I'm interested to hear the thoughts of the community on this. I'm not quite sure I agree with the merit of his first premise. Sure, it's axiomatically stable, but as a factual statement, I don't think it holds much more water than the argument that something cannot come from nothing, as it, in a similar form, lacks an ability to be demonstrated. I agree with it, but I feel like this shifts the burden of proof unnecessarily. I think then, that it creates a house of cards of his argument, as the conclusion is negated if the premise is brought to question.
Anyone have any thoughts on this?
There's several problems with the Kalam Cosmological Argument, almost all of them associated with the fact that our language is horrendously inadequate to talk about metaphysics, and that it causes us to smuggle hidden assumptions into our logical arguments without realizing where.
For instance, "Everytime I put some extra force onto a moving object, it gains a bit of speed. A photon is an object that's travelling at the speed of light. Thus if I were to add some force to a photon, it will proceed to break the speed of light. Ergo, the speed of light is limit on velocity. Q.E.D."
It's pretty much impossible to defeat this argument without relying on what we've actually observed about the speed of light. The hidden assumption above is that increasing velocity also makes time slow down (general relativity) and you'd need more and more energy to increase the speed of an object (and eventually: infinite energy). But you'd never know that unless you knew about general relativity.
The Kalam -short as it is- has a lot of sloppy language that should make us suspect similar hidden assumptions.
The Universe had a beginning? Well, define beginning of the universe. It's true that we've established that the universe had a moment of rapid expansion from what was already there (probably an environment of zero energy), but does that mean that that was its "beginning"? Possibly it was a natural result of the laws governing that zero energy space, in which case the real "beginning" would have been whenever the advent of these laws started -if such a question even makes sense.
Everything that begins to exist has a cause? Well, define begins to exist. A recombination of matter isn't quite the same as a "beginning" of the universe or the advent of natural laws in a zero-energy space. The equivocation here is dangerous and was precisely the reason the light-speed argument failed.
And there's more problems with the Kalam. Craig has admitted that his language only makes sense if the universe operates according to an A-theory of time. Getting into what that means would take us too far, but suffice to say that virtually all physicists since Einstein disagree and think the universe works under the B-theory of time. If this is in fact true, the Kalam also collapses.
And then even if we accepted the Kalam, the only thing we'd have proven is that this universe has a cause; we can't actually get anything from that. Maybe the cause is the multiverse. And to prove that that has a cause, we'd have to prove that the multiverse has a beginning, which is totally impossible at this point.
So is the Kalam correct? Maybe. Maybe not. We don't really know at this point, and the only people who would claim to know, are those who have already made up their mind about the underlying proposition (i.e. a God). As I like to say "It's not likely to convince anyone who wasn't determined to reach at a given conclusion to begin with".
"It's not likely to convince anyone who wasn't determined to reach at a given conclusion to begin with".
I really believe that this pretty much sums it up. I would have more to add, but I think I'm on board with all of your statements here. My knowledge regarding time theories isn't something I've invested much into, but of the 3 that I'm familiar with, B-Theory is the most intriguing to me, and (seems to be) the most in-tune with relativity. I've watched one of WLC's lectures on debunking the B-Theory of time, but I wasn't satisfied that he did much more than indulge "common sense" in his argument. Another let down from the master, if you ask me.
It is the major premise that causes the deepest trouble: everything that begins to exist has a cause.
This is a statement about the state of the world which establishes a very general premise in metaphysics. Even if it were true of everything in our experience, it still might fail for something not within our experience. In other words it is a gigantic assumption. By its very nature it cannot be verified, but it is expected to be accepted as a reasonable assumption.
The minor premise is not without difficulty as well. It relies on the assumption that there was a time when the universe did not exist. Many will think this is what the Big Bang asserts, but it isn't. In the Big Bang time and space begin together and the space-time continuum in which we exist is the universe. Consequently there is in the Big Bang theory no time at which the universe did not exist, even though the universe has a finite age. Of course the Big Bang theory may be only one possibility, but that is enough—it is a possibility in which the minor premise of the Kalam argument does not hold.
Interesting point - for me, the second premise is actually the more problematic of the two, simply by virtue of the massive presuppositions inherent within. We have, of course, determined that the idea of time without the fabric of space is incoherent to our understanding, and that when the fabric of space began, so to came time with it. I generally am satisfied with the assertion that time could simply be defined as matter subject to motion, but that's for another time. My problem always seems to boil down to our inability to interpret the infinitude of the big bang. We simply cannot make any testable predictions or valuable postulations to an arbitrarily limitless degree in this case. To my way of thinking, it's equally sensible to say "the universe was always here" as it is to say "the big bang was the 9 billionth consecutive big bang" or "god did it" or "a spaghetti monster did it then vanished, but he'll be back one day".
I think there is also a problem with the notion of cause itself—what it is in ordinary circumstances encapsulated in ordinary language loses all its meaning when you speak of the entire universe having a cause outside the universe and of necessity immaterial.
Definitely so - the whole conversation is ineffable in many cases, and yet I almost can't resist pondering it nevertheless. It's almost as though seeing my own ignorance makes me even more curious to know, and yet I realize it's almost certain that I never will. Quite a conundrum.
Sometimes a "thought experiment" clarifies. Here is one a primitive tribe might easily hold since it mirrors nature as we know it.
Suppose for the sake of argument there are two supernatural spirits, one male and one female, and that a universe is created when they come together in cosmological intercourse.
Then you have two gods so to speak, neither a creator, and the cause of a universe is their coming together, an event. And what's more there might be multiple universes created in this way.
Is anything in that hypothetical notion prevented by the Kalam argument as stated?
Exactly - that's precisely what I meant earlier. Theists use the Kalam almost in the exact same way that they'll try to use "proofs" against the theory of evolution. Even IF we can get to a point where there was ample evidence for the Kalam, there still exists an enormous leap one must make to then determine that a god had anything to do with it. The formula can be written in virtually countless ways, with only one of them pointing to a monotheistic deity named "Yahweh". They have a lot of work cut out for them still...