Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Does Quantum Physics Provide an Exception to Premise 1 of the Kalam Cosmological Argument?

A popular version of the Kalam cosmological argument is as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Premise (1) enjoys at least 3 lines of reasoning to support it:
  • Something cannot come into being from nothing.
  • If something can come into being from nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why just anything and everything doesn't come into being from nothing.
  • Common experience and scientific evidence confirm the truth of premise 1. [1]
One common assertion sometimes offered by atheists against Premise (1) is that quantum physics provides an exception to the premise, since on the sub-atomic level events are said to be uncaused.  However, as Dr. William Lane Craig explains in his book Reasonable Faith, this claim is based upon a misunderstanding.

Craig explains:

"In the first place, not all scientists agree that sub-atomic events are uncaused.  A great many physicists today are quite dissatisfied with this view (the so-called Copenhagen Interpretation) of quantum physics and are exploring deterministic theories...Thus, quantum physics is not a proven exception to premise (1).  Second, even on the traditional, indeterministic interpretation, particles do not come into being out of nothing.  They arise as spontaneous fluctuations of the energy contained in the sub-atomic vacuum, which constitutes an indeterministic cause of their origination.  Third, the same point can be made about theories of the origin of the universe out of a primordial vacuum.  Popular magazine articles touting such theories as getting 'something from nothing' simply do not understand that the vacuum is not nothing but is a sea of fluctuating energy endowed with a rich structure and subject to physical laws.  Such models do not therefore involve a true origination ex nihilo." [2]

To suggest that quantum physics provides an exception to Premise (1) of the Kalam cosmological argument is simply false and is a deliberate abuse of science propagated by thinkers such as physicist Lawrence Krauss.

To find responses to other objections to the KCA, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 75-78.
2. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 114-115.

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