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The Cosmological Proof
• The previous Cosmological Proof we
examined seeks to prove that, even if the
spacio-temporal universe had no
beginning in time, it, nevertheless, still
requires a supernatural Creator.
• The spacio-temporal universe still
requires a supernatural Creator because,
it must be sustained, at every moment of
its existence, by a supernatural,
independently existing, Creator.
• Another type of Cosmological Proof attempts
to show that the spacio-temporal universe
has not always existed, that it began to exist
at some finite time in the past, and, as a
result, it requires a supernatural Creator.
• This type of Cosmological Proof is usually
called the Kalam Proof. Kalam is an ancient
Sanskrit word meaning ‘time.’ It has this
name because this argument conceives of
time as created reality.
• The Kalam proof was first developed, in a
sophisticated way, by the great Islamic
philosophers of the First Millennium.
• William Lane Craig develops a version of
the Kalam Proof in his article
“Philosophical and Scientific Pointers to
Creatio ex Nihilo”
• In this article, Craig adduces both
philosophical (metaphysical) and scientific
evidence in support of three claims:
– Claim A: The spacio-temporal
universe began to exist at a finite time in
the past.
– Claim B: Consequentially, the spaciotemporal universe was brought into
existence by a Supernatural Being.
– Claim C: The spacio-temporal
universe was created through the free
choice of a personal Supernatural
Being, i.e. the spacio-temporal
universe is not the result of some
deterministic, impersonal
supernatural force.
• Craig’s Second Philosophical Argument
for Claim A.
1.) The series of events in time is a
collection formed by adding one
member after another. (Premise)
2.) A collection formed by adding one
member after another cannot be
actually infinite. (Premise)
3.) Therefore, the series of events in
time cannot be actually infinite. (from
1. & 2.)
– Craig takes Premise No. 1 to be an
obvious truth
• The events in time (at least, not all of
them) do not happen
• (At least some) events in time
happen successively, one
happening after the other
– The case for Premise No. 2
• An actually infinite collection can
never be formed by one member of
the collection succeeding another.
• This is so because, since one can
always add another member to the
collection, one can never “arrive” at
• It is thus impossible to “traverse the
– “Imagine a man running up a
flight of stairs. Suppose every
time his foot strikes the top step,
another step appears above it. It
is clear that the man could run
forever, but he would never
cross all the steps because you
could always add one more
Craig Article, p. 5
• The only way an actually infinite
collection could exist is for all its
members to be brought into existence
• (Craig’s First Philosophical Argument
attempts to show, questions of origin
aside, the notion of an actually infinite
collection is an inherently incoherent
• Since the collection of events in time is
brought about (at least partially) by
adding successive events, one by one,
to those that have gone before, it cannot
be an actually infinite collection.
– “Suppose there were, for example,
an infinite number of days prior to
today. Then, today would never
arrive. For, it is impossible to cross
an infinite number of days to reach
today. But, obviously, today has
arrived. Therefore, we know that
prior to today, there cannot have
been an infinite number of days.
That means that the number of days
[before today] is finite and, therefore,
the universe had a beginning.”
Craig Article, p. 5
• Even philosophers who don’t like
this argument’s theistic implications
admit its strength.
– “If an infinite series of events has
preceded the present moment,
how did we get to the present
moment? How could we get to
the present moment — where we
obviously are now — if the
present moment was preceded by
an infinite series of events?”
John Hospers, An Introduction to
Philosophical Analysis, p. 434
– Having posed the question,
Hospers moves on without
answering it.
– He, thus, leaves Craig’s answer
to this question – “We can’t!” –
• Craig’s Scientific Evidence for Claim A
– In 1929 astronomer Edwin Hubble,
after whom the Hubble Telescope is
named, discovered that the universe
is expanding in all directions at the
same rate.
– The only way that the universe can
be expanding in all directions at the
same rate is if, at some finite time in
the past, the entire universe had been
a single, infinitely dense point.
– The initial expansion of this single,
infinitely dense point is known as the
“Big Bang.”
– Scientists’ best estimates indicate
the “Big Bang” happened 15 billion
years ago.
– Not only was all the matter of the present
spacio-temporal universe created by the
“Big Bang,” time and space itself were
created by it.
– Describing the entity out of which the “Big
Bang” emerged as an infinitely dense,
single point is tantamount to saying the
“Big Bang” emerged from nothing.
– This is so because an infinitely dense,
single point has no mass whatsoever;
therefore, it has no dimensions
whatsoever; therefore, it is nothing
– The Second Law of Thermodynamics
• This law states that a closed
system, i.e one in which energy
from outside the system is NOT
being added to the system, tends
toward a state of equilibrium.
– “For example, if I had a bottle
that was a sealed vacuum inside,
and I introduced into it some
molecules of gas, the gas would
spread itself out evenly inside
the bottle.
– “It is virtually impossible for the
molecules to retreat, for example,
into one corner of the bottle and
remain. This is why when you walk
into a room, the air in the room
never separates suddenly into
oxygen at one end and nitrogen at
the other.”
