Cosmological Argument

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  • Created by: Jordan
  • Created on: 17-11-12 11:33


  • Uses the fact that the Universe exists to argue the existence of God
  • A posteriori argument, uses the evidence of the senses
  • Inductive reasoning, conclusion is considered highly probable given the evidence
  • Comes from the Greek 'cosmos' meaning world/universe
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St Thomas Aquinas 13th C.

1st, 2nd and 3rd of his five ways to prove God are versions of the Cosmological Argument

Version 1, argument from motion:

  • Everything that moves is moved by something else
  • There cannot be an infinite regression of moves as this would make the Universe ultimately unintelligible 
  • Therefore, there must be some unmoved move which is the source of all motion, a prime mover (God)

Version 2, argument from causation:

  • Everything that happens is caused by something else
  • There cannot be an infinite regression ofcauses
  • Therefore, there must be some uncaused cause which is the source of all events, a first cause (God)

Version 3, argument from contingency:

  • Everything in the world is contingent and therefore capable of existing or not existing
  • There must have been a time when all periods of non-existence coincided
  • Therefore nothing would exist now as there would be nothing to bring it into existence
  • Therefore there must be some that is not contingent, a necessary being (God)
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Kalam Argument, Al Kindi and Al Ghazali

Islamic version of the Cosmological argument

  • Whatever comes into being must have a cause
  • If something doesn't contain the reason for it's own existence then it must have been caused by something else
  • Only when you arrive at a self-explanatory, uncaused being can you say you have arrived at the end of the chain of causes and events
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Kalam Argument, William Lane-Craig 20th C.

  • Everything that comes into existence has a cause
  • The Universe is finite and therefore came into existence, this means it has a cause
  • The Univerese is finite because an actual infinite cannot exist because you cannot add to an actual infinite
  • Time and space came with the Universe so also are finite
  • The cause of the Universe is outside of time and space, this we can call God

Analogy of the library:

  • Imagine an infinite library of red and green books
  • There would have to be an infinite number of green books AND an infinite number of red books
  • This is not possible as you cannot add to an infinite as it would not have already been an infinite if you could add more
  • If the Universe was infinite then you would not be able to add to it as it is already infinite meaning we wouldn't be here
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Gottfried Liebniz 20th C.

Sufficient reason:

  • Even if the Universe was infinite there would still be no reason for it's existence, why there is something rather than nothing
  • There is nothing within the Universe to show why it exists, it is not self-explanatory
  • Therefore there must be something outside the Universe that shows why it exists

Analogy of the geometry book:

  • Suppose the book of geometry to have been eternal
  • Each copy having been copied down from the previous
  • Even though the reason for the present book can be given as the last one, we should neve come to a full reason
  • The Universe is the same in that it is no more than a succession of states, none of which contain sufficient reason
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F.C. Copleston 20th C.

  • Adding up things which do not contain the reason for their own existence will never make the reason for their existence
  • Rejects infinite regress as infinite contingent beings will only ever be infinite contingent beings, never an incontingent being
  • The Universe is made up entirely of such contingent beings
  • Therefore we must look beyond the Universe for the reason of our existence, to God

Sheep and chocolates:

  • If you add up chocolates you simple get chocolates, not a sheep
  • If you add up chocolates to infinity you will still only get chocolates and nothing else
  • So if you add up contingent beings you will only get contingent beings, not a necessary being
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David Hume:

  • If an explanation for the parts is given then it is unneccessary, even unreasonable, to ask for an explanation of the whole
    • However the constituent parts of a computer do not explain the whole computer
    • Robert Gardner-Sharpe, it would be more unreasonable to ask for an explanation for 20 slices of cake than it would be to ask for one for the whole cake
  • Why must the necessary being be the God of Classical Theism?
    • The material world could be the necessary being

Bertrand Russell:

  • Why must we look for an explanation at all?
    • "I should say that is just is'
    • However if we don't ask questions then we will never discover new things
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Immanuel Kant:

  • You cannot use sensory evidence of motion, causation and contingency to explain what is so far beyond our sensory experiance
    • This argument undermines the conclusion of any a posteriori argument

Anthony Kenny:

  • People are able to move themselves using their brain
  • Evolution states that organisms can changes themselves to suit their environment
    • However you could say that God created these things
    • Even if they aren't caused/moved directly by first cause/prime mover the things causing/moving them are
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