As of late we have all been hearing about how “illogical” athiestic argumentums are by several individuals. Now, first and foremost we should all be aware that faith takes away from logic so is it not a bit foolish to claim that x is illogical when y does not use proper logic? Anyways, I decided to gather some logical arguments regarding athiesm and share them.



Submitted by Ted Drange

Definitions of “God”

Before getting to the arguments, it is important to present the various definitions of “God” that they employ:

D1: God is the eternal, all-powerful, personal being who created and rules the universe. (Being eternal, God cannot come into or go out of existence. Being all-powerful, he can perform any action that is logically possible to perform. Being personal, he has some characteristics in common with humans, such as thinking, feeling emotions, and performing actions. The universe is understood to consist of all the space, time, matter, and energy that has ever existed.)

D2: God is the eternal, very powerful, personal being who rules the universe, loves humanity, and gave humanity its moral conscience.

D3: God is the eternal, very powerful, personal being who rules the universe, loves humanity, and strongly desires that that love be reciprocated.

D4: God is that being which is self-existent, that is, which contains the explanation for its own existence within itself.

D5: God is that being which is (objectively) perfect in every way. (The term “perfect” is here understood in an objective sense, as opposed to a subjective sense relative to individual values, so the term may be used in public reasoning.)

D6: God is the deity described in the Bible as interpreted by evangelical Christianity.

It will be indicated for each argument which of the above definitions of “God” it employs.

Arguments Against God’s Existence

  1. The Anti-creation Argument (D1, D6):

(a) If X creates Y, then X must exist temporally prior to Y.
(b) But nothing could possibly exist temporally prior to time itself (for that would involve existing at a time when there was no time, which is a contradiction).
(c) Thus, it is impossible for time to have been created.
(d) Time is an essential component of the universe.
(e) Therefore, it is impossible for the universe to have been created.
(f) It follows that God, as defined by D1 and D6, cannot exist.

Discussion: A similar argument might possibly be constructed with regard to the other components of the universe as well: space, matter, and energy. It is very hard to comprehend how a being could have created the universe without existing within space and without any involvement with matter or energy.

  • The God of evangelical Christianity (defined by D6) is included here (and for argument #2, below) because of the first sentence in the Bible, which evangelicals take to refer to the entire universe.
  1. The Transcendent-Personal Argument (D1, D6):

(a) In order for God to have created the universe, he must have been transcendent, that is, he must have existed outside space and time.
(b) But to be personal implies (among other things) being within space and time.
(c) Therefore, it is logically impossible for God, as defined by D1 or D6, to exist.

It might be suggested that God has a part that is outside space and time and another part that is inside space and time and that it is the latter part, not the former part, which is personal in nature. But the idea of a being which is partly personal and partly transcendent is incomprehensible. Furthermore, definition D1 implies that God, as a personal being, existed prior to the universe, and it is incomprehensible how a personal being could do so.

  • Aside from conceptual considerations that have to do with the very concept of “being personal,” there are empirical considerations relevant to premise (b). It might be argued that to be personal requires having thoughts and that science has very strongly confirmed that having thoughts is dependent on having a physical brain. For example, since brain damage has always been found to delete, or at least disrupt, thoughts, it can be extrapolated that there can be no thoughts at all in the total absence of a brain. Although the empirical support for premise (b) is very strong, that may not be a factor that would impress people who are not “scientifically oriented” to begin with.
  1. The Incoherence-of-Omnipotence Argument (D1, D6):

(a) If God as defined by D1 or D6 were to exist, then he would be omnipotent (i.e., able to do anything that is logically possible).
(b) But the idea of such a being is incoherent.
(c) Hence, such a being cannot possibly exist.

Discussion: Definition D6 is included here because evangelical Christians maintain that the biblical description of God as “Almighty” is accurate. The issue of whether or not premise (b) is true is complicated. Some writers claim that the idea of omnipotence in itself is inconsistent. Also, some writers claim that being omnipotent is incompatible with possessing certain other properties. (For example, an omnipotent being could commit suicide, since to do so is logically possible, but an eternal being, by definition, could not. Hence, the idea of the deity defined by D1 or D6 is incoherent.) Whether or not the given claim is true is here left open. See comments on the concept of “incoherence” made in connection with argument #7, below. (For further material on arguments similar to #3, see Everitt, 2004, Martin, 1990, and Martin and Monnier, 2003, in the bibliography below.)

  • The divine attribute of omniscience gives rise to similar considerations, and there is an Incoherence-of-Omniscience Argument that could be raised. (For material on it, see the references above.) That argument, which is omitted here to save space, also has a premise (b) (worded as in argument #3), which introduces issues that are exceedingly complicated and controversial.
  1. The Lack-of-evidence Argument (D1, D2, D3, D6):

(a) If God as defined by any of the four definitions in question were to exist, then he would have to be deeply involved in the affairs of humanity and there would be good objective evidence of his existence.
(b) But there is no good objective evidence for the existence of a deity thus defined.
(c) Therefore, God, as defined by D1, D2, D3, or D6, does not exist.

Discussion: The rationale behind premise (a) is that the sort of deity in question, a personal being who rules the universe or who loves humanity (and perhaps wants that love reciprocated), would need to become involved in the affairs of humans and thereby reveal his existence overtly. It might be claimed that God has achieved such involvement just by means of subjective religious experiences, without providing humanity with any good objective evidence of his existence. This assertion could be attacked on the ground that people who claim to have had such experiences are mistaken about the nature and cause of them. It might also be reasonably argued that religious experiences would be insufficient for the given divine purposes, and only good objective (publicly testable) evidence of some sort would do. Argument #4 is a versatile argument that can be widely used by atheists to attack God’s existence, given many different definitions of “God.”

  • Another argument similar to #4, sometimes put forward by scientifically oriented atheists, is the Argument from Metaphysical Naturalism, according to which all phenomena ever observed are best explained by appeal to natural causes (Carrier, 2005). Since that premise is a reason to accept naturalism, it provides an evidential argument against God’s existence. However, the given premise is an extremely sweeping one and for that reason alone argument #4 would be preferable.
  1. The Argument from Evil (D2, D3, D6):

(a) If there were to exist a very powerful, personal being who rules the universe and loves humanity, then there would not occur as much evil (i.e., suffering and premature death) as there does.
(b) But there does occur that much evil.
(c) Therefore, there does not exist such a being.
(d) Hence, God, as defined by D2, D3 or D6, does not exist.

