Philosophy cosmological argument

Cosmological argument

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  • Created by: Lucy
  • Created on: 10-04-12 10:05

Thomas Aquinas

  • set out 5 ways of proving Gods existence. the first 3 ways are the cosmological argument.
  • The 1st way is from motion or change. everything that is moved is moved by something else. There must be an unmoved mover, producing movement in everything without moving itself. This unmoved mover is what people understand as God.
  • The 2nd way  is from cause.Every cause has a cause of its own. There must be an uncaused cause that causes everything else to happen without itself being caused. This uncaused cause is believed to be God.
  • The 3rd way is from contingency (the possibility of not existing). There are things which are both possible to be and not to be.Therefore at one point in time there was nothing in existence. However we know that there is SOMETHING.Therefore we need to accept a being whose existence is necessary.Without the necessary existence of this being,nothing would exist. This being who's existence is necessay id God. 
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Supporters of Aquinas

Gottfied Leibnitz - The principle of sufficient reason-  we require explanations and reasons as to why things exist. He agrees with Aquinas that we cannot have infinite regress as we wouldn't get to a complete explanation. Man has not been able to find reason for the universe's existence within the universe itself - so the great cause must be outside of it. This first sufficient reason which started the whole thing off is what we know as God.

JL Mackie - illustrates Aquinas's rejection of infinite regress with a train. Each carriage pulls the one behind it, but it wouldn't get anywhere without an engine. God is like the engine.



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Supporters of Aquinas

Richard Swinburne -Focuses on the wonder of there being anything in existence at all. NOTHING is a much more likely, logical state of affairs. We need an explanation. 'A may be the explanation of B, and B of C, but in the end there will be some one object on whom all other objects depend.' 

Frederick Copleston  -  Developed Aquinas's ways. Says that the cosmological argument defines such a being that MUST ( and cannot NOT ) exist. The universe must have a cause and this cause must be external to itself. This cause is not contingent, but necessary. A being that must exist and cannot not exist. He believed that this being has the reason for existence within itself and was God.

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The Kalam Argument

 What is infinity 1.

If the universe is actually infinite, then there is an infinity of time between each second of time. If time is actually infinite, then we would never be able to arrive at the present moment. 

What is infinity 2

There was a beginning to time and time continues forward infinitely. We would therefore reach the present moment in time. But we could still anticipate an infinite amount of time in front of us.

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The Kalam Argument

  • The fact that everything has a cause is a simple law of the universe. 
  • So we must logically conclude that the universe itself has a cause.
  • This cause must be distant from its effects.
  • If the cause of the universe is different from the universe itself, then the cause of the universe must be non-physical in nature.
  • This cause id God.

William Lane Craig - His defense of the Kalam argument is the most widely discussed argument for the existence of God in contemporary western society.

Ed Miller - An infinite universe would have an infinite number of days. The end of an infinite series of days cannot be reached so today would never arrive. BUT today has arrived so the past cannot be infinite. Time began when the universe began.Events are caused and the beginning of the universe was an event. It must have had a first cause. -God.

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Strengths of the cosmological argument

  • Both Aquinas and Swinburne support the idea that God is the 'simplest' explanation of the universe.

  • It is an a posteriori argument - draws an evidence that we can all experience.

  • It is a solution for the existence of the universe as well as the existence of God.

  • It gives God human characteristics - makes him like a human - anthropomorphism. 
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Criticisms of the cosmological argument

  • He contradicts himself - Aquinas says that nothing can be the cause of itself (2nd way). Something must exist that can be the cause of itself, namely God.
  • Aquinas defends himself against the claim that the argument is illogical by saying that God is an exception because when we talk about God, we are talking about a being unlike anything else. God has a special king of existence that cannot be talked about in terms of logic.
  • It may be fair to say that everything that exists within the universe must have a cause. BUT why does the universe itself need to have a cause? It could be self-causing, or it may not require an explanation at all : IT JUST IS.
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Criticisms of the cosmological argument

David Hume - Challenged Aquinas's views. He believed in cause and effect because we can see the effects and therefore identify the causes. Hume said that this only works for individuals, NOT the universe.

' The universe is a unique 'effect' and we cannot experience its cause' We cannot get out of the universe to see what caused it. We don't have any experience of creation of any other universe to conclude that our universe has a cause.

There is the possibility that the universe may be infinite and for the process of cause and effect to have always been in existence therefore no need for an external cause e.g God.

According to Hume, the idea of a necessary being makes no sense.

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criticisms of the cosmological argument

David Hume - why do we need a cause for the whole? Why isn't a partial explanation sufficient? 

The argument starts with and assumption that there is a God. This is supposed to be the thing that we are trying to prove!! 

Immanuel Kant -  Human understanding is the source of all the general laws of nature  that structure all our experiences. We can only know things about the world around us as we experience these things everyday. We have no experience of the creation of the world so we can't even consider the possibility of knowing anything about it. To state that a being is necessary contradicts all reason and experience.

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criticisms of the cosmological argument

Russell - ' I should say that the universe is just there, and that's all.' It is not possible to reach an explanation. 

Anthony Kenny - Argues against Aquinas's principle that nothing changes itself. We can easily point to things that do change themselves e.g people, animals. If our marble can be made into a sculpture by something that is not a sculpture - why can't it do it itself? God and the universe are not the same. Why can we not say that something has the potential to bring itself into existence.

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