The cosmological argument presents various different interpretations to the universe's existence; in which they try to prove the existence of God as being the creator. However, many people cannot come to terms with this explanation to the universe. This in particular is non religious believers who seek to find a deeper, more self explanatory reason to the universe. Hence; I will be analysing the arguments put forward that explain this.
One argument which draws the conclusion of God being the creator is “The Kalam argument” which was an argument put forward by al – Ghazali (1058 – 1111) who was an Islamic scholar. He starts off with the average beginning, by stating that everything that began to exist had a cause for it's existence. This is controversial as quantum physics argue that at a subatomic level, some things do not really need a explanation but can exist without a cause. He then goes on to develop that the universe began to exist. This point in the argument Is also one to come under doubt. We needn't say that the universe had to exist, it may have just been there. This would link to the concept of infinite regress. There may have been no beginning, but just have gone back to point where we are unable to go beyond our experience. However if we were to consider this, then there would be no need to question for the existence of the universe or the possible creator deemed in this argument. Al – ghazali's argument then continues to conclude that the universe had a cause for it's existence and that cause is God.
This part of the argument poses many critics to question. Firstly, we again present the idea of infinite regress, the idea of there already being a universe. If this was true then we needn't a explanation for a cause. Secondly, the universe could just be un – caused. The universe could be a necessary thing which doesn't need a creator to justify it's existence. Finally, we come to the assertive leap that al- ghazali makes. He poses no explanation to how he reaches towards the conclusion of their being a God. We can't just assume that God is the creator. Despite this, we also come to question the idea of this. If we were to believe that the universe had a creator and be it God; we still have no explanation to why it should be a God? , David Hume questions the religious side of this, he poses the question of why it being a Christian God?. Based on this contradiction we could also question that it could be a team of God's or even a Goddess as the much deemed creator. Furthermore, if the cause was God, then what caused God?. Surely God must have a cause? Many would come to conclude, such as Aquinas; that God has no cause. If this is true then it would eliminate the first stage of al – ghazali's argument, failing the argument both ways. Finally, if there were to be a cause, then surely it cannot be wrong that the cause doesn't need to be God but instead could be a scientific explanation to the universe; the Big Bang. This would appeal more to non religious believers and atheists as the Big Bang presents a more factual and evidential reasoning. If not this, then the universe could have just existed by chance.
This argument has very many criticisms towards it, however it also presents us with various positive points. One of which would be, it's logical progression, it doesn't seem irrational. It also gives us an optimistic view to the creation of the universe. It provides a comforting explanation to those who feel the need to find a cause for this existence. The conclusion of God being the creator, reinforces many religious beliefs. Many religions are in favour of this argument, and support it willingly. It also gives our lives a meaning or a purpose even if we do not know this purpose. Finally, even scientific ideas such as the Big Bang support these arguments in some ways. Despite contradicting it so much, it agrees that the universe has a starting point, it does not rule this out. However, the Big Bang refuses to accept there being a creator of God and deems this as illogical. However, the assumption of there being a God can explain many things in the universe which science itself cannot explain. Furthermore, this starting point of there existing a universe also falls within our own experience. It takes examples of our lives, we cannot refuse the idea that the universe exists as we ourselves live In it.
William Craig, who is a modern philosopher has updated and modified this argument over the years. Although he believes the same as al – Ghalzali, Craig presents many strong views about this argument. He argues; “everything that begins to exist had a cause for it's existence” this point is supported strongly by intuition and experience. We could come to criticise however, that Quantum Physics disapproves of this point; believing strongly that not everything needs or has a cause to exist. Craig asserts that it is “intuitively obvious” based on the intuition that something cannot come to being from nothing; again, this is also under criticism by Quantum Physics and could be questioned under the fallacy of composition. This implies that although everything In the universe has a mother or creator, this does not mean that the universe does. Furthermore, Craig moves on to reach a similar stage that al – Ghazali also reached. He states that “the universe began to exist”. This is contradicted again by Infinite regress,(just as al -Ghazali point was ) the argument that the universe goes back with no beginning. The universe doesn't need to exist, it could just be there. A place which goes beyond our experience. However if we were to consider this, then there would be no need to question for the existence of the universe or the possible creator. However, Craig does not like the idea of there being an infinite anything, he believes that an infinite regression cannot be. Continuing, Craig then also reaches the conclusion that the cause for the universe is God. He states that although everything has a cause for its existence, God is un – caused. We question this theoretically as why should God be an exception?. He argues that this is an correct explanation as it is one of the simplest. This is also one of the well known philosophical principles. This is known as the “principle of parismoney” or otherwise known “Occam razor”, this principle states that the simplest reason is best. The “un - caused God” is beginning-less, changeless , immaterial and atemporal; He exists out of time. We can compare God to numbers as they are timeless and immaterial. However they are abstract and God cannot be this as He has caused something. We can support this by giving the example of the mind, which is also timeless and immaterial. The translucent origin of the universe must be the disembodied mind. Again, we come to question the God stated here, and the exception made just as in al – Ghazali's Kalam argument. We can't just assume that God is the creator with the specific exception, if God can be an exception then so can the universe. Despite this, we also come to question the idea of this. If we were to believe that the universe had a creator and be it God; we still have no explanation to why it should be a God? , David Hume questions this, he poses the question of why it being a Christian God?. Based on this contradiction we could also question that it could be a team of God's or even a Goddess. Finally, if there were to be a cause, then surely it cannot be wrong that the cause doesn't need to be God but instead could have been a scientific explanations to the universe; such as the Big Bang.