Discussion: This formulation of the argument is a version of what is called “The Logical Argument from Evil.” If the word “probably” were to be inserted into steps (a), (c), and (d), then it would be a version of what is called “The Evidential Argument from Evil.” Similar considerations arise in connection with the different versions. According to the Free-will Defense, premise (a) is false because God wants people to have free will and that requires that they be able to create evil. The evil that actually occurs in our world is mankind’s fault, not God’s. Thus, God can still love humanity and be perfectly good despite all the evil that occurs. There are many objections to this defense. One of them is that much of the suffering and premature death that occurs in our world is due to natural causes rather than human choices, and the Free-will Defense would be totally irrelevant to that form of evil. (Drange, 1998.)

  1. The Argument from Nonbelief (D3, D6):

(a) If there were to exist a very powerful, personal being who rules the universe, loves humanity, and who strongly desires that his love for humanity be reciprocated, then there would not exist as much nonbelief in the existence of such a being as there does.
(b) But there does exist that much nonbelief.
(c) Therefore, there does not exist such a being.
(d) Hence, God, as defined by D3 or D6, does not exist.

Discussion: As with the Argument from Evil, an “evidential” version of this argument could be constructed by inserting the word “probably” into steps (a), (c), and (d). Similar considerations arise for all the various versions. The argument is directed against the deity defined by D6, as well as the one defined by D3, because evangelical Christians take God to have all the properties mentioned in D3. (For a discussion of the Argument from Nonbelief framed on the basis of definition D6, see Drange, 1993.) Possibly the argument might also be directed against the deity defined by D2, and something like that is attempted in Schellenberg, 1993, though there it would not be quite so forceful.

The rationale behind premise (a) is that nonbelief in God is an impediment to loving him, so a deity as described by definition D3 or D6 would remove that impediment if he were to exist. Defenses similar to those in the case of the Argument from Evil could be raised, and similar objections to them could be presented. (Drange, 1998.)

  1. Arguments from Incoherence (D4, D5, D6):

(a) In order for X to explain Y, not only must Y be derivable from X, but the derivation needs to be in some way illuminating.
(b) If X is derived from itself, then the derivation is in no way illuminating.
(c) Thus, it is impossible for anything to explain itself.
(d) God as defined by D4 is supposed to explain itself.
(e) It follows that the idea of “God” as defined by D4 is incoherent.
(f) Furthermore, perfection is relative, and so, the concept of “objectively perfect,” as a concept employed in public reasoning, makes no sense.
(g) Hence, the idea of “God” as defined by D5 is also incoherent.
(h) In addition, the Bible contains descriptions of God that are incoherent (e.g., implying both that Jesus is God and that Jesus is God’s son, that God is spirit or a spirit and that God is love).
(i) Evangelical Christians interpret those descriptions literally.
(j) Therefore, it might be argued that the idea of “God” as defined by D6 is also incoherent.

Discussion: Unlike the other arguments in this section, these arguments do not aim to prove God’s nonexistence, but rather, the incoherence of God-talk when “God” is defined in certain ways. The point is not that theists who employ such God-talk are mistaken about the world, but that they are confused in their language.

The idea of “incoherence” is also sometimes applied to contradictions or other sorts of conceptual incompatibility. For example, arguments #2 & #3, above, could each be regarded as a kind of “argument from incoherence,” for they appeal to conceptual incompatibilities between pairs of divine attributes. [This point might also be applicable to definition D5 if theists were to try to combine it with other definitions. For example, if a theist were to claim that God is both perfect (as given in D5) and the creator of the universe (as given in D1), then it might be argued that such a notion is incoherent, since a perfect being can have no wants, whereas a creator must have some wants. Or if a theist were to claim that God is perfect and also loves humanity (as given in D2 & D3), then it might be argued that such a notion is incoherent, since a perfect being can feel no disappointment, whereas a being who loves humanity must feel some disappointment.] However, this notion of “incoherence” is different from that appealed to in the Arguments from Incoherence, for if incompatible properties are ascribed, at least there is a conjunction of propositions there, even if it is a contradictory pair. In that case, it would still make sense to say that the sentence “God exists” expresses a (necessarily) false proposition. But with the sort of “incoherence” appealed to in the Arguments from Incoherence there is no proposition expressed at all, whether true or false. (For more on incompatible-properties arguments against God’s existence, see Martin and Monnier, 2003.)

  1. The Argument from Confusion (D6):

(a) If the deity described in the Bible as interpreted by evangelical Christianity were to exist, then there would not exist as much confusion and conflictedness among Christians as there does, particularly with regard to important doctrinal issues such as God’s laws and the requirements for salvation.
(b) But there does exist that much. (Christians disagree widely among themselves on such issues, as shown, among other things, by the great number of different Christian denominations and sects that exist.)
(c) Therefore, that deity does not exist.
(d) Hence God as defined by D6 does not exist.

Discussion: The rationale behind premise (a) is that the God of evangelical Christianity is a deity who places great emphasis upon awareness of the truth, especially with regard to important doctrinal issues. It is expected, then, that if such a deity were to exist, he would place a high priority upon the elimination of confusion and conflictedness among his own followers with regard to important doctrinal issues. Because of the great abundance of Christian confusion of the relevant sort, this argument is a very forceful one.

  1. The Argument from Biblical Defects (D6):

(a) If the deity described in the Bible as interpreted by evangelical Christianity were to exist, then the Bible itself would not have the defects that it has. That is, it would not contain textual errors, interpolations, contradictions, factual errors (including false prophecies), and ethical defects. Also, the canon would have been assembled with less political involvement and would not have original manuscripts or parts missing.
(b) But the Bible does contain those defects.
(c) Therefore, that deity, which is God as defined by D6, does not exist.

Discussion: Premise (a) is based on the point that evangelical Christians regard the Bible to be God’s main form of revelation to humanity. So, given that their God exists, it would be expected that the Bible would possess features implied by the motivations which they ascribe to him. Premise (a) follows quite naturally. (For examples of the Bible’s defects, see appendix D of Drange, 1998, and Mattill, 1995. For more on arguments #8 & #9, see Drange, “The Arguments from Confusion and Biblical Defects” in the forthcoming Martin and Monnier, 2006.)

