Does the Cosmological Argument Show There Is a God?

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  • Does the Cosmological Argument Show There Is a God?

    The cosmological argument starts with the existence of the universe and reasons to the existence of God as the best explanation of the universe. There are different forms of the argument. Two important versions are the Leibnizian and Thomist arguments, which are named, respectively, after Gottfried W. Leibniz (A.D. 1646-1716) and Thomas Aquinas (A.D. 1225-1274). In recent years a third version has become prominent and it may be the most effective of all: the kalam cosmological argument, which can be diagrammed as a series of alternatives.


    Beginning / No Beginning
    Caused / Uncaused
    Personal / Impersonal

    The defender of the argument tries to establish one horn of each dilemma and thus to argue for these three premises:
    1. The universe had a beginning.
    2. The beginning of the universe was caused.
    3. The cause of the beginning of the universe was personal.

    One philosophical argument for premise 1 involves the impossibility of creating an actual infinite number of events. For example, if you start counting 1, 2, 3, ..., then you could count forever and never reach a time when an actual infinite amount of numbers had been counted. Your counting could continue forever but would always be finite; that is, it would have some point of ending. If the universe had no beginning, then the number of events crossed to reach the present moment would be actually zero from negative infinity. Since one cannot have an actual infinite, then the present moment could never have arrived if the universe had no beginning. Since the present is real, it had to have been preceded by a finite past; therefore, there was a beginning or first event!

    One scientific argument for premise 1 derives from the second law of thermodynamics, which in one form states that the amount of useful energy in the universe is beginning used up. If the universe were indefinitely old, it would already have used up all its useful energy and have arrived at a temperature of absolute zero. Since there are many pockets of useful energy (for example, the sun), the universe must be finite in duration. Therefore, there was a beginning when the universe's useful energy was put into it "from the outside."

    Premise 2 is confirmed by universal experience with no clear counterexamples. Alleged cases where something comes from nothing actually involve on things coming into existence from something else (for example, lead from uranium).

    Evidence for premise 3 derives from the fact that since time, space, and matter did not exist earlier than the beginning of the universe, the universe's cause had to be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. This cause cannot be physical or subject to scientific law since all such causes presuppose time, space, and matter to exist. The universe's immaterial cause was timeless, spaceless, and had the power to spontaneously bring the world into existence without changing first to do so. (If it had to change before bringing the world into existence, then that change, not the act of bringing the world into existence, would be the first event.) Such a cause must have free will, and since only persons have free will, it is a personal Creator.
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