Monday, February 9, 2009

Cosmological Arguments For God's Existence: Thomistic, Kalaam, and Leibnizian

In this post I will explain and defend three types of cosmological arguments: Thomistic, Kalaam, and Leibnizian.

Thomistic Cosmological Argument (Craig’s formulation)

P1: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (either in the necessity of its own nature or by a external cause)
P2: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
P3: The universe exists.
P4: The universe has an explanation of its existence.
C: Hence, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

Kalaam Cosmological Argument (Craig’s formulation with slight alterations)

P1: Everything that begins to exists has a cause
P2: The universe began to exist (universe = the set of all things that are material, in or are space, temporal, contingent)
P3: Therefore, the universe had a cause
C: Therefore, This cause was from a being that is immaterial, spaceless, atemporal (from the opposite of the properties of the universe).

Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

P1: Every contingent fact has an explanation
P2: Either a contingent fact is explained by an infinite regress or a necessary being
P3: It is false that every contingent fact is explained by an infinite regress (Ockham’s razor)
P4: A contingent fact exit
C: Hence, there is a contingent fact that is explained by a Necessary Being

This is a general exposition of questions that help demonstrate the soundness and validity of all three of the cosmological arguments that I gave above.

Do things need a cause or an explanation?

The fact that 1) things that begin to exist need a cause, or that everything that exists needs an explanation: either an explanation of 2) reason or 3) a cause is largely justified on the basis of a priori knowledge, that is to say our intuitions. If one rejects 1 then as Jonathan Edwards argued, it is hard explain how anything and everything just does not pop into existence uncaused out of nothing. Moreover, if someone did not believe 1 would they really expect that at any passing moment that a giant elephant could pop out of no where uncaused out of nothing? I think that no one really thinks that these sorts of states of affairs are possibly reasonable to believe but if one rejects 1 then it is certainly possibly reasonable that those states of affairs occur.

2 and 3 also seem more reasonable than not, suppose you were walking through the forest with a friend and you came across a large floating translucent ball. Would you think it reasonable if your friend said it is just there without any sort of reason and a cause? I would think not. But let us suppose that the ball were as big as the United States, would it still need a reason and a cause? I would think so. What about if the ball were as big as the entire universe? I am sure you get the picture. It seems more reasonable than not that those things that are contingent, that is things that could or could not exists need an explanation and a cause. Thus it seems like 1,2, 3 are all reasonable assumptions; 1 would be used for the kalaam, 2 for the Leibnizian, and 3 for the Thomistic.

It should be noted that necessary things have to exist and as a result they do not begin to exist so do not need a cause nor do they need a explanation as to why they exist because they just have to exist.

Here are the differences between contingent and necessary truths:

NP: 1+1=2

CP: There is a cat on the mat

It seems that NP is a necessary truth and needs no explanation or cause, but CP is a contingent truth and needs a cause (if it begins to exist) or an explanation as to why it is.

Why cannot there be an infinite regress of causes or explanations?

I think this point will aid all cosmological arguments in their reasonableness. The reason why one ought to prefer a necessary stopping point in causes and explanations rather than an infinite regress of causes and explanations is because the necessary stopping point is more in accordance with Ockham’s razor, that is to say it is simpler and it does not posit entities beyond necessity.

So if we are looking at these two propositions in an argument it should be obvious which one is more reasonable than not:

P1: There is a necessary being that gives a cause and an explanation to everything

P2: There is an infinite regress that gives a cause and an explanation to every members of its set.

P1 ought to be always epistemologically preferred over P2 because it is simpler and admits fewer unnecessary entities into ones metaphysics. Thus, I conclude that the objectors to the cosmological argument who try to use P2 as a defeater are no longer warranted in using this defeater.

Must the cause be personal?

If the being were necessary and impersonal then it would cause the universe out of a necessity of it’s own nature, but the world is contingent and as a result the necessary being would have to choose between creating and not creating and only personal agents can choose between A and non-A.

Why cannot there be many gods involved as in polytheism?

It is in accordance with Ockam’s razor that there is one sufficiently powerful and intelligent being that explains and causes everything rather than many necessary beings that explain everything.

So if one were to choosing between these to propositions one would be more reasonable than not:

S1: There is one being such that he is sufficiently powerful and intelligent enough to cause and explain all contingent facts.

S2: There are many beings such that they are sufficiently powerful and jointly intelligent enough to cause and explain all contingent facts.

It seems clear that S1 is much more in accordance with the simplest explanation that does not admit as many unnecessary entities into ones ontology. Thus, it seems that S1 is more reasonable than S2.

What caused or explains God?

God is Necessary and never beings to exist and as such he requires neither cause nor explanation.

The big bang theory helps:

The big band theory is the reigning theory in cosmology. This teaches us that the universe began a finite time ago at the start at the initial singularity. Thus, this line of scientific evidence supports all three of the cosmological arguments because it shows the universe began to exist and thus is in fact contingent.

Concluding Remarks:

Therefore, because of all of these considerations it seems as if all three cosmological arguments are more reasonable to believe rather than not. This suggests that it is more reasonable to believe in a first cause or a necessary being “et hoc omnes intelligent Deum” (“and all understand this to be God”).

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