The Cosmological, Teleological and Ontological Arguments' Strengths and Weaknesses


The Cosmological Argument Strengths


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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)


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


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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 1931
  • Animals and people move themselves, not God


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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"


  • 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


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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • '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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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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