What is the Conclusion of the Kalam Cosmological Argument? – Part 5

In this post I will examine the presentation of the kalam cosmological argument (KCA) found in Chapter 23 of  Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (hereafter: PFCW) 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.

Philosophical Foundations of a Christian Worldview (by William Craig and J.P. Moreland, InterVarsity Press, 2003)

Chapter Title

KCA is the primary argument presented in Chapter 23, which is titled “The Existence of God I” (PFCW, p.463).  Because of the title of the chapter, one would expect that philosophical arguments presented in this chapter would be arguments for the existence of God, not arguments for the conclusion that the universe has a cause.  So, the title of Chapter 23 implies that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.

Chapter Introduction

In the final sentence of the Introduction to Chapter 23, Craig & Moreland confirm what the focus of the chapter will be (emphasis added by me):

Specifically, in this and the succeeding chapter we shall explore the question of the existence of God. (PFCW, p.464)

Once again, since KCA is the primary argument presented in Chapter 23, this remark implies that KCA is understood by Craig and Moreland to be an argument for the existence of God, which means that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.

Section Title
The presentation of KCA occurs in a section of Chapter 23 that is called “2 The Existence of God” (PFCW, p.464).   This is the third indication (in the first two pages of Chapter 23) that KCA is considered by Craig and Moreland to be an argument for the existence of God.
Opening Paragraph of Section
In the final sentence of the opening paragraph of the section “2 The Existence of God”, in which KCA is presented, Craig and Moreland describe the contents of Chapters 23 and 24 (emphasis added by me):
Alvin Plantinga…has defended what he calls “Two Dozen (or so) Arguments for God’s Existence.”  In the space of these chapters [Chapter 23 & 24] we shall examine four of the most important. (PFCW, p.465)
So, at just three pages into Chapter 23, we already have a fourth and very clear indication that the content of Chapter 23 will be a presentation of one or more “Arguments for God’s Existence”.  Since KCA is the primary argument presented in Chapter 23, and in the chapter section called “2 The Existence of God”, it is clear that Craig and Moreland believe that KCA is an argument for the existence of God, and thus that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.
Subsection Title

