Aquinas' Cosmological Argument

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First Way MOTION

  • Based on motion, including movement from 1 place to another/ in the sense of change.
  • When something is put in motion, a change takes place.
  • There must be something which sets things in motion - 'Unmoved mover.'
  • Aq explained the need for an external influence. E.g. an object moves when an external force is applied to it.
  • This chain of movement cannot go back to infinity.
  • There must be a first unmoved mover that began the movement in everything else without itself being moved - God.
  • Aq showed how things achieve their potential through an external influence.
  • Change requires actuality. E.g. the fact that wood is wood = actuality, the fact that fire can make it hot = potentiality.
  • Something must have caused the fire to change and become alight.
  • Therefore, each change is the result of a previous change.
  • God is the actuality but he does not have potentiality bc that would mean he isn't God.
  • Aq rejected an infinite series of changes bc he believed that the point when the first movement occurred was brought about by Unmoved Mover.
  • This is God.
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Second Way CAUSE

  • Based on cause
  • Aq identified a series of causes and effects in O.
  • Nothing could be the cause of itself bc that would mean it had to exist before it existed which is a logical impossibility.
  • Without cause, there would be no other effects.
  • Aq rejected an infinite series of causes bc that would mean there is no first mover.
  • He rejected the idea of an infinite regression of movers putting nothing into motion.
  • There was a first uncaused cause that caused all other events to happen - God.
  • Aq did not think that cause went back to infinity.
  • To deny infinite regress means that he believed in an eternal being that was not dependant on anything else for its existence.
  • Uncaused cause is God.
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Third Way CONTINGENCY

  • Based on contingency.
  • Something must have started off the O bc everything that exists in the O has a cause.
  • O began to exist, therefore O must have a cause.
  • Aq examined all contingent matter and the possibility of infinite time.
  • If time is infinite then there must have been a time when nothing existed bc of contingency. Everything in the O is contingent which means it cannot go on forever.
  • If there was nothing then there would still be nothing as nothing can bring itself into existence.
  • Cause of O = eternal and has always existed.
  • Aq called this the 'necessary being' - God.
  • Everything in the universe has a finite conditional existence whose existence depends on an infinite unconditional cause - God.
  • Every cause in the chain of causes is dependant on God for its existence.
  • God = Necessary being who upholds the existence of everything.
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Cosmological Argument

Seeks to prove the existence of God based on the fact that there is a universe.

Cosmos = universe (O).

Developed from Aristotle's view of God as sustaining the universe

..... by Thomas Aquinas in his 'Summa Theologica' in which he devised 5 ways to prove the existence of God, the first 3 being:

  • Motion
  • Cause
  • Contingency

It is an a posteriori argument bc it is based on what can be seen and observed.

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