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The Kalam Cosmological Argument and Responses



Thegreatestquestionthatone can ask is“howdidanythingthatisaround comeintoexistence?”AllfieldsofstudyhavejoinedhandsintoseekinganswersthequestionandoneoftheargumentsproposedhasbeentheKalamCosmologicalargument.TheKalamCosmologicalargumentprovidesthatbysupportingthefactthattheuniverseatsomepointbegantoexistshowsthattheworldinitselffailstostandoutasanecessarybeingandassuchdoesnotofferasoundbasisfortheself-explanatoryastoitsbeginning.Inthecontemporaryworld,everythingthathappenstoexistmustessentiallyhaveacauseandassuch,asupernaturalcauseastotheexistenceofouruniverseoughttobevalidthroughsomeformofexplanation. In fact, theargument acts as a deviation of the cosmological contention thatcontends for the actuality of God as the source for the universe. Theargument has its origins in the primitive Muslim thinkers but has adirect connotation to the theologians of the Sunni custom. Inaddition, the argument has historical exponents in the forms of AlGhazali, Ali-Kindi, St. Bonaventure, and Saadia Gaon. ThisresearchpaperseekstolookintopossibleargumentsinsupportoftheKalamcosmologicalargumentaswellasresponsesfromscholarsofphilosophyonthesubject.


Theargument, titled after the Kalam custom of Islamic expansive thinkingthrough which it was expressed offers meaning to words, discourse,and discussion. Al-Kindi first presented the cosmological argument,which Al-Ghazali, Thomas Aquinas, and Ibn Rushd later refined. Theargument found its way into the Christian religion throughBonaventure. However, the argument has another argument apart fromthe argument of existence where the premise holds to the conceptionof an originator, a conception also pronounced by Averroes. Thepremise held that a motion must cause another motion and vice versabut where there exists a prime mover or an originator that sets theother things into motion. As the premise, contends, everything, whichoriginates has a source for its foundation currently the world is anactuality which begins then, it holds a source for its foundation1.

Theargument has two Islamic perspectives that supports or critics theargument. The negative reaction offers a strong criticism to theargument while a positive Aristotelian reaction supports the premisestrongly. In this regards, such positive Aristotelians as Averroesand Ali-Kindi support the argument while Muhammad Iqbal andAl-Ghazali opposes the argument strongly. The supporters introduce apremise of the existence of God as founded upon virtuously pragmaticevidences but the opponents of the argument such as Al-Ghazaliopposes the argument based on its cause theory. In fact, Ali-Ghazaliargues that if a cause or a source has a source and so on, one wouldhave an infinite regress of sources, which would be impossible. Assuch, it is significant to look at the argument in both sides i.e.support and criticism to understand its meaning.


Thisargumentprovidesthatthereisagivenpointintimeinwhichtheuniversebegantoexist.However,goingbackwardstothispointintimehasremainedachallengeformanyscholarsasmuchastherehavebeengreatscientificandtechnologicaladvancesintherecentpast.People have said that the argument may have its original formulationsfrom themonotheistreligionsofIslam,JudaismandChristianityinanattempttodiscredit theeternityofmatterdoctrineasprovidedbyGreekmythology.The doctrine of the eternity of matter simply states that sinceeverything is already in existence, the reason as to why things cameinto being needs no explanation as what is already is.

TheKalam cosmological argument as postulated by Craig (1991, 85-96) as2

1. Everything in existence has a valid cause of its existence. 2. The universe first began to be existence. 2.1 Argument showing the impossibility of an actual infinite.2.11 An actual infinite cannot exist. 2.12 An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.2.13 Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist. 2.2Argument based on the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition. 2.21 A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite. 2.22 The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition. 2.23 Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

Critically delving into the firststatement, `Everything in existence has a valid cause of itsexistence.` One can provide that as the sun is there, its cause forits existence is the coming into being of all planets and othermatter in space around it. That is, the 9 planets and asteroid beltthat exist in the solar system. As such, it is possible to concludethat the other elements of the solar system derive their existencefrom the existence of the sun. As such, the universe has to have apoint to which it comes into existence. According to astrophysicists,the universe is continually expanding as it did at the very point ofits coming into existence. The point of the universe coming intobeing as provided by astrophysicists is not as defined by themonotheist religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It is basedon scientific facts, which define the existence of the universe asbeing because of the Big Bang Theory.

