The kalam cosmological argument defended in a peer-reviewed science journal

Here’s the peer-reviewed article. It appears in a scientific journal focused on astrophysics.

Here’s the abstract:

Both cosmology and philosophy trace their roots to the wonder felt by the ancient Greeks as they contemplated the universe. The ultimate question remains why the universe exists rather than nothing. This question led Leibniz to postulate the existence of a metaphysically necessary being, which he identified as God. Leibniz’s critics, however, disputed this identification, claiming that the space-time universe itself may be the metaphysically necessary being. The discovery during this century that the universe began to exist, however, calls into question the universe’s status as metaphysically necessary, since any necessary being must be eternal in its existence. Although various cosmogonic models claiming to avert the beginning of the universe predicted by the standard model have been and continue to be offered, no model involving an eternal universe has proved as plausible as the standard model. Unless we are to assert that the universe simply sprang into being uncaused out of nothing, we are thus led to Leibniz’s conclusion. Several objections to inferring a supernatural cause of the origin of the universe are considered and found to be unsound.

The whole text of the article is posted online here.

Here’s an excerpt in which the author, Dr. William Lane Craig, explains the Big Bang cosmology:

The monumental significance of the Friedman-Lemaitre model lay in its historization of the universe. As one commentator has remarked, up to this time the idea of the expansion of the universe “was absolutely beyond comprehension. Throughout all of human history the universe was regarded as fixed and immutable and the idea that it might actually be changing was inconceivable.”{8} But if the Friedman-Lemaitre model were correct, the universe could no longer be adequately treated as a static entity existing, in effect, timelessly. Rather the universe has a history, and time will not be matter of indifference for our investigation of the cosmos. In 1929 Edwin Hubble’s measurements of the red-shift in the optical spectra of light from distant galaxies,{9} which was taken to indicate a universal recessional motion of the light sources in the line of sight, provided a dramatic verification of the Friedman-Lemaitre model. Incredibly, what Hubble had discovered was the isotropic expansion of the universe predicted by Friedman and Lemaitre. It marked a veritable turning point in the history of science. “Of all the great predictions that science has ever made over the centuries,” exclaims John Wheeler, “was there ever one greater than this, to predict, and predict correctly, and predict against all expectation a phenomenon so fantastic as the expansion of the universe?”{10}

As a GTR-based theory, the Friedman-Lemaitre model does not describe the expansion of the material content of the universe into a pre-existing, empty, Newtonian space, but rather the expansion of space itself. This has the astonishing implication that as one reverses the expansion and extrapolates back in time, space-time curvature becomes progressively greater until one finally arrives at a singular state at which space-time curvature becomes infinite. This state therefore constitutes an edge or boundary to space-time itself. P. C. W. Davies comments,

An initial cosmological singularity . . . forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity. . . . On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself.{11}

The popular expression “Big Bang,” originally a derisive term coined by Fred Hoyle to characterize the beginning of the universe predicted by the Friedman-Lemaitre model, is thus potentially misleading, since the expansion cannot be visualized from the outside (there being no “outside,” just as there is no “before” with respect to the Big Bang).{12}

The standard Big Bang model thus describes a universe which is not eternal in the past, but which came into being a finite time ago. Moreover,–and this deserves underscoring–the origin it posits is an absolute origin ex nihilo. For not only all matter and energy, but space and time themselves come into being at the initial cosmological singularity. As Barrow and Tipler emphasize, “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo.“{13}

[…]On such a model the universe originates ex nihilo in the sense that at the initial singularity it is true that There is no earlier space-time point or it is false that Something existed prior to the singularity.

Every theist should be able to understand and defend this argument. It is a scientific refutation of materialism, and it is supported by six lines of scientific evidence – all of which emerged as science has progressed.

Scientific evidence:

  1. Einstein’s theory of general relativity (GTR)
  2. the red-shifting of light from distant galaxies implies an expanding universe
  3. the cosmic background radiation (which also disproves the oscillating model of the universe)
  4. the second law of thermodynamics applied to star formation theory
  5. hydrogen-helium abundance predictions
  6. radioactive element abundance predictions

Those are the scientific discoveries that have led us to the beginning of the universe, which support’s Dr. Craig’s argument.

This is the kind of evidence I expect all Christian theists to be using when discussing the question of whether God exists. Scientific evidence. When talking to non-Christians, we first need to show that we understand science, because science is a reliable and respected way of getting knowledge about the universe. Non-Christians do not accept the Bible, but they do accept science, so we begin evangelism with science. Science (experimental, testable, repeatable science) should set limits on what anyone can believe – including non-Christians, who might otherwise not be inclined to listen to Bible verses and theology. Important: it’s not a good idea to discuss the resurrection of Jesus with a person who does not accept the scientific evidence for a Creator of the universe.

