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4. The Kalam Argument.docx

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Philosophy 1020
John Thorp

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?
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