Saturday, January 17, 2009

On Kalam

This is copied from a post I made on a message board regarding the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It's by no means definitive on my part, or even roughly edited, but it's a sound enough representation of what's been floating around in my head to put it up here.

Enjoy, if you can read it while still in its messy state. If so, all critiques welcome. ;)

Kalam goes like this:

1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause; **
2) The universe began to exist;
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
** - "begins to exist" def:= "x exists at t; there is no time immediately prior to t at which x exists; and the actual world contains no state of affairs involving x's timeless existence." Craig, "Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause? A Rejoinder," ... iston.html definition A4.

This is a valid argument, i.e. if the premises (1) and (2) are established properly then (3) follows by deduction.

Premise (1) is an intuitive notion, argues the Theist. We don't observe things like tigers popping in our living room uncaused, for instance; nor do randomly appearing particles themselves have no cause - they are caused by antecedent quantum-mechanical states. Even the arch-skeptic David Hume did not believe that objects or events could happen without any cause whatsoever.

Premise (2) is established, the Theist would claim, by the finiteness of the Universe. Since the Universe has a particular age, and is not infinite temporally as was once supposed by philosophers (including, at times, Aquinas himself!) and by physicists (such as the proponents of the Steady-State model that failed in answer to the Big Bang) then the universe began to exist. Recent models of an infinitely oscillating universe fail due to the finiteness of entropy; furthermore (and this includes "multiverse" theorems and Brane cosmology) astrophysicist Alexander Vilenkin has mathematically proven that any model of the universe(s) must itself have a beginning in time.

Therefore, the conclusion (3) is established. Proponents of this argument, called the Kalam Cosmological Argument, argue that the cause must be personal; for, if it were an impersonal cause, it would have insufficient means to cause the Universe from a changeless state; therefore, this changeless state must include a freely-willed decision by an infinite Being to actually create. Craig in Reasonable Faith makes the case that this is so.

I have formulated two counterarguments, in brief:

(1) If motion is continuous (i.e., if time units shorter than the Plank Time can be experienced) then the Second Law of Thermodynamics dictates a tendency to infinite heat - and zero entropy - as we reverse the arrow of time. This implies that causal action relatively increased without bound with respect to the temporal distance between any particular action in a causal chain as we approach the Big Bang. Therefore, the Cosmic Singularity is a limit point, which did not actually exist, and the universe has always existed causally while itself existing temporally with respect to any constantly measured time-unit. The mathematics, which relies only on Calculus II procedures, demonstrates this, but I won't present the details here. This eradicates the need for a First Cause, and therefore a Creator, and represents a positive-atheistic argument against God.

(2) If motion is not continuous (a Unified Theory on Quantum Gravity may establish this) then the first state of the Universe was the Cosmic Singularity and the second state was the early condition at Plank Time following the "Bang." This would render the Kalam Cosmological Argument true, as the universe necessarily would contain finite causal chains by rule of physics.

However, in this case, science has shown (in a paper whose link I've lost) that the Big Bang singularity would be an actual existential state. In other words, all components of existence would have originated from a state where each component was superimposed upon one another - there existed no space (i.e. distance between these components), no motion, and so on.

But this implies that the Cosmic Singularity exists outside of time. As Einstein stated, time is relative. Relative to what? The placement and motion of separate objects! Therefore, the Initial Cosmic Singularity is literally eternal - it is not some pellet that sat there in "infinite space" for "forever" - both which imply a distance between objects and ongoing metaphysical motion, which both did not exist in this primary state of the universe - but it is literally outside of any concept of time whatsoever, since, once again, there was no motion and no distance between the primary building blocks of existence. Space was wrapped to zero (distance) and was "infinitely dense" by implication. We cannot imagine a timeless state - do NOT think of it as an "infinitely long" state! - but we can imagine the causal connection of the primary constituents of the universe: let {B} be the metaphysical set of primary constituents, which must be finite in number (by physics). Number them b1, b2, b3, ..., bn.

Each element b in {B} has its own particular identity. Among these elements were the indestructible building blocks of matter as we know it today - quanta that, as physics proves, cannot exist in the same space with the same quantum state for any period of time. In other words, matter can't occupy the same space. In other words, we have the following simultaneous causal chain in the (timeless!) state of the Big Bang Singularity for one particular element of {B} that is of this particular quanta, say, "b": since no space separates b from all other elements of {B}, it must affect the subset {B'} of likewise quanta that cannot be in the same place. Since no distance initially separates these elements, b will affect all other elements of {B'} (and likewise each other element effects b}, prompting motion, in accordance with the laws of Quantum Mechanics for these particles. As an easy illustration, imagine that there are only four such particles (there are in fact a tremendous, but ultimately finite, number of such particles):

b1< --> b <--> b3

Each arrow represents a necessary causation of one upon the other. Note the arrows go both ways. Not included here is the vast graph network that will result, for, b2 must also connect with b3 and b4 in the same manner, etc. Can you imagine such a causal network for an exponentially tremendous amount of these objects!?

Bang. As Quantum Mechanics dictates for {B'}, the vast, massive heat-releasing, rapid motion of these particles results from this vast networked chain of causation. From motion, we have that space and time unfurls. It is such a magnificent effect that the universe begins to expand so rapidly that modern physics can't comprehend it yet!

Therefore, we have that the Big Bang Singularity brought the motion-rich (and therefore time-rich), space-relationed Universe into existence from its "former" nontemporal, nonspacial state. The cause of the elements of {B'} upon each other lead to these present facts, and the initial state of causation at the Singularity wasn't "just like that 'unchanged' forever;" it had no motion, no referent, and therefore no time; no "forever" in the loose sense. It existed eternally - in the sense that it existed externally out of time. The causation of {B'} upon itself wasn't like that "forever," it simply was.

Therefore either presentation resultant from Quantum Gravity leads to a notion of the nonexistence of the Creator, as my case (1) demonstrates the necessity of an infinite causal chain described by "unboundedly faster" causation given Quantum Gravity's dictation of continuous motion, or, if not, my case (2) explains the necessary cause of the Universe from an atemporal, nonintelligent state.


  1. It's an interesting counter to the KCA, but I don't think it can establish the non-existence of a creator.

  2. All of these types of arguments are convoluted ways of pretending to understand things and events currently beyond our understanding.

    Do you understand exactly how the universe came into existence (or how it was created)? Do you understand exactly the nature of god?

    The only honest answer is "no", so how can you make claims about it?

    Atheists don't often pretend to understand the origins of the universe, but religious people often do. They think you can account for something by invoking a supernatural being, which is just what the ancient greeks did when they invoked zeus to "account for" lightning. They understood what was going on, Zeus "caused" lightning... somehow. In fact you can make the same argument if you live in a civilization that does not understand lightning. Everything that isn't god has a cause (unsubstantiated assertion), lightning has a cause, therefore lightning must be caused by god.

    It's an argument from ignorance.

    To be fair a lot of the physics you're talking about is above my head, but the fact of the matter is we don't know what came before the big bang. The basis for motion could come from an intrusion of energy into our universe from another universe with different properties, where matter is constantly increasing potential for energy and work and motion, who knows.

  3. Matthew, you don't have to establish the non-existence of a creator. The absense of evidence is enough to simply say "I'm not convinced there is a creator".