The cosmological argument is considered a posterior, which derives the conclusion that God exists from a posterior premise because it is based on what can be seen in the world and the universe. The cosmological argument for the existence of God is based on a belief that there is a first cause of the existence of the universe. Aquinas had a theory for the cosmological argument, where he opposed five ways for the existence of God. However one will primarily focus on the first three ways which are, motion, causes, and contingency.
Many individuals may argue that the cosmological argument fails to provide concrete information about the existence of God. According to Aquinas yes, the cosmological arguments first three ways does provide a good reason for believing in God. Aquinas believed there were features of the real world that contained evidence enough to show that God did indeed exist.
Aquinas developed the five ways to prove the existence of God. The first three ways happen to be motion, cause, and contingency, which support the existence of God. Aquinas main argument for God can be seen as nothing came from nothing, yet the universe does exist; so how did the universe come from nothing?, there must be something that made the universe happen, that something is God. The first way is motion; motion is evident in our sense that whatever is moved must be moved by something else, and what was moved by something else is also moved by something. Anything in the process of change is being changed by something else. The sequence of motion cannot extend infinitely (for needs an infinite motion that is not purely actual needs to be moved). Therefore, there must be a first mover. An example of motion happens to be waves/ocean, which is the process of actualization; always needing potential that rises from something.
Aristotle also comments on motion by stating that, “nothing can be going through a process of actualization because something outside of it has to be actualizing it and so on and so forth. Furthermore, the second way happens to be cause; the cause is considered as everything we experience has an effect, resulting from a prior cause. This is somewhat similar to the first argument, this argument states that nothing causes itself to be. Everything in the world has a cause, and that nothing can cause itself to exist. Aquinas rejects infinite regression, the chain of cause and effect cannot go back in time for infinity, there must be a start point, which causes the universe to exist; causes are prior to their effects. If the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series would exist. It is logical to think that God caused the universe to come into existence. God is the uncaused cause of the universe.
Moreover, the third way is contingency; contingency is the possibility of things being and not being. In nature, one finds contingency when things come to be and cease to be and possibly might exist. Each contingent thing has a time at which it fails to exist. So, if everything were contingent, there would be a time at which nothing exists. If the world were empty at one time, it would be empty forever after; but clearly, the world is not empty. So, there exists a being who is not contingent. One is simply forced to come to a conclusion that there must exist a being which is not simply possible but required from which everything has come into existence.
This being does not owe its existence to anything, but must exist in order for anything else to exist, so from this God exists.There are individuals that would agree with David Hume the author of A Critique of Cosmological Arguments, where he goes by one by one of Aquinas five ways and criticizes how it fails to provide enough information that God exists. Hume states, “how can anything that exists from eternity have a cause?” (Hume 2). Hume questioned the idea that everything has a cause; he said that as humans we assume that every event has a cause, but we cannot prove this. One, therefore, makes assumptions about cause and effect which can be mistaken. One’s minds have developed a habit of seeing causes and automatically associating a cause with them.
He says it is therefore incorrect to move from stating that everything in the universe has a cause to the universe itself has a cause. Hume also argues that even if we accept that the universe must have a cause, there is no solid evidence for assuming that this cause must be the Christian God. For example, this idea of cause and effect could have been established by a group of the divine begins. Nevertheless, Aquinas disapproves of Hume’s critique of the second way not being sufficient enough to support God’s existence. The uncaused causer is the idea of cause and effect. In the second way, the causer produces the existence of the thing. Aquinas says, “in the world of sensible things we find there is an order of efficient causes.
” From this one can see that all things have a cause and nothing can be its own cause. Therefore, if we trace causes back far enough, there must be a first cause. An infinite chain of causes is rejected because if not, there would be no first cause. According to Aquinas, this is what we understand to be God, therefore, the first cause of all does exist; and the second way does provide sufficient support for the existence of God.
Furthermore, several other individuals will also disapprove Aquinas third way of contingency; in support that it does not provide a sufficient amount of God’s existence. As it is known Aquinas third way, contingency focuses on possibility and necessity. The world consists of contingent beings, which at one time did not exist. Contingent beings depend upon something else for their existence. As there are contingent beings now, there must be something non-contingent, or necessary being. Necessary beings start with if they exist; beings which are not dependent on anything else for existence. If at one point everything did not exist, there would have been nothing in existence, since there would be nothing that could bring anything into existence.
For Aquinas, this what it is understood to be God, a necessary being. Nonetheless, individuals would believe that the third way fails to support the existence of God. In Paul Edwards article A Critique of the Cosmological Argument, he states, “quote” From this, Edwards belief is that the notion of a necessary being is problematic. Simply there could not be so many necessary beings. Only one God could explain the universe, and the principle of simplicity it brings. Also, there cannot be a necessary being because one’s physical existence is the only existence possible.
Yet, Aquinas strongly believes that individuals should also support his third way for the existence of God since it proves that nothing comes from nothing, but something exists. There must be at least one thing impossible not to exist, and that one thing must not get its necessity from something else. God is an exception, he has a special form of existence being transcendent and eternal. This covers the issue of infinite regression and shows how God is unique.
All contingent things need a cause, an infinite regression of contingent things is not possible; therefore, there must be a necessary being. God is the only “thing” possible to be able to understand why something has come into existence.