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Examine the key features of the cosmological argument for the existence of God St Thomas Aquinas, an influential philosopher, invented the cosmological arguments in the 13th Century

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Introduction

Examine the key features of the cosmological argument for the existence of God St Thomas Aquinas, an influential philosopher, invented the cosmological arguments in the 13th Century. He wrote them as part of his 'five ways' in his book 'Summa Theologica' however it was only the first three of these which are known as the cosmological argument, these are; the unmoved mover, the uncaused causer and the possibility and necessity. They are all posteriori synthetic inductive arguments, therefore they are based on proofs drawn from experience. The first of these three ways is the unmoved mover. Aquinas realised that everywhere we look things change state. When this occurs the object has moved from potentially changing to actually changing, however something must have caused this movement. Aquinas decided that there must be a first mover to cause this change, which he described as God. He realised that nothing can move itself, as nothing can be a mover and be moved; yet things are obviously in motion. He decided that an infinite chain of movers was imposable because it would have no beginning therefore no first mover. Aquinas therefore concluded that there must therefore be a first mover that caused motion in all things and this is God. Aquinas therefore believed that the 'unmoved mover' proved the existence of God because he believed e must be the initiator of all things. ...read more.

Middle

All of these theories give evidence to Aquinas' theory that God exists. For what reasons have some thinkers rejected the cosmological argument? How far is it possible to regard the cosmological argument as a strong argument? The cosmological theories are an inductive set of arguments. They answer key unexplained questions about the origins of the universe and are flexible with more then on conclusion and ways to reach this conclusion. Theses are just a few of the key strengths of the argument. It also uses evidence to prove it theory and reaches a conclusion that God is the only adequate and sensible explanation of the universe. The theory is clear and accepted by many, however there are also many who criticise it. Reasons for these criticisms could be the lack of interest of some people to find answers of the origins of the universe and the fact that many atheists believe they have found alternative explanations to the universe, which does not include God. Many people have also described Aquinas as having made a 'leap of logic' to conclude the existence of God and science has suggested alternative theories about the universe. All of these criticisms weaken the cosmological argument. David Hume is one of the main thinkers who reject the cosmological argument. He questioned weather the universe needs a cause. Although he agreed with Aquinas that everything within the universe has a cause he did not conclude that the universe itself therefore must have a cause. ...read more.

Conclusion

Russell however disagreed with Copleston, as he believes that the universe is without reason and its existence is a mere fact. He famously stated 'I should say that the universe is just there, and that's all'. Russell also agrees with Hume and believes that Aquinas made a leap of logic. He rejects his cosmological argument and he denies that the universe needs an explanation for its existence. However not all people share Russell's lack of curiosity, therefore the cosmological argument offers a theory to those who disagree that the universe is simply a fact. Modern science however can be used to strengthen and weaken Aquinas' cosmological theory. It can be seen as supporting the argument due to the 'big bang' theory which agrees that there was a time when the universe did not exist making it finite. However some other scientists argue that the big bang wasn't the beginning of the universe, instead it was another step in the series of expanding and contracting oscillating universe. Science has also observed particles which had appeared and disappeared without an apparent cause, proving that not everything has a cause as Aquinas stated in premise one of the uncaused causer. Supporters of Aquinas argue however that these particles do have a cause, it simple hasn't been made clear yet. To conclude many philosophers and great minds have rejected the cosmological argument, this questions the strengths that the argument has. However the argument can still be seen as strong due to it offering a straightforward and sensible conclusion to the origins of the universe. ...read more.

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