How to prove God exists: Kalam cosmological argument

Ok, I admit that “prove” here won’t be in the Cartesian, 100% without-a-doubt, sense that many empiricalists in our culture think is required before we can reasonably be said to “know” something is true. However, this time-tested argument will help you show your non-believing neighbor that your belief in God is not an irrational leap of faith.

This argument is simple and based on natural revelation which means it doesn’t require the other person to accept the authority or validity of the Bible beforehand. Interestingly enough, this also means that this argument isn’t the exclusive domain of Christianity. While it doesn’t point to a specific God, it does help establish the basis for the belief in God which is one of the biggest barriers to belief in our postmodern, philosophically naturalistic culture.

Kalam Cosmological Argument

This arguement has origins with Aristotle‘s arguement of the Prime Mover and as omnious as it may sound the arguement is quite effective, in part, for its simplicity. The general argument goes as follows:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause

2. The universe began to exist1

3. Therefore the universe had a cause

That’s it! There are obviously points to be made at each step to support and bolster each claim, but the general outline ought to be enough to answer a fundamental question of human existence that philosophical naturalism is at a loss  to answer which is: Why is there something rather than nothing?

This argument is heavily promoted by Dr. William Lane Craig and has been used with devastating effectiveness in many debates. For further reading on the subject I highly recommend visiting his site, reasonablefaith.org, for his free, in-depth, lectures. I also recommend his book “Reasonable Faith” where, in addition to the Kalam Cosmological Argument, Dr. Craig also explores several variations on the parent Contingency Argument and refutes some objections raised by noted theoretical astrophysicist,  Stephen Hawking.

Happy debating!

  1. This premise used to be a matter of pure speculation. However now it is bolstered by hard science. Specifically with the discovery of the Cosmic Red Shift and Cosmic Background Radiation []
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8 responses to “How to prove God exists: Kalam cosmological argument

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  2. #1 Causes can be natural as well. Atheists believe in causes as well, such as species adapting to environments over time.

    #2 It seems very probable that the Universe has a beginning, but only the universe as we see it today. We would have a hard time proving what it was or was not before it's current incarnation. It wasn't necessarily a "Something from nothing" it could have been a something from something else.

    #3 is a classical fallacy of transference, the association of cause and effect on one thing does not necessitate that relationship on another. Especially when it's very generalized. Similarities by relationship can improve your probabilities but do not guarantee they share the property.

    Additionally: I think a fundamental difference between religious and scientific debates is the absolute vs. the probability. Arguments are much more credible when they aren't claiming absolutes that cannot be proven. Most of these things cannot be proven by our current means, I cannot say your argument is categorically false, but from my perspective not probable.

  3. There are some things we can't claim as an absolute, but when it comes to logical concepts (like the simple fact that there can be no actual infinite sets, only theoretical infinite sets such as moments of time) we can claim certitude insofar as we know things naturally using our natural, physical, senses.

    #1 Causes can indeed be natural, but we are talking about what got everything going. What got it all going cant be natural simply because nothing natural existed (as Hawkins pointed out in his book 'A Brief History of Time').

    #2 Even if you bring in the oscillating universe theory you are still left with the law of entropy (which begs the question of where the energy came from that is required to sustain the oscillations) and the fact that in the oscillating universe model you still have the problem of an actualized infinite set of moments in time (which begs the question of how we ever got to this particular moment in time).

    #3 It's not an issue of transference so much as it is a logical conclusion of premises #1 and #2 being correct. In my estimation you can deny either premise (though the intellectual cost will be very high) but you can't escape the conclusion once you've accepted either of the two preceding premises.

    I didn't, in this argument, show that #3 necessitates a theistic God, but I'm sure you know that's where I'm heading 😉

    I forgot to add in my post above that this argument really works better as part of a series of arguments (which I'll hopefully be able to post here) that together build a rather compelling (in my opinion anyway) case for theism.

  4. Wes, how did you get from the conclusion of your syllogism ("Therefore the universe had a cause") to the title of your blog entry ("How to prove [the Christian] God exists")?

    • My apologies, the title was a bit overambitious. However, to remedy that I'll finish the argument out somewhat (there is more, but I'll try to be brief).

      1. If the universe had a cause it must be intangible and intelligent (because an effect cannot be greater than it's cause) and not dependent upon time in order to exist (since time is a construct of the present universe).
      2. The only things we know that fit the above criteria (not to mention a few others) are abstract concepts such as numbers

      Notice I didn't go into greater theological detail to describe whom this God may be (though you can probably guess where I'm heading) and whether you posit, as Dawkins does, aliens or, as some playfully suggest, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you are still left with an intelligent designer that meets the basic criteria of what we could call "god".

      The only thing left to do once we accept the universe had an initial cause and that that cause could not have been an impersonal force is to determine what that personal entity is and how we are to relate to it.

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