Craig Article, p. 8
• The spacio-temporal universe is a
closed system and, therefore, is
subject to the Second Law of
• Given what scientists estimate to be the
spacio-temporal universe’s current
density, it will arrive at what’s called
“heat death” by, essentially, burning
itself out.
• The gases found in all of the universe’s
galaxies will become stars that will then
burn out and become cold, dead
• The implication for the the present
discussion is obvious: Since this “heat
death” is the inevitable end of the
universe, if the universe is infinitely old,
why isn’t it in “heat death” right now?
• Since the universe is clearly not
presently in “heat death,” it cannot
be infinitely old.
• The Case for Claim B
– Since the spacio-temporal universe
began to exist, something already in
existence had to bring it into
– This follows from the corollary to
PSR – Ex Nihilo, Nihil Fit.
– The already existing being that brought
the spacio-temporal universe into
existence would have to be a
Supernatural Being because nature,
space, and time did not exist until the
spacio-temporal universe existed.
– Critique of Craig’s case
• Quentin Smith attempts to use
quantum physics to argue that the
spacio-temporal universe could have
emerged from literally nothing, with no
Supernatural Being’s bringing into
• Smith claims that, at the quantum
level, particles known as virtual
particles emerge from a quantum
vacuum. Thus, virtual particles are an
example of something’s coming from
• Craig’s reply
– A quantum vacuum is not, literally,
nothing. It is merely an area of
space in which the amount of
energy is so minimal that, in
principle, it cannot be measured.
– Given this minimal energy state,
stable particles cannot form;
nevertheless, the virtual particles that
do form for infinitesimally short
periods of time do not come from
– Thus, virtual particles are not
counter-examples to the principle En
Nihilo, Nihil Fit.
• Smith also attempts to use Heisenberg’s
Uncertainty Principle to show that the
spacio-temporal universe did not have to
be brought into existence. It could have
come into existence for no reason.
– According to this Principle, at
the quantum level, it is, in
principle, impossible to predicate
both the position and momentum
of a particle at t2, given what you
know about it at t1.
– Smith argues that, since one
cannot predict the total existence
of a quantum particle at t2, given
its total existence at t1, there is
not a sufficient reason explaining
the particle’s existence at t2.
– The Uncertainty Principle, thus,
shows that PSR is false and,
therefore, one cannot appeal to
PSR, or to a corollary of it, to
prove that the spacio-temporal
universe was brought into
• Craig’s response:
– “Smith assumes uncritically the
positivistic equation between
predictability in principle and
[sufficient reason].
– “But, this . . . analysis is clearly
untenable, as should be obvious
from the coherence of the
position that quantum
indeterminacy is purely
epistemic, there existing hidden
variables which are, in principle,
unobservable . . . . Clearly, then
to be [‘without sufficient reason’]
does not mean, even minimally
to be ‘in principle unpredictable.’”
Craig in the Phillips Anthology, p. 146
– In other words, in principle
unpredictability does not prove
that some entities lack sufficient
reasons explaining why they
– Rather, in principle
unpredictability, at most, proves
that the sufficient reasons for the
existence of some things, in
principle, cannot be (fully)
known, at least by any finite
– Thus, the Uncertainty Principle
does not prove PSR is false and
both it and its corollaries may be
used to prove that the spaciotemporal universe was brought
into existence.
• The Case for Claim C.
– “[T]here must be an absolutely first
event, before which there was no
change, no previous event. We have
seen that this first event was caused.
– “But the question then is: How can a
first event come to exist, if the cause
of that event is always there? Why
isn’t the effect as eternal as the
cause? It seems to me that there is
only one way out of this dilemma.
That is to say that the cause of the
universe is personal and chooses to
create the universe in time. In this
way God could exist changelessly
from eternity, but choose to create the
world in time.
– “By ‘choose’ I do not mean God changes
His mind. I mean God intends from
eternity to create a world in time. Thus,
the cause is eternal, but the effect is not.
God chooses from eternity to create a
world with a beginning; therefore, a world
with a beginning comes to exist. Hence,
it seems to me that the only way a
universe can come to exist is if a
Personal Creator of the universe exists.
And, I think we are justified in calling a
personal creator of the universe by the
name ‘God.’”
Craig Article, p. 10
– Clearly, the Supernatural Creator of
the entire spacio-temporal universe
would have to be, if not all-powerful,
very powerful and, if not all-knowing,
very knowing.
– What’s more, since the the
Supernatural Creator of the spaciotemporal universe does not seem to
derive any benefit from His act of
creation, He would appear to be, if
not omnibenevolent, very benevolent.
– Someone might point out that just
because there WAS once a
Supernatural Creator of the spaciotemporal universe does not mean He
STILL exists.
– Response
• Lacking evidence that He died, one
should believe the Supernatural
Creator continues to exist.
• One may also rely on the first
Cosmological Proof for the continued
existence of the Supernatural Creator.