Presentation on theme: "The Cosmological Argument. What is the cosmological argument? Learning Objectives To know the basics of the cosmological argument To know who Aquinas."— Presentation transcript:
The Cosmological Argument
What is the cosmological argument? Learning Objectives To know the basics of the cosmological argument To know who Aquinas was To understand how Aquinas was influenced by Aristotle
Starter Write as many causes of the following as you can think of (there will be more than one) 1. A plane to take off 2. You to be sitting here now 3. Rain to fall 4. You to do well in an exam 5. A film to win an Oscar 6. A novel to be published
Basic argument Everything that exists has a cause The universe must have a cause That cause is God An explanation of why there is something rather than nothing
The God of classical theism How would you describe God? Eternal and separate from time and space Created and is outside time and space Unique Omniscient, omnipotent, omni-benevolent, omnipresent Immutable (unchanging)
The classical cosmological argument Also known as the ‘First Cause argument’ The existence of God is an a posteriori premise. Why? The argument is a posteriori Based on what can be seen in the world and the universe
The starting point Observation of our world Movement, change, causation There is always something existing in our world rather than nothing Seeks to prove that the universe (cosmos) and all that is in it has a cause and that cause is God.
Thinking about change
The world is constantly changing...
Things grow and decay...
But everything is caused by something else… ABCForever? B is caused by CA is caused by BIs this chain of cause and effect infinite?
Potentiality and Actuality There are two states of being: Potentiality – the possibility of doing something or becoming something. Actuality – when potential is achieved.
For example... You have the potential to achieve a grade A in AS Religious Studies. It is not yet actualised because you haven’t achieved it yet. Just because there is the potential does not mean it will definitely be actualised. You have to work hard to achieve that A!
Potentiality and Actuality The sperm and the egg have the potential to become...
But something needs to cause the sperm and the egg to change from potentiality to actuality. It cannot happen on its own. We will return to this...
Aristotle and the Prime Mover Aristotle: BC All movement depends on there being a mover Movement = change Growth, melting, cooling, heating Argued for a chain of events
A common source of all substances Someone/something responsible for the beginning of everything An eternal substance Exists necessarily Immune to change, decay, and death An ‘unmoved mover’
And that is called...
Aristotle Was interested in the movement from potentiality to actuality… He thought that everything single thing that is actualised has four causes. Material Formal Efficient Final
Material Cause The things out of which an object is created.
The Formal Cause The expression, idea or plan that led to the creation of an object.
Efficient Cause The way in which an object is created.
The Final Cause The aim for which an object is created.
And the Prime Mover? Not an efficient cause, but a final cause Does not start things off but is the purpose or end of the movement Teleos – end or goal
Why not an efficient cause? The Prime Mover would be affected by giving a push But he/it isn’t! Movement by attraction
So who IS the Prime Mover? The Prime Mover is perfect All in this universe desire to be perfect All are attracted to the Prime Mover because all want to share in this perfection For Aristotle the Prime Mover is God.
So is this the God of classical theism? Aristotle argues that: God did not create the universe God did not sustain the universe God did not act in the universe God had no interest in the universe God contemplates himself God is supremely perfect and has no interest in the universe
St Thomas Aquinas 11 th century Italian Dominican friar, priest, philosopher and theologian Wrote Summa Theologica What do assumptions do you think Aquinas might have made about God?
The three ways Aquinas put forward 5 ways to prove the existence of God The first three make up the cosmological argument 1. Motion/change 2. Cause 3. Contingency
Infinite regress Important concept Unlimited number of past events Aquinas said it was NOT possible There must have been a beginning: a first event Aquinas rejected infinite regress Most hotly debated part of the argument
1 st argument: from change (motion) Things don’t just start changing out of nowhere Remember, no infinite regression Must have been something that started the changes An unmoved mover Aristotle called this...? Aquinas called it God
Wood and fire The need for an external influence If wood could make itself hot then it would be hot to begin with Wood as it stands = actuality Fire can make it hot = potentiality Do we need anything else in the chain?
“It is necessary to arrive at a first mover moved by no other; and this everyone understands to be God’
In simple terms... Nothing can change/move by itself If we are going to have change we need a changer Infinite regress is not possible So there MUST be an unmoved mover
2 nd argument: from cause Chain of causes Must have been a first cause This first cause is what we call ‘God’
Why? You did not cause yourself to come into being Something / someone else caused your existence First cause? First human? First primate? First life form?
