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Cosmological argument

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Big Bang
Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team

The cosmological argument is a type of argument of classical natural theology that starts from some alleged properties of the observed universe (its coming into being, its being able to have been different from what it is, the contingency or causality of some entities or some events) to deductively or inductively infer the existence of an entity identified with God, defined as first cause, necessary entity, immobile mover or personal being.

Kalam formalization

  1. Everything that has begun to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. So the universe has a cause and this cause must necessarily come from an intelligent being, otherwise the existence of God would be denied, therefore God exists.

Critique 1:

The definition of “has begun to exist” is ambiguous, in fact in this definition a carpenter who makes a chair from wood did not make the chair to start to exist because he started from a raw material. However, this is the only type of creation ever observed by an intelligent cause, therefore generalizing on intelligent causes starting from a different type of creation than the one intended, means committing a fallacy of misunderstanding.

Counter-argument 1:

Creation ex-nihilo is a logical necessity that overcomes the aforementioned false analogy. To imply that reality has not begun to exist is to affirm that its essential properties and dimensions (space-time, energy-matter) have always existed, defining them as a fact. Now, just as science searches for the efficient cause of all phenomena, never assuming that they are a simple fact (i.e. that they occur because they occur without a reason), so it is not possible to admit that reality, understood as a whole, is a fact, but the cause must be sought. Furthermore, it is evident that if the concatenation of events were infinite going back in time it would not be understood how we could exist: if the present moment is indicated with P, it would always be possible to identify a moment prior to P with respect to our existence which, in fact, it would prevent it.

Critique 2:

The idea that the universe began to exist is based on a misinterpretation of the Big Bang theory, because that theory would not predict any instant in time when the universe did not exist.

Furthermore, that the universe has a cause also does not demonstrate any characteristic of that cause, the characteristics of intelligence, divinity, eternity or other are therefore entirely unproven.

Counter-argument 2:

This criticism is itself fallacious, because according to Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason, time itself cannot have come into existence without an efficient cause, which can only be, of course, extra-temporal. Denying to this efficient cause the qualities of intelligence and eternity (understood not as existing in infinite time but in the sense of a-temporal) is hardly sustainable: without intelligence, space-time would be a product of chance or necessity, however if it were due to necessity it is not clear why it came into being from something (whatever it is) different from it, while if it were the product of chance it is not explained how it is possible to find a universe governed by mathematical laws and constants, with parameters suitable for life and self-subsistence.

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