginning to exist
  3. There was no matter causally prior to the universe beginning to exist

All of these things began to exist at the first moment.

What can we infer about the cause?

So, space, time, and matter began to exist. What could have caused them to begin to exist?

  1. Whatever causes the universe to appear is not inside of space, because there was no space causally prior to the creation event. The cause must therefore be non-physical, because physical things exist in space.
  2. Whatever causes the universe to appear is not bound by time (temporal). It never began to exist. There was no passage of time causally prior to the big bang, so the cause of the universe did not come into being. The cause existed eternally.
  3. And the cause is not material. All the matter in the universe came into being at the first moment. Whatever caused the universe to begin to exist cannot have been matter, because there was no matter causally prior to the big bang.

So what could the cause be? Craig notes that we are only familiar with two kinds of non-material realities:

  1. Abstract objects, like numbers, sets and mathematical relations
  2. Minds, like your own mind

Now, abstract objects don’t cause of any effects in nature. But we are very familiar with the causal capabilities of our own minds – just raise your own arm and see! So, by process of elimination, we are left with a mind as the cause of the universe. As Sherlock Holmes says, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

This cause created the entire physical universe. The cause of this event is therefore supernatural, because it brings nature into being and is not inside of nature itself. The cause of the universe violates the law of conservation of matter is therefore performing a miracle.

Responding to alternative naturalistic cosmologies

In this published research paper from the journal Astrophysics and Space Science, William Lane Craig responds to the several naturalistic attempts to evade the implications of the kalam argument. I will list each one by name and explain the main problem with each. I highly recommend you read the paper and become conversant with the arguments and evidences.

  1. The steady-state model: disproved by recent empirical observations of radio galaxy distributions, as well as red-shifting of light from distant galaxies moving away from us at increasing speeds
  2. The oscillating model: disproved in 1998 by more empirical measurements of mass density which showed that the universe would expand forever, and never collapse (was named Discovery of the Year)
  3. The vacuum fluctuation model: the theory allows for universes to spawn at every point in space and coalesce into one extremely old universe, which contradictions observations of our much younger universe
  4. The chaotic inflationary model: does not avoid the need for an absolute beginning in the finite past
  5. The quantum gravity model: makes use of imaginary time which cannot be mapped into a physical reality, it’s purely theoretical

Why the kalam cosmological argument matters

We need to make a decision today about how we are going to live. The evidence available today supports the creation of the entire physical universe from nothing, caused by a supernatural mind with immense power. The progress of science has strengthened this theory against determined opposition from rival naturalistic theories.

Those are the facts, and we must all choose what to do with them.

Further study

A good on this topic is the debate between William Lane Craig and atheist physicist Victor Stenger, (audio here). Also, a lecture titled “Beyond the Big Bang”, was delivered at the University of Colorado at Boulder, in front of Victor Stenger and other physicists (audio here). There is a period of Q&A in which Bill must face challengers. These are both available on DVD. More Bill Craig debates are here.

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106 Responses

  1. makarios says:

    It amazes me how atheists are willing to call Christians anti-science, anti-intellectual and then, and THEN it’s atheists who themselves are forced into a position of arguing AGAINST the findings of science to rule out Creator God as the Cause of the Singularity.

    • Me too! Check out this post on the fine-tuning and origin of biological information, featuring Walter L. Bradley.

      • Judah says:

        Hey WK, I didn’t read your post and I believe if I did I wouldn’t be able to understand it! I just want to say that I am thus far, and ignorant theist who is illiterate in the areas of Physics and Math but I really desire to defend the Kalam Cosmological argument but I do not know where to start. I was hoping that you could give a source a place to start reading and understanding this part of Physics. Would WLC’s book “The Kalam Cosmological Argument” be a good place to start if I am a beginner and if not where is a good place to start? Thanks for your help, please reply soon.

  2. Shamelessly Atheist says:

    Ummmm…. Where’s the science in the Kalam Cosmological Argument?

    • Hey, Shamelessly. Where have you been, we’ve missed you! The science to support the Kalam argument is the following seven fairly recent scientific discoveries:

      * the cosmic microwave background radiation
      * red-shifting of light from galaxies moving away from us
      * radioactive element abundance predictions
      * helium/hydrogen abundance predictions
      * star formation and stellar lifecycle theories
      * the second law of thermodynamics applied to nuclear fusion inside stars
      * Einstein’s theory of general relativity and its scientific confirmation

      Each of these discoveries is useful for confirming the truth of premise 2. If we could not confirm premise 2, we could not sustain the argument. Does that answer your question?

  3. makarios says:

    The science is also in the consistent finding of the scientific method of inquiry – observation and verification. In this case it is consistently observed and consistently verified:

    What ever begins to exist has a cause

    The universe began to exist

    All scientific observation and verification confirms the validity to these two premises.

  4. Sam Meyerson says:

    One should rather say “big bangS” since today the prevailing cosmological model is something called “eternal chaotic inflation” in which there were almost certainly many (perhaps infinitely many) creation events. We can only observe the parts to our universe which are causally connected to us.

    Another commonly misunderstood element is the appeal to observations and mathematical proofs to infer an initial singularity, and hence conclude that the universe had a beginning. Once again, this does not prove that this beginning is unique — as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, within eternal chaotic inflation our BB (big bang) was one of many BBs. But more to the point, this entire analysis is within the context of classical general relativity (plus semiclassical inflation). Cosmologists universally acknowledge that new physics must be invoked in order to understand the initial singularity which created our universe. So we simply don’t know what happened “before the big bang”. It is possible that the Universe in its entirety is past eternal, for example — the singularity theorems only apply to the classical phase of expansion, and say nothing about the quantum phase, which is not yet even adequately described.

    The string landscape, promoted by Leonard Susskind and others, fits naturally with eternal chaotic inflation in generating the “multiverse” scenario which has attracted some attention in the popular press.

    Here’s an easy way to defeat the Kalam argument, within a purely classical scheme. Suppose we adopt a model for the universe where the initial BB itself is not part of our spacetime. Time is then a positive real number, excluding zero. There is then no earliest time — whatever time you pick there’s always something earlier. Goodbye “first cause”!

    • Please address the specific refutation given by Craig in the article regarding the chaotic inflationary model. I.e. – that it still requires an absolute beginning.

      When you deny that time had a beginning, you are contradicting the opinion of people like Stephen Hawking. The object of the game is to roll with the evidence, not to speculate on how to avoid it. String theory and the multiverse are speculations.

      See here:

      “Today almost everyone believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.”
      Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time, The Isaac Newton Institute Series of Lectures (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 20.

  5. Sam Meyerson says:

    Why should we believe the premise that “whatever begins to exist has a cause”?

    First of all, please give me an example of something, other than the Universe, which “began to exist”?

    Second, explain how quantum fluctuations in which we have virtual pair production of particle and antiparticle bubbling out of a vacuum can be said to have a cause?

    Third, why can’t the BB be regarded as its own cause, or causeless, i.e. an exception to the “rule” — in mathematics singularities are exceptional, so why not in metaphysics as well?

    Fourth, causation in physics is understood more in terms of causality: A is causally prior to B if A lies within B’s past light cone. Classically the BB had no past light cone, hence it was not caused.

    Fifth, as I wrote above, what if we simply remove t=0 from our spacetime manifold? Then there is no valid time before which the Universe did not exist.

