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An Explanation of the Cosmological Argument by Aquinas

Updated on December 13, 2010

Thomas Aquinas was one of the most influential absolutist philosophers who created the Cosmological Argument as well as his ethics, where he had the idea of the Natural Law which basically says that humanity shall live to certain rules based on the bible. In the first part of his main work “Summa Theologiae” he tries to demonstrate the rationality to belief in the existence of God. Aquinas put forward a series of related ways to give his theory about the existence of God more evidence which is known as “The Five Ways”. The first three are often referred to when there is a discussion about the cosmological argument in modern society.

The Unmoved Mover/Uncaused Causer


The first one of these ways is, in short, an argument for an “unmoved mover”. In this he points out that something cannot be potentially one thing and actually another thing at the same time. For example a bottle can be full of water but not at the same time be potentially filled with water although it has the potential to be empty. What he concludes out of this is that everything has to have some state before it becomes something. “It is necessary to arrive at a first mover.” - Aquinas

So if this is clear then there has to be some state before every new state and this is what Aquinas called the “Efficient Cause”. Aquinas concluded that there has to be a first efficient cause of everything which is an idea of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle who called this first cause of everything “Prime Mover”. The second way is very similar and is arguing for an “uncaused causer” and also states that there has to be some first movement which started the chain of reactions. This first cause is God according to Aquinas. He thought that the first thing which was ever there was God.

An Argument From Contingency

The third way of Aquinas is called an argument from contingency. It considers that things which exist did not exist in the past and will not exist in the future. So if everything at one time did not exist, there would have been some time in the past where nothing existed. So Aquinas created the “Interim Conclusion” which says that there was something in the past which existed and this was necessary. As everything has its necessity by a cause Aquinas concluded that there have had existed something in the past which had of itself its cause and therefore necessity. This gives everything else its necessity. Aquinas concluded that this first cause is God. Aquinas linked this third way with the first two with the rejection of infinite regression in it.

“There exists a being having of itself its necessity and this is what we call God.” – Aquinas

In conclusion it can be said that Aquinas wanted to state that there is a first efficient cause of the universe which is pure actuality. This being is necessary and it is what we call God. As his argument has no real evidence, he tries to explain it just by concluding that there has to be some cause for the existence of the universe and that he thinks the only reason for this existence would be God. It is a very discussed topic but can show society how the existence of God can be tried to explained.


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    • georgiecarlos profile image

      georgiecarlos 6 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you for writing and sharing his blog! Very useful, especially since am studying Aquinas in theology right now