The Cosmological Argument (full version)

The Cosmological Argument (full version) - THE COSMOLOGICAL...

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THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT Introduction. This is a very interesting attempt to prove that God exists. It asks us to consider why the universe as a whole exists. Where did it come from? Even if physicists can trace back the history of the universe to a big bang 17 billion years ago, what started the big bang? Where did matter come from? These questions have always intrigued human beings. We will be considering whether these questions are best answered by proposing that God exists, as the special sort of object required in order to be able to explain why the universe exists. It is called the Cosmological Argument because we are not looking for an explanation of just some particular feature of the universe, such as why it is so orderly, rather, we are looking for an explanation for why there is a universe at all. It may be helpful to list at the outset who if for and who is critical of the argument. Theists who are proponents of the argument are St. Thomas Aquinas and Samuel Clarke. Non-theist critics of the argument are David Hume and Bertrand Russell. I. The General Strategy. There seem to be only two possible structures to the history of the universe. One is that the universe has simply always existed, and so the chain of causal events can be traced backwards without end. Let us call that the infinite chain model. The other possibility is that the universe had a beginning, and hence it was initiated by a special, uncaused, first-causer (God). Let us call that the finite, theistic model. What the theist tries to do in the Cosmological Argument is argue that the infinite chain model cannot be correct. Hence, we must adopt the alternative model which has God as the special un- causer who is the source of the universe. How is the infinite model to be eliminated? On the grounds that it fails to satisfy the requirements of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. II. The Principle of Sufficient Reason. The various versions of the argument will use some form or other of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. We will label the various formulations this way: PSR : For every event there is a prior event that is its cause. PSR a : For every event there is some event that is its cause. PSR b : For every fact there is an explanation for why this fact is the case. These are each slightly different from each other. In the dialectic between theist and critic, we shall examine each of these three forms.
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III . Aquinas’s Formulation of the Cosmological Argument, using PSR. The essence of Aquinas’ argument can be put as follows: The Principle of Sufficient Reason demands that every event have a prior cause. So, today’s events were caused by events preceding it, and they were caused by events preceding them, etc. But, I will show that this chain of events can not go back infinitely, rather, there has to be a first causal event (which starts the chain of causes going). Now, this first causal event is quite extraordinary, for it itself, because it is first, has no cause. It is an uncaused cause of all else.
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course PHIL 110 taught by Professor Pruim during the Spring '08 term at E. Stroudsburg.

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The Cosmological Argument (full version) - THE COSMOLOGICAL...

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