Philosophy Answer Writing Practice 2018 - Week 8 - Question 3
90 Days Philosophy Answer Writing Practice Question 1 for 02-Jan-2019
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02-Jan-2019 - Question 1
Compare and contrast the different forms of cosmological argument for the existence of God (2017)
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The cosmological argument is a philosophical argument that is based on looking at evidence in the world around us. In this argument the God is supposed to be the first and prime cause of the world. However, it is an inductive and a-posteriori argument.
It is based on the Law of Causation, that every effect has a cause and to avoid the infinite regress that may be caused if we proceed in the direction of cause, we have to believe that there must be FIRST CAUSE / PRIME CAUSE who can be named as God, who is not-physical, not time bound and not-caused, rather is spiritual, eternal and necessary.
Saint Thomas Acquinas in his book SummaTheologica, systematically presents five cosmological arguments, in which three are the most important—
- Argument based on MOTION:
In order to explain the cause of motion of the objects of the world, the fallacy of infinite regress will occur. To escape from this fallacy, we have to believe that there is an ultimate mover of the world who is unmoved in it, who is also named as “God”. This argument is also provided by early Greek philosopher Aristotle.
Criticism: Only a moving object can move the other, so the concept of Unmoved mover is self-contradictory. However, even if the concept of unmoved mover as the ultimate cause of the motion is proved, that may not satisfy the religious feelings.
2. Argument based on CAUSE:
This argument is also known as First cause argument. It goes as follows, There are things that are caused, these things require something else to cause them and this chain of causation cannot go back forever. There must exist an uncaused cause, who is God.
Criticism: The weakness of the argument as Acquinas himself acknowledges elsewhere lies in the difficulty of excluding as impossible an endless regress of events, requiring no first state.
3. Argument based on CONTINGENCY:
This argument is also known as the argument based on Eventuality. This is supported by thinks like Descartes, Leibnitz. It argues, Everything in the world, all the objects are contingent, i.e., it is true of each object that it might not have existed at all or might have existed differently, hence they are dependent beings on some necessary, eternal, non-contingent, permanent existence which we call as God.
Criticism: Acquinas’s reference to a hypothetical time where nothing existed, that entails to the existence of something permanent on which every contingent being depends to exist, weakens the strength of his argument. As the possibility of an infinite series of finite contingent events overlapping in time so that no moment occurs that is not occupied by any of them, is not ruled out in his argument.
Kalam’s Cosmological Argument:
It was popularized by William Lane Craig highlighting the medieval Islamic scholastics Al-Khinali and Al-Ghazali.
Craig in his The Kalam Cosmological Argument, formulates a brief syllogism as follows, [Wikipedia]
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause. (this eliminates the infinite regress critique)
- The Universe began to exist. (For example, Big Bang)
- The Universe has a cause.
- If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful;
- An uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and infinitely powerful.
Criticisms: Here, the argument according to Craig, points to a personal theist God, a creator who chose to create, however, according to Hobbes and Locke it only leads to a Deist God. Further, J.L. Mackie has taken the issue with the first premise, he says why should it be supposed absolutely everything which begins to exist has a cause for its beginning to exist?
In total, Cosmological argument has been met with criticism from many philosophers,
Betrand Russell says, The existence of Universe is a brute fact and needs no explanation. David Hume criticizes the cause-effect relationship, says, the necessary relation between cause and effect is invalid and may lead to illusions. Immanuel Kant also says, law of causation is applicable only upto the phenomenal/material world and not the noumena.