Monday, September 21, 2009

Beginnings and Causes and God (2)

The virtue of the Kalmic argument for God's existence is that it avoids the problem of who created God by declaring as its premise that "Everything that begins has a cause." Without this premise, you would have a infinite regression of early and earlier causes without ever getting to a beginning cause.

In order for this little trick to work, the set that is composes of things that have a beginning must not be exactly the same as the set that is composed of all things. Otherwise, the qualifier "that begins" is meaningless and "everything that begins has a cause" just reduces to "everything has a cause." Therefore, an implied premise of the Kalamic argument must be "Some things don't have a beginning."

Unfortunately, God is the only thing that doesn't have a beginning and the existence of God is the conclusion of the argument. Since you cannot use the conclusion of an argument as a premise, the Kalamic argument seems to be fatally flawed.

Of course, I don't see why an infinite being is any more satisfying than an infinite regression. As Alec pointed out in a comment to my previous post on this topic, man's brain is not equipped to deal with the infinite. Substituting one infinite abstraction is pointless.


  1. pointless you say? Having a foundation in something, or even attempting to create one so that one may "find purpose" (or create it) is pointless? if it is pointless, then why did you post on it?

  2. It seems as though you skipped the entire entry and then decided to comment on only the last word. What's pointless is trying to resolve the flaw in the metaphysical argument, both for the reasons explained here and because metaphysics is dead and no one really expects it to tell us anything about the universe aside from giving some kind of structure to our own understanding.

  3. Denis,

    Robin is right. This really doesn't have anything to do with metaphysics. It has to do with the need for "purpose" in one's life, and if that "purpose" depends on a magic book by which a personal God reveals himself directly to his creatures, then the validity of any argument solely depends on the extent to which it supports belief in that God.


    I think purpose is a fine thing, but if the only way to find it is by abandoning reason and empirical reality, I think I'll take a pass, and any God who would want me to do so is not worthy of worship.

  4. "..the Kalamic argument seems to be fatally flawed."

    Though it irks me when believers respond with the "which begins to exist" clause, I don't see that you've made the case. Noting the insufficiency of said clause doesn't fix the conundrum.

    "I don't see why an infinite being is any more satisfying than an infinite regression."

    For whatever it's worth, I see a conflation of terms there. I identify an "infinite regress" as an unbroken chain of cause and effect. This is not the same as the Unmoved Mover called for in the classical arguments.