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Describe the main strengths and weaknesses of the cosmological argument for the existence of God.

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Introduction

a.) Describe the main strengths and weaknesses of the cosmological argument for the existence of God (14) The term cosmological comes from the Greek cosmos, 'world' or 'universe'. The cosmological argument is based on facts about the world. Cosmology refers to the study of the universe.1 Unlike the Ontological Argument, the Cosmological Argument proceeds a posteriori. It begins with a very general claim about the physical universe that is meant to be supported by observation - e.g., the claim that some events have causes - and then proceeds to the conclusion that there must be a supernatural agent that somehow causes or explains this fact of experience.2 Aquinas' argument arrives at 'That which is necessary to explain the universe' or that which is necessary to explain causation or contingency. We do not know what God is, but whatever God is, God is whatever is necessary to explain the universe's existence. It is important to recognise that God is de re necessary (factually necessary) - necessary in and out of himself and cause of himself.3 An example of de re necessary being... 'all bears are brown' - this is a synthetic statement, statements which are true because of the evidence. They may or may not be true.4 St Thomas Aquinas, in the thirteenth century, formulated the famous 'five ways' by which God's existence can be demonstrated philosophically, I will be examining ways two and three. 2.) The argument from the universal fact of cause and effect. For example, a table is brought into being by a carpenter, who is caused by his parents. Again, we cannot go into infinity, so there must be a first cause, which is God. 3.) The argument from potentiality. All physical things, even mountains, boulders, and rivers, come into being and go out of existence, no matter how long they last. Therefore, since time is infinite, there must be some time in which none of these things existed. ...read more.

Middle

The universe began to existence 3.) The universe has a course 4.) The course is God35 1 is regarded as being intuitively obvious, although it was a position rejected by David Hume who maintained that there is no necessary course and a suppose effect, the two may just occur together. A ship going through the water may not cause the wake; the wake may occur at the same time as the movement of the ship but without the two being connected. Also, developments in our understanding of particle physics indicate that some particles come into existence without a cause, thus implying that there may be random or uncaused events.36 However, the claim that some events can occur without any cause cannot be established, as it is possible that present unknown causes may be found in the future. 2 is held to be supported by the big bang theory. This provides a scientific explanation and description of the beginning of the universe. Both supporters of the cosmological argument, and those who deny it use the big bang theory as a proof for or against the existence of God. Scientific observation has confirmed that there was a beginning to the universe, and has provided further evidence that the universe developed a structure very early in its history. The debate rests on whether or not the cause of the Big Bang was natural or divine. Was the Big Bang caused by a spontaneous random event, or by a deliberate action by God?37 3 is held to follow from 1 and 2 whilst 4 is held to be the most plausible cause given 3 - particularly if God can be held to be in some sense personal and to be pure mind rather than matter. Mind may be held to be the best ultimate explanation for matter - although if God is wholly simple and timeless there are obvious problems with the idea of God being 'personal' or being described as 'pure mind' and one would have to resort to analogical language.38 Hume, David (1711-1776) ...read more.

Conclusion

If supporters of the cosmological argument insisted there must be a cause for the universe, then surely there opponents can insist on a cause for God. If God made the universe, who made God?66 Conclusion:- Some philosophers argue that even if there was a first cause of the universe, there is no proof that it is the God of Classical Theism. The first cause could be anything. Hume argued that the first cause, if there was one, could be the material, physical world rather than God.67 The material world as its own cause is just as satisfactory an explanation as God. The success of the different versions of the Cosmological Argument depend on a willingness to ask the question, 'Why is there a universe?' If you are content simply to accept that the universe is just there and does not need an explanation, or that it can be explained by an infinite regress, then the Cosmological Argument fails.68 In addition, God must also be shown to be a simpler or better ultimate explanation than the brute fact of the existence of the universe, and the idea of an uncaused cause which transcends the distinction between something and nothing must be shown to be credible. As for the Kalam argument. A circle provides an infinite journey. The surface of a sphere provides for infinite movement in all directions. Therefore, it is possible to think of a universe that is limited both in terms of space and time, and yet appears infinite to those within it. Were I to travel far enough, I would return home: familiar to us now, but unthinkable to those who assumed the Earth to be flat and speculated as to what existed beyond its edge. Is the Kalam argument an attempt to speculate what lies beyond the universe's edge.69 If the whole force of the argument is to ask for an explanation, then logically one can ask 'What is the explanation of God? Who caused him?' And to reply, 'He is outside the series of explanations' sounds like an escape to the core of the argument. ...read more.

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