Church Education Trust

Christian Belief



The Cosmological Arguement.

This is so called because it attempts to explain the "Cosmos" or universe. It is sometimes also called the aetiological or causal argument. Thomas Aquinas in his Five Ways made these two distinct arguments, but they are so closely connected that it is better to take them together.

The argument is based on the Law of causation. Every finite phenomenon mast have a cause. Wiley states it as follows:

l.  Every event or change must have a sufficient and prexisting cause.

2. The universe consists of a system of changes.

3. Therefore, there must be a self-existent and necessary Being as the cause of these events and changes." He uses the following passages to give Scriptural support to the argument -. "Every house is builded by some man, but he that built all things is God (Heb.3:4); "And thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands" (Heb.l'10); "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God." (Ps.90.2), (Intro.p.78).

Put more simply still the argument is as follows - Every event has a cause, the universe is an event, therefore the universe has a cause. The word "cause" is here used in two different ways. In the premise it refers to the type of cause which is the result of a preceding cause, but in the conclusion it refers to the "First Cause' i.e. an uncaused cause of all.

The expression "First Cause" is ambiguous also in another sense. It can denote merely the event which comes first in time in a causal series of events. Thus we may say that the fall of a spark is the cause of a fire or that the explosion in a gas main is the cause of the destruction of several buildings.

On the other hand "First Cause" may denote the explanation of a process or series of events i.e. that which is the reason, ground and purpose of all that follows. In this sense man's appreciation of music is the "first cause"of the making, remodelling and perfecting of pianos and organs.

It is in this sense that God is the "First Cause" of the universe. He it is who gives meaning and purpose to all. The Christian holds that there must be Someone, some great "First Cause", who is behind everything and who gives to it its final purpose.

The alternative to the argument from the Law of Causation is to state that matter is eternal. But, if matter is eternal, there is difficulty in accounting for mind; While there can be no motion without matter, yet mind is vastly superior and has itself the power of inducing motion. If, therefore, we grant eternity to matter this means that we have an effect greater than its cause. Another objection to matter being eternal is the fact that it is subject to change. It seems hardly possible that that which is subject to change can be eternal.

The Cosmological Argument is far from conclusive in itself. It goes no further than showing that there must be an uncaused First Cause, but of its nature it says nothing. It could be nothing but the cold Absolute of philosophy. Because mind is superior to matter, it at least seems to show that the First Cause must be Mind otherwise matter could not exist.

2.The Teleological Arguement.

The word is derived from a Greek word, "telos!'meaning "end, design, purpose, perfection". The argument is one from design. It states that we cannot conceive of anything where there is plan, design, and purpose without likewise conceiving the necessity of intelligence behind it.

While there may be a few things which seem to point to the contrary, there is abundant evidence in the universe of design and adaptation, e.g. the laws of gravity and force, the building processes in organic forms., the adaptation of man and animal life to the atmosphere and fish to the sea' the adaptation of the eye and the ear to their respective purposes etc. There appear to be only two alternatives, either behind everything there is an intelligent being, or an impersonal universe has a power equal to intelligence.

It seems no more conceivable that chance or "natural selection" could produce the universe, the earth and its accompanying life than that, should the required letters of the alphabet be propelled into the skies, they would return to the earth in the form of the works of Shakespeare or Darwints "Origin of Species".

Prof.Waterhouse expressed a similar idea in the following words, "The celebrated remark that six monkeys strumming intelligently on typewriters could granted cosmic millions of years, produce all the books in the British Museum, would on the laws of probability require so many millions that the whole age of the universe would be utterly insufficient for them to produce the merest fraction of a single book with absolute correctness.

Much less can the time during which life has been upon the earth be enough to account for all the adaptations of Nature by mere 'chance' variation. Indeed any who can believe this, must be capable of believing in something beside which the whole of the Arabian Nights would appear as a simple and credible narrative." (Philosophical Approach to Religion p.86).




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