    • 1. Do you think that it is rational for matter to come into being out of nothing without a cause? I don’t.
      2. QM phenomena are not appearing from nothing, they are appearing in a vacuum. So, nothing is really beginning to exist from nothing – there was something already there that is changing.
      3. You can regard it as uncaused, so long as you think things pop into existence from nothing and by the power of nothing. For myself, I don’t think that’s rational.
      4. See 3. You’re committing yourself to the universe appearing from nothing without cause. Does that sound rational to you?
      5. The universe is 14 billion years old, and it came into being. Those are the facts we need to deal with.

    • peter says:

      is this serious? something besides the universe that began to exist? try you or me or that car or that house or that dog or my Christmas Tree or any of the other million things you see in a day. the computer i am typing on..

      I don’t think I’m smarter than you but you didn’t put much thought into that.

      • Aaron P. says:

        Oops, Peter you made a bit of a mistake in your reasoning there.

        A car, house, or any of the other objects you mentioned did not begin to exist in the way the inital premise of the argument is attempting to articulate that the universe began to exist.

        An object can only be seen to “begin to exist” when previously existing molecules of matter are changed from one form to another. For example, the metal that the car would have been made from ore extracted from the ground, which would have existed long before the concept of a “car” was ever thought of.

        In contrast, when the argument talks about the universe “beginning to exist”, it is actually referring to the material that makes up the universe coming into existence. It is not suggesting that the universe came into existence by taking the material that was previously part of something else and now it is part of the universe.

        This is an important distinction that helps us realize the difficulty in really seeing that first premise of the argument as valid. Quantum mechanics aside, human beings HAVE NEVER OBSERVED SOMETHING BEGIN TO EXIST, only to see something that already exists change into something else.

        It is therefore invalid to state that “Whatever begins to exist requires a cause” since we have no data supporting this.

        • See, this is why atheism is a mental disorder. We have the laws of physics stating that matter cannot be created or destroyed using natural means available to science, and then atheists come along and start hating science. Why must atheists hate science so much? Why must they concoct entire worldviews based on delusions and anti-science myth-making? If atheists want to believe in nonsense, let them build churches and believe it there. Why do they have to bring their delusions out into the real world, and vote, and force their irrational views on the rest of us?

          • Aaron P. says:

            Umm… no disrespect intended, but if you are going to respond to someone’s post, don’t you think it would make more sense if you provided some sort of reasoning or evidence to refute what was said instead of avoiding adressing anything in the post you are responding to?

            Perhaps you could let me know what part of what I said you disagree with. I think perpas you may be making some assumptions about what I believe based on what you think I was saying.

            I have no argument against the law that matter can neither be created or destroyed. this is precicely why I had said (IN CAPS) that no one has ever observed something begin to exist.

            As far as the rest of your post, as far as I could tell you may have forgotten what you were responding to (maybe you meant to respond to a different post?) as it is just a list of statements and questions unrelated to the topics that are actually being discussed.

            However, if I have misunderstood, feel free to enlighten me. :-)

          • “It is therefore invalid to state that “Whatever begins to exist requires a cause” since we have no data supporting this.”

            I responded to that. You think matter pops into being without a cause.

          • Aaron P. says:

            Ok, I see. I think this is one of those cases where it seems perfectly logical to make an assumption, but the assumption that is made is false.

            What I am referring to here is your conclusion that since I say that making the claim that “Whatever exists requires a cause” is invalid as a premise means that I must believe the opposite: “whatever exists does not require a cause”

            I actually have no position on this as far as beliefs go. All I am trying to explain is that in the current body of scientific knowledge, there is no support for this.

            You mentioned the law of conservation of energy, that you may believe supports this, but this is not the case. If it were, we would come to the conclusion that matter (energy) could not ever begin to exist.

            Instead, the two choices are:
            (1)”Matter popped into existence without a cause”
            (2)”Matter popped into existence with a cause”

            Both of these statements violate the law of conservation of energy since according to that law, matter cannot pop into existence PERIOD. It would not matter whether there was a cause or not; it just could not happen.

            Therefore no matter how you look at it, if we accept that the universe began at some point, any way it happened would appear to be absurd to what we know.

            It is for this reason that we can’t get caught up trying to determine what is true by talking about what is “reasonable” or what makes “sense”. As what is “reasonable” to us changes as we learn more through science. It once was more “reasonable” that the Sun revolved around the Earth. It was more “reasonable” that large objects should fall faster than small objects and even that stacks of hay would spontaneously produce mice (in fact this last one was once described as “common sense” and “obvious” in the time it was believed).

            However, I figure I might as well add that the word “cause” is temporal in nature (it requires time in order for it to have any meaning). But science tells us that time, matter, and space are all part of the same fabric of existence so none could exist without the others.

            So what this means is that time itself was created at the beginning of the universe as well. Using this model of understanding, it becomes meaningless to say that the universe had a “cause”. A cause must come before its effect (they cannot happen simultaneously or else the ideas of cause and effect would become ambiguous, i.e. we could not know which was the cause and which was the effect), and since the beginning of the universe (time) was the effect, there could not have been anything before it, eliminating the possibility of a cause as we understand it.

            I am not saying this is what I believe, but it is something to consider when blanket claims of truth are made.

          • Dude. The law of conservation of mass applies to natural causes. The whole point of the argument is to show that a SUPER-natural causes is needed in order to bring NATURE into being. And the reason that people find this compelling as an argument is because they do not think that things pop into being out of nothing without causes – since the universal witness of human history shows that it never happens. They think there is a cause. The cause cannot be natural since it created nature. Therefore, the cause is super-natural. Therefore, materialism is false.

          • Aaron P. says:

            P1) As you try and make any arguments for the supernatural, none of the logic and reasoning that normally works in the natural world will apply. Logic and reasoning are methods of understanding and explaining the natural world, nothing more.

            P2) The definition of supernatural is that which is undiscoverable by science which of course is only concerned with the natural, material world. Science does not and cannot comment on the supernatural.
            For this reason no person can make a claim as to the nature of anything supernatural. If you could, it would not be supernatural. It is disingenuous to claim that something has a supernatural cause when you can’t know anything about it.

            P3) Additionally, when you say that a natural effect comes from a supernatural cause, you are stating that the supernatural can interact with the natural world. This would cause it to be observable, hence testable and therefore, not supernatural. This is a necessity based on the very definition of what supernatural is.
            For example, some people might say that ghosts exist and are supernatural beings that can be detected by scientific equipment. This is an oxymoronic statement since if ghosts are detectable by any means in the natural world, it means that their effects are measurable via scientific means and as such, are within the realm of the natural.

            P4) Remember anything we say about the supernatural is just a guess and cannot be proven or disproven. To claim otherwise simply shows a lack of understanding of what supernatural means.

            So unfortunately if you insist on going the supernatural route on this, the only conclusion at which one can arrive is that the argument and it’s claims are invalid.

          • P1) If arguments cannot be made about the supernatural, then your entire comment arguing against the supernatual is self-refuting.

            P2) You are asserting that only things that can be discovered by science can be known. Please explain how your criterion for what counts as knowledge can be discovered by science. It can’t. So again, your entire comment is self-refuting.

            P3) You are asserting that only things that can be tested by science can be known. Please explain how your criterion for what counts as knowledge can be tested scientifically. It can’t. So again, your entire comment is self-refuting.

            P4) You claim that anything that is said about the supernatural is a guess that cannot be proven. Your entire comment was about the supernatural. That would make everything you said a guess that cannot be proven. Once again, your entire comment is self-refuting.

            Your entire comment is, of course, self-refuting. If nothing can be known about the supernatural, as you assert, then your entire comment cannot be sustained.

            See how important it is to make sure what you say is logically consistent? You keep writing long comments that are self-refuting and self-contradictory, over and over and over. And over.

