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The Kalam Cosmological Argument comprises of the following three premises:

  1. Whatever begins to exist must have a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore the universe has a cause.

If we assume this argument is valid, all it proves is that the Universe had a supernatural first cause.

With that in mind, can the omnipresence, omnibenevolence, omniscience, and the divine being of God be proved using the cosmological argument?

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    Related philosphy question
    – Piro
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 12:10
  • “If we assume…” indeed. What if 1 is wrong?
    – ABM K
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 20:51

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That version of the Cosmological Argument simply points to the universe having a cause. The Christian response would be that the cause is God. Science confirms that the universe must have had a beginning. The Christian view is that something that does not need to be given existence must exist to give everything else existence. That something is God. God does not need to be given existence because God is the cause who exists to give everything else existence.

I found this version of the Cosmological Argument (36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein, published in 2010 by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House Inc.) which defines it this way:

1 – Everything that exists must have a cause

2 – The universe must have a cause (from 1)

3 – Nothing can be the cause of itself

4 – The universe cannot be the cause of itself (from 3)

5 – Something outside the universe must have caused the universe (from 2 and 4)

6 – God is the only thing that is outside of the universe

7 – God caused the universe (from 5 and 6)

8 – God exists

Not only did the universe have to have a first cause to get started, it needs something to give it existence right now. The only thing that would not have to be given existence is a thing that exists as its very nature. It is existence. This something would always exist, have no cause, have no beginning, have no limit, be outside of time, and be infinite. That something is God!

This article explains it far better than I ever could: What is the Cosmological argument for the existence of God?

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    Atheists often argue that points 6 and 7 are cases of special pleading. What response do you have to this?
    – rhonarula
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 4:55
  • @rhonarula - In your question, you say “If we assume this argument is valid, all it proves is that the Universe had a supernatural first cause.” I would be inclined to agree with that. Therefore, when you ask “can God be proved using the cosmological argument?” my response would be “No.” As to my response to the atheistic argument that points 6 and 7 are cases of special pleading, it is simply this: I am not an atheist and I expect them to find flaws in any argument for the existence of a creator God. My view is that this argument proposes that God is the cause behind the universe.
    – Lesley
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 12:12
  • (First Cause) Indeed modern scientific discoveries point to the unavoidable need for a First Cause that is outside the Universe: Eternal and Spiritual. But an honest inquirer would not stop there. It is reasonable to see if this Cause, that created the ear, has also "spoken" to His creation. These are the two steps in Divine self-revelation: (1) GENERAL REVELATION or NATURAL THEOLOGY, and (2) SPECIAL REVELATION or HISTORICAL THEOLOGY. The two must go together in order to have a full understanding of God. The metaphysical/scientific arguments prove God, but don't tell His personal Name.
    – ray grant
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 22:25
  • Point number 6 is a postulate, not something that is known to be true. (Alternatively, it simply defines the word "God" as an abstract reference to everything outside of the universe, without assigning any concrete meaning to it.) Commented Jun 10, 2023 at 1:54
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No, but there is some elaboration:

  • The cause of the universe must be a personal being; if it were some impersonal set of conditions, then the universe would always have existed as nothing could have changed to meet those conditions without going back to step 1.

  • It must be immensely powerful to have created the universe

  • It must be timeless, spaceless and immaterial, as time, space and matter are part of the universe and do not exist outside it

What do you call a personal, timeless, spaceless, immaterial and immensely powerful being, if not God?

This is about all you can get out of the Kalam. To go from a god of some kind to the God of Christianity (and thus the other 'omni' attributes of God), you would then go to scripture/the teaching and resurrection of Christ.

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  • Yes, many atheist scientists use the term "god", not in the biblical sense, but as a name for some hypothetical outside the universe factor. For instance, Stephen Hawking said: "If you like, you can call the laws of science 'God', but it wouldn’t be a personal God that you would meet and put questions to.". Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 0:24
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Argument limitations Some things can legitimately be gleaned from the Cosmological Argument---especially His existence. But much about God is not revealed by this proof. Many of His attributes (e.g. benevolence, as one you listed) must be revealed by other means.

The process of coming to a full knowledge of God may be described as this:

NATURAL THEOLOGY (General revelation)--->HISTORICAL THEOLOGY (Exodus to Jesus)--->Systematic Theology (N.T. writings).

As you can see there is no "God of the gaps." And we are not left to speculating about what God is like. The Creative God is also a Communicating God. Ignorance about God comes because of (1) isolation from Judeo-Christian community, people groups spreading out around the earth, or (2) willful rebellion and departure from the "Presence" of God, i.e. a closed mind or licentious life-style. (Perhaps an atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman.)

To come to a most perfect understanding about God, Jesus came and represented Him in earth. Thus it is written, He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) and Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. (John 14:9) Such that in these last days God has spoken to us by His Son. (Hebrews 1:2).

There is much we can glean from all the metaphysical proofs, including the Kalam argument, but God has not limited knowledge about Himself to just indirect communication. As Francis Schaeffer noted, He is there and He is not silent!.

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The Cosmological argument is the best of the 'proof of existence of God' outside faith arguments, there is however scientific wiggle room. The Cosmological Argument as proof of God was fine when the 'Big Bang' was the singular theory for the existence of the universe, but things are changing.

Astrophysics investigators asked exactly the same questions as the Cosmological Argument, but proposed very different hypotheses ... Thus

4 – The universe cannot be the cause of itself (from 3)

5 – Something outside the universe must have caused the universe (from 2 and 4)

6 – God is the only thing that is outside of the universe

One hypothesis forwarded is that there is a proto-universe from which all other universes form. I can't remember what they called this "proto-universe", but its the same concept. Thus,

6 – Either God or the proto-universe is the only thing that is outside of the universe

It would therefore answer the Cosmological Argument and exclude God. If there was evidence for a proto-universe in the future (its a mathematical theory), and its not inconceivable, then the Cosmological Argument would need to be revised to say:

4 - The proto-universe cannot be the cause of itself

The trendy theory right now is there was a universe before the Big Bang together with supporting evidence. That doesn't change the Cosmological Argument, but it does alter how it fits into scientific context.

For apologetics the concern is the Cosmological Argument is its simply another 'God of gaps' (@raygrant mentioned). As further evidence is gleaned about what occurred before the Big Bang then the existence of God becomes less certain.

I would simply point to the resurrection and evidence of the resurrection as undisputed evidence of God. No scientific theory could ever account for someone rising from the dead and entering into an immortal body that utterly defies the laws of physics.

Note Astrophysics isn't my subject its genetic analytics - there is some (not huge) cross-over in the analytic methods used with astrophysics. In any case, I can definitely and unequivocally say the resurrection is God alone. There is absolutely no scientific wiggle room here.

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