In the Cambridge Companion to Atheism, there is an article by William Craig in which he presents some arguments for the existence of God.
One of the arguments Craig presents is the kalam cosmological argument (hereafter: KCA). In this post I will examine that article to see whether it supports my view that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, as opposed to the less specific conclusion: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.
The Cambridge Companion to Atheism (edited by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Craig’s article in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism (hereafter: CCA) is titled “Theistic Critiques of Atheism”. One obvious way to criticize atheism is to present arguments that support theism, arguments for the conclusion: GOD EXISTS.
Craig talks about the “collapse of verificationism” in Anglo-American philosophy and a resulting “resurgence of metaphysics” as well as a “renaissance in Christian philosophy.” (CCA, p.69) Then Craig quotes a comment by the atheist philosopher Quentin Smith about this change. Here is a portion of that quote (emphasis added by me):
…[I]n philosophy it became, almost overnight, “academically respectable” to ARGUE for THEISM… (CCA, p.69)
Since “theism” is the view that GOD EXISTS, Smith is talking about philosophers returning to the effort to give arguments for the conclusion: GOD EXISTS. The placement of this comment from Smith in the Introduction indicates that Craig will be presenting one or more arguments for the existence of God later in this article. KCA is one of the arguments that Craig will go on to present.
In the final paragraph of the Introduction Craig makes it clear that a significant portion of this article will disucuss arguments for the existence of God (emphasis added by me):
As vanguards of a new philosophical paradigm, theistic philosophers have freely issued various critiques of atheism. In so short a space as this chapter it is impossible to do little more than sketch a few of them. These critiques could be grouped under two basic heads: (1) There are no cogent arguments for atheism, and (2) There are cogent ARGUMENTS for THEISM. (CCA, p.70)
The body of the article is indeed divided into two parts titled “NO COGENT ARGUMENTS FOR ATHEISM” (p.70-75) and “COGENT ARGUMENTS FOR THEISM” (p.75-84). So the title of the second section further indicates that Craig will present multiple “ARGUMENTS FOR THEISM”, that is, more than one argument for the conclusion that: GOD EXISTS.
The Section: COGENT ARGUMENTS FOR THEISM
The opening of the section of the article called COGENT ARGUMENTS FOR THEISM is a single sentence, that further confirms that Craig will be presenting arguments for the existence of God (emphasis added by me):
The renaissance of Christian philosophy over the last half-century has been accompanied by a new appreciation of the traditional ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. Space permits mention of only four. (CCA, p.75)
Presumably, Craig will present at leat four traditional arguments for the existence of God, in this section titled COGENT ARGUMENTS FOR THEISM. It is no surprise, then, that this section is further divided into four subsections: Contingency Argument, Cosmological Argument, Teleological Argument, and Moral Argument.
Given the statement at the opening of this section, it is clear that Craig considers these four arguments, including the cosmological argument, to be “traditional ARGUMENTS for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD”. Thus Craig believes that the cosmological argument is such an argument, and thus Craig believes that the conclusion of the cosmological argument is: GOD EXISTS. Furthermore, since the kalam cosmological argument is, obviously, a cosmological argument, Craig believes the conclusion of KCA to be: GOD EXISTS.
Furthermore, the subsection called “Cosmological Argument” (p.76-79) presents only ONE version of cosmological argument, namely the kalam cosmological argument, so it is crystal clear that Craig believes that KCA is a traditional ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, and thus that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.
While it is true that the bulk of the subsection on the cosmological argument is devoted to establishing that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, the final paragraph of Craig’s presentation of KCA goes beyond that simple claim (emphasis added by me):
It follows logically that the universe has a cause. Conceptual analysis of which properties must be possessed by such an ultramundane cause enables us to recover a striking number of the TRADITIONAL DIVINE ATTRIBUTES, revealing that IF THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, THEN AN UNCAUSED PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE EXISTS, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful. (CCA, p.79)
Craig does not here explicitly draw the conclusion that GOD EXISTS, but he clearly goes beyond the simple claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, and draws the more specific conclusion that AN UNCAUSED PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE EXISTS. Furthermore, Craig claims that by means of “conceptual analysis” we can infer that this PERSONAL CREATOR has “a striking number of the traditional divine attributes”. So, Craig is strongly suggesting that this PERSONAL CREATOR can reasonably be identified as GOD. Since Craig has concluded that A PERSONAL CREATOR with several traditional divine attributes exists, he is just one small step away from the drawing the ultimate conclusion that: GOD EXISTS.
Given that Craig has clearly implied that the cosmological argument is a traditional ARGUMENT for THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, and given that at the end of the section where Craig presents KCA he draws a conclusion that is much more specific than the simple claim that: THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, and given that the much more specific conclusion is clearly just one small step away from the claim that: GOD EXISTS, it is very likely that Craig believes that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS, even though he does not explicitly state this conclusion at the end of the section on KCA.
In any case, the view that the conclusion of KCA is merely that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE is very improbable, given that Craig clearly draws the much more specific conclusion that AN UNCAUSED PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE EXISTS who has several traditional divine attributes.
The Title and Introduction of this article provide evidence for my view of KCA. The title of the section COGENT ARGUMENTS FOR THEISM also supports my view (since KCA is one of four arguments presented in that section). The opening of that section supports my view of KCA. Finally, the subsection on Cosmological Argument supports my view, in part because Craig implies that the cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of God, and in part because KCA is the only argument discussed in the subsection called “Cosmological Argument”. The concluding paragraph of the subsection called “Cosmological Argument” also provides significant support for my view of KCA.
If William Craig’s article “Theistic Critiques of Atheism” was our ONLY source of information about KCA, then we would quite reasonably infer that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS, and that the claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE is only an intermediate conclusion on the path towards the ultimate conclusion of KCA.