What is the Conclusion of the Kalam Cosmological Argument? – Part 3

What is the Conclusion of the Kalam Cosmological Argument? – Part 3 September 26, 2015

I will now examine William Craig’s book Reasonable Faith, to see whether this book supports my view that the ultimate conclusion of the kalam cosmological argument (hereafter: KCA) is: GOD EXISTS (as opposed to the conclusion: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE).

Since Reasonable Faith is an updated and revised version of Craig’s earlier book Apologetics, most of the evidence that I previously pointed to in Apologetics in support of my view, appears again in Reasonable Faith.

 Reasonable Faith (Crossway Books, Revised Edition, 1994)

The Preface

The contents of the Preface in Reasonable Faith have changed significantly from the Preface of Apologetics.  The passages I quoted from Apologetics are not repeated in Reasonable Faith.  In the Preface to Apologetics, Craig asserts that the issue of THE EXISTENCE OF GOD was one of the major issues of apologetics.  Craig does not repeat that claim in the Preface to Reasonable Faith.  However, we find a similar statement in Reasonable Faith, at the end of Chapter 3 (I will quote this later), so Craig has not changed his mind on this point.

Craig does indicate in the Preface that the book Reasonable Faith is basically a course in apologetics (emphasis added by me):

The course it [this book] offers represents my personal approach to APOLOGETICS. (Reasonable Faith, p.ix)

The Introduction 

Craig’s initial characterization of apologetics remains unchanged (emphasis added by me):

APOLOGETICS…is that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION for the TRUTH CLAIMS of the Christian faith.  (Reasonable Faith, p.xi)

Since the claim that GOD EXISTS is a basic claim of the Christian faith, and since Reasonable Faith is basically a course in apologetics,  we would expect to see some attempts by Craig in this book to provide “A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION” for the claim: GOD EXISTS.

Craig has added more material to his initial explanation of what apologetics consists of, and in this new material there is further evidence in support of my view of KCA (emphasis added by me):

Now the field of apologetics may be broadly divided into two sorts: offensive (or positive) apologetics and defensive (or negative) apologetics.  Offensive apologetics seeks to present A POSITIVE CASE for Christian TRUTH CLAIMS.  Defensive apologetics seeks to nullify objections to those claims.  Offensive apologetics tends to sub-divide into two categories: natural theology and Christian evidences.  The burden of natural theology is to PROVIDE ARGUMENTS AND EVIDENCE in support of THEISM, or THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.  The ontological, COSMOLOGICAL, teleological, and moral ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD are classical examples of the project of natural theology.  (Reasonable Faith, p.xv)

On the next page, Craig states that this book “constitutes a course in offensive, rather than defensive, apologetics.”  So, based on the above characterization of offensive apologetics, we would expect that a significant portion of Reasonable Faith would be devoted to discussion of arguments for “THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”.

Note that in the quote above Craig clearly implies that cosmological arguments are “ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”.  Since KCA is a cosmological argument, Craig is implying here that KCA is an argument for “THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”.

The Contents

There was an Analytic Outline given in the early pages of the book Apologetics.  No such outline appears in Reasonable Faith.  However, there is a Contents page, which shows that there is an entire chapter (one out of eight chapters in the book) devoted to the topic: “THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”, namely Chapter 3.  This Chapter is the longest chapter in the book (it is 48 pages, and the average length of the other chapters is about 33 pages).  Given that the focus of Reasonable Faith is apologetics, we would expect this Chapter to include one or more attempts at “A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION” of the claim: GOD EXISTS.

Although the Contents page does not give us any details about Chapter 3, if we glance through Chapter 3, we see it still has the same section called “HISTORICAL BACKGROUND” that was part of the section of Apologetics concerned with THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.  This section of Chatper 3 in Reasonable Faith includes subsections on the ontological argument, cosmological argument, teleological argument, and moral argument, just as we saw in the earlier book Apologetics.

