Weaknesses and strengths of the cosmological argument


  • The fact that it is both a posteriori and inductive makes it weak. Based on the evidence available and the conclusion is not necessarily reliable. Offering ‘mythological explanations’
    Dawkins suggests is intellectually degrading.
  • First cause only necessary if we reject the idea of infinite regress.
  • Does depend on the idea that God is a necessary being. Just because something does exist does not mean that it must!
  • So why not infinite regress?
  • Why God as the cause not something else?
  • Why exempt God from causation?
  • Why look outside the universe for a cause? Hume.
  • Also Russellthe universe just is – Brute Fact.’
  • Hume suggested that maybe cause and effect are just the way we see things not necessarily linked.
  • Even if God is the cause it does not tell us anything about God other than that he created.
  • The premises do not allow of such a leap of conclusion.
  • The argument Hume claims begins with something familiar to us and then goes on to makes claims about things outside of our experience.


  • Science has not yet come up with a better explanation.
  • It rejects infinite regress as an insufficient reason.
  • nothing can come from nothing’ said Aristotle – how else did the chain come into existence unless it was caused by something outside.
  • If we reject infinite regress then there must be cause and a reason and there is therefore ‘sufficient reason’ to suppose that where once there was nothing there is now something and there must be reason for the fact of its existence.
  • Copleston rejected the idea of infinite regress on the basis that an infinite chain could only ever consist of contingent beings which could never have brought about their own existence. But if the explanation for the universe’ existence cannot be found within the universe it is logical to look outside for the cause.
  • Copleston‘s answer to Russell was that partial explanations are unsatisfactory and that an adequate explanation is one to which nothing further can be added therefore the idea that the universe ‘just is’ is insufficient. And God is the complete explanation. See Leibniz above.
  • Because if God is self-causing he does not need an explanation.
  • If God is as Anselm said ‘that than which no greater can be conceived’ then that would make him a necessary being, and could be the cause of the universe.
  • It is a logical argument – we see order, cause and effect all around us.
  • Does explain why it has this order and why beauty.
  • Swinburne considered God the simplest explanation. ‘there could in this respect be no simpler explanation than one which postulated only one cause…


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