  1. The Argument from Human Insignificance (D6):

(a) If the deity described in the Bible as interpreted by evangelical Christianity were to exist, then it would be expected that humans occupy some significant place in the universe.
(b) But, both from the standpoint of space (the size of the universe in relation to the size of the earth) and from the standpoint of time (the length of time in which the universe has existed in relation to the length of time in which humans have existed), humans do not occupy any significant place in the universe.
(c) Hence, God, as defined by D6, probably does not exist.

Discussion: The idea behind the first premise here is that the Bible describes God as having a very special interest in humans. Since humans are so important, they should naturally occupy some significant place in space and time. To reject that idea is to reject the evangelical Christian outlook on the nature of reality. (A slightly different version of this argument is referred to as “The Argument from Scale” in Everitt, 2004.)

  • There are many other arguments against God’s existence. Some are inductive in form (Martin, 1990). Some make appeal to cosmological assumptions (Craig and Smith, 1993). I have here picked just those that I regard to be the main ones.


The various arguments can be matched up with the six definitions of “God” as follows:






#4, #5 (+ possibly #6)









All theistic arguments for God’s existence can be refuted by at least one objection, and all of the definitions of “God” considered here permit God’s nonexistence to be established (or else God-talk to be shown incoherent) by at least one argument. Other definitions of “God” are used in ordinary language, but all of them permit God’s nonexistence to be established by appeal to similar or analogous considerations. There is much more to be said about the various arguments. The bibliography below supplies some of that and also supplies further references.

freethought.freeservers.com/reas … lview.html

This is most definetly the one I found in my quick search with the most amount of arguments.



I think athiesm is quite logical. It just happens to be incorrect.

This is a controversial claim, one that I haven’t seen adequately demonstrated. Care to support that premise?

That is a fine belief but some have said otherwise.

Without delving into much detail; using your rational mind, does it make sense for a huge man to be watching over mankind? Or that in order to “save” humanity he sends his son to die when he could simply “save” mankind since he is omnipotent and all. The last link I provides examines most every facet for logic using rhetoric, science, and logic. I highly recommend it. :smiley:

Making outlandish claims does not necessarily mean that faith is completely outside the realm of logic. Faith may requires the acceptance of certain information that cannot be empirically determined, but if this is accomplished, it is no less logical than atheism.

If you went back in time and told someone from the middle ages that you once had a tiny box that could recreate the music played by a whole orchestra or a speech made a man long dead, he might think you were insane. You would obviously be making an outlandish claim that he has severe difficulty assimilating into his thinking. Indeed he might decide that you claim made no sense or was illogical since such a device could never exist. But we know that he would be wrong don’t we?

You misunderstand my meaning of logic to be that outside the realm of science or as you state empirical. You are using it in more regards to the personal mindset.

Atheism has to be somewhat illogical, I mean if God truly didn’t exist, they wouldn’t really need arguments, they would have already given their 2 weeks notice.

In his interesting article “Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause?” Wes Morriston explores several “little discussed aspects” of the ancient kalam cosmological argument.{1} The argument may be simply formulated:

Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
The universe began to exist.
Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
Morriston grants that the philosophical arguments for premiss (2) are sound in order to focus our attention on the problems that arise when we ask, “Did the First Cause exist in time prior to creation?”{2} Since that question must concern anyone who holds to the Judaeo–Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, Morriston’s critique will be of interest not only to the proponent of the kalam cosmological argument but to any orthodox theologian.

I have argued that it is a matter of indifference so far as the argument’s cogency is concerned whether the First Cause of the universe is conceived to be temporal or atemporal sans creation. But Morriston claims that such a contention is mistaken. He maintains that a negative answer to the question "Did the First Cause exist in time prior to creation?"––that is to say, to maintain that God exists atemporally sans the universe––is not compatible with all the requirements of the kalam cosmological argument; specifically, a negative answer “forces the defender of the kalam argument to analyze the concept of ‘beginning to exist’ in a way that raises serious doubts about its main causal principle, and . . . it also undercuts the main argument for saying that the cause of the universe must be a person.”{3} The problem espied by Morriston, then, is not that a negative answer to his question is logically incompatible with the argument’s premisses or entailments but that such an answer tends to undercut the warrant for accepting those premisses; in short, the argument becomes in a sense self–defeating (even if sound).

Must the Universe Have a Cause?

Assuming, then, that the First Cause did not exist temporally prior to the beginning of the universe and that, accordingly, time itself was created along with the universe, Morriston in the first part of his critique will “try to show that premiss (1) loses much of its plausibility when it is applied to the beginning of time itself.”{4} Now it needs to be said that, pace Morriston, this is not a conclusion which automatically spells defeat for the kalam cosmological argument. For in order to qualify as a successful piece of natural theology an argument need not consist of premisses which are undeniably true, or clearly true, or even plausibly true, but of premisses which are merely more plausibly true than their contradictories. If, as I believe, the premiss Everything that begins to exist has a cause is plausible in excelsis for temporally embedded things, then even if Morriston is right that its plausibility is significantly diminished when it comes to time itself, that does not in any way show that premiss (1) is implausible, much less no more plausible than its contradictory. Thus, the argument is not even ostensibly defeated by Morriston’s conclusion.

But however that may be, we shall, of course, also want to ask whether Morriston is successful in establishing his conclusion. Why think that premiss (1) loses much of its plausibility when applied to the beginning of time? Morriston acknowledges that “it does seem pretty absurd” to imagine something’s popping into existence without a cause: “It may not be logically impossible, but it is inconsistent with everything I know of the world in which I live!”{5} So why deny this intuition when it comes to the origin of time and the universe? Morriston’s basic answer is that even if we have such an intuition with respect to temporally embedded entities, we do not have a similar intuition with regard to the beginning of time itself.