            As far as causation by non-material causes, you yourself are a non-material agent capable of reasoning and causing effects in the material world. If you were only matter, then you could not have free will, nor could you make logical inferences, or be held morally responsible for good or evil actions. We are quite acquainted with the notion of non-physical causes by minds. And that is exactly what brought the universe into being – a non-physical mind. There is no other explanation for how the material world can come into being. The cause of the effect MUST BE non-material and capable of causing effects in time with no antecedent conditions, since nothing existed. That cause therefore must be a mind.

            The argument stands. Your view, naturalism, has no explanation for the effect of all of nature coming into existence. In fact, you claim to know that the entire physical universe came into being without a cause. You think that things pop into being out of nothing without causes. That’s your view. You have no evidence for this, you believe for purely subjective reasons. You believe because you WANT to believe it. It’s not something that stands up to reason or evidence. You NEED to believe it. You don’t want God to be there, so you block off all logic and evidence and just assert nonsense.

          • Aaron P. says:

            Your response shows a very common misinterpretation that occurs in dialogues of this nature. The basic problem you show throughout is the assumption that if I say that something can’t be proven, you then state that I must believe the opposite.

            For example, when I state that “no person can make a claim as to the nature of anything supernatural”, you respond by saying “If arguments cannot be made about the supernatural, then your entire comment arguing against the supernatural is self-refuting.” However, nowhere in my post am I “arguing against the supernatural”. Never do I claim that the supernatural does not exist. In fact the whole point of what I was saying was that I cannot make that claim, just as you can’t make the claim that it does. I have no position on the issue. I am simply arguing that you have no grounds for a position either.

            You go on to say the following claiming to know what I believe and what claims I have made:

            “In fact, you claim to know that the entire physical universe came into being without a cause.”

            Nope, I never made that claim. It would serve you well to be able to differentiate what it means “to make a claim” and “to refute the validity of a claim”. I am engaging in the latter in my posts. In fact for you to state that I have made a claim when it is utterly obvious that I have not (just read the posts), is being dishonest.

            “You think that things pop into being out of nothing without causes. That’s your view.”

            Perhaps you feel you are being intelligent or clever enough to “read between the lines” in my posts to come up with an accurate assessment as to what I think. I am sorry to say you are mistaken. In a previous post, you stated that you believed that I “think matter pops into being without a cause.” I responded by saying “I actually have no position on this as far as beliefs go.” I am willing to believe that you simply misunderstood what I was saying at this point, even though I feel that my statement was pretty clear.

            The instances of you jumping to conclusions about the nature of my thoughts without sufficient evidence and the instances of you jumping to conclusions about the nature of the beginnings of the universe may very well be related. I understand. Sometimes not having an answer to a problem is frustrating, but the correct way to go about it is never to try and decide what is most reasonable to you, add a bit of logic, make a few assumptions, splash in a bit of the supernatural and call it a day. You would be holding yourself back by attempting to discover things using methods like this.

            You must know, there are real people out there making real discoveries about the world and it is extremely hard to do. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. So when someone comes along, thinks a while on something, and thinks they now know enough to make a claim about the nature of something that real scientists have been studying for their entire lives, it really just manages to belittle the efforts of these scientists’ actual accomplishments. Maybe you have been doing this a while, coming up with conclusions based solely on philosophical means and have determined that making discoveries about the nature of things is simple, I don’t know. But I can tell you that this is not the case at all.

            So all I ask is if you are looking to make a claim, know that thinking about it and trying to use logic to come to a conclusion is a great tool for aiding real discoveries, but it is just the beginning; it can never determine any aspect of reality on its own. Right now all you have are ideas, and that is great, but you need to step back a bit a realize that for now, that is all they are: just ideas. Maybe someday we will come up with a way to test some of those ideas and find out more. Until then, it is ok to say “I don’t know”

            Is it so frightening to withhold judgment as to the nature of something we simply don’t understand yet? There is no reason to speculate. Why don’t you just sit back and wait until humanity gets more information about it (or better yet, you could find some :-) ), only once we’ve got enough evidence to comment on the matter should we be making any claims.

  6. Sam Meyerson says:

    No the universe does not require a unique absolute beginning. Once again, there could have been many beginnings. See A. H. Guth, “Eternal Inflation and its Implications,” J. Phys. A 40 (2007) 6811. There are also various alternatives to inflation discussed in the literature. See e.g. R. Brandenberger, “Alternatives to Cosmological Inflation,” Physics Today, 61 (2008) 44. In some alternatives, such as the ekpyrotic (cyclic) scenario, the universe is past-infinite.

    You said that QM phenomena are not appearing from nothing, but rather from a vacuum. The same can be said for inflation, which occurs in the “false vacuum.” But more to the point, what is the “cause” of a quantum mechanical virtual pair creation event??

    Personally, I don’t find it helpful to identify a cause with each creation event (please remember that within eternal chaotic inflation, there are many such events, and they are not causally related to each other!). You could identify a creator god for each such event if you like, I suppose.

    Inflation is not so much a theory as a scheme. There is no real theory behind the scalar potential in inflation models. You might ponder the question: why only a single real scalar field, as opposed to, say, a doublet, as in hybrid inflation? It is of course important to ask what sort of fundamental models might give rise to inflation, especially since it is so difficult to realize chaotic inflation in supergravity models. (This is because gravitational corrections to the scalar field potentials generally result in steepness when the scalar field is on the order of the Planck mass and larger, which prevents the needed slow rolling.) There are several other problems which plague inflation as well. At the most fundamental level, we’d like to know: where is the Standard Model of particle physics?

    Once again, the Kalam argument is easily defeated simply by removing t=0 from our spacetime. As for Hawking and Penrose, I would agree that most cosmologists today think that there is something right about inflation and that at a semiclassical level the universe did have a beginning. But theories of the very early universe are all quite speculative. And your quote came from before the cyclic models were worked out. (NB: I do not say that Steinhardt and Turok are correct. Only possibly so.)

    Finally, Craig’s work is in philosophy and has had zero impact on cosmology. I have checked the ISI database and found zero citations to his work in the scientific literature.

    • Ok, we’re going to have to leave it there. You get the last word. If you want to hear a good debate on this issue, you can listen to this one between William Lane Craig and physicist Victor Stenger.

  7. I received the following e-mail from Dr. Michael G. Strauss, an experimental particle physicist, regarding the speculations on QM and the chaotic inflationary model.

    —-
    Wintery Knight,

    Quantum mechanics works within the laws of physics. So if you postulate that this universe was created from QM then you must also postulate that a previous universe with similar laws existed previously.

    There are a number of theories that would allow multiple universes, though none have any experimental verification. Have you read Jeff’s “Who’s Afraid of a Multiverse?” It is very good.

    -Mike
    —-

    Mike is very big on experimental evidence for theories, because that’s what he does all day as an experimental particle physicist.

    Speculating about QM or chaotic inflationary requires you to go beyond the experimental evidence to the positing of unobservable realities. I listed multiple lines of evidence in favor of the standard big bang model, and that has been confirmed by multiple converging discoveries.

  8. John C.T. says:

    The unproven–and at this time unprovable as there exists neither theory, methodology nor actual means to test–theories postulated in the articles cited by Meyerson are exercises in philosophy.

    The problem with the philosophical reasoning in those articles is that they do not provide adequate foundation for their premises. A crucial, but ignored problem is that any universe composed of time, matter, and space cannot be additively infinite. It is both entirely speculative (and so, again, an exercise in philosophy) and extremely unlikely that any universe prior to ours was not composed of time, space or matter in some way similar or related to that existing in our current universe. For any universe, or serial set of universes, that is composed of matter, time, and space it is impossible for it to be additively inifinite.

    regards,
    John

    • John C.T.,

      Thanks for your very helpful comment!

