Traditional arguments for the existence of God - Cosmological

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  • Created by: Beth Lee
  • Created on: 20-03-15 14:33
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  • Traditional arguments for the existence of God.
    • Cosmological Argument
      • Challenges
        • Hume
          • 1. We cannot assume that every effect has a cause
            • Though it may be intellectually satisfying to suppose that every event has a cause, this is an assumption on our part - 'an arbitrary act of the mind'
              • It is only the constant conjunction of two events in past experience that produces the belief that they are necessarily connected.
          • 2. We cannot assume that God is the first cause
            • a) We cannot establish the existence of a supernatural agent with personal intentions
              • We have no evidence of a supernatural agent
            • b) The material world may itself be necessary
              • The universe itself could be the first cause, a possibility which requires no supernatural agent and which is consistent with what we already know.
    • Aquinas
      • His demonstrations of God's existence.
        • Five Ways
          • 1. Argument for an unmoved mover
            • i) We can observe that things in the world are in a state of motion
            • ii) Everything that is in a state of motion must be put into this state by another thing
            • iii) But the chain of movers 'cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover; and, consequently no other mover'
            • iv) Conclusion: 'it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God'
          • 2. Argument for an uncaused causer.
            • i) Nothing is an efficient cause of itself
            • ii) Efficient causes follow in order: a first cause causes a second, a second a third and so on
            • iii) It is not possible for efficient causes to go back to infinity, because if there is no efficient first cause, there will not be any following causes
            • iv) Conclusion: 'It is necessary to admit a first efficient cause to which everyone gives the name God'
          • 3. Argument from contingency
            • i) Things which exist in nature at one time did not exist and in the future will not exist. these things at any time may or may not exist (they are contingent)
            • ii) If this is so, given infinite time, at some time there was nothing in existence (since in infinite time, all possibilities are realised)
            • iii) If this were true, then there would be nothing in existence, because there would be nothing to bring anything into existence.
            • iv) Given that things do exist, 'there must exist something the existence of which is necessary'
            • v) Everything necessary must be caused or uncaused.
            • vi) There cannot be an infinite regress of necessary things, as there would then be no explanation for the series
            • vii) There exists 'some being having of itself its own necessity... causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God'
    • Copleston
      • Main argument
        • 1. We know that there are things in the world which do not contain within themselves the reason for their own existence
        • 2. The world is simply the real or imagined totality of individual objects, none of which contain within themselves the reason for their own existence
        • 3. Therefore the explanation for the existence of everything in the world must be a being which is external to the wrong.
        • 4. That being is either itself the reason for its own existence, or it is not.
        • 5. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes - would violate principle of sufficient reason.
        • 6. We therefore come to a being which contains within itself the reason for its own existence - necessary because responsible for its own existences.
  • Copleston
    • i) The concept of a 'necessary being' is meaningful
      • He believes that we can use an a posteriori argument to arrive at the conclusion that a necessary being exists.
      • ii) We should ask for an explanation of the universe
        • a) Because we observe chains of causes and effects in the world, there must be a cause of the whole world. This must be a transcendent cause.
        • b) It is a reasonable working assumption to say that everything has a cause.
    • The Debate
      • Russell
        • i) The concept of a 'necessary being' is not meaningful
          • He argues that the term 'necessary' can only be applied to 'analytic propositions' i.e propositions that would be self-contradictory to deny. Therefore that only way to argue for the existence of God would be if it could be shown that God's existence was self-contradictory to deny.
          • ii) The universe is a brute fact
            • a) The Fallacy of Composition: It is wrong to assume that because particular things in the world have a cause, the world as a whole must have a cause.
            • b) Not everything must have cause
  • Russell
    • i) The concept of a 'necessary being' is not meaningful
      • He argues that the term 'necessary' can only be applied to 'analytic propositions' i.e propositions that would be self-contradictory to deny. Therefore that only way to argue for the existence of God would be if it could be shown that God's existence was self-contradictory to deny.
      • ii) The universe is a brute fact
        • a) The Fallacy of Composition: It is wrong to assume that because particular things in the world have a cause, the world as a whole must have a cause.
        • b) Not everything must have cause

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