Examine the central ideas and strengths of the cosmological argument for the existence of God. The cosmological argument is an inductive and a posteriori argument for the existence of God. Cosmos is the Greek word that refers to everything that exists, the universe itself and everything in it. The argument intends on proving the existence of God on the basis that nothing can come from nothing. It argues that because things exist there must be a God that brings them into existence and without God nothing would exist. As God is a being that exists outside of the universe it is possible for God to exist without the universe but not possible for the universe to exist without God. The cosmological argument attempts to show that the universe is not a necessary being as it is contingent. This means that it depends on something else for its existence. The cosmological argument follows this basic form: P1 = everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence. P2 = the universe began to exist.
C = the universe has a cause for its existence.. God.
Inductive arguments are based upon experience, it gives a conclusion that may or may not be true but the more evidence and experience we have for the argument the more likely the argument may be true. We know that the cosmological argument is inductive as we know all existing events require a cause. As we exist on the universe right now, we know that the universe is an existing event and thus requires a cause. However this only points towards a possibility of a cause as to why the universe exists. A posteriori argument is an argument that relies on evidence or experience. It is something that we experience after the event which allows us to work backwards from the evidence to the cause of the event. The cosmological argument is a posteriori because we work off evidence in order to gain the result of God. For this to have happened we must have been working backwards to find the cause. Plato (427-347 BC) is a Greek philosopher and student of Socrates. Plato attempts to describe how the world came into existence in ‘The Timaeus’. Plato argues that as the world is ‘always becoming’ it must have come to be and therefore requires a cause. Plato refers to this cause as “the maker and father of the universe” or a Demiurge. St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was a Italian priest, philosopher and theologian. Aquinas formulated his version of the cosmological argument around his ‘Five Ways’ taken from his book ‘Summa Theologica’. These five posteriori proofs are used to prove the existence of God based on evidence of the universe. The first three ways of Aquinas’ Five Ways form the cosmological argument, these three ways are: 1) The first way is the argument from motion. This argues that because everything in the world is moving and nothing can move by itself, there cannot be an infinite chain of motion. This means that this chain of motion must have started somewhere meaning there is an unmoved mover. This mover called God. 2) The second way is the argument from causation. This argues that everything in the world has a cause and nothing can be the cause of itself. This means that everything is dependent on another thing however there cannot be an infinite chain of things causing other things. There must be a first cause that starts this chain of causes. We call this first cause God. 3) The third way is the argument from contingency. This argues that everything in the world is contingent. This means that it must either exist or not exist, and if things cannot exist then there must have been a time when they did not exist. If everything in the universe cannot exist there must have been a time in which nothing existed. We can see now that things exist so there must be something which brought it all into existence. We call this necessary being God. Aquinas claimed that there must be something to explain why the universe exists. Since the universe could conceivably not exist, its...
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