Unformatted text preview: Module VII
The Cosmological Argument
Read Stewart: 136-144 The First Way: The Argument From Change
• a/ There is change in the world (observation).
• b/ Whatever is changing cannot be origin of its own change,
but changes on account of another, as nothing simply changes
• c/ But if there is infinite regress of changing agents, there
would be no change in the world.
• d/ Hence the first agent or source of change must itself be
unchanging and unchanged (ultimate explanation seeking
• e/ This Unchanging Source of all Change we call “God.”
• Comment: All motion is a reduction of potency to actuality, and
only act can affect such reduction. Thus the first reduction
must originate from unmoved mover, unchanged changer. The Second Way: The Argument From Causation
• a/ We observe succession of various effects (events) in the world. • b/ Whatever comes to be neither pre-exists itself nor causes itself to
become. • c/ The succession of posited causes must thus have an origin. • d/ Hence there is the First or Uncaused Cause (ultimate explanation seeking sufficient reason). • e/ This Uncaused Cause we call “God.” • Comment: Aquinas after Aristotle showed that it is impossible to
proceed to infinity (infinite regress) in the order of efficient causes
unless we assume the first uncaused causation. The Third Way: The Argument From Contingency
• a/ We observe the coming and going of things and events.
• b/ If all were unnecessary now, then there would be nothing
• c/ Out of nothing, nothing comes.
• d/ But things do exist, and we should reject infinite regress as
sufficient reason for our explanation.
• e/ Why is there something, rather than nothing? To answer
“now,” we must admit the existence of Necessary Being as our
• f/ This Necessary Being (aseity) we call “God.” Comments On the Three Ways (Cosmological Arguments) • Infinite series
– It should not be conceived really as horizontal in time since we cannot
philosophically prove whether or not the world was created or is eternal.
The “process God” provides the same ultimate explanation even for a
continuously re-created world.
– It is not a mathematical infinity.
– We must speak of infinite vertical series (how does the entire set of infinite
contingent series have an explanation?) in the ontological order of
dependence. • Contingency (the core argument is the Way 3)
– It is essentially applied to all 5 Ways of Aquinas as all require the sufficient
reason for finite existence “now.” Illustration
Imagine an infinitely long train
• The second way: we can imagine an infinite causal link leading to the first
locomotive as the source of motion in all train cars. • The third way: we have to imagine that each train car in the chain requires
explanation at all times because of its contingency. The argument from
contingency does not rely on a causal link in time (genealogy) but on the type
of beings train carriages are at all times. We are dependent on the source of
our being at all times, not just in a causal link. The contingent world could still
be without a beginning in time and yet be radically dependent on the worldtranscending, ultimate source of creativity. Aquinas’s 3rd way explains this
fact better than the Ways 1 and 2, and this very fact allows for a rapprochement
of the “classical God” with the “process God” as both transcendent (in
classical attributes or in process of view of God’s primordial nature) and
immanent (in the process view of God’s consequent nature), and the world as
eternal (only in the process view or some Eastern religions) and yet dependent
(even an eternal world is contingent and so dependent on the creator). ...
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- Spring '08
- Causality, infinite regress, sufficient reason, ultimate explanation