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
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
o Now suppose you remove all the odd numbered books to a new library. How
many books are left in the old library?