Aquinas' First Way

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Aquinas' First Way

The argument

  • All things that move must be moved, nothing moves on it's own.
  • If things are moved, there must be a mover , something that moves them.
  • This mover can't itself be movable - because that would leave us with infinite regress (counter-intuitive)
  • IN CONCLUSION " It is necessary to arrive at a first mover, moved by no other, and this everyone understands to be God".

Omnipotent - All Powerful

Omniscient - All Knowing

Omnipresent - All Present

Omnibenevolent - All Loving

Chain Of Movement

Things move from a state of potentiality to actualityTree - Wood for fire -Matchstick - Wood sparks matchstick - Fire

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Aquinas' Second Way

The argument

  • All things are caused - they have a relationship
  • There is no infinite regress
  • The thing at the end must be uncaused (because something good must yav caused it and so on).
  • The thing at the end must be God

Infinite Regress

  • Aquinas denied existence of infinite regress - the belief that events just go back forever and there was never a start to the world.
  • The first carraiage must be pulling the others as they are moving.


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Aquinas' Third Way

The argument

  • The first and second ways are based on empirical evidence in the world - movement & cause.
  • The third way is more logic based.
  • Aquinas tries to prove that God necessarily exists and that everything else is contingent on God.

"If everything depends on God and once there was nothing, however if that we're true there would still be nothing - C. Hamilton"

Necessarily - Has to

Contingent - Depends

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Key Terms

Posteriori - An argument based on experience that things can be proved. Priori is the opposite where an argument is not based on experience.

The God of Classical Theism - God is seperate from the universe, he is more than everything created. There is only one God (traditional Christian view of God).

Necessary Existence - God is the reason we exist and without him we would not exist.

Efficient Cause - A cause that performs an action and brings about the desired result.

Final Cause - The reason for something to happen.

Teleology - Study of purpose

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An objection from Kant to Aquinas

About Kant

  • Raised in protestant family and practicing Christian
  • 1724-1804

The Objection

  • Argued all knowledge came from sense perception and was therefore empiricist.
  • God transends all things.
  • Only matter that we experience with our senses is matter we know exists.
  • We can't experience God as he is outside time and space.
  • Therefore we csn't know that God exists ; The cosmological argument fails.
  • Kants key claim is we can't 'know' God exists.
  • This doesn't mean he DOESN'T exist - just that we can't KNOW that he does.


"I can't know that it won't rain tomorrow but this doesn't mean it won't, it means i can't know it won't.

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David Hume

The Objection to the Cosmological Argument

  • Empiricism is the only way to knowledge, therefore he was an atheist.
  • Science is based on a fallacy (not true)
  • Cause cannot be empirically verified.
  • Hume believed in sense datum, the idea/belief that if humans use their 5 senses and cannot prove something then that thing is not real. Senses are the only form of info we can process.
  • He also believed in the bundle theory - theory nothing exists when you strip away the propeties.
  • Hume also used the induction fallacy - the idea we cannot predict future events based on previous experiences - to argue that we don't know what cause itself is.


If you were to get an apple and strip away the propeties e.g. colour, the stalk, the pips and the insides you would be left with nothing. This is the bundle theory.

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Bertrand Russell

What did he do?

  • Intorduced expression philosophical logic - a process in whih key philosophical questions were reworded in mathematical terms.
  • Russell felt this was necessary as everyday language could be misleading.
  • Said every word stands for something.
  • Believed words were often used without the user knowing what they stood for.
  • Lead to the development of the Fallacy of Composition - stripping away the properties leaves nothing so there is no universe only properties.

Radio debate between Copleston and Russell

  • Jesus priest Copelston and Prof of History of Philosophy Russell.
  • They both had opposing views about the origin of the universe
  • Copelston supported the Cosmological Arguement whereas Russell opposed it.
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Anthony Kenny

An objection to Aquinas' First Way

  • Kenny's argument is that people and animals move themselves continuing to say Newton's first law of motion disapproves Aquinas' arguments.
  • Philosophers responded to this by saying that 'motion' for Aquinas meant any kind of change of state. A human could remain at rest and still undergo changes e.g. ageing.
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The Steady-State Theory

An objection to Aquinas' Third Way

  • The Steady-State theory is simple the idea that the earth has always existed and will always continue to exist.
  • Nothing was the cause and nothing will be the end
  • The universe is self-sustaining and self-regulating.
  • This goes against Aquinas' third way that the universe relies on God and has implications to Aquinas' First Way as he said infinite regress was counter-intuitive.
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The Big Bang Theory

Objection to Cosmological Argument

  • A scientific theory that explains the beginning of the universe.
  • Both supporters of the cosmoloigcal argument and those against use the Big Bang Theory as proof for or against the existence of God.
  • The Big Bang is a challenge to the osmological Argument only if it is accepted as a rival theory e.g. if it was a spontaneous random event without reason.
  • On the other hand if it is accepted there must be a reason why the Big Bang happened then it gives support to the God of Classical Theism.
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