I imagine that anyone reading this has already encountered the famous Kalam cosmological argument, which goes like this:
- Everything which begins to exist has a cause
- The universe began to exist
- Therefore, the universe has a cause
"In fact, I think that it can be plausibly argued that the cause of the universe must be a personal Creator. For how else could a temporal effect arise from an eternal cause? If the cause were simply a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions existing from eternity, then why would not the effect also exist from eternity?"
This is, in fact, what I was attempting to get at in the second half of my last post (Philosophy of Religion, Part 2). I maintain the argument against a personal creator that I put forward in part 2, so I will not repeat it here. But if there is no personal creator, then, as Dr. Craig says above, why should not the universe exist from eternity? This is one of the reasons I like the B-theory of time, which states that the past and the future both exist "eternally," and that the passage of time only emerges from our perspective as creatures within this eternal structure. In fact, if the B-theory of time is true, then neither premise of the Kalam cosmological argument makes any sense, and the argument fails immediately. Craig does not address this fact in his essay.
I am told by my classmate that the B-theory of time is "fraught with problems," although I am not sure what those problems could be. It also might be possible to adapt the Kalam cosmological argument to apply even when the B-theory holds, i.e., an argument like
- Everything which is contingent has a necessary cause
- The universe is contingent
- Therefore, the universe has a necessary cause
Let's loop back to the original argument to make some more comments. Craig spends the bulk of the essay justifying premise (2), that the universe began to exist. The scientific evidence here is decisive and uncontroversial - yes, the big bang happened. But someone might object that the universe is part of an infinite series of expanding and contracting universes. This is implausible, given our current theories of physics. However, Dr. Craig wishes to sweep away any and all similar objections that appeal to a past temporal infinity by proving, in a logical argument, that actual infinities cannot exist. It goes like this:
- Actual infinities cannot exist
- An infinite temporal regress is an actual infinite
- Therefore, an infinite temporal regress cannot exist
Although I am skeptical of Dr. Craig's criticism of actual infinity, I still agree that a past temporal infinity is absurd. Craig makes a second argument to this effect:
- A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite
- The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition
- Therefore, the past is not an actual infinite
Finally, one might impeach premise (1), that everything which begins to exist has a cause. This is certainly true within the universe, but why should it be true for the universe itself? Craig takes premise (1) as completely obvious, and I think I do too. If something can come into existence uncaused, then why can't anything and everything do so? Why don't we see objects popping into existence uncaused? So I think I agree with Dr. Craig on this premise.