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48 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The single best cosmological argument
In the Kalam Cosmological Argument, PhD and ThD William Lane Craig sets forth what I think is the single most convincing argument for the existence of G-d. Dr. Craig divides his book into three parts.
In part one, Dr. Craig gives a historical account of the Kalam argument. He first talks about the history of Arabic philosophy and it's relation to the Kalam argument...
Published on June 2, 2001 by Neal Winkler

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3.0 out of 5 stars Argumentative Reading
Good reading for those who are going to college or seminary. It takes a little time to read but may be well worth the investment.
Published 6 months ago by JC Adams


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48 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The single best cosmological argument, June 2, 2001
By 
Neal Winkler (Belleville, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Paperback)
In the Kalam Cosmological Argument, PhD and ThD William Lane Craig sets forth what I think is the single most convincing argument for the existence of G-d. Dr. Craig divides his book into three parts.
In part one, Dr. Craig gives a historical account of the Kalam argument. He first talks about the history of Arabic philosophy and it's relation to the Kalam argument. After this, Dr. Craig explains the Kalam models used by three Arabic theologians. They are, in order: al-Kindi, Saadia, and al-Ghazali. Some of thier aruments are, of course, a bit outdated and crude, but not all.
In the second part of The Kalam Cosmological Argument, Craig gives a modern defense. He formulates the argument as so:
1.)Everything that begins to exist has a cause of it's existence
2.)The universe began to exist
3.)Therefore, the universe has a cause
Since the second premis of the argument is obviously the most important, Dr. Craig defends this first in two ways. First, with two philosophical arguments, and second, with empirical evidence. In regards to the former, Dr. Craig argues that an actual infinite composed of definte and distinct finite members cannot exist in reality. He does this by showing the various paradoxes and absurdities that arise in inifite set theory (which may be fine for the realm of mathmatics but the results for the real world are too unbeliveable). He also gives "real life" examples such as Hilberts Hotel and Tristram Shandy. Since actual infinites cannot exist in reality, Dr. Craig reasons that an actual infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite and therefore an actual infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist. He then gives a second argument that has two do with actual infinites and time. Here he argues that an actual infinite cannot be reach by successive addition. Since an actual infinite cannot be reached by successive addition, and a temporal series of events is a collection formed by succssive addition, then the series of temporal events cannot be infinite. In both cases, since the series if temporal events cannot be infinte, time and the universe must of had a beginning a fintie time ago(he also exaplains why time couldn't of been preceded by an eternal quiescent universe).
Now on to the emprical evidence. Here Dr. Craig argues for truth of the standard big bang model for evidence as to the beginnig of the universe, and also the second law of thermodymanics as evidence for the beginning of the universe. As far as the Big Bang goes, that is pretty self-explanitory. As for the secong law of thermodynamics though, Dr. Craig says that if the universe did not have a beginning, then all the energy would in it would of been used an eternity ago. However, we still have usable energy, so the universe must not be infinitely old.
Dr. Craig goes on then to defend the first premis, and in the final chapter of the modern defense of the Kalam argument, he puts it all together. For if this argument is indeed sound, then we come to a timeless, changless, immaterial, and most importantly, a personal creator of the universe. The first three attributes you may be able to figure out from what I have described here, but if not, I will leave those and the reason why the creator must be personal for when you read the book.
Finally, the last part of the book is two appendixes concerning Zeno's Paradoxes and Kant's First Antimony. In closing, I would also like to note that you should be sure not to miss out on the notes sections. There is information in there that can be of value.
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent philosophical argument for God's existence, June 7, 2002
By 
Bruce H (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Paperback)
The other reviews here are quite comprehensive, so it will be difficult to add something new. However, I will try.
I have seen Craig in debate numerous times, read one of his other books ("Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics) and he is the best intellectually respectable defenders of Christianity alive today. Comparing his debates to this book shows that Craig has a wide range and knows how to argue at a level appropriate to his audience. Craig can talk to the interested public and academic philosophers alike. This book definitely falls into the second category (Craig did his first Ph. D on it) and it is aimed at those who want a comprehensive defense of this one particular argument for God's existence.
The book is divided into two main sections. A historical review of the argument as it was originally presented by various Islamic philosophers about a thousand years ago starts the book. I found most of the arguments here comprehensible because Craig had the foresight to put the arguments into a chart, so that you can visually see the progression of the ideas. For most readers, this material will be completely new. Islamic philosophers are rarely covered in first year university and courses on such topics are few and far between.