An uncaused cause “Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God’
In simple terms... Everything has a cause... even a cause has a cause Something had to make that first cause happen. That something is what we know as ‘God’.
3 rd argument: from contingency (necessity) Let’s get the keywords sorted! Contingent Contingent Something that is dependent on something else Something that could not be We are contingent Necessary Necessary Not generatable or corruptible Cannot NOT be in existence
The universe is full of contingent things
They exist now... But they DIDN’T always exist And they WON’T always exist “It is impossible for these always to exist, for that which can not-be at the same time is not.”
Nothing comes from nothing Yet, right now, there IS something Therefore there must ALWAYS have been something Rules out contingent beings – why? necessary MUST have been something necessary
So what was there? No infinite regress, remember? Must be one... Uncaused Necessary thing Has its cause in itself Causes all other contingent things And this we call ‘God’
And WHAT God? The God of classical theism Created the world Sustains the world Without whom we would not have motion, change, cause and effect, or contingent things Without whom we would have nothing at all
Baseline assessment Outline and explain the three ways in which Aquinas claims to prove the existence of God. (AO1 – 30) “Aquinas has proven that God exists” To what extent do you agree with this claim? (AO2 – 15)
Homework Answer the questions on the worksheet
The argument developed
Learning objectives To know the criticisms of the argument from Hume, Kant, and Russell To be able to explain why they objected to Aquinas’ arguments
The Principle of Sufficient Reason Gottfried Liebniz ( ) You could have gone to ANY school. What are the reasons for you being here?
The Principle of Sufficient Reason For any contingent substance there must be a sufficient reason or explanation for it being the way that it is
Contingent/necessary We are contingent: We depend on other things for our existence. We exist contingently If we didn’t depend on anything else for our existence We would exist out of necessity We would exist necessarily
Copleston and Russell BBC Radio debate – January 1948 Focused on the issue of sufficient reason and contingent vs necessary existence Copleston – Jesuit priest Russell – agnostic philosopher
Copleston and Russell Copleston: The chain of contingent beings must stop somewhere: with a necessary being Each thing must have sufficient reason for its existence A sufficient reason is an adequate explanation of a thing “An adequate explanation must ultimately be a total explanation to which nothing further could be added”
Copleston and Russell Russell: (page 5) No point in questioning the existence of the universe It has no meaning What is the universe? What do we mean?
Copleston and Russell The ‘brute fact’ argument (Russell) The universe just is To ask for an explanation of the existence of everything is to ask for an answer we cannot fully understand A question and answer that are meaningless The universe exists: it requires no explanation: it is a brute fact
Copleston and Russell Is it meaningless? Secular view – the Big Bang The question is both answerable and intelligible Is it a brute fact? A cop out? Unsatisfactory? Perhaps there HAS to be some brute facts?
Russell Philosophical logic Study of the specifically philosophical aspects of logic Key philosophical questions re-worded in mathematical terms Why? Normal (‘everyday’) language can be misleading
Russell Fallacy of composition Falsely ascribing the properties of the parts of a whole to the whole Objects within the universe were created. Therefore the universe was created Just because you had a mother doesn’t mean the universe had a mother
Russell Necessary being God would have to be in a special category of his own Where does this category come from? A ‘necessary being’ has no meaning Copleston: you understand the meaning because you are talking about it!
Russell – key points Supported infinite regress No need for an explanation: brute fact Attributing the properties of the parts to the whole: fallacy of composition Rejected idea of contingency and a necessary being
Hume Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779) Why go back to a creator? Why not stop at the material world? Simpler to argue for a universe without an outside creator
Hume Empiricist All knowledge comes from the senses Imagination makes a connection between cause and effect We think we know more about the world than we really do
Hume Aquinas is wrong to make a connection between cause and effect Aquinas observed the world around him and considered the existence of the universe Hume argued these are two separate events The mind has made the connection Aquinas made an inductive leap
Hume – key points Empiricist – everything from the senses Imagined connection between cause and effect Inductive leap
Kant Empiricist A cause for everything only applies to the world of sense experience Cannot apply to something we haven’t experienced God is outside of time and space No justification for the conclusion that God created the universe
Hume vs Russell vs Kant Hume refers to simplicity Simpler not to posit a creator God Russell refers to meaninglessness Meaningless to talk about how the universe came to exist Kant refers to the world of sense experience Cannot apply it to the idea of God ALL agree the cosmological argument FAILS!
