What Is The Cosmological Argument?
This written article is for those who haven’t yet been exposed to what is called the cosmological argument in particular and hopefully I’ll get you, my reader, acquainted with the argument.
What is the Cosmological argument? Well, let me put my answer in this way; the cosmological argument argues for the existence of a Being such as God and it tries to demonstrate that because something exists there must be someone who caused the material universe to exist.
Christian philosopher W. David Beck wrote,
The term cosmological argument refers to a whole class of arguments or patterns of thinking that have in common the conclusion that God is real because the things we see around us never exist unless something makes them exist. [To Everyone An Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview, IVP p. 95 ch.6]
In addition,” the cosmological argument is a family of arguments that seek to demonstrate the existence of a Sufficient Reason or First Cause of the existence of the cosmos.” [J.P Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview, IVP, P.465]
In other words, without a cause (such as God) there would be no effect such as the existence of the universe.
Someone might object at this very moment, “what if the universe came into existence by its own (as proposed recently by a well-known physicist Stephen Hawking), hence no need in explaining that God (s) caused it in the process?” This is a valid objection, but very misleading.
Let me explain why. Did the universe caused itself into existence from nothing? Did the cosmos (space, gas, helium, dust, fire, stars, hydrogen etc,) just popped out into existence? Hmm. A universe that came from nothing is highly improbable and impossible therefore the proposition itself is mere blind-faith! As far as I know, no one or nobody has produced nothing into something or have you?
Creationist, Jonathan Sarfati explains how irrational and illogical it is to believe in a self-creating universe, “However, logic doesn’t seem to be his strong point; ‘self-creation’ is self-contradictory. Something can do something—including create—only if it exists; something not yet existing has no power to do anything, including create itself.”¹
Remember the good old maxim? “nothing comes from nothing” or “nothing cannot produce something” is far more consistent and scientifically true.
The universe could not have come into existence out from nothing since nothing (by its definition) cannot cause something into effect. Pretty easy isn’t it? So, if nothing (nada) cannot cause something to exist such as the universe, then there must be a being; a necessary being that cause something to exist.
Also, the cosmological argument tries to show that the effect such as the universe is not a necessary being and therefore there must be a prime cause.
To put this quite simple, the cosmological argument is to prove that the universe was caused by some agent that was neither part of the universe nor itself was caused.
Leibniz once ask this question, “why is there something rather than nothing?” in which the cosmological argument try to to give a cogent, reasonable answer.
Three Types of Cosmological Arguments
The Kalam Cosmological Argument
The Kalam cosmological argument may be formulated as follows:
A) Whatever begins to exist has a cause,
B) The Universe began to exist
C) Therefore, the universe has a cause
The first premise (A) seems logical and reasonably consistent since, as I mentioned earlier, something cannot come into existence purely from nothing. If anyone says otherwise, let him or her explain to you first hand how something can come from nothing otherwise let that person be or you’ll just end-up unreasonable like him/her!
Our second premise (B) shows and confirms the fundamental law of science: the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which affirms that the universe is running out of usable energy, and therefore, the universe, cannot have existed in infinity.
Other supportive evidence is affirmed most by astrophysicists that the universe has a beginning, and that the universe is expanding. Other philosophical argument for a beginning can be formulated as follows,
A) If an infinite number of moments occurred before now, then now would never have come, since it is impossible to traverse an infinite number of moments.
B) But now has come.
C) Hence, there was a finite number of moments before now; the universe had a beginning.²
Thomistic Cosmological Argument
Thomistic cosmological argument owes its origin to a philosopher theologian Thomas av Aquinas (1225 – 7 March 1274) . His “Five Ways” arguments for the existence of the ‘first cause’ or ‘unmoved-mover’ which we call God goes something like this,
The Argument From Motion: Motion is an effect and as such, needs a cause. This mean to say, whatever is moved must in turn be moved by another agent. This chain of one thing moving another that moves another cannot be regress infinitely. There cannot be an infinite regress of movers. First Mover, there can be no chain of motion, since all chain of motion depends on prior movers for its motions.
The Argument from Efficient Cause: Everything that comes into existence owes its existence to something else. We cannot cause ourselves to exist. Therefore, there must be a first cause, efficient Cause of all efficient causality in the world and this Cause is what Christians call God.
The Argument from Possibility and Necessity: It is possible for God to exist without the existence of the universe, but it is impossible for the universe to exist without God. It is possible that beings that began to exists would cease to exist since they are possible beings. But not all can be possible beings (such as you and me), because what come to exist does so only through what already exists. Nothing cannot cause something (remember?). Therefore, there must be a Being whose existence is necessary, one that never came into being (self created) and will never cease to be. Again, there cannot be an infinite regress of Necessary Beings each of which has its necessity dependent on another because an infinite regress of dependent causes is impossible. A Necessary Being cannot be a dependent being.
The Argument from Gradiation (perfection in things): The argument goes, There is a gradation to be found in things: some are better or worse than others. Or since not all are perfect or less perfect, there must, therefore exist a perfect Being that is causing the perfections of the less-than-perfect beings.
The Argument For a First Cause of Being: This argument is quite simple. Since there cannot be an infinite causes from being to another being, there must be a final explanation for our existence. Therefore, there must be an independent, first uncaused Cause of the existence of every dependent being. And this independent Being is what Christians call God.
The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument
The argument comes from a German philosopher and mathematician, Gottfried W Leibniz. Leibniz proposed a question, “The first question which should rightly be asked is this: why is there something rather than nothing?”
The argument runs as follows:
- Every existing thing has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
- If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
- The universe is an existing thing.
- Therefore the explanation of the universe is God.
What does the Bible say about the cosmological argument? The Scripture is pretty clear the universe has a beginning and that He created it, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1). “. . .the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him.”
The Bible also informs us that the LORD, is the everlasting God (Genesis 21:33) “The LORD made the heavens” (1 Chronicles 16:26). If we read our Scripture its written words teaches us that God is not Himself a physical part of the universe. 2 Chronicles 2:6 states: is eternal and infinite. “His mighty power rules forever” (Psalm 66:7). The Bible teaches very clearly that God is the uncaused First Cause who created the universe by literally speaking it into existence.
Resources and Recommended reading___________________________________
2. Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, p. 399 Baker Books
Doug Powell, Guide To Christian Apologetics, Holman Reference.