Common Objections to Kalam: Part 1: Quantum Mechanics:
In leu of the periodical nature of my previous post, I thought I would do something similar with the Kalam Cosmological Argument for God’s existence. Thus, Common Objections to Kalam (COK for short) has been birthed! Like Bedside reading this will be a weekly endeavor, but unlike Bedside reading, I’ll eventually run out of objections, and at a rather quicker rate. Regardless, this week the objection mentioned is easy, nay too easy, but we have to start somewhere, and why not start with one of THE most popular objections to the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Of course, before I do that I’ll have to state the Kalam:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
Lots of our internet pals like to throw around the claim that quantum mechanics has shown that the first premise is not true. It is said that within quantum mechanics quantum physicists observe the beginning to exist of subatomic particles without any prior material cause! Similarly, it is said that certain cosmological models invoke quantum fluctuations such that the universe begins to exist uncaused (see Vilenkin’s quantum creation model, for instance).
In response, one might note that the sort of interpretation of quantum events being proffered here is the Copenhagen interpretation. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is an indeterministic interpretation of quantum physics. Many physicists have become dissatisfied with the traditional indeterministic view, and are therefore exploring deterministic interpretations (see the Bohmian interpretation); in fact, most available interpretations are themselves deterministic.
Now, even on the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, subatomic particles do not literally pop into and out of existence without any prior cause, but rather they arise as spontaneous fluctuations in a quantum vacuum. The quantum vacuum is the indeterministic cause of the fluctuation; it cannot be characterized as nothing, but as a vacuum operating under physical laws. In the same turn, universe models that describe the universe’s coming to be as a quantum event are said to arise from a quantum vacuum that is a sea of fluctuating energy subject to physical laws.
1. Craig, William Lane, and James D. Sinclair. “The Kalam Cosmological Argument.” The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Ed. James P. Moreland. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 182-83. Print.
2. Ibid., 183.