Atheism- Theism – The Kalam Cosmological argument for God

One big argument for God is the Kalam cosmological Argument or KCA and it goes something like this.

  • Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  • The universe began to exist.
  • Therefore, the universe has a cause.

The conclusion of theists who advocate this argument is a separate agency, a God must exist outside of space and time that caused the cosmos to come into existence.

Multiple causes

My doubts start with the premises, beginnings and causes. I noticed that the first premise explains causality as a simple linear chain of events. However, Buddhism recognises there are multiple causes and conditions for anything to exist.

Take the Potter and Pot metaphor. Yes, the Potter created the pot, but is that all of the causes and conditions? There also has to be the clay itself; that’s a condition. Knowledge in the Potter’s mind too. There also will be other conditions, a prospective buyer of the pot, so that the future will affect the present, backward causality. A market economy needs to exist, and demand for pots.

To say there is a first cause is like asking about the volume of a cube; which comes first, the height, breadth or depth?

What you see then is a simple cause-effect idea is a myopic understanding of a complex Web of causes and conditions; in Buddhism, it is called Dependant co-arising.

Such complex causes and conditions mean there is no first cause. In Buddhism, they see the cosmos as eternal. Such complexity is impossible to grasp, so we resort to simpler models. It’s what science does in controlled trials. Filter out multiple causes and focus on just one.

Theists’ idea of causality as simple linear progress is simplistic and reductionist. As theologians have pointed out, the reductionist view of life can’t do justice to its complexity and richness. So why are they clinging to it when explaining causality? Scientists understand the complex web of causes better.

Causality in their worldview is so simple. Linear progress from causes to effect. Yet we can see how multiple reasons and conditions are needed for things to exist or happen.

In physics too, the causal principle, “everything that begins to exist has a cause”, appears to break down. There is no time at the quantum level, and the big bang has a quantum state before the expansion.


Another question mark is over the idea of beginnings. Consider the Continuum Paradox, (related to the Sorites).

Greyscale- At what point does black become white?

Consider a smooth gradient from black to white through all the shades of grey. The number of greys is infinite. The question is, ‘at what point does black become white?‘ Black and white are not the only states that exist. There’re numerous states in-between.

Insight shows there is no place where black becomes white; that beginning doesn’t exist.

We chop reality up into pieces, like the greyscale below. The chopped version is an abstraction of reality. It doesn’t contain all the grey tones; therefore, it’s more straightforward and has beginnings and endings. But these beginnings are invented by us, the map makers.

Artist Grey Scale – Simpler, abstracted

To say there is a first cause, it’s like asking, ‘Which comes first the breadth or width of a rectangle?’ or ‘Does a rule begin at the first centimetre?’

Another point about Eastern religion is those cultures don’t see time as linear but circular.
A circle’s edge will look like a line from a very close-up. But a circle has no beginning or end.

It’s a shift in perspective about cosmology, and the world, a liberation of our myopic understanding. Everything that begins to exist is a reordering of things that already exist. We must also remember that every beginning we experience can be seen as an end. The beginning of the Olympic Games is also the end of the preparation for the Olympics.

So if there is a beginning of the universe, there is the ending of another. It’s what Sean Carroll was saying to William Lane Craig. Aristotle is no longer practical to describe the history of the cosmos or it’s origins.

Potter and Pot Metaphor

This argument and others also posit God as outside of time and space, but what does this mean? How can something exist outside space and time? The only existence we know of is with space and time; even ideas are thoughts now in time. It makes the cosmos like a box, with us in it, agency or God outside it.

It suggests the cosmos and its contents are separate. Buddhism recognises we are not in the cosmos; we are the cosmos.

We make choices in time: This anthropomorphic God also makes choices. So for God to choose, God must be subject to time by the same reasoning. To be outside space and time is not to exist or not to matter.

Further still, if God is the cause of the cosmos, then it’s not separate from the cosmos but a part of the interconnected play of causes and conditions. You can’t define something as both separate and connected. So if one exists is but one of many causes and conditions.

To be outside the cosmos is to be unconnected from it or non-existent.

What we have here is a fixation on the Potter and the Pot metaphor, an example of the type the Subject-object duality. The belief existence comprises separate objects and individuals or the Self. Buddhism sees such separation as helpful but also a falsehood. It’s not how the cosmos operates.


What this boils down to is theists are forgetting that ideas are not reality; they point to reality. People over-invested in their worldviews and alter facts instead of fitting theories to fit facts, or Mistaking the map for the territory.

They can’t accept or even understand alternative views of the cosmos, so they dismiss them based on their lack of understanding or imagination.

It’s called Hypostasisation or Reification. The Physicist Feynman called it ‘The Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness.

Apologists’ are making the mistake of trying to squeeze the cosmos to fit into their ideas and those of Aristotle.
Mistakenly thinking, Aristotle had the last word on causality, infinities, metaphysics and cosmology.

Our description reality is just that, descriptions, ideas, and language; there’s no obligation on the part of the cosmos to conform to our ideas, hope, and needs.

Concluding thoughts

The thing about cosmological arguments is you have to make certain assumptions and follow specific lines of thought. I can think of four:

  • The universe requires an explanation
  • Infinite regress is impossible
  • Everything that begins to exist has a beginning
  • Everything requires a cause

If your preference is to have explanations, then you would gravitate to metaphysics and the supernatural, and the arguments put forwards by Aquinas, philosophers and apologists would appeal.

If you don’t accept the above assumptions and don’t need explanations, then cosmological arguments have no appeal, value or validity.

What all this seems to point to is a myopic understanding of reality. Biases keep some from noticing that our knowledge and ideas are artificial. We forget that such knowledge is not something the cosmos follows, instead we adapt our knowledge to fit it.

Vague language, lack of imagination, ambiguity, and emotion all play a role in closing off alternatives to the mind that doesn’t want to hear them. Misunderstand crepe in biases, fallacies, in reasoning. Unsupported assumptions and complexities get brushed aside in this argument.

It shows apologists have of narrow view the cosmos and also of non believers.