More Work on Premise 1 of the Kalam

In an attempt to rebut my orig­i­nal straw man sus­pi­cion I recently thought: Per­haps Craig isn’t actu­ally mis­rep­re­sent­ing the objector’s posi­tion so much as he is doing exactly what I said is required: argu­ing that the denial of premise 1 entails the affir­ma­tion that every­thing comes into being every­where at every moment. Per­haps the rea­son­ing goes some­thing like this: To admit that there is a reason—any rea­son whatsoever—as to why every­thing pos­si­ble doesn’t come into being at every point in space and at every moment in time—to say that there is any gov­ern­ing or reg­u­lat­ing fac­tor in the com­ing into being of objects—is to grant the first premise already. Thus, to deny the first premise is to deny that there is any rhyme or rea­son to the com­ing into being of objects.

Would such an argu­ment con­flate the Aris­totelian “effi­cient cause” with the Leib­niz­ian “suf­fi­cient rea­son”? If it would, would it there­fore be ille­git­i­mate to use in con­text of the Kalam, which only argues for the exis­tence of God based on the neces­sity for the uni­verse to have an effi­cient cause based on its past fini­tude, and not on the basis of the neces­sity of the uni­verse to have a suf­fi­cient rea­son for its exis­tence, regard­less of whether it is past-​​eternal?

Fur­ther­more, does it present a false dichotomy? Per­haps the choice isn’t between the affir­ma­tion that every­thing that begins to exist has a cause and the affir­ma­tion that every­thing comes into being every­where at every moment. Per­haps there is some­thing that gov­erns the com­ing into being of objects such that every­thing except the uni­verse that comes into being has a cause. Why would the uni­verse be exempt? Per­haps due to the nature of the uni­verse as a whole that is so rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent from every­thing inside it. The uni­verse itself is not made out of mat­ter and energy like every­thing inside of it. Maybe the uni­verse itself—the very fab­ric of space and time—is just the sort of thing that could come into being out of noth­ing under the right conditions—namely, the con­di­tions that were present with­out (can’t say “before”!) the uni­verse: noth­ing­ness (not even a vacuum).

This view would only leave it inex­plic­a­ble why the uni­verse came into being “when” it did (darn those inescapably tem­po­ral words). But it wouldn’t leave it inex­plic­a­ble why every­thing doesn’t come into being at every moment every­where within the universe.

Of course, there are at least two prob­lems with such a view. One would be that it requires posit­ing this strange tran­scen­dent law that makes it such that the uni­verse could come into being uncaused out of noth­ing but that noth­ing else could, which is basi­cally self-​​refuting. If the law existed, on this view, the uni­verse couldn’t coher­ently be held to have come into being truly out of noth­ing. Whoops.

[Edit: This might be wrong. The objec­tor need not affirm that the uni­verse came into being uncaused out of noth­ing, but only that it came onto being uncaused. The view might still be vul­ner­a­ble to the LCA, and it would be grotesque and ad hoc, but it seems sur­pris­ingly resilient against the KCA’s the­is­tic conclusions.]

The other prob­lem with this view would be that the Kalam is eas­ily mod­i­fied to avoid it. All the defender of the Kalam needs to do is reword the argu­ment to be based on the exis­tence of mat­ter and energy within the uni­verse. If one grants for the sake of argu­ment that the uni­verse came into being uncaused out of noth­ing, the things within the uni­verse that come into being must be held to have causes. There­fore the Kalam could be re-​​worded:

1. Every­thing [within the uni­verse] that begins to exist has a cause.
2. [Every­thing within] the uni­verse began to exist.
3. There­fore, [every­thing within] the uni­verse has a cause.

The chain of cau­sa­tion of the exis­tence of things within the uni­verse could not regress infi­nitely and thus the need to posit some entity that is not within the uni­verse and that is not made out of the things out of which every­thing in the uni­verse is made out of, arises once again.

[Edit: This mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the argu­ment immu­nizes it against the objec­tion that empir­i­cal argu­ments in favor of premise 1 com­mit the fal­lacy of com­po­si­tion by infer­ring some­thing to be true of the whole uni­verse based on what is true of its parts, and it strength­ens it so that it goes through even against the posi­tion that every­thing, except the uni­verse itself, that comes into exis­tence has a cause.

How­ever, it leaves the Kalam vul­ner­a­ble to objec­tions claim­ing that cer­tain argu­ments in favor of premise 1 con­flate cau­sa­tion out of some­thing with cau­sa­tion out of noth­ing. In response to this objec­tion, I’ve argued in the past that cau­sa­tion out of noth­ing is much more intense than cau­sa­tion out of some­thing and that the for­mer is at least as involved as the lat­ter (requir­ing not just an account of the mate­r­ial cause, but of the effi­cient causes as well). There­fore the fact that noth­ing comes into being uncaused even out of pre­ex­ist­ing mate­r­ial just goes to show that noth­ing could come into being uncaused out of noth­ing at all.]

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