bookmark_borderWhat is the Conclusion of the Kalam Cosmological Argument? – Part 2

In the previous post on this topic, I argued that William Craig’s book The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe (Here’s Life Publishers, 1979) provides a good deal of evidence supporting my view that the ultimate conclusion of the kalam cosmological argument (hereafter: KCA) is: GOD EXISTS, and that book also provides evidence AGAINST the view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
Now I will examine Craig’s book Apologetics to see whether it also supports my view about the conclusion of KCA.
Apologetics: An Introduction (Moody Press, 1984)
In the Preface of Apologetics, Craig points to two central issues of apologetics (emphasis in CAPS added by me):
…I recommend that the student read my two books, The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe…and The Son Rises…as background for the sections on THE EXISTENCE OF GOD and the resurrection of Jesus respectively…
The course [embodied in this book Apologetics] is designed to provide background and critical discussion pertaining to the basic issues of A POSITIVE CASE FOR Christianity.  I consider the two “hinge” issues to be THE EXISTENCE OF GOD and the resurrection of Jesus.  (Apologetics,  p.x)
Thus, Craig believes that a central issue of apologetics is “Does God Exist?”.   Note that Craig suggests students read his book on the kalam cosmological argument (hereafter: KCA) called The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe as background for the section in Apologetics concerning THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.  This is further confirmation that KCA is an argument for the existence of God, and thus that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, and that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is NOT the claim: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
The opening sentences of the Introduction (of  Apologetics), tell us the focus or purpose of the discipline of apologetics (emphasis added by me):
Apologetics is primarily a theoretical discipline, though it has practical application.  That is to say, apologetics is that branch of theology that seeks to provide A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION for the TRUTH CLAIMS of the Christian faith. (Apologetics, p. xi)
Since the purpose of apologetics is to “provide  A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION” for Christian truth claims, and since Craig believes that one of the most important issues in apologetics is “THE EXISTENCE OF GOD” (i.e. Does God exist?), one would expect that this book would include one or more attempts to “provide A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION” for the Christian claim that GOD EXISTS.  Looking over the “Analytic Outline” of  Apologetics (presented immediately after the Introduction), we see that there is an entire section of the book that appears to be devoted to this topic:
3.1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Given what Craig says in the Preface and Introduction, one would expect to find one or more arguments for the existence of God in this section of the book.  In one of the subsections of 3.1, it appears that Craig will discuss different versions of some traditional arguments for the existence of God:
3.12 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
3.121 ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
3.1211 Anselm of Canterbury
3.122 COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
3.1221 Al-Ghazali
3.1222 Thomas Aquinas
3.1223 G.W. F. Leibniz
3.123 TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
3.1231 Plato and Aristotle
3.1232 Thomas Aquinas
3.1233 William Paley
3.124 MORAL ARGUMENT
3.1241 Thomas Aquinas
3.1242 William R. Sorley
Thus it appears that the contents of this book, and especially the content of section 3.1 on THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, will indeed line up with the expectations that Craig creates in the Preface and Introduction to Apologetics.  Specifically, it appears that Craig will present and discuss arguments for the Christian claim that GOD EXISTS in section 3.1 of Apologetics.
In the opening paragraphs of section 3.1 on THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, Craig indicates that this section will indeed cover arguments for God’s existence (emphasis added by me):
I think there are GOOD REASONS for believing that GOD EXISTS.  Accordingly we shall in this locus [i.e. in section 3.1] examine various ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. (Apologetics, p.58)
At the end of this opening for section 3.1, Craig also gives and indication that he will cover some traditional arguments for the existence of God (emphasis added by me):
…not long ago Time carried a lengthy article on the renewed interest among philosophers in all the TRADITIONAL ARGUMENTS for GOD’S EXISTENCE.  That is an ecouraging sign that the question of GOD’S EXISTENCE will not be abandoned to the fideists and the atheists.  (Apologetics, p.58)
As we saw in the Analytical Outline of section 3.1, Craig plans to discuss the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, and the moral argument. To those familiar with the philosophy of religion, these are all recognizable names or categories of “TRADITIONAL ARGUMENTS for GOD’S EXISTENCE.”  So, this confirms my view that when Craig discusses versions of the cosmological argument (in 3.122), he takes himself to be discussing various arguments “for GOD’S EXISTENCE”.