Now as a simple sociological claim, Morriston’s assertion is demonstrably false. For the absolute beginning of time predicted by the Standard Friedman–Lemaître Big Bang model was the crucial factor in provoking not only the formulation of the Steady State model of continuous creation, but a whole series of subsequent models all aimed at avoiding the origin ex nihilo of our universe. Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler declare that “No problem of cosmology digs more deeply into the foundations of physics than the question of what ‘preceded’ the ‘initial state’ of infinite (or near infinite) density, pressure, and temperature.”{6} For example, inflationary theorist Andrei Linde finds motivation for his past–eternal Chaotic Inflationary Model precisely in this feature of the Standard Model: “The most difficult aspect of this problem is not the existence of the singularity itself, but the question of what was before the singularity. . . . This problem lies somewhere at the boundary between physics and metaphysics.”{7} Linde’s extrapolation of his model to the infinite past was rooted, not in any empirical inadequacy of the Standard Model, but in the conviction that the absolute beginning predicted by that model was not acceptable as an explanatory stopping point. Although Borde and Vilenkin demonstrated that Linde’s inflationary model was geodesically incomplete in the past and therefore itself involved an initial cosmological singularity, they did not conclude that the question of the origin of the universe was therefore a pseudo–problem; rather they wrote, “The fact that inflationary spacetimes are past incomplete forces one to address the question of what, if anything, came before.”{8} The fact is that a whole series of cosmological models have been proposed over the last half–century specifically to avoid the absolute beginning predicted by the Standard Model. Both philosophers and physicists have been deeply disturbed at the prospect of a beginning of time and an absolute origination of the universe and so have felt constrained to posit the existence of causally prior entities like quantum vacuum states, inflationary domains, imaginary time regimes, and even timelike causal loops. The history of twentieth century astrophysical cosmology belies Morriston’s claim that people have no strong intuitions about the need of a causal explanation of the origin of time and the universe.

Perhaps Morriston would say that we should, at least, have no strong intuitions concerning the need of a cause of the beginning of time. But why not? What is the relevant difference between something’s coming into existence within time and something’s coming into existence at the beginning to time? If the universe could not come into existence uncaused at t, where t is preceded by earlier moments of time, why think that if we were to annihilate all moments earlier than t, then the universe could come into existence uncaused at t ? How could the existence of moments earlier than an uncaused event be of any possible relevance to the occurrence of that event?

Indeed, given a dynamic or tensed view of time, every moment of time is a fresh beginning, qualitatively indistinguishable from a first moment of time, for when any moment is present, earlier moments have passed away and do not exist. Thus, if the universe could exist uncaused at a first moment of time, it could exist uncaused at any moment of time. There just does not seem to be any relevant difference. It follows that if the latter is metaphysically impossible, so is the former.

Perhaps Morriston’s difficulty is that he thinks of the causal principle as akin to a law of nature, like Boyle’s Law or the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which hold only within our universe. But the causal principle is not a physical principle, but a metaphysical principle. Being does not arise from non–being; something cannot come from nothing. These are putative metaphysical claims, unrestricted in their application. Such claims are not contingent upon the properties, causal powers, and dispositions of the natural kinds of substances which happen to exist. Morriston has given no good reason for construing such claims as merely physical rather than as metaphysical claims.

Hence, until Morriston is able to show us the relevant difference between embedded moments of time and a first moment of time, I see no reason to think it more plausible that things can come into being uncaused at a first moment than at a later moment of time.

Morriston presents a second reason for thinking premiss (1) to have diminished plausibility with respect to time’s origin: “creation out of nothing is at least as counterintuitive as is beginning to exist without a cause.”{9} Now there is no doubt that creatio ex nihilo is deeply baffling. I well recall thinking, as I began to study the kalam cosmological argument, that all of the alternatives with respect to the universe’s existence––the infinitude of the past, creation ex nihilo, spontaneous origination ex nihilo ––were so bizarre that the most reasonable option seemed to be that nothing exists! Since our existence is, however, undeniable, we must settle, however uncomfortably, on one of the above three. Since we assume for the sake of argument in the present discussion the finitude of the past, our choices are creation ex nihilo or an uncaused origination ex nihilo. It seems to me that there is a very simple and yet decisive reason for preferring creation, namely, whereas creation ex nihilo is counter–intuitive in denying to the universe a material cause, it at least ascribes to it an efficient cause, whereas the spontaneous origination of the universe ex nihilo is doubly counter–intuitive in that it denies of the universe both a material and (especially) an efficient cause. Thus, even if one agrees with Morriston’s observation, “When I do the relevant ‘thought experiments,’ I find the absence of a material cause at least as troubling as the absence of an efficient cause,”{10} one cannot agree with his objection, since an uncaused origin of the universe lacks both sorts of cause and so is doubly implausible.

Morriston also complains that my reductive analysis of “x begins to exist” is so elaborate that premiss (1), so understood, “is not obviously supported by any widely shared metaphysical intuition.”{11} But this complaint is inappropriately lodged. I could have simply taken “begins to exist” as an undefined primitive in an intuitively true premiss. The worth of a reductive analysis of a concept is not to be judged by whether the original principle retains its intuitive sheen when the analysans is substituted for the analysandum, but rather by whether the analysis succeeds in capturing our pre–analytic understanding of the concept.{12} The unanalyzed notion is what we intuitively grasp, and we may struggle to find an adequate analysis of it. The analysis may turn out to be quite complicated, requiring various sorts of qualifications to ward off counter–examples. It is thus far less apt to be as intuitively obvious as the original concept. But its value is not to be measured by its intuitive obviousness, but by its adequacy to the concept and its imperviousness to counter–examples. Thus, for example, the notion “begins to exist” cannot be adequately analyzed by stating

A1. x begins to exist ? x exists at t, and there is a time prior to t at which x does not exist.
For if time and the universe originated at the Big Bang, it would follow from (A1) that the universe did not begin to exist, which is counter–intuitive, given the past finitude of its existence. So we might try to adjust (A1) to

A2. x begins to exist ? x exists at t, and there is no time prior to t at which x exists.
This might seem to do the trick, for there may or may not be time prior to t, according to (A2). Thus, the definition would apply to things originating both within time and with time. But then someone says, “What about something that ceases to exist for a time and then comes to exist a second time? Doesn’t it begin to exist a second time?” That seems right; so we adjust (A2) to

