Cosmological Argument

Philosophical endeavors have for a very long time directed towards the establishment and proof of the existence of God. God is considered a supreme being who is perfect. He is said to be the creator of the universe and everything that exist within it. Religions have always relied on faith to prove the existence of God. Advances in philosophy have led to the establishment of arguments which are aimed at proving the existence of God. This is concept has enjoyed the contributions of great philosophers and theologians.  One of the contributors is St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas was a priest, theologian as well as a philosopher. Some of his notable works include Summa Theologica as well as the Summa Contra Gentiles. These works went a long way in trying to provide a logical proof for the existence of God.

This paper is going to primarily focus on some of the proofs put forward by St. Thomas Aquinas for the existence of a supreme supernatural being, God. This paper is also going to establish some of the strongest objections to his argument and to determine whether or not, the argument is able to sustain itself amidst objections.

A cosmological argument is one which follows a general augmentation pattern making inferences from facts regarding the world, otherwise known as cosmos, and a unique being identified with or known as God. Cosmological arguments have thus been associated with natural theology aimed at proving the existence of God. These arguments are based on the belief that something must have caused the existence of the earth, possibly a supernatural being, God. Some of the theologians and philosophers who have come up with notable arguments include, Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas as well as Fredrick Copleston.

In the context of this paper we are going to restrict ourselves to the argument of St. Thomas Aquinas. He was an Italian Roman Catholic priest. His argument borrows a lot from the one which had been initially formulated by Aristotle. He felt that the cause of the Universe was something uncaused, a supernatural being, God. He is credited with the school of philosophical thought known as Thomism (Quinn, 2003, p.581).

Aquinass Cosmological Argument
Like the case in most cosmological arguments, Aquinass Cosmological Argument is composed of two parts. The first part is trying to prove that a First Cause exists. The second part is showing that the First Cause has attributes which we believe that God has. In Summa Theologica, he was able to come with five proofs that God exists. His first way was The Argument from Motion. Aquinas had concentrated a lot on the works which had originally been done by Aristotle. Aristotle had based himself on moving objects. Aristotle believed that for an object to move, it must have been set into motion by another object or probably by force. Aquinas felt that an UNMOVED MOVER must have existed to set the rest of the things in motion. He felt that this mover must have been God. This argument is plausible in the sense that first we believe that nothing is able to move itself, second, it is true to predict that since objects need a mover to be in motion, then definitely the object which was first in motion had a mover. Thirdly, movement must have an end. We can thus conclude that the first mover must have probably been the Unmoved Mover, whom Aquinas called God. Aquinas believes that things are naturally at rest, movement is unnatural and hence external supernatural force is a prerequisite for such an occurrence (Beck, 2002, p.286).

Aquinas second way of proving Gods existence is referred to as Causation of Existence. Aquinas argues that nothing is able to create itself. Every object must have been created by another which had existed before it. Aquinas expressed the opinion that ultimately, UNCAUSED FIRST CAUSE, who was responsible for the existence of the rest of the things must have existed. This must probably have been God. This argument is also plausible in the sense that objects are created by other objects. It is an uncontested fact that no object is able to create itself. The chain of creators cannot be infinite. Hence Aquinas is correct in saying that the first cause who is uncaused must have been God (Beck, 2002, p. 287).

His third way of proving the existence of God was known as Contingent and Necessary Objects. This argument is sometimes known as the Modal Cosmological Argument. Aquinas classified beings in the universe as either being contingent or necessary. A contingent being only comes into existence, when it is caused by necessary being. Since contingent beings exist, then there must have been a necessary being that was responsible for the existent of the contingent beings. Aquinas feels that this contingent being must have been God. This argument is also plausible since, it is true that contingent beings must be caused. Also we believe that not all beings can be contingent. Since contingent beings are caused, there must be a being that must have been responsible for the existence of the contingent beings. The necessary being must have been God (Quinn, 2003, p.585).

His fourth way was referred to as The Argument from Degrees and Perfection. Aquinas based this argument on natural observations he had made. He realized that objects differ in terms of qualities such as beauty. He felt that all the qualities must have been measured from a perfect standard. He felt that such kind of perfection could only be in a supernatural being, God. His fifth argument has come to be referred to as The Argument from Intelligent Design. Aquinas based this argument on his observation of the universe and nature. He concluded that nature must have been designed by a very intelligent designer. This designer must have been supernatural, God. He ordered nature as well as life in a very intelligent manner. This is true when we take a keen look at the world around us we realize that there is some kind of order that must have been a result of perfect design (Beck, 2002, p.302).

A number of philosophers including Immanuel Kant have objected the existence of a necessary being as is concluded by cosmological argument. Kant felt that, when cosmological argument concludes that a necessary being exists, it can be deemed to be arguing that a being exists, whose inexistence cannot be conceived. This objection greatly undermines this argument as it seems to concur with the ontological argument. This being must be a perfect one as is the case with ontological arguments. Ontological argument has been realized to be defective hence, probably, cosmological argument, which concurs with it, is also defective (Quinn, 2003, p.587).

It is not a fact that cosmological argument borrows from ontological argument. These two arguments are confusedly linked. Necessary being as a term can be conceived differently. The objectors of this term seem to think of it as a logical necessary existence. They feel that this existence should be proved logically. The conceptions of necessary being in cosmological and ontological arguments are considerably different. In the context of cosmological argument, a necessary being can be described as one that must continue to exist if it exists or cannot be brought into existence if it is non-existence. This kind of being can thus possibly occur as the statement does not contradict itself (Quinn, 2003, p.588).

Dialect evaluation
This objection is very strong but not very successful as the response is stronger. The response severs the link that was being established between the ontological and cosmological theory. This argument is not refuted. The argument can be defended against any objection as has been the case in a very strong objection above. This argument is sound since it is able to conclusively address all the objections directed towards it.

St. Thomas Aquinas was able to come up with five arguments to prove the existence of God. Two of his proofs were based on his personal observation of the universe. He was able to prove that God existed. While this might be taken as a proof of the existence of God, it can still be argued. St. Thomas Aquinas went a long way into linking the attributes of the initial mover to those which were considered characteristics of God hence the initial mover must have been God. The attributes of the supreme religious being varies from religion to religion hence the attributes that St. Thomas Aquinas perceived to be Gods, may not exactly fit those assigned to God by other religions.


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