      William Lane Craig makes the point in his peer-reviewed paper in the Astrophysics and Space Science journal, that the chaotic inflationary model, if it were eventually confirmed somehow by experiments or observations, would still require a beginning.

      He writes:

      In 1994, however, Arvind Borde and Alexander Vilenkin showed that a universe eternally inflating toward the future cannot be geodesically complete in the past, so that there must have existed at some point in the indefinite past an initial singularity. They write,

      A model in which the inflationary phase has no end . . . naturally leads to this question: Can this model also be extended to the infinite past, avoiding in this way the problem of the initial singularity?

      . . . this is in fact not possible in future-eternal inflationary spacetimes as long as they obey some reasonable physical conditions: such models must necessarily possess initial singularities.

      . . . the fact that inflationary spacetimes are past incomplete forces one to address the question of what, if anything, came before.{35}

      In response, Linde reluctantly concurs with the conclusion of Borde and Vilenkin: there must have been a Big Bang singularity at some point in the past.{36}

      I had told this to Meyerson in a previous comment and he just denied it without citing anything to back up his assertion. I’ve got a quote from Borde and Vilenkin to back my assertion up.

  9. Sam Meyerson says:

    What you all don’t understand is that inflation is a semiclassical theory, which is universally believed by cosmologists to provide a front end to some ultimately quantum physics which describes the singularity. We don’t know if the ultimate quantum theory of the Universe is past eternal, because no such theory as yet exists. Furthermore, as Guth himself has stressed, eternal chaotic inflation leads one to conclude that there were *many* beginnings.

    Moreover, there are models, such as the ekpyrotic scenario, in which the BGV singularity theorems simply may not apply. The issue is contentious at present, but there certainly are scholars who claim that the ekpyrotic scenario is not limited by the singularity theorems, and that the Universe may be past infinite. See e.g. the major review article by Jean-Luc Lehners, “Ekpyrotic and cyclic cosmology,” Physics Reports 465 (2008) 223. See in particular footnote 8 on p. 255: “Theorems about past incompleteness as well as entropy bounds do not apply, because of the singular crunch/bang transitions.”

  10. NathanielFisher says:

    WinteryKnight:

    What makes you think that whatever begins to exist needs a cause?

    So far I’ve seen no good responses to this by Christians.

    Agnostic-atheists appear to easily win the debate.

  11. NathanielFisher says:

    “Thank you for your comment. Please show me something that pops into being out of nothing without a cause, so we will know that the premise is false.”

    But how do you know it’s true, is the question? I’ve not yet seen a good response.

    What makes you think that matter/enegry hasn’t always existed in some form?

    We can move on to why I think you’re wrong on Quantum Mechanics later.

    • OK, here is the thing with atheists. I can line up 6 scientific discoveries, based on experimental results. I am holding confirmed predictions of cosmic microwave background radiation temperatures in my left hand, and confirmed helium-hydrogen abundance predictions in my right. If you want to deny the premise, I need some reasons or some scientific data.

      What have you got? Where is your evidence?

      The current best theory of cosmology is the standard big bang model, which posits the origin of matter, energy, space and time OUT OF NOTHING. You need to deal with the data we have today, not imagine alternative realities where untested speculations preserve your belief in atheism from falsification by the progress of science. We’re in the 21st century now. The eternal universe is dead. The progress of science killed it.

      This is a serious game. Not make-believe. If you can name a counter-example to the premise, do so. Otherwise, the deductive argument goes through on modus ponens, backed by the science.

      • Nelson says:

        Wintery,

        correct me if I am wrong. But I thought the BB theory was more based on the universe started from a singularity. That being said. To say that the universe came from nothing is incorrect. There was the singularity where matter existed already in that state (currently undefined by us).

        • No, the singularity itself has no mass. Causally prior to the Big Bang, there was nothing that existed. The universe came into being out of nothing. The cause of the universe coming into being was non-physical, non-material.

    • Carl says:

      The second law of thermodynamics expresses the tendency over time of an isolated physical system to increase in entropy towards a state of thermodynamic equilibrium.

      An infinite amount of time would require all matter and energy to have reached a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, which is clearly not the case as there are differences in matter and energy distribution throughout the universe, and work can still be performed.

  12. NathanielFisher says:

    The Kalam is your side’s argument. Please answer:

    What makes you think that whatever begins to exist needs a cause?

    “You need to deal with the data we have today, not imagine alternative realities where untested speculations preserve your belief in atheism from falsification by the progress of science.”

    That isn’t what atheist say. But this is besides the point. Please answer the original question.

    • In all of human experience, nothing has ever popped into being without a cause. See, I live on Earth, in reality, where things don’t pop into being out of nothing without a cause. Now I know that there is an alternative world, the one in your imagination, maybe you can dream about how things like fairies do pop into and out of being without causes all the time. Are you confusing the objective, shared reality with your imagination-world?

      Do you see my point? I am claiming that things don’t pop into being out of nothing without a cause. And you’re saying they do. Now I want to know where I can go experience these violations of the physical law of conservation of mass. Do you have any evidence that the premise is false? I have appealing to a scientific law and universal human experience. Do you have a counter-example based in objective reality, not in flights of fancy?

      I do not mind if a supernatural agent can suspend physical laws, but how is it done on atheism?

  13. NathanielFisher says:

    “In all of human experience, nothing has ever popped into being without a cause.”

    QM shows this to be wrong. Quantum Mechanics is all about how things don’t need a cause.

    “…physical events at the atomic and subatomic level are observed to have no evident cause..” Victor J Stenger: “God, The Failed Hypothesis.”

    • You’re wrong. 1) QM events that we observe in a laboratory take place a vacuum that is there, not absolute nothing as was the case with the big bang. 2) QM events could not occur without a field present, they are not uncaused. 3) Virtual particles exist only temporarily, inversely proportional to their mass. The universe has been here for 13.7 billion years, not a fraction of a second.

      Even radioactive decay is unpredictable, but it is not something coming out of nothing without a cause. Sub-atomic physics takes place in space. But the beginning of the universe was out of nothing.

      You don’t understand the big bang theory. Matter, space, energy and time come into being from nothing. Not from a vacuum.

      “Today almost everyone believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.”
      Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time, The Isaac Newton Institute Series of Lectures (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 20.

      Please try again.

      You may find this post on QM featuring an experimental particle physicist who has published research papers based on work done at THREE particle accelerators useful.

      If you like Stenger, perhaps you care to see how well he does in a debate with William Lane Craig. (Hint: not well!)

      Stenger was in the audience for Craig’s lecture on the big bang at the University of Colorado at Boulder as well, based on this research paper published in a physics journal, in which Craig demolishes the model you are proposing (called the vacuum fluctuation model).

      • Brittanee says:

        “You may find this post on QM featuring an experimental particle physicist who has published research papers based on work done at THREE particle accelerators useful.”

        I was wondering if you had any more info on the person who wrote this article? I would like to site it for one of my papers if possible. Any ideas?

  14. makarios says:

    Someone asked a bit ago, Where is the proof that something needs a cause to come into existence?

    Are you kidding me? Do you not know how the scientific method of inquiry works?
    Observation,
    Interpretation,
    Verification.
    Have you simply not gone to school or what?

    We know, based on science, that what ever begins to exist has an explanation of it’s existence either in the necessity of its being or in an external cause. We know this to be true because there have been no known exceptions. Why don’t you accept what science is telling you? Don’t you trust the scientific method of inquiry?