The second section is the modern defense of the kalam cosmological argument. Craig arguments are of two types; philosophical (using mathematics as his evidence) and scientific or empirical (using astronomy and physics as his evidence). The mathematics arguments are extremely difficult to follow and I think most readers will only understand parts of it. Some of his observations are as follows; even if an actual infinite exists in mathematics, it is generally thought that mathematical concepts have no concrete existence (this is something of a simplification, but that is unavoidable in the space available), that an infinite cannot be formed by addition and so on. I get the impression that the mathematics Craig uses (primarily set theory) is a simply a modern presentation of the Islamic arguments, which I founder easier to comprehend. The basic conclusion offered is that an actual infinite is mired in contradictions and thus cannot exist.
The second part of his evidence deals with astronomy, the Big Bang, thermodynamics and so on. Craig refutes the non-Big Bang models of the universe. The Big Bang model of the universe asserts that the universe began to exist approximately 15 billion years ago. The steady state model (which asserts that the universe is eternal) was refuted by empirical evidence in the 1960's while the oscillating model is confronted by major physical problems that make it quite implausible. Craig prefaces this section with a comment that some people find abstract philosophical argumentation too difficult and thus prefer the "concrete" sciences. Personally, I think that philosophy is better equipped, as a discipline, to address questions such as: Is the universe eternal? Did the Universe have a cause?
Briefly, near the end of the book, Craig defends what he rightly regards as the causality principle. The principle holds that whatever begins to exist has a cause. Craig presents the arguments of some other philosophers who attempt to show that this principle is self-evident or otherwise inescapable.
This is, without a doubt, the most difficult book I have read this year. Yet, it is quite rewarding. Craig successfully argues against all those who disagree with him and it is challenging to imagine a refutation of his position. If you have taken "Philosophy of religion" courses at the university level, you would definitely appreciate the book although some of the math-based arguments may be difficult to follow. I would only recommend it to people with a broad understanding of philosophy and or apologetics. If you would like an beginner's introduction on how to defend the Christian faith, I recommend, "The Case for Faith," by Lee Strobel (very readable and easy to understand), "Mere Christianity," by C.S. Lewis (a classic defense of Christianity, but it is quite short and not quite as rigorous as I would like). For a more in-depth defense of Christianity that covers both the existence of God, miracles, and Jesus Christ, J.P. Moreland's book, "Scaling the Secular City" (which I have reviewed) is bar none the best. Craig's book, "Reasonable faith," is also fairly good.
P.S. If you intend to offer a substantive critique of the argument, you must undermine the philosophical and scientific arguments for both of them independently establish the beginning of the universe, one of the key elements of the argument. One of the reviewers, George Tucker, "refuted" the argument in less than 100 words without addressing any of Craig's evidence. This is a poor attempt to refute an brilliantly argued book.
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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The cosmological argument and the existence of God, December 5, 1998
In this book, Craig reviews the most significant contributions of history to the Kalam cosmological argument by presenting and analyzing the works by al-Kindi (a Muslim from the 9th century), Saadia (a 10th century Jew)and al-Ghazali (the well-known Muslim philosopher from the 11th century). He then goes into an in-depth analysis of the philosophical evidence that the universe had a beginning, by demonstrating the impossibility of the existence of an actual infinite amount using infinite set theory (which is over my head) and the apparent confirmation of these conclusions from astrophysics. This makes up the fundamental part of Craig's argument. He then goes on to briefly defend the law of causality as "a priori because it is universal and necessary, being a precondition of thought itself," and then draws the conclusion that the universe has a cause. He briefly comments on the nature of this cause as being non-mechanistic, and therefore a personal agent capable of choice (I would have liked a more thorough discussion of this point). Finally, in two appendices, Craig defends the kalam argument against two possible objections: Zeno's paradoxes and the "infinity machines" some philosophers have suggested, and Kant's first antimony. Overall this is an incredibly in-depth argument, and a lot of it was beyond me. Craig's arguments and conclusions appeared well thought out and convincing, especially when contrasted with the popular objections to the cosmological argument one finds on the web. I have done some additional studying on this subject and have not found any arguments which repudiate Craig's conclusions, although this doesn't necessarily mean that none exist. It seems rational to conclude that an uncaused first cause does exist, and that this cause is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent but Outdated Defense, September 19, 2007
By 
Kyle Demming "skepticalchristian.com" (Freeland, Michigan United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Paperback)
In "The Kalam Cosmological Argument," William Lane Craig explains and defends a frequently overlooked argument for God's existence. Craig contends that the Kalam version of the Cosmological Argument, which seeks to establish a First Cause responsible for bringing the temporally finite universe into being, is a sound and persuasive argument for the existence of God.

