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Examine the strengths and weaknesses of - The Thomist Cosmological Argument of the Existence of God - The Kalam Cosmological Argument

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Introduction

a) Examine the strengths and weaknesses of - i) The Thomist Cosmological Argument of the Existence of God ii) The Kalam Cosmological Argument (33 marks) b) On what grounds can it be claimed that one of these arguments is stronger than the other? (17 marks) The term 'cosmological' derives from the word 'cosmos' meaning the world or universe as a perfect and well-ordered system. The Cosmological Argument is a classical argument, which attempts to infer the existence of God from the creation of the cosmos. Another name for the argument is 'The First Cause Argument' because it talks about the cause of the cosmos. The main propounder of the Cosmological Argument was St. Thomas Aquinas. In his book entitled 'Summa Theologica,' he presents 'Five Ways' to argue the existence of God. The first three of his Five Ways form the Cosmological Argument. The First Way is based on motion. In the world, things are in motion, and whatever is in motion must have been moved by something else. For example, in a row of dominoes, the tenth domino is moved by the ninth domino, which is moved by the eighth domino, all as a result of a child knocking the first domino in the row. According to Aquinas, this chain of movement cannot go back to infinity, so there must have been a first mover, which itself was unmoved, and began the movement in everything. He believed that this First Mover was God. ...read more.

Middle

Russell said, "the universe is just there and that's all there is to it," so why does it have to have a cause? He argued that we don't know if everything has a sufficient reason, as "just because humans have a mother it does not mean that the universe had to have a mother." If this is true, then the argument provides very little evidence to suggest the existence of God. Kenny criticised Aquinas' argument, and claimed that animals and humans can move themselves. He explained that Newton's law of motion states that movement can be explained by the body's own inertia from previous motion. This disproves Aquinas' First Way of motion. The Big Bang theory provides a scientific explanation for the existence of the universe. This can be used for or against the Thomist argument, depending on whether the cause of the Big Bang was natural or divine. Smith used Quantum Physics to demonstrate that it's possible for things to be self-causing, so the universe could exist without a direct cause. One of the main weaknesses to the Cosmological Argument is that it is self-contradictory. Aquinas contradicts himself when he rejects the possibility of the universe being infinite; yet later argues that God is infinite. He also states that everything is contingent, yet God is non-contingent. So who created God? Supporters of the argument would argue that God is unique so the laws of nature do not apply to God. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is more difficult to challenge facts backed with evidence. However, evidence may be misleading, giving an anamolous result that may change over time. The Kalam argument is a priori, so is not dependent on evidence or experience. It only leads to an apparent logical conclusion, and this depends on whether we accept that the premises are analytically true. Contrasting to the deductive Kalam argument, Aquinas uses induction to prove the existence of God. Induction can be defined as a method of reasoning where a conclusion is reached by linking observations of cause and effect. So given the truth of the premises, it is highly probable that the conclusion of the existence of God is true. Unlike deductive arguments, inductively valid arguments have conclusions that go beyond the claims made by their premises. I believe that the concept of actual infinite used in the Kalam argument is illogical, however potential infinite used by Aquinas is a simple and easily comprehensible concept. Sally McFague suggests a strength of the Thomist cosmological argument in her analogy of buckets. She suggests that if a bucket containing a hole is put inside another bucket with a hole, the bucket is strengthened. So on its own, one of Aquinas' Five Ways can neither prove or disprove the existence of God, yet with the other two Ways the argument can be strengthened. Overall, the Cosmological Argument is a reasonable argument, but because of the objections and flaws, and although it is evident that it points towards the idea of God, neither the Thomist nor the Kalam arguments create a proof that God exists. ...read more.

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