1

I was introduced to the Kalam Cosmological Argumant the other day (I know, late to the party), and it struck me that there seems to be a rather simple critique that I couldn't find an accounting of. It leaves me wondering where I'm going wrong, because my issue with the KCA is fairly obvious, and I'm by no means a professional philosopher, so I'm wondering what the response is.

In a nutshell, to say an object -begins- to exist necessarily implies that it exists in the universe, where time, and therefore 'beginning', is a meaningful construct. The universe can not be said to exist inside itself - it is the container for objects, not an object itself. So, if the first premise of the KCA argument, "Whatever begins to exist has a cause;" is intent on including the universe in the class of "Whatever", then it presupposes that the universe is an object contained within a higher dimensional universe where time there is a meaningful construct. In this manner, the KCA fails to avoid an infinite regress.

Here is a way restating the KCA to illustrate the problem (understand that it isn't formally equivalent to KCA):

I) All objects in a bucket were placed there

II) A bucket is in A bucket

III) A bucket was placed there

Our best explanation for the general relativity's experimentally verified results is that time is actually tied up with space into a 4D block of stuff, and it is tenseless, meaning that our experience of an uncertain future is an illusion. The future and that past are fixed.

In this framework, it is meaningful to say that something 'begins to exist' if, and only if, you are referencing that something's world-line. The 'world-line' is the term in SR (and GR) that describes a point's geometrical shape as it is within the bounds of the 4-dimensional block universe - as it is in time. You can point to the beginning (or end, it doesn't matter) of that shape and say that it -begins- in time a point t = x. You can not do this with the bounds of the universe itself, even though the extent of those bounds vary with respect to time. So, while we can rewind clock back to the the point of the big bang, the first point of time, you cannot rewind further. So to say that an object in time at point t = 0 begins to exist and has a cause necessitates a point t = -1 when it did not exist. This is nonsensical. Causality is a time-dependent phenomenon; it works at the speed of light. It requires two separate points in time to be coherent.

So formally stated:

I) Time is a property of a universe

II) Objects exist within a universe

III) Objects exist in time

The only way to reconcile the above with KCA is to do the following:

I) Time is a property of a universe

II) A universe exists within a universe

III) A universe exists in time

Hence, infinite regress. What am I missing?

  • "begins to exist" is the trick. God exists but never "begins" to exist. So God is exempt from needing a cause. It's a disingenuous argument. – user4894 Oct 22 '18 at 18:15
  • I don't think we need to bring an external 'uncaused cause' into it. I'm simply stating that the statement: 'the universe begins to exist and has a cause', is nonsensical, and why I think so. I'm looking for a rebuttal; there must be one. – Michael Curtiss Oct 22 '18 at 18:26
  • I would agree with your conclusion that this idea is nonsensical - unless 'Universe' is defined as 'that which exists and is caused'. Either way we are back to turtles on turtles. . . – PeterJ Oct 23 '18 at 12:47
1

This is a rehashment of B-theory critique of Kalaam Cosmological Argument. Look it up. There are various articles on it. The only difference is you are characterizing the universe as a container; whereas, it is generally characterized as a block. As far as criticisms of your argument, there are numerous. Just google B-theory of time and Kalaam Cosmological Argument. You will find the original version and also its defenses and criticisms.

Readings:

  • Wikipedia "Kalaam Cosmological Argument", particularly Modern debate section.

  • The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology.

  • A Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument and the B-Theory of Time, by Curtis John Metcalfe (University of Missouri-St. Louis)

  • 1
    Ah, thanks. I would upvote if I had the rep. – Michael Curtiss Oct 22 '18 at 19:33
  • 1
    I upvoted, but I wonder if you have a particular article that you might recommend among the many out there. – Frank Hubeny Oct 22 '18 at 21:34
  • @FrankHubeny you always ask for more reference lol. I thought it is easy to google, that is why I avoided it. Anyways, I added some more readings. Thanks for the input. – Bertrand Wittgenstein's Ghost Oct 22 '18 at 21:45
  • 1
    It is easy, but you have familiarity with these references and I don't. The same may be true with other users. Thanks for the listing! – Frank Hubeny Oct 22 '18 at 21:55
  • 1
    @FrankHubeny You are absolutely right, and I appreciate it. That said, If you really want to read a logically rigorous examination of Kalaam, then Blackwell is definitely a must-read. – Bertrand Wittgenstein's Ghost Oct 22 '18 at 22:02

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.