Jeffrey Jay Lowder, blogger, debater, author and founder of the Internet Infidels, has written the foreword to Jonathan MS Pearce’s imminent book on the Kalam Cosmological Argument (presently titled: Did God Create a Universe from Nothing? Countering William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument). It reads:
There are many arguments for and against God’s existence. For almost 40 years, philosopher William Lane Craig has promoted and defended one particular argument for God’s existence more than any other: the kalām cosmological argument. In addition to his own body of work, there is now an entire body of secondary literature about the argument.
But why does the kalām cosmological argument continue to attract so much interest? There are probably many reasons. In no particular order, these reasons might include the following:
- Craig is widely regarded as one of the top, if not the top, defenders of theism today. He regularly debates the existence of God on college campuses around the world. When he does, his case for theism always includes the kalām cosmological argument, thus helping to provide the argument with broad exposure before the general public.
- As the old saying goes, “The best defense is a good defense.” I suspect that many theists, including Craig himself, like the kalām cosmological argument because it enables theists to go on the offensive against people who say, “science disproves God.” By appealing to scientific evidence for Big Bang cosmology in support of the kalām cosmological argument, the argument empowers theists to argue that scientific evidence supports the existence of God.
- Many people, myself included, find the argument interesting because it raises many important questions in philosophy (such as time, causation, realism, and free will), mathematics (e.g., transfinite arithmetic, infinity, etc.), science (i.e., cosmology), and theology (e.g., the relationship between God and time, whether the impossibility of an actual infinite provides the basis for an argument against Mormonism, whether a universe that is billions of years old is compatible with the age of creation implied by a literal interpretation of Genesis, etc.).
Did God Create a Universe from Nothing? is the best beginner- to intermediate-level book I’ve seen to critically assess the kalām cosmological argument. It covers a lot of the territory mentioned in my third bullet point above and so functions nicely as a sort of “user’s guide” to the argument, but it does so in a way that should be accessible to the general reader.
In addition to its utility and accessibility, the book also appealed to me because of its intellectual integrity. Philosopher Quentin Smith once wrote an article in the journal Philo entitled, “The Metaphilosophy of Naturalism.”[i] In that article, Smith argued that, while naturalism is true and theism is false, most contemporary atheist philosophers were unjustified in their belief that naturalism is true and theism false. Why? Because they accepted naturalism (and rejected theism) on the basis of bad arguments and objections. (It is sad to think about the fact that the naturalists who most need to read Smith’s essay are the same naturalists who are also the least likely to do so.)
I view Did God Create a Universe from Nothing? as a helpful corrective to the trend described by Smith. Jonathan Pearce is to be commended for his obvious concern for accuracy; if only more atheists would read this book, then atheist commentators on the kalām argument would be much better informed. So I’ll stop singing the book’s praises now and let it go to press. Many readers interested in the argument—theists and nontheists alike—would greatly benefit from the insights of this book.
JEFFERY JAY LOWDER
[i] Smith (2001)