For the last few weeks I have been debating with a Christian about the kalam cosmological argument (KCA). This is the philosophical argument that says: Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence; The universe has a beginning of its existence; Therefore: The universe has a cause of its existence.
This Christian wanted to debate William Lane Craig’s version of it which adds the following: An actual infinite cannot exist. An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite. Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist. And a collection formed by successive addition cannot be an actual infinite. The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition. Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.” This can be found in the wiki article about the argument.
Now, scads of articles refuting this argument have been done. A couple of my favorites are Dan Barker’s article and Jeff Allan’s. I’ve been wanting to do a post or two on how a discussion between a Christian and an atheist runs. And I’ve been lucky enough that this discussion has turned out to be a very classic example, hitting all of the typical points. Rather than making the reader read all 18 pages of the debate, I am going to select parts for examples. However, the entire debate is available here in chronological order as a pdf, cosmological argument discussion chrono order if you really want to read it and so my opponent cannot claim that I am quoting out of context. There are some entertaining parts in there, like my opponent saying: “Put simply, do you realize that you must deny a premise of the KCA to deny the conclusion?” (well, yes, that’s what happens when showing something is wrong) but it is generally a slog of a read when you realize that repetition is part and parcel of debate with a Christian. There is one post missing, that began with my opponent complaining that I write a lot (a great shock to my readers, I know). I can’t seem to find it, though I have my reply. It shouldn’t make much difference and you can get what he said from my response. It is also up to him to reveal himself if he wishes. I have removed his name and contact info from the discussion.
The problems I have with the KCA are as follows:
1. Christians assume it is their god with no evidence. Indeed all religions seem to assume that the universe began with their god and only their god. Since we have no way to tell which god it is, there is no reason to think that any theists are right. Some vague deism may be an answer but that is not what WLC and Christian apologists are claiming. For their claim to be completed, it *must* be their version of the Christian god.
2. It is special pleading in that they must claim that their god is not bound by the restriction that *everything* must have a creator. There is no evidence that this is the case or that gods exist at all.
3. There is nothing that indicates that things cannot be infinitely regressive. Philosophers make claims, but I am looking for evidence, not navel gazing.
4. A beginning has not been demonstrated to need an intelligent actor. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – the Kalam Cosmological Argument, part 1”