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Arguing About Gods 3: Cosmological Arguments


Oppy is examining proofs of God that use very general features of the universe to infer God. After an initial set up, Oppy looks at Aquinas’ first three ways, concluding rather handily and clearly, that they were either invalid, or rest on clearly unwarranted premises. Moreover, even if they work, they do not lead to anything like the monotheistic God, in some cases leading to the necessary existence of the universe.

Next up is Descartes’ argument. Descartes makes an argument from our ability to conceive of God to the reality of God, basically saying that ultimately, the only good explanation for this is God existing. Oppy challenges Descartes premises, and also says that there are alternative accounts of how our conception of God could come to be, without God having to exist.

Leibniz makes an argument from contingent beings to a necessary being, which Oppy escapes partially by saying that an infinite regress of contingent causes can explain contingent beings. A second argument is provided, saying that a rational choice is the only possible sufficient reason for the universe. Since any cause must have a cause itself, causes can’t be ultimately sufficient reasons. Choice can. Oppy replies that the assumption that choices can somehow be uncaused is unwarranted. Moreover, a choice can’t be an ultimately sufficient reason since we can always ask, why choice A vs. choice B?

More contingency talk and arguments from sufficient reason in the next few sections. I can’t say I really ever hear these. Putting this in my back pocket in case I need a reference.

Finally, Oppy gets to Craig’s argument. He does a very good job of breaking it down into its constituent parts. The first thing addressed is Craig’s claim that actual infinites are impossible. An interesting point is that if they are impossible, then God cannot know an actual infinite amount of facts, or be able to do an actually infinite number of things. Next Oppy addresses the claim that an actual infinite can’t be made by successive addition. The third claim countered is that scientific observation strongly confirms big bang cosmology. There’s a lot of doubt cast on whether physics does actually provide evidence that there was an absolute beginning.

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