Dear Eldnar

The following comment and response may be found on this post.

Hi there,

Some would take a leap and state that “this cause is God”, but such a leap is unwarranted.

*GASP* I’ve only heard two people *ever* try to say that the uncaused cause is not God, and you are the second of the two. Here’s what happened to the first person:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCUE10dY3Rc

There is nothing in the premises of the argument that necessarily leads to the conclusion that the cause of the universe is God.

True. But it points to God “beyond reasonable doubt”. A person can unreasonably doubt anything.

All that is implied by the premises of the argument is that there is something in existence that was not caused, that is able to cause the universe (i.e. is a sufficient cause) to come into existence, and actually did cause it to come into existence.

To quote Dr. Craig… “what you are describing…is God”

For that matter, there is nothing in the premises of the argument that necessarily leads to the conclusion that the cause, whatever it is, is even singular. It could be two beings, working as a team – call them “Thing 1? and “Thing 2? for convenience sake. Why wouldn’t their existence as uncaused causes be sufficient, given the way the “better” argument has been reformulated for our consideration?

You’re absolutely correct, it could be thing 1 and thing 2, but look what the person would have done by postulating Thing 1 and Thing 2. They would have conceded that something exists OUTSIDE the material universe. Boom. That’s exactly the goal of the Kalam. That alone is HUGE for the atheist to have to admit. Once that admission is noted, you then move away from the Kalam to the resurrection (or whatever argument you seek to prove). The Kalam doesn’t get you Christian theism, that’s not its purpose, but it gets you to a creator (of some sort) which they denied before. From that point a person can argue more precisely to Christianity.

Eldnar,

 I struggled with what to do about your comment because it is rather lengthy and offered in an attempt to refute what BK has written, but the main intent of this site is to help us all gain a better understanding of apologetics and so I will go ahead and briefly respond to your comments. I do not think you have given your response as much thought as perhaps you could have and will explain why.

Realize firstly that it was not BK’s intention, so far as I know, to exhaustively refute the Cosmological or even Kalam argument. He is merely pointing out some difficulties with the arguments especially as the arguments were presented to him in recent discussion. If you want a longer list of difficulties with the proof and answers to the typical responses to these difficulties then feel free to shoot me an email.

Second, you wrote, “GASP” in response to BK’s statement that it is an unwarranted leap to state that “this cause is God,” but I am confused as to why you wrote this. Granted, you explained that you have “only heard two people *ever* try to say that the uncaused cause is not God.” I will get to this claim in a moment, but first please note that BK *never* said or tried to say that the “uncaused cause is not God.” Rather, he wrote that it is an unwarranted leap to state that “this cause is God,” because it is. The two statements are completely different from one another. Thus when you write, “and you are the second of the two,” you are incorrect, for BK never stated any such thing. I would encourage you to go back and read the post again more carefully.

Third, if you truly believe that the leap to the claim, “this cause is God” is warranted, please provide us with your justification. I have known and studied this argument for at least a decade now and have never seen such a justification provided.

Fourth, you will find claims like the one BK made about this unwarranted leap coming from many more people than just two if you look around in the right places. I remember quite well sitting in a classroom where we read Thomas Aquinas completing one of his famous proofs and stating something to the effect of, “And this we all know to be God” with the result that the entire class burst into laughter. One of the reasons that I do not rely upon traditional proofs is that, frankly, they don’t work, and the lack of seriousness with which the students in that class took the statement from Aquinas was, in my opinion, understandable.

Fifth, BK wrote the following as the main point of his post:

For that matter, there is nothing in the premises of the argument that necessarily leads to the conclusion that the cause, whatever it is, is even singular. It could be two beings, working as a team – call them “Thing 1? and “Thing 2? for convenience sake. Why wouldn’t their existence as uncaused causes be sufficient, given the way the “better” argument has been reformulated for our consideration?

Now let’s look carefully at what you wrote in response.

“You’re absolutely correct, it could be thing 1 and thing 2”

Whereas you were writing in light of your misunderstanding of BK’s earlier statement as already pointed out, you go on to actually affirm what BK is arguing. This is true even if we take BK’s statement the way that you did. In your mind, BK had stated that the cause was not God, and you went on to write, “You’re absolutely correct, it could be thing 1 and thing 2.” But thing 1 and thing 2 are most emphatically not God. Hence it is strange (and fatally problematic) that you expressed shock at the suggestion you thought BK was making, saying that you had only ever heard two people claim it, and then went on right afterward to do so yourself (at least following your reasoning through the misunderstanding).

Now that we’ve seen that BK was not actually saying what you attributed to him we can examine your statement that, “You’re absolutely correct, it could be thing 1 and thing 2” in light of what BK was actually saying. BK believes that it is an unwarranted leap to state that this cause is God, but you have written a comment in disagreement, and in your comment have actually agreed with the contention you intended to disagree with in writing, “You’re absolutely correct, it could be thing 1 and thing 2.” So, I am glad you agree!

Sixth you write, “but look what the person would have done by postulating Thing 1 and Thing 2.”

They would have conceded that something exists OUTSIDE the material universe. Boom. That’s exactly the goal of the Kalam.

I’m not sure what you are reading on the Kalam, but that is most emphatically not the goal of the Kalam. For one thing, you initially argued that the cause is God, but here seem to go back on that bold assertion and want to claim that the argument proves something much, much less than God. Again you may want to reread the post and your response. But note also that the goal of the Kalam is to serve as a proof for the existence of God. I just picked up my copy of Craig’s first book on the topic. Guess what the very first line asks? “Does God exist?” Craig then goes on to explain that he is going to attempt to prove the existence of God. Believe it or not even presuppositionalists have read classical apologists, and believe it or not the classical apologists do claim, in fact, that the goal of the Kalam argument is to prove the existence of God.

Seventh, you claim, “They would have conceded that something exists OUTSIDE the material universe…That alone is HUGE for the atheist to have to admit.”

Well, no, it’s not. It’s not huge for the atheist to have to admit when you are trying to prove that God exists, and it is not huge for the atheist to admit if he or she is not a materialist anyway.

Eighth, you write, “Once that admission is noted, you then move away from the Kalam to the resurrection (or whatever argument you seek to prove).”

There are other much better arguments to defeat materialism than the Kalam argument. Not only that, but classical apologetics seeks to prove the existence of God prior to moving into other arguments like for the resurrection, and by your admission you have not done that yet. There are many other worries here, but I don’t want to make things any more difficult than what they already are.

Ninth, “The Kalam doesn’t get you Christian theism, that’s not its purpose, but it gets you to a creator (of some sort) which they denied before.” But then there are some really serious theological difficulties with using it aren’t there? For example, if the Kalam argument holds sound, then you have just given the Muslim a great reason to continue to believe in Allah. But the Allah of Islam is not the God of Christianity. When do we ever see anyone in Scripture prescribing an argument like this or leading by example in using one? We don’t. Oh, granted, the Apostles will immediately begin talking to unbelieving philosophers about the Creator who exists, but they are assuming this, not arguing up to it, and the Creator they are talking about is the one true God, not Allah or Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Tenth and finally, “From that point a person can argue more precisely to Christianity.” Assuming that one can get to that point, which he cannot, and assuming that the other arguments which more specifically point to Christianity will work, which they do not.

If you are interested in a lengthier discussion or debate on this topic of the Kalam, traditional proofs, or on apologetic method in general then please let us know! It is my hope that you will see more clearly why it is that we take the approach we do, even if it is only by way of little bits and pieces that we get there. There is, even here, much more to be said.

Grace,

Chris


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