Apologetics Fail #1
Kalam Cosmological Argument


Of note: Reddit, sometimes known as (to Reddit anyway) the front page of the Internet, and to many others as the Dumpster fire of the Internet, has decided that atheism is a subject to protect children from. You have to affirm you are eighteen or older now to go to the /r/atheism subreddit. The slaughter, genocide, slavery, rape, &c in the Bible is fine on Reddit for children; arguments against that are not.

One argument of Christian apologetics I’ve seen come up over the last couple years more frequently is the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It is a philosophical argument for the existence of God (and particularly Christianity’s version of God, not Kali-ma or Odin or Zeus or aliens).

Of course, philosophy has never proved anything about nuthin’ in all the history of philosophy. Philosophical arguments advance no testable or repeatable evidence that can be used to devise predictive theories. There is a vulgar term for this I will not repeat here, as this is a family-oriented E-mail.

In Christian apologetics, it first appears in 1979 advanced by William Lane Craig.

Essentially, the argument is built as a syllogism, with faulty premises. Thus the conclusion can be rejected.

What William Lane Craig fails to tell his audience, and subsequent apologists may not know, is that the Kalam argument does not originate in Christianity. Kalam is the name of Medićval Islamic scholasticism. Therefore, Mr. Lane is advancing Islamic apologetics to support Christian theology. Christians who hear the argument however do not know that, which is just fine for the Christian apologist.

Craig states the Kalam Cosmological Argument as a brief syllogism, most commonly rendered as follows (courtesy of Wikipedia):

  • Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
  • The universe began to exist;

Therefore:

  • The universe has a cause.

From the conclusion of the initial syllogism, he appends a further premise and conclusion based upon ontological analysis of the properties of the cause:

  • The universe has a cause;
  • If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful;

Therefore:

  • An uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful. (Never mind that Mr. Craig doesn’t have a definition for any of these terms.)

The two syllogisms can be rejected outright, because every premise is faulty. In the first syllogism, the correct answer for the two premises is: We don’t know. Therefore, the conclusion is also faulty, the answer is also “We don’t know.”

In the second syllogism, the second premise is ludicrous: Even if the first premise was true (rather than unknown), the conclusion does not follow.

It is very difficult to get an uninformed Christian who has heard this argument to give it up, even after showing the premises or conclusion faulty. (If that person is a bigot though, it is much easier to get them to give it up if you show the argument originates in Islamic scholarship.)

It is similar to the idea that God is both perfectly merciful and perfectly just, therefore God is objectively moral. However, mercy is the suspension of justice. Therefore the premises are in opposition to each other.

Today’s atheist inspirational quote:
Carl Sagan: For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

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