The view that Craig takes the various arguments discussed in section 3.12 HISTORICAL BACKGOUND to be “ARGUMENTS for GOD’S EXISTENCE” is further confirmed by comments Craig makes at the beginning of the sections on ontological, teleological, and moral arguments (emphasis added by me):
The ontological argument ATTEMPTS TO PROVE from the very concept of God that GOD EXISTS: if God is conceivable, then He must actually exist. (Apologetics, p.61)
Perhaps the oldest and most popular of all the ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD is the teleological argument. (Apologetics, p.66)
The moral ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD argues for the existence of a Being that is the embodiment of the ultimate Good, which is the source of the objective moral values we experience in the world.  (Apologetics, p.70)
Given that the Preface and Introduction create the expectation that Craig will discuss arguments for the existence of God, and given that the Analytic Outline and the opening paragraphs of section 3.1 indicate that Craig will discuss arguments for the existence of God in section 3.1, and given that three out of the four categories of arguments discussed in section 3.12 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND are explicitly stated to be “ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”, and given that in the field of philosophy of religion “Cosmological Arguments” are generally considered to be arguments for the existence of God, it is more than reasonable to infer that the section 3.122 COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT is also concerned with various versions of “ARGUMENTS for the EXISTENCE OF GOD” in Craig’s view.  Since one of the cosmological arguments covered by Craig in section 3.122 is the kalam cosmological argument (i.e. the cosmological argument by Al-Ghazali is KCA), it is reasonable to conclude that Craig is representing KCA as an “ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”.
Furthermore, Craig explicitly characterizes KCA as being such an argument (emphasis added by me):
The KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT originated in the attempts of Christian thinkers to rebut Aristotle’s doctrine of the eternity of the universe and was developed by medieval Islamic theologians into an ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. (Apologetics, p. 62)
For my part, however, I find the KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT for a temporal first cause of the universe to be the most plausible ARGUMENT for GOD’S EXISTENCE.  I have defended THIS ARGUMENT in two books, The Kalam Cosmological Argument and The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe.  (Apologetics, p.73)
Note that Craig here states that his book The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe was a presentation of KCA, and in the previous discussion about that book, we saw that the conclusion of the argument presented in that book is: GOD EXISTS.
Because Craig believes KCA to be “the most plausible ARGUMENT for GOD’S EXISTENCE” this is the only argument that he discusses in 3.13 ASSESSMENT, a subsection of 3.1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.  At the end of this subsection, Craig works his way toward the ultimate conclusion of the argument (emphasis in CAPS added by me):
From what we have already said this cause [of the universe] would have to be uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial.  Moreover, I would argue, IT MUST ALSO BE PERSONAL. …a temporal effect may be caused by AN ETERNALLY EXISTING AGENT.  In fact, the agent may have purposed eternally to do some act in time.  Thus the Bible speaks of the eternal plan, hidden for ages in GOD WHO CREATED ALL THINGS, which GOD has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:11).  THEREFORE, we are brought, not merely to a First Cause of the universe, but to THE PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE.  (Apologetics, p.93)
The explicit conclusion here is that there exists a being who is “THE PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE” (who is also uncaused, eternal, and immaterial).  Clearly, Craig believes that such a being is a close match with the concept of “God” as this concept is understood in the Christian faith, and he believes it is reasonable to draw the ultimate conclusion that: GOD EXISTS.
