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Lecture 4

Philosophy lecture 4 - the Kalam Arguement.docx

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Western University
Philosophy 1020
John Thorp

4. The Kalam Argument 0. Introductory historical and biographical matters  The word Kalam is an Arabic word meaning, roughly, speech or discourse  It is used, in Islam, to designate the tradition of philosophical theology  The argument was much discussed by early Islamic scholars, and that is why it is now known as  Al-Ghazali (1058-1111 CE)  St. Bonaventure  William Lane Craig (1949)- YouTube video. Big voice in the pro-religious side of philosophy 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.  No creation ex nihilo (out of nothing)  Everything that happens has to have a cause  It seems unthinkable that “something could come out of nothing” III. Defense of the second premise:  If the universe had no beginning, then its age would be infinite, actually infinite  Its history would be an actually infinite series  Potentially infinite- we have an element with a few rules but we haven’t done it all yet  Actually infinite- one in which all the steps have already been taken  Actually infinite series are impossible ∆ 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 just keep going forever\  An actually infinite series would be one in which you have already taken a infinite number of steps  It is frequently argued that an actually infinite series is impossible o EX: Suppose you have a library with an infinite number of books in it numbered 1,2,3,… o Now suppose you remove all the odd numbered books to a new library and leave the even numbered ones here. o Only half as many. But still an infinite number o Some infinities are bigger than others…CRAZY OR WHAT  Obviously there are only half as many even natural numbers as there are natural numbers, but in fact they are equal!! Infinite numbers!! a) the impossibility of an actually infinite number of things (Hilbert's hotel etc.)  Suppose a hotel with an infinite number of rooms is full: no vacancy  A t
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