Philosophy 1020 Lecture Notes - Actual Infinity, Kalam Cosmological Argument, Natural Number

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4. THE KALAM ARGUMENT
0. Introductory historical and biographical matters
o The word Kalam is an Arabic word meaning, roughly, speech and discourse
o Used in Islam, to designate the tradition of philosophical theology
I. The basic Kalam argument:
Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence
The universe began to exist
Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
II. Defense of the first premise: nothing can just pop into existence.
o Can’t just arise out of nothing
o Everything that happens has to have a cause (principle of sufficient reason)
o It seems unthinkable that “something could come from nothing”
III. Defense of the second premise:
o If the universe had no beginning, then its age would be infinite, actually infinite.
o Its history would be actually infinite series
o Actually infinite series is impossible; can’t be such a thing. Therefore can’t be
infinite old
o That means the universe had a beginning
Actual vs. potential infinities
o A potentially infinite series is like the natural number series: 1,2,3,4.. and you can
just keep going forever (infinite series)
o An actually infinite series would be one in which you have already taken an
infinite number of steps.
o a potential infinity is also known as infinity in fieri
o An actual infinity is also known as infinity in
Ex. Suppose you have a library with an infinite number of books in it. They are
numbered 1,2,3,4…
o Now suppose you remove all the odd numbered books to a new library. How
many books are left in the old library?
o Only half as many. But still an infinite number
o Some infinity are bigger than others
Ex. Suppose sally has been in hell for all eternity except for one day a year-
Christmas day- when she is allowed to be in heaven
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Document Summary

The kalam argument, introductory historical and biographical matters, the word kalam is an arabic word meaning, roughly, speech and discourse, used in islam, to designate the tradition of philosophical theology, the basic kalam argument: Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence. Defense of the first premise: nothing can just pop into existence: can"t just arise out of nothing, everything that happens has to have a cause (principle of sufficient reason, it seems unthinkable that something could come from nothing . Defense of the second premise: if the universe had no beginning, then its age would be infinite, actually infinite, its history would be actually infinite series, actually infinite series is impossible; can"t be such a thing. Therefore can"t be infinite old: that means the universe had a beginning. Suppose you have a library with an infinite number of books in it.

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