The cosmological argument

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  • Created on: 02-05-13 22:33


The cosmological argument

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The cosmological argument

The cosmological argument proves the existence of God from the idea that there is a first cause of the universe. Things that exist are caused to exist; the cause of the universe was God.

The argument:

Aquinas seeks to prove the classical version of the cosmological argument through:

  • Motion and change
  • Efficient cause
  • Necessary existence and contingency
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The cosmological argument

Aquinas argues that things cannot move or cause themselves but does not believe that the movement or cause goes back to infinity, as this would not provide sufficient reason for things existing. Aquinas argues that God is de re necessary because if the universe is created by God then, if the universe exists, God must exist too- the nature of the universe demands that God exists.

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First way- motion and change

Everything in the world is moving or changing from potentiality to actuality.

Nothing can move or change by itself

There cannot be an infinite regress of things moving or changing other things.

Therefore, there must be a first (prime) mover (changer) which in itself is unmoved.

This unmoved mover we call ‘God’.

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Second way- efficient cause

Nothing in the cause of itself as this would be illogical.

There cannot be an infinite regress of causes.

Therefore, there has to be a first cause which in itself is uncaused to start the chain of causes.

This first cause we call ‘God’.

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Third way- the argument from necessary existence a

Given infinite time, there must have been a time when all continent things did not exist.

Nothing can come from nothing yet things exist now.

Therefore thee must have been a being outside of time ad space to bring things into existence.

This being must in itself have necessary existence.

This being is necessary existence is called ‘God’.

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Frederick Copleston

He reformulated the cosmological argument in the 1948 radio debate with Bertrand Russell. Copleston concentrated on contingency:

  • There are things in the universe which are contingent; they exist but might have not existed. All things in the universe are like this; nothing in the world is self-explanatory, and everything depends on something else for its existence.
  • Therefore there must be a cause of everything in the universe which is outside of time and space.
  • This cause must be a being that does not depend on anything else and has necessary existence.
  • This being with necessary existence is God.
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David Hume

He said that we have no experience of the universe being made, and so we cannot speak meaningfully about the creation of the universe.

Hume argues:

  • There is no evidence for a cause of the universe
  • Even if there was a cause- there is no evidence that this cause is the God of classical theism.
  • The universe could have always existed and consist of infinite causes.
  • Aquinas contradicts himself by arguing against infinite regression and then he argues that God is both unmoved and uncaused; and is an infinite being
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Bertrand Russell

He put forward his objections on the radio debate with Copleston.

Russell argued:

  • There is no evidence of a being with necessary existence.
  •  The leap cannot be made from the concept that there is a cause of things within the universe to the universe was caused.
  • The universe could just be ‘a brute fact’ with no explanation. ‘It is just there’.
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Immanuel Kant

He argued that we cannot apply evidence based on senses experience to something we have not experienced. We see cause and effect in this world but cannot transfer that to the creation of the universe that we have not seen.

 The steady state theory is a scientific theory that denies a beginning to the universe. The theory argues for the continuous creation of the universe and therefore denies a creator God.

The big bang theory may be used to support or oppose the cosmological argument. It is scientific evidence that the universe began, but was the cause of the big bang the God of classical theism?

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