While it is true that Craig does not explicitly state the conclusion that GOD EXISTS here in the final paragraph about KCA, given the clear context that he is discussing “ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD” and that Craig considers KCA to be  “the most plausible ARGUMENT for GOD’S EXISTENCE”, it is very reasonable to infer that Craig sees the ultimate conclusion of KCA to be: GOD EXISTS. Furthermore, the explicit conclusion that there is a being who is “THE PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE” clearly goes beyond the simple claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
This iterpretation of the final paragraph of the subsection about KCA is confirmed by comments that Craig makes in the very next section 3.14 PRACTICAL APPLICATION, which is the final subsection of 3.1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
In this final subsection, Craig relates some stories about using arguments for the existence of God in evangelism.  The first story clearly implies that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.   The story is about an occasion when Craig’s wife used KCA to persuade someone to believe in God (emphasis added by me):
For example, my wife Jan, was once talking to a girl in the student union and this girl said that she did not BELIEVE IN GOD.  Jan replied, “Well, what do you think of the argument for a first cause?”  “What’s that?” said the girl.  My wife explained, “Everything we see has a cause, and those causes have causes, and so on. But this can’t go back forever.  There had to be a beginning and a first cause which started the whole thing.  THIS IS GOD.”  Now that was obviously a very simple statement of THE ARGUMENT WE HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING.  The girl responded, “I guess GOD EXISTS after all.”  She was not ready to receive Christ at that point, but at least she had moved one step closer, AWAY FROM her ATHEISM. (Apologetics, p.94)
Clearly, Jan was presenting a simple version of KCA to this girl, and clearly when Jan asserted “THIS IS GOD” at the end of her brief statement of KCA, she implied the conclusion of her argument to be: GOD EXISTS.  Craig does not correct his wife here.  For example, he does not say, “Jan was ignorant of the fact that the kalam cosmological argument only shows that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE not that GOD EXISTS.”  Craig sees it as completely appropriate for the girl to give up her atheism and to instead “BELIEVE IN GOD” on the basis of Jan’s presentation of KCA.
Craig tells another story about his wife’s evangelism, involving the use of KCA to persuade a physicist to believe in God (emphasis added by me):
 …in West Germany we met a physicist from behind the Iron Curtain.  As we chatted, he mentioned that physics had destroyed his BELIEF IN GOD and that life had become meaningless to him. …at that point, my wife popped, “Oh, you should read Bill’s doctoral dissertation!  He uses physics to PROVE GOD EXISTS.” So we lent him my dissertation on THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT to read. (Apologetics, p.94)
After reading Craig’s dissertation on KCA, the physicist comes to believe in God and he converts to Christianity.  Again, Craig makes no comment correcting his wife. So, we are left with the impression that Craig agrees that the presentation of KCA in his dissertation leads to the conclusion that: “GOD EXISTS”.
The very last sentence in section 3.1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD provides additional confirmation that this section was concerned with providing one or more good arguments for the existence of God (emphasis added by me):
In an age of increasing atheism and agnosticism, we cannot afford to forgo AN APOLOGETIC FOR this most basic of all Christian beliefs: THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. (Apologetics, p. 95)
Since Craig has focused primarily on KCA in section 3.1, and only briefly touched on other arguments, and since the purpose of apologetics is to “provide A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION for the TRUTH CLAIMS of the Christian faith” (Apologetics, p.xi), this final comment strongly suggests that KCA provides such a “RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION” for the claim that: GOD EXISTS.
Craig’s book Apologetics provides significant evidence for the view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, and it provides significant evidence AGAINST the view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
There is evidence in the Preface for my view, and in the Introduction, and in the Analytic Outline of Apologetics.  There is evidence for my view in the title of section 3.1 : “THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”, and more evidence in the opening paragraphs of section 3.1 that describe the purpose of that section.
There is evidence for my view in the fact that Craig describes three of the categories of arguments discussed in 3.12 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND as being “ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”, and there is further evidence for my view in the fact that Craig specifically characterizes KCA as being an “ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD” (Apologetics, p. 62) and an “ARGUMENT for GOD’S EXISTENCE” (Apologetics, p.73).
There is evidence for my view at the end of section 3.13 ASSESSMENT, where Craig wraps up his presentation of KCA. There is also some evidence for my view in section 3.14 PRACTICAL APPLICATION, where Craig tells stories about how KCA can be used to convince people to “BELIEVE IN GOD”.  And there is a bit more evidence for my view in the final sentence of section 3.1.
If the book Apologetics was our ONLY source for information about KCA, we would quite reasonably infer from this book that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.
 

bookmark_borderWhat is the Conclusion of the Kalam Cosmological Argument?

In order to understand an argument, one must FIRST understand what the CONCLUSION of the argument asserts.
