1.2 The Cosmological Argument (Strengths of the Cosmological Argument (An…
1.2 The Cosmological Argument
Basic Ideas and Arguments for the Cosmological Argument
It refers to a collection of arguments from natural theology, which holds that humanity does not know God through reason but through the work of God, this is accessible to all humans.
It is the idea that the world cannot be self-causing because it is contingent and therefore there must be something that cause the world and this is a 'brute fact'
The question of 'who caused the causer?' is deemed irrelevant
The cosmological argument seeks a complete explanation, it is this complete need for the explanation which divides supporters and criticisers.
It is an A posteriori argument, meaning that it is based on experiences of the world. It proposes that God exists necessary and argues this conclusion from experience.
The Kalam argument
This argument originated in Muslim scholarship - it can also be called the beginning argument
Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence. This is includes the universe, which must also have a cause
Infinity as an actual concept cannot exist, means the cause-effect sequence must have started somewhere
The universe must have started somewhere
There was a time when there was not a universe
When there are two alternates, and equally possible states (such as the universe existing or not existing) something has to will one or other of the possibilities to come into being
Aristotle inspired al-Kindi and al-Ghazali to create the Kalam argument
It says that only when we arrive at a self-causing, necessary being that we can then say we have reached the end of the chain of cause and effect
William Lane Craig
Craig recently reviewed the argument and proposed a simpler argument that stated that no scientific reason could provide sufficient evidence for the origin of the universe
Aquinas and the five ways
St Thomas Aquinas summarised his argument in the 'Summa Theologica". He proposed five ways in which he believed the existence of God was demonstrated. The first three are comoslogical, the fourth is ontological and the fifth is teleological.
First way: From Motion (Kinetological Way): Idea that nothing can move itself as you cannot be moved and be a mover, therefore there must be a first mover as an infinite chain is not possible. Therefore the first mover must cause motion and the first mover is God. He said that the motion and change in the earth required an explanation.
Second way: From Cause (Aetiological Way): Idea that the events in the world are a series of events and all the events are caused, but nothing can be caused on its own. Therefore there must be a first cause and that first cause is God. He states that all subsequent causes and effects are dependant on the first cause and without the first cause there would be nothing at all
Third way: From Necessity and Contingency: Idea that everything we can point to is dependent upon factors beyond itself and thus is contingent. Therefore the presence of contingent items can only be explained by reference to those factors which they depend on. This factors are a ultimate explanation in the form of a necessary being (God) dependant on nothing outside himself. It is the idea that we cannot have a infinite series of contingent causes because all possibilities can affect any contingent being.
States that there are different ways in which objects of beings cause events
Inanimate Causation occurs when something that has the power to act under certain conditions does so, he uses the example of dynamite causing an explosion
Intentional Causation provides the reason why, for example, the dynamite was set off. It is personal and is motivated by beliefs and purpose.
He believes this model is fundamental to theistic thinking about the world in relation to humans
Necessity and Contingency
God necessary existence must be established as he is the only necessary being as he is not dependant on anything else and you cannot have an infinite chain of contingent beings causing things, because contingent things are dependant on others.
It dependant on the view that the world might not have been and the idea that it did not have to exist.
The world wouldn't be fundamentally different is an author of a book did not exist. Such beings then in the universe are capable of being able to exist and not exist.
Sufficent Reason and complete explanation by Gottfried Leibniz
He explained the cosmological argument in 1710 through sufficient reason. He argued that even if the universe had always been in existence, it would still require an explanation or a sufficient reason for its existence
However the universe is a finite and specific thing so it needs to be explained. By going back in time we will never arrive at a complete explanation.
He identified that even if we thing that the universe has existed forever, there is nothing to actually prove that.
He therefore stated that there must be a cause for the whole that explains the whole and unless this is accepted as a meaningful and purposeful exercise the argument will fail.
The argument pushes us into finding an explanation that lies beyond the ones that are immediately evident and explain not just how things came into existence but why
None of the cosmological arguments ask the question: Why did God create the world?
