Define the argument
- It assumes that the universe has not always been in existence.
- The idea that everything has a cause; that means that everything in existence is contingent upon something else for its existence.
- It answers the question of why anything exists at all why isn’t there nothing? And answers it with the suggestion that something outside the universe must have willed it into existence; it is therefore a deliberate act.
- Based on evidence and experience, a posteriori, is an inductive argument.
- Aquinas’ first three of his 5 Ways:
1 from motion – nothing moves but something moves it – therefore God is the prime mover, the initiator of change and motion in all things;
2 from cause – the world is a series of events; events need causes; there must have been a first cause which is not in itself caused by anything else; that cause is God.
3 from possibility and necessity – it is possible for us not to exist, yet we do; at some time there must have been nothing; now there is something; therefore something must necessarily have changed the situation in a deliberate act; that something is God.
- Summed up by the Kalaam argument: P1 whatever comes into existence must have a cause; P2 the universe came into being; P3 the universe must have a cause; P4 if the universe exists its cause must be God Conclusion God exists.
- If everything has a cause so must the universe and that cause must lie outside that cause is necessary and therefore that cause is God.
- If God is a necessary being then he cannot be contingent upon anything else for his existence. But everything else is. He is therefore a necessary being, Aquinas said, because only His existence explains the existence of the universe. [A bit circular!]
- Leibniz explained that no other explanation was a sufficient reason for the universe to exist.
- The evidence it uses is there in the existence of the universe.
- Although the view of the universe with regard to motion and change has been superseded by modern science.
- Doesn’t prove God exists
- But neither does it prove he doesn’t
- So it provides ananswer
- Though if we are unsatisfied with the explanation that God Himself needs no explanation then the argument will fail.
- However believers would say faith must have a place
- Simplest solution? Ockham’s Razor or as Swinburne put it ‘God is simpler than anything we can imagine and gives a simple explanation for the system.’
- Won’t convince a non-believer to believe but can provide extra strength to faith.
- ‘Too great a leap.’ Hume