    Someone else stated, Show me something besides the universe that came into being. Well, how about you? How about your house? How about, oh, any one of a trillion other things that you observe on a daily basis. Do you actually think that some of them, like the road, or the clouds or the McD’s just popped into existence?

    As to the person quoting Guth, you should really find some quotes that are more recent than 2007. For example, google “Borde, Guth, Vilenkin Theorem” to see that Guth himself retracts his 2007 statement and now admits that any inflationary model of any universe requires a definitive space / time boundary, a singularity, a Big Bang or Creation event.

    If in your fantasy land you take your rejection of scientific evidence to yet another level and believe that there actually can be an infintie regress of cause, thereby stating that that THIS singularity isn’t the first, it makes no difference. Let’s go back a trillion universes ago.

    Somewhere along the line there had to be a first universe and the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem proves that THAT universe required a definitive space / time boundary, a singularity, a Big Bang Creation event. Because of that, neither cyclical nor inflationary models, chaotic or otherwise are workable.

    Have you ever wondered why other models were proposed after the chaotic inflationary model first saw daylight? Have you ever heard the statement, “It was in the last place that I looked.” Right, guess what? The chaotic model, is not the last place. There are half a dozen more recent suggestions precisely because the chaotic inflationary model is NOT workable.

    The Kalam argument isn’t ‘OURS.’ It isn’t a “Christian” theory. It’s simply a model that fits current scientific evidence. I thought atheists were the ones who lived and died by scientific evidence. The hypocrisy that’s being strewn around this post by atheists stinks to high heaven.

    • Thank you so much for this comment. I was beginning to feel that there was something wrong in the way I was explaining myself. I’m off to check out your blog right now.

      I saw Guth debate William Lane Craig live at the Baylor ID conference that William Dembski organized in 2000. “The Nature of Nature”. And Guth admitted then that the inflationary model could only get rid of some of the fine-tuning, but not the need for an absolute beginning. To get rid of the beginning is to speculate on unobservables or deny the law of conservation of mass.

      Why are these atheists so surprised to find out that the universe looks like it was made by God? Did they think we were kidding all this time? Did they think we were doing all this work based on blid faith? Give me a freaking break! Why do atheists hate science so much and insist on believing myths in order to keep their delusion safe from inquiry and reality?

  15. NathanielFisher says:

    1) Stephen Hawking is not a theist. He argues against Craig’s evidence: See Infidel’s (dot) org. 2) Also: Yes, the Big Bang shows that there probably is a beginning to **our** universe I agree but that doesn’t mean that energy hasn’t always existed in some form. That another universe wasn’t there before:

    “The observations confirming a Big Bang do not rule out the possibility of a prior universe… so we have no reason to assume that the universe began with a Big Bang ” — Victor J Stenger.

    Also it should be noted that you haven’t addressed my first argument “What you makes you think that things need a cause for their existence” when it’s the scientific cosensus in physics that Quantum Mechanics is strong evidence for things not needing a cause.

    Please do not refer me to live debates as they are full of inaccuracies and should NOT be counted as evidence for or against a position, please instead refer me to books or websites. Craig might have good debate skills but his arguments are not logically sound and are unscientific. Atheists win the debate in books and on the internet and that’s what matters.

    • OK, you don’t like debates with William Lane Craig against Victor Stenger, nor Craig’s lecture at UC Boulder in front of Stenger, nor Craig’s peer-reviewed research paper in the astrophysics journal. You want to cite people who agree with you, and close your eyes and cover your ears to any actual public questioning of their views.

      I’m done, you get the last word.

  16. NathanielFisher says:

    “Someone asked a bit ago, Where is the proof that something needs a cause to come into existence? ”

    No. You’re incorrect in saying things needs a cause for their existence. I’ve given examples above. Please address those arguments.

    • Paradox says:

      Your case against the causal principle is faulty.
      Quantum Mechanics is NOT acausal; virtual particles are caused by fluctuations in the energy that permeates space.

      To be ’caused’ do not require that we be able to know the cause, or that we be able to predict something’s occurrence. Otherwise, the goods I’v contributed to bake-sales would occur as uncaused, because my baking them was not predictable by anybody.
      This isn’t evidence, it’s making an epistemic fallacy, and then acting as though it proves something OTHER than your ignorance of the subject.

      And of course, the fact that things ON OUR SCALE do not come into being uncaused speaks against your belief that QM is acausal as well.

  17. Richard Ball says:

    I think the NathanielFisher posts were uncaused. And, Nataniel undoubtedly agrees with me! Point proven! Uncaused things CAN happen! There is no God!

  18. NathanielFisher says:

    There’s possible scientific evidence for things having no cause. I’ve explained it and given an example. Here is another example from Stenger, please keep in mind this is all *speculation*:

    “In fact, physical events at the atomic and subatomic level are observed to have no evident cause. For example, when an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event. Similarly, no cause is evident in the decay of a radioactive nucleus. ” Vic J Stenger.

    • Thanks for your comment. These “uncaused” events occur in a particular environment called a quantum vacuum. This environment exists IN SPACE, where quantum mechanical events are possible. The problem is that this does not work for the beginning of the universe, because there WAS NO SPACE prior to the instance of the big bang. Therefore, you cannot explain the origin of the universe by appealing to uncaused events.

      Additionally, the virtual particle pairs that appear in a quantum vacuum exist for a period of time INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL to their mass. The universe is not a virtual particle, and it has been here for 14 billion years – a huge period that is impossible for such a massive object to exist as a virtual particle.

    • Paradox says:

      And you fail to see Dr. Stenger destroy his own argument.
      ““In fact, physical events at the atomic and subatomic level are observed to have no evident cause. For example, when an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event. Similarly, no cause is evident in the decay of a radioactive nucleus. ””
      The photon is caused by the atom dropping into a lower-energy state. What causes the atom to drop to a lower energy state? He seems to believe that the laws of physics (which he claims were created by pure nothingness) can produce the universe, so maybe the laws of physics did this as well? But since I argue that the laws of physics are just descriptions of the normal behavior of matter, I have a different answer: it is part of the nature of atoms to do certain things. In this case, it was necessary for the atom to drop to the lower energy state, so the cause is the atom itself (which is not denied by the causal principle).
      The decay of a radioactive nucleus has a similar answer: either Victor Stenger is right, and the laws of physics can cause things to happen, or I am right, and the decay of the nucleus is caused by the atom itself. (This is assuming that the Copenhagen interpretation of QM is correct. If not, then other causes are provided by each model, except the Bryce DeWitt model, which does away with time and causality.)

      One shouldn’t go too far with one’s speculations. Just because we don’t know what the cause of something is (though in these cases, we have some likely possibilities), does not mean it is probably uncaused. And the fact that all of our other observations demand causality leads me to believe that a cause MUST exist on this smaller scale as well.

  19. NathanielFisher says:

    1) I think the first thing we should do when talking about God, is to define what God means. So WinteryKnight, what would you say God is?

    2) Yes, things *could have* no cause. Maybe things have causes. Maybe they don’t. That’s the point Stenger is making in his book.

    Theists/Christians: What Stenger says is rational speculation. However there is apparent, possible evidence for things not having causes. It’s possible.

    Stenger even gives scientific evidence of “no causes” (which itself could mean several differnt things)!

    Remember this is all just speculation. But you can’t really, no offense, simply argue “everything that begins to exist has a cause” when there is evidence NOT just from Stenger, that things might not have causes.

    What about bubble chamber experiments that appear to show evidence of things having “no cause”? Stenger doesn’t mention these “bubble chamber” experiments, other scientists have.

