I've previously debunked this fallacy in Favourite Fallacies - The Kalâm Cosmological Argument but a closer look at the argument reveals the basic flaws in logic with which Lane Craig bamboozles his credulous audiences using the same tactics as a televangelist wringing donations out of lonely, vulnerable and gullible people.
This argument isn't mine - I only wish it were - it's from Dan Barker's must-read book, Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One Of America's Leading Atheists.
Basically, the KCA argues:
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therfore the universe had a cause.
It's fun to substitute anything you like for 'God' in Lane Craig's argument and so 'prove' it was anything you want. It works. Try it! You can 'prove' a peanut-butter sandwich created the universe if you want to.
So, where is the fallacy? How come something which Craigites love to tell us proves their favourite god created everything, can also, with equal ease, 'prove' it was anything you like which caused everything to exist? The answer of course is that there is a subtle trick in the argument which Lane Craig hopes you won't see.
The trick Lane Craig pulls is hidden in the first line - everything that begins to exist has a cause. This clearly implies that there is a set things which don't begin to exist. So what is there in this set of things-which-don't-begin-to-exist? Can you think of any? Are these natural things? If not, why not?
How do we identify these things and, more importantly, if there are such things, how does Lane Craig eliminate them as candidate causes of the universe?
What Lane Craig does, having created this convenient set of things-which-don't-begin-to-exist simply by including the deceptive clause, 'which begins to', is to allow only his desired conclusion to occupy it, and so he rigs the argument by stating it in such a way as to exclude everything but the answer he wants.
If you deny him that right and, with the same justification that Lane Craig uses (i.e., no justification at all) put any number of things you want into that set of things-which-don't-begin-to-exist, you can create as big a range of choices of causes of the universe as you want.
You can also choose, with the same justification, to say this set-of-things-which-don't-begin-to-exist is empty; that there are no such things. After all, if Craig can simply deem his preferred conclusion to be in that set, we can equally deem it not to be. We can, if we assume the same right that Lane Craig claims, declare that there is nothing that could have caused the universe, and conclude that therefore the universe had no cause. QED!
But why should there not be perfectly natural things which don't begin to exist, such as a non-zero quantum energy field, a black hole in another universe, or simply 'something' which may be the default state of existence rather than the nothing assumed by the KCA?
In essence, the KCA as used by William Lane Craig is nothing more than saying, "If the universe had a cause it must have been my god.". It is of course, the religious ploy of fact by fiat. Fiat Deus! Let there be God!
The only thing it proves is that there is a gap in William Lane Craig's knowledge and understanding into which he has projected an imaginary deity. Once you take away his deception of the rigged argument, you open up the possibility of perfectly natural causes of universes whilst still retaining the logic of 'everything which begins to exist' having a cause.
And you don't need to subscribe to that other logical absurdity in the KCA: the notion that there can be such a thing as nothing. How on earth can something which, by definition doesn't exist, exist? How can there be nothing for any possible meaning of the word 'be'? And how can anyone possibly claim to be able to assign properties to it or to make any meaningful statement about nothing, like declaring that nothing can come from it?
This may well be the most absurdly irrational assumption ever made. I'd certainly like to hear of a more absurd one.