Common Objections to Kalam: Part 2: Equivocation and Causation
Our next Common Objections to Kalam comes spuriously out of the halls of internetdom. While it is popularly used as a response to the Kalām Cosmological Argument, Adolf Grünbaum (the famous philosopher of time) was, to my knowledge, the first fellow to bring up this objection, and in a manner fitting of the internet, before it fell from the high clouds of philosophical journals it was swept up and blasted by powerful critiques; and yet in spite of this, it is still rather popular on the internet and elsewhere.
And what is this objection? Simply put: the use of “cause” in Kalam is guilty of equivocation. When it is said that a thing begins, in the usual sense, what is being referred to is not an absolute beginning ex nihilo like the universe, but the transformation of previously existent materials.
In response, the concept of causality used in Kalam is efficient causality. As such, the use of cause in Kalam refers to when a thing brings about its effect, and this includes the transformation of previously existing materials and beginnings from nothing. As Craig writes, “That this is so is evident from the fact that the proponent of the argument must confront and deal with the objection that the first cause may not have created ex nihilo, but instead transformed an eternal, quiescent universe into a universe in change.”
Tune in for the next Common Objections to Kalam! I might have another up this week to make up for my absence last week.
1. Grunbaum, Adolf. “The Pseudo-Problem of Creation in Physical Cosmology.” Philosophy of Science 56.3 (1989): 373-94. Print.
2. See: Craig 1992.
3. Grunbaum, Adolf. “The Pseudo-Problem of Creation in Physical Cosmology.” Philosophy of Science 56.3 (1989): 373-94. Print.
4. Craig, William Lane. “The Origin and Creation of the Universe: a Reply to Adolf Grünbaum.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (1992): 233-240. Print.