In this book, Craig first surveys the history of the argument, particualarly as it is defended by al-Kindi, Saadia, and al-Ghazali. These three philosophers defended the minority view that the universe had a beginning a finite time ago. Using philosophical and mathematical arguments, they attempted to establish the impossibility of an actual infinite in the real world.

After a brief overview of these philosophers' arguments concerning the beginning of the universe, Craig attempts to construct a modern case for the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which is:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

Turning first to the second premise, Craig builds a four-fold defense of the conclusion that the universe began to exist. First, he argues that it is impossible for an actual infinite to exist in the real world. He shows that Cantorian set theory, though perhaps a consistent and useful mathematical system, cannot be applied to the real world without insuperable inconsistencies and contradictions. Using illustrations, he demonstrates that infinite quantities cannot be subtracted or divided without logical contradictions in the real world. But, argues Craig, it is illegitimate to simply stipulate that infinite quantities cannot be subtracted or divided in the real world, since in the real world there is nothing to stop someone from removing a book from a library with a supposedly infinite number of books. Since an actual infinite cannot exist in the real world, concludes Craig, the universe must have had a beginning, for it is impossible for an infinite number of events to have occurred or an infinite number of hours to have elapsed.

Second, Craig argues that it is impossible to form an infinite by successive addition. No matter how many numbers you count, you can still count one more. Yet, the temporal series of events occurring in the universe is a formed by successive addition. Thus, it is impossible for the universe to have existed forever.

Turning to scientific confirmation, Craig's third argument is that the expansion of the universe, and the resulting Big Bang cosmological model, demonstrate that the universe began to exist. The evidence for the expansion of the universe, and thus the beginning of the universe, is overwhelming- confirmed by galactic redshift and microwave cosmic background radiation. Due to these findings and others, virtually all scientists now acknowledge that the universe is expanding. Such an expansion, extrapolated backwards in time, confirms that the universe began to exist.

Fourth, Craig argues that the second law of thermodynamics guarantees that the universe has not existed forever. The second law stipulates that all systems have the tendency to pass from a state of lower entropy (disorder) to higher entropy (disorder). Consider, for example, that our sun is currently using up energy, and will eventually run down. Inevitably, all the stars will burn up all their energy. Likewise, the entire universe is going to run out of usable energy, and the universe will experience a `heat death.' But if scientists know that the universe will eventually be in a state of maximum entropy and heat death, then why is not the universe already in this state, if it has already existed forever? Since we are not currently in a state of heat death, it follows inescapably that the universe had a beginning a finite time ago.

After constructing an elaborate case for the second premise of the Kalam Argument, Craig briefly addresses the first premise. He contends that the premise "everything which begins to exist requires a cause" is so intuitively obvious that any argument one could make for it is bound to be less convincing than the premise itself. Craig briefly mentions two arguments. First, he notes that the causal principle is constantly verified and never falsified in our experience. Second, he claims that the Kantian mental category of causality may be used to defend the principle as an a priori intuition that makes rational thought possible.

Having defended both premises, Craig briefly reflects on the conclusion, that the universe began to exist. He then argues, via the principle of determination, that the cause of the universe must necessarily be a free personal agent, for such an agent is required in order to bring a temporal effect (the universe) from eternity.

