St. Thomas Aquinas’ Cosmological Argument Analysis


Throughout the centuries, people have tried to justify their beliefs and to prove the existence of God. Since his existence could not be proved practically, numerous theories aimed to explain it from different perspectives. Therefore, major attempts to justify existence of God developed by appealing to facts supposedly available to any rational person, whether religious or not.

Commencing from such facts, philosophers and theologians developed arguments for the existence of God though some of them were convincing in claiming the opposite. Several theories have been advanced while justifying the existence of God; cosmological, ontological, and teleological theories are the ones which are most widely discussed.

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Thus, for instance, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Cosmological Argument argues on whether the existence of God is self-evident, whether it can be demonstrated that God exists, and whether God exists indeed. The initial argument presented is the existence of the first principle, or the first cause, for everything either material or non-material. Human reason or will are subjected to higher cause and whatever is done can be traced to this cause, which is something immovable and constitutes the first principle. It is necessary to consider the steps of the argument more carefully in order to find out criticisms of the argument offered in the text and to be able to support or deny the initial argument presented.

What should be mentioned above all, it is argued whether God actually exist. The article is all about proving that God exists and it presents five ways to do this. “The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion.” It is a common knowledge that everything in the universe moves constantly and every thing that is moving is moved by something else “for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion”. Here arise the notions of potentiality and actuality; only something that is actual can move something that is potential.

Thus, for instance, fire can burn wood because it is hot actually and it can make wood be hot potentially; by burning wood fire can move and change it. One and the same thing can not be in actuality and potentiality at one and the same time for fire which can be actually hot cannot be potentially hot as well for if it is, it should be potentially cold. This would mean that the things can move and be movers at one and the same time, which is impossible for they will have to move themselves. Thus, if something moves, it has to be moved by something else. Moving of the things by each other cannot be infinite, so there has to be a first mover and this mover is God.

What else should be noted, the second way to prove that God exists is by means of the notion of efficient cause. “In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes.” A thing cannot be a cause of itself for it would mean that it was prior to itself. There should be something that caused it and this something, in its turn, was caused by another thing. Since this sequence of causes cannot be infinite, there exists the first efficient cause and this cause is God.

As far as the third way is concerned, it “is taken form possibility and necessity”. Human beings are not in the universe as a matter of necessity but come into existence for the sole reason which means that they have been brought into being by something else. Original cause of being can only be someone whose existence is necessary and this someone is God.

Regarding the fourth way, it is necessary to state that it relies on gradation of all the things which can be good, true or noble. “Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like”, which means that there should be a thing which is the noblest, the best, and the truest. This is believed to be God.

“The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world” and presupposes that all things lack intelligence and must be directed by “some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence”. This being is God.

In contrast, a part of the argument states that God does not exist and provides certain justifications for this. The existence of God would have made the evil discoverable; therefore, the fact that the evil exists refutes the existence of God.

Another criticism concerns the existence of the first cause. It is possible to reveal the first cause, the initial cause, but this cause is not necessarily God. Attributes of the first cause do not usually require being associated with God. A first cause could resemble an evil being or even the universe itself. In itself, this criticism makes the cosmological argument quite useless as far as support for the view that God exists is concerned. The cosmological argument makes the assumption that the infinity of the causes is impossible; however, the argument does not prove why it is impossible. Experience does not in any way reveal causal sequences that have a first cause, a cause that is not caused. Therefore, the cosmological idea that there can be no infinite series and that there must be a first cause, a cause without a cause, does not find any back up in experience.

Moreover, the first three of Aquinas’s five common arguments are a replica of the cosmological argument. For instance, in the second way, Aquinas attempts to demonstrate that there could not be an infinite series of efficient causes. It is important to note that his argument purports to establish a first cause of the world in the distant past. Aquinas believed that one could not demonstrate by philosophical argument that the world had the beginning in time, although he believed that it did. This belief demonstrates a matter of faith, something that was part of the Christian dogma, but not something that could be certified by logic. Aquinas’s argument gives no reason as to why there could not be anon temporal infinite regress of causes.

Considering everything mentioned above, it can be concluded that it is indeed not easy to determine, let alone to prove, whether God does or does not exist. Certain proofs are irrefutable such as, for instance, that everything should be guided by somebody who is who is more intelligent than the others and that the movement of all the things has its cause; it is difficult to disagree that this cause is God.

However, criticism presented in the article is also convincing. Stating that there should be an initial reason for everything simply because the succession of all the reasons which precede each other cannot possibly be infinite, makes sense only if somebody will be able to prove that initial reason does exist. In other words, only when somebody will find this initial reason, it will be possible to believe that it really exists. And only when somebody will prove that this initial reason is a supreme being, it will be possible to believe that the initial reason is God.


In general, the initial idea of the first cause presented by the argument makes sense for there is always a cause preceding any effect and this cause arises out of something which precedes it as well. It may well be that the first reason comes from God and when the circle is closed up, it all gets back to where it started; however, one cannot say for sure where it all started for no one knows where it all got back.

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