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The Cosmological Argument

Updated on August 24, 2017

The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God

The Cosmological Argument, originally developed by Aquinas, is an argument for God's existence that starts from the Universe and works up to an intelligent being.

Think about how everything in the Universe has a cause and an effect. If everything has a cause and an effect, we could go back forever and ever and never stop - each cause has a prior cause, which has a prior cause, and so on. We could go back and back infinitely. his we call infinite regression.

Aquinas argued for God as an unmoved mover or uncaused cause. In other words, God is the first cause of the universe. God does not need a cause, because God is self-existing.

Arguments for the Existence of God.
Arguments for the Existence of God.

John Hick has produced one of the most comprehensive books on the arguments for God's existence. If you are studying this, I really recommend Hick's book. It helped me to understand the cosmological and ontological arguments at A-Level.

 

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Aquinas' Cosmological Argument

Aquinas' Cosmological argument was presented in the first three of his Five Ways.

The first argument that Aquinas presents is the argument from motion. This doesn't just argue from the movement of heavenly bodies or planets. It also argues from motion within this world from potentiality to actuality. For example, a cup of tea may be actually hot but could potentially be cold. This change in temperature is an example of the motion to which Aquinas is referring.

The second argument is from causation. This shows God as the first cause, which puts a stop to infinite regression. God is the uncaused cause.

The third argument is from contingency and necessity. Aquinas says that things within this world are contingent - they are dependent upon something else for their existence. However, in the beginning, if there was nothing, something cannot be created from nothing. Therefore there must be a necessary being to bring things into existence. this necessary being is God.

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    • amytrumpeter profile image
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      Amy Trumpeter 3 years ago from Oxford

      @BLouw: Excellent response, thank you. Your criticism would probably be better applied to the teleological argument for God's existence. Aquinas does not claim for the creation to be 'good', just that it is based on cause and effect and needs an uncaused cause. But the problem of evil is a good response the the design argument.

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 3 years ago from France

      I know that skies, butterflies, green fields and rainbows are wonderful but I was thinking about the creation of the world and the fact that when it was created it was deemed to be "good". Then thought what sort of 'person' would create vampire bats, mosquitoes AND malaria? What sort of 'person' would organize things so that so many creatures are born to be food for a bigger creature - and so on. I wonder if mice think the way things are organized is "good". (And that's not to mention all the war, famine, violence etc thanks to the wonders of the human race).