The Cosmological Argument

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  • Created on: 31-03-15 11:12


  • Everything has been created by something which is not itself created.
  • Aquinas put forward the ontological argument in 'summa theologica', 3 of 5 ways outline this argument.
  • The argument Doesn't aim to prove god but to give a way to belief in God.
  • We can percieve the universe with our senses and so it must be real.
  • In our experiece, we know that everything must have a cause/ creator and all contingent things need a explanation.
  • This argument rejects the concept of infinite regress.   
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The Three Ways

Motion (The first way) 

  • Every change is caused by something else. Things change because they are being moved/ changed by something else. There must be a first mover who was not orignially moved, this is God. 
  • Wood is potentially hot, fire makes the wood actually hot. The fire is the actuality which fulfills the potential of the wood. 

 Causation (The second way)

  • There is a sequence of (first) efficient causes in the world. This chain cannot be infinite and if there was no first cause, then the chain would break. Therefore, we are bound to suppose that threre is a first efficient cause. 
  • Kicking a ball (the first cause), leads to the ball moving (intermediate cause) which then ends with the goal as the ultimate cause. 

Contingency and Necessity (The third way)

  • Everything in the world has contingent existence. The chain of caused existence must go on to a necessary being. The cause of the universe must be different to the rest of the universe, a necessary one. 
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The Role of God

Temporal Cause 

  • This idea is associated with the Kalam version. God is within time and was the the beginning of the universe. He is positioined at the beginning and is not seperate

Sustainer of Motion (The first way)

  • God is the prime mover and the efficient (first) Cause. Movement is a chain which God started and if He stopped sustaining movement then it would stop. 

Sustainer of Cause (The second way) 

  • God is the uncaused cause. Cause in esse- If God ceased to exist, we would too as He keeps causal chains going. E.g. Without electricity, a TV would stop working

Sustainer of Existence 

  • God is the sustainer of existence and the reason why there is something rather than nothing. He is necessary so His existence needs no explanation. As contingents we must look beyond ourselves, as the universe starts with God.

A Creator 

  • The argument suggests that God created the universe. He could have created it 'Ex Nihilo' (out of nothing) or 'Ex Deo' (from substance of God). 
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Developments of the Cosmological Argument


  • There has to be "sufficient reason" for the Universe to exist as it must have a cause. The idea that the universe has always existed is not suffcient. God is the uncaused cause on which everything relies. A backwardly infinite series of states of universe would leave its existence totally unexplained. Inifinite regress is not sufficient while God is. 

Kalam Argument

  • Everything with existence has cause. The universe started to exist so it must have been caused at a certain point in time. "The universe has a beginning of its existence". It is impossible for the universe to have infinite regress., supported by science such as the big bang theory. The existence of our world is strong evidence for the existence of God. 


  • Beings by pointing out that the universe is a collection of contingent things. None can contain within themselves the reasons for their own existence. The ultimate explanation for their existence must be external to the universe. God is necessary which means He is independant and is the cause of everything. 
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Philosophical Challenges


  • Aquinas is wrong in making a link between cause and effect. The universe could be a brute fact. The beginning of the universe does not mean God was the cause and we have no direct experience of it so we cannot talk about it meaningfully.


  • He examined the argument od a supreme being as a first cause. The idea that everything has a cause can only be applied to a world of experience so we cant apply it to something 


  • Rejects that the universe is contingent "the universe is just there and that is all", it is a brute fact. The fallacy of composition- just because we have a mother, doesnt mean that the universe does. Rejects any ned for explanations, things 'just are'. 

Infinite Regress

  • Aquinas rejects initite regress but states that God has existed forever, this is a logical contradiction, 

Necessary God 

  • If we follow the main ideas, they lead to the God of Classical Theism. The argument is A Posteriori. We experience a world of death. Is the necessary being evil.
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Scientific Challenges


  • He argued that the principle that nothing moves itself is wrong as we move ourselves.

Steady State 

  • This argues against the idea of the universe being contingent. It states that the universe has always existed and will continue to exist without changing shape

Big Bang 

  • The theory that a chain of events occured which led to an explosion creating the universe. This would undermine the role of God as a Creator. 
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Strengths of the Cosmological Argument

Swinburne- It is a strong inductive argument as it leads to a conclusion with logial presumptions. 

It offers a means of finding a cause of the universe- many people have tried this. It also strengthens faith further.

As we are able to measure time, it suggests that the universe is not timeless. 

We have experience of cause and effect and the universe and so we can understand it 

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