The Cosmological Argument

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The Cosmological Argument

Key words & concepts:

  • A posteriori
  • Inductive
  • Infinite regress – infinitely going back in time
  • Contingent
  • Necessary

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.

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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) 
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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      
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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 
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  • 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 
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  • 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  
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  • 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 
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  • 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 
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Hi, I tried to open your work into a PDF file but it said that the file was damaged and itcould not be repaired. I saw your comment on the philosophy live  discussion box and I want to tell you that I am doing RSS03 which is the philosophy paper on Monday!


The fourth point of the second card "Rejects infinite regression as impossible."

Doesn't Aquinas reject the idea that infite regression is possible?

Molly Richards Siddall

Name24 - yes, sorry, that's what I meant! I'm having the same problem with the PDF files, I don't know what's wrong with them! Sorry about that! It's possible that it's incompatible with your PC? The Help thing wasn't very er... helpful! I'll try and sort it out! Good luck on Monday!

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