The kalam cosmological argument proceeds in three stages: first, it provides evidence that the universe had a beginning. Second, it maintains that the universe had a cause and that this cause must have existed in a spaceless, timeless, immaterial state. Third, it gives reasons for why the cause was a personal agent. [The kalam argument also presupposes a “relational” and “A-theory” of time]
Craig uses the analogy of frozen water to illustrate the need for a personal cause. We know that water freezes at temperatures below zero. Yet, “if the cause of water’s being frozen is the temperature’s being below zero degrees, then if the temperature were below zero degrees from [all] eternity, then any water present would be frozen from eternity.”
The frozen water analogy illustrates that when the necessary and sufficient conditions for an effect exist, the effect arises immediately and inevitably. If those conditions have existed from eternity past, then the effect would be co-eternal with its cause. But this is precisely what is so puzzling about the beginning of the universe from a timeless state – that is, a state containing no events. If the cause of the universe is just a timeless set of necessary and sufficient conditions, then why isn’t the universe also timeless, or at least past eternal, like its cause?
Craig (1991) believes we can solve this problem by appealing to a different kind of causation. So far, we have been assuming that the factors responsible for the universe are impersonal. Impersonal causes do not act freely or intentionally; they simply produce the effects they must produce, under the conditions that determine them.
But personal causes are not determined in this way. Suppose that all the conditions needed for me to freely raise my arm are present: my arms aren’t tied behind my back; I am not paralyzed; and my limbs are in good working order. If I am truly free, then none of these conditions can make me raise my arm. I am truly free to raise my arm (or refrain from doing so) because I am not fully determined to act by my circumstances. My action does not follow inevitably from my circumstances.
Now, how does personal causation help to explain the beginning of the universe? It helps in this way: if the universe was the inevitable result of an impersonal set of necessary and sufficient conditions, then it would be just as timeless as the conditions which produced it. But since it isn’t timeless, it follows that it did not result inevitably from those conditions.
But what kinds of conditions produce effects that aren’t inevitable? Indeterministic ones! And according to Craig, the best candidate for an indeterministic cause of the universe is a personal agent (like God), because God (existing in a state of no events) can “will” to bring about a first event.
What can be said in response to Craig’s argument? One objection is that the problem of accounting for a temporally finite universe simply reappears in a new form when a timeless person is introduced to explain it. To illustrate why, suppose that God timelessly wills that a finite universe exists. If so, then wouldn’t the universe be just as timeless as God’s “willing” is? If the necessary and sufficient conditions for the universe were grounded in God’s timeless will, then wouldn’t we likewise expect the universe to be just as timeless?
To my knowledge, Craig (2002) has satisfactorily answered this objection. He faults the objection for confusing two aspects of divine agency: i.e. God’s intention to create a universe and his act of willing to do so. God may have a timeless intention to create a universe, but his intentions and reasons for acting are not sufficient to bring about a universe. Only his act of willing is sufficient. In Craig’s (2002) own words,
“It is insufficient for P to have merely the intention and power to bring about R. There must also be a basic action on the part of P, an undertaking or endeavoring or exercise of power. Thus, it is insufficient to account for the origin of the universe by citing simply God, His timeless intention to create a world with a beginning, and His power to produce such a result. There must be an exercise of His causal power in order for the universe to be created.”
In Craig’s view, God’s act of “willing” is not a timeless act, as the objection presupposes, but rather the act corresponds to the first event of time, simultaneous with the beginning of the universe and causally sufficient for it. Therefore, since God’s willing is not a timeless act, the original objection fails.
Reformulating the Objection
Perhaps the objection can be reformulated by appealing to God’s knowledge rather than to his will. Suppose, as some theists do, that God knows all truths, including all truths about what He would do in various circumstances. This implies that without creation, God timelessly knows which universe he would bring about. But if he already knows this, how can his “willing” a universe be any less timeless than his knowledge is? Doesn’t the timeless nature of his knowledge make his “willing” timeless as well?
Unfortunately, this objection rests on a confusion between the circumstances of one’s knowledge and the circumstances of one’s willing. To illustrate, suppose that a man has been reclining on a chair and knows that he will stand up in one hour; the hour elapses and he stands up, just as he knew he would.
Now, ask yourself – if the man knew he would stand up while reclining in an inactive state, must his decision to stand up be an inactive decision? Of course not! The decision to stand is simply the cessation of inactivity.
Likewise, if God exists in a timeless state when he knows which universe he would create, it does not follow that his act of willing must be a timeless act. Indeed, his “willing” is best understood as the first event of his activity. Therefore, the objection from God’s knowledge fails to undercut Craig’s rationale for thinking the cause of the universe is personal.
 According to the relational view and the A-theory, time is the measure of change (or events) and temporal becoming is an objective feature of the world. When these views are combined, it follows that God is only relatively timeless. That is to say, without creation God is timeless because there are no changes and therefore no events. But when He initiates change (by creating a universe), God becomes temporal by virtue of being newly related to that event, and all subsequent events.
 William Lane Craig, “The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe.” Truth: A Journal of Modern Thought 3 (1991): 85-96.
 I am using the words “timeless” and “eternal” interchangeably here because Craig’s analogy does not discriminate between the two. Despite this defect, the analogy helps us to grasp Craig’s point that when causal conditions are sufficient for an effect, then (barring any external constraints) the effect arises immediately. This is true whether the conditions exist in a timeless state of no events, or have existed over the course of a beginningless series of past events.
 William Lane Craig, “Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause? A Rejoinder.” Faith and Philosophy 19 (2002): 94-105.
 This objection assumes that God can know counterfactuals of divine freedom, a view which many theists deny.