The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God The Argument(s) from Cause/Creation
An a posteriori argument with the following commonalities:
1. Does the world have a cause or a source behind it?
2. What specific characteristics would such
a source have?
3. Is there any reason to think that the world’s source
deserves our worship?
The Ethical Monotheist answers, “yes” to those
The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God
This argument succeeds or fails based upon
the principle of sufficient reason :
Nothing just happens.
Whatever happens is connected
to other things that have happened
or are going to happen.
Every event has a cause.
The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God Serial mode of causation: a type of causal nexus. Tracing back further and further in history there are only a few options of where we will end up. 1. first cause (not an event—unmoved mover) 2. infinite sequence ( ad infinitum ) 3. some event which has no cause Behind it all, there has to be a “first cause”
The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God Collective mode of causation: The world as a whole is caused by something outside itself and greater than itself. Particular causal connections are supported by a larger ordered cosmos, therefore there must be a source that is capable of creating the entire cosmos that supports those individual causal connections. That cause must be sufficient —big enough!
Many features of Aristotle’s work was very attractive to thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas not only wrote extensively on Aristotle, Aquinas did theology in a thoroughly Aristotelian way. The Rediscovery of Aristotle in the High to Late Middle Ages . From his work on the nature of motion in Physics Book 8 , Aristotle concludes that there must be a logically first unmoved mover in order to explain all other motion.
In the scholastic of the Middle Ages, it was unknown whether the Universe (1) had a beginning or (2) whether it had always existed - Reason alone could give no account. Christians believed as a matter of faith that the world had a beginning To account for the possibilities of 1 &2, Aquinas formulated the “argument from contingency”, following Aristotle in claiming that there must be something to explain why the Universe exists. Since the Universe could conceivably not exist (contingency), its existence must have a cause - not merely another contingent thing, but something that exists by necessity (something that must exist in order for anything else to exist). In other words, even if the Universe has always existed, it still owes its existence to an Uncaused Cause, although Aquinas used the words, “...and this we understand to be God.” The Rediscovery of Aristotle in the High to Late Middle Ages .
Some Problems with the Cosmological Argument Ockham’s Razor: The Principle of Parsimony A theory should posit or propose a cause that is just enough to adequately explain an event —theoretical economy. Cosmological Argument: 1. First Cause 2. Because the universe is a big and amazingly complicated, its source must be infinite.
Some Problems with the Cosmological Argument Cosmological Argument: 1. First Cause 2. Because the universe is a big and amazingly complicated, its source must be infinite. * If God doesn’t have a cause, why does the universe need one? * If God is eternal, why couldn’t the universe be eternal?
Some Problems with the Cosmological Argument Cosmological Argument: 1. First Cause 2. Because the universe is a big and amazingly complicated, its source must be infinite. The universe surely must have been created by a very powerful, very wise source. But very wise and powerful is far from omnipotent and omniscient.
Some Problems with the Cosmological Argument Cosmological Argument: 1. First Cause 2. Because the universe is a big and amazingly complicated, its source must be infinite. Both forms of cosmological argument seem to suffer from explanatory overkill — more of an explanation than is needed. But remember, the point of the argument was not to encourage us to believe that the universe has a really big powerful source, it was to show that the source is deserving of worship.
Some Problems with the Cosmological Argument The Cosmological Argument gives an interesting logical reason for a beginning of the universe. But this argument is merely a physical story. In other words, that it’s the Big Bang Theory, or the God did it theory, at the level of this argument the “unmoved mover” is not a personal god. The God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is a personal god that gives moral commandments. Much more theological work needs to be done to go from a physical universe starter to a God that ought to be obeyed and worshipped.