Cosmological Argument

  • Created by: Tori
  • Created on: 16-01-20 16:27


Aquinas has 5 ways of trying to prove God's existance:

  • The First Way - the argument from Motion
  • The Second Way - the argument from Causation
  • The Third Way - the argument from Contingency 
  • The Fourth Way - the argument from Degrees
  • The Fifth Way - the argument from Design

Aquinas looked at how we got here to argue for God's existance.

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Aquinas' Third Way

P1) Everything that exits can or can not-exist, due to it's contingency.

P2) If everything is contingent, then at some time there was nothing. (For something that has to be contingent, there must be a time when it didn't exist).

P3) Nothing can't produce or cause anything (things don't come from nothing). They have to come from something, no matter how small it is.

C1) Therefore something must exist necessarily to cause everything that exists. .

P4) Everything necessary must either be caused or uncaused.

P5) But we can't have an infinite regress of caused beings.

C2) There must be an uncaused being.

C3) This uncaused being must be God.

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Key Information

- Inductive argument

- A Posteriori knowledge

- Strong and Cogent argument (stays standing after the criticisms)

Infinite Regress = a sequence of reasoning that can never come to an end.

Fallacy = a fault in reasoning.

Criticisms by Russel.

Responces by Copleston.

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Criticism 1

Fallacy of Composition

This is the process of inferring that something is true for the whole when its true for parts of the whole, or even all the parts of the whole (corrolation doesn't imply causation).

-> Aquinas is assuming that just because his contingency vs necessary argument shows corrolation, it must be the causation, which is a fallacy.


Using the fallacy of Composition as rejection of an argument brings in another fallacy in logic; the taxicab fallacy. The taxicab fallacy is when you follow a chain of reasoning all the way to just before the conclusion, and 'jump out of the taxi without paying the fare'.

-> If the reasoning makes sense for every part of the whole, how is the conclusion a fallacy?

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Criticism 2


The concept of aseity is the rejection of a necessary being. For something to be necessary, you can't have to 'check' it's existance like you have to do with God. Maths is necessaary as it can't be disputed as you don't have to check it, but the same doesn't work for God.

-> 'Maths is real' is an analytic statement as it's proven fact, 'God is real, is not an analytic statement as it's not a proven fact, hence God can't be necessary.


Copleston argues that God is a different type of necessity - metaphysical necessity. For all the contingent things in the universe to exist there must be the necessary thing they reply on.

-> God is necessary due to our dependance on him for our existance.

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Criticism 3

The Universe Itself is Necessary

Why must a God be the necessary thing? The matter that makes up the universe could just as easily be the necessary thing all life depends on, which is more scientifically based.

-> It's simpler for the universe to be the necessary thing as there only has to be one necessary entity (matter), rather than two if it were God (matter + mind).


Aquinas agreed that matter could be necessary, but it would have to be caused by God (matter can't be uncaused). 

-> Still needs the uncaused necessary being to make necessary matter.

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Criticism 4

Universe is s Brute fact

Russel claims that the universe doesn't need a causer, the universe just 'is'.

-> There doesn't have to be an explaination for something as grand as the universe, infinite regress is irrelevant here.


Copleston quotes Leibniz - "Why something rather than nothing?"

-> Everything must have a reason (argument of sufficient reason), hence it's not good enough to just say it's 'just there'.

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