The title of the subsection of Chapter 23 in which KCA is presented is: “2.1 The Cosmological Argument”.  Obviously, since “cosmological argument” is part of the name of KCA, and since KCA is presented in a subsection that is called “2.1 The Cosmological Argument”,  Craig and Moreland believe that KCA is a “cosmological argument”.  Do Craig and Moreland think that the “The Cosmological Argument” is an argument for the existence of God?  If so, then this would be a further confirmation that they view KCA as an argument for the existence of God.
In Chapter 24, Craig and Moreland present three arguments for the existence of God:  (1) the teleological argument (p.482-490),  (2) the axiological argument (p.490-496), and (3) the ontological argument (p.496-499).  As we saw earlier, Craig and Moreland state that they will cover FOUR arguments for the existence of God in Chapters 23 and 24 (see p.465).  Since they cover THREE arguments for the existence of God in Chapter 24, that means that they cover ONE argument for the existence of God in Chapter 23.  Based on the outline of Chapter 23, it is clear that the ONE argument for the existence of God covered in Chapter 23 is “The Cosmological Argument” (see outline on p.xvii):
23  THE EXISTENCE OF GOD (I)
1  Introduction
2 The Existence of God
…..2.1 The Cosmological Argument
……….2.1.1 Exposition of the Arguments
……….2.1.2 Evaluation of the Arguments
Chapter Summary
Checklist of Basic Terms and Concepts
Based on this outline of Chapter 23, it is clear that the focus of Chapter 23 is on “The Cosmological Argument”, and since the content of Chapter 23 consists of the presentation of ONE out of FOUR arguments for the existence of God, it is clear that Craig and Moreland take “The Cosmological Argument” to be an argument for the existence of God.   
Therefore, since Craig and Moreland take the cosmological argument to be an argument for the existence of God, and since the primary argument discussed in the subsection called “The Cosmological Argument” is KCA, this shows that KCA is viewed as a version of the cosmological argument, and thus is viewed by Craig and Moreland to be an argument for the existence of God.  This means that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.
Initial Summary of KCA
When Craig and Moreland give an initial summary of KCA, it is possible to interpret the summary in such a way that they assert that the conclusion of KCA is something less than that GOD EXISTS (emphasis added by me):
It [KCA] aims to show that the universe had a beginning at some moment in the finite past and , since something cannot come from out of nothing, [the universe] must therefore have a transcendent cause, which brought the universe into being.    (PFCW, p.465)
The conclusion suggested in this initial summary is that the universe had a transcendent cause (or a transcendent cause brought the universe into being).  But note that this conclusion is more specific and more relevant than the conclusion THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  If the cause of the universe is inferred to be transcendent, then the cause of the universe is something rather unusual and beyond ordinary things and experiences, something like God.  So, although the explicitly stated conclusion here falls short of the conclusion GOD EXIST, it also goes beyond the very simple and general conclusion that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, and clearly leans in the direction of the conclusion GOD EXISTS.  Therefore, this brief summary statement rules out the view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, but it leaves open the possiblity that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.
Given that there have already been five indications that KCA is viewed by Craig and Moreland as an argument for the existence of God, the failure to explicitly state that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS does NOT rule out this interpretation of KCA.  Given a choice between the alternative conclusions THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE and GOD EXISTS, the latter is clearly the more likely interpretation, based on the evidence we have reviewed so far.
The Thomist Cosmological Argument
Craig and Moreland discuss three versions of the cosmological argument:  (1) the Thomist version, (2) the Leibnizian verion, and (3) the kalam version.  They devote only one page to the Thomist version.  There is no standard-form argument (with numbered premises) for the Thomist version, but it is fairly clear that the ulimate conclusion of the Thomist version of the cosmological argument is that GOD EXISTS.  Consider the very last sentence of the short explication of this argument:
Thomas identifies this being [“the Ground of Being”] with the God whose name was revealed to Moses as “I am” (Ex. 3:14).  (PFCW, p.466)
In other words, IF the Ground of Being exists, THEN God exists, and the Ground of Being does exist, thus: God exists.  So,  although Craig and Moreland fail to explicitly state the conclusion of the Thomist cosmological argument, they clearly imply that the conclusion is: GOD EXISTS.  This supports my view, which is that although they also fail to explicitly state the conclusion of the kalam cosmological argument, they also clearly imply that the conclusion of KCA is: GOD EXISTS.  This also supports the previous point that in the view of Craig and Moreland, the cosmological argument (i.e. each version of the cosmological argument) is an argument for the existence of God.
The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument
We see the same pattern in the presentation of the Leibnizian cosmological argument.  Craig and Moreland write only two pages on this version of the cosmological argument.  This time they do summarize it in a standard-form argument:
1. Every existing thing has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3. The universe is an existing thing.
4. Therefore the explanation of the existence of the universe is God.  (PFCW, p.466)
The conclusion does not explicitly state that GOD EXISTS, but the argument clearly implies that GOD EXISTS, since in order for God to explain the existence of the universe, God must actually exist.  Furthermore, in the exposition of this argument on the following page, Craig and Moreland do state the conclusion explicitly (emphasis added by me):
Since, as premise (3) [of the Leibnizian cosmological argument] states, the universe is obviously an existing thing…, it follows that God exists.  (PFCW, p.467)
So, although the ultimate conclusion of the Leibnizian cosmological argument is clearly that GOD EXISTS, the conclusion of the standard-form summary of this argument does NOT explicitly state the conclusion to be that GOD EXISTS.  This supports my view of their understanding of the kalam cosmological argument.  First, this provides additional confirmation that Craig and Moreland view the cosmological argument (i.e. each version of cosmological argument) as being an argument for the existence of God.  
