Aquinas & the Cosmological Arguments: Crash Course Philosophy #10



Our unit on the philosophy of religion and the existence of god continues with Thomas Aquinas. Today, we consider his first four arguments: the cosmological arguments.

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26 thoughts on “Aquinas & the Cosmological Arguments: Crash Course Philosophy #10

  1. If you practice the love that god teaches us you would be in jail. Kill heathens, kill gay people, kill children who do not obey their parents, make women who are raped marry their rapists, practice slavery. These are all proper morals the bible teaches us. We have the ability to love one another without god or religion. People were loving one another long before religion was ever invented.

  2. There is no proof of god. PERIOD! If there is a god, he is certainly akin to the god of the deists, and is nothing like the Abrahamic god that is causing all the trouble in the world. Can’t we all just love and care about one another without a “babysitter in the sky” telling us who to love and who to hate.

  3. I don't think Aquinas' argument leaves room for polytheism. A pantheon of beings usually has one single cause in any mythology. And he is not trying to prove the existence of a personal loving God. But just ONE supreme being with a perfect intellect and will. And he says it has to be the highest degree of perfection. A rock or an egg cannot be the highest degree of perfection. Part of the argument is the necessity of at least one non contingent cause. So that rules out the last objection too.

  4. Hank, you conflated hierarchical series of causes and linear series of causes. Dominoes are linear series. Atoms->molecules->people are a hierarchical series. Aquinas believes linear series could be infinite, but that hierarchical series must have a beginning.

  5. Aquinas does not take it as a given that infinite regress is impossible, and centuries of theologians have argued for the impossibility of infinite regress.

    For example, how did we reach now? If past is infinite, how do you get through the past to reach present? We are at present, therefore past must be finite.

    The objection that the first mover God is not similar to theist conceptions of God is also rooted in misunderstanding, as the objectors are looking for the God of theistic personalism – a wholly different conception of what it means that "God" exists. Theistic personalism states that God is a person with various traits and powers. For example, the capacity to do anything, which is the personalistic conception of omnipotence. This is not the sort of being these arguments try to establish. Instead, the cosmological arguments of Aquinas attempt to demonstrate the existence of the God of Classical Theism. This conception of God states that he is a "Pure Act" or an "Ipsum Esse Subsistens." That which is itself none contingent, but which is the grounds for all contingent things to exist, including the universe. If you see somebody believing the argument reaches anything but the God of classical theism, you may inform them that they have a poor understanding of the argument and indeed, this objection stands.

    The final objection I shall discuss is the last one mentioned in your video, and I find it odd that you believe this is a "nail in the coffin" for Aquinas. If you follow the argument from change, you reach a being which is purely actual, with nothing else in existence but possible being(potentiality.) The pure act then actualizes possible being, thereby creating a universe. If God can exist without cause, why cant the universe? Because the universe contains contingent things, which were themselves actualized by another thing. God's timelessness is a logical conclusion of these facts, but a self creating universe is not a thing that I've ever heard an argument for, and is a made up possibility that in no way defeats an argued for conclusion, the existence of a God.

  6. Theism is a hyponym of religion which requires at least one person-god.
    Personhood isn't metalogically fundamental, instead a process mostly involving thought, so we have to analyze it in terms of information theory.

    Personhood isn't a simple in philosophy (study: simple in philosophy) because it requires component memories.

    theism = personocracy/personocentrism at the cosmological level

  7. This proves that philosophy is the greatest way to waste your time just second to a cat chasing it's tail. Philosophy is like a pair of panties. It can be beautiful but for sure it cover things that are much more beautiful behind it. 😉

  8. To say that a valid counter argument to Aquinas is that his premise of a first cause is a fallacy is not persuasive because it isn’t logical. Where is it that we have observed something being created from nothing? Seems to me that POV is dead on arrival.

  9. The second, which this guy thought to be the strongest one, objection simply misunderstood the nature of the God of the Bible because in His very nature, He is self-existent.

  10. The problem with this presentation of the five ways (not five arguments, it's all one argument from different perspectives), is that the idea of motion and causation, etc., are essentially being understood from a Humean understanding of causation: essentially the equivalent of billiard balls hitting each other. This is in opposition to the Aristotelian understanding of causation (ie. the four causes). This is the main reason that the argument seems self-defeating. Essentially, Aquinas is actually saying that there are things like motion (energy), and things that exist, etc., and these things are not self-explanatory, since they can be recognized as essentially effects, we can infer the existence of a cause. Because the things that we see (energy, existence, etc.) are not responsible for themselves (considering that it is possible that they could have been not in motion, or not existing, or not caused), there must be a cause that has these principles in it qua itself and not dependant on something for these principles. For example, if something is illumined, that is not the same thing as being capable of serving as a light source, and if we determine that the thing which is illumined is not its own light source, we infer that there must be a light source illuminating the thing that is illumined. A thing which we call "a god" would be this cause, ie. the principle on which existence, energy, causation, everything, is. Also, all of the further arguments concerning the kind(s) of god(s) are answered by Aquinas, you just have to read further. He acknowledges that the proof for the existence of god is 'bare bones', and that God is one, and infinite, and etc… are separate questions, which he answers subsequently. He even goes on to explain in great detail what others have claimed can be proven about God actually cannot be proven and how it is wrong to assert the ability to prove something which you actually cannot.

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