At the very beginning of theuniverse, it is presupposed that it was quite tiny and maybe couldhave been smaller than the hydrogen atom. As such, the amount ofenergy within the universe at its conception is believed to have madethe temperature of the atom to be quite high to the trillions andtrillions of degrees. According to the laws of physics, at suchtemperatures energy and matter are believed to be interchangeable.Einstein provided that matter be in essence just a little bit morecongealed state of energy. This presents scholars of the Big bangTheory with the same densely concentrated flux of both matter andenergy, which are in a continuous state of interchangeability similarto the degree of chaos reflected in the numerous traditional mythsrelating to the creation story. The modern account of the Big BangTheory provides that the universe expanded at speeds which humanbeings cannot possibly conceive and thus the resultant rate ofexpansion brought about the very first distinct differences whichdeveloped into the very first patterns.

From the argument providedabove, one can clearly deduce that the second statement, `theuniverse begun to exist` is the strongest of the three and the othertwo simply seek to support it. Sub statement 2.1 serves to supportthe second statement such that actual infinite cannot possibly existif the universe indeed came into existence at some point. An actualinfinite provided in sub-statement 2.11 essentially implies that theset of numbers in a given collection at one point reaches a finitestate. That is it cannot progress further and with regard with theexistence of the universe this would in essence present an infinitepossibility of untold absurdities. Sub-statement 2.12 supportsstatement 2 in that before the universe came into being, there musthave been past events which are essentially actual infinite in thatthey have an end as they had no possible way of explaining their ownbeginning. Sub-statement 2.13 is in essence a logical means withwhich to support statement 2. This is because there is no possibleset of events, which can be attributed to prior to its coming intoexistence follows that the universe simply began to exist.

The second supportingsub-statement for statement two provides that distinctly differs fromthe first supporting sub-statement 2.21 such that, it highlights theimpossibility of explaining the existence of the universe on thebasis of successive additions on an actual infinite. Sub-statement2.22 supports statement two in that, since it is not possible toreach infinity, it is also impossible to count backwards frominfinity to the present day state of the universe. As such, theuniverse came into being in a manner that cannot be expressed withutmost clarity3.Though time towards getting to infinity is in itself infinite, thepossibility of reaching such a point is unattainable. Sub-statement2.3 serves to stem v from sub-statements 2.21 and 2.22. It purportsthat if the beginning of the universe` existence cannot be tracedback to a finite moment in time, the present point in time could nothave been in the least, remotely possible.

Responsesto the Kalam Cosmological Argument

Responseby Professor J. L. Mackie

Professor Mackie did not supportthe Kalam cosmological argument and provided that sub-statement 2.2failed to incorporate the very nature of actual infinity. Thissub-statement provides, as it is impossible to count backwards frominfinity to the present and the present has already reached todaythen the absurdity is indeed real. Professor Mackie on the other handprovided that the absurdities realized by Craig could be resolved.This he proposed that by considering infinite sets as components of agreater infinite set, then there is now way in which the parts can begreater than the whole. This is not possible for infinite sets thoughthis holds true for finite sets. Similarly, one can argue out that ifinfinite sets can be equated to have similar characteristics asfinite sets, then the perceived absurdity can be eliminated. If anumber of infinite sets can be viewed in this manner then a propersubset of infinite members can have the same number of parts as thewhole thus eliminating the absurdity in 2.11 as provided for byCraig.

However, one can logically deducethat Professor Mackie`s assumptions tend to move away from thereality as the infinite set theory offers results which are not onlyideally incredible but also leads to a cases of infinite absurdities.For instance, infinity can never be reached at since when one nearsinfinity another set of numbers precede what is purported as the lastnumber. In essence as one reaches infinity, the further way frominfinity, one becomes and as such Craig provides that this is thenature of God`s existence.

According to Craig, ProfessorMackie view on this matter presupposing the consideration of aninfinitely distant beginning point has no philosophical or scientificbasis. The character, which has no point of initiation on theinfinite set, tends to imply that the entire series only seeks tocompound the complexity of its subsequent formation via successiveaddition. It is therefore important to point out the fact that it isnot at the least remotely feasible for one to relate with anypossible essence of a beginning. As such, even for a remotely andinfinitely distant start point only serves to compound a problem thatis not present to begin with. Therefore, for a point that begins atany juncture in the expansive and infinite past provides that therecan be only one finitely temporal distance through to what is now thepresent and as such can be disregarded as being irrelevant. It isalso important to point out that the point of contention lies notwith how any possible finite part of a temporal series is formed, butrather on how the entire infinite series can formulated. As such,one can further argue that Professor Mackie fails to comprehend thatsince each segment within the series can be realized throughsuccessive addition does not necessarily imply that the entire seriescan be thus formed in a similar manner.

