Unlike some philosophical literature I have been slogging through lately, William Lane Craig’s writing style is particularly interesting and compelling. I just finished reading his essay on the kalam theological argument. The argument proceeds as follows:
(1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
(2) The universe began to exist.
(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
To put it differently, something must have caused the universe, since the universe had a beginning, and everything that has a beginning was caused by something. Craig spends most of his essay arguing for the truth of statement (2), invoking arguments from logic and science. Logically, the universe must have a beginning because, if there were an infinite number of moments prior to the present moment, we would never have arrived at this present moment. Scientifically, the fact that our universe is constantly expanding points to a time at which the entire universe was a point of “infinite density,” which essentially means nothingness. The point at which this expansion started (the Big Bang, or whatever) marks the beginning of the universe, which had to be in the finite past. A further scientific confirmation of the universe’s past finitude is the second law of thermodynamics. Scientists know that the steady movement toward thermodynamic equilibrium in the universe will eventually result in “heat death.” If the universe existed in the infinite past, why have we not already reached heat death? Clearly, the universe is a ticking timer. We can’t predict exactly when it will ring it out, but this we know: there was a point at which it was wound up.
I predict that any objection to Craig’s cosmological argument must be made on epistemic grounds. In other words, a person would have to object to his premises by saying something like, “Well, statement (1) isn’t metaphysically intuitive to me. I can conceive of something that exists, yet has no cause of its existence.” For such an objection to have any force, however, it seems that it would have to be instantiated. The burden would be on such a person to produce a genuine example of something that began, but had no cause.
Craig’s arguments for the fact of the universe’s beginning are very compelling. But Craig had more to prove than just statement (2). He was attempting to prove the rationality of belief in God’s existence. I think Craig’s essay could be even more powerful were he to spend more time demonstrating the truth of statement (1), as well as the move from eternal cause to personal agent. Perhaps he gives these ideas more attention in his other writings. Nevertheless, I’m thankful for William Lane Craig and men like him who compellingly articulate scientific and logical arguments for God’s existence. Thanks to their giftedness and scrupulous scholarship, what is undeniable to my inner consciousness–God’s existence–is further confirmed both logically and even empirically.