A3. x begins to exist ? x exists at t, and there is no time immediately prior to t at which x exists.
(A3) allows that x may have existed earlier than t but insists that in order to begin to exist at t there must be at least a temporal gap between any prior existence of x and x’s existing at t. We now realize, however, that the adequacy of (A3) requires that t does not range over instants of time, since instants have no immediate predecessors. So in order to preserve our temporal gap we must take t to range over non–degenerate, finite intervals of time. If this were not complicated enough, we now ask, “What about God? If He is timeless sans creation but temporal since creation, then (A3) requires that God began to exist.” Again, our intuitive understanding of “begins to exist” is violated if we must say that a being which never fails to exist begins to exist. In order to capture our intuitive understanding we need to preclude such a scenario. Thus, I arrived at

A4. x begins to exist ? x exists at t; there is no time immediately prior to t at which x exists; and the actual world contains no state of affairs involving x’s timeless existence.
The adequacy of (A4) as a reductive analysis is not to be judged by whether premiss (1) remains as intuitively obvious if we substitute the analysans for the analysandum, but by whether there are counter–examples of situations which intuitively do (or do not) involve something’s beginning to exist but which are such that (A4) would force us to say that they are not (or are) cases of something’s beginning to exist.

Although Morriston does not attempt to show any deficiency in the analysis offered in (A4), I have come to believe on the basis of my work in trying to differentiate creation from conservation that (A4) does not, in fact, adequately capture our intuitive understanding of “begins to exist.”{13} It seems to me that at the heart of this notion lies the idea of “coming into being.” The gist of premiss (1) is that something cannot come into being without a cause. Now again we could leave this notion as an undefined but well–understood primitive. But I think that we can capture this idea via the following analysis:

A5. x comes into being at t ? x exists at t; t is either the first time at which x exists or is separated from any time t*<t at which x existed by a non–degenerate, temporal interval; and x’s existing at t is a tensed fact.
The crucial modification here comes with the third clause: x does not merely exist tenselessly at t as part of a static, four–dimensional, “block” universe. Rather x’s existing at t is an event of temporal becoming: x comes into being at t. It is in virtue of the reality of temporal becoming that x’s beginning to exist requires a cause of x. Locutions like x’s “popping into existence” or “springing into existence” were attempts on my part to express in ordinary language the objective reality of temporal becoming. Again, it just seems to me obvious that things do not begin to exist in this sense without a cause.

Morriston, however, contends that we do not know the causal principle in any of its forms to be true by means of an apriori metaphysical intuition.{14} Again, this is a conclusion which need little disturb nor long distract the proponent of the kalam cosmological argument. As I explained in my exchange with Quentin Smith, it is a matter of indifference whether our intuition of the truth of the causal principle is a priori or a posteriori.{15} That some synthetic truths are intuited to be metaphysically necessary a posteriori is evident from such examples as “Gold has atomic number 79” and “This table could not have been made of ice.” It could well be that only logically posterior to our experience of reality do we intuitively grasp the necessary truth of the causal principle.

Even considered on its own merits, however, Morriston’s argument is unconvincing because it is predicated upon a flawed methodology. He compares the causal principle to a truth like “The surface of an object cannot be both red all over and partly green at one and the same time” and finds that the causal principle lacks the self–evidence and perspicuity of this truth. We could argue about how successfully the causal principle measures up to these criteria,{16} but I suspect that such a debate would be fruitless. The more important shortcoming of Morriston’s argument is its methodological assumption that all intuitively grasped, metaphysically necessary truths are alike in their self–evidence and perspicuity. As we have seen, some metaphysically necessary truths may be grasped only a posteriori and be quite debatable. Others may be grasped a priori but have varying degrees of self–evidence and perspicuity. For example, the truth “No event precedes itself” is, I think, a synthetic, metaphysically necessary truth which we intuitively grasp, but it does not have the self–evidence or perspicuity of Morriston’s red and green example. We can imagine a circular time in which an event precedes (and succeeds) itself, but I see no reason to think that such a representation is metaphysically possible. Or again, the statement “Torturing a child for fun is wrong” seems to me to be a metaphysically necessary truth which I intuit, despite my ability to imagine in my mind’s eye a nihilistic world without value. Examples could be given of a whole range of synthetic, metaphysically necessary truths, from the wholly obscure to the overwhelmingly self–evident, and it is no indictment of the causal principle that it does not match the epistemic luminosity of the statement that something cannot be both red and green all over. What Morriston needs to do to undercut the causal premiss of the kalam cosmological argument is to show that its contradictory is as intuitively obvious as it is, which he has not even tried to do.

Morriston thinks that anyone who claims that we have a metaphysical intuition of the truth of the causal principle is obliged to explain why other equally well–informed and intelligent people do not share this intuition.{17} This is an odd assertion, since a philosopher seems hardly obliged to give an account of the sociological and psychological factors which lead other philosophers to disagree with him. Perhaps Morriston’s point is best interpreted as inductive evidence against the claim that the causal principle is intuitively true. But so construed, the shoe is on the other foot: it is Morriston who is obliged to explain why he and a handful of other philosophers fail to see what the majority of philosophers and the overwhelming majority of mankind do see. The philosophers who deny that everything that begins to exist has a cause are a tiny minority of a tiny minority of mankind. Go ahead: name all the philosophers who believe that something can come into being without a cause or who are even agnostic about the matter. But be careful! Do not include Hume or Mackie.{18} Do not include quantum physicists.{19} The final list will be short, indeed. Morriston protests that he is not denying the truth of the causal principle, but merely that we have an apriori intuition of it.{20} But, as I say, it is a matter of indifference to me whether we come to grasp this principle a priori or a posteriori. I think it unlikely that the principle is for most of us an empirical generalization, for we instinctively apply it in unfamiliar situations, and the idea that something could come out of nothing is more than empirically repugnant. Since Morriston goes on to deny that we do know this principle empirically, he is unlikely to say that the conviction of mankind is based, not on intuition, but on empirical evidence. So it seems to me that the sociological evidence is quite consistent with the claim that the causal principle is intuitively obvious, and if there is any explaining to be done, it falls to Morriston to explain why his little band of skeptics fail to see what the vast majority of people, both philosophers and non–philosophers, do claim to see and to explain how the bulk of mankind, in his view, can be so deceived.

