Douglas Groothuis

Defending Christian Faith, September 28 2004




part 3



II.          Kalam Cosmological Argument


(Moreland, Scaling; see also William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith [Crossway, 1994]; Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation from Nothing [Baker, 2004]; William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, God:  A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist [Oxford, 2004])


·        Preliminary:  concepts of (a) the actual infinite and (b) the potential infinite


A.        The universe had a beginning (continued)



3.         Scientific confirmation from Big Bang cosmology (absolute origination).  See also John Jefferson Davis, “Genesis 1:1 and Big Bang Cosmology,” in The Frontiers of Science and Faith (InterVarsity, 2002), 11 – 36; and Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (revised ed., 1992).


4.         Scientific confirmation from second law of thermodynamics.


a.         If the universe is infinitely old, the universe would have run down by now


b.         The universe has not run down by now


c.         Therefore, the universe is not infinitely old


d.         Therefore, the universe had a beginning


e.         Therefore, the universe was caused by something outside itself


f.          Therefore, the universe was cause by a being who willed to bring it about


5.         Astronomer Fred Hoyle (who once advanced the steady state cosmology) argues against the universe being infinitely old in virtue of its hydrogen consumption.  The argument can be stated as a modus tolens deduction (denying the consequent).


a.         If the universe were infinitely old, then there would be no hydrogen left since hydrogen is only used up and not replaced by any known cosmic process.


b.         There is hydrogen left in the universe.


c.         Therefore, the universe is not infinitely old.


d.         Therefore, the universe had a beginning[1].  To this, the theist would add:


e.         Therefore, the universe was created by God.


B.         The beginning of the universe was caused


1.         Can everything come from nothing without a cause? The “pop theory” (biting the metaphysical bullet)


a.         Isaac Assimov, Paul Davies (Moreland, 139)


b.         Christopher Jencks (D. Groothuis, Truth Decay, 137)


2.         Philosophical critique of everything from nothing…


a.         The ontologizing of nothingness fallacy; granting covert properties to nothing, which can have no properties


b.         The actualizing from nothingness fallacy:  a-causal origination—counter-intuitive if not contradictory


C.        The beginning of the universe was caused by a personal being (God)


1.         God and time (see Greg Gansell, editor, God and Time:  Four Views [InterVarsity, 2001])


a.         Three options if kalam is correct


i.          God is timeless/atemporal simpliciter (Traditional view, Paul Helm)


ii.          God sans creation is timeless/atemporal; God with creation is temporal (William Lane Craig)


iii.         God sans creation is “relatively timeless”; God with creation interacts temporally (Alan Padgett, Doug Groothuis)


b.         But God cannot be in “clock time”—that would entail an actual infinite of moments, which the kalam rules out (Moreland, 36, 41)


2.         Argument against an impersonal cause


a.         A creating being is either personal or impersonal


b.         Impersonal necessary and sufficient conditions for causing the universe would always obtain.


c.         If so, universe would be infinitely old


d.         Universe is not infinitely old (from the kalam and other cosmological factors)


e.         Therefore, the universe was not created by an impersonal cause


f.          Therefore, there must be a personal being who actualized the universe through agency, will, intention


3.         Argument against God needing a cause (Bertrand Russell)


a.         God does not begin to exist, so the kalam cosmological argument does not posit a need to account for God’s existence.


b.         The concept of God is that of a necessary, noncontingent being, a being who is self-existent, not caused.


c.         No cosmological argument claims that every state of affairs requires an antecedent cause outside itself.


4.         Quentin Smith’s acceptance of Big Bang cosmology and denial of God’s existence



III.        The Rational Worth of These Arguments (Contingency and Kalam, Scientific Evidence)


A.        Gives a rational argument; does not beg the question; ask for a “leap of faith”; or make God “properly basic” (necessarily)


B.         Gives a complete argument for certain divine attributes (see Douglas Groothuis, “Metaphysical Implications of Cosmological Argument,”—on the class web page and forthcoming in In Defense of Natural Theology (InterVarsity Press, 2005).


1.         Unitary:  Ockham’s razor


2.         Incorrigible, inextinguishable (having existed, God cannot fail to exist)


3.         Personal, volitional (“personal explanation”—R. Swinburne)


4.         Omnipotent:  nothing is a greater expenditure of power than exnihilating the entire cosmos.  This is rational to hold, given the argument.


5.         Supplies the necessary conditions for impeccable and omnipotent goodness:  (1) - (4).  Need (5) moral argument and (6) the Incarnation for the final necessary condition, which, with (1) - (4), make for necessary and sufficient conditions.


C.        Explains the origin of universe, which leads to God as the explanation.  This may incite the seeker to look for more—revelation, incarnation, salvation.


D.        Haven’t proven everything crucial about the existence of the Christian God (Trinity, Incarnation); need more argumentation—other theistic arguments, Christian evidences, etc.


E.         For an updated reflection on the kalam argument in relation to the design argument, see William Lane Craig, “Design and the Cosmological Argument,” in William Dembski, ed., Mere Creation (InterVarsity, 1998), 332 – 359; and William Lane Craig, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument” in William Lane Craig, ed., Philosophy of Religion:  A Reader and Guide (Rutgers University Press, 2002), 2002.


F.         For William Lane Craig’s transcripts of debates in which he uses the kalam argument for popular audiences, see:


[1] Cited in Anthony Weston, Rulebook for Arguments, 3rd ed., 44.