Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why Does Calvinism Matter? - Part 10: The Cosmological Argument for God's Existence

Other Posts in this Series:

At the Founders breakfast, SBC 2012, during his address, Dr. Tom Nettles said that one of the theological implications of Calvinism is that it supports the cosmological argument for God's existence, while non-Calvinism undermines it. He didn't fill out his thesis that morning, but here are my thoughts on why he is right.

The cosmological argument says that contingent being must be grounded on incontingent being. It argues that every effect must have a cause, and that there must be a first cause at the foundation or else no effects could exist. God is incontingent being, who has has the power “to be” in Himself and therefore both (1) requires no cause and (2) explains all the effects of the cosmos. Calvinism consistently affirms that God alone is the First Cause and is the source of all other causes and effects, including human choices.

There have been attempts to refute the cosmological argument by proposing an infinite regress of causes and effects that extend to eternity past (an infinite regress also results when anyone insists that God must have a cause, and that His cause must have a cause, and so on). But an infinite regress is logically impossible, since it requires chains of cause and effect to travel forward through an infinite past in order to get to the present moment. Since it is impossible to travel through an infinite series of cause and effect, and since the present exists, there can be no infinite regress. Therefore, the cosmological argument is right to insist that there must be a first cause to explain the cosmos.

One of the problems with non-Calvinism is that it undermines the cosmological argument by making human choices first causes in their own right. On the non-Calvinist model, there is no causal explanation for why any given free will decision is what it is rather than an alternative.  This means the human will is the first cause of every free choice it makes. But if beings other than God are themselves first causes, then there is no consistent way to argue that God is the First Cause of all things. Thus the cosmological argument for God appears to be undermined on the non-Calvinist model, while it is sustained on the Calvinist model.

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