Since Jeff Lowder and I disagree about what the conclusion of the kalam cosmological argument (hereafter: KCA) asserts, we also disagree about the specific content of KCA.  I’m going to present my reasons for believing that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, as well as my reasons for rejecting Jeff Lowder’s view that the conclusion of KCA is: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
It is amazing that two people with significant knowledge and background in the philosophy of religion would have such divergent views as to what the conclusion of a well-known argument in the philosophy of religion asserts.  This in itself is an argument for the view that Craig’s presentations of KCA are less than ideal in terms of clarity, which is the main point I wish to make, anyway.
It is also amazing that Jeff Lowder holds the view that Craig has mischaracterized the conclusion of his own argument on more than one occassion.  This is certainly a real possibility, but to entertain this possibility seriously is to doubt the clarity of Craig’s understanding of his own argument, which again supports my basic point about there being a problem of clarity with Craig’s presentation of KCA.  If Craig is himself confused about what the conclusion of KCA asserts, then it should be no surprise that others would also be confused and disagree about what the conclusion of KCA asserts.
If it turns out that my position that the conclusion of KCA is GOD EXISTS is a plausible one (and I have plenty of evidence to back up my view), and if Jeff Lowder’s position that the conclusion of KCA is THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE is also a plausible one (I suspect that Jeff Lowder will be able to provide evidence to support his view), then that means that Craig has done a poor job of presenting KCA in a way that makes the content of this argument clear.
I’m going to present evidence for my view of KCA in chronological order, based on publication dates of the books or articles that I examine. I plan to examine at least eight different publications/articles/lectures by Craig between 1979 and 2015.
The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe (Here’s Life Publishers, 1979)
In Apologetics: An Introduction (Moody Press, 1984), William Craig tells us that:
I have defended this argument [the kalam cosmological argument] in two books, the Kalam Cosmological Argument and The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe. (Apologetics, p.73)
So, one important source for understanding the contents and conclusion of KCA is The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe (hereafter: EOG&BOU).  The title alone provides significant support for my view that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.  One of Craig’s first books about KCA contains the phrase “The Existence of God” in its title!
The Preface of EOG&BOU confirms my view that this book is a presentation of KCA for a general audience:
Those who wish to pursue more deeply some of the issues I discuss [here in EOG&BOU] should consult my technical study, The Kalam Cosmological Argument (London: Macmillan, 1979; New York: Barnes & Noble, 1979).
Assuming, then that EOG&BOU is a presentation of KCA for a general audience, the preface provides evidence for my view that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.  Here are the opening sentences of EOG&BOU (emphasis added by me):
This is a book for those who DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD.  It is my hope that this work will be the means by which some person seeking to know the truth about the universe will COME TO KNOW ITS CREATOR.
Several years of philosophical and scientific research have convinced me that BELIEF IN THE EXISTENCE OF GOD is the most intellectually respectable position available to a person today.  In this work I have tried to marshal briefly and convincingly some of the evidence IN SUPPORT OF THE THESIS THAT GOD EXISTS.  (EOG&BOU, p.9)
So, based on the Preface of EOG&BOU, one would reasonably infer that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.
The content of EOG&BOU also goes against Jeff Lowder’s view that the conclusion of KCA is: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  There are three chapters in EOG&BOU that present a unified line of reasoning: II, III, and IV.  Just the titles of these chapters alone provides significant evidence for my view of KCA and against Jeff Lowder’s view (from the table of contents, emphasis added by me):
 II. An Argument FOR GOD’s EXISTENCE (1): 
Philosophical Proof of the Beginning of the Universe
III. An Argument FOR GOD’S EXISTENCE (2):
Scientific Confirmation of the Beginning of the Universe
IV. An Argument FOR GOD’S EXISTENCE (3):
The Personal Creator of the Universe 
First, note that the titles of these chapters provide support for my view of KCA, because each chapter title begins “An Argument for God’s Existence…” So, the titles of three key chapters of a book that lays out KCA speak of an argument for God’s existence, implying that KCA is an argument for God’s existence. If KCA is an argument for God’s existence, then it follows that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, and that the claim that “The universe has a cause” is NOT the ultimate conclusion of KCA.
Second, note that these three chapters do NOT present three separate arguments for the existence of God. The first two chapters present arguments for the claim that the universe began to exist. Chapter IV is the third of the three chapters, and in that chapter, Craig argues that IF the universe began to exist, THEN God exists (my summary). Thus, all three chapters work together to form an argument for the claim: GOD EXISTS.
