Arguments for the existence of God have taken many forms over the centuries. At stake are the answers to the ultimate questions of life: Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? And why does it matter anyway? With those questions in mind, I will take the next several posts to overview some of the key traditional arguments for the existence of God.
THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
The Argument from Contingency provides the basis for all cosmological arguments. Formally stated, the argument states that things exist; it is possible for those things to not exist; whatever does not necessarily exist has been caused to exist; there cannot be an infinite regress of causes; therefore, there must be an uncaused cause. One can posit steady-state theory, alternative universes, or an infinite regress of causes as alternatives, but ultimately one comes back to the contingency of all that can be observed in a closed universe.
The Cosmological Argument itself seeks to address the originating cause and the conserving cause of the universe. It can be traced back to Plato, who argued that the existence of motion implies a self-originated motion. Aristotle also believed there was an Unmoved Mover who set the matter in motion. This is the horizontal, or kalamargument, since it discusses the beginning of the universe rather than the nature of its existence.
The kalam argument was further developed by the Muslim philosophers Alfarabi and Avicenna (kalam is Arabic for “eternal”). Alfarabi first articulated that there are beings whose very nature requires existence. Avicenna went on to explain that the First Cause of the universe must be one of Alfarabi’s necessary beings.
Thomas Aquinas developed the quinque viae, or five proofs of God, three of which are cosmological. Aquinas argued that since every being is either dependent or self-existent, and not every being can be dependent, there must exist a self-existent being, or an uncaused cause. He also used the Argument from Motion, which states that since things in motion cannot start themselves, and there cannot be an infinite regression of movers, there must be an Unmoved Mover. Closely related to this is the argument from Efficient Causality, which says there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. If everything were contingent, then there must have been a time when nothing existed, since contingent beings do not require existence; therefore, since one cannot get something from nothing, there must be a Necessary Being.
In Monologion, Anselm used degrees of perfection to argue that good things that exist must come from a Supreme Good; in his most cosmological approach, he argued that since things exist, they owe their existence to something, which must be a One that is necessary and perfect.
Descartes later revived the Cosmological Argument, breaking it into two parts. His first argument states that the idea of God is within me; there must be a cause that put it there; the causal chain cannot be infinite; therefore, there must be an uncaused cause.
Descartes second argument stated that either the cause of this idea is the individual or something else. It is not the individual, because individuals do not possess the highest degree of perfection; therefore, the cause of the idea of God is another being which possesses the highest degree of reality – i.e, God.
Critics of the Cosmological Argument have pointed out several problems with this argument. First, this empirically-based argument eventually offers a non-empirical Cause. Second, Democritus suggested that motion (and therefore matter) could be eternal; in other words, causal processes could be infinite.
Proponents respond that if the eternality of motion implies an eternality of the created world, the universe would already have fallen apart based upon entropy as explained in the Second Law of Thermodynamics. There cannot be unlimited age, size, or an infinite regress of universes (the Steady-State Theory) for these reasons. Therefore, there must be a non-empirical, uncaused cause outside the realm of nature.
Other proponents of this argument address the continuation rather than the cause of the universe: “It is enough that there is a world.” The very question of why there is something rather than nothing has yet to be answered by critics. As Dr. Michael Sudduth has pointed out, “The Cosmological Argument may simply be arguing that the universe, whether finite or infinite in age, must have a (sustaining) cause for its existence. Why does anything exist at all?”
 Geisler, Norman. “Cosmological Argument.” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002), 161.
 Reese, William R. “St. Thomas Aquinas.” Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion. (Amherst: Humanity Books, 1999).
 Geisler “Cosmological Argument,” 160.
 Catudel, Dr. Jacque N. “Descarte’s Version of the Cosmological Argument.” Drexel University, PHIL 391-001: Philosophy of Religion. 2003. Internet. Available from www.catudal.org/cosmological.htm. Accessed April 23, 2003.
 “The Cosmological Argument.” Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. 2002. Internet. Available from www.carm.org/apologetics/cosmological.htm. Accessed April 23, 2003.
 Paul Edwards, ed. “Cosmological Argument.” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Volume 2. (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1967), 232.
 Sudduth, Dr. Michael. “Why Does the Universe Exist?” 2003.Internet. Accessed May 23, 2003. Available from www.homestead.com/philofreligion/files/CosmologicalArgument.html.