This argument presents many criticisms however, we are deemed to understand that is has a logical progression, and seems rational. It also gives us an optimistic view to the creation of the universe. It provides a comforting explanation to those who feel the need to find a cause. Furthermore, the conclusion of God being the creator, strengthens many religious beliefs. Many religions are in favour of this argument, and support it willingly. These would include Christianity and Islam. It also gives our lives a meaning or a purpose even if we do not know this purpose. Finally, even scientific ideas such as the Big Bang supports this argument, it agrees that the universe has a starting point, it does not rule this out. However, the Big Bang refuses to accept there being a creator of God and explains this as being illogical. However, the assumption of a God can explain many things in the universe which science itself cannot explain. Furthermore, this starting point of there existing a universe also falls within our own experience. It takes examples of our lives, we cannot refuse the idea that the universe exists as we ourselves live In it.
St Thomas Aquinas (1224 – 1274), in his book offered several ways in which Gods existence can be demonstrated. The first 3 ways present the cosmological argument. In his first way, the argument of the “uncaused” cause, Aquinas states that everything has a cause and can't cause itself. Hence, nothing is the cause of itself. We can question this by the theory of Quantum Physics, which states that not every little thing needs an explanation. Furthermore, Aquinas continues to say that we cannot have an infinite chain of causes otherwise causation would not have caused in the first place. This is also one of Aristotle's metaphysical assumptions, however, this point is criticised by the fallacy of composition, David Hume was one to give an explanation. He argued that if we have explained the cause of each event in the series then it is unreasonable to ask what caused the whole series. Bertrand Russell offers a further explanation in which he says that it is true that everyone in the universe has a mother but it is impossible to conclude that the whole species has a mother. Similarly, every event within a series may indeed have a cause but it is a fallacy to conclude that the whole series must have a cause therefore, cause and effect is to be taken to be a concept which applies to events occurring within the universe; but it is an error to then try and apply the concept to the universe. If this is correct then Aquinas is mistaken in thinking that there must be a first cause that started the chain of cause and effect and therefore from this point this argument fails. Aquinas then continues to state that their must have been a uncaused cause which is causing causation without itself being caused and this uncaused cause is God. This is contradicted, as we question to why we should assume that this uncaused cause is actually God? This is another assertive leap we see in the arguments as there is no real explanation to why it is God. We come to question why we should make God the exception?. This is “reductio ad absurdum ” that there is one or at least one exception to the rule of “everything must have a cause”. We conclude that this exception could just apply to the universe rather than God. Bertrand Russell argues this. Also, Aquinas' reasoning of the uncaused cause, could might as well be applied to the universe. Furthermore, the universe could be necessary and needn't have a cause behind it again Russell also argues this and states that; just like God, this rule could also apply to the Universe. Again, here just like all the other arguments we come to question why we should assume that this uncaused cause must be a God, it could just be a Goddess or a group/team of Gods. Finally, Hume argues why it should be a Christian God and the Big Bang rejects any suggestion to their being a final God.
Aquinas' first argument, is very controversial in places however we notice it has a stronger side we can evaluate. It comes to our attention that this argument is supported willingly by many religious believers and major religions. It helps them confirm their beliefs and strengthen their trust in God being the creator. The idea of there being a God supposedly gives a meaning to our lives. Additionally, this argument is also simple and easy to understand and provides a reasoning to people who want a explanation to the universe.
quinas' second argument, familiarises us with an creator, otherwise known as an “un – moved” mover. In this argument, Aquinas starts off with a similar beginning to his previous argument. He states that everything is moved be something and that in turn is moved by something else. This is controversial as we can argue that not everything is moved by something all the time. Furthermore, he says that it cant go infinitely back otherwise movement would have not moved. Both Hume and Russell disagree with Aquinas, just as in the first argument by using the fallacy of composition. Moreover, he continues to say that there must be a first mover which is causing movement without moving and this unmoved mover must be God. Similarly, as to the previous argument, this is also contradicted by the same reasons. We cant assume that this unmoved mover is God and therefore this unmoved mover could be also applied to the universe. The universe could be necessary with no mover that stands behind it. Furthermore, we can argue that this unmoved mover might be a team/group of Gods or a Goddess. Also, just as other arguments, this one also makes an assertive leap, we again, have no real explanation to how it reaches it's conclusion. Again, the Big Bang disapproves that there is a creator, which is supposedly God. In this argument, Aquinas is confusing the infinite number of chains that go back with no beginning (infinite regress). This is because he believes you would need a first cause to begin the chain with an infinite chain of causes to begin. JL Mackie gives the example of a series of hooks to exemplify this.
