Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Cosmological Argument

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Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Cosmological Argument

        The Cosmological Argument is an ‘a posteriori argument’.  Therefore, the strengths and weaknesses of the Cosmological Argument, are the strengths and weaknesses of ‘a posteriori’ reasoning.  ‘A posteriori reasoning is ‘arguing to a conclusion from our experience of the world’.  The most famous expression of the Cosmological Arguments is found in what are known as Saint Thomas Aquinas’ ‘Five Ways,’ seen as proofs of God’s existence but since ‘a posteriori’ reasoning can only offer us probability, and not conclusive proof, then we need to clarify what exactly these arguments are attempting to do and how much do they work doing what they are actually trying to do.

        There are two forms of the Cosmological argument.  The first of these is the ‘Kalam Argument’, also known as the ‘First Cause Argument’.  This is the simplest expression of the Cosmological Argument.  William Lane Craig, a modern day philosopher, re-visited the Kalam Argument, which had originated previously amongst Islamic philosophers.  His statement of it had three premises.  The first of these said whatever begins to exist has a cause.  The second one followed by saying, the Universe began to exist and the third premise brings the first two together by saying that therefore, the Universe has a cause and this cause must therefore be God.  The other main version of the Cosmological Argument that I will be discussing in this essay, is the ‘Argument from Contingency’, also known as Aquinas’ ‘Third Way’.  Frederick Copelston, like William Lane Craig was a modern day philosopher and put this argument into modern times.  He thought that everything in the Universe is contingent (dependant on something else).  The Universe is simply the totality of contingent things and is therefore contingent.  Given that the Universe is contingent, there must be something on which it depends – something with necessary existence.  Therefore, this must be God.  There is a difference between the Kalam and the Contingency Arguments.  The Contingency arguments (arguments such as the third of Aquinas’ Five Ways) seek to establish the dependence of the Universe on God now.  They seek to show there is something necessary on which the contingent Universe depends.  The Kalam argument, by contrast, seeks to establish the Universe has a beginning and that this beginning was caused.  

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The first premise of the Kalam Argument reads, ‘Whatever begins to exist has a cause.’  This view relies on us interpreting current data (data available to us).  We therefore, need to make a judgement on this data to see if the Universe is uncaused or if it has a cause, which has not yet been figured out.  Even if the Universe is not an infinite regress i.e. it has a cause, then this cause is uncaused.  This leaves us with a problem, this problem being that there cannot be an ultimate explanation.  The second premise reads, ‘The Universe began ...

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