    I could find you other examples of no cause experiments I think. It’s not *just* Stenger speculating, many other scientists do too I *think* you’ll find: Things don’t necessarily have causes according to science. It goes against our intuition, but then so does evolution, but we all know almost for certain that evolution is true, right? Our intuitions can tell us that the world is “flat” but that doesn’t mean the world is flat. So just because our intuitions tell us that things have causes that’s really not a good reason to believe all things have causes. :)

    Thanks.

  20. NathanielFisher says:

    “Thanks for your comment. These “uncaused” events occur in a particular environment called a quantum vacuum.” — WinteryKnight (Christian)

    Me, an agnostic-atheist:

    Yes, so there is such a thing as possible uncaused events? So we can drop Craig’s Kalam argument? We can doubt his Kalam? Some things might not have causes. It’s possible, we agree?

    That’s what I’m saying now. Sorry if I didn’t communicate that clearly before.

    “The problem is that this does not work for the beginning of the universe, because there WAS NO SPACE prior to the instance of the big bang.”

    The big bang wasn’t necessarily the beginning of THE universe. It was probably the beginning of OUR universe. Hawking also has speculated this to be possibly true:

    “Based on the no boundary proposal, I picture the origin of the universe, as like the formation of bubbles of steam in boiling water. ” — Stephen Hawking, a non-theist possible atheist.

    There is the possbility of prior, bubble universes. We can speculate and say ‘we have some possible evidence to show that these bubble universe might exist. ‘

    “Therefore, you cannot explain the origin of the universe by appealing to uncaused events. ”

    Stenger, and other agnostic-atheists who understand something about this, don’t argue that “uncaused” events 100% definitely show that the universe was uncaused. But it’s possible so you CAN say (speculate) that unncaused events possibly caused the universe. I think you are wrong to say this WinteryKnight.

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, you argue that God is uncaused and that God created the universe “from nothing”.

    • Nathaniel, I think you are one of the best commenters who disagreed with me on this blog. Please stop by and comment more. I am going to give you the last word, but I really appreciate your candor and tone. You’re right to say that I believe that God exists eternally outside the universe and created it from nothing. We disagree about whether an uncaused beginning of the universe is possible, given the evidence.

      GREAT JOB!

  21. NathanielFisher says:

    “We disagree about whether an uncaused beginning of the universe is possible, given the evidence.” — WinteryKnight.

    But anything is possible, right? For now I think it’s best to agree that Christian, theists and agnostic-atheists don’t know what happened prior to the big bang with any degree of near certainity. We can agree there is no scientific consensus on where the Big Bang came from.

    But what I still don’t agree with is that there seems to be “good” evidence for God: The evidence there might be for “prior to the Big Bang” seems to show that the Big Bang came from **nature**, probably not from a God. In other words agnostic-atheism seems very likely to be true, but God existing and God creating the universe seems very unlikley to be true according to science (according to the preditions science makes.) So that means we should all be agnostic-atheist for now and probably forever. :)

    Thanks for your comments.

    Most agnostic-atheists, fans of the debate/discussion, are fresh from debating Young Earth Creationists MANY of which can be very rude and dishonest.

    So I think we agnostic-atheists *assume* (mistakenly?) that William Lane Craig fans are as bad. Though in my recent experience, at the very least, I can say that William Lane Craig’s fans are quite or very polite. It’s much easier to have a discussion with you than with Young Earth Creationists imho. Also I’ve learnt a thing or two about communication over the internet since debating with WLC fans. :)

    • NathanielFisher says:

      Thinking about it: maybe, WinteryKnight, you are a YEC, in which case you’re an exception to my rule. If you are a YEC I’m pleased to finally (finally!) have met a polite YEC that seems to want to understand more about agnostic-atheism and his own beliefs.

      • Let me be clear about this, at the risk of alienating some of my YEC readers.

        I was a YEC. And I cannot think of a single evidence in favor of that view from science. I think a case for YEC can be made from the Bible, and so it is OK to hold out for more evidence, like you’re doing with your naturalistic view of the origin of the universe. And I would be happy to see YEC proven true by some emerging evidence.

        But right now, I would go so far as to say that all Christians should put YEC-advocacy on the back burner and work with the data we have from the kalam argument and the fine-tuning argument and the habitability arguments. Does that make sense? I think it is a mistake for us to argue based on YEC premises at this time. I think that the most thoughtful YECs are doing this already.

        My personal belief is that the universe is 14 billion years old, and that the Bible is compatible with that view if the days of Genesis are interpreted as long periods of time. I don’t accept macroevolution at all.

    • Nathaniel, there is no “don’t know” here.

      If I were to express the force of this argument on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 10. But don’t feel obligated to accept it if you don’t want to. I am holding 6 recent scientific discoveries in my hands proving an absolute beginning of matter, space, time and energy. We have no evidence that there was a vacuum outside of that singularity. Whatever causes the universe to begin to exist is non-material and eternal. The only thing we know of that causes things while being non-material are MINDS. So a mind that existed eternally brought the universe into being. It’s seems clear cut to me, but you can disagree.

      There are arguments that I think are not as conclusive, such as irreducible complexity and the Cambrian explosion. I would give those 9s out of 10, because there is still the possibility that molecular pathways or an earlier sequence of developments in the fossil record could be found. I hope I haven’t said anything mean – it’s OK that we disagree. I’m not going to force you.

      The reason that Craig fans are quite polite is because we are very comfortable with the force of these arguments. I am sitting in the mainstream of scientific consensus on the data, and that makes me an intellectually fulfilled evangelical Christian.

      I think we’ve said enough here for my readers, and we aren’t going to convince one another. Let’s leave it there until new evidence for or against becomes available.

      • merkur says:

        “The only thing we know of that causes things while being non-material are MINDS.”

        Please give us the experimental evidence for a mind that is non-material.

          • merkur says:

            Experimental evidence, not a newspaper article.

          • I like your comments lately. Just give me short questions I can answer! Why can’t everyone comment like you?

            Here’s an abstract from a research paper.

            For a popular treatment, Dinesh D’Souza has a new book out.

            Blurb:

            Unlike many books about the afterlife, Life after Death makes no appeal to religious faith, divine revelation, or sacred texts. Drawing on some of the most powerful theories and trends in physics, evolutionary biology, science, philosophy, and psychology, D’Souza shows why the atheist critique of immortality is irrational and draws the striking conclusion that it is reasonable to believe in life after death. He concludes by showing how life after death can give depth and significance to this life, a path to happiness, and reason for hope.

            I’m not a big D’Souza fan, but he’s OK.

            I should also mention that rational thought and moral choices are impossible unless there is free will, and free will requires a non-material soul that transcends the biologically-determined behaviors of your physical body.

          • merkur says:

            1. Because not everybody suffers from autistic tendencies.

            2. I fail to see how NDEs provide evidence for minds being separate from bodies, since even if they are valid, the only way that we know about them is if the body survives.

            3. You have not demonstrated that a) rational thought requires free will, or b) that free will requires a non-material soul. Free will and moral choices is a more difficult one to crack.

          • OK, we’ll have to leave it there. Thanks for playing.

          • Richard Ball says:

            WK — I think you were absolutely right to end this at the point you did. For some avoiding truth is a game.

          • Oh, I wasn’t trying to be mean. I just like that phrase “Thanks for playing” because every time I vote on a post over at The Western Experience, the little voting thingy says that. So what I meant was “thanks for commenting”. I just think that we were at a good stopping point and I had other things to do. I’m staying up way too late these days. I have an idea for a PhD topic! It’s a secret, but everyone I tell it to likes it.