Third, note the claim implied by the title of Chapter IV: “The personal Creator of the Universe”; this suggests that KCA supports the conclusion that there exists exactly one personal Creator of the Universe; such a claim clearly goes beyond the simple claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  So, if Chapter IV represents part of KCA, then the conclusion of KCA goes beyond the simple claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
Assuming that the content of EOG&BOU represents the content of KCA, then KCA can be summarized this way:
1. The universe began to exist. (Chapters II & III)
2. If the universe began to exist, then God exists. (Chapter IV)
Therefore:
3. God exists. (end of Chapter IV)
Another indication that these three chapters of EOG&BOU work together to form a single argument is that in the opening pages of Chapter II, we find a diagram that summarizes the logic of these three chapters and how they work together  (EOG&BOU, p.38):
Diagram from EOG&BOU
If we assume that contents of these three chapters of EOG&BOU represent the contents of KCA, then it would be reasonable to interpret the diagram on page 38 as a representation of the logic of KCA.  But in that case it is clear that the ultimate conclusion of KCA goes beyond the simple claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  The ultimate conclusion of KCA must (at least) be something like the conclusion mentioned immediately following the diagram (emphasis added by me):
By proceeding through these alternatives, I think I can demonstrate how reasonable it is to believe that the universe is not eternal but had a beginning and was caused by a personal being; therefore A PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE EXISTS.   (EOG&BOU, p.38)
Such a conclusion clearly goes beyond the claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
Chapter IV can be divided into two main sections corresponding to the last two sets of alternatives in the above diagram. Pages 83-85 correspond to the choice between the alternatives of “caused” or “not caused”.   About 2/3 down the page on page 85 Craig concludes the discussion of those alternatives:
Any unprejudiced inquirer ought to agree with me, at this point, that the universe was caused to exist. (EOG&BOU, p.85)
At the bottom of that same page, Craig begins his discussion of the choice between the third set of alternatives:
Now let’s turn to our third set of alternatives, and I will explain why I think the cause of the universe is personal rather than impersonal. (EOG&BOU, p.85-86)
So, the discussion of the third set of alternatives occurs for the remainder of Chapter IV, on pages 85-89.
If we look at the very last paragraph of Chapter IV, we find further confirmation of my view that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS (emphasis added by me):
Thus we reach our conclusion: A PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE EXISTS, changeless and timeless prior to creation and in time subsequent to creation.  This is the central idea of what theists mean by “GOD.” (EOG&BOU, p.89)
Craig is here spelling out the final step in this argument for the existence of God.  Although he does not use the words “God exists,” it is clear that what Craig has in mind is the following inference:
A personal creator of the universe exists.
Therefore:
God exists.
Furthermore, even if I’m wrong that “God exists” is the ultimate conclusion of the argument in EOG&BOU, it is clear that the explicit conclusion that “a personal creator of the universe exists” (EOG&BOU, p.89) goes beyond the simple conclusion that “the universe was caused to exist.”(EOG&BOU, p.85).
Assuming that the content of EOG&BOU represents the content of the kalam cosmological argument, and there is no reason to suspect otherwise just from reading this book, then it seem abundantly clear to me that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, and that the  ultimate conclusion of KCA is NOT the simple claim that: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
This view of KCA is supported by (a) the title of the book, (b) the statement of the purpose of the book in the Preface, (c) the titles of the chapters, (d) the logical structure of the argument presented in Chapters II, III, and IV, (e) the structure of the diagram of logical alternatives given on page 38, (f) the correspondence between the apparent logical structure of the overall argument with the logical structure represented in the diagram of logical alternatives on page 38 and (g) the explicit statement of the conclusion at the end of Chapter IV.
NOTE:
In Debating Christian Theism (Oxford University Press, 2013), Craig has an article titled “The Kalam Argument”.  In that article Craig lays out a systematic argument that follows the exact same structure (the three sets of logical alternatives) that we have seen above in EOG&BOU.  So, some 34 years after the publication of EOG&BOU, Craig is still presenting KCA in a form that closely matches the logical structure of the argument found in EOG&BOU.  I will go into the details of this more recent article when I work my way up to the year 2013 for publications by Craig about KCA.
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Next, I will take a look at:
Apologetics: An Introduction (Moody Press, 1984)