Finally, Morriston disputes our warrant for accepting the causal principle even as an empirical generalization.{21} This I find amazing; how can anyone deny in light of our empirical experience that the causal principle is more plausible than its contradictory? Here Morriston falls back on his distinction between temporally embedded events and events occurring at a first moment of time. Since we have experience only of temporally embedded origination events, Morriston questions whether we have evidence that origination events at a first moment of time require causal explanation. As we have already seen, however, this appears to be a distinction without a difference. Morriston misleads when he labels the one case intratemporal coming to be and the other extratemporal coming to be, for both are cases of events which are temporally located at some time t. The only difference is that in one case t was preceded by moments of time t*<t and in the other case it was not. How this could be relevant to the occurrence of an uncaused event at t is wholly mysterious.

Morriston also opposes two other empirical generalizations to the causal principle which he thinks enjoy comparable support but are allegedly incompatible with the kalam argument, to wit (i) Everything that begins to exist has a material cause, and (ii) Causes always stand in temporal relations to their effects. {22}Notice, however, that neither of these principles is incompatible with the causal principle enunciated in premiss (1). Morriston, in truth, offers no defeater at all for the argument’s causal premiss, taken as an empirical generalization.

As defeaters of the conclusion (3) of the kalam argument, moreover, (i) and (ii) are not compelling. The evidence for (i) is, indeed, impressive. But it is not unequivocal or universal.{23} More importantly, (i) is in my view simply overridden by the arguments for the finitude of the past. For if it is impossible that there be an infinite regress of past events, it is impossible that the First Cause be a material object, since matter/energy is never quiescent.{24} As for (ii), the problem here is that (ii) appears to be an accidental generalization, akin to Human beings have always lived on the Earth, which was true until 1968. There does not seem to be anything inherently temporal about a causal relationship. More importantly, however, (ii) is not at all incompatible with the kalam argument’s conclusion, since its defender may hold that God exists timelessly sans creation and temporally at and subsequent to the moment of creation, so that His act of causing the beginning of the universe is simultaneous with the universe’s beginning to exist.

In summary, Morriston’s claim that premiss (1) of the kalam cosmological argument loses much of its plausibility when applied to the beginning of time is unwarranted. Apart from his question based on the distinction between intra– and extratemporal beginnings, Morriston provides no reason to doubt the plausibility of the causal principle as an empirical generalization. That same dubious distinction lay at the heart of his denial that we have a metaphysical intuition of the principle’s truth. His claim that the absence of a material cause is as troubling as the absence of an efficient cause backfires because in an uncaused origination of the universe we lack both, whereas in creatio ex nihilo we have at least an efficient cause. Finally, Morriston errs in thinking that a reductive analysis, if adequate, should have the same epistemic obviousness of the analysandum and in thinking that all intuitively grasped, metaphysically necessary, synthetic truths should shine with the same self–evidence and perspicuity. In short, I do not think that in light of Morriston’s critique, premiss (1) of the argument is significantly diminished in its plausibility. In any case, it still remains more plausible than its contradictory. Thus, the answer to the first question should be, “Yes, the universe has a cause.”

Must the Cause of the Universe Be a Person?

In the second part of his article Morriston, still assuming that God exists atemporally sans the universe, criticizes an argument for the personhood of the First Cause inspired by the Islamic Principle of Determination. In a nutshell, the argument is that, given a tensed theory of time, only personal, free agency can account for the origin of a first temporal effect from a changeless cause. As we have seen, on a tensed theory of time, the universe comes into being at the first moment of its existence. The event of the universe’s coming into being cannot be an instance of state–state causation or event–event causation, since the origination of the universe is not a state and the condition of the timeless cause not an event. But neither can it be an instance of state–event causation, for this seems clearly impossible: If the unchanging cause is sufficient for the production of the effect, then the cause should not exist without the effect, that is to say, we should have state–state causation. If the cause is not sufficient for the production of the effect, then some change must take place in the cause to produce the effect, in which we have event–event causation and we must inquire all over again for the cause of the first event. The best way out of this dilemma is agent causation, whereby the agent freely brings about some event in the absence of prior determining conditions.

Morriston raises two objections to this argument: (i) Quantum mechanics allow for causal conditions which are not strictly speaking sufficient for their effects, and (ii) God’s changeless state of willing the universe is sufficient for the existence of the universe and is an instance of state–state causation.{25} Since I have elsewhere addressed (i),{26} I shall concentrate here on (ii).

I am inclined simply to deny that God’s eternally willing to create the universe, properly understood, is sufficient for the existence of the universe. As J. P. Moreland explains, in the case of personal causal explanations, the salient factors are the existence of an agent with his relevant properties and powers, the agent’s intention to bring about some result, an exercise of the agent’s causal powers, and in some cases a description of the relevant action plan. So “a personal explanation (divine or otherwise) of some basic result R brought about intentionally by person P where this bringing about of R is a basic action A will cite the intention I of P that R occur and the basic power B that P exercised to bring about R.”{27} Notice that it is insufficient for P to have merely the intention and power to bring about R. There must also be a basic action on the part of P, an undertaking or endeavoring or exercise of P’s causal powers. Thus, it is insufficient to account for the origin of the universe by citing simply God, His timeless intention to create a world with a beginning, and His power to produce such a result. There must be an exercise of His causal power in order for the universe to be created. That entails, of course, an intrinsic change on God’s part which brings Him into time at the moment of creation. For that reason He must be temporal since creation even if He is timeless sans creation.{28} Such an account of the origin of the universe will work only for agent causation, for only a libertarian agent could interrupt the static reign of being of the First Cause sans the universe. It is for that reason that we should conceive of the First Cause as personal. Hence, the failing of Morriston’s objection is that in speaking of God’s willing that the universe exist, he does not differentiate between God’s timeless intention to create a temporal world and God’s undertaking to create a temporal world. Once we make the distinction, we see that creation ex nihilo is not an instance of state–state causation and is therefore not susceptible to Morriston’s objection.


