The cosmological argument for the existence of God

Jason Edwards-Suarez
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Jason Edwards-Suarez
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The cosmological argument for the existence of God
  1. St Thomas Aquinas
    1. The First way: The argument from motion
      1. Premise 1:Everything is in motion
        1. Aquinas argued that using our senses we can tell that everything is in motion (undergoing change).
          1. Premise 2: Everything in motion must be put in motion by something else
            1. Premise 3: There cannot be an infinite regress of movers going into the past
              1. Thus we can conclude that there was an original, unmoved mover.
                1. God
              2. Using our sense we can also tell that everything in motion was put in motion by something else (a rolling stone is pushed).
          2. The Third way: The argument from contingency
            1. Premise 1: Contingent beings exist
              1. Premise 2: Contingent beings have a cause
                1. Premise 3: The cause of a contingent beings existence must be something other than itself
                  1. Premise 4: Contingent beings alone cannot provide an adequate causal account of the existence of a contingent being
                    1. This is due to the fact that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes going back into the past. There cannot be an infinite number of contingent beings going back into the past.
                      1. Conclusion: A Necessary being must exist
                        1. God
                      2. We can't really give birth to ourselves. That would be weird.
                      3. All life is caused by something else, for example their parents
                      4. All life on Earth as we know it can conceived to not exist thus is contingent
                    2. The Second way: The argument from causation
                      1. Premise 1: Everything has a cause
                        1. Our senses can teach us that everything around us is caused by something and does not simply pop into existence
                          1. Premise 2: Nothing can cause itself
                            1. Common sense and observation can tell us this
                              1. Premise 3: There cannot be an infinite regress of causers
                                1. Conclusion: There must be an uncaused first cause
                                  1. God
                        2. The Russell v Copleston radio debate
                          1. Copleston's argument is based on Aquinas' third way and Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason. He asks us to view the world as objects which do not contain within themselves the answer for their own existence. He uses the example of depending on his own parents and now food and air etc. He states the universe is the aggregate of individual objects, none of which are capable of explaining themselves. The world isn't distinct from its objects any more than the human race is distinct from its members. Since no object contains the reason for its own existence there must be an external reason beyond the universe and this reason must be an existent being. This being is either the answer for its own existence or it is not. But the chain of dependency cannot go on ad infinitum or else this would be absurd as we would have no explanation for the universe at all.
                            1. So in order to explain existence we must come to a being whose existence is contained within it which is to say a being which cannot not exist. This is the essence of Copleston's argument from contingency.
                              1. Russell suggests that the term ‘necessary being' has no meaning outside analytic propositions. He states that he could only accept the term ‘necessary being' if it could be demonstrated that this being was one whose existence it would be self-contradictory to deny. Russell believes that the term ‘necessary' cannot be applied to things a posteriori as well as the term ‘contingent'. Russell also said that to ask why the Universe exists is pointless as we can never know the answer
                              2. The Principle of Sufficient Reason states that, in the case of any positive truth, there is some reason for it, i.e. there is some sort of explanation, known or unknown, for everything. The world does not seem to contain within itself the reason for its own existence. Therefore God exists.
                            2. Criticisms
                              1. If everything has a cause, like Aquinas says, then what caused the first cause
                                1. David Hume
                                  1. The fallacy of composition: Just because we know about causes of the individual parts of the Universe, does not mean we can move onto the cause of the Universe as a whole.
                                    1. Leibniz would challenge Hume’s logic through his principle of sufficient reason. Partial explanations of something are only ever going to be partial: explaining the lighting of a match by striking it against a box in only a partial explanation not a full one. Leibniz and Copleston would argue that it is valid to look for full explanations for every event be it a single one or a series.
                                    2. Why can't the Universe be eternal?
                                      1. If God's non-existence is impossible because of some “unknown inconceivable qualities”, why should we assume that these qualities do not belong to matter? This means that matter could be eternal and so needs no further explanation.
                                        1. Modern physics believes that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. The dominant belief in the scientific community is that the universe has a definite beginning. It is difficult to believe that the universe is eternal as it appears counterintuitive of our experience in the universe
                                      2. Like causes have like effects
                                        1. Hume asks why one should not postulate male and female gods who are born and die, as the closer the analogy between causes in the world and causes of the world as a whole the closer should be the resemblance between us as people who cause things and God.
                                          1. The creation of the universe is a one off event and so need not be similar to our own experience. Aquinas suggests that God is a special case. The laws of the spacio-temporal universe would not apply to God. Also, the suggestion that male and female gods may have created universe would beg the question what made these gods. Leibniz principle of sufficient reason would appear too strong to accept this partial explanation.
                                        2. We cant use our A Posteriori knowledge of cause and effect on our world to the whole Universe as we have no knowledge of the a cause of the Universe
                                          1. For example, just because we know a house was built by an architect doesn't mean the same thing has to apply to the Universe, it doesnt need to have an architect
                                          2. Copleston, Descartes, Anselm, Vardy and Malcolm would all argue that Hume misunderstands the essential nature of God. The essence of God is that God cannot not exist. Even if we accept that we cannot define God into existence (de dicto – as in the ontological argument) the third way argument (as with Copleston’s) does not seem to suggest that God is ‘necessary’ a priori but a posteriori. It is the fact that contingent objects are incapable of providing the answer to their own existence that God is necessary as an eternal being that cannot not exist.
                                          3. Immanuel Kant rejected the argument outright not only because he maintained that the idea of a ‘Necessary Being’ was incoherent but also because our knowledge is limited to the phenomenal world of space and time and it is not possible to speculate about what may or may not exist independently of space and time.
                                            1. Why can there not be an Infinite regress?
                                              1. If there is no first cause, then the universe is like a railroad train moving without an engine. Each car's motion is explained proximately by the motion of the car in front of it: the caboose moves because the boxcar pulls it, the boxcar moves because the cattle car pulls it, etc. But there is no engine to pull the first car and the whole train. That would be impossible, of course. But that is what the universe is like if there is no first cause: impossible.
                                            2. The Kalam Argument
                                              1. Premise 1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence
                                                1. Premise 2: The Universe has a beginning
                                                  1. Conclusion: The Universe has a cause of its existence
                                                    1. Premise 3: If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.
                                                      1. Conclusion: God exists
                                                    2. Advocates of the kalam cosmological argument claim that it is impossible that the universe has an infinite past. In support of this claim, modern advocates of the argument often appeal to modern science, specifically to the Big Bang theory. Modern science, they say, has established that the universe began with the Big Bang.
                                                  2. William Laie Craig
                                                    1. According to Michael Martin (philosopher), Craig's revised argument is "among the most sophisticated and well argued in contemporary theological philosophy",
                                                      1. Craig argues that since the universe began to exist, the efficient cause of the universe's existence must have been God. His modern version of the kalam cosmological argument rests on empirical arguments that an actual infinite is impossible. Since an actual infinite is impossible, Craig argues, the universe must therefore be finite in time. In other words, the universe must have begun to exist.
                                                      2. Completely avoids the infinite regress debate
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