The Existence Of God -2
Humankind has grappled with the questions surrounding God, life, and creation for as long as we can remember (Gülen 2006, 3-4). Historically, philosophers and theologians have sought to produce systematic and rigorous arguments to rationally prove the existence of the Divine through the means of logical deduction (Gök 2018, 10). One such argument that has been synthesized is that of the kalam (the Islamic theology), a cosmological argument which has provided a historical and modern basis for those seeking to validate the existence of God (Gök 2018, 10-13). This argument has come under particular examination in contemporary circles where modern scientific discoveries are seen to both challenge, and support, the existence of God and hence establish a valid basis upon which to argue either case. This essay will thus seek to discuss the validity of the kalam cosmological argument, and its subsets, in relation to two modern scientific discoveries: the Big Bang theory, and the concept of virtual particles.
The kalam cosmological argument consists of two subset arguments: the huduth (cosmological) argument and the imkan (contingency) argument (Craig & Moreland 2009, 101-102). Historically, notable Muslim theologians, such as Imam Al-Ghazali, utilized this argument as a testament to the proof of God’s existence (Copan & Craig 2017, 5-7). Within the modern Western philosophical and theological context, this theory has been refined by the works of William Lane Craig (Waters 2015). Regarding the huduth (cosmological) argument, Craig summarised the premise of the argument as follows: the universe either had, or did not have, a beginning; if the universe had a beginning then it was either caused or not caused; if there was a cause then this was because of an external and powerful being (Doko 2018). As can be inferred, the argument is based on a question of origins, causality, and in regard to the two preceding arguments, validating that the cause of the universe is external.
In assessing the validity of the huduth argument, the Big Bang theory can be utilized. In modern science, the Big Bang theory has been established as the leading paradigm for the origins of the universe (Paulson et al, 2015). The theory purports that the universe, and all that is contained within it, had a singular starting point whereby from this singularity, the universe has been inflating for what has been calculated as 13.8 billion years (Gonzalo 2008, 207-240). The first premise of the huduth argument is one of origins. The Big Bang postulates that the universe was derived from a singular starting point, with the key being that it indeed had a starting point. Scientists have been able to calculate the age of the universe through utilising data obtained through calculation and observation (Paulson et al, 2-3). In knowing that the universe has an age, and therefore a beginning, one can thus logically deduce that it must have had a point of origin. This complies with the first component of the huduth argument in that the universe indeed must have had a “beginning,” thus validating the first premise.
The Big Bang theory also complies with the second premise of causality. It is accepted by scientists and philosophers alike that in order for an effect to manifest itself within the natural world, there must be a cause to bring about the effect (Rabins 2013, 6-25). Upon accepting the first premise that the universe had a beginning, the universe itself must, therefore, be the manifestation or effect of a preceding cause. Though models such as Stephen Hawking’s “no-boundary-proposal” have been theorized to provide contradictory explanations for the causation of the universe, these have been later disproven by physicists (Wolchover 2019). In this regard, the notion that the universe came into existence without a cause is not logical, thus validating the second premise of the huduth argument.
The last premise argues that once it is accepted that the universe has a cause then this cause must be an external, all-powerful being. Studies into the observed universe are based largely on natural laws and observations that are measurable (Paulson et al, 2-3). Any cause beyond these natural laws of the known universe would thus be “unnatural” and potentially Divine (Ergi 2015). Though the multiverse theory has been proposed as an alternative to a transcendent, external being, the fact still remains that there logically must have been a first universe with an external cause that would then cause the proceeding universes that follow. As such, the third premise of the huduth argument proves itself to be valid, thus validating the argument as a whole.
