The Cosmological Argument: Some Fresh Insights
By Mike Robinson
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1).
The Cosmological Argument (CA): All (known) effects have causes; the effect of the universe’s existence (and continuation) must have a fitting cause.
I assert that nothing ever comes to pass without a cause (Jonathan Edwards).
Thomas Aquinas’ version of the Cosmological Argument is often miscomprehended, misrepresented, misinterpreted, and misapplied. The following is an unrefined summary: nothing that has a cause comes from nothing, thus everything that has a cause must come from something; all finite things lead back to a more original form.
Aquinas argues that there is no effect known for which a thing turned out to be the efficient cause of its own effect, forasmuch as that effect logically would have to precede itself, which is contrary to possibility.
Many neo-atheists who lack philosophical training, like Richard Dawkins, ask: “If all things have a cause and all things are created, who created God?” Aquinas and modern Thomists stipulate that not all things have a cause, since God is uncaused. Many militant atheists stipulate the first premise as a straw man; those who posit “all things have a cause” are either ignorant or deeply dishonest. (See my book for more Here)
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Dr. John Lennox handles Dawkins’ schoolboy riddle marvelously: “If Dawkins insists on who created God, I can ask him who created the universe. The buck will stop somewhere on both sides. You either stop with matter and energy, which has been capable through unguided processes to produce life, rationality, and the idea of God because there isn’t a God or else you believe that matter and energy are not primary at all, but are derivative, and we start with in the beginning God” .
Professor Lennox quotes the former atheist Anthony Flew on his way to refute David Hume (Hume was a skeptic regarding causality, the uniformity of nature, and miracles): “Generations of Humeans have … been misled into offering analyses of causation and of natural law that have been far too weak because they had no basis for accepting the existence of either cause and effect or natural laws… Hume’s skepticism about cause and effect and his agnosticism about the external world are of course jettisoned the moment he leaves his study” (Anthony Flew). The good doctor responds: “Hume denies miracles because miracles would go against the uniform laws of nature. But elsewhere he denies the uniformity of nature!”
The Cosmological Argument takes the reality of the cosmos to entail the existence of a something that created it. This is the case since the cosmos had a beginning. There must be something that produced and triggered that beginning—the first cause. Theologians posit this agent as God.