Why is there Something Rather Than Nothing? Leibniz’ Contingency Argument

by Clayton Kraby

“The first question that should rightly be asked is, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’” This is the question Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) posed in regards to the origin of the universe as a part of his argument for the existence of God.

Here is a brief and simplified explanation of what has come to be known as the Leibniz Contingency Argument, or the Leibniz Cosmological Argument (cosmology being the study of the origin of the cosmos, or universe).

The logic of the argument goes like this:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence.

2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

3. The universe exists.

4. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

As with all such logical arguments, if the premises are true (points 1-3), than the conclusion must be true (point 4). The question is whether or not the first three points or more likely to be true than they are false.

Certainly everyone would agree that the universe exists, so at least we are safe with point number 3.

But what about points 1 and 2? Is it accurate to say that everything that exists has an explanation for its existence and that the sole explanation for the existence of the universe is God?

Premise 1: Everything that exists has an explanation for its existence

In our everyday experiences, we expect there to be an explanation for the things we encounter. Common illustrations of this given are wandering in the woods and discovering a pocket watch.

We would not be intellectually satisfied with saying that the pocket watch is just there. We would explain its existence by concluding that it was left there by someone…
 
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Why is there Something Rather Than Nothing? Leibniz’ Contingency Argument