Overall, The Kalam Cosmological Argument was a good read and an excellent contribution to natural theology. However, as a result of being outdated, Craig's work here is largely irrelevant. Craig constructs an extraordinarily powerful case for the second premise, but unfortunately, it is the first premise which has largely come under attack in recent discussions. Thus, this book does not really address the most important contemporary objections to the argument. Craig has a number of other works in which these concerns are addressed. Therefore, unless you are looking for an historical overview of the Kalam argument or you are seeking a robust defense of a beginning of the universe, The Kalam Cosmological Argument is simply not relevant enough for contemporary discussion.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The text that restarted the contemporary discussion on the cosmological argument, June 23, 2013
This review is from: The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Paperback)
This was Craig's first book on the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA)published in 1979. If one wants to begin reading up on this particular cosmological argument, then this is the place to start. The argument is a simple modus ponens, with airtight premises. As a philosopher, I must say that this was what got me interested in cosmological arguments. This argument is usually expressed in only 18 words, and yet it communicates so much. Unfortunately, this argument has received a lot of non-academic attention from laymen and other popularists/sensationalists from within the rather unsavory internet community. This has predictably brought forth vast amounts of unsophisticated responses, desperate to avoid the conclusion of the KCA. But, within academia on the other hand, this is a very cogent argument that lends to deep cosmological and metaphysical considerations. It does not look like amazon has included the table of contents for viewers to see at the time that I am writing this. So, in the interest of aiding mature thinkers and viewers who would actually bother to understand KCA's content, I have included the table of contents below:

Part I: Historical Statements of the Kalam Cosmological Argument 1
Introduction 3
al-Kindi 19
Saadia 37
al-Ghazali 42
Notes 50

Part II: A Modern Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument 61
Proposed Formulation of the Argument 63
Second Premise: The Universe Began to Exist 65
First Premise: Whatever Begins to Exist has a Cause 141
Conclusion: The Universe Has a Cause of Its Existence 149
Notes 154

Appendix 1: KCA and Zeno's Paradoxes 175

Appendix 2: KCA and the Thesis of Kant's First Antinomy 189

Index: 207

In sum, this book is highly worth the read if one is interested in understanding the KCA. Another good book to follow this one up with is one coauthored by both William Lane Craig (a theist) and Quentin Smith (an atheist) entitled "Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology." This is a collection of essays in which the KCA is defended and criticized in a series of essays. At any rate, enjoy Craig's book as it is a great read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Reasoned Ride, March 28, 2013
By 
Eric Maroney (Trumansburg, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Paperback)
William Lane Craig's book The Kalam Cosmological Argument sets out to both explain and defend the theory cited in the title. This theory is one of the ways that God's existence is rationally proved. But Craig mentions God very few times in this book. The thrust of the book is on the cosmological argument, and not its conclusion.

The lynchpin of this theory rests on the assumption that an actual infinite cannot exist. If it does not, then the universe must be finite. It must have a beginning. If it has a finite beginning, there must be a creator of the universe who existed prior to its creation. If real infinity exists, and if the universe is eternal, all manner of absurdities would ensue. Time as we know it would not function. And the sequential nature of events as we observe them would not exist.

Craig handles this argument in various ways, from showing in very mathematical terms that a true infinite does not exist, to more philosophical arguments. He then goes on to examine both the theoretical and empirical results of the Big Bang Theory, which bolsters the argument for a finite, created universe.

Craig will deftly bring you through these abstruse matters; he will not leave you behind, although this is not a book for the rank beginner. But to see how a mind thinks about matters divine, rationally, and according to the dictates of the senses and experience, Craig is no greater guide.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most discussed books in philosophy of religion, August 4, 2006
This review is from: The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Paperback)
William Lane Craig's 1979 book THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT is one of the most discussed books in philosophy journals since the emergence of realist theism in the 1970s (more precisely, with Plantinga's 1967 book GOD AND OTHER MINDS). Counting articles, one arrives at the result that Craig's book and Plantinga's 1974 book THE NATURE OF NECESSITY are the most discussed books in this field. One difference is that Craig's book has remained fairly constant in terms of the number of articles written about it in the past 25-27 years, with Plantinga's second and third WARRANT books replacing his 1974 book as his most discussed books. In terms of influencing the topics of thought in the field of philosophy of religion, Craig's book, along with Swinburne's THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, William Rowe's books (and his "forest fire" article) and Plantinga's books, have formed the set of works that have been more influential than any other set of works with a comparable numbers of members (say, 10 or so works).