Second, although the standard-form argument summarizing the Leibnizian cosmological argument does not explicitly state the conlusion to be that GOD EXISTS, it is clear that the ultimate conclusion of this cosmological argument is that GOD EXISTS.  Thus, this provides support for my view that although Craig and Moreland do not provide a standard-form summary argument for KCA in which the conclusion explicitly states that GOD EXISTS, it might still be the case that they believe that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS.
Both the Thomist and Leibnizian versions of cosmological argument are clearly arguments for the existence of God, even though Craig and Moreland fail to explicitly state the ultimate conclusion that GOD EXISTS in summaries of these arguments.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument
Craig and Moreland devote a dozen pages to their discussion of KCA. Clearly, they believe this to be the best and most important version of the cosmological argument, and thus the best cosmological argument for the existence of God, since that is the whole point of discussion the cosmological argument as one of four of the most important types of argument for the existence of God (PFCW, p.465).
In the very first paragraph of this twelve-page exposition on KCA, Craig and Moreland describe the argument this way:
Thus the kalam argument…constitutes an independent argument for a transcendent Creator…   (PFCW, p.468)
Craig and Moreland clearly view the conclusion of KCA to be something more specific than just the general claim that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  They believe that KCA shows the existence of “a transcendent Creator”.  “Transcendent” suggests or implies supernatural, and “Creator” implies an intelligent person.  Clearly, the concept of  “a transcendent Creator” is getting very close to the idea of “God”.   So, we can see that if KCA can show that “a transcendent Creator” exists, then KCA might well be used as an argument for the conclusion that GOD EXISTS.
Craig and Moreland provide a standard-form summary argument for KCA:
1.  Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.  (PFCW, p. 468)
One could point to this summary of KCA, and argue that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, since that is the explicitly-stated conclusion of this standard-form summary argument.  However, we have already seen a great deal of evidence indicating that the ultimate conclusion of the cosmological argument (i.e. of each version of cosmological argument) is that GOD EXISTS.
Furthermore, we have seen that Craig and Moreland do in fact view the ultimate conclusion of the Thomist and Leibnizian versions of the cosmological argument to be that GOD EXISTS, even though they fail to explicitly state this conclusion in summaries of those two versions of the cosmological argument.  Thus, we have good reason to doubt that the conclusion (3) is the ultimate conclusion of KCA.
Furthermore, the sentence that immediately follows the above summary argument, implies that there is more to KCA than what is contained in the summary argument (emphasis added by me):
Conceptual analysis of what it means to be a cause of the universe then aims to establish some of the theologically significant properties of this being. (PFCW, p.468)
In other words, additional reasoning is required to get from the general sub-conclusion stated in (3) to the ultimate conclusion: GOD EXISTS.
 Closing Two Paragraphs on KCA
If the ultimate conclusion of KCA was that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, then we would expect the discussion of KCA to come to an end once that conclusion had been reached.  But the discussion of KCA in Chapter 23 continues for two paragraphs after reaching that conclusion, and the second paragraph is a long one, taking up about one half of a page (and the pages are of substantial length in this book).  Recall that the entire discussion of the Thomist cosmological argument took up only one single page.  The combination of the final two paragraphs on KCA is about 3/4 of a page, so this additional discussion after the conclusion is reached that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, is clearly of significance.
In the first of the two closing paragraphs on KCA, several characteristics of “the cause” of the universe are inferred:
Conceptual analysis enables us to recover a number of striking properties that must be possessed by such an ultramundane being.  For as the cause of space and time, this entity must transcend space and time and therefore exist atemporally and nonspatially, at least without the universe.  This transcendent cause must therefore be changlesss and immaterial, since timelessness entails changelessness, and changlessness implies immateriality.  Such a cause must be beginningless and uncaused,  at least in the sense of lacking any antecedent causal conditions.  Ockham’s razor will shave away  further causes, since we should not multiply causes beyond necessity.  This entity must be unimaginably powerful, since it created the universe without any material cause.  (PFCW, p.479)
All of this reasoning is based on the prior conclusion that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  Clearly, this reasoning gets us much closer to the view that God created the universe, and thus to the conclusion that GOD EXISTS.
The second and final paragraph on KCA continues with further reasoning about “the cause” of the universe (emphasis added by me):
Finally, and most remarkably, such a transcendent cause is plausibly taken to be personal.  Three reasons can be given for this conclusion. … (PFCW, p.479)
Near the end of the final paragraph on KCA we read the following statement:
Thus we are brought, not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe, but to its Personal Creator.  (PFCW, p.480)
So, clearly the conclusion of KCA is at least that THERE EXISTS A TRANSCENDENT PERSONAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE,  which is much more specific than the simple conclusion that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE.  Furthermore, it is easy to see how the conclusion that there is a TRANSCENDENT (i.e. timeless, changeless, immaterial, and unimaginably powerful) PERSONAL (i.e. an intelligent person) CREATOR (i.e. who designed and created the universe), would be the basis for a further inference to the conclusion that GOD EXISTS.  Thus, it is clear that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is NOT that THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE, but rather that GOD EXISTS.
In summary, the Chapter title, the section title, and the subsection title all support my view that the conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS.  Furthermore, the introduction of the chapter, the opening paragraph of the section “2 The Existence of God”, and the expositions of both the Thomist and Leibnizian versions of the cosmological argument, support my view that the conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS.  Finally, the lengthy discussion of KCA, including the opening paragraph, the initial description of KCA, and the final closing paragraphs about KCA, all support my view that the ultimate conclusion of KCA is that GOD EXISTS.

If Chapter 23 of  Philosophical Foundations of a Christian Worldview 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.

 
 

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