THE FAILURE OF THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
by Sencha Skene
The most popular argument from theists is usually some variety of the Argument from First Cause. It goes something like this:
The universe has a beginning. Everything that has a beginning has a cause. Therefore, the universe has a cause called God.
This is nothing more than an a priori argument. It may be reduced to:
There can't have been a universe that came from nothing. Therefore there must be a God (who came from nothing).
The Big Bang theory does not state that the universe suddenly came from nothing. The theory proposes that the Big Bang arose from a singularity. The singularity always existed. There was never a time when there was "nothing".
The first assumption in this line of reasoning is that time existed prior to the Big Bang. Most First Cause arguments are attempts to explain what happened "before" the Big Bang. The quick-and-easy answer is that there is no "before" the Big Bang. Einstein demonstrated that time is a function of space, and vice-versa. If there is no space, there is no time. It is impossible to speak of an event "before" time existed. Therefore the question, "What happened before the Big Bang?" is meaningless. As Stephen Hawking has pointed out, asking what happened "before" the Big Bang is like asking what is north of the North Pole.
The second assumption in most First Cause Arguments is that all things that have a beginning have a cause. To start with, the assumption that "every cause has an effect, and every effect has a cause," is not an assumption that can be demonstrated by observation. In order to state with authority that "every effect has a cause," you would have had to have observed every event that ever occurred in the history of the entire universe. Not only that, but you would have to prove that every cause and every effect in the history of the universe were linked in a cause-and-effect relationship.
As any freshman science student knows, causality is extremely difficult to demonstrate unless you are 100% certain that you"ve accounted for all the variables. A mantra in university science labs throughout the nation is, "Correlation does not prove causality." Another problem with this cause-and-effect idea is that quantum physics has demonstrated that not everything that occurs would have to have a cause. Quantum physicist Max Born (1882 - 1970) said:
"From the standpoint of our quantum mechanics, there is no quantity which causally fixes the effect of a collision in an individual event."
So there can be events for which there is no apparent cause! And of course, the next problem with First Cause arguments is obvious: If everything that exists must have a cause, what caused God? The problem is that if everything has a cause, then God needs a cause too. You can't get out of it by saying,
"Well, God is the one thing that didn't have a cause,"
because by that argument, you are
a). Admitting that there is at least one thing that didn't have a cause (thereby destroying the premise of the argument); or
b). Overlooking the fact that if something does not need to have a cause, that something might as well be the Universe as God; i.e., "The Universe is the one thing that didn't have a cause."
This may be illustrated using a basic example from symbolic logic.
Consider the following argument in symbolic logic, and tell me if you would agree or disagree:
If As are Bs
and if Bs are Cs
Then all As are Cs
Is that argument valid? Good.
Now, substitute the following values in the above valid argument:
For A="Things that exist"
For B="Things that are created"
For C="Things that require a Creator"
The argument then becomes:
All things that exist, are things that are created
All things that are created, are things that require a Creator. Therefore, all things that exist, are things that require a Creator
Now, most theists would probably agree with that argument, but they fail to realize that "all" means "ALL." So if a Creator is a thing that exists, then a Creator is a thing that is created. If you say that the Creator is the one thing that didn't need a creator, then the first premise above is no longer valid. If you are claiming that God didn't need a creator, then clearly "all" things that exist don't require a creator.
If even one premise of an argument is wrong, then the argument collapses. Special pleading (the need to make a single exception for this hypothetical God) is a special pleading fallacy, and destroys the argument. Therefore, the above argument is self-defeating, and useless as evidence of anything.
A lame attempt many apologists use in an attempt to do an end-run around this logic problem is to say that, "Everything that begins to exist has a cause. God didn't begin to exist, therefore god doesn't have a cause." This particular bit of lunacy is known at the Kalam Cosmological Argument, or the KCA. The KCA is nothing more than argument by definition. It's a type of circular logic:
"How do you know god didn't begin to exist?"
"Because things that begin to exist have a cause."
"How do you know god didn't have a cause?"
"Because he didn't begin to exist!"
While such fallacious logic might work in fundamentalist circles, you're going to have a hard time using such flimsy tactics to try to convince anyone who knows the basics of logic and reasoning. Fundamentalists like to say that it takes more faith not to believe in God than to believe in God. William of Ockham described the principle of parsimony. This principle states that there is no cause to needlessly multiply entities. What this means is that if you have two explanations that fit a given phenomenon, the one that makes the least assumptions is usually the correct one.
Christians have one more assumption than Agnostics or Atheists. That is, they assume the existence of a God or Gods who created the Universe. Agnostics and Atheists make no such assumption. Facts do not require faith but assumptions do. Therefore the more assumptions you make, the more faith is required. Therefore it takes more faith to believe in Christianity than it does not to.