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The Kalam Cosmological Argument [Paperback]

By William Lane Craig (Author)
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The Kalam Cosmological Argument by William Lane Craig

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.53"
Weight:   0.72 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 30, 2000
Publisher   Wipf & Stock Publishers
ISBN  157910438X  
ISBN13  9781579104382  

Availability  2 units.
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More About William Lane Craig

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William Lane Craig (PhD, University of Birmingham, England; DTheol, University of Munich) is research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California, and at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas. He has authored or edited over thirty books and is the founder of, a web-based apologetics ministry.

William Lane Craig currently resides in the state of California. William Lane Craig was born in 1949 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, USA Catholic University of Louva.

William Lane Craig has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Counterpoints
  2. Library of Philosophy and Religion

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Ethics & Morality
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Apologetics

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Kalam Cosmological Argument?

An excellent treatment of the argument  Dec 25, 2007
Craig's book, "The Kalam Cosmological Argument", is essential reading for anyone interested in this controversial, but highly compelling, argument for the existence of God. The book is divided into two main sections: first, a history of the argument as detailed by philosophers especially in the Arabic world; and secondly, Craig's own formulation and defense of the argument in light of modern mathematical, philosophical, and scientific thought.

The first section can be skipped it you are just looking for a quick understanding of Craig's reasons for accepting the kalam argument. If, however, you find it helpful (I do) to come to terms with some of the background of how the argument came to be developed, I highly recommend it. The parts detailing why Arabic philosophers rejected the possibility of an infinite regress is still very relevent today, and the author is quick to highlight this.

Craig's defense of the argument can be tedious at times, but it is well worth the effort if you want a full understanding of the issue from all bases. The argument is formulated like this:

1. Everything that comes into existence has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe came into existence.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

He begins with the second premise and offers four sub-arguments in defense of it: 1) the impossibility of an actually infinite set; 2) the impossibility of forming an actually infinite set by successive addition; 3) the Big Bang theory; and 4) the Laws of Thermodynamics.

The first premise is not treated as extensively, but Craig does point out that it is based on the metaphysical principle, ex nihilo nihil fit ("out of nothing comes nothing"). He argues that since being cannot arise from non-being, then the universe must have come from some transcendent cause.

It is important to note, though, that the argument does not end with a mere transcendent cause, but that it points to the universe's personal creator. Craig argues that if the cause of the universe were impersonal and mechanic, then all the conditions for causation would have existed timelessly, and so any effects it produced would likewise be timeless. Only if the cause freely chose to enter into time could there be a temporal effect from a timeless being, and since only persons have the agency of free will, the cause of the universe must be personal.

Two appendices are included: Zeno's paradoxes and Kant's First Antinomy.

Whether or not one agrees with the argument, no one will be let down after giving this book an honest read. As a Christian theist myself, I believe this is perhaps the most rationally compelling argument for God's existence, and Craig's defense of it is undeniably among the best.
An Excellent but Outdated Defense  Sep 19, 2007
In "The Kalam Cosmological Argument," William Lane Craig explains and defends a frequently overlooked argument for God's existence. Craig contends that the Kalam version of the Cosmological Argument, which seeks to establish a First Cause responsible for bringing the temporally finite universe into being, is a sound and persuasive argument for the existence of God.

In this book, Craig first surveys the history of the argument, particualarly as it is defended by al-Kindi, Saadia, and al-Ghazali. These three philosophers defended the minority view that the universe had a beginning a finite time ago. Using philosophical and mathematical arguments, they attempted to establish the impossibility of an actual infinite in the real world.

After a brief overview of these philosophers' arguments concerning the beginning of the universe, Craig attempts to construct a modern case for the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which is:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

Turning first to the second premise, Craig builds a four-fold defense of the conclusion that the universe began to exist. First, he argues that it is impossible for an actual infinite to exist in the real world. He shows that Cantorian set theory, though perhaps a consistent and useful mathematical system, cannot be applied to the real world without insuperable inconsistencies and contradictions. Using illustrations, he demonstrates that infinite quantities cannot be subtracted or divided without logical contradictions in the real world. But, argues Craig, it is illegitimate to simply stipulate that infinite quantities cannot be subtracted or divided in the real world, since in the real world there is nothing to stop someone from removing a book from a library with a supposedly infinite number of books. Since an actual infinite cannot exist in the real world, concludes Craig, the universe must have had a beginning, for it is impossible for an infinite number of events to have occurred or an infinite number of hours to have elapsed.

Second, Craig argues that it is impossible to form an infinite by successive addition. No matter how many numbers you count, you can still count one more. Yet, the temporal series of events occurring in the universe is a formed by successive addition. Thus, it is impossible for the universe to have existed forever.

Turning to scientific confirmation, Craig's third argument is that the expansion of the universe, and the resulting Big Bang cosmological model, demonstrate that the universe began to exist. The evidence for the expansion of the universe, and thus the beginning of the universe, is overwhelming- confirmed by galactic redshift and microwave cosmic background radiation. Due to these findings and others, virtually all scientists now acknowledge that the universe is expanding. Such an expansion, extrapolated backwards in time, confirms that the universe began to exist.

Fourth, Craig argues that the second law of thermodynamics guarantees that the universe has not existed forever. The second law stipulates that all systems have the tendency to pass from a state of lower entropy (disorder) to higher entropy (disorder). Consider, for example, that our sun is currently using up energy, and will eventually run down. Inevitably, all the stars will burn up all their energy. Likewise, the entire universe is going to run out of usable energy, and the universe will experience a `heat death.' But if scientists know that the universe will eventually be in a state of maximum entropy and heat death, then why is not the universe already in this state, if it has already existed forever? Since we are not currently in a state of heat death, it follows inescapably that the universe had a beginning a finite time ago.

