• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

outline the cosmological argument for the existence of God

Extracts from this document...


Outline the cosmological argument for the existence of God. The cosmological argument for the existence of God is a metaphysical, a posteriori argument that sets out to prove God as a supreme being who is external to the universe. The argument is based around the idea of causation, and in it's simplest form claims that if everything requires a cause, then logically the universe itself must require a cause; the argument concludes that this cause is the being that we call God. Aquinas used the cosmological argument in conjunction with his five ways proofs. His argument from motion claims that motion should be seen as "nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality", and that nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality in this way unless by something that is in a state of actuality- "thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it". Aquinas argued that it is therefore impossible for anything to move itself- i.e. for the wood to become hot without the fire. In this instance, he claimed that motion should be seen as a long chain of one thing moving another- but Aquinas argued that "this cannot go on to infinity". ...read more.


Craig focuses on the idea that all things that begin to exist have a cause, and the universe must at some point have begun to exist, as an actual infinite is an impossibility. Craig uses analogy, describing a bookcase of infinite length, with books arranged in a pattern of green, red, green, red, etc. What would happen, he asks, if one removed all of the green books? How many books would there be? The answer is, of course, there would still be an infinite number of books. Craig claims that this is illogical, as it goes against the laws of division. Therefore he deems infinity to be an illogical concept in itself. Therefore he asserts that the universe does require an explanation- it cannot have always existed- and this explanation is what we know to be God. Comment on some of the weaknesses raised against the argument. To what extent do weaknesses outweigh strengths? Several criticisms can and have been raised towards the cosmological argument. Firstly, some philosophers argue that the concept of infinite regress should not be so quickly rejected, despite the fact that it is seen as a fallacy. J.L Mackie used analogy as a part of his argument, describing a situation in which wall hooks are hung from one another to form a chain. ...read more.


Ockham's razor states that "entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity"- Hume claimed that the use of God in the cosmological argument is doing just this. He says that God is not a necessary part of the argument- if there must be an exception to the rule, then why can this not be the universe itself? If something must be uncaused by anything else, hence going against the Hume questioned the argument's dependence on causation. He claimed that the human mind often assumes that two events happening in succession are connected- cause and effect; he argues that this is mind-imposed, and therefore we cannot always say that cause leads to effect. Therefore5 Hume accused the argument of taking the characteristics of individual parts and attributing them to the whole- even if everything in the universe is caused, he argues, why should that mean that the universe as a whole should be caused? Bertrand Russell agreed with this point, asserting that that just because all humans have a mother, it does not mean that the human race as a whole must have a mother. Russell went on to say that the universe is simply a "brute fact". As he put it: "The universe is just there, and that is all". In doing this Russell is saying that the universe cannot be explained, and therefore any attempt to explain it will automatically be a failure. Copleston argued against Russell, sayi ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Explain Aquinas cosmological argument for the existence of God. Humes criticisms ...

    is not possible for nothing to come from nothing, which means there had to be something in existence.

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

    necessary existence upon which all things are contingent in all possible worlds.19 David Hume provided a rational path out of the cosmological argument for the existence of God according to Aquinas. Writing during the Scottish enlightment of the 1700s, Hume claimed that the principle of "ex nihilo, nihil fit" is

  1. Explain the cosmological argument for existence of God

    William Temple argued "[...]It is impossible to imagine infinite regress [...] but it is not impossible to conceive it." He meant that something is unthinkable if we cannot hold the concept without contradiction. But infinite does not contradict regress; you can imagine infinity but not think of it, the world makes sense as a concept and can be understood.

  2. Examine the main strengths and weakness of the Cosmological argument for the existence of ...

    Aquinas, a Christian philosopher, went on to say that the explanation for the universe and indeed its chains of events must be found outside the universe. He, in his "second way from cause" argued that this first cause must be God.

  1. Outline the cosmological argument for the existence of God

    scholars, and has since been translated and revived by Craig who said that "the cause of the universe is a personal being...who freely chooses to create the world." This is important because he's saying that there must have been an external, personal agent existing outside of time for creation to start.

  2. Examine the strengths and weaknesses of - The Thomist Cosmological Argument of the Existence ...

    and should lead to a logical conclusion, a very strong advantage for any argument. Leibniz supported Aquinas in his Principle of Sufficient Reason. He believed that there must be an explanation or reason for everything, and therefore for the existence of the universe.

  1. i) Outline the key features of the cosmological argument ii) To what extent is ...

    Firstly, a weakness of the cosmological argument is that it does not find a cause for the universe within the universe. This is known as the infinite regression of explanation, as against by Hume, who criticizes that God?s cause is unknown, that we could question causes infinitely (infinite regress), and we need to find a cause within the universe.

  2. Explain the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God, according to Aquinas

    Aquinas bases his cosmological argument on Aristotle?s causality and welds it to his belief in a Creator, the being that caused creation. The first of the ways of the cosmological argument is Motion or Progression, the idea that we all experience with our senses motion which has a previous cause for a prior unmoved mover.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work