In the previous post on this topic, I argued that William Craig’s book The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe (Here’s Life Publishers, 1979) provides a good deal of evidence supporting my view that the ultimate conclusion of the kalam cosmological argument (hereafter: KCA) is: GOD EXISTS, and that book also provides evidence AGAINST the view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
Now I will examine Craig’s book Apologetics to see whether it also supports my view about the conclusion of KCA.
Apologetics: An Introduction (Moody Press, 1984)
In the Preface of Apologetics, Craig points to two central issues of apologetics (emphasis in CAPS added by me):
…I recommend that the student read my two books, The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe…and The Son Rises…as background for the sections on THE EXISTENCE OF GOD and the resurrection of Jesus respectively…
The course [embodied in this book Apologetics] is designed to provide background and critical discussion pertaining to the basic issues of A POSITIVE CASE FOR Christianity. I consider the two “hinge” issues to be THE EXISTENCE OF GOD and the resurrection of Jesus. (Apologetics, p.x)
Thus, Craig believes that a central issue of apologetics is “Does God Exist?”. Note that Craig suggests students read his book on the kalam cosmological argument (hereafter: KCA) called The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe as background for the section in Apologetics concerning THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. This is further confirmation that KCA is an argument for the existence of God, and thus that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, and that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is NOT the claim: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
The opening sentences of the Introduction (of Apologetics), tell us the focus or purpose of the discipline of apologetics (emphasis added by me):
Apologetics is primarily a theoretical discipline, though it has practical application. That is to say, apologetics is that branch of theology that seeks to provide A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION for the TRUTH CLAIMS of the Christian faith. (Apologetics, p. xi)
Since the purpose of apologetics is to “provide A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION” for Christian truth claims, and since Craig believes that one of the most important issues in apologetics is “THE EXISTENCE OF GOD” (i.e. Does God exist?), one would expect that this book would include one or more attempts to “provide A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION” for the Christian claim that GOD EXISTS. Looking over the “Analytic Outline” of Apologetics (presented immediately after the Introduction), we see that there is an entire section of the book that appears to be devoted to this topic:
3.1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Given what Craig says in the Preface and Introduction, one would expect to find one or more arguments for the existence of God in this section of the book. In one of the subsections of 3.1, it appears that Craig will discuss different versions of some traditional arguments for the existence of God:
3.12 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
3.121 ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
3.1211 Anselm of Canterbury
3.122 COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
3.1222 Thomas Aquinas
3.1223 G.W. F. Leibniz
3.123 TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
3.1231 Plato and Aristotle
3.1232 Thomas Aquinas
3.1233 William Paley
3.124 MORAL ARGUMENT
3.1241 Thomas Aquinas
3.1242 William R. Sorley
Thus it appears that the contents of this book, and especially the content of section 3.1 on THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, will indeed line up with the expectations that Craig creates in the Preface and Introduction to Apologetics. Specifically, it appears that Craig will present and discuss arguments for the Christian claim that GOD EXISTS in section 3.1 of Apologetics.
In the opening paragraphs of section 3.1 on THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, Craig indicates that this section will indeed cover arguments for God’s existence (emphasis added by me):
I think there are GOOD REASONS for believing that GOD EXISTS. Accordingly we shall in this locus [i.e. in section 3.1] examine various ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. (Apologetics, p.58)
At the end of this opening for section 3.1, Craig also gives and indication that he will cover some traditional arguments for the existence of God (emphasis added by me):
…not long ago Time carried a lengthy article on the renewed interest among philosophers in all the TRADITIONAL ARGUMENTS for GOD’S EXISTENCE. That is an ecouraging sign that the question of GOD’S EXISTENCE will not be abandoned to the fideists and the atheists. (Apologetics, p.58)
As we saw in the Analytical Outline of section 3.1, Craig plans to discuss the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, and the moral argument. To those familiar with the philosophy of religion, these are all recognizable names or categories of “TRADITIONAL ARGUMENTS for GOD’S EXISTENCE.” So, this confirms my view that when Craig discusses versions of the cosmological argument (in 3.122), he takes himself to be discussing various arguments “for GOD’S EXISTENCE”.