    • A Proud Canadian says:

      “The evidence there might be for “prior to the Big Bang” seems to show that the Big Bang came from **nature**, probably not from a God.”

      Really? As has already been pointed out ALL experimental verification denies this and supports creation ex-nihilo. Give me one example of an accurate prediction made by the “pre-existing-nature” camp.

      “In other words agnostic-atheism seems very likely to be true, but God existing and God creating the universe seems very unlikley to be true according to science (according to the preditions science makes.)”

      Let’s see one example of such a prediction.

      “So that means we should all be agnostic-atheist for now and probably forever.”

      Right.

      Apart from being clearly wrong regarding scientific predictions your assertion that not all events have a cause is profoundly unscientific and regressive. It is precisely the observation of events that we cannot see a cause for that drives science forward. If we simply gave up every time we couldn’t see a cause for something we would still believe in spontaneous generation of life, that mercury’s orbit was simply anomalous and that there is no reason for the narrow spectral lines emitted by excited gases. The current unexplained causation in QM is an indication that the theory is not complete and an invitation to do more research, the implicit assumption here that this will never be understood is lazy and unscientific. Now the reason that a supernatural explanation is posited for the beginning of the universe (or multiverse or whatever) is because science itself says that it could NOT have been natural because natural law cannot operate when nature doesn’t exist. Rather like Kurt Godel’s work proving that math based (or “computational” as Penrose says) laws can NOT explain the functioning of our brain. It is fantastical for you to claim that “Anything is possible” especially on the assumption of naturalism, there are tons of things that are not possible and the outlining of what is not naturally possible but that none-the-less occurred is where non-natural explanations are, naturally, posited.

  22. Ahmed says:

    How would you answer the objection that just because matter, space, time, energy came into existence by the big bang doesn’t negate the possibility that this was a direct follow on from another previous universe which in turn came from another previous universe and the cycle never stops?

    • Thanks for your comment. Why oh why can’t all the challengers comment like you? Short and to the point.

      Are you talking about the oscillating model or the chaotic inflationary model?

  23. Ahmed says:

    OK it seems you have dealt with those issues already. Don’t get me wrong I am with you on this one.

    I have another question. What would you say to another objection which is that the beginning of matter/time/space/energy is just speculative science, and doesn’t really have a solid basis as yet, if ever?

    • I would study the 3 discoveries that led up to the big bang theory.

      – the red-shifting of light from galaxies mocing away from us
      – the measurement of the cosmic background radiation
      – the light-element abundance predictions (H and He)
      etc.
      A great book on this is the Robert Jastrow’s book “God and the Astronomers”, 2nd edition. He is the former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute and an agnostic. In his book, you can find FIVE evidences for the big bang cosmology. (two additional ones) I also liked Fred Heeren’s “Show Me God”, which has even more details and analysis.

      I would also study the history of the rival godless models that were proposed and rejected.

      – eternal universe
      – steady-state model
      – oscillating model
      – vacuum fluctuation
      – chaotic inflationary
      etc.

      This is all straight secular science, the state of the art. All mainstream.

      Here is a good peer-reviewed paper for you to read. Let me know if I can help more.

      This lecture delivered at Stanford University by particle physicist Michael Strauss may also help.

  24. Ahmed says:

    I am actually debating with an atheist and when I mentioned to him the time space matter came from nothing he made the objection that books on cosmology only go back to certain time after the big bang.

  25. Ron Toczek says:

    Just read all the comments and I don’t think that any agnostics/atheists were converted; however, I do have a few general comments. Before stating them, I will claim to be a fairly devout Catholic so I do not need converting.

    On deductive reasoning:
    Pure deductive reasoning can only be exercised within a formal logical system and there is no single logical system that works for every human being. In specific cases it is possible to restrict the premises to an agreed set and then argue from those premises and, if done properly, the conclusion must be valid for all parties agreeing to the premises, but people rarely so agree.

    Hence, human arguing, the polite kind, consists in giving reasons and hoping that one or more of them will convince the other parties to change their belief.

    For me, the existence of God can be neither proved nor disproved using science or logic.

    On scientific observations:
    It is common in scientific observations to throw out the oddball ones and that multiple observations rarely give the same result. Hence, physical theories are never exactly verified. It is highly possible that some other description (physics can only describe but never explain) will illustrate the phenomena better than the current one.

    On the big bang:
    The current view of the big bang in the eyes of most scientists is that it was an event that determined the/our universe–yes, we are part of our universe. In this sense the big bang cannot have happened; we would all be puppets acting out the laws of physics. When God created the/our universe, he put in just enough randomness to ensure its uniqueness, give us our free will to sin or not, enable miracles and mislead scientists.

    I am still a fan of science and read two different science publications but with a jaundiced eye instead of enthusiasm

  26. Richard Ball says:

    “he put in just enough randomness to ensure its uniqueness,”

    What do you mean by this?

    • Ron Toczek says:

      Uniqueness is a synonym for “one of a kind” but as I use the term there are three other aspects:

      1) Scientifically, it means that our universe is irreducible; there is no general mathematical/
      logical human system of which our universe is but a specific case.
      2) It can never be reproduced; and
      3) There is no method by which its past can be faithfully reproduced.

      Hope this helps.

  27. Supernova says:

    I thought Stenger make a valid point, and don’t know if WLG actually responded to it. If he did or anyone knows a response, let me know.

    Stenger was talking about the fine-tuning argument of the Universe and said there could be life w/o our existing laws, but another form of life could evolve in a universe with different physical laws or with different physical constants and that we don’t have the knowledge to rule that out. Strenger was attacking the narrow thinking that there is only one possible form of life, and only one possible set of laws of physics and constants.

    What are your thoughts. I like to find some information about this.

    Thanks.

    • This is actually related to the fine-tuning argument, not the kalam argument, but I’ll answer it anyway.

      If there is more than one universe with different constants, I want to see the experimental evidence for the other universe, and how it has different constants. Right now, there is none, so I would not speculate about it. If you make the claim, you bear the burden of proof.

      The argument shows that if these constants are changed then you lose things like elements heavier than carbon, star formation, galaxy formation, or you lose hydrogen, etc. If any of these things happen you lose the possibility of life of any conceivable kind. If you think that life exists that doesn’t require fine-tuning you bear the burden of proof, not me, because you’re making the claim.

      This post where you commented is about the caused beginning of the universe, not the fine-tuning argument. Please check out the details of the fine-tuning argument here. Then check out this post about the minimal requirements for life of any conceivable kind, and listen to the lecture in it. Then check out this post where I question an experimental particle physicist about the speculations that naturalists make to escape the force of these arguments, which are based on what we know today and the trend of the latest discoveries.

      • Supernova says:

        Thanks for taking the time to respond.

        I just listened to the Stenger-Craig debate and was curious about the point he(Stenger) brought up. I didn’t mean to side-track the blog post or anything, just I saw the word fine-tune and Stenger a few times and thought it would be an appropriate place to ask.

        I’ll check out the links you provided.

        Thanks.

        • I’m sorry if I sounded mean… Stenger is the best you can get on the other side of the issue, so what you heard is the state of the debate. He is a professor of physics.

  28. japan says:

    I don`t understand. Just because the universe may ahve a beginning…a “creation event”, why is it logical to assume that some sort of sentient being caused it? And once again, creator seems to be such a loose term. I don`t see how the big bang theory lends itself so readily to the idea of a mindful creator. It would seem that it simply sheds light on the beginning of our universe. It seems really difficult to stick to an argument with such a rigorous set of logical rules when it comes to defining the implications of the actual beginning. I would imagine that the rock solid pillars of logic that the Kalam arguments find it footing on would pehaps tumble the closer we get to the beginning.

