Cosmological argument essay.

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  • Created on: 30-11-12 20:49

Question. Outline the cosmological argument, what are the main critisisms of it?

The cosmological argument from the Greek word 'cosmos’ meaning ‘the universe’, is a collection of arguments from natural theology which are ultimately concerned with finding an explanation for the non self-explanatory universe ,and in turn proving that God exists. It is a theistic proof that responds to mans awareness that the universe is not fully explainable without references to causes and factors outside itself. The argument in all its forms assumes that the universe has not always been in existence, this claim could be supported by the big bang theory. It also argues that for the universe to come into existence an eternal agent is necessary, and that life could not have come about by chance or through random or accidental circumstances. Ultimately the cosmological argument attempts to answer questions that logically precede those of the design argument, this is because it is concerned with asking why the universe exists at all, rather than why it is the way it is. The success of the argument depends upon a willingness to ask ‘why is there a universe?’

Proponents of the cosmological argument are not satisfied with finding partial explanations for the universe, but seek a complete explanation or, what Gottfried Leibniz called ‘sufficient reason’.

The argument is essentially an a posteriori argument (although it could be argued otherwise). It was first proposed by Plato and Aristotle. They postulated the need for a craftsman of the universe and they both began their arguments with the fact of motion, which they argued, needs a prior agency to motivate it. Plato argued that the power to produce motion is logically prior to the power to receive it and pass it on, so there must be a first cause, itself uncaused, that originates that movement. He believed this to be a soul. Aristotle took this further by separating the prime mover from the material universe, arguing that it could not fit into an ordinary chain of physical, material causes. He defined the prime mover as a being which is not spatial and eternal, an intelligence that activates the world by its presence and a all good and all perfect being.

The argument from Aristotle was seen as a rational basis for monotheism, and an Islamic form of the argument, was developed by al-Kindi in the ninth century and by al-Ghazali in the 11th. It is called the Kaalam argument. The principle is that if something is not its own reason for existing, then it must have been caused by something else, and that by something else again. Only when we arrive at a self-causing, necessary being can we say we have reached the end of the chain of causes and effects. Importantly like in many arguments taking on the cosmological form it denies that the universe has an infinite past or infinite regress. 

The most well known Christian application was proposed in the thirteenth century by Thomas Aquinas when he proposed his…


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