In essence, one can argue insupport of William Craig that it is not possible to have no positivephilosophical argument towards a rational basis to compel support forall seemingly rational individuals. This is due to the fact that,there exist procedural constraints on revisiting stated beliefs whichactually constitute rationality. As such, these sufficiently serve toconstrain chosen sets of beliefs adopted by reasonable individuals.This implies that there has to be some alternate conception as to thevirtue held in provided arguments. One can therefore deduce that anargument can be considered to be rational on a provisional basis andmore so serve as compelling to a select audience in the instance itis perceived as a logically compelling argument. As such, if itcontinues to begin at the premises for which intended audiences seethemselves as conforming. The intended audience would rather holdsuch a conclusion as true other than surrender a proposed premisewhile keeping all canons of rationality true.

Responseby Adolf Grunbaum

Grunbaum,(1990) (1991) seems to doubt the statement that the universe began toexist. He provides that in the context of the scientificallyacclaimed Big Bang Theory commonly accepted as the basis of theexistence of the universe, there are two probable causes4.A big bang theory model closed at the very instant of the Big Bangsuch that time is zero such that this represents the location of asingular, temporally first event in the history of the universe. Thesecond model according to Grünbaum considers an open at the veryinstant of the Big Bang theory where time is also zero whereby thisis not the only first temporal event in the universe` history.

Withregard to the first model, Grünbaum postulates that it may beerroneous to suggest that were events occurring prior to the big bangtheory instant where time (t) is zero5.As Craig provides, if x comes into being, then x should not beanalyzed as &quotx comes into existence at time t and as such thereis the possibility of their occurring other times (t-1) prior towhich x did not exist. As such Craig is careful to point out thatprior to t at which x came into being there existed no time t6.God`s existence is therefore timeless and as such His existenceresulted in the coming into being of the universe.

        1. Conclusion

Thetruth highlighted in premises (1) and (2) logically leads us tobelieve in premise (3) such that our universe does indeed have acause for its coming into being. In fact, it is important to pointout that it is possible for a plausible argued is as a result of somepersonal Creator, in other words God. This is supported by thebelief that with what other means could it be possible to have atemporal effect stemming from some eternal cause? If such a causewere as simple as a mechanically functioning set of optimizedconditions existing from a point in eternity, then on what basiswould such an effect not exist from eternity? Indeed, the cause ofthe universe to come into being may will from a single point ineternity to create some temporal effect, such that the causativeagent realizes no change because of the existence or coming intobeing of the universe.

Assuch, the very first cause resulting into the coming into being ofthe universe is the presence of the Creator, God7.Therefore, the basis of philosophical arguments as well as scientificconfirmation provides it is plausible that the universe indeed beganto exist. The opponents of the argument raise several objections thatdo not hold since they fail to have a conclusive basis. In one oftheir objections, the opponents commit a four-stint fallacy wherethey maintain that the source in the first premise of the argumentdiffers with the conclusive premise i.e. they argue that the firstpremise refers to a predictable cause while the concluding premiserefers to an inestimable source. Such an argument is overly wrongsince the arguments of the Kalam point to the finite and infinitecause. Although the critics have raised numerous attempts todiscredit the argument none of their argument holds truth. Therefore, based on the KalamCosmological Argument, one can conclude the rational train of thoughtwould be to hold on the belief God is in actual existence.


      1. Craig, William Lane.&quotThe Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe.&quot Truth: A Journal of Modern Thought 3 (1991): 85-96.

Grünbaum,Adolf. &quotThe Pseudo-Problem Of Creation In Physical Cosmology&quotin Leslie, J. (ed.) PhysicalCosmology And Philosophy.New York: MacMillan (1990):92-112.

Grünbaum,Adolf. &quotCreation As A Pseudo-Explanation In Current PhysicalCosmology&quot Erkenntnis35 (1991):233-254.

Mackie,John L. The Miracle ofTheism (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1982), 93.

      1. 1 William Lane, Craig.&quotThe Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe.&quot Truth: A Journal of Modern Thought 3 (1991),86.
      1. 2 Craig, William Lane.&quotThe Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe, 86.

3 Ibid

4 Adolf, Grünbaum. &quotThe Pseudo-Problem Of Creation In Physical Cosmology&quot in Leslie, J. (ed.) Physical Cosmology And Philosophy, 93

5 Adolf, Grünbaum. &quotCreation as a Pseudo-Explanation in Current Physical Cosmology&quot Erkenntnis, 235

6 John L, Mackie. The Miracle of Theism Oxford: Clarendon Press, 93.

7 Mackie, John L. The Miracle of Theism, 93