Despite this we can evaluate some key strengths of this argument. The idea of there being a God makes our living and existence have a purpose even if we do not know this. As well as other arguments this is also much supported by religions and believers. These arguments also hold a clear and concise meaning which we find easy to understand. It provokes a sense of comfort to those who want an explanation for the universe.
Aquinas' third way presents a different view to the previous arguments by him. This is known as the “argument from contingency” however, is sometimes known as “the argument of possibility and necessity”. This is the final argument which is given by Aquinas. He starts off by saying that things in the world are contingent. We can exemplify this by giving the example of humans. Next he goes on to mention that if everything was contingent, it wouldn't be here now as everything had passed out of existence. This is a critical turn over for this argument and arises many questions. This is because not everything passes out at the same time and we can symbolically present this with the example of humans. Humans reproduce, which provide overlapping chains of generations; in this case contingency. Continuing, he states that there is something now that is keeping the world moving and this non- contingent thing is God. He is the necessity that keeps things going. This argument is very juvenile and we are forced to criticise some weak points put forward by Aquinas. Firstly, the last few points in the argument rely the Reductio ad absurdum In which it tries to prove that an infinite regress of contingent and necessary beings is impossible. We believe that Aquinas must not have fully understood this infinite regress but instead assumes that a it is a very long finite series. However, even a finite series would need to come to an end at something such as as an unmoved mover, but an infinite series does not need this as it never would come to an end. We know this as not everything can pass out of existence at the same time, we use the example of the overlapping chains of generations in the world. This argument also takes an assertive leap to the conclusion of their being a God. Again, just like in other arguments, we have not sufficient reasoning to how this is possible. The God mentioned is another insufficient point made in this argument, we are unsure on whether this is a God, Goddess or even a group of Gods. We summon these possibilities. Also, the contingency supposed by Aquinas doesn't explain the overlapping chains of contingency which he bluntly refuses to mention. Moreover; Mackie argues that Aquinas is committing a fallacy if he thinks that he can jump from “everything at sometime does not exist” to “at sometime everything does not exist”. He continues to state that it may be the cause that there is an infinite series of overlapping, yet contingent thing's in the universe. If this were a possibility Mackie claims that there would be no need to hypothesise the existence of a necessary being which is being presented by Aquinas. There are also further criticisms by many philosophers. These are based on the point that God is a necessary being. Philosophers believe that the concept of “Necessity” only applies to statements of truth and not to things that exist. They believe that it fails to prove the existence of a being worthy of worship either that to a God of the philosophers or to the God of the Bible. Based on this Aquinas fails to add to the essential religious ingredients to his argument that would demonstrate God's existence. Furthermore, there are many other contradictions in Aquinas third argument. We notice that infinite regress can be a key factor as we may not need the universe to have an beginning but just be there from the start. This argument is also confusing as he states that it would need a first cause to begin the chain with an infinite chain of causes to begin, similarly to his unmoved mover argument.
Moreover, we can take some positiveness out of this version just as the others Aquinas gives. The idea of their being a God supplements religious beliefs and gives our lives a significant meaning, even if this is one we are not aware of. It also presents us with a falling within our own experience, in which we can relate ourselves into. Ones we cannot deny. These arguments may seem irrational but are simple and easy to understand. Finally, they also comfort those who feel they need an explanation to the existence of the universe and the Big Bang, which is a major thing that seems to disagree with almost all arguments; doesn't rule out the possibility of a starting point.
