The Cosmological Argument
Key words & concepts:
- A posteriori
- Infinite regress – infinitely going back in time
Argues that the existence of the world and its observable state of order as evidence for the existence of a creator God.
References to Greek philosophy. Written by and for theists.
God is the ultimate, complete and adequate explanation for the universe.
Aquinas’ First Way:
- Motion/change – first way to prove the existence of God
- Anything which is changing is being changed by something else
- ‘One is always bound to arrive at some first cause’ – God
- Rejects infinite regression as impossible
- The first Mover is independent of everything else (links to Aristotle’s Prime Mover)
Aquinas’ Second Way:
- Cause – second way to prove the existence of God
- Every effect has a cause
- Nothing we experience is caused by itself
- Similarly to the First Way, there cannot be an infinite number of causes
- There must be a first cause – God
Aquinas’ Third Way:
- Contingency – third way to prove the existence of God
- It is possible for something to not exist, then to exist, then to not exist (contingency)
- If everything was contingent then there must have been a time when nothing exists, and nothing can come nothing
- Therefore there must be a necessary being (one that is eternal/cannot die) who created the contingent ones – God
- If God did not exist then nothing could exist
- Debate with Russell
- To account for the existence of the contingent world, you need to look beyond the contingent world
- To support infinite regression does not give an explanation for where everything came from
- The world is a sum total of objects
- There are some things in the world that do not contain in themselves the reason for their existence
- To explain the reason for the existence of this sum total of objects, there must be something outside the world that created it
- The universe must have a cause and this cause must be external
- This cause is not contingent but necessary
- There is a being which is self-existent – which cannot not exist
- God is His own sufficient reason and He is a non-caused being
- Supports Aquinas in that we cannot have infinite regression as we would not get a complete explanation
- There has to be a sufficient reason for the universe to exist (principle of sufficient reason)
- God is the best and most sufficient reason for the existence of the universe
- Debate with Copleston
- Refused to accept the idea of necessary beings
- Rejects the terminology – universe is neither contingent nor non-contingent
- Cannot move from one theory to applying it to the whole universe (reductio ad absurdum)
- We all have a mother (cause) so therefore does the human race have a mother?
- It is not necessary to look for a cause for the whole world
- The universe is ‘just there’
- Copleston might search for an explanation for the universe but he will not find one
- Challenged Aquinas’ views
- Questions the idea that God is a necessary being – where is the proof of this?
- Aquinas produces an inductive leap of logic – he moves from the need of a first Mover to indentifying it as God when nothing in the leap leads to that conclusion.
- We know too little about God to claim he is the creator of he universe
- Just because we know a lot about the universe doesn’t mean we know a lot about God
- Why does the universe as a whole require an explanation?
- We cannot get out of the universe to see what caused it – we cannot experience God
- There is the possibility that the universe may be infinite and for the process of cause and effect to have always been in existence – there may not be a need for an external cause