The Cosmological, Teleological and Ontological Arguments' Strengths and Weaknesses

The Cosmological Argument Strengths

Aquinas: 

  • 13th Century (Church = all power)
  • 'Summa Theologica'
  • First Way- God = unmoved mover, "that which all men call God"
  • Second Way- infinity is impossible, causes and effects (nothing can cause itself)
  • Third Way- Everything is contingent but God is necessary

Aristotle: 

  • 384BC- 322BC
  • Never stated God exists, instead there is the Prime Mover = "pure actuality", ensures there is no endless chain of cause and effect, everything is drawn to their perfection

Al Ghazali:

  • Kalam Cosmological Argument
  • Real point in which the universe began, no infinite regress
  • "The world must have had a cause to bring it about"
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The Cosmological Argument Strengths

Craig:

  • Developed Kalam (1993)
  • Everything that exists, must have a cause- the universe must have had a cause
  • No scientific explanation can prove the answer so it must be God (personal agent)

Leibniz:

  • Everything has a sufficient reason including the universe
  • 'Gometry Book'
  • Intelligent Cause = God as he is infinite and perfect

Copleston:

  • 1907- 94
  • "God is his own sufficient reason" making the universe contingent
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The Cosmological Argument Weaknesses

Russel:

  • 1872- 1970
  • 'Why I am not a Christian?'- "I should say that the universe is there and that is all"
  • First Cause Argument is imprecise and involves an inductive leap (Fallacy of Composition)
  • Necessary being is meaningless

Hume:

  • 1711- 1776 (Age of Enlightenment)
  • 'Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion'
  • God could have been caused (flawed theory)
  • Shouldn't assume the universe has a cause and there is no need for sufficient reason

Kant:

  • 1724- 1804
  • God is outside our understanding
  • A cause for everything only applies to a world of sense experience and so cannot be applied to God as we have not experienced him
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The Cosmological Argument Weaknesses

Kenny:

  • 1931
  • Animals and people move themselves, not God

Newton:

  • First Law of Motion- no external agent is involved with the bodies motion

Steady State Theory:

  • Universe = eternal and so there could not have been a first cause

Big Bang Theory:

  • The universe has been able to expand and will continue to grow for millions of years
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The Teleological Argument Strengths

Aquinas:

  • 1225- 1274
  • Fifth Way- something that lacks intelligence cannot achieve its telos without being directed, e.g can arrow cannot shoot itself
  • Design Qua Regularity- everything follows natural laws but cannot think for themselves without being directed by the intelligent being God

Paley:

  • 1743- 1805
  • 'Natural Theology'
  • Discovering a stone vs. a watch- complexity infers a designer = watchmaker
  • The universe is also complex and infers a designer = God
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The Teleological Argument Strengths

Tennant:

  • 1866-1957
  • 'Philosophical Theology'- "God reveals himself in many ways"
  • Anthropic Principle- science supports idea of an intelligent designer, evolution has led to the development of human life
  • Aesthetic Principle- Benevolent God wanted us to enjoy life and find things "beautiful"

Swinburne:

  • 21st Century
  • 'The Existence of God'
  • Universe Accidental?- Universe appears ordered and cannot be by chance
  • Science cannot explain all the answers
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The Teleological Argument Weaknesses

Darwin:

  • 19th Century
  • 'Origin of Species by Natural Selection'- survival of the fittest and random variations

Dawkins:

  • 21st Century
  • 'The Selfish Gene'- biological impulses drive life forwards and evolution is carried out by spontaneous variations (not God)
  • "We are survival machines" in a mechanic universe

Mill:

  • 19th Century
  • Nature is guilty as she destroys the lives of others and she goes unpunished
  • Therefore the world cannot be ordered (and no God)
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The Teleological Argument Weaknesses

Hume:

  • 18th Century Atheist
  • Provided 6 criticisms:
    • Unsound Analogy- Superhuman concept of God is inconsistant
    • God more Human than Divine
    • Non-Moral God- Could God be flawed like the world is?
    • Universe Accidental
    • Possible Analogies- God could be dead? Could there be other worlds?
    • Similar Effects, Similar Causes- cause = proportionate to effect
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The Ontological Argument Strengths

Anselm:

  • 11th Century
  • 'Proslogion'- "I believe in order to understand"
  • God's existence is necessary and contingent
  • He has to exist, "nothing greater can be conceived"

Anselm (AGAINST Gaunilo):

  • Islands cannot be maximally great and necessary like God

Malcolm:

  • 20th Century with 'The Philosophical Review'
  • If his existence was impossible, he wouldn't be the greatest possible being
  • "His existence is necessary" not a quality
  • Since there is no disproof, he exists
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The Ontological Argument Strengths

Descartes:

  • 'Discourse on Method'
  • "I think therefore I am"- from our knowledge = God
  • Distinguished between essence (the properties that make up a substance) and existence
  • 1. I exist, 2. In our minds there is the idea of a supremely perfect being, 3. A supremely perfect being must exist in order to be supremely perfect, 4. God exists

Plantinga:

  • Modal Ontological Argument looking at possible worlds
  • In a possible world there exists a maximally great being, he has to exist in all worlds (including ours) in order to be maximally great
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The Ontological Argument Weaknesses

Gaunilo:

  • 11th Century
  • Island Analogy- "for if it did not exist, any other island existing would be better than it"
  • Anselm's logic is "absurd"
  • If you could imagine the island of your dreams, it would exist. Otherwise it wouldn't be the best island, there would be one better, and then that island would be better

Aquinas:

  • Theist
  • Disagrees with the argument because our rational knowledge of God can only be gained through sensory experiences not from our minds
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The Ontological Argument Weaknesses

Kant:

  • In the 18th Century created the Ontological Argument
  • Existence isn't a quality
  • The question, "Does God exist?", could be true or false as any statement about an object can be contradictory
  • However, if it is held not to exist in the 1st place, then it has no existence to be contradicted (God)

CRITICISMS of Plantinga:

  • Couldn't we also conceive of a world without a maximally great being, or perhaps a maximally evil being?
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