Cosmological Argument

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Cosmology - study of the universe, proving God through looking at the order of the world

Therefore, an A-posteriori and inductive argument as it is reaching conclusions through observation

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Aquinas: nothing comes from nothing, the universe exists, so something must have made it. That can only be God

3 ways - 1) motion, 2) cause, and 3) contingency


  • Everything that is moving is moved by something else
  • This process goes back, but not forever (no infitite regress), since there would be no first mover
  • Therefore there must be a First Mover - God


  • Every affect has a cause
  • Nothing is caused by itself
  • There must be an infinite regression of causes
  • There must be a First Cause - God
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  • All things in nature change
  • It is possible for these thigns not to be, then come into existence and then cease to exist
  • If this is true, then at some point there was nothing
  • If this is true, then there must have been something to bring contingent things into existence, sinc enothing can come from nothing
  • Thus, there has to be a necessary being that caused contingent things to come into existence - God
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Criticism of Aquinas - Negation of Infinite Regres

  • One can have an infinite regression of numbers so why not in reality?
  • Counter: what would then be question is why there is a sequence in the first place?
  • Re-counter: if God is the explanation for why there is anything rather than nothing, a person supporting Infinite Regression could asked who caused God
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Hume's Criticisms of Aquinas

Hume, who accepts only empirical date, questioned the diea that all events have a cause

  • We assume everything has a cause but we have no empirical proof of this - e.g. when we hail a bus to stop its absurd to think that our hand caused the bus to stop - we only assumed that it did. We assume cause and effect and somethings we are mistaken.
  • So in this way, although Aquinas' ideas are valid, it doesn't have to be true. In fact, maybe there was more than one first mover?
  • Why is it that the First Mover or First Cause has to be the Christian God? What if there are a team of male and female gods who are born and then die, this understanding fits more with the human experience of cause and effect.

Hume's main point is that Aquinas' statement that "what has a beginning of existence must have a cause" is uncertain. If Hume is right than the cosmological argument is uncertain

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Criticism of Hume

  • While we can show that everything effect is caused, believing that effects are caused is reasonable to everyday life
  • Anscombe (1974) argued that how can it be logical to think of something into existence without a cause? Hume is implying that the universe doesn't need a cause, but how is that logical?
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John Mackie and Anthony Kenny

  • Mackie - defended idea of no infitie regression
  • Its not logical to think of a railway train consisting simply of an infinite number of carriages - then train must have an engine to drive it
  • Kenny - thinks Newton's Laws proves Aquinas wrong. it is possible that an object can be in one stationary or moving at a constant rate without any external force acting on it
  • This appears to prove Aquinas' idea that nothing moves itself as incorrect.
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Coppleston vs. Russell

"God is the only sufficient explanation for the universe." They agreed on a definition of God - a supreme personal being distinct from the world and creator of the world. Copleston was a Catholic priest and Russell was an atheist.


  • Argued that the universe relies on things outside themselves for their existence
  • Nothing in the universe can be the creator of the universe, therefore the cause must be something external to it. The cause for the universe must be something self-causing, a necessary being existing independently outside the universe. God is different from contingent being as he is "his own sufficient cause."


  • He replied that the concept of cause is one we make up ourselfs when we observe things happening. The explanation for the universe is beyond human understanding as it is unnecessary for human beings to have a sufficient explanation of the universe that goes beyong the contingent univese. The existence of the universe is just a "brute fact"
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