The Big Bang is not compatible with atheism

According to the Secular Humanist Manifesto, atheism is committed to an eternally existing universe, (See the first item: “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.”). If something non-material brought all existing matter into being, that would be a supernatural cause, and atheists deny that anything supernatural exists. The standard Big Bang theory requires that all the matter in the universe come into being out of nothing. This falsifies eternal models of the universe, which are required by the atheistic worldview.

10 thoughts on “The kalam cosmological argument defended in a peer-reviewed science journal”

  1. This is my take: either the universe is eternal, or an eternal God created it. We now have scientific proof that the universe is not eternal, therefore….

    1. Isn’t this a false dichotomy though? There is after all another option that many hold to. That of the multiverse hypothesis. Even though it has yet to be empirically vindicated it still would be more plausible than a god, simply for the fact that everything we observe has a natural cause, and not a supernatural one.

      1. Yes, James, but we are talking about the beginning of all nature. It follows that the cause of the beginning of all nature cannot be natural, for nothing can cause itself to begin to exist. It would have to exist before it existed, which is logically impossible. It follows then that the cause of nature’s beginning must therefore be supernatural. And appealing to a multiverse only invites the question: “What (or Who) caused that to begin to exist?”

        1. I would completely agree Mark but only if the hypothetical multiverse can be proven to be only finitly old. On an infinitly old multiverse there is no need for it to have a creator and thus the god hypothesis is out. Im essentially just saying that your eventually at the end of the causal chain going to have an eternal thing, either the multiverse or god. But from those two the multiverse is more plausible simply because it is natural.

          1. The trouble is, James, is that (according to the latest science) not only is there no evidence for such a multiverse, but according to Einstein’s theorems, such a thing can never overlap with our universe, and therefore can NEVER be proven. Also, the Borde, Guth, Vilenkin theorems have proven that even a multiverse needs a beginning (and therefore, a Beginner). Please check out William Lane Craig on the BGV theorems and the Kalam cosmological argument.

      2. That thinking leaves a problem though in that most atheists argue that they will only believe what can be seen or proven and the multiverse idea is just a theory and not to my knowledge supported by mainstream or any other science?

  2. Eternal universe? That is itself an assumption that may not be sound. There are now competing theories on how this material universe may end (through a big crunch, or dissipating into oblivion via continual expansion, to the decay or evaporation of atomic nuclei trillions of years hence).

    In the Vedic philosophy of India, there is the idea of a material plane of existence or material, physical universe (which we are suffering in now) that is not permanent nor eternal but is periodically created and destroyed over very long time scales. There is also the spiritual universe that is outside of time and not bound by time nor material laws of physics. It is this spiritual plane that is truly eternal and is the goal for which we should be striving – the abode of God.

  3. There are at least two independent defeaters to a past-eternal multiverse:

    1) The Boltzmann Brain problem, which is explained by atheist cosmologist Sean Carroll in this post:

    2) The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, which states that any cosmology where space is on balance expanding will have to have a beginning:

    Either of these destroys the eternal multiverse that atheists prefer to the current mainstream model of the universe, namely, the hot Big Bang model.

    My objection to the multiverse is simpler. I’m an experimental scientist, so I don’t believe in things that I cannot see directly or infer from direct evidence. In the case of a Creator, I infer that from the cosmic microwave background radiation, the expanding universe, the light element abundance predictions, etc. I don’t infer it from any religious or philosophic assumption, e.g. – naturalism.

    So, I don’t jump to speculations that are adopted for religious reasons. We have no scientific evidence for a multiverse. We have multiple lines of scientific evidence for a Creator and Designer (creation, fine-tuning, origin of life, Cambrian explosion, molecular machines, etc.). I prefer to go with the bundle of scientific arguments, rather than the philosophical (dare I say, moral?) preference for an eternal multiverse with no possibility of moral accountability.

    This Common Sense Atheism podcast discuses some of the problems with the multiverse response with an actual astrophysicist (not a philosophical assumer or a religious presupposer):

    Highly recommended, but only for those who wanted to be guided by experimental science, not by theoretical preferences and speculations.

    1. It has been well-said that the idea of a multiverse is not a scientific attempt to explain fine-tuning, but a desperate metaphysical attempt to explain away the existence of a Fine-Tuner.

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