In addition to the Big Bang, the theory of virtual particles can be used to attest to the validity of the huduth argument. Virtual particles are quantum fluctuations that shift between observed existence and non-existence (Daywitt 2009, 27-28). Historically thought to be empty and full of “nothing,” the vacuum of space has been theorised to contain these finite particles . Through calculation, virtual particles come into existence with a measurable beginning and not out of what appears to be nothing (Jaeger 2009, 144). Physicists have conceived that the particles themselves are in fact not independent, rather that they rely on other quantum interactions and certain laws of physics in order to manifest (Falkenburg 2007, 258-260). In this regard, they have a beginning point of origin. As such, they can be seen to comply with the first premise of the huduth argument. Though virtual particles do appear to come in-and-out of existence there are a number of causal factors that must provide the right conditions for their appearance such as the vacuum-like conditions of interstellar space, the interactions of surrounding “real” particles as well as the mass of these “real” particles (Falkenburg 2007, 58). It is thus perceivable that the particles are caused by several factors and do not come into existence out of non-existence without a cause which adheres to the second premise. The third premise of the huduth argument points to an external cause or creator. As was argued above, virtual particles have a cause and this cause is external to themselves. They cannot create themselves from nothingness and manifest due to the interactions of the real particles around them, which give rise to conditions that are conducive to their appearance. As such, this complies with the logic of the third premise of the huduth argument, as virtual particles require external causes in order to come into existence. Thus, the validity of the huduth argument holds firm when applied to this concept.
The example of the Big Bang Theory and the concept of virtual particles can also be used when assessing the validity of the imkan (contingency) argument. This argument posits that everything that exists is either necessary or contingent (Ergi, 9). When classified as contingent, it is postulated that something can either exist or not exist, and that if it does exist then this existence is dependent upon factors that are external to it (Gülen 2006, 3-4). The idea that creations within the known universe are contingent is logical, as it can be deemed that nothing exists without a cause (Doko 3-4). In this regard, it is possible to say that contingent items within the universe, including the universe itself, are dependent upon that which is “necessary” and outside of themselves (Yaran 2003, 181-187). The Big Bang Theory provides a solid basis on which to assess the validity of the imkan argument. Everything within the universe originated from that moment, thus the universe is perceivable as having temporal existence (Walles 2016). In being a temporal entity, it is thus contingent on a cause that is external to itself. It would seem illogical that time, space, energy, and matter created themselves as they are contingent elements devoid of consciousness and reliant on physical laws hence would not have been able to exist beyond the Big Bang prior to it occurring. As such, the universe, being contingent and unable to necessitate its own existence, must have been created by a necessary agent. Though this necessary agent has been speculated to be a preceding universe, such as in the multiverse theory, this would propel reality into an infinite regress, a chain of causes contingent on the one before it, a notion deemed to be implausible (Yaran, 181-183). Accordingly, these multiverses would also have to be temporal in disposition and hence the same issue of an eventual point of origin manifests. The logical conclusion is thus that the necessary agent must exist beyond what is known, namely a transcendent being that is beyond temporality and materiality, and thus the logic of the imkan argument is valid.
This principle is similarly seen within the example of virtual particles. These particles are observed to come in-an-out of existence within the vacuum of space (Jaeger, 144). However, this activity is contingent upon necessary conditions, such as the existence of the vacuum itself, quantum interactions based upon the uncertainty principle, as well as surrounding real particles (Greene, 424-425). If any of the aforementioned factors were not present then the existence of virtual particle would only be a probable outcome and not a necessary outcome, similar to that of the universe, in a way that these particles do not necessitate their own existence and are dependent on an external and necessary cause. In this regard, the concept of virtual particles demonstrates the validity in the logic of the imkan argument thus demonstrating the validity of the kalam cosmological argument.
The success of whether an argument is logically valid can be assessed based on the plausibility of the premise presented by the argument (Doko, 4). As is evident, the kalam cosmological argument has been examined with a discussion of its two subset arguments. These arguments have been contrasted against the two scientific discoveries of the Big Bang Theory as well as the concept of virtual particles. Evidently, by its very nature, the kalam cosmological argument is based on sound deductive logic where both its branches contain premises that reach their respective conclusions using logic and rationality. As such, the kalam cosmological argument proves itself to be valid and this has been exemplified by superimposing the matrix of this argument onto real, modern-day scientific discoveries.
By Hasna Iman Qureshi
This article is borrowed from The Fountain Magazine.
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