Craig's book is distinctive in another respect; it is the first theistic book to present a detailed discussion of big bang cosmology and its relation to theism and it remains today the most important theistic discussion of big bang cosmology, conjoined with his co-authored book THEISM, ATHEISM AND BIG BANG COSMOLOGY [1993], which includes the most substantive part of THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT. In the latter book, Craig is able to present technical material in a very accessible manner.

(As an aside, his DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE AND HUMAN FREEDOM [Brill] is an extensive, exhaustive, highly erudite book, perhaps being the most rigorous and informative book on the topic. It is virtually inaccessible and Brill has given it an excessive price. It should be made available in some way to philosophers of religion. In addition, his four books on time (2000, 2001), published by Kluwer, should be published in affordable paperback editions.)
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent treatment of the argument, December 24, 2007
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This review is from: The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Paperback)
Craig's book, "The Kalam Cosmological Argument", is essential reading for anyone interested in this controversial, but highly compelling, argument for the existence of God. The book is divided into two main sections: first, a history of the argument as detailed by philosophers especially in the Arabic world; and secondly, Craig's own formulation and defense of the argument in light of modern mathematical, philosophical, and scientific thought.

The first section can be skipped it you are just looking for a quick understanding of Craig's reasons for accepting the kalam argument. If, however, you find it helpful (I do) to come to terms with some of the background of how the argument came to be developed, I highly recommend it. The parts detailing why Arabic philosophers rejected the possibility of an infinite regress is still very relevent today, and the author is quick to highlight this.

Craig's defense of the argument can be tedious at times, but it is well worth the effort if you want a full understanding of the issue from all bases. The argument is formulated like this:

1. Everything that comes into existence has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe came into existence.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

He begins with the second premise and offers four sub-arguments in defense of it: 1) the impossibility of an actually infinite set; 2) the impossibility of forming an actually infinite set by successive addition; 3) the Big Bang theory; and 4) the Laws of Thermodynamics.

The first premise is not treated as extensively, but Craig does point out that it is based on the metaphysical principle, ex nihilo nihil fit ("out of nothing comes nothing"). He argues that since being cannot arise from non-being, then the universe must have come from some transcendent cause.

It is important to note, though, that the argument does not end with a mere transcendent cause, but that it points to the universe's personal creator. Craig argues that if the cause of the universe were impersonal and mechanic, then all the conditions for causation would have existed timelessly, and so any effects it produced would likewise be timeless. Only if the cause freely chose to enter into time could there be a temporal effect from a timeless being, and since only persons have the agency of free will, the cause of the universe must be personal.

Two appendices are included: Zeno's paradoxes and Kant's First Antinomy.

Whether or not one agrees with the argument, no one will be let down after giving this book an honest read. As a Christian theist myself, I believe this is perhaps the most rationally compelling argument for God's existence, and Craig's defense of it is undeniably among the best.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a solid scholarly book, October 19, 2012
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This review is from: The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Paperback)
Dr. Craig is one of my favorite defenders of the Christian Worldview. This book is a gold mind of solid scholarly research.
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20 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey George Tucker!, February 23, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Paperback)
You said in your review,"All universes are ultimately, if not proximately, random vacuum fluctuations." Ponder this. In fluctuation vaccuum theory it is admitted that all we can empirically examine or have knowledge of is our universe ONLY! This is what the orginal proponants of the theory stated. That is why they abandoned the theory and no one has been able to support it empirically. How can one propose to ever give evidence for the existence of physical realities that are supposed to be outside of our physical reality. Translation: That is not science. That is someones imagination. True our universe probably does have vaccuum fluctuations but that doesn't have anything to do with whether or not the universe came from the emergence of the singularity of the Big Bang or abandoned fluctuation theories. Entropy is real and everything, the totality of the universe is at its mercy. The universe is moving toward its total death by loss of usable energy, til it will be at a stand still. That being the case, there is only evidence for the beginning of our universe from the Big Bangs singualarity. If all that there is had been infinite why didn't the universe die trillions of years ago? Was't there enough time? There are only two kinds of causation. An impersonal causation from eternity would have had existing with it an eternal effect, therefore agent causation is true by default. An agent is the only causal condition that can exist prior to what it willfully causes, its effect. Therefore Craig is right. God exist!
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The Kalam Cosmological Argument
The Kalam Cosmological Argument by William Lane Craig (Paperback - May 24, 2000)
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