The fourth argument which attempts to prove Gods existence is Ed Millers Cosmological Argument. He states firstly that there exists a world and space and time. This is quite clear as he is aware of this through experience otherwise known as an a posteriori argument. He then goes on to say that that this world cannot be the cause of itself because you would nee d the world to exist before itself which is indeed; impossible. We question this from the point of infinite regress as there may not be a beginning. This is suggested because there is no sufficient evidence to the universe having a beginning so we could just assume the opposite. We could also pose the question of the universe being un - caused and just be necessary. Again, Bertrand Russell clearly presents this in his argument. Another contradiction to this could be the theory of Quantum Physics. The idea that not every little thing can have a cause. Thirdly, Miller continues to explain that this world couldn't have come from nothing and argues that it cannot be a product of infinite regress. This is what we questioned earlier. Moreover, he concludes that it must have caused by something outside space and time, something uncaused and ultimate. Ed Miller doesn't presume that it must be God. He only hints at this possibility. In contrast to the other arguments, they all conclude that the creator IS God. With this argument, we can contradict the idea that it must be something outside space and time. There is no real proof that this is correct. There could be alternative reasons to this existence. Furthermore, the Big Bang, which proves costly for many of these arguments plays a part in opposing this argument. We see that this scientific theory, is more precise with its points. It clearly states that the deist idea of a creator is illogical. Hence; the world does not need a creator to exist. It also believes this 'cause' to be several small explosions which eventually led to the creation of the universe. Secondly, Miller mentions that it could possibly be something uncaused. This is self contradictory. Why should we just assume that this uncaused cause is the creator of Universe, including the possibility of God. This is also linked with the idea that the Universe could also just be uncaused (Bertrand Russell). Also this argument, just like others doesn't take us beyond the Big Bang as this would be taking it beyond our own experience of what we know about the world.
Furthermore, there are also several positive notes which we can examine in this argument. Firstly, this argument starts off with a point we can all agree on. There exists the world. We cannot deem this to be negative as we as humans live in one. Secondly, it provides us with a purpose for our living, if we are assured that the world has some type of creator behind it. And moreover, as most religious believers and major religions believe of a creator, this is also a high amount of support for there beliefs. Thirdly, there is a comforting side to this argument itself, those who feel the need for a cause, have got a cause to reassure themselves. This argument also is very self explanatory and easy to understand. This is similar to the principle of parismoney which states that the simplest reason is best. Finally, the Big Bang also supports this argument when talking about an beginning and about having a cause. For science, this cause is a large explosion which took place billions of years ago.
The final cosmological argument was put forward by Leibniz, for him, in order to inadequately explain the sum total of all contingent things you would need something necessary. He said that up to a point you can give a partial reason for all contingent things by pointing to other contingent things that brought them into being. We can exemplify this by our parents being our partial existence. Firstly, Leibniz states that each reason is partial and not sufficient, as we need a necessary reason for this. We can contradict this by questioning what caused this. He then goes on to say that to explain the whole chain of contingent parents you would need something necessary that stands outside the chain altogether and which explains why it exists ultimately. With this argument we note many considerable weak points. Leibniz is also suggesting the idea of an God. However we are forced to consider the possibility that there is no need for a cause and this cause could also be the Big Bang. Also he states that this something must be necessary. This could also be applied to the universe, in which we would eliminate the reason to have an creator. Another contradiction may be that this creator needn't be God but a Goddess or a team/group of Gods. We could also assume that the creator could also be concluded to be something scientific like the Big Bang. The Fallacy of composition also disapproves of this argument, the example by Bertrand Russell tells us that the universe itself doesn't need a mother to provide an explanation to the whole universe. The final point we can contradict this by is infinite regress. This could also be another assumption to the beginning of the universe and therefore this would also eliminate the need to look for this necessary being stated in this argument.
Many contradictions lie in this argument, but despite this we are able to point out some precise strengths of this argument. Firstly, this idea of a creator provides us with a purpose for our lives in which we feel comfort in the world. Secondly, this argument takes specific example from our day to day lives. We all know the chain of contingency between humans, and this idea that the universe exists. These provide sufficient examples in which we are able to relate to as we experience this. Based on this, we can also conclude that this argument doesn't take us beyond our experiences of the world, which in a sense makes it sound more reliable. Furthermore, many major religions are in support of cosmological arguments which deem to the universe having a creator. Again, this is a strengthen to beliefs and to those who believe in God. This argument is also very simple and logical, we are able to understand the general reasoning of it. Finally, we can conclude that the Big Bang also supports this in a sense of similarity, as both of them talk about the beginning of the universe.
In conclusion to these six versions of the cosmological argument, we are able to see many contradictions as well as positives in them. However, these arguments have been dismantled by scientific theories such as the Big Bang which disagrees with this idea of their being a creator, with the use of observation to come to naming this as illogical. Many well known philosophers such as David Hume and Bertrand Russell also disapprove of these arguments. Thinking it is pointless to question the existence of the universe. Bertrand Russell stated that “I should just say it's there, that's it” and felt that the universe wasn't crying out for an explanation. David Hume, questioned the role of God in these arguments. They also do not explain about God or tell what his purpose is for us. We are unable to known whether he cares about us or not. Scientific theories like the Big Bang tell us about the beginning as well of the end of the world/ universe however these cosmological arguments only tend to focus on the beginning. Despite this, for many religious believers these argument form a great confirmation to the existence of the universe as they are convinced that God exists and provides support from religious scriptures. This enhances the arguments reliability for those believers. As for others, such as atheists this remains unproven as these arguments fail to produce a satisfying explanation to the existence of the universe and therefore we conclude that these arguments are unconvincing in providing us with a creator; God.