The view that Craig takes the various arguments discussed in section 3.12 HISTORICAL BACKGOUND to be “ARGUMENTS for GOD’S EXISTENCE” is further confirmed by comments Craig makes at the beginning of the sections on ontological, teleological, and moral arguments (emphasis added by me):
The ontological argument ATTEMPTS TO PROVE from the very concept of God that GOD EXISTS: if God is conceivable, then He must actually exist. (Apologetics, p.61)
Perhaps the oldest and most popular of all the ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD is the teleological argument. (Apologetics, p.66)
The moral ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD argues for the existence of a Being that is the embodiment of the ultimate Good, which is the source of the objective moral values we experience in the world. (Apologetics, p.70)
Given that the Preface and Introduction create the expectation that Craig will discuss arguments for the existence of God, and given that the Analytic Outline and the opening paragraphs of section 3.1 indicate that Craig will discuss arguments for the existence of God in section 3.1, and given that three out of the four categories of arguments discussed in section 3.12 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND are explicitly stated to be “ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”, and given that in the field of philosophy of religion “Cosmological Arguments” are generally considered to be arguments for the existence of God, it is more than reasonable to infer that the section 3.122 COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT is also concerned with various versions of “ARGUMENTS for the EXISTENCE OF GOD” in Craig’s view. Since one of the cosmological arguments covered by Craig in section 3.122 is the kalam cosmological argument (i.e. the cosmological argument by Al-Ghazali is KCA), it is reasonable to conclude that Craig is representing KCA as an “ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”.
Furthermore, Craig explicitly characterizes KCA as being such an argument (emphasis added by me):
The KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT originated in the attempts of Christian thinkers to rebut Aristotle’s doctrine of the eternity of the universe and was developed by medieval Islamic theologians into an ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. (Apologetics, p. 62)
For my part, however, I find the KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT for a temporal first cause of the universe to be the most plausible ARGUMENT for GOD’S EXISTENCE. I have defended THIS ARGUMENT in two books, The Kalam Cosmological Argument and The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe. (Apologetics, p.73)
Note that Craig here states that his book The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe was a presentation of KCA, and in the previous discussion about that book, we saw that the conclusion of the argument presented in that book is: GOD EXISTS.
Because Craig believes KCA to be “the most plausible ARGUMENT for GOD’S EXISTENCE” this is the only argument that he discusses in 3.13 ASSESSMENT, a subsection of 3.1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. At the end of this subsection, Craig works his way toward the ultimate conclusion of the argument (emphasis in CAPS added by me):
From what we have already said this cause [of the universe] would have to be uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial. Moreover, I would argue, IT MUST ALSO BE PERSONAL. …a temporal effect may be caused by AN ETERNALLY EXISTING AGENT. In fact, the agent may have purposed eternally to do some act in time. Thus the Bible speaks of the eternal plan, hidden for ages in GOD WHO CREATED ALL THINGS, which GOD has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:11). THEREFORE, we are brought, not merely to a First Cause of the universe, but to THE PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. (Apologetics, p.93)
The explicit conclusion here is that there exists a being who is “THE PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE” (who is also uncaused, eternal, and immaterial). Clearly, Craig believes that such a being is a close match with the concept of “God” as this concept is understood in the Christian faith, and he believes it is reasonable to draw the ultimate conclusion that: GOD EXISTS.
