Cosmological argument

cosmological argument

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  • Created on: 02-05-10 16:11

The cosmological argument

-St. Thomas Aquinas

- Summa Theologica, 5 ways in which he attempted to prove the existence of God

- Argument = A Posteriori, based on experience.

- Universe can't be self causing as it is contingent

- The cosmological argument is based on the belief that there is a 1st cause behind the existence of the universe.

- 1st 3 ways in Aquinas's book make up the cosmological argument

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The argument from motion

1. Everthing in the world is moving or changing

2. Nothing can move or change by itself

3. There cannot be infinite regress of things changing other things

4. Therefore there must be a prime mover

6. This is God

Aquinas said there was a need for external influence, reaching potential through external influence. In order for something to change actuality is required.

"For motion is nothing else that the reduction of somthing from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality". - St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

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Aquinas did not accept that there was a series of infinite changes

He concluded that there was a point ar which the 1st movement occured, which was bought about by the 1st mover.

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The argument from causation

1. Everything in the world has a cause.

2. Nothing is the cause of itself. - Logical impossibility

3. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes.

4.Therefore, there has to be a first cause to start the chain of causes.

5. This first cause we call God.

"The second way is form the nature of effcient cause. In the world of sensible things we find that there is an order of efficient causes"

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Aquinas's rejection of infinite regress

  • Thomas Aquinas proposed that there had to be and uncaused cause that began all change in the universe
  • Aquinas rejected that motion and change or cause and effect went back to infinity
  • Argued they cannot go on to infinity as there would be no first mover, which is how we define God.
  • For Aquinas the motion/change and cause/effect starts with a being with neccessary existence, and this being is what we call God.
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Gottfried Leibniz (1646 - 1716)

Developed an argument for sufficient reason which gives additional support to Aquinas's argument for rejecting infinite regress.

- Leibniz accepted the cosmological argument because he believed that there had to be a 'sufficient reason' for the universe to exist.

- He did not accept that it was uncaused.

- He rejected an infinite universe because he did not believe that it was a satisfactory explanation for its existence.

- He accepted that God was the first, uncaused cause on which everything else depends.

"If you suppose the world eternal, you will suppose nothing but a succession of states and will not find in any of them a sufficient reason" - Gottfried Leibniz, Theodicy, 1710

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The argument from contingency

1. Everything in the world is contingent (can either exist or not exist).

2. If things can not exist, there must have been a time when they did not exist.

3. If everything can not exist, then there must have been a time when nothing existed.

4. Things exist now so there must be something on which we all depend which bought things into existence.

5. This necessary being we call God.

"The third way is taken from the possibility and neccesity and runs thus"

Aquinas concluded if God did not exist, then nothing would exist

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Challenges to the cosmological argument - David Hu

  • believed that all knowledge comes from our sense of experience; that any idea, however complex, can be reduced to some experience that our senses have provided.
  • - Humes examination of peoples mode of thinking led him to conclude that humans think that they know a great deal more about the external world than is warrented.
  • - Hume argued that the mistakes human make is to allow imagination to make a connection between cause and effect.
  • - he argued that we could not assume a connection between cause and effect.
  • - We observe a conjunction of events but they are in fact two seperate events, occuring at seperate times. It is just the habit of the mind that has made the connection between the 2 events; this is called induction
  • -It is not therefore proof for God causing the universe to exist

Hume argued that as we have not direct experience of the creation of the universes we could not speak meaningfully about the creation of the universe.

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Immanuel Kant - (1724 - 1804)

- Kant examined the argument of the existence of a supreme being as a first cause of the universe.

- He argued the idea that every event must have a first cause only applied to the world of sense experience.

- It cannot apply to something we have not experienced. Kant did not accept any justification for the conclusion that God caused the universe to begin.

- He would not accept it as valid to extend the knowledge we do posess to questions that transcend our experience.

- God would be a causal being outside space and time as we understand it.

- Therefore it would be impossible for people to have any knowledge of what God created or of God himself.

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Bertrand Russell - (1872 - 1970)

- Introduced the expression philosophical logic.

- This reffered to a procees in which key philosophical questions were re-worded in mathematical terms

- He felt this was neccessary because of the fact that normal language can be misleading

- He believed that words were often used without the user knowing what they stood for

- This led to the fallacy of composition, which is falsely ascribing properties of the parts of a whole to the whole.

'Objects within the universe were created. Therefore the universe was created'

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Copleston's reformulations of the argument

- Copleston supported the cosmological argument, whilst Russell opposed it.

- Russell rejected the idea of contingency and that there was a neccessary being, God, on which all things depend.

- Russell argued that a necessary being has no meaning

Russell said that Copleston was making a fallacy of composition; just because humans have a mother it does not mean that the universe had to have a mother.

- The universe does not have to have a beginning. It could always have been there and that was just brute fact

'I should say that the universe is just there, and that is all'

"... if one refuses to sit at the chessboard and make a move one cannot, of course, be checkmated" - Copleston

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Anthony Kenny

-Presents an argument that undermines Aquinas's First Way related to motion and change.

-Kenny said that Aquinas's principle that nothing moves itself goes against the fact that people and animals move themselves.

-Kenny says that Newton's law wrecks the argument of the FW.

-For at any given time the rectilinear uniform motion of a body can be explained by the principle of intertia in terms of the body's own previous motion without appeal to any other agent.

- On the otherhand man philosophers have countered Kenny's argument by pointing out that motion for Aquinas meant any kind of state.

- A human could be at rest but stll undergoing change; for example ageing or changes in blood pressure.

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The steady-state theory

-Counts against Aquinas's 3rd way by saying that the universe is eternal.

-This undermines the cosmo argument as it denies a beginning to the universe.

-It is the opposite view of creationism since it teaches there is no beginning or end

- The universe has always been there and it's appearence does not change with time

"The universe is a huge self-regulating, self-sustaining mechanism, with the capacity to to self-organise ad infinitum" - The cosmic blueprint, paul davies.

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The Big Bang theory

-The theory provides a scientific theory to explain the beginning of the universe.

- Can be used as evidence for or against the cosmological argument.

-If the BB is considered to be a spontaneous random event without reason or cause then Aquinas's assertion that God is a mover and cause of the universe is undermined.

-On the other hand if it is accepted that that there must ve a reason why the BB happened, and that once the universe began to evolve there seems to have been some sustainer of the universe that ensures it developed and continued, then the BB theory gives support to a belief in the God of classical theism.

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