There are numerous philosophical arguments that provide reasonable explanations for believing in the existence of God. One of the more popular and contemporary arguments is the kalam cosmological argument. Simply stated, it says that everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence, and since the universe began to exist, then something (in this case, God) brought the universe into existence. In a traditional philosophical form, it is often put this way:
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause (for its existence).
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause for its existence
This “cause” we call God.
Although this argument is short, don’t let it fool you. It takes quite a bit of reasoning and evidence to show that 1. and 2. are both true. But if these two are true, then the conclusion (3.) necessarily follows. This is just how logical, philosophical arguments work.
So, how do we show that 1. and 2. are true? To begin, note that 1. just seems obviously true. Have you ever seen objects or beings that began to exist just “pop” into existence without any cause or reason? Can you imagine sitting in the living room and then “pop!” a tiger comes into existence? We all seem to know intuitively that there is just some kind of explanation that brings things that begin to exist into existence. This idea is not controversial at all.
But what about 2.? Do we know for a fact that the universe began to exist? Interestingly, there are different ways to show that the universe began to exist. For brevity’s sake, we will mention just one: through scientific investigation, we have been able to discern that the universe at a point in the past began to exist. This is what the classical “Big Bang” theory states. It says that at one point in the past, time, energy, matter–everything–came into existence. Sometimes, the “Big Bang” model is misunderstood or misconstrued to mean that the entire universe began as a pre-existent compacted mass that blew up. But this is not at all what the “Big Bang” model states. There was a time when absolutely nothing of the physical universe existed, and then it popped into existence.
Since we can see that 1. and 2. are both true, it necessarily follows that the conclusion is true. Something caused the universe to come into existence! This cause is what Christians call “God.”
But how do we know that this cause is God? Why not multiple gods? Why not something impersonal, like a force or just mathematical principles or physical laws? Think of it this way: the cause that brought the universe into existence would have to be non-physical because the universe itself is physical and was the very thing that was brought into existence. If the physical universe began to exist and nothing physical existed before it did, then something non-physical created the the universe.
Also, whatever brought the universe into existence would have to be outside of time. The reason why is because time itself began to exist and is a part of the physical universe (the Big Bang theory includes this idea–that all matter, time, etc. came into existence at the Big Bang). Furthermore, whatever brought the physical universe into existence would have to be changeless since being outside of time implies being changeless. Only “things” in time change.
But then we also have to consider that what brought this universe into existence would also have to be something with a mind, which would make it personal. Why would this be so? For the reason that nothing impersonal can actually bring anything into existence. Physical laws and mathematics are simply explanatory–they do not actually do anything. Numbers do not create; only persons with minds can.
What we have, then, is that the cause of the universe is:
- non-physical (i.e., a spirit)
- a mind
This sounds a lot like what we mean by “God.” As such, the kalam argument seems to be a good and reasonable explanation for believing that God exists. Just note that we had to “tease out” what the “cause” was from the conclusion of the argument. If we have just the kalam argument by itself, then we merely have a generic cause of the universe and not necessarily a personal, timeless, changeless, spirit–God. If you are interested in learning more about this argument, see the links below.
Dr. Peter Rasor
Articles and Podcasts at Freethinking Ministries: The Kalam Cosmological Argument