The cosmological argument or first cause argument "is a philosophical argument for the existence of God which explains that everything has a cause, that there must have been a first cause, and that this first cause was itself uncaused."
Kalam cosmological argument
The aim of this argument is to show that the universe had a beginning in the finite past. The argument battles against the existence of an infinite regression of past events which implies a universe that has infinitely existed. This argument implies the existence of a First Cause.
The form of the argument is:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Note that the key phrase here is "begins to exist". The question is not "whatever exists".
The atheistic counter argument has traditionally been to point 2, taking the position that the universe has always existed. It should also be noted that the Kalam argument removes one of the knee jerk reactions to any discussion on creation involving God which is "Then who created God?" Since God has no beginning, the question becomes meaningless. The Bible makes clear that God exists outside of our construct of time in many locations, including 1 Corinthians 2:7, 2 Timothy 1:9, and Titus 1:2.
Thomas Aquinas and the cosmological argument
- What we observe in this universe is contingent (i.e. dependent, or conditional)
- A sequence of causally related contingent things cannot be infinite
- The sequence of causally dependent contingent things must be finite
Conclusion: There must be a first cause in the sequence of contingent causes
Leibnizian cosmological argument
The argument comes from a German polymath, Gottfriend Wilhelm Leibniz. Leibniz wrote, "The first question which should rightly be asked is this: why is there something rather than nothing?"
The argument runs as follows:
- Every existing thing has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
- If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
- The universe is an existing thing.
- Therefore, the explanation of the universe is God.
Some atheists object to premise 2 in that God does not have to be the explanation, but that the universe can be what is called a necessary being (one which exists of its own nature and have no external cause). This was a suggestion of David Hume who demanded, "Why may not the material universe be the necessarily existent being?" (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, part 9). The Kalam Cosmological Argument is helpful. If Hume (and other atheists) is right in saying that the universe is a necessary being/thing, then this implies that the universe is eternal. This is exactly what the Kalam argument seeks to disprove. Thus, the Kalam is a valuable supplement to the Leibnizian argument.
- Cosmological argument, AllAboutPhilosophy