After constructing an elaborate case for the second premise of the Kalam Argument, Craig briefly addresses the first premise. He contends that the premise "everything which begins to exist requires a cause" is so intuitively obvious that any argument one could make for it is bound to be less convincing than the premise itself. Craig briefly mentions two arguments. First, he notes that the causal principle is constantly verified and never falsified in our experience. Second, he claims that the Kantian mental category of causality may be used to defend the principle as an a priori intuition that makes rational thought possible.

Having defended both premises, Craig briefly reflects on the conclusion, that the universe began to exist. He then argues, via the principle of determination, that the cause of the universe must necessarily be a free personal agent, for such an agent is required in order to bring a temporal effect (the universe) from eternity.

Overall, The Kalam Cosmological Argument was a good read and an excellent contribution to natural theology. However, as a result of being outdated, Craig's work here is largely irrelevant. Craig constructs an extraordinarily powerful case for the second premise, but unfortunately, it is the first premise which has largely come under attack in recent discussions. Thus, this book does not really address the most important contemporary objections to the argument. Craig has a number of other works in which these concerns are addressed. Therefore, unless you are looking for an historical overview of the Kalam argument or you are seeking a robust defense of a beginning of the universe, The Kalam Cosmological Argument is simply not relevant enough for contemporary discussion.
One of the most discussed books in philosophy of religion  Aug 4, 2006
William Lane Craig's 1979 book THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT is one of the most discussed books in philosophy journals since the emergence of realist theism in the 1970s (more precisely, with Plantinga's 1967 book GOD AND OTHER MINDS). Counting articles, one arrives at the result that Craig's book and Plantinga's 1974 book THE NATURE OF NECESSITY are the most discussed books in this field. One difference is that Craig's book has remained fairly constant in terms of the number of articles written about it in the past 25-27 years, with Plantinga's second and third WARRANT books replacing his 1974 book as his most discussed books. In terms of influencing the topics of thought in the field of philosophy of religion, Craig's book, along with Swinburne's THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, William Rowe's books (and his "forest fire" article) and Plantinga's books, have formed the set of works that have been more influential than any other set of works with a comparable numbers of members (say, 10 or so works).
Craig's book is distinctive in another respect; it is the first theistic book to present a detailed discussion of big bang cosmology and its relation to theism and it remains today the most important theistic discussion of big bang cosmology, conjoined with his co-authored book THEISM, ATHEISM AND BIG BANG COSMOLOGY [1993], which includes the most substantive part of THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT. In the latter book, Craig is able to present technical material in a very accessible manner.
(As an aside, his DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE AND HUMAN FREEDOM [Brill] is an extensive, exhaustive, highly erudite book, perhaps being the most rigorous and informative book on the topic. It is virtually inaccessible and Brill has given it an excessive price. It should be made available in some way to philosophers of religion. In addition, his four books on time (2000, 2001), published by Kluwer, should be published in affordable paperback editions.)
What a waste of words  Jul 5, 2006
The kalam is basically a trick to make the Design Argument for the existence of god(s) look like a serious one. The trick is also in asserting that "the universe" is everything when all it is is what we can perceive. If everything that we perceive had a beginning, and it appears that it does, it does not mean that the cause was god(s). Indeed, if one is going to speculate about things that might or might not exist because we cannot perceive them, it is best to keep one's speculations as simple as possible. God(s) are not the simplest explanations. Other realms of reality, other universes, universes spewing out of holes in other universes and other things that are at least consistent with the *kind* of things that we know exist, are far simpler and more reasonable. If one is going to put "God" as the cause, then why not a supernatural grizzly bear? Or any number of other things (look up the flying spaghetti monster, folks!)? Think of a barnacle on the hull of a ship on one of the earth's oceans ... how much could such a barnacle tell about the nature of reality? But would it make sense for it to conclude that, therefore, a supernatural barnacle was out there?

Here is the bottom line: something exists. And there is no reason to suppose that something hasn't always existed even though it has changed its form/appearance over time. It simply doesn't follow that because we don't know what that something was like before the beginning of spacetime that we can perceive that, therefore, the God of William Lane Craig exists.
A Review of The Kalam Cosmological Argument by Wiliam Lane Craig  Dec 24, 2005
This book is a great introduction to the kalam cosmological argument and it has very informative endnotes.The kalam cosmological argument is an argument for God's existence that is based on the beginning of the universe and its resultant need of a cause. This book is divided into two main sections and two appendices.The first section of the book is about the history of the argument and covers Al-Kindi,Saadia,and Al-Ghazali.The second section is about the modern defense and formulation of the kalam cosmological argument.It includes some philosophical arguments for the finitude of the past and some empirical confirmations of these arguments.The appendices are about Zeno's Paradoxes and Kant's First Antinomy.The second main section of the book is by far the best part.The empirical confirmations included in this section are a bit dated because the book was written in 1979.However,this section includes excellent refutations of Tolman's oscillating model.The philosophical arguments for the finitude of time are based on the impossibility of the actual infinite and the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive synthesis.Craig's arguments against an actual infinite include the Principle of Correspondence,the fact that infinite sets with different ordinal numbers can have the same cardinal number,and the fact that there exist ( in the mathematical realm) infinite sets of varying cardinality. For information on up-to-date empirical confirmations of the kalam cosmological argument,I recommend reading Craig's essay "Design and the Cosmological Argument" in the book Mere Creation.

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