Cosmological argument

  • Created by: mrmendes
  • Created on: 21-02-19 13:40


  • An ‘a posteriori’ argument
  • Everything that exists in the universe exists because it was caused by something
  • That something was caused by something else
  • It is necessary for something to have started this all off which itself need not be
  • This is God – a self-causing and necessary being
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Aquinas first way

Nothing can be both potential and actual at the same time
Whatever is moved (changed) must be moved (changed) by another
Infinite regress is impossible since there would be no first mover (changer)
There must be a first mover, moved by no other and this we understand to be God.

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Aquinas second way

Nothing could be the efficient cause of itself since it would already have had to exist to bring itself into existence
Infinite regress is impossible since there would be no first cause
There must be a first cause, caused by no other and this we understand to be God.

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Aquinas third way

The world consists of contingent beings
Contingent beings cannot regress infinitely as they are temporary (and dependent) by na- ture
As there are contingent beings existing now, there must be something non-contingent (nec- essary being), that we understand to be God

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  • Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  • The universe began to exist.
  • Therefore the universe has a beginning and a cause.
  • There must have been an uncaused creator.
  • The uncaused creator is God.
  • The cause must be personal as no physical laws can provide a causal explanation of
    the origin of universe.
  • A universe that is beginningless is an actual infinity.
  • An actual infinity cannot exist in reality.
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Challenges - Hume

  • Because events in the universe have a cause does not mean that the universe as a whole has a cause (Fallacy of composition)
  • We cannot know that every event must have a cause
  • The links between cause and effect are beyond our experience and therefore unknow-
  • The idea of a factually necessary being cannot be demonstrated
  • We have no experience of how worlds are made so we cannot know how this world
    came into being
  • God is not the only possible explanation. Infinite regression is also possible
  • If everything has a cause then God must have a cause
  • The cosmological argument is based on assumptions about God
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Challenges - Hawking

  • The ‘Big Bang’ theory does not require God as a cause.
  • There are limits as to what God could create.
  • The ‘Big Bang’ may have happened spontaneously, like atomic particles in a vacuum.
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Arguments for

  • The reasoning leading to the existence of God uses scientific principles of cause and effect.
  • It is a centuries-old argument supported by many philosophers
  • it is a posteriori and therefore based on empirical evidence
  • It supports the scientific notion of the ‘Big Bang’.
  • God is not one more in series but something outside of sequence
  • God is the explanation that requires no further explanation
  • Composition is not always a fallacy
  • We distinguish between cause and coincidence
  • Explanation is sought in every other area of enquiry
  • No physical laws can provide a causal explanation of the origin of the universe
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Arguments against

  • It says everything has a cause, then says God does not have a cause
  • It does not follow that the ‘first cause’ must be God
  • The ‘Big Bang’ theory of the origin of the universe does not require God.
  • How can God be both timeless and live in time?
  • Infinite regress is possible
  • Rejection of the principle of sufficient reason
  • It draws a conclusion that goes beyond the empirical evidence
  • Knowledge of concepts such as cause and necessary beings is not open to the empiri-
    cal approach
  • The identity of the necessary being need not equate to God
  • An actual infinity can exist in reality
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Key quotes

“Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another” - Aquinas
“Therefore it is necessary to admit a first cause, to which everyone gives the name of God” - Aquinas
“The agent

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