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The Cosmological Argument

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1 The Cosmological Argument

2 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

3 Starter Write as many causes of the following as you can think of (there will be more than one) A plane to take off You to be sitting here now Rain to fall You to do well in an exam A film to win an Oscar A novel to be published

4 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

5 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)

6 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

7 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.

8 Thinking about change

9 The world is constantly changing ...

10 Things grow and decay ...

11 But everything is caused by something else…
A B C Forever? A is caused by B B is caused by C Is this chain of cause and effect infinite?

12 Potentiality and Actuality
There are two states of being: Potentiality – the possibility of doing something or becoming something. Actuality – when potential is achieved.

13 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!

14 Potentiality and Actuality
The sperm and the egg have the potential to become ...

15 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 ...

16 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

17 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’

18 And that is called ... The Prime Mover

19 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

20 Material Cause The things out of which an object is created.

21 The Formal Cause The expression, idea or plan that led to the creation of an object.

22 Efficient Cause The way in which an object is created.

23 The Final Cause The aim for which an object is created.

24 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

25 Why not an efficient cause?
The Prime Mover would be affected by giving a push But he/it isn’t! Movement by attraction

26 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.

27 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

28 Aquinas’ argument

29 St Thomas Aquinas 11th century Italian Dominican friar, priest, philosopher and theologian Wrote Summa Theologica What do assumptions do you think Aquinas might have made about God?

30 The three ways Aquinas put forward 5 ways to prove the existence of God The first three make up the cosmological argument Motion/change Cause Contingency

31 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

32 1st 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

33 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?

34 “It is necessary to arrive at a first mover moved by no other; and this everyone understands to be God’

35 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

36 2nd argument: from cause
Chain of causes Must have been a first cause This first cause is what we call ‘God’

37 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?

38 An uncaused cause “Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God’

39 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’.

40 3rd argument: from contingency (necessity)
Let’s get the keywords sorted! Contingent Something that is dependent on something else Something that could not be We are contingent Necessary Not generatable or corruptible Cannot NOT be in existence

41 The universe is full of contingent things

42 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.”

43 Nothing comes from nothing
Yet, right now, there IS something Therefore there must ALWAYS have been something Rules out contingent beings – why? MUST have been something necessary

44 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’

45 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

46 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)

47 Homework Answer the questions on the worksheet

48 The argument developed

49 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

50 The Principle of Sufficient Reason
Gottfried Liebniz ( ) You could have gone to ANY school. What are the reasons for you being here?

51 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

52 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

53 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

54 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”

55 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?

56 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

57 Copleston and Russell Is it meaningless? Is it a brute fact?
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?

58 Russell 1872-1970 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

59 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

60 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!

61 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

62 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

63 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

64 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

65 Hume – key points Empiricist – everything from the senses
Imagined connection between cause and effect Inductive leap

66 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

67 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!

68 Understandings of the role of God

69 Understandings of the role of God
God as the temporal first cause God as the sustainer of motion, causation, and existence God as the explanation of why there is something rather than nothing

70 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

71 Two types of causes Cause in fieri Cause in esse
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

72 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

73 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

74 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

75 Test yourself What is the third way?

76 Test yourself Why is the cosmological argument an a posteriori one?

77 Test yourself What is the first way?

78 Test yourself What is infinite regress?

79 Test yourself What is a contingent being?

80 Test yourself Give an example of potentiality and actuality

81 Test yourself What is needed for movement to occur?

82 Test yourself What is the second way?

83 Test yourself What is a necessary being?

84 Test yourself What is the term that Russell uses to describe the universe?

85 Test yourself What is the fallacy of composition?

86 Test yourself Why did Russell say that it is meaningless to ask how the universe came to be here?

87 Test yourself What is a cause in fieri?

88 Test yourself What is a cause in esse?

89 Test yourself Who came up with the principle of sufficient reason?

90 Scientific theories

91 Quiz time! How well do you know those keywords?

92 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?

93 Anthony Kenny 1931- 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.

94 Newton’s Law of Motion 1st law Kenny says this proves Aquinas wrong
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

95 Newton’s Law of Motion 1st 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

96 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’

97 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

98 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

99 The steady-state theory

100 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

101 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

102 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

103 The Big Bang theory A challenge In support
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

104 What do you think? Make a snowflake

105 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)

106 The Kalam Cosmological Argument

107 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

108 Actual infinite Infinite set of books in a library
A count of even numbered books is equal to the count of all the books

109 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

110 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

111 The kalam cosmological argument
Originally a Muslim argument ‘kalam’ = ‘argue’ or ‘discuss’ Muslim scholars al-Kindi (9th century) and Ghazali ( ) It is cosmological Seeks to prove that God was the first cause of the universe

112 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

113 William Lane Craig American philosopher: 1949-
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?

114 William Lane Craig An actual infinite cannot exist in reality.
Therefore, an infinite number of events cannot have occurred before the present. Therefore, the universe began to exist. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

115 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

116 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

117 Argument part 2 If the universe had a beginning then the beginning was either caused or uncaused Two options Natural causes Laws of nature didn’t exist Personal being who freely chooses to create the world God

118 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

119 Craig explains it

120 Recapping

121 Plan for today To re-watch the videos, making notes on key points as you go. To write a collaborative essay

122 The videos Video 1 – an introduction to the argument
Video 2 – the three ways explained Video 3 – the criticisms Video 4 – the kalam argument

123 Collaborative essay Explain how Aquinas’ cosmological argument attempts to prove that God exists

124 Does the argument prove God?

125 Two things to consider …
The strengths of the argument The value of the argument for religious faith Would it convert an atheist or agnostic?

126 Strengths A posteriori – based on experience
We all experience cause and effect Can understand the concept of the universe having a beginning

127 Strengths Science supports a beginning to the universe
Big Bang theory suggests that the universe is not infinite and there was a beginning

128 Strengths Scientists who accept the Big Bang theory cannot explain what caused the big bang

129 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

130 Strengths We can see that the universe exists
Supports the argument that things that exist are caused to exist and that cause is God

131 Strengths Simplest explanation of why there is something rather than nothing Richard Swinburne

132 Strengths Satisfies the need to find a cause of the universe and the origins of everything within the universe

133 Strengths Criticisms fail Criticisms are persuasive
Depends on your view

134 Strengths Consistent with God as the explanation
Fits in with the concept of the God of classical theism God as a necessary being

135 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

136 Value for religious faith
Would it convert an atheist or agnostic? Would it just add weight to an existing belief in God?

137 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

138 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

139 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

140 Fideism

141 Fideism A believer sees God as the cause of the universe
An atheist sees ..? The universe as a result of random chance

142 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

143 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

144 Activities ‘Science supports a beginning to the universe’. Justify this claim and then challenge this claim Decide whether or not: The argument strengthens religious faith The argument undermines religious faith Faith is independent of evidence and the use of reason has no impact

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