Cosmological Argument for 2007 question notes from student discussion about what should go in to the essay – Oct 2008

i) Examine the main ideas of the Cosmological Argument.

Definition – the idea that the universe is an effect which needs a cause and that cause is God.

Aquinas 1, 2, 3 ways of his 5 Ways

  • Unmoved mover – explain and significance    )    i.e. why God is it
  • Uncaused causer – explain and significance    )    i.e. why God is it.
  • Possibility and necessity – explain why God becomes the Necessary Being.

Explicitly explain the concept of infinite regress and why it is rejected in this argument.

Explain Leibniz’s Principle of Sufficient Reason and how God is sufficient reason.

State the Kalam Argument:

  • P1 everything which exists has a cause
  • P2 the universe exists
  • IC therefore the universe has a cause

Aquinas’ conclusion – that cause is God

‘Any effect of a cause demonstrates that its cause exists…the central link is not what the cause is…but what the name of the cause is used to mean; and as we shall see the word God derives from his effects.’

 

ii) To what extent is this a weak argument?

Things you could take issue with:

  • The idea that the universe needs explaining in the first place – Bertrand Russell’s ‘Brute Fact’…
    But if it does then perhaps God is a good enough explanation at the moment
  • And why look outside the universe for a cause? When all other causes are found within the universe.
    On the other hand this suggests God is a God of the gaps (only good enough while there is insufficient evidence)

Hume and Kant queried whether cause and effect were necessarily linked or only in our experience? But as Hume put it: ‘we can never ascribe to the cause any qualities but what are exactly sufficient to produce the effect.

  • In addition why reject infinite regress – just because in our experience it isn’t logical doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
    (there is even a modern – very- theory that instead of the Big Bang there was a Big Bounce!)
  • And if Cause and Effect are linked then God becomes the only exception to the rule that everything that exists has a cause! And that seems to invalidate God as a conclusion.
  • We can perhaps go so far as to agree with the intermediate conclusion but theists will never go as far as Aquinas’ conclusion.

However its strengths lie in the apparent logic of its a posteriori nature and in its flexible conclusion; though the evidence is perhaps more circumstantial than robust.

Evaluation:

This argument does at least give an answer even if to some it is unconvincing.

While some would suggest that God is the simplest answer – is it?

Atheists will never accept.

Theists can find their faith supported and given a rational basis.

However none of these arguments are convincing on their own but maybe taken collectively they could be?

But to make God the only exception to cause and effect undermines the effectiveness of this argument.

Ultimately even if this argument were to convince that God was the Prime Cause of the existence of the universe it would tell us nothing about the nature of that God.

 


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