by Matt Slick
The Cosmological Argument attempts to prove that God exists by showing that there cannot be an infinite number of regressions of causes to things all things that exist. In other words, there cannot be an infinite number of causes that goes back in time forever. Basically, this would mean there was no first cause, and without a first cause, there is no second, or third, or fourth, etc. In order to get to now. Therefore, it states that there must be a final uncaused cause of all things. This uncaused cause is God.
The Cosmological Argument takes several forms, but a basic structure is represented below.
- Things exist.
- It is possible for those things to not exist.
- Whatever has the possibility of non-existence, yet exists, has been caused to exist.
- Something cannot bring itself into existence since it must exist to bring itself into existence, which is illogical.
- There cannot be an infinite number of causes to bring something into existence.
- An infinite regression of causes ultimately has no initial cause, which means there is no cause of existence.
- Since the universe exists, it must have a cause.
- Therefore, there must be an uncaused cause of all things.
- The uncaused cause must be God.
Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) had a version of the Cosmological Argument called the Argument from Motion. He stated that things in motion could not have brought themselves into motion but must be caused to move. There cannot be an infinite regression of movers. Therefore, there must be an Unmoved Mover. This Unmoved Mover is God.
Strengths of the argument
The strengths of the Cosmological Argument lie in both its simplicity and easily comprehensible concept that there cannot be an infinite number of causes to an event. Some arguments for God's existence require more thought and training in terms and concepts, but this argument is basic and straightforward. Also, it is perfectly logical to assert that objects do not bring themselves into existence and must, therefore, have causes.
Weaknesses of the argument
One of the weaknesses of the argument is that if all things need a cause to exist, then God Himself must also, by definition, need a cause to exist. But this only pushes causation back and implies that there must be an infinite number of causes, which cannot be.
But, it would be true that if the statement is offered "All things that exist must have a cause, then God would need a cause," would be true. But, is it true that "all things that exist must have a cause"? We do not know that, and this would necessitate an infinite regression of causes which is logically impossible.
The correct issue would be all things that came into existence must have a cause. God did not come into existence. God has always existed. So, the cosmological argument works for the Christian.
- Douglas, J.D. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1978.
- Frame, John. Apologetics to the Glory of God, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1994.
- Geisler, Norman. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1999.
- _____. Christian Apologetics, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976.
- Runes, Dagobert D. Dictionary of Philosophy, New York, NY: Philosophical Library, 1942.