Does God Exist? The Kalam Cosmological Argument
Does God exist? Some say that we can discard belief in God and the supernatural due to our ever expanding scientific knowledge. It is almost taken for granted that science and religion are at odds. What if I told you that the more we learn about the universe, the stronger the case for God becomes?
Scientists used to believe that the universe was past-eternal, not having a beginning. The universe just always was, a brute fact. But with the discovery of the Big Bang, we now know they were wrong. The universe indeed had a beginning some 14 billion years ago.
As with most scientific discoveries, there was a lot of push back on the idea of a universe that began. After all, dogmatism runs deep in the scientific community. It wasn’t hard to see that this discovery lent its hand to theism. A universe that began? That sounds oddly familiar.
It should sound familiar. And it should be obvious how this discovery points to a Creator. But in case it doesn’t, here is the Kalam Cosmological Argument as made famous by William Lane Craig.
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- The universe has a cause.
- The cause of the universe must be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial.
- This we call God.
Thing’s don’t just pop into existence, and no thing is the cause of its own existence. Some physicists have tried to say that things do pop into existence from nothing, but what they really mean by nothing is a quantum vacuum, which of course isn’t nothing. And a thing can’t cause itself to exist because in order to cause itself, it would have to already exist, and if it already exists it doesn’t need to be caused. So, everything that begins to exist has a cause.
The fact that the universe began to exist is attested to by Big Bang cosmology. The universe is expanding. We can “rewind” this expansion back to a single defining moment where the universe exploded into existence. This expansion is said to have happened about 14 billion years ago.
As long as the first two premises are true, the conclusion (3) logically follows. It can’t be avoided without denying either (1) or (2). Most atheists opt for (2) and try to say that the universe didn’t actually begin because we can’t see the first fraction-of-a-fraction-of-a-fraction of a second of the Big Bang, therefore we can’t know for certain that there was actually a beginning. Never mind the overwhelming evidence that points us back to a moment where the laws of physics break down, the fact that we can’t see the moment of the beginning means I’m going to hold on to a past-eternal universe. Good luck. In fact, this position is at odds with the best science we have available today. The Borde, Guth, Vilenkin Theorem has found that any universe with an average expansion rate greater than 0 must have an absolute beginning. This theorem holds true independent of the physical description of the universe. That our universe began to exist is a fact and therefore stands in need of a cause.
The universe is made of matter, space, and time. Therefore, the cause of the universe – matter, space, time – must be immaterial, spaceless, and timeless. The cause must also be extremely powerful to create this universe. The cause must also be personal, so as to choose to create, since there is no reason to believe the cause of the universe had to cause the universe into existence.
All of these attributes of the Cause, that we arrived at by philosophical reasoning, sound familiar. This Cause is what we refer to when we say “God.”
This is a rough outline of the Kalam Cosmological Argument for the existence of God. For a much more sophisticated explanation see William Lane Craig.