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The Atheist Experience Defeats The Kalam Cosmological Argument With A Sandwich (Video)

I’ve been watching The Atheist Experience consistently for a handful of months now (I’ve watched short clips of it before but not full episodes) and I’m rather amused by what I see. I’m sad to say that the majority of the Christians who call in, are generally making bad arguments. I recently heard someone say that the main host of “TAA” (Matt Dillahunty) has made a career of going after low hanging fruit. Some may be offended by such a statement, but this person is trying to convey that there are too many Christians making terribly uninformed arguments on the program. Arguments that, are not the best that Christianity has to offer. However, there have been some good arguments brought forth as well, but at times were not properly unpacked in my opinion. In the rare case that a good argument has been brought forth, and in a cogent way, the caller has often been interrupted and subsequently muted. Following that, handfuls of logical fallacies have been offered by the hosts while improperly calling out ones that are not.

Give Me The Evidence

The episode that I posted above has an interesting exchange from a caller named Silva. Overall, he did a decent job but there are some issues that I wish he would have addressed, or expounded upon. Silva asked the hosts -when they are looking for evidence of God- what they would consider evidence. He then asked them if they would consider a logical argument, if such a one could prove that God exists. They quickly declined and just laughed at him. With their declination, at that point I might not have carried on further. I find it peculiar though that they wouldn’t consider logic -a philosophic argument- a viable option for evidence. While evidence is not necessarily proof, but proof consists of evidence.

In the eyes of a detective, an accumulation of evidence can and does become proof. We can in fact know many things logically, logic may serve as evidence for or against a hypothesis. A quick example: a detective stumbles across a gunshot victim laying face down in a pool of blood, with the entry point being in the back of the head from a shotgun. Without considering any other data, one can logically conclude (unless a freak accident happened, but that’s where other evidence comes into play) that this wasn’t a suicide. Admittedly, this still leaves open the question of who did it. To come to a conclusion, we would need to invoke abductive reasoning that best explains all of the data.

A Sandwich Recipe Without Ingredients

The main point that I would like to explore in this clip is where the one host (Russell Glasser) addresses Silva on the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA). Russell’s main rebuttal to the KCA, is that -barring the insertion of the multiverse[1], which he calls a hypothesis- a timeless ham and cheese sandwich is on par with God as a potential causal agent of the universe. He did state that this example sounded dumb because ham and cheese sandwiches don’t have agency. Here’s the issue though, even if a sandwich did have agency, such an example still fails. The reason why is because the causal agent for this universe can’t be part of time, space, matter, or energy itself, as these properties came into existence with the Big Bang. [2] The other host asked for evidence that time had a beginning. Perhaps she has not read Hawking or Penrose. [3]

Silva properly stated that the causal agent would not logically be material but immaterial. Russell then went on to say that this ham sandwich is actually a metaphysical ham sandwich. This play of words is in the vein of Dr. Lewis Wolpert’s special computer argument. [4] Other similiar arguments -on a slightly different issue not dealing with agency per se, but the analogy fails the same- such as the usage of an invisible pink unicorn existing, has made it’s appearance from time to time. [5] I admit that now I’m digressing just a tad. So in dealing with a ham and cheese sandwich, we must consider the ontology of what it is and what it is not. Such a sandwich ontologically consists of physical/tangible ham, bread, and cheese etc (and lots of mustard if you’re like me). Once someone changes or redefines the very substance of this sandwich, at that point it ceases to be that which it’s very essence consists of. You then have a sandwich in name only but not in nature. In closing, it would be a category error to call upon the power of a metaphysical ham sandwich, to use as a defense against the KCA.



1. I have previously addressed why a multiverse leads to an infinite regression (as Silva properly states) if one were to assert that there could be infinite universes.

2. Big Bang Briefly (Briefly Ep. 01) “The picture of the Big Bang starts with nothing. There’s really nothing, there’s no space, there’s no time, there’s no matter, there’s no energy. It’s nothing, but the potential to exist.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV6aQbnHSRo (Accessed 9/4/12)

3. The Beginning of Time “If one can determine that there is enough matter in the universe, to focus our past light cone, one can then apply the singularity theorems, to show that time must have a beginning…One can then apply the theorem of Penrose and myself, to show that time must have a beginning.” http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html  (Accessed 9/4/12)

4. Isn’t God no Better than the Flying Spaghetti Monster? or a ‘Special Computer’? http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=go6m-KNUmG4
(Accessed 9/4/12)

5. The End of the Teapot Argument for Atheism “Consider the Invisible Pink Unicorn. The case against the existence of this creature is open and shut – and for a reason almost too obvious to mention. How could an object that is completely invisible also be pink? If the unicorn reflects the right kind of light to give it a pink color, how can it be invisible too? A permanently invisible pink unicorn would seem to be a logical impossibility – not just a physical or biological impossibility.” http://www.eskimo.com/~msharlow/philos/End_of_the_Teapot_Argument.pdf (Accessed 9/4/12)

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