How to Debunk The Kalam Cosmological Argument

The original Kalam cosmological argument was developed by Islamic scholars in medieval times based on the Aristotelian “prime mover” idea. It comprises two premises and one conclusion:

Premise #1: Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;
Premise #2: The universe has a beginning of its existence;
Conclusion: The universe has a cause of its existence.
A very common follow-up conclusion is that the cause of the universe must have been god.


How to debunk it

  1. Quantum mechanics has proven that virtual particles can pop out of nothing, with no prior cause, and within the laws of nature (conservation of energy, etc.). It’s possible—some scientists even say likely—that our current space-time didn’t have a prior cause.
  2. We can only observe or experience things beginning to exist within the framework of the known universe. Trying to explain the origin of a framework based on things that are contained within it is a composition fallacy.
  3. It’s a false distinction to make a separation between the terms universe and everything. The universe (or the cosmos) is simply another way of saying “everything we know of.”
    When most people refer to the universe having a distinct beginning at the Big Bang, they’re actually talking about our current space-time, not the cosmos or universe. The definition of terms like universe or cosmos is “everything we know of.” When we discover something new, we don’t say that it’s outside of the universe, we add it to the rest of what we know—to our known universe or cosmos. Therefore, as soon as you substitute the interchangeable universe for “everything,” you’ll see that the Kalam argument is nothing but a circular and repetitive argument:
    Premise #1: Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;
    Premise #2: Everything has a beginning of its existence;
    Conclusion: Everything has a cause of its existence.
  4. You can just as easily make the same argument about god himself. Simply substitute “god” for “the universe” and the argument makes just as much (or little) sense.
  5. Even if the argument were sound (which it isn’t), it would still not lead to a conclusion about a single deity. There could just as easily be multiple deities, or a non-deity cause. Leaping to the conclusion that there must be a single personal deity is exactly that—a leap—or, in other words, a non sequitur conclusion.
  6. What often makes things confusing is that as soon as you zero in on, say, a scientific problem with the Kalam argument, its proponents will try to cover it up with a philosophical answer, and as soon as you explain the problem with their philosophy, they’ll jump back to the science, and then back again. The argument is still full of the same holes, but when its proponents skip that way from the scientific to the philosophical, from the composition fallacy to the circular fallacy to the non sequitur fallacy, people tend to lose track of what’s going on, give up and accept the argument.

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5 thoughts on “How to Debunk The Kalam Cosmological Argument

  1. Can something be both container and content? If what we see, the universe, is the contents how is it also the container

    1. I don’t know if I’d put it in terms of ‘container’ and ‘contents’. The universe, or the known universe, is an umbrella term for ‘everything we know about’. As such, it keeps expanding with our ever-expanding knowledge. Does this make it a container then, because it contains what we know? Not sure. Or does it make it the contents which keep multiplying? Also not sure. I’m not sure it’s useful to look at this issue through this dichotomy.

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