More thoughts on the cosmological argument

In my previous post, I wrote about William Lane Craig’s presentation of the cosmological argument for the existence of God.

I like the cosmological argument and think it is the strongest of the traditional arguments for the existence of God. I usually state it as follows:

1. The universe exists, and there must be an explanation for why it exists.
2. There are only three possible explanations for why the universe exists: 1)It has always existed. 2)It created itself. 3) It was created by something outside of itself.
3. Explanation 1 has serious scientific and philosphical problems; Explanation 2 is absurd. Therefore the universe was created by God.

I think my wording is related to a subset of the cosmological argument called the kalam cosmological argument. Premise 1 can be stated as a question: Why is there something rather than nothing? This has been called by some the greatest question in philosophy. I run into some who deny the truthfulness of this premise and who say that there doesn’t have to be an explanation for why the universe exists, but I don’t think they are being intellectually honest. As Craig discusses the cosmological argument, he states:

Imagine that you’re walking through the woods and come upon a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You would find quite bizarre the claim that the ball just exists inexplicably. And increasing the size of the ball, even until it becomes co-extensive with the cosmos, would do nothing to eliminate the need for an explanation of its existence.

Premise 2 is hard to dismiss; there are no other alternatives. Either the universe has always existed, it created itself, or it was created by something outside of itself. The universe has not always existed. Cosmologists (astronomers and physicists who study the history of the universe) almost universally accept the concept of the Big Bang, which implies a beginning to not only matter and energy, but to space and time as well. There are additional scientific and philosophical arguments against an infinitely old universe.

As I stated already, the idea that the universe created itself is absurd. We cannot help but come to the conclusion that the universe was created by something outside of itself. It is not enough to say that the universe was created naturally by a larger “multiverse,” which somehow spawned off the universe in which we live. This just puts the question back one step and doesn’t really answer anything. Where did the multiverse, and the laws by which it operates, come from? The most reasonable explanation for the origin of the universe–perhaps the only reasonable explanation–is that there is a being outside of the universe that is bigger than the universe who created it. We call that being “God.”

The cosmological argument won’t lead someone to faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world. But philosophical reasoning like this could break down some intellectual barriers and open doors for presentation of the truths of the Gospel.

Grace and Peace

2 thoughts on “More thoughts on the cosmological argument

  1. Pingback: Refutation: “Logical Analysis of the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God” « High School Apologetics

  2. lightsmith

    I’m not really happy with “multiverse” theories, because I don’t see any way one could get evidence for such a thing, but I think you’re too quick to dismiss this line of thought. It doesn’t really “just put the question back one step,” because it is possible that a multiverse has always existed. If that is the case, and colliding branes (or whatever) spawned this universe, I don’t think you need a sentient being.

    The usual “apologetics” answer to “What created God?” is that God always existed, or was otherwise somehow able to exist without being created. If I’m free to assign the same characteristics to the pre-universe matrix that gave rise to this universe, that answer has to be at least as satisfying as “God did it.”


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