I recently received a question related to the Kalam Cosmological Argument. The respondent wanted to know if the atheist is really backed into either the position that you can get something from nothing or that the universe just never had a first moment.
My response is below:
I want to first clarify what you mean by saying that the atheist must believe either that the universe came from nothing or “that a universe of ordered events did not have an event #1.” It seems like you are referring to a beginning-less universe? If a universe of ordered events had no first event, then it seems it would go infinitely far in the past in beginning-less fashion. Is that what you mean?
If so, then yes it does seem as though the atheist must choose between the belief that the universe came from nothing and by nothing or that the universe never began to exist at all.
In my personal experience running the argument in evangelistic settings, I more often see them affirm that the universe came from nothing and by nothing. I had one atheist tell me that despite the fact that this is logically impossible, maybe it happened anyway. He did, however, agree that it was at least more reasonable to believe that things don’t come from nothing than that they do and we proceeded with the argument from there.
This, perhaps, highlights an important point in running these arguments. “Certainty” may be a psychological state that we can’t force on people, despite the evidence that we marshal in favor of our arguments. We may be better off making the more modest claim that Christianity is a reasonable and rational worldview to believe on the basis of the evidence. It will be up to the individual if they want to act on that evidence or dismiss it.
When I first started out studying apologetics materials, I used to be much more bold in my claims. I’ve learned through many conversations with unbelievers about apologetics related topics that the more modest approach has better legs to it and the conversations seem to go a lot further.
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