Posted by Zia Shah
Epigraph: He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Al Quran 59:25)
The Al-Ghazali’s formulation of the Cosmological argument goes like this:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
- The Universe began to exist;
- Therefore, the Universe had a cause.
It is not useful for Trinitarian Christianity, and does not apply to Jesus, may peace be on him, as he was not Transcendent and was born to mother Mary, around 1 CE.
According to the Trinitarian Christian understanding, Jesus has two natures, perfect man and fully divine.
If the Cosmological argument is applied to Jesus, may peace be on him, it will read as follows:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2. Jesus the man began to exist
3. Therefore Jesus the man has a cause, a Creator
Therefore Jesus is not uncreated or eternal and therefore not God.
The argument postulates that something caused the Universe to begin to exist, and this first cause must be God.
The Kalām argument was named after the Kalām tradition of Islamic discursive philosophy through which it was first formulated. In Arabic, the word Kalām means “words, discussion, discourse.”
The cosmological argument was first introduced by Aristotle and later refined by Al-Kindi, Al-Ghazali (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), and Ibn Rushd (Averroes). In Western Europe, it was adopted by the Christian theologian Bonaventure (See Craig, 1979, p 18). Another form of this argument is based on the concept of a prime-mover, which was also propounded by Averroes. His premise was that every motion must be caused by another motion, and the earlier motion must in turn be a result of another motion and so on. He argued that there must be an initial prime-mover, a mover that could cause motion without any other mover. One of the earliest formations of the Kalām argument comes from Al-Ghazali, who wrote, “Every being which begins has a cause for its beginning; now the world is a being which begins; therefore, it possesses a cause for its beginning.”
Two kinds of Islamic perspectives may be considered with regard to the cosmological argument. A positive Aristotelian response strongly supporting the argument and a negative response which is quite critical of it. Among the Aristotelian thinkers are Al-Kindi, and Averroes. In contrast Al-Ghazali and Muhammad Iqbal may be seen as being in opposition to this sort of an argument.
Al-Kindi is one of the many major and first Islamic philosophers who attempt to introduce an argument for the existence of God based upon purely empirical premises. In fact, his chief contribution is the cosmological argument (dalil al-huduth) for the existence of God, in his On First Philosophy.
Al-Ghazzali was unconvinced by the first-cause arguments of Kindi. In response to them he writes: “According to the hypothesis under consideration, it has been established that all the beings in the world have a cause. Now, let the cause itself have a cause, and the cause of the cause have yet another cause, and so on ad infinitum. It does not behove you to say that an infinite regress of causes is impossible.”
Al-Kindi’s argument has been taken up by some contemporary Western philosophers and dubbed the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Among its chief proponents today is William Lane Craig.
The Kalām argument is applied by the spiritist doctrine as the main argument for the existence of God.
The argument has seen some revival within Christian apologetics and among some philosophers, but has been criticized by such philosophers as J. L. Mackie, Graham Oppy, and Quentin Smith, and physicists Paul Davies, Lawrence Krauss andVictor Stenger.
William Lane Craig argues that the first premise is strongly supported by intuition and experience. He asserts that it is “intuitively obvious“, based on the “metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing”.Additionally, Craig argues the first premise is affirmed by interaction with the physical world; for if it were false, it would be impossible to explain why things do not still randomly pop into existence without a cause.
Stenger has argued that quantum mechanics refutes the first premise of the argument, that is, that something can not come into being from nothing. He postulates that such naturally occurring quantum events violate this premise, like the Casimir effect and radioactive decay. Craig disagrees with physicists on the definition of “nothing”, and has responded to Stenger that particles which appear due to these effects are not really created from “nothing”, but rather, a quantum vacuumwhich contains energy to permit for the spontaneous existence of matter.
Craig asserts that it is logically impossible for the number of past events to be infinite, and therefore the universe must have a definite beginning to its existence. From the position of Cosmology, Craig cites the Big Bang theory as evidence for the second premise. He argues in favor of the Big Bang being interpreted as the temporal beginning of the universe, criticizing models which suggest differently, such as the Cyclic model, vacuum fluctuation models, and the Hartle–Hawking statemodel.
Ghazali thought that it is at least theoretically possible for there to be an infinite regress, and that there is nothing that necessitates a first-cause simply by pure deductive reason. He thus disputes one of the essential premises of the first-cause argument. Muhammad Iqbal also rejects the argument, stating: “a finite effect can give only a finite cause, or at most an infinite series of such causes. To finish the series at a certain point, and to elevate one member of the series to the dignity of an un-caused first cause, is to set at naught the very law of causation on which the whole argument proceeds.”
Craig’s argument concludes, through a process of elimination known more formally as modus tollens, that the cause of the universe must be a personal, uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, enormously powerful, and enormously intelligent being, which Craig defines as God.
According to Craig, another objection comes from the B-theory of time. On a B-theory of time, the universe doesn’t come into being, it just exists tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block, and so the Kalām cosmological argument is predicated upon the A-Theory of time.
More recently it was used by Muslim apologist Hamza Andreas Tzortzis in his debate with Lawrence Krauss. Lawrence Krauss tried to show Hamza that this argument was flawed by showing him that infinity does exist and by using this argument Hamza was using an argument from ignorance (god of the gaps). However Professor Krauss was unable to show Hamza an actual infinite and was only able to explain to him a theoretical/mathametical infite (Pi).