Common Objection to Kalam: Part 3: Multiplicity of Causes

As promised, Part 3 of Common Objections to Kalam is here. I tackle yet another rather common, but no less important, objection to the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

And like our previous objection, Adolf Grünbaum used this exact objection in his Group 1 objections to the Kalam Cosmological Argument in, “The Pseudo-Problem of Creation in Physical Cosmology.” In it he writes, “it would hardly follow that there is some one single conscious agency which was required causally for the occurrence of the supposed first state of the total physical universe. This inference commits the elementary fallacy of “composition” and is just as invalid as the following argument, which derives a false conclusion from a true premise: since every human has a mother, there is some one woman who was everyone’s mother.”[1]

Grünbaum’s objection is that it does not follow logically from the premises that “one single conscious agen[t]”[2] is the cause of the universe. Think of it: for all we know there could be a multiplicity of causes! But Grünbaum, and others, are right that it does not follow from the premises that therefore there is one cause of the universe, rather further analysis reveals that given Ockham’s Razor (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem) one needn’t multiply causes beyond necessity, and so it would be best to posit one cause as opposed to two, three, or four. God could of course create an angel or mechanism (within time) that brings about the universe, but such a conclusion is superfluous, for one need only grant one cause.

Grünbaum is also correct that a “conscious agency” cannot be inferred merely by the premises of the Kalam, but through conceptual analysis. By conceptual analysis one can infer that the cause is an agent (see The Islamic Principle of Determination). I’ll have more to say about that in another post.


1. Grunbaum, Adolf. “The Pseudo-Problem of Creation in Physical Cosmology.” Philosophy of Science 56.3 (1989): 373-94. Print.

2. Ibid., 381.


  • Good post, I don’t have anything much to add, as everything seems pretty much sound.

    This Grünbaum fellow intrigues me. He’s a philosopher of science who’s also a psychoanlayst critic. I don’t know enough about either of those two subjects (except that psychoanalysis (actually, that goes for Freud’s entire theories) is considered not to have any real scientific backing. PoS does interest me though, I just have to acquaint myself with PoR further.

    Just curious, is he a nonbeliever? I assume him to be one but you never can be sure.

  • Really? His wikipedia page implies that his specialty is philosophy of science. Regardless, he’s going to be a new addition to my references.

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