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;
Therefore:
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;
    Therefore:
    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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7 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.

  2. 1. Getting something out of a field of seeming nothing, without breaking conservation of energy is only possible because the field is not in fact absolutely nothing. Getting something from absolutely nothing is completely impossible both logically and materially. You are getting mixed up with your nothings.
    2. Are you saying that cause and effect does not apply to all things “natural” i.e as per the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics? How do you then account for a first cause naturally – or are you slipping in a natural supernatural on the sly? The first event or thing is within the composition of your notion of the framework, and it causes problems for both the 1st and 2nd laws – it is not therefore a fallacy of composition.
    3. This is just a perversion of the way a logical argument can be used to deduce something; it is your tricksey re-arrangement which makes it circular. The point is because you know something C for sure about A, if you can prove that b is in A then C must be true about b as well. By this argument has exactly the same form as your alternative everything, everything, everything – is non sense.
    4. ?see 3.
    5. But there would be sequence in the spiritual realm (or of ideas if you like) and you can’t have an infinite regression of those in the spiritual realm either. There must therefore be one originator to stop the problem of invoking infinite regression which is not a real possibility. Only come back to me on this point after you have actually finished counting to infinity, i.e. either spiritually in your head or using physical counters.
    6. See 5.) This is because there is sequence both according to the 2nd law materially but also in logic or philosophy from premise to conclusion from one idea to the next. So first cause and infinite regression is a problem for both – Come on keep up!
    7. The only problem with the Kalaam is that its subsequent description after point 3.) on the nature of the cause is inadequate. It still does not avoid the problem of infinite regression (of ideas and acts of will) properly. In effect it is just kicking the can which it supposedly solves for the natural down the road. Neither does it establish the credentials of God as a necessary brute fact, like for example the physical constants which must just be accepted at their value – because that is what you need to explain everything else. Brute facts are a special case where circular reasoning or just sheer assertion is justified; but the fact that something meets the strict limitation for assertion as brute fact needs to be clearly enunciated both for the naturalist and the theist who both need an uncaused cause to avoid the impossibility of infinite regression. The fact that the Kalaam is weak in its subsequent descriptions of the nature of the first cause does not mean it could not be improved to meet that weakness.

    1. 1. The nothingness that’s been discovered by science is much emptier than what ancient Middle Eastern tribesmen could conceive of. So, it’s not the nothingness that’s your problem here, it’s the scientific discovery of virtual particles in quantum vacuum that seems to disturb you.
      If you disagree with it, go ahead and disprove it scientifically, but injecting an emotional response, mixed with philosophical vagaries isn’t going to get you there.
      2. The cause of the framework is not contained within the framework. You seem to be conflating things here.
      3. You seem to have failed to grasp the point here. If the deity you believe in exists, it is, to the extent of its existence, a part of everything that exists. You cannot arbitrarily decide that even though it exists, it somehow is OUTSIDE of everything that exists. It may have existed before the rest of the stuff that came later, but it still belongs in the category of everything that exists (that is, if it actually does exist, of course).
      5. Hahah… Are you trying to be serious here???
      “The spiritual realm”???
      “Only come back to me on this point after you have actually finished counting to infinity”???
      Please “only come back” when you have a logically coherent reply.
      6. Considering the fact that you have so beautifully illustrated my original point with your previous “spiritual realm”, I rest my case.

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