The Classical Cosmological Argument
- Also known as the 1st cause argument.
- Unlike the ontological argument it derives the conclusion that god exists from a prosteriori premise. The argument is a prosteriori because it is based on what can be seen in the world and universe.
- The cosmological argument is based on the belief that there is a 1st cause behind the existence of the universe (cosmos). The basic cosmological argument is based on contingency and states:
- Things come into existence because something has caused them to happen.
- Things are caused to exist but they do not have to exist.
- There is a chain of causes going back to the beginning of time.
The Classical Cosmological Argument
- Time began with the creation of the universe.
- There must have been a 1st cause, which brought the universe into existence.
- This first cause must have necessary existence to cause the contingent universe.
- God has necessary existence.
- therefore God is the 1st cause of the contingent universes existence.
The Cosmo Argument has taken many formsand has been presented in many ways. in each form, the argument focuses upon the causes that lead to the existence of things. This argument answers the questions:
- How did the universe begin?
- Why it was created?
- Who created it?
The Cosmological Argument of St Thomas Aquinas.
- Did not accept that the statement 'God exists' is self evident.
- He states that it is a proposition that requires demonstration.
- In summa theologica, Aquinas developed 5 ways to prove the existence of God, which he called 'demonstratio' for the existence of God.
- He based his arguments on what could be observed and from those observations he reached conclusions about the existence of God.
- The first three of his five ways form the cosmological argument as a proof of teh existence of God. Aquinas accepted that it might not be possible to prove that the cause of the universe is the God of classical theism.
'Gods effects...are enough to prove that God exists, even if they may not be enough to help us comprehend what He is.' Summa Theologica
Aquinas' 3 waysthat support the cosmological argument are:
- Motion or change
Aquinas' 1st way
THE FIRST WAY - Motion
- He was speaking of motion in the broadest sense.
- He included not only movement from one place to another, but also movement in the sense of change of quality or quantity.
- According to Aquinas, an object only moved when an external force was applied to it; this chain of movements or changes cannot go back to infinity.
- There must hav ebeen a first, or 'prime mover' which itself was unmoved.
- the 'unmoved mover' began the movement in everything without actually being moved.
- Aquinas argued that the prime mover is God.
- He continued that objects only changed because some external force had bought about the change.
- He spoke of things acheiving their potential through an external influence. he used the example of fire making wood hot. Fire when applied to wood, changed the wood to acheive its potential to become hot.
Potentiality - is the inherent but undeveloped capabilities and the possibilities of someone or something for development or change.
- In order for a thing to change it requires actuality.
Actuality - is a state of being, the reality of something at this moment in time.
- If it did not, a thing would have to initiate change in itself, which would require that it is both actual and potential at the same time.
- Aquinas considered this to be a contradiction. For example, if would could make itself hot, then it would be hot already. Wood cannot be hot to begin with otherwise it would not change and become hot. the fact that it is wood is its actuality. The fcat that fire cn make it hot is its potentiality. In turn, soemthing must have made the fire change and become alight. Each change therefore, is the result of an earlier change.
- Aquinas however, did not accept that there was a series of infinite changes.
- He concluded that there was a point at which the first movement ( or change) occurred, brought about by a 'first mover'.
- Therfore, according to Aquinas, 'it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, moved by no others; and this everyone understands to be God.'
Aquinas' 2nd way
- In his second way he identified a series of causes and effects in the universe.
- He observed that nothing could be the cause of itself, as this would mean that it would have had to exist before it existed. this would be an illogical impossibility.
- He rejected an infinite series of causes and believed that there must have been a first, uncaused, cause.
- This first cause started the chain of causes that have caused all events to happen. This first cause was God.
Aquinas' 3rd way
- His 3rd way identified the contingency of matter in the universe.
- Based on teh fact that things come into existence and later cease to exist, Aquinas considered the possibility of infinite time.
- If time is infinite, then there must have been a time when nothing existed.
- This is because of contingency; the very fact that things are contingent means that they cannot continue forever.
- If there was a time when nothing existed, then there would still be nothing as nothing can bring itself into existence.
- Therefore, the cause of the universe must be external to it and must have always existed.
- There must have been a 'necessary being' to bring everything else into existence.
- Aquinas argued that this 'necessary being' was God. He concluded that if God did not exist, then nothing would exist.
Gottfried Leibniz's argument for 'A sufficient rea
A sufficient reason means an adequate reason that explains the cause of an event; in this case, the origin of the universe.
- Leibniz (1646 - 1716) accepted the cosmological argument because he believed that there had to be a 'sufficient reason' for the universe to exist.
- He did not accept that it was uncaused.
- He rejected an infinite universe because he did not believe that it was a satisfactory explanation for its existence.
- He accepted that God was the first, uncaused cause onw hich everything else depends.
David Hume's challenge to the cosmological argumen
David Hume (1711 - 76) believed that all knowledge comes from our sense of experience; that any idea, however complex, can be reduced to some experience that our senses have provided.
- Humes examination of peoples mode of thinking led him to conclude that humans think that they know a great deal more about the external world than is warrented.
- Hume argued that the mistakes human make is to allow imagination to make a connection between cause and effect.
- he argued that we could not assume a connection between cause and effect.
- We observe a conjunction of events but they are in fact two seperate events, occuring at seperate times.
- It is just the habit of the mind that has made the connection between the 2 events; this ic alled induction
Induction is a method of reasoning where a conclusion is reached by linking observation of cause(s) and effect(s) to draw a conclusion.
- In DIalogue concerning NAtural Religion, Hume asked why we must conclude that the universe had to have a beginning 'How can anything that exists from eternity have a cause, since that relation implies a priority in time and in a beginning of existence?'
- Even if the universe did begin, it does not mean that anything caused it to come into existence.
- He argued that as we have no direct experience of the creation of the universes, we could not speak meaningfully about the creation of the universe.
- He did nto believe that there was either sufficient evidence to prove the cause of the universe, or even that the universe was caused.
- 1724 - 1804
- Kant examined the argument of the existence of a supreme being as a first cause of the universe.
- He argued the idea that every event must have a first cause only applied to the world of sense experience.
- It cannot apply to something we have not experienced. Kant did not accept any justification for the conclusion that God caused the universe to ebgin.
- He would not accept it as valid to extend the knowledge we do posess to questions that transcend our experience.
- God would be a casual being outside space and time as we understand it.
- Therfore it would be impossible for people to have any knowledge of what God created or of God himself.