The modern Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) for God’s existence involves literally hundreds of supporting arguments, counter arguments, and counter-counter arguments from a wide range of disciplines – philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of time, philosophical theology, metaphysics, physical cosmology and cosmogony, and more.
Because of this, I doubt that anyone has a firm grasp of all the possibilities and implications of the KCA. In 2007, Mark Nowacki published The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God, a short book that tried to gather together and summarize a few of these arguments. He wrote:
The body of literature relating to the KCA has grown to a significant bulk, and there is now a real danger of fragmentation, duplication, and misassessment because of the plurality of interpretations that the argument has received. One major aim of this book is to perform the scholarly service of laying bare the logical structure of the KCA… which, it is hoped, will make the work useful to future researchers… [And] another service performed by this book is to provide a report on the “state of the question” in contemporary analytic philosophy and thereby furnish a convenient guide to the significant literature on the KCA.
My goals with this (very long) post series on the KCA are similar. But I have the advantage of unlimited space. Given enough time, I can summarize and clarify every argument relevant to the KCA. I can add new updates as new arguments are published. I can take time to explain complex articles in plain talk, so that the educated layman can keep up if she so desires.
What is perhaps even more beneficial is that I can draw a massive, pannable, zoomable graphic map of all these arguments. My hope is that this will make it clear which threads of argument lead to dead ends, which threads require more research, which threads provide strong support for the KCA, and which threads greatly weaken the KCA. The map will also visualize the argument, which should clarify its structure in general.
No such gigantic argument map could fit on the pages of academic journals and books, which is perhaps why philosophers have mostly neglected to use argument maps despite their power to clarify and illuminate complex philosophical debates. But this is the 21st century. We can do better. We need not be bound by Gutenberg’s limitations.
Several computer programs are available to assist anyone who wants to draw argument maps. Here’s a brief overview:
Argunet [free, Windows & OS X & Linux, page]
An open-source argument mapping program that allows for online collaboration. I couldn’t get it to run, so I don’t know how it works or if it’s any good. You can pan and zoom an example argument map about moral particularism here.
Araucaria [free, Windows & Mac & Linux, page]
Extremely basic argument diagramming that uses schemes, for example “argument from causal law” and “argument from division.” Very basic, not pretty. Example here.
Athena [free, Windows, page]
DebateGraph [free, online, page]
Rationale [$70, Windows, page]
The obvious choice. Definitely the best argument mapping software available. You can try out a 7-day free trial. Uses the Microsoft Office 2007 interface. Very slick. Example here.
Visio [$130-$600, Windows, page]
The leading diagramming program. Though not made specifically for argument mapping, it can of course be used for this purpose.
Kivio [free, Linux, page]
The Visio-clone for the KOffice suite.
ArgoUML [free, Windows, page]
Generic diagramming software that could be used for argument mapping.
Dia [free, Windows & Linux, page]
An advanced Visio clone for UML mapping.
Gliffy [several subscription options, online, page]
An online Visio clone.
Graphviz [free, Windows & Mac & Linux, page]
A generic graphic diagramming software.
CmapTools [free, Windows & Mac & Linux, page]
A concept mapping program.
When considering software made specifically for argument mapping, Rationale is the obvious winner, and Argunet is perhaps the most promising free choice. Among generic diagramming software that can be used for argument mapping, Visio is the clear leader, though Dia is also strong.
Visio is more flexible than Rationale, but even Visio cannot export very large drawings to common image formats like PNG and JPG. So, though it was not made for argument mapping at all, I am forced to use Photoshop to draw my argument map. It’s a slow and clunky way to draw an argument map because everything must be done manually, but at least the map will be pretty.
Hopefully, argument mapping software will quickly evolve to handle large, complex maps like the one I am drawing for the KCA.
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