I conclude that Morriston has not defeated the conclusion that if time and the universe had a First Cause, that Cause is plausibly personal. Moreover, he has not shown that the plausibility of the causal premiss is greatly diminished by the various considerations he raises. Finally, even if the plausibility of that premiss were greatly reduced, nothing has been said to show that it is still not more plausible than its contradictory. If the kalam argument is unsound or unpersuasive, it is unlikely that the fault lies in its first premiss.{29}



{1}Wes Morriston, “Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause? A Critical Examination of the Kalam Cosmological Argument,” Faith and Philosophy 17 (2000): 149.

{2}Ibid., p. 150.

{3}Ibid., p. 149.

{4}Ibid., p. 150.

{5}Ibid., p. 155.

{6}Charles Misner, Kip Thorne, and John A. Wheeler, Gravitation (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1973), p. 769. Sir Arthur Eddington went so far as to conclude, “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural" (Arthur Eddington, The Expanding Universe [New York: Macmillan, 1933], p. 178).

{7}A. D. Linde, “The Inflationary Universe,” Reports on Progress in Physics 47 (1984): 9760. Cosmologists often misleadingly press the difficulty posed by an absolute beginning in terms of the question, “What was before the singularity?” In order to be acceptable this question must be construed in terms of causal, not temporal, priority.

{8}A. Borde and A. Vilenkin, “Eternal Inflation and the Initial Singularity,” Physical Review Letters 72 (1994): 3308.

{9}Morriston, “Beginning of the Universe,” p. 155.



{12}Perhaps I contributed to the confusion by framing my analysis in terms of a definition of “x begins to exist.”

{13}See William Lane Craig, “Creation and Conservation Once More,” Religious Studies 34 (1998): 177–88.

{14}Morriston, “Beginning of the Universe,” p. 156.

{15}William Lane Craig, “A Criticism of the Cosmological Argument for God’s Non–Existence,” in Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, by Wm. L. Craig and Q. Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 273–5.

{16}The causal principle is not as evidently true as the statement that “An object can be both red and green all over” in the sense that I can imagine things popping into existence uncaused out of nothing, whereas I cannot imagine a wholly red and green object. But appeals to imagination have little philosophical significance, for some things are possible which are unimaginable (e.g., a four–dimensional hyper–cube), and we can form mental pictures of states of affairs which are metaphysically impossible (e.g., Fermat’s Last Theorem’s being proved false). Moreover, the more I reflect on the causal principle the more obviously true it seems to me. Not only does it seem impossible that pure potentiality should actualize itself, but in the case of the universe there was not even the prior potentiality of its existence, since there was no “prior.” If the causal principle were false, then it seems inexplicable why anything and everything does not pop into being uncaused. I freely concede that my reductive analysis of “begins to exist” is not intuitively obvious; but, as I explain in the text, that is no flaw in the analysis.

{17}Morriston, “Beginning of the Universe,” p. 159.

{18}Hume indignantly declared, “But allow me to tell you that I never asserted so absurd a Proposition as that anything might arise without a cause” (David Hume to John Stewart, Feb. 1754, in The Letters of David Hume, ed. J. Y. T. Greig, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932), 1: 187. Similarly, Mackie: “I myself find it hard to accept the notion of self–creation from nothing, even given unrestricted chance. And how can this be given, if there really is nothing?” (J. L. Mackie, Times Literary Supplement [5 February, 1982], p. 126).

{19}As Kanitscheider explains,

"The violent microstructure of the vacuum has been used in attempts to explain the origin of the universe as a long–lived vacuum fluctuation. But some authors have connected with this legitimate speculations [sic] far–reaching metaphysical claims, or at most they couched their mathematics in a highly misleading language, when they maintained ‘the creation of the universe out of nothing’ . . . .

From the philosophical point of view it is essential to note that the foregoing is far from being a spontaneous generation of everything from naught, but the origin of that embryonic bubble is really a causal process leading from a primordial substratum with a rich physical structure to a materialized substratum of the vacuum. Admittedly this process is not deterministic, it includes that weak kind of causal dependence peculiar to every quantum mechanical process" (Bernulf Kanitscheider, “Does Physical Cosmology Transcend the Limits of Naturalistic Reasoning?” in Studies on Mario Bunge’s “Treatise,” ed. P. Weingartner and G. J. W. Dorn [Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1990], pp. 346–7).

{20}Morriston, “Beginning of the Universe,” p. 169.

{21}Ibid., p. 162.


{23}Morriston himself takes our own power to control our actions to be the paradigm of causality. But, as J. P. Moreland argues, such control plausibly requires some sort of dualism (J. P. Moreland, “Searle’s Biological Naturalism and the Argument from Consciousness,” Faith and Philosophy 15 [1998]: 68–91), in which case we have a clear counter–example to the claim that every effect has a material cause. Not only do I cause effects in my physical body, but my mental states are causally connected. Moreover, some scientists have taken vacuum fluctuations to be a counter–example in the physical realm to the notion that everything that begins to exist has a material cause, even if there exist efficient (indeterminate) causal conditions of such variations. See my “Design and the Cosmological Argument,” in Mere Creation, ed. William A. Dembski (Downer’s Grove, Ill: Inter–Varsity Press, 1998), pp. 332–59.

{24}See my “The Kalam Cosmological Argument and the Hypothesis of a Quiescent Universe,” Faith and Philosophy 8 (1991): 104–108.

{25}Morriston, “Beginning of the Universe,” p. 165.

{26}See Craig, “Design and the Cosmological Argument.”

{27}Moreland, “Searle’s Biological Naturalism,” p. 75. See further idem, “Libertarian Agency and the Craig/Grünbaum Debate about Theistic Explanation of the Initial Singularity,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 71 (1998): 539–54.

{28}In arguing elsewhere for this view of divine eternity, I have refrained from speaking of the necessity of an exercise of God’s causal power, since if it could be shown that a merely extrinsic change of God at the moment of creation suffices for His temporal existence at that moment, then a fortiori so will an intrinsic change. See, e.g., my “The Tensed vs. Tenseless Theory of Time: A Watershed for the Conception of Divine Eternity,” in Questions of Time and Tense, ed. R. Le Poidevin (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), p. 222.

Oh yeah, this is Willaim Lane Craig’s arguments if it didn’t specify.

This is just one argument, I have many more, take your time, this one may take awhile since he has so much area to cover from skeptics.

