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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does the God of the Bible Exist?

Don Stewart :: What Is the Cosmological Argument for God's Existence?

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What Is the Cosmological Argument for God’s Existence? (The Argument from Contingency, or First Cause)

Does the God of the Bible Exist? – Question 5

How can someone know that God exists? Can anyone be certain that the idea of God is not just something that humanity has invented? We cannot see God, touch Him, or hear Him? We cannot prove God’s existence by any mathematical formula. If this is the case, then how do we know that He truly exists?

The Traditional Arguments for the Existence of God

Although the Bible itself does not give specific arguments for God’s existence, we do find that God has left His fingerprints everywhere. Consequently, there have been a number of arguments that have been brought forward to show that the existence of God is consistent with the facts as we know them. These are known as the traditional or classical arguments for God’s existence. These arguments have come from both Christians and non-Christians. We will examine them one by one. The first one we will consider is the cosmological argument.

The Cosmological Argument

The cosmological argument is also known as the argument from contingency. Basically, it says that the existence of the world requires a Supreme Being to account for it. This argument can be summed up as follows.

1. Every Effect Has a Cause

The word “cosmology” comes from the Greek word kosmos that means, “an orderly arrangement.” The cosmological argument argues that there must be a sufficient cause, or a reason, for the universe (cosmos) at is now stands. Our minds are made in such a way that we must believe in causes. We see that every effect has a cause.

2. The Universe Is an Effect, a Supreme Being, or God, Must Be the First Cause

The universe is not self-existent, it is an effect. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that there must be some first cause that originally brought the universe into existence. This first or uncaused cause must be God. Since the world does exist, and something caused it to exist, the cause is God. Something that is as great and majestic as the universe must have been caused by something equally as great. This is the cosmological argument.

The Argument Must Be Correctly Understood

This cosmological argument must be correctly presented and understood. Indeed, at times it is presented and discussed in an imprecise manner.

It is not saying that everything in the universe must have a cause. If stated that way, then God must have something which caused Him to exist. However, this is not what the cosmological argument is saying.

Instead, what this argument is saying is that everything in the universe that is finite, or limited, or that came into existence at a certain point in time has a cause. All of these things are effects which were caused by something or someone.

However, with this proper definition of the argument, it rules out God as being an effect. Indeed, He is infinite and He is eternal. He has always existed and He has no limits. Therefore, He is not included in the definition that everything in the universe must have a cause. This part of the cosmological argument must be properly understood.

Strengths of the Cosmological Argument

The strengths of the cosmological argument can be listed as follows.

1. It Fits What We Know about the Universe

The cosmological argument fits what we know about the nature of things in the universe. The law of cause and effect operates everywhere.

2. It Would Take a Cause as Great as God to Bring about the Universe

In addition, the cosmological argument proves whatever caused the universe must be something, or someone, very great. The cause must be as powerful as the effect.

The Weaknesses of the Cosmological Argument

While the cosmological argument shows the need for some cause to bring about the effect of the universe, there are a number of weaknesses in the argument. The weaknesses in the cosmological argument are as follows.

1. This First Cause May Have Been Something Impersonal

We do not know whether this cause that brought the universe about was some type of impersonal matter, or a personal being. It can be argued that something impersonal could have brought the universe into existence. We are not forced to assume it must be some personal being.

Even if it were a supreme being who created the universe, it is not necessary the God of the Bible. Indeed, it may be some other God or the work of many gods. We have no way of knowing this from merely looking at the universe.

2. The Cause May Have Been Something in the Universe, Not Apart from It

The cosmological argument cannot prove whether this cause was something that exists apart from the universe, or something that is part of the universe. It is possible that something inside, not outside, of the universe caused it to come about.

3. The Cause of the Universe May Be Finite, Not Infinite

We do not know if the cause for the universe is infinite or finite. From the universe itself, there is no way to determine the nature of the cause.

4. There Could Have Been Many Causes to Bring about the Universe

We do not know whether there was only one cause or many causes that brought about the universe. Either is possible. We just do not know.

Therefore, the cosmological argument has its weaknesses as well as its strengths.

Summary — Question 5
What Is the Cosmological Argument for God’s Existence? (The Argument from Contingency or First Cause)

The cosmological argument has been a popular way to argue for God’s existence. Basically it recognizes that every effect has a cause. Since the universe is an effect, something or someone must have caused it. That cause is said to be God. This is a short summary of the cosmological argument.

Unhappily, the cosmological argument has been often been imprecisely stated. It does not say that everything in the universe must have a cause. If one argues in this manner then God Himself must have been caused by something.

However, this is not what the cosmological argument is saying. Instead, it claims that everything in the universe which is limited or finite or came into being at a certain point in time had something or someone to cause it. This definition of the argument rules out God as being something which was caused. God is not an effect. He is eternal and infinite. He has always existed and He is without limits. Thus, we cannot put Him in the same category as the various effects we see in the universe. By definition, God did not need anything to cause Him to exist.

While the cosmological argument does fit the evidence as we know it also has its weaknesses.

For one thing, we do not know that it was a personal being which caused the universe to come into existence. From the universe itself there is no way of knowing who or what caused it to come into being.

Furthermore, the universe may have been caused from something in it, not from something apart from it. Again, from observing the universe as it now stands we are not able to determine whether the cause was from within or without.

In addition, whatever the cause might be, it does not have to be something infinite. There could possibly be some other cause rather than appealing to an infinite God.

Finally, we should not necessarily assume that only one cause brought about the universe. It is possible that there could have been many causes to bring about the universe as we know it.

Therefore, while the observable universe is consistent with the idea of a supreme Being who created it, the cosmological argument does not make this being necessary. There are other possible explanations.

Why Should We Give Arguments for the Existence of God If the Bible Itself Does Not Give Any? ← Prior Section
What Is the Teleological Argument for God's Existence? Next Section →
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