Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause?: A Rejoinder

William Lane Craig
Wes Morriston maintains that a negative answer to the question, "Did the First Cause exist in time prior to creation?" forces the defender of the kalam cosmological argument to analyze the concept of 'beginning to exist' in a way that raises serious doubts about the argument's main causal principle and that it also undercuts the main argument for saying that the cause of the universe must be a person.

Morriston in the first part of his critique tries to show that premiss (1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause loses much of its plausibility when it is applied to the beginning of time itself. At the heart of Morriston's denial that we have a metaphysical intuition of the principle's truth lies a dubious distinction between intra- and extratemporal beginnings. Apart from that same distinction Morriston provides no good reason to doubt the plausibility of the causal principle as an empirical generalization. His claim that the absence of a material cause of the universe is as troubling as the absence of an efficient cause backfires because in an uncaused origination of the universe we lack both. Finally, Morriston errs in thinking that a reductive analysis, if adequate, should preserve the same epistemic obviousness involved in the analysandum and in thinking that all intuitively grasped, metaphysically necessary, synthetic truths should exhibit the same self-evidence and perspicuity.

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. Morriston objects that appeal to agent causation is nugatory because God's changeless state of willing the universe is sufficient for the existence of the universe and is an instance of state-state causation. 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 (given a tensed theory of time) an instance of state-state causation and is therefore not susceptible to Morriston's objection.
"Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause?"  Faith and Philosophy 19 (2002):  94-105.
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:
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.