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#665 Reformulating the Causal Premiss of the KCA

January 19, 2020

Dear Dr. Craig,

I'm a huge fan of your work, and I always come to your website for insights on theistic arguments for God's existence. Today I write you with a question on the Kalam cosmological argument, maybe my favorite argument from the ones you present. I've always thought that the Kalam's first premiss is as certain and evident as anything can be, and I'm always astonished to find people who doubt it (funny enough, I've never found anyone doubt P1 outside the context of an argument for God's existence).

However, in my discussions, I've often found that the word "cause" is the cause (pun intended) of a lot of confusion and rejection. People tend to see it as somehow an old-fashioned concept (!), proper of a non-scientifical (and non-quantum) era. This is why I've been thinking a different formulation for P1 that could keep its essence and truth while avoiding all the objections that come with the notion of "cause".

I'm aware that you yourself have modified P1 to P1' ("If the universe began to exist, then the universe has a cause") to make it avoid some of this problems, but I'm wondering if there can't be an even easier formulation that keeps the sense of intuitive certainty of P1 (something which I think P1' looses a bit). It would be something like this:

(P1'') "Everything that begins to exist comes from something else".

P1'' would avoid (it seems to me) more easily than P1 objections about supposedly quantum particles coming into existence without a cause, because it is evident they don't come "from nothing", but "from the quantum vaccum", which is something. From P1’' and P2 ("The universe began to exist") it would follow C: "The universe came from something else". And then the same logical analysis could apply to this "something else" to derive from its nature the attributes that assimilate it to God. So, what do you think? Does P1’' strike you as truthful and evident as P1? Or do you see in it some hidden flaw that I'm unaware of? I'd really appreciate your response! God bless you and your work!


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Dr. craig’s response


Although I see no need to give up the notion of causality, Enric, I think that your reformulation is perfectly acceptable and appropriate for those who stumble at the nomenclature, if they find it helpful. I think that along these same lines the reformulation

(P1*) Everything that begins to exist is brought into being by something else.

is even more perspicuous. It follows that the universe was brought into being by something else.

I’d expect that people who reject the causal formulation would also reject our reformulations, but you may be right that such reformulations, by freeing the argument from the language of causality, might help some people to see more clearly the force of the argument.

- William Lane Craig