The Kalam, Time, and Causation.

Dr. William Lane Craig is arguably the most prominent philosopher promoting the Kalam cosmological argument in our day. All manner of objections have been raised against it. I’m not going to address those objections here. Many others have already done that, including Dr. Craig in his academic publications.1

I do, however, want to present one particular response that Dr. Craig shared in his debate with Dr. Massimo Pigliucci. A questioner had come forward raising an objection to Dr. Craig’s argument. Their concern was about the argument and how it relates to the impersonal or personal cause of the universe. Here is Dr. Craig’s response:

“What I am arguing is that time must have a beginning. And that, therefore, the cause of the universe transcends time as it exists alone without the universe. And what I’m suggesting is that if those causal conditions that are sufficient for the existence of the universe are timelessly present, then the universe should be timelessly present as well. It would be impossible for those causal conditions to exist and yet the effect of those causal conditions not to co-exist with it. Otherwise they are not sufficient conditions. So if the causal conditions are timelessly given and they are sufficient for the effect, the effect should be co-existent with the cause. But in fact, that is not the case, what we have is a universe with a beginning—a temporal beginning.

How in the world can you get an effect with a temporal beginning from a cause that is timelessly present and existent? I can think of only one way out of this dilemma and that is by positing that the cause is a free agent endowed with freedom of the will and therefore able to create a new effect without any antecedent determining conditions. And thus, you can have a temporal effect arise from a timeless, personal agent cause. And I think that solves the dilemma.”

The interesting contrast here, I think, is between the necessary and sufficient conditions. Just what could be the sufficient condition that brings about the beginning of time that didn’t have any antecedent determining conditions? Could this be anything else besides a timeless, personal agent?

Here’s a link to the debate. And here’s a link to quoted portion of the debate.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/scholarly-writings/the-existence-of-god/ search for word kalam.