So far, "On Guard" has laid the important groundwork for understanding the pitfalls atheism faces right out of the gate. Not only does atheism fail to produce meaning, purpose, and values (see post "Absurdity of Life Without God"), but it also falls short in the areas of philosophy and reason, as atheism fails to produce an explanation of the universe - unless "inexplicability" is considered a good explanation (see post "Why Does Anything At All Exist?"). At the same time, Craig spent the previous chapter showing how God is a viable explanation for the universe, God maintains the explanatory property of necessity, and is the only explanation with explanatory power apart from entities like abstract objects, which are not viable options for reasons addressed elsewhere.
Kalam Cosmological Argument
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause
Readers who have familiarized themselves with the previous chapter should notice that if we show that the universe has a cause, atheists are out of the game. Craig showed in the previous chapter how atheists cannot and largely do not adhere to causation of the material universe. So if the Kalam is successful, it is another win for the argument for God. As with the previous argument, this line of reasoning is perfectly valid. IF the premises are true, the conclusion MUST follow. The only way to prove the argument is wrong is to disprove or create significant doubt about one of the two premises of the argument. The video below will briefly run through the argument, and prepare you for some of the major points that will be brought up in the rest of the post.
Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause
It seems utterly intuitive that something cannot come from nothing. We have no examples of this, ever. To deny premise one, then, seems utterly absurd. If a leaf falls, something caused it to do so. The thing that caused the leaf to fall was likewise caused by something else. The chain of causation goes on and on and on. Things do not happen or come into being without a cause (personal, natural, or necessary).
At this point, atheists usually cite subatomic fluctuations in a vacuum as examples of particles coming into being out of nothing. However, there is a fallacy of equivocation here, as when physicists are speaking of this vacuum, they are talking about a sea of energy, not a vacuum devoid of anything. So even these virtual particles are coming from something. In the video below, you can get a glimpse at how vacuous such language and ideas are. Lawrence Krauss prides himself on being the spokesperson for defining nothing, and says that science determines this definition. I am unsure what scientists use to measure how much nothingness there is. But as Krauss - the leading scientific expert on nothing - speaks, you can hear contradiction after contradiction.
- Krauss argues that nothing is very big and important, yet says philosophy and religion have contributed almost nothing to this discussion. By Krauss's definition of nothing, I'm wondering if that's a compliment or a derision.
- Space can be created by nothing...from quantum mechanical effects. So you need quantum mechanics. That's not nothing.
- The dominant energy of the universe...resides in empty space. Well then I guess space isn't empty.
- The universe will become cold, dark, and dead, and nothingness will reign supreme. If we still have the universe - as dead and cold as it may be, that's still something.
Premise 2: The Universe Began to Exist
While this premise is not quite as intuitive as the first, Craig selects several examples to make it pretty intuitive. The first line of reasoning is philosophical, along the lines of infinity, while the second line of reasoning focuses on scientific evidence.
Craig uses several examples to make his case, some of which are a bit complex. We will just address one of these examples - the most simple one. Imagine counting to infinity. Obviously, you would never arrive at the end. If we apply this to the universe, which is supposedly of an infinite age, we have to ask how we could have ever arrived at today? If it's impossible to arrive at infinity by counting in succession, how could we have ever arrived at today through an infinite series of successive, days? If I can't count backwards long enough to ever arrive at the beginning, how would I have ever started counting to infinity and arrived at today? It seems obvious, then, that the past is finite. For more examples, I recommend checking out the chapter, as well as checking out the video below.
Atheists try to avoid the beginning of everything by arguing either for a "big crunch," or a multiverse. The first line of thought says that while the universe exploded in a big bang, gravity will one day overcome the force of expansion and pull everything back in, where the cycle will start all over again. However, most scientists today recognize that the rate of expansion of the universe is increasing, and gravity will almost certainly be too weak to pull all matter back in.
The second line of reasoning, the multiverse, has little to no evidence for it at this time. In fact, if we have been birthed alongside or out of other universes, we have no access to them. We only have access to our universe. The notion of a multiverse is something that hangs almost solely on the motivation of escaping some other conclusion. Just as we saw with the atheist's go-to explanation for why the universe exists (it's inexplicable!), so those that cling to a mutliverse seemingly throw off evidence based conclusions and reason at this juncture. But even if they were right, and we did one day find evidence of a mutliverse, the problem of origins would still linger. Why does the multiverse exist, and how did we ever arrive at today if the multiverse is infinite? The multiverse still needs an explanation and has a beginning that must have a cause.