This is a key element of the cosmological argument to reject infinite regress as unable to provide logically a complete explanation. If we were satisfied with the explanation that all effects and causes could be traced back infinitely in time without ever needing, factually or logically to arrive at the first cause we would never arrive at an explanation
Aquinas rejected infinite regress
supported Aquinas' rejection of infinite regress on the grounds that an infinite chain of contingent beings could only ever consist of contingent beings, which then would never be able to bring anything into exsistance
He then went on to formulate his own cosmological argument, stating that:
Somethings exist that do not contain within them the reason for their own existence
The world consists of the totality of such objects, none of which contain the reason for their existence
thus the explanation for the existence of everything in the universe must lie outside it
This explanation must be a self-explanatory being that contains the reason for their own existence
Challenges to the Cosmological Argument
Argued against the cosmological argument in 'Dialogues concerning Natural Religion' (1779)
States that the notion of a necessary being is an inconsistent one since there is no being that the no-exsistance of which is inconceivable. Even if there was such being, why should it be God?
Why should the first mover/cause be the God of classical theism? Aquinas is guilty of the inductive leap to God, or the God of the Gaps argument.
The argument is familiar to begin with be reaches something that are out of our experiences by the end
Why do we need to find a cause for the whole chain if we can explain each item in the chain?
Playing devil's advocate, he knows that the nature of the universe means that it would be physically impossible to claim that it mossed some essential necessity
There is nothing about the cosmological argument which demands belief in God, the theist chooses to interpret it as God but Hume does not
he is arguing that partial explanations such be enough and that it is gratuitous to seek an explanation for the whole if we are able to explain the parts
This then links to his idea that if you cut a cake into 20 slices, it would be more unreasonable to ask for an explanation of the 20 slices then the whole cake. In this case the whole cake serves as an explanation for all the parts.
Maintains the idea that creatures have the necessary qualities to accommodate changes in their situation not because they respond to that change but because they are inherently fit for that new state.
They change because of an accident, not an observable principle of cause and effect
Dismisses mystical theories when science cannot quite explain the full answer. He says these theories are intellectually degrading
He doesn't dismiss the questions that brought the cosmological argument to be. He matins that they are vital questions, so vital that to assume they are solved by a divine explanation is beyond reason.
the argument depends on rejecting infinite regress. It is not that decisive however as even if there was a infinite cause and effect series, it would still need an explanation
However a logical regress cannot go back to infinity.
Makes too much of a jump between a first mover, and that first mover being God.
The logic of the premise doesn't demand that God is the necessary answer
The language he uses does not rule out more than one first mover
questioned that even if things in the universe needed an explanation, why did the universe also need an explanation then
He claimed that some things are 'just there' and they require no explanation. This is a 'brute fact'
He didn't dismiss the need for an explanation, but he said that it was a fallacy to assume that you would just arrive at one
based on the view that in reality the world is no more that a totality of parts, which may or may not legitimately be assumed to take a certain shape or pattern when viewed together
Strengths of the Cosmological Argument
A Posteriori - Therefore grounded in our experience
Better than no explanation (Sufficient Reason, as presented by Leibniz)
Supported and made stronger by The Design Argument (Davies)
Supported and made stronger by The Design Argument (Davies)
The world isn't an intelligent being, but God is, so if God's omnipotent he could be infinite
Science haas proven the world has a beginning, and supports scientific discovery therefore can be combined with other theories e.g. The Big Bang Theory (Heisenburg)
An example of of natural theology complimenting revealed theology (As found in Genesis, for example)
Provides evidence that confirms the characteristics of the God of classical theism
Describes God in Anthropomorphic Terms (Otto)
Infinity is an unproved idea (Copleston)
The Analogy of the infinite number of train carriages; An infinite number of these still requires an engine to inject energy (Makie)
Rejection of 'The World doesn't need a cause' - "To ignore the question on how the world arose is to reject a question fundamental to human existence" (Copleston)
Ockham's Razor - Why multiply the cause when one would suffice
Weaknesses of the Cosmological Argument
No proof of God's existence
Lots of Inductive Leaps (Hume)
No imperial evidence (Hume)
Assumptions between cause and effect
The world may be infinite and doesn't need to have a cause (Russell and Oscillating Universe Theory)
Contradicting statements - Everything needs a cause, but God doesn't need a cause
Notion of a necessary being is a logical impossibility
If we assign 'necessity' as a characteristic to God, we are no longer presenting a posteriori
Cosmological Argument depends on belief rather than the demonstration that Infinite Regress is impossible
Quantum physics shows that something can come from nothing
If the cosmological argument is correct then this statement also follows the same logic; All men have a mother, therefore the whole of man kind have one overall mother
What's the sufficient reason/explanation for God?
The Big Bang offers an alternative explanation