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1

Who is the cosmological argument designed to do?

The word ‘cosmos’ refers to the universe as an ordered, harmonious and holistic entity. The Cosmological argument therefore argues for the existence of God a posteriori based on the apparent order in the universe.

2

Why did Aquinas develop the cosmological argument?

Aquinas thus asked the question: is it obvious that there is a God? His answer was no – since such a concept is beyond all direct human experience. He then asked the question: can it be made obvious? Aquinas believed that, since the universe is God’s creation, evidence of God’s existence can be found in his creation using intellect and reason

3

What is the Cosmological argument based on?

The Cosmological argument is based on the first three of Aquinas’ Five Ways
THE ARGUMENT FROM MOTION
THE ARGUMENT FROM CAUSATION
THE ARGUMENT FROM CONTINGENCY

4

What does the argument from motion mean?

St. Thomas Aquinas, studying the works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle, concluded from common observation that an object that is in motion (e.g. the planets, a rolling stone) is put in motion by some other object or force. From this, Aquinas believes that ultimately there must have been an UNMOVED MOVER (GOD) who first put things in motion. Aquinas argues that the natural condition is for things to be at rest. Something which is moving is therefore unnatural and must have been put into that state by some external supernatural power.

5

What does the argument from Causation mean?

This Way deals with the issue of existence. Aquinas concluded that common sense observation tells us that no object creates itself. In other words, some previous object had to create it. Aquinas believed that ultimately there must have been an UNCAUSED FIRST CAUSE (GOD) who began the chain of existence for all things.

6

What does the argument from contingency mean?

This Way is sometimes referred to as the modal cosmological argument. Modal is a reference to contingency and necessary. This Way defines two types of objects in the universe: contingent beings and necessary beings. A contingent being is an object that cannot exist without a necessary being causing its existence. Aquinas believed that the existence of contingent beings would ultimately necessitate a being which must exist for all of the contingent beings to exist. This being, called a necessary being, is what we call God.

7

What are Aquinas' fourth and five ways?

Fourth Way - The Argument From Degrees And Perfection
Fifth Way - The Argument From Intelligent Design

8

What does the argument from degrees and perfection mean?

St. Thomas formulated this Way from a very interesting observation about the qualities of things. For example one may say that of two marble sculptures one is more beautiful than the other. So for these two objects, one has a greater degree of beauty than the next. This is referred to as degrees or gradation of a quality. From this fact Aquinas concluded that for any given quality (e.g. goodness, beauty, knowledge) there must be a perfect standard by which all such qualities are measured. These perfections are contained in God.

9

What is the argument from intelligent design?

The final Way that St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of has to do with the observable universe and the order of nature. Aquinas states that common sense tells us that the universe works in such a way, that one can conclude that is was designed by an intelligent designer, God. In other words, all physical laws and the order of nature and life were designed and ordered by God, the intelligent designer

10

When did the Russel Vs Copleston radio debate take place?

1947

11

How did Fredrick Copleston formulate Aquinas' argument in the radio debate?

1) There are things in this world that are contingent – they might not have existed e.g. we would not exist without our parents
2) All things in the world are like this – everything depends on something else for it’s existence
3) Therefore there must be a cause of everything in the universe that exists outside of it
4) This cause must be a necessary being – one which contains the reason for it’s existence inside itself
5) This necessary being is God

12

In what way to Russel refuse to accept the cosmological argument in the radio debate?

Russell refused to accept the notion of a necessary being as one that cannot be thought of not existing, and concluded that the regress of causal events could not be held responsible for the existence of everything in the universe: “what I am saying is that the concept of cause is not applicable to the total”
Just because each human has a mother does not mean the entire human race has a mother. He reduced the universe to a mere, brute fact, of which it’s existence does not demand an explanation.“I should say that the universe is just there, and that’s all.”
Russell saw the argument for a cause of the universe as having little meaning or significance. He established it as a “question that has no meaning” and thus proposed: “Shall we pass on to some other issue?

13

How did Copleston respond to Russel's refusal to acknowledge the importance of the question?

“If one refused to sit at the chess board and make a move, one cannot, of course, be checkmated.”

14

How does the The Australian philosopher Paul Edwards illustrate Russel's issue with talking about the cause of the universe as a whole?

Each is given a different explanation of why they each Inuit is in New York: the first wanted warmer weather, the second is the husband of the first, the third is the son of the first and the second, the fourth is responding to an advertisement in the New York Times asking for Inuit to appear on television, and the fifth has been hired by a private detective agency to keep an eye on the fourth. Although an individual explanation can be given why each Inuit is in New York, it does not make sense to then ask the one reason why the group as a whole are in New York.

15

What is Hume's criticism of the Cosmological argument?

To move from ‘everything we observe has a cause’ to ‘the universe has a cause’ is too big a leap in logic. This is the same as saying that because all humans have a mother, the entire human race has a mother.
Hume maintains that the Cosmological argument begins with familiar concepts of the universe and concludes with not-so-familiar concepts beyond human experience. For Hume, God’s existence cannot be proven analytically (by definition), since the definition of God’s nature is not knowable. Hume concludes that it is not possible to prove the existence of a being who is unknowable and existentially different from all other beings.

16

What are Immanuel Kant's criticism of the cosmological argument?

Immanuel Kant, in ‘Critique of Pure Reason,’ opposed the theory that a chain of cause-effect events can be set in motion from outside the realm of the physical universe. The cause-effect relationship is observed within the confines of the spatio-temporal world, and therefore any talk of the causal cycle stretching beyond the empirical world is non-sensical.

17

What are the weaknesses of the cosmological argument?

First cause only necessary if we reject the idea of infinite regress.
Does depend on the idea that God is a necessary being. Just because something can exist does not mean that it must!
Why God as the cause not something else?
Why exempt God from causation?
Also Russell ‘the universe just is – Brute Fact.’
Hume suggested that maybe cause and effect are just the way we see things not necessarily linked.
The premises do not allow of such a leap of conclusion.
The argument Hume claims begins with something familiar to us and then goes on to makes claims about things outside of our experience.

18

What are the strengths of the cosmological argument?

‘nothing can come from nothing’ said Aristotle – how else did the chain come into existence unless it was caused by something outside..
Copleston rejected the idea of infinite regress on the basis that an infinite chain could only ever consist of contingent beings which could never have brought about their own existence.
if the explanation for the universe’ existence cannot be found within the universe it is logical to look outside for the cause.
Copleston‘s answer to Russell was that partial explanations are unsatisfactory and that an adequate explanation is one to which nothing further can be added therefore the idea that the universe ‘just is’ is insufficient. And God is the complete explanation.
Because if God is self-causing he does not need an explanation.
If God is as Anselm said ‘that than which no greater can be conceived’ then that would make him a necessary being, and could be the cause of the universe.
It is a logical argument – we see order, cause and effect all around us.
Does explain why it has this order and why beauty exists.