This is my first rebuttal in my debate on the topic of the Kalam Cosmological Argument with the atheist known as Rosa Rubicondior. Rosa’s introductory post can be found here. I am aware that both Rosa and myself have blogged on this topic a number of times, so I agree that much of what was in both of our introductory posts would be repeats of what we have previously written. However I think the fun really begins at this stage in the debate.
I introduced the Kalam Cosmological Argument by defending each of the premises in this argument. Rosa replied to each of the premises and the conclusion, and now I will address each of the major objections with the following syllogism in mind:
1 – Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2 – The universe began to exist.
3 – Therefore, the universe had a cause.
Everything That Begins To Exist Has A Cause
I would not say that it is deceptive for a contemporary doctor of philosophy to hold to the law of causality, because it is firmly grounded in the most standard work in philosophy, and to deny it often leads to absurd conclusions. In my introductory post, I offered an argument defending this premise. I said, If it were the case that some things could appear, uncaused, out of nothing, it would become inexplicable why anything and everything did not just pop into being uncaused out of nothing. This is a point that I think Rosa was planning to respond to in a later rebuttal.
Instead, Rosa took the approach of offering arguments against this premise, saying that there is evidence of causeless events at the quantum level. However I would rebut that these are causally indetermined, and this is evidenced by Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle, which tells us both the momentum and the position of a quantum particle cannot be simultaneously known. That is not to say that these are causeless events, but rather that the cause is unknown. As the Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy points out, “It is true that, given Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty, we cannot precisely predict individual subatomic events. What is debated is whether this inability to predict is due to the absence of sufficient causal conditions, or whether it is merely a result of the fact that any attempt to precisely measure these events alters their status.”
Therefore I think that the mistake being made here is to conflate causeless events with undiscovered causes. While the cause of these events may be beyond our knowledge right now, that is not to say that we will never find a cause. It is my argument, though, that the claim there is no cause for these events is not available to us as an option.
Indeed, if it were, that would mean that the entire known universe just appeared uncaused out of nothing. This is a position that I do not even think that Rosa maintains, pointing out a number of possible causes for the universe, such as black holes, another universe, and so on.
Finally, Rosa argued that there may be multiple causes for the universe. I would say that as the cause of time, this cause must transcend time, or be eternal and uncaused. So to say that there was a single cause is not an a priori insertion. It is a deduction.
The Universe Began To Exist
I do not want to spend much time on this because Rosa seems to agree with this premise. Rosa poses the question, though, in what time, and in what space, did the cause that I am proposing, exist in? Adding also that it is like saying that there is something north of the north pole. I agree completely, there was no time, prior to time, and there was no space, prior to space. That is why I argued that the transcendent cause of the universe must be timeless and spaceless.
That is precisely why the cause of the universe could not have been something natural. Nature cannot be the cause of itself; the cause of nature must therefore transcend nature.
Therefore, The Universe Had A Cause
I would like to go over what it means to be a cause of the universe again. As the cause of space, time, material and nature, the cause must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, beyond nature, and personal as well (as I argued in my introductory post). If that is the case, then to say that it did not have a cause beyond itself is not special pleading, as Rosa suggested. It is a necessary deduction. The cause of time must transcend time, and therefore be eternal and uncaused.
Therefore I do not think I am guilty of just plugging God in where I feel necessary. It is a deductive argument restricting against anything that is material, natural, spacial, temporal, or impersonal. This includes, as Rosa has comically stated in another blog, a peanut butter sandwich, Zeus, a Flying Spaghetti Monster, and a committee of Greco-Roman gods (so long as they are comprised of space – perhaps there is a particular theological stance that Pagan gods are immaterial).
So, yes, this deduction is consistent with the monotheistic faiths, and is often employed by Muslims, Christians, Jews, and deists alike. But to say that the universe must have a personal, transcendent cause, and therefore Jesus Christ is the eternal Logos, would be a whopping non-sequitur. I agree with that. That is not my argument.
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