Chapter 3: The Existence of God

In the opening paragraphs of Chapter 3, Craig makes it clear that arguments for the existence of God will be discussed in Chapter 3 (emphasis added by me):

I think that there are GOOD REASONS for believing that GOD EXISTS.  Accordingly, we shall IN THIS CHAPTER examine various ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. (Reasonable Faith, p.77-78)

Craig gives an indication that he will discuss some traditional arguments for the existence of God in Chapter 3 (emphasis added by me):

…not too long ago Time carried a lengthy article on the renewed interest among philosophers in all the TRADITIONAL ARGUMENTS for GOD’S EXISTENCE.  …today some of the United States’ most esteemed philosophers are outspoken Christians and are bringing their faith to bear on their philosophical work.  This is an encouraging sign that the question of GOD’S EXISTENCE  will not be abandoned to the fidiests and the atheists. (Reasonable Faith, p.78)

In the next section of Chapter 3, called HISTORICAL BACKGROUND, Craig reviews various versions of ontological argument, cosmological argument, teleological argument, and moral argument, which are all generally considered to be traditional arguments for the existence of God.

It is clear that Craig himself views these various arguments as arguments for the existence of God (emphasis added by me):

 The ontological argument attempts to PROVE from the very concept of God that GOD EXISTS… (Reasonable Faith, p.81)

Perhaps the oldest and most popular of all the ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD is the teleological argument. (Reasonable Faith, p.83)

The moral ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD argues for the existence of a Being that is the embodiment of the ultimate Good…  (Reasonable Faith, p.88)

Recall that in the Introduction, Craig spoke of “COSMOLOGICAL…ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”  (Reasonable Faith, p.xv)

In Chapter 3 of Reasonable Faith, just as he did in the previous book Apologetics, Craig specifically characterizes the kalam cosmological argument as an argument for the existence of God (emphasis in CAPS added by me):

The KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT originated in the attempts of Christian thinkers to rebut Aristotle’s doctrine of the eternity of the universe and was developed by medieval Islamic theologians into an ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. (Reasonable Faith, p.80)

…I find the KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT for a temporal first cause of the universe to be one of the most plausible ARGUMENTS for GOD’S EXISTENCE.  (Reasonable Faith, p.92)

We also find on page 92, a summary of KCA, which, on first appearance, seems to support the view that the conclusion of KCA is THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE rather than the more specific conclusion that: GOD EXISTS:

The [kalam cosmological] argument may be formulated in three simple steps:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

(Reasonable Faith, p.92)

However, the above summary in fact provides evidence in support of my view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.

After discussing various traditional arguments for the existence of God, Craig devotes a section of Chapter 3 to ASSESSMENT.  But he has very little to say about any of the previously discussed arguments, except for KCA.  In fact, the section called ASSESSMENT is divided into three subsections, which correspond to the above “three simple steps”.  This is significant, because this indicates both that the focus of the ASSESSMENT section is on KCA, and that the subsection titled “Therefore, the Universe Has a Cause of Its Existence” (p.116-122) is also focused on KCA.  This supports my view of KCA, because in that third subsection of ASSESSMENT, Craig draws these conclusions:

…it is a personal being who created the universe. (Reasonable Faith, p.116)

…the cause of the beginning of the universe… [is] a personal creator. (Reasonable Faith, p.118)

…he [the Creator] must be immaterial….  …he must be enormously powerful, if not omnipotent. …he must be free and unimaginably intelligent, if not omniscient. …These properties constitute the central core of what theists mean by “God.” (Reasonable Faith, p.119)

Clearly, all of these conclusion go beyond the simple conclusion that: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  Furthermore, because Craig clearly draws the conclusion that the universe was caused to exist by a personal Creator who is immaterial, enormously powerful, and unimaginably intelligent, it is easy to see that he has in mind the ultimate conclusion: GOD EXISTS.

Near the end of this third sub-section of the section called ASSESSMENT, Craig summarizes the argument given so far (emphasis added by me):

The beginning of the universe–declared by revelation, established by philosophy, confirmed by science–thus POINTS beyond itself to GOD, its PERSONAL CREATOR.  (Reasonable Faith, p.120)

Craig then has a brief discussion of various objections raised by Adolf Grunbaum against “inferring God as the Creator of the universe.” (Reasonable Faith, p.120).  This implies that in this third subsection, which is clearly focued on KCA, Craig has just inferred “God as the Creator of the universe.”  After responding to the various objections Craig makes this comment:

None of Grunbaum’s objections, therefore, seems to undermine the credibility of OUR ARGUMENT for GOD as THE PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE.

