Philosophy Word of the Day – Cosmological Arguments

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Cosmological arguments (from cosmos + logos: world + argument) are theistic arguments that have historically played an important role in natural theology.  The arguments attempt to infer from the existence of contingent (able to not exist) facts, events, or beings, “a first cause . . .  or a personal being (God).”

Since everything that exists depends for its existence on something else, and because this series of causes and effects can’t be infinite, the chain must end with something whose existence does not require an explanation.  Natural theologians argue that this is God.

Versions of the argument go back to Plato (Laws) and Aristotle (Physics and Metaphysics) and have been defended by Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), al-Ghāzāli (1058-1111), and Bonaventure (1221-74).

William Lane Craig distinguishes three different arguments under this umbrella, each with different emphases: the Leibnizian, the Thomist, and the kalam.

Notable critics have included David Hume and Immanuel Kant, and more recently Michael Martin, Quentin Smith, and Graham Oppy.

Modern proponents of various versions include Robert Koons, William Lane Craig, and Richard Swinburne.

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