Exploring the Possibility of Updating the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God
The term cosmological comes from the Greek language, meaning ‘world’
or ‘universe.’ The argument is based on facts about the world. The
topic of cosmology refers to the study of the universe.
The cosmological argument begins with a general claim about the
physical universe e.g. that some events have causes and that there
must be a supernatural agent to somehow explain this fact.
The argument seems to say that there cannot be an infinite series of
causes, they have to stop somewhere. One scholar who supports this
idea is St. Thomas Aquinas.
Aquinas invented the ‘five ways’ by which he tried to demonstrate
god’s existence philosophically. Aquinas’ third way was the most
thoroughly examined of all his ways. This way was his argument from
contingency and necessity. It states that some things are contingent,
and if everything were contingent there would have been a time when
there was nothing. Something now exists and not everything is
contingent, so there must be a necessary thing, which gets its
necessity from itself. Aquinas’ third way however, has bad reasoning.
Aquinas is arguing from “for everything there is a time for everything
when it doesn’t exist” to “there is a time for everything when it
doesn’t exist.” Even if we agree that everything occurs at some
time, there is no reason to think that there is some one time when
everything has occurred. For example, everything has a time when it
doesn’t exist, but it is a different time for each thing.
Another criticism of this third way is the issue of the infinite past.
If the past is infinite, then there is no beginning to start from. We
have no reason to believe that the infinity premises of Aquinas’
arguments are true. Although, we also have no reason to believe that
they are false.
The five ways also asks how can the cosmological argument avoid
contradicting itself. For example, if nothing causes itself how can
there be a first cause, which does not require a cause other than
itself. The cosmological argument can work on the assumption that the
cause of existing things is not a thing, in which case the above
contradiction would disappear.
Leibniz put forward the cosmological argument. He argues that the
‘great principle’ of this argument is that “nothing takes place
without a sufficient reason.” Leibniz went onto formulate a version
of the cosmological argument similar to, but also different from that
of Aquinas. In place of Aquinas’ idea that every event has a cause,
Leibniz observed that every event must have a sufficient reason for
its existence, since nothing happens without a reason. But everything
can also be explained with reference to something else within the
world. Therefore the reason why there is something...