    • Great comment. The cause of the universe is non-physical, because it brought the entire physical universe into being. There are only two kinds of non-physical realities. Abstract objects like universals, and minds. You are a mind yourself. Minds can affect freely without depending physical antecedent conditions. The cause of the universe is a non-physical mind.

  29. doug says:

    The “primer on logic” is too simplistic. It uses propositional calculus instead of predicate. I would be very interested to see the argument translated into predicate calculus and all the paradoxes that would go with it.

    In predicate calculus, which is basically set theory, existence and universality are quantifiers; ‘second order’ predicates. To start saying Existence has to begin would be quantifying the quantifier, which would open the door to an infinite regression. Similar problems could arise with the universal quantifier but I’m not sure. The term “Universe” I suppose could include the totality of all universal quantifiers, which again would open the door to a regression.

  30. I am current having brilliant debates at my blog on this argument and yet I have not find any atheist with good argument against it :)

  31. kurzninja says:

    Interestng comment board. I, it appears, am a little late to the game, but I would like to throw my two cents in, as an atheist. :)

    I do see a few problems in your original stating of the argument. You state “whatever begins to exists has a cause, the universe began, therefore it has a cause.” However, your actual argument appears to be “Therefore it has a cause, and therefore God. And not just any God, but my specific Christian God.” Logically, these last two postulations don’t seem to follow from the original arguement. “We don’t know yet” is a perfectly acceptable answer for the time being, God-of-the-gaps, much less so. :)

    Secondly, if you assume that the logic of the original argument is sound, then must not that logic apply to God as well? You can say that God has no beginning, therefore the rules don’t apply in that special case, but then you could use that same logic to postulate forms of our universe that aren’t just beginnings but continuations of something else, such as the multiverse hypothesis. If you have an infinite number of universes within a multiverse, a form of the anthropic principle makes it obvious that we would find ourselves in a “fine-tuned” universe, or else we wouldn’t be here to observe it. Sure there is no experimental evidence for it (yet), but show me the experimental evidence for not just God, but your specific God as well.

    My worldview is that “I don’t know yet” is preferable to “I don’t know, therefore God.” YMMV. :) Nice blog, keep it up.

    • Hello. The point of this argument is not to prove Christianity, it’s to prove theism, and it does that because it requires a non-physical, non-temporal, non-spatial cause to bring space, matter, energy and time into being from a 0-volume singularity (a mathematical point with no being) 13.7 billion years ago. Thus, it disproves materialism. This is what the science shows. (We have another half-dozen scientific arguments from fine-tuning, to DNA, to habitability, and so on, in addition) To get Christianity, you need to add other historical arguments, which I understandably do not include all in one post.

      I will let the rest of your response stand to show the best that the other side is capable of. But please don’t mischaracterize my view. Your view is “I don’t like what we know today, I hope it will all be reversed tomorrow and until then I’ll just have faith in unobservable entities like the multiverse” and my view is “based on what we know today from the latest scientific discoveries, therefore God”.

  32. jim says:

    Just a little aside; The kalam argument is not an Islamic argument. It was used by Christian apologist John Philoponus a hundred tears before Muhammed was born. Later, in the middle ages, St. bonaventure used it. Catholics (aka Christians) thought it up.

    • James says:

      The Kalam argument seems to be a general argument for theism. It does not verify which religion – Christianity or Islam – is true.

      However, as far as I’ve researched, the argument was developed further by the likes of Al-Ghazali, or perhaps Al-Kindi. It seems Philoponus could have been as source though.

      • James says:

        So, I fail to see why you (seem to) discredit the Muslims who contributed significantly in the evolution and development of the argument.

        I should also state that, St. bonaventure is thought to be one of its historic proponents, but by no means whatsoever, are Christian’s necessarily the only ones who contributed to today’s model.

  33. peter says:

    Okkk soooo.. You guys are all very intelligent and I myself am only 14 years old. I am a Christian. I don’t understand what you guys are talking about completely… I don’t think I’m old enough yet but both viewpoints are very very very very interesting and I love reading all of them… Please dumb this down for me thanks!!!

    • Ok. Suppose you are in the kitchen working and suddenly you hear a bang from outside. You go outside and there is a new car sitting in the driveway (the big bang) with your initials and birthday on the license plate (fine-tuning to support complex life). The atheist says that the car appeared without any cause to bring it into being. And that the license plate identifying YOU is an accident that can be explained by random forces that just threw ink onto the license plate that appeared out of nothing with the car.

      The book you want to read about all of this is called “On Guard” by William Lane Craig. It might be a bit of a stretch for you, but have your parents help you.

  34. Matt says:

    Thanks for doing the work to put together something like this Wintery. One question though:

    “The quantum gravity model: makes use of imaginary time which cannot be mapped into a physical reality, it’s purely theoretical”

    Can’t a disembodied mind also not be mapped into a physical reality? I think what you could say is that imaginary time is supernatural and therefore still defeats naturalism but it would pose challenges for theism as well because it is impersonal.

  35. believeme-also says:

    No argument, evidence or rationale is likely to result in a change of opinion or belief as long as full understanding is required as a prerequisite to any belief.

    Learning occurs by first suspending any unbelief or disbelief long enough to objectively consider the possibility that something is true. If we insist on understanding something prior to allowing the possibility of it being true, no change is likely to occur.

    Learning will only occur when unbelief/disbelief is suspended long enough to investigate whether an opposing argument or position is true by allowing for the possibility that it is true. Learning requires objectivity and critical reflection.

    In short, people often believe what they do because they want to. Conversely, people disbelieve things for the same reason. It will not matter whether any knowledge under consideration is empirical (based upon experience/observation) or non empirical (based on reason). If there exists any will against it any attempts to change are likely to prove futile.

  36. [...] the universe is far too massive to last 14 billion years as a virtual particle. (Wintery Knight, “How to defend the kalam cosmological argument just like William Lane Craig” April 8th, [...]

  37. [...] Wintery Knight writes about how to defend the Kalam at his site: http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/how-to-defend-the-kalam-cosmological-argument-just-lik… [...]

  38. guy123 says:

    Hello Winter Knight! I learn so much from this article and it really sharpening my skills defending the kalam cosmological argument. Thank you!

    However, I came across an objection and maybe you can help clarify it out to me. I had a person told me that the universe was made up of dark matter and energy. So I assuming that’s what created the universe or had always been that way. i could be wrong.. but what do you think?

    • Yes, the universe does contain dark matter, but that has no effect on the beginning of the universe, it’s just more matter than was created by God in the creation event. Dark matter came into being at t = 0 along with the other matter.

  39. guy123 says:

    Hello Winter Knight and thank you for your response. That was good. t=0 means there was a point where we cannot measure what came before. How about a cyclic universe? Some have seen to support that model. And since nobody understand gravity enough to figure this out, we just don’t know. What’s your critique to this?

  40. fly25 says:

    When KCA proponent argues for a person divine creator as the ‘First Cause’ what do they mean by ‘personal’? Can you elaborate this? And why can’t it be the impersonal instead? Thanks!

  41. [...] I simply won’t go into too much detail defending the premises of the Kalam argument (premises 1 and 2) since it’s pretty familiar to most philosophers, and I’m assuming you’re here reading this far because you like philosophy. If not, then please see this post. [...]

  42. [...] The quantum gravity model: makes use of imaginary time which cannot be mapped into a physical reality, it’s purely theoretical (Source: How to Defend the Kalam Cosmological Argument like WLC) [...]

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