Arguments for and against the existence of God, Gods, and the supernatural realm have a long history in philosophy, religion, and even in science. Of course, part of the reason arguments for the existence of God rarely convince atheists and arguments against the existence of God rarely convince theists is that almost all of the arguments have a simple refutation. Some of these arguments may contain unstated premises or assumptions about the way the world works. Years of arguing with friends have taught me that arguing about God’s existence rarely yields anything but animosity. However, being aware of the philosophical tradition behind arguments about God’s existence can be very helpful in coming to terms with one’s own beliefs. In this series of articles, I’ve looked at several arguments for and against God’s existence. You can find some of the other articles by clicking this link. In this article, I’ll take a look at the Cosmological Argument for God’s existence.
What is the Cosmological Argument for God’s Existence?
The cosmological argument for God’s existence is perhaps one of the simplest arguments and, because of this simplicity, one of the most appealing. Simply put, the cosmological argument argues that something has to have caused the world to have come into existence. We call the something that did this God. Aristotle used this argument and referred to God as the “unmoved mover.” This argument can be formulated in many different ways, but one of the most popular is the argument from contingency. The argument from contingency, popularized by Aquinas, argues that it is possible that the world could have not existed. Therefore, because it does exist, something must have caused it to, and that something is God. In other words, the existence of the world is contingent upon God’s existence.
Many other religious philosophers have used varieties of the cosmological argument to prove God’s existence, including Leibiniz and C.S. Lewis.
Arguments against and Refutations of The Cosmological Argument for God’s Existence
Perhaps the simplest argument against the “first cause” argument can be formulated in a simple question: why did the first cause not require a cause? In other words, what caused God? The logic of the cosmological argument for God’s existence seems sound until one realizes that it easily falls apart according to its own logic.
Modern physics has also been used directly and indirectly against the cosmological argument. There are scientific explanations available that may explain, or partially explain, how the world came into existence. Thus many philosophers and scientists have argued that, applying Occam’s razor and choosing the simplest argument, one arrives at the conclusion that science has a better answer to this question.
Thomas Aquinas- Summa Contra Gentiles
Bertrand Russell- The History of Western Philosophy