Understandings of the role of God
1. God as the temporal first cause 2. God as the sustainer of motion, causation, and existence 3. God as the explanation of why there is something rather than nothing
God as the temporal first cause Temporal – ‘in time’ God at the beginning of time and starting everything off The universe as a series of events with God positioned right at the beginning Supported by William Lane Craig
Two types of causes Cause in fieri Cause brings things into being but is no longer involved Boat builder Cause in esse Cause brings a thing into being but needs to remain involved for that thing to continue electricity
In Aquinas’ argument Traditionally the argument is seen as a cause in fieri A cause stretching back in to past Having a temporal first cause God began the process and can then stop being involved Copleston disagreed with this He says that Aquinas was referring to a cause in esse – a sustainer
God as the sustainer of motion, causation and existence Cause in esse God’s existence is necessary to sustain the existence of everything else Everything continues to depend on God for its existence
God as the explanation of why there is something rather than nothing The fact that there is something needs an explanation Infinite regress provides no explanation The fact that something exists does not explain its existence Principle of sufficient reason suggests the need for an explanation Explanation HAS to be something that stands outside the entire sequence
Test yourself What is the third way?
Test yourself Why is the cosmological argument an a posteriori one?
Test yourself What is the first way?
Test yourself What is infinite regress?
Test yourself What is a contingent being?
Test yourself Give an example of potentiality and actuality
Test yourself What is needed for movement to occur?
Test yourself What is the second way?
Test yourself What is a necessary being?
Test yourself What is the term that Russell uses to describe the universe?
Test yourself What is the fallacy of composition?
Test yourself Why did Russell say that it is meaningless to ask how the universe came to be here?
Test yourself What is a cause in fieri?
Test yourself What is a cause in esse?
Test yourself Who came up with the principle of sufficient reason?
Quiz time! How well do you know those keywords?
Science Since Aquinas’ time science has discovered more about the nature of the universe and how it came to be. Do you think science supports or supposes the argument?
Anthony Kenny How did Aquinas say that things move? Everything is moved by something else Nothing moves itself Goes against the fact that people and animals move themselves.
Newton’s Law of Motion 1 st law A body’s velocity will remain unchanged unless some other force – such as friction – acted upon it. Kenny says this proves Aquinas wrong Inertia – amount of resistance to changes in velocity An object not subject to an external force will move at its current velocity
Newton’s Law of Motion 1 st law A body’s velocity will remain unchanged unless some other force – such as friction – acted upon it. Hang on. Isn’t this what Aquinas is saying? That there has to be a mover? Not really Friction, air resistance, and gravity
Newton’s Law of Motion Basically … Motion can be explained by the principle of inertia The body’s own previous motion No external agent involved No ‘mover’
The steady-state theory Refutes the third way Suggests the universe is eternal Denies a beginning to the universe Developed in the 1940s by Sir Fred Hoyle
The steady-state theory Says that energy cannot be created and therefore the universe will always weigh the same Energy within the universe will be distributed The universe is uniform Should always look the same from the same place and time
The steady-state theory se/questions_and_ideas/steady_state_the ory#p00bq8xv se/questions_and_ideas/steady_state_the ory#p00bq8xv
The steady-state theory The opposite of creationism No beginning or end to the universe Has always been there and its appearance does not change over time Yes it is expanding New galaxies form to fill gaps
The steady-state theory What problems does this pose for the cosmological argument? First cause Contingency/necessity HOWEVER – generally rejected in favour of the Big Bang theory
The Big Bang theory Can be used to support or oppose the cosmological argument Scientific observation confirms that there WAS a beginning to the universe
The Big Bang theory A challenge A spontaneous event that is random without reason or cause Aquinas says God is mover and cause of the universe In support There must be a reason why it happened The universe needs to be sustained Supports the God of classical theism
What do you think? Make a snowflake
Explain the key criticisms of the cosmological argument.(30 marks) “The weaknesses of the cosmological argument far outweigh its strengths” To what extent do you agree with this view?(15 marks)
The Kalam Cosmological Argument
Actual infinite A set theory Refers to sets or collections of things with an infinite number of members. Not growing towards infinity because already infinite A part is equal to the whole because it is infinite
Actual infinite Infinite set of books in a library A count of even numbered books is equal to the count of all the books
Actual infinite Some philosophers argue that actual infinite numbers can’t exist Add or subtract – still the same number Infinity + infinity = infinity An actual infinite is ‘complete’ at all times Some regard this as illogical
Potential infinite Exists if it is always possible to add one more The future is a possible infinite Why? More events are always being added to history
The kalam cosmological argument Originally a Muslim argument ‘kalam’ = ‘argue’ or ‘discuss’ Muslim scholars al-Kindi (9 th century) and Ghazali ( ) It is cosmological Seeks to prove that God was the first cause of the universe
An argument of two halves The universe had a beginning because it is not infinite and so must have had a creator That creator is God
William Lane Craig American philosopher: Focuses on the question of whether nor not the universe had a beginning In Aquinas’ argument this is taken for granted One criticism – assumes that everything except God had a cause Why can’t the universe not have a cause?