While it is true that Craig does not explicitly state the conclusion that GOD EXISTS here in the final paragraph about KCA, given the clear context that he is discussing “ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD” and that Craig considers KCA to be “the most plausible ARGUMENT for GOD’S EXISTENCE”, it is very reasonable to infer that Craig sees the ultimate conclusion of KCA to be: GOD EXISTS. Furthermore, the explicit conclusion that there is a being who is “THE PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE” clearly goes beyond the simple claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
This iterpretation of the final paragraph of the subsection about KCA is confirmed by comments that Craig makes in the very next section 3.14 PRACTICAL APPLICATION, which is the final subsection of 3.1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
In this final subsection, Craig relates some stories about using arguments for the existence of God in evangelism. The first story clearly implies that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS. The story is about an occasion when Craig’s wife used KCA to persuade someone to believe in God (emphasis added by me):
For example, my wife Jan, was once talking to a girl in the student union and this girl said that she did not BELIEVE IN GOD. Jan replied, “Well, what do you think of the argument for a first cause?” “What’s that?” said the girl. My wife explained, “Everything we see has a cause, and those causes have causes, and so on. But this can’t go back forever. There had to be a beginning and a first cause which started the whole thing. THIS IS GOD.” Now that was obviously a very simple statement of THE ARGUMENT WE HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING. The girl responded, “I guess GOD EXISTS after all.” She was not ready to receive Christ at that point, but at least she had moved one step closer, AWAY FROM her ATHEISM. (Apologetics, p.94)
Clearly, Jan was presenting a simple version of KCA to this girl, and clearly when Jan asserted “THIS IS GOD” at the end of her brief statement of KCA, she implied the conclusion of her argument to be: GOD EXISTS. Craig does not correct his wife here. For example, he does not say, “Jan was ignorant of the fact that the kalam cosmological argument only shows that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE not that GOD EXISTS.” Craig sees it as completely appropriate for the girl to give up her atheism and to instead “BELIEVE IN GOD” on the basis of Jan’s presentation of KCA.
Craig tells another story about his wife’s evangelism, involving the use of KCA to persuade a physicist to believe in God (emphasis added by me):
…in West Germany we met a physicist from behind the Iron Curtain. As we chatted, he mentioned that physics had destroyed his BELIEF IN GOD and that life had become meaningless to him. …at that point, my wife popped, “Oh, you should read Bill’s doctoral dissertation! He uses physics to PROVE GOD EXISTS.” So we lent him my dissertation on THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT to read. (Apologetics, p.94)
After reading Craig’s dissertation on KCA, the physicist comes to believe in God and he converts to Christianity. Again, Craig makes no comment correcting his wife. So, we are left with the impression that Craig agrees that the presentation of KCA in his dissertation leads to the conclusion that: “GOD EXISTS”.
The very last sentence in section 3.1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD provides additional confirmation that this section was concerned with providing one or more good arguments for the existence of God (emphasis added by me):
In an age of increasing atheism and agnosticism, we cannot afford to forgo AN APOLOGETIC FOR this most basic of all Christian beliefs: THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. (Apologetics, p. 95)
Since Craig has focused primarily on KCA in section 3.1, and only briefly touched on other arguments, and since the purpose of apologetics is to “provide A RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION for the TRUTH CLAIMS of the Christian faith” (Apologetics, p.xi), this final comment strongly suggests that KCA provides such a “RATIONAL JUSTIFICATION” for the claim that: GOD EXISTS.
Craig’s book Apologetics provides significant evidence for the view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, and it provides significant evidence AGAINST the view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
There is evidence in the Preface for my view, and in the Introduction, and in the Analytic Outline of Apologetics. There is evidence for my view in the title of section 3.1 : “THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”, and more evidence in the opening paragraphs of section 3.1 that describe the purpose of that section.
There is evidence for my view in the fact that Craig describes three of the categories of arguments discussed in 3.12 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND as being “ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”, and there is further evidence for my view in the fact that Craig specifically characterizes KCA as being an “ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD” (Apologetics, p. 62) and an “ARGUMENT for GOD’S EXISTENCE” (Apologetics, p.73).
There is evidence for my view at the end of section 3.13 ASSESSMENT, where Craig wraps up his presentation of KCA. There is also some evidence for my view in section 3.14 PRACTICAL APPLICATION, where Craig tells stories about how KCA can be used to convince people to “BELIEVE IN GOD”. And there is a bit more evidence for my view in the final sentence of section 3.1.
If the book Apologetics was our ONLY source for information about KCA, we would quite reasonably infer from this book that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.
This article is archived.