Hence, amazing as it may seem, THE MOST PLAUSIBLE ANSWER to the question OF WHY SOMETHING EXISTS rather than nothing is that GOD EXISTS. (Reasonable Faith, p.121-122)

To what does Craig refer by the expression “OUR ARGUMENT”?  Since all three subsections of the section on ASSESSMENT deal with the “three simple steps” of KCA, it is clear that by “OUR ARGUMENT” Craig is referring to KCA.  Thus when Craig draws the conclusion that GOD is “THE PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE”  and that “GOD EXISTS”, he is drawing the ultimate conclusion of KCA: GOD EXISTS.

In the final section of Chapter 3 of Reasonable Faith, as in the analogous chapter of Apologetics, Craig tells stories about the use of KCA in evangelism, again implying that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS:

For example, my wife Jan, was once talking to a gal in the student union who said that she did not BELIEVE IN GOD.  Jan replied, “Well, what do you think of the argument for a first cause?”  “What’s that?” said the gal.  My wife explained, “Everything we see has a cause, and those causes have causes, and so on. But this can’t go back forever.  There had to be a beginning and a first cause which started the whole thing.  THIS IS GOD.”  Now that was obviously a very simple statement of THE ARGUMENT WE’VE BEEN DISCUSSING.  The young woman responded, “I guess GOD EXISTS after all.”  She was not ready to receive Christ at that point, but at least she had moved one step closer, AWAY FROM her ATHEISM.  (Reasonable Faith, p.122)

 …in Germany…we met a Polish physicist ….  As we chatted, she mentioned that physics had destroyed her BELIEF IN GOD and that life had become meaningless to her. …at that point, my wife volunteered, “Oh, you should read Bill’s doctoral dissertation!  He uses physics to PROVE GOD EXISTS.” So we lent him my dissertation on THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT to read.  (Reasonable Faith, p.122-123)

The only significant difference in this final section between Reasonable Faith and the earlier book Apologetics is that the physicist in the second story was a man in Apologetics, but is now a woman in Reasonable Faith!   (I don’t know whether the physicist was a very masculine-looking woman who Craig mistook for a man, or if Craig knew that the physicist was a woman, but he thought it would enhance the story in Apologetics to change the sex of the physicist to a man, or if Craig might have known the physicist was a man but wanted to enhance the story by changing the sex of the physicist to a woman in Reasonable Faith).

There is a new comment near the end of Chapter 3 of Reasonable Faith, that did not appear in Apologetics. This comment supports my view of KCA (emphasis in CAPS added by me):

I’m not claiming that I can prove God exists.  All I’m saying is that it is more probable than not that the universe began to exist AND THAT to the extent that this is probable, IT IS ALSO PROBABLE that GOD EXISTS.  (Reasonable Faith, p.124)

As in Apologetics, Chapter 3 of Reasonable Faith ends with a sentence that supports my view of KCA (emphasis added by me):

In an age of increasing atheism and agnosticism, we cannot afford to forgo AN APOLOGETIC FOR this most basic of all Christian beliefs: THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. (Reasonable Faith, p.125)

==============

Craig’s book Reasonable Faith provides significant evidence for the view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, and it provides significant evidence AGAINST the view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.

There is evidence for my view of KCA in the Preface, the Introduction, and in the Contents page of Reasonable Faith.  There is evidence for my view in the title of Chapter 3: “THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”, and more evidence in the opening paragraphs of Chapter 3 that describe the purpose of that chapter.

There is evidence for my view in the fact that Craig describes three of the categories of arguments discussed in HISTORICAL BACKGROUND as being “ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”, and there is further evidence for my view in the fact that Craig specifically characterizes KCA as being an “ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”  and an “ARGUMENT for GOD’S EXISTENCE”.

There is evidence for my view at the end of the section of Chapter 3 called ASSESSMENT, where Craig wraps up his presentation of KCA. There is also some evidence for my view in the section of Chapter 3 called PRACTICAL APPLICATION, where Craig tells stories about how KCA can be used to convince people to “BELIEVE IN GOD”.  And there is a bit more evidence for my view in the final sentence of Chapter 3.

If the book Reasonable Faith was our ONLY source for information about KCA, we would quite reasonably infer from this book that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.

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