William Lane Craig 1. An actual infinite cannot exist in reality. 2. Therefore, an infinite number of events cannot have occurred before the present. 3. Therefore, the universe began to exist. 4. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 5. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Why did it have to have a beginning? If not then it must consist of a series of events that is actually infinite and not potentially infinite Why not? Past events would form a collection of events where each type was numbered the same as others Eg – just as many wars as other events
So what is it then? The history of the universe was formed by one event following on from another event Successive addition A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite Therefore the universe must have had a beginning
Argument part 2 If the universe had a beginning then the beginning was either caused or uncaused Two options 1. Natural causes Laws of nature didn’t exist 2. Personal being who freely chooses to create the world God
Ex nihilo Crucial for the argument to work The universe was created ex nihilo ‘out of nothing’ If so then the beginning of the universe was the beginning of time Must have been a personal agent existing outside time to start the process An agent who willed the universe into existence
Craig explains it dRVIg dRVIg
Plan for today To re-watch the videos, making notes on key points as you go. To write a collaborative essay
The videos Video 1 – an introduction to the argument Video 2 – the three ways explained Video 3 – the criticisms Video 4 – the kalam argument
Collaborative essay Explain how Aquinas’ cosmological argument attempts to prove that God exists
Does the argument prove God?
Two things to consider … 1. The strengths of the argument 2. The value of the argument for religious faith Would it convert an atheist or agnostic?
Strengths A posteriori – based on experience We all experience cause and effect Can understand the concept of the universe having a beginning
Strengths Science supports a beginning to the universe Big Bang theory suggests that the universe is not infinite and there was a beginning
Strengths Scientists who accept the Big Bang theory cannot explain what caused the big bang
Strengths As we are able to measure time, this would suggest a beginning to the universe. In an actual infinite universe we would not be able to
Strengths We can see that the universe exists Supports the argument that things that exist are caused to exist and that cause is God
Strengths Simplest explanation of why there is something rather than nothing Richard Swinburne
Strengths Satisfies the need to find a cause of the universe and the origins of everything within the universe
Strengths Criticisms fail Criticisms are persuasive Depends on your view
Strengths Consistent with God as the explanation Fits in with the concept of the God of classical theism God as a necessary being
Strengths Part of the cumulative argument for God arguments for the existence of God do not consist of a single decisive argument. All of the arguments together (the cumulative case) is alleged to prove the existence of God
Value for religious faith Would it convert an atheist or agnostic? Would it just add weight to an existing belief in God?
Natural theology The use of reasoned argument to provide a basis in reason for believing in God Cosmological argument could provide that reason Add to other arguments and reasons for belief in God are strengthened
Russell on natural theology Russell – can never prove the existence of God no matter whatever the evidence is Arguments have no value Religious believers would not agree
Fideism The idea that religious beliefs cannot be justified through rational means, only through faith What is faith? Believing in something without necessarily having physical evidence
A believer sees God as the cause of the universe An atheist sees..? The universe as a result of random chance
Of value Gives intellectual support for belief in God Only God provides an explanation that requires no further explanation Reveals aspects of the nature of God Unmoved mover, uncaused cause, necessary being
Of limited or no value The argument is flawed Draws conclusions that go beyond the evidence Inductive and therefore not proof Religious faith is not based on intellectual arguments (fideism) Proof would leave no room for faith Would change nature of relationship between God and humans
Activities ‘Science supports a beginning to the universe’. Justify this claim and then challenge this claim Decide whether or not: a) The argument strengthens religious faith b) The argument undermines religious faith c) Faith is independent of evidence and the use of reason has no impact