Christians have latched onto the Kalam Argument as a more sophisticated response to atheism. A product of the mind of theologian and deranged lunatic William Lane Craig, the Kalam Argument tries to accomplish what no other Christian argument has: make an argument that starts from natural facts and specifically proves the existence of God (as opposed to a generic designer, a universal force, or a really powerful alien being). His basic case is the following:
If the universe has a cause of its existence, then [we find that] an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans creation is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful and intelligent.
How he goes about proving this is a different matter. The linchpin of his argument is the position that the personal cause of the universe, or as he calls it, the Creator, is uncaused, because an infinite regress of causes cannot exist. I will gladly concede this premise, but it does not prove the point at all. The belief in a caused Creator does not imply an infinite regress of causes. For instance, one may believe in a finite number of causes, of which the Creator is the penultimate one. One may believe in a cycle of causes which is winding down from some extremely high-energy beginning. One may believe in a pantheon of gods where the Creator is part of a divine family. One may believe in a Creator that is the product of another universe or dimension.
There are so many possibilities that there’s no point in listing them all. There is just no way to go from “there is a Creator of the universe” to “that Creator is uncaused.” And if there’s no logical path there, then Craig’s attempt at specificity fails, because it’s a chain that depends on each link being true, and the very first link is invalid.
But Christians who argue theology do not even use the argument in this intended manner. Instead, they simplify it by saying that the Creator cannot have properties of the universe, like being material or existing in time. Here is one example of such simplification:
So, space, time, and matter began to exist. What could have caused them to begin to exist?
* Whatever causes the universe to appear is not inside of space, because there was no space causally prior to the creation event. The cause must therefore be non-physical, because physical things exist in space.
* Whatever causes the universe to appear is not bound by time (temporal). It never began to exist. There was no passage of time causally prior to the big bang, so the cause of the universe did not come into being. The cause existed eternally.
* And the cause is not material. All the matter in the universe came into being at the first moment. Whatever caused the universe to begin to exist cannot have been matter, because there was no matter causally prior to the big bang.
Despite the title of that entry (“How to defend the Kalam Argument just like William Lane Craig”), this is definitely not how Craig defends these conclusions (for instance, see this handy guide written by Craig himself). For all of Craig’s illogic, this reinterpretation is far more illogical. God cannot be spatial, temporal, or material because the universe is spatial, temporal, and material, and God created it. There’s no other premise that can lead you to these conclusions.
But this is a self-defeating reasoning. For one thing, Craig argues that the Creator must be a person. But by this reasoning, God cannot be a person, because the universe contains persons. Likewise, God cannot have any other property of persons, like morality or intelligence.
Any Christian who replies “but the universe did contain one person, and that’s God” (never mind how incoherent the concept of personhood is when there’s only one being) is stuck with the same ad hoc line of reasoning. Because we can formulate the objection in the exact same way:
“All persons came into being with the universe. Whatever caused the universe could not be a person, because there were no persons prior to the big bang.”
If they say this is a circular argument, well, so is the reasoning I’ve quoted. Why could God not exist in space, time, or matter? If the reason is that it’s physically impossible, well, how is a person magically existing without a material substrate even remotely physically possible? I see no reason to believe that this nonsense (a person existing without a material substrate) is any more or less impossible than the other nonsense (space, time and matter existing “before the big bang”). Who the fuck cares?
Craig’s argument assumes that proving infinite regress is impossible (a point which I do not deny, by the way) logically proves that the universe must have an uncaused Creator. Like most Christian arguments, it assumes far, far more than the evidence can bear. Denying the possibility of infinite regress does not, as far as I can tell, disprove any cosmological position currently held to be even remotely credible. All it proves is that Craig is shit at philosophy.