They have their arguments against the idea of God. Now one could do the same with unicorns, Transformers, or ghosts. Simply because the word is spoken does not give it essence. Also, many of them are in a way mentally persecuted by the notion of a God by their fellow men. Still in our culture to be Godless carries a nasty stigma at times.

I’ve not seen alot of debates against ghost or unicorns…maybe I should get out more.


Point being that simply because they are mentioned or talked about does not = existence.

Yes, mentioned or talked about, how pathetic is it then it’s being argued about?

Atheism and theism can both be logical based on the experiences of the person presenting the argument. The purely logical theistic arguments do a good job of showing that something that has some of the key characteristics of God is likely to exist, and the atheistic arguments do a good job of showing that this God, if it exists, must be a God of particulars that can’t be explained in half a dozen words.
And being Godless in our culture should carry a nasty stigma- first and foremost, the stigma of being incorrect. Secondly, the stigma of being outside of the foundations of ethics and culture. Those are both very good reasons to stigmatize a point of view. If a free thinker wants to be seen as daring for their rebellious independance, they cannot then also whine about a lack of acceptance from the ‘norms’. Broad acceptance is the one obvious advantage of being one of those that goes with the flow- leave it to them.

People argue over supernatural. People argue over money. How is it pathetic to argue over “everything”?

Prove it. :evilfun:

So, let me see if I get this. Because I don’t have God I don’t have ethics? Because I do not have God I have no culture?

So you believe it is better to just go with what the masses believe?


 I don't have to. Stigmas are based on society and culture. If most people think you're incorrect, then you've earned the stigma that comes with being incorrect. Also, you shouldn't be proud of the fact that you (apparently) think it's impossible for something to be proven to you- that's most likely a function of your close-mindedness and not a function of other people's ability to prove things, or the ability of the things themselves to be proven.
No, because you don't realize you have God, you're ethics aren't based on the same things as most other peoples.  Because you don't believe in God, your cultural practices will differ in wide ways from those who do (unless you fake it). You are different from the most, about things most people find very important. That's where stigmas come from, and so it's rightly earned. 

If a person’s main goal is to be accepted, to the extend that they will whine and bitch if they feel at all ostracized*, then yes, it certainly is better to go with what the masses believe.

*- Which is not to say anyone here has done so.

/takes a drink of Orange Juice in his real life.

This is sour. I was told when I was younger that the word to describe something of this matter was “sour”. Matter of the physical world have surely influenced me. Club simply took my possibility of another realm besides our own such as parallel dimensions and time-space to another level and continually attacks it. Yes, I learn. Yes, I study. But how can things such as God become a matter of truth when I have learned about so much? What about the Greek Gods? Shall I pray to Apollo? My spiritual learnings are wrought with skepticism sure. When everyone is yanking you in ever direction how can you simply go one way w/o proper proof?

So, Buddhists do not act anything like Christians? My moral practices are more reliant upon the Buddhist principles along with lessons in my life. Do you really believe that because I lack God as Buddhists do that I shall not have congruent morals with some Christians? Certainly I do things such as pre-martial sex, eat pork etc. but does that make me so radically different than those around me?

I see your point here but I feel that complacency is a large issue regarding people in any time period. I know this is a matter of religion and social norms but I would not be able to sit tight with this.

Well noted I have not been ostracized. But I have seen people like Mick get it…but he kinda deserved it. :wink:


I have no idea how much you know, so I cannot say. For all I know, you’ve read more religious philosophy than I have. For all I know, you refuse to read anything that doesn’t back up your skeptical assumptions.

     Your argument is self-refuting- it is not the case that one who knows as much as you cannot help but be skeptical.  It is purely the fact that people who know far more than you (or I) take a variety of strong, certain stances, that you find yourself yanked in every direction in the first place. 

As far as proper proof goes, that really depends on the individual. What do you consider proper proof?

I believe I cut an allowance for ‘faking it’. I really don’t know what your point is here. Yes, if you live exactly like a Christian, and nobody can tell your an atheist, then you won’t earn the stigma of an atheist because nobody can tell.
And no, I didn’t say you wouldn’t have congruent morals with some Christians- I said your morals wouldn’t be based on the same foundation.

I don’t know who’s around you. If you lived in a community of Hasidic (sp) Jews, then your behavior would earn a certain stigma, and rightly so.

Oh sure, I'm not saying complacency is admirable necessarily.  I'm just saying that wide acceptance is something a person sacrifices when the start criticizing the views of the masses. Conversely, if a person wants acceptance more than anything else, then part of being accepted is 

You can’t say “Hey all you guys, I think your religion is false, your morals unnecessary, and I’m going to live by my own rules. And furthermore, how come I don’t get invited to all your parties?”

Perhaps but I do a wide range of reading. I have read the main Bible, parts of the Torah, some of Qu’ran. I have tried to get through some of the Western religious beings but have understood their main systems (Anselm, Augustine etc.) and found the overall systems rather interesting. But as you might guess I have read far more Eastern origin stuff (Vedas, Sutras) etc.

A very good question. Perhaps one day I shall find out.

Ahh I get ya. ’

Simply that a base may appear the same even in the absence of God.

I live in a majority Christian region.

I loled.

I think to answer your question why God sent his son to save humanity, is to go into history of ancient civilization. I don’t know much about history but I think before Jesus time, Plaestine was one nation very diverse and divided and so opposed with each other that peace and harmony among the people was impossible and the supposed to be God’s chosen people were subjected to its corrupt governement, immorality, degradation,etc and they were humiliated and they hoped to see this humiliation undone. They had an understanding that from their brethren God will raise one who will guide his chosen people. The student of the history of the bible would be able to answer this. But back to your question if it is simpler for god to just save mankind since he is omnipotent and all: well, which one would you value more, a freebie, or by your own sweat and hard work you are rewarded by an even nicer one than the freebie. How are you going to learn if you just take, take, take. How are you going to think and take care of yourself if you are too dependent on the big man? God gave us minds and intelligence for us to use to master our environment and the lesser forms of life. Since God gave us those gifts, what is the greatest gift can we give God?

Satori for the win…some great reads. Very strong apposing arguments as well…good show! clap clap #-o

“Logic” is a matter processing tool and a way to put more oil into the american flag today. Tomarrow, “logic” will be something else…