Presentation on theme: "The Cosmological Proof Metaphysical Principles and Definitions Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR): For every positive fact, whatsoever, there is a sufficient."— Presentation transcript:
The Cosmological Proof Metaphysical Principles and Definitions Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR): For every positive fact, whatsoever, there is a sufficient reason, known or unknown, explaining why it is. Ex Nihilo, Nihil Fit (ENNF): “From nothing, nothing comes,” a corollary of PSR. If every positive fact has a sufficient reason explaining why it is, then something cannot come from nothing because nothing has no explanatory power.
The World: Everything existing in space and time, i. e. the spacio- temporal universe. Dependent Being: A being that depends upon something(s) outside itself for its existence and explanation. Independent Being: A being that depends upon nothing outside itself for its existence and explanation.
THE PROOF 1.)At every moment of its existence, everything in the world is dependent. (Premise) 2.)If, at every moment of its existence, everything in the world is dependent, then, at every moment of its existence, the world as a whole is dependent. (Premise) 3.) At every moment of its existence, the world is dependent. (from 1 & 2)
4.)At every moment of its existence, the world depends on something, call it I, other than itself, for its existence. (from 3 & and the Definition of Dependent Being) 5.)I is either an infinite and eternal regress of dependent beings or an eternal, independent being. (from 4, the Definition of the World, and the Definitions of Dependent and Independent Beings)
Note on Step (5.) Since it is dependent, the world must depend on something outside itself. The world, by definition, contains everything existing in space and time. Thus, what the world depends upon must be outside space and time, i. e. eternal. Since, by definition, dependent beings cannot depend upon themselves, if the explanation for the world is to be provided by dependent beings, there must be an infinite regress of them. Since an independent being depends on nothing outside itself, only one is needed to account for the world.
D n+1 î DnDn î D4D4 î D3D3 î D2D2 î D 1 (The World)
6.)An infinite regress of dependent beings is not possible. (from the Definition of Dependent Being and ENNF) Note on Step (6.) Dependent beings, as it were, “borrow” their being or existence. Thus, an infinite regress of them is not possible. Think of this analogy. George needs to borrow $20 to buy food to live on. Mary says she’ll lend it to him but first has to borrow it from Harry.
Harry says he’ll lend it to Mary but first has to borrow it from Judy. Judy says she’ll lend it to Harry but first has to borrow it from Fred. Fred says he’ll lend it to Judy but first has to borrow it from Susan. If George is to get the money he needs to buy food to live on, can this borrowing process go on forever? Clearly not. If George is going to get the money he needs, eventually, you have to arrive at someone who actually owns $20.
Similarly, if a dependent being is going to get the being it needs to exist, eventually, you have to arrive at a being that “owns” being in itself, namely an independent being. Otherwise, something would have to come from nothing, thus violating ENNF. 7.)I is an eternal, independent being. (from 5 & 6) 8.)Therefore, an eternal, independent Creator of the world, namely I, exists. (from 4 & 7) QED.
Criticisms of the Proof The Alleged Hasty Generalization of (1.) – The fallacy of Hasty Generalization is drawing a conclusion about every member of a group based only upon what one knows about a non- representative sample of the group. – For example, “Every philosopher I happen to know is jerk; therefore, all philosophers are jerks.”
– In this case, a critic might say we have experienced very little of the spacio-temporal universe. Thus, it’s not appropriate to conclude that everything in the spacio- temporal universe is dependent just because everything in the part of it we’ve experienced is dependent.
– In response, a defender of the Proof can appeal to the Principle of Uniformity. This scientific principle basically says that what is true in one part of the spacio-temporal universe is true in all parts of it. – For example, gravity operates in every other part of the spacio-temporal universe in the same way that it operates in our part of it. – Thus, if there is pervasive dependency in our part of the spacio-temporal universe, there is pervasive dependency in all other parts of the spacio-temporal universe.
The Alleged Composition of (2.) – The fallacy of Composition is concluding that, because all the parts of a thing have a property, the thing as a whole has the property. – For example, “Every member of this class is over two years old. Thus, the class as a whole is over two years old.” – A critic would say this is precisely the reasoning behind (2.).
– To wit: Everything in the spacio- temporal universe is dependent. Thus, the spacio-temporal universe as a whole is dependent. – Response As philosopher Stephen T. Davis points out, Composition is not always a fallacy. For example, “Every part of this table is made of wood; therefore, the table as a whole is made of wood” is a perfectly valid inference.
It’s hard to set hard and fast rules as to when Composition is fallacious and when it’s not. In this case, however, the inference in back of (2.) does not seem to be a fallacious Composition. The spacio-temporal universe as a whole derives its existence from its parts. Thus, it’s not unreasonable to transfer the ontological status of the parts to the whole.
Davis remarks: “[I]t... make[s] sense to ask: Why should [the spacio-temporal] universe exist at all? That is, why is there a reality at all? Why is there anything and not nothing? There is no absurdity at all in the idea of there being nothing at all, no [spacio-temporal] universe at all. (No one would be there to notice that state of affairs, of course, but that does nothing to rule out the possibility.) It follows that there is nothing about the [spacio- temporal] universe that implies or even suggests that it is [an independent] being.” “The Cosmological Argument and the Epistemic Status of Belief in God”
The Alleged Composition of PSR. – Davis remarks: “[A critic might allege] that, while PSR applies well to... items like animals, automobiles, and houses (things that have finite life spans, things that come into and later pass out of existence), it does not apply to the mega-thing of the [spacio-temporal] universe itself.” “The Cosmological Argument and the Epistemic Status of Belief in God”
– This suggested criticism amounts to the charge that this application of PSR is fallacious Composition. To wit: Because everything in the spacio-temporal universe has an explanation, the spacio-temporal universe as a whole has an explanation. – Response While it’s possible that this application of PSR is fallacious Composition, all things being equal, shouldn’t one assume there’s an explanation for the spacio- temporal universe, especially since a not unreasonable one has been proffered?
To put it another way, why is the critic raising the possibility of fallacious Composition here? Is he raising this issue because he has serious doubts about applying PSR to the spacio-temporal universe as a whole, or is raising the issue simply because he doesn’t like the theistic implications of the proffered explanation? If an explanation without theistic implications were proffered, would he still raise this issue?
The critic’s raising his objection to applying PSR to the spacio-temporal world as a whole could be taken as rather apologetic (defensive), i.e he raises the objection not because he believes in it for itself but because it’s the only escape hatch he can find to avoid the theistic implications he doesn’t like.
Final Comments The Cosmological Proof does not conclusively prove the God of traditional theism in all His glory, but it does offer strong evidence for such a God. The eternal, independent creator of the entire spacio-temporal universe would clearly have to be very powerful and knowledgeable. Also, the act of creation itself could be taken as one of significant, disinterested goodness.
Davis concedes it’s not irrational to reject the Cosmological Proof; so, it cannot compel theistic belief. Nonetheless, he maintains the Cosmological Proof is still helpful to theists, since it’s also rational to accept it.
“[N]o objection to theism is more common than the objection that, in believing in God, theists are being soft-headed, gullible, and credulous.... Thus, Kai Nielsen (I could have quoted almost a host of others): ‘For someone living in the Twentieth Century with a good philosophical and a good scientific education, who thinks carefully about the matter... for such a person it is irrational to believe in God.’ In the light of the [Cosmological Proof], this objection to theism collapses.” “The Cosmological Argument and the Epistemic Status of Belief in God”