2. The Kalam Cosmological Argument

by Blake

The first piece of evidence is known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument.  “Kalam” is an Arabic word which means words and discourse as opposed to pure faith, and the reason that it has an Arabic name is because the foundation of this argument comes from the Middle Eastern philosopher, Al Ghazali, who lived around 1050 in Iran.

The argument is:

1.  Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2.  The universe began to exist.

3.  Therefore, the universe has a cause.

This is a logically sound argument because premise one and premise two lead logically to the conclusion.  To disagree with the conclusion, you must show that at least one of the two premises is false.

Look at the first premise: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.  If this premise were not true and things could come into existence without cause, what would keep anything or everything from coming into being all the time?  This premise is constantly confirmed in our everyday existence, and it is never disconfirmed by anything we ever experience.  If everything we experience abides by this premise, there is no reason to think the start of our universe should be an exception.

Premise two states that the universe began to exist.  Throughout most of the history of science, the conventional belief has been that our universe is eternal.  It is just in the last century, that scientific discoveries have confirmed the belief that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning around 13.7 billion years ago.  Scientific evidence has led most cosmologists to believe that our universe did in fact begin at some point.

There are also philosophical reasons to believe in the finitude of the universe.  If the universe did not have a beginning then it has existed for an infinite number of moments.  But consider the idea of infinity.  Infinity is used throughout mathematics and is a legitimate and useful tool – the whole branch of Calculus, for example, would not exist without it.  But when you take infinity from the worksheet of the mathematician and try to fit it into the real world of countable things, you find all sorts of contradictions and these contradictions lead many mathematicians to believe that actual infinities do not exist.

Here is one such contradiction.  Imagine two infinitely old planets orbiting a star.  Planet A is orbiting twice as fast as planet B, so for each stellar orbit that planet B completes, planet A completes two.  The longer they orbit, the further behind planet B gets in number of orbits since planet A is orbiting twice as fast.  They have both been orbiting for eternity and so they have both completed an infinite number of orbits, but planet A is orbiting twice as fast so it should have completed more.  How could they both have an infinite number of orbits if A is orbiting twice as fast?  There are many such contradictions that arise with the use of infinity.  Philosophically, an infinitely old universe just doesn’t make sense.  If infinity does not actually exist in the real world, then the universe can’t have been eternal, since an eternal universe requires an infinite quantity of time (e.g. an infinite number of seconds).

Since the two premises appear to be true, the conclusion that the universe has a cause must be true as well.  The next question would be what properties would this cause possess?

First, the cause of the universe could not be a part of the physical world we see around us.  A physical element within this universe could not create the universe itself because before the start of the universe, there were no physical elements of this world by which to cause any action.  Think of the M.C. Escher print of the two dimensional hands reaching out from the page and drawing themselves.  The illustration is a paradox because a work of art cannot bring itself into existence since before its existence, it was not around to create itself.

Secondly, the cause of the universe would have to have existed literally before the beginning of time since it is known that time itself began at the Big Bang.  This first cause of the universe would have had to have somehow existed outside of time.

Thirdly, the cause of the universe would have to be something that had the creative power to bring into existence out of nothing, the seed or singularity of the Big Bang in which all matter, energy, time and space in the universe existed.  What’s more, is that this cause of the universe had to not only create these out of nothing, but had to invent the very idea of these as well as how it all behaves.  Perhaps the notion of three dimensional space could have been different in some way.  Or maybe the idea of the atom, with electrons orbiting around a nucleus could have been something altogether different.  And so matter, energy, space and time were not just created out of nothing, but their very idea was somehow “invented” as well.

Lastly, there is good reason to believe that the cause of the universe is personal.  This is an audacious claim, but there are three good reasons to believe this which can be found here.

The evidence shows that the universe most likely had a cause and that this cause is outside of space and time, is creatively powerful, and that this cause is personal.  Whether you call this cause “God” or “Allah” or invent some other name for it, it certainly appears as if an entity with these properties exists.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/kalam