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#690 Does the KCA Yield a Metaphysically Necessary Being?

July 12, 2020

Hello. I have a question about the conceptual analysis in the Kalam. Do you get that the cause is a necessary being? If you do then that opens up room to argue from possible causes. Possibly the universe began to exist, so possibly there is a cause. If you get necessity from the analysis then by modal S5 you get that the cause actually exists from possibility. So my question is this, from the conceptual analysis do you get necessity? Thanks.


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Dr. craig’s response


This is a really good question, Alfred, to which I do not have a definitive answer. As I have formulated and defended it, the kalām cosmological argument does not issue in a metaphysically necessary being. It gives us a beginningless, uncaused, spaceless, timeless, immaterial, enormously powerful, Personal Creator of the universe. But I have not claimed that this Creator has been shown to be metaphysically necessary in his being.

On the other hand, were you to ask me whether the premises of the kalām cosmological argument are merely contingently true, I would deny that they are. It seems to me metaphysically necessary that whatever begins to exist has a cause or, more modestly, that if the universe began to exist then the universe has a cause. My main reason for affirming the causal premiss is that it is a metaphysical first principle that being does not come from non-being, that something cannot come from nothing. Similarly, the philosophical arguments for the impossibility of an infinite temporal regress of events aim to show that such a regress is metaphysically absurd, or impossible.

So the argument has two necessarily true premises, which in turn imply a necessarily true conclusion:

1. Necessarily, whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. Necessarily, the universe began to exist.

3. Necessarily, therefore, the universe has a cause.

So it would seem that the cause of the universe must be a necessary being. If that is correct, then, as you explain, if it’s metaphysically possible that the universe has a cause of its existence, then, necessarily, the universe has such a cause. But this conclusion, uncomfortable for the atheist, depends upon his acknowledging the soundness of the arguments for both premises, which he will be loath to admit.

- William Lane Craig