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Cosmological Arguments p.1

The basis of the cosmological argument is that the universe cannot account for its own existence.

Plato argued that everything must be have been created by some cause. Aristotle argued that behind the series of cause and effect in the world there must be an Unmoved Moved. The Kalam arguement in Islam is an attempt to show that the universe must have a cause and is not the result of an infinite regress.

Aquinas and the cosmological arguement in Five Ways:

The Five Ways are ways of demostrating the existence of God through inductive argument, based on observation and evidence. Of Aquinas' Five Ways, the first three are different variants of the cosmological argument. Aquinas based his arguement on two assumptions:

a) the universe exists

b) there must be a reason why

People such as Bertrand Russel and Richard Dawkins would disagree with b), as they are happy to acept that universe just is, without moving to the conclusion that there should be some reason for it.

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Cosmological Arguments p.2

The first three ways of Aquinas' Five Ways are as follows:

1) First Way - The Unmoved Mover
Aquinas said that as thins are changing and moving, they must have neem set in motion by something, and this sequence of one thing being moved by another cannot be infinite, there must be an Unmoved Mover to set the whole thing off. So, Aquinas argued that nothing in the universe would be in motion unless it was being moved by something else. Aquinas also argued that if a change is brought about in Thing A by Thing B, then Thing B must have the characterists of the change it brings about.

2) Second Way - The Uncaused Causer
Every 'effect' has a 'cause', Aquinas argued; infinite regress is impossible; therefore there must be a First Cause 'which we call God'. Here Aquinas used Aristotle's ideas about 'efficient cause', where Aristotle had said that for every caise there is an agent which brings it about. Aquinas took up Aristotle's understanding of causes, to argue that things do not cause themselves in this way - they cannot be their own agents. Therefore, he said, there must be a first efficient cause, and this would be God.

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Cosmological Arguments p.3

3) Third Way - Contingency
Aquinas argued that the world consists of contingent beings, which are beings that begin and end, and which are dependent on something else for their existence. Things are contingent in two ways: they depend on something having brought them into existence in the first place, and they also depend on outside factors for the continuation of their existence. Aquinas says that everybody can agree that everything in the universe is contingent. Contingent things need something else to bring them into existence, so nothing would have started unless there is some other being, capable of bringing other things into existence but being independent of everything else, or necessary. It would have to be a being which is not caused, and which depends on nothing else to continue to exist - and this, Aquinas thought, would be God.

Critisisms of Aquinas' Argument:

  • One critism is to do with infinite regress. Many have argued that there is no reason why the cause and effect chain cannot be infinite. We do not have to look for a beginning and a time when it might have started. However, some scholars, including Leibniz, have answered in response to this critisism, that even if everything moved the next thing in an infinite chain, there would still ed to be an explanation of the whole chain's existence.
  • Some writers, including Hume, argued that logically, the cosmological argument need not lead to one first cause; there could be a variety of different causes, and neither is there a logical reason to link this to the Christian God.
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