Examine the cosmological argument for the existence of God with reference to Aquinas and Craig. (20)
The cosmological argument is an A posteriori (inductive) argument, which means that it is based on what we can see in the universe, rather than evidence or proof. It was first invented when Aristotle (a pre-Christian philosopher) stated that “the series must start from something, since nothing can come from nothing” because of this Aristotle proposed that there must be a craftsman for the universe, he called this the ‘prime-mover’ whereas Plato named this the ‘demi-urge’. Aristotle observed that everything in the universe changes form a state of potentiality to a state of actuality. St Thomas Aquinas (who studied Aristotle) Christianised this argument by naming the third mover that moves things form potentiality to actuality God.
St Thomas Aquinas had three ways to prove the existence of God, these were motion, cause and contingency and he recorded them in his book ‘Summa Theologica’. His first way, motion, argues that every change occurs in the universe because of a cause, and these causes cannot go back to infinity (as he argues this was illogical) so therefore there must be an unmoved mover, who must be God. Aquinas used the example of wood and fire. Wood has the potentiality of hotness and fire has the actuality of hotness, however the wood can only achieve actuality of hotness if the fire were to act upon it. Aquinas argued that this was like the universe as God had to have of created the universe to bring it into a state of actuality.
Aquinas’ second way is cause, this argues that nothing can cause itself as it must have existed before it did, to have caused or created itself, which is impossible. Aquinas argues that nothing in motion can cause itself and therefore there must be an uncaused cause, that didn’t cause itself and this is God. An example of this is dominoes, there has to be the efficient cause of something knocking the first domino over, an intermediate cause of the next dominoes being knocked in order for the ultimate cause to happen, which in this case is the falling over of the last domino.
Aquinas’ third way was contingency, this is the idea that everything that exists relies on something else for its existence, for example a child relies on its parents for its existence, and they rely on their parents. This infinite regress is not possible so there must be a point where we reach a necessary being, something which has no cause and therefore can end the infinite regress of cause, Aquinas argues that this is God.
William Craig is a modern philosopher who is still alive today, he edited the Kalam Argument, this argument in its basic form is that everything that began to exist must have a cause, the world began to exist, therefore t must have a cause and this cause must be God. Craig’s Kalam Argument part 1 seeks to prove that the world cannot be an actual infinite as if this was true the present could not exist as you can’t add additions to an actual infinite. Therefore, the world must be finite, meaning that t must have a cause, and this Craig argues, is God.
The second part of Craig’s Kalm argument seeks to prove that it is God that caused the universe and nothing else. He does this by arguing that the universe was either caused or uncaused, if it was uncaused it would mean that it can’t have been a natural occurrence because rules of nature did not exist yet (as the world itself did not exist). Therefore, Craig concludes “if the universe began to exist, and if the universe is caused, then the cause of the universe must be a personal being who freely chooses to create the world” meaning that t must have been God that caused the universe because if the world was created out of nothing it must have been the beginning of the world meaning the personnel agent must exist outside of time to start the process of creation, which could only be God.
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- 26-03-2017 15:36