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Varying Arguments for the Existence of God

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Varying Arguments for the Existence of God

Many philosophers and theologians have provided varying arguments for the existence of God. These arguments are either a priori, understood independent of worldly experience and observation (Ontological Argument), or a posteriori, dependent on experience and based on observations of how the world is (Cosmological and Teleological Arguments). This paper will focus on the Cosmological Argument, and show that its underlying principle, the Principle of Sufficient Reason, fails to establish it as a sound argument for the existence of God. To accomplish this, I will, first, define the Cosmological Argument and the Principle of Sufficient Reason; then explain the argument, and how it is based on the Principle of Sufficient Reason; and finally, show that there is not enough evidence to prove that the Principle of Sufficient Reason is true, which in turn leads to the flaw in the Cosmological Argument.

First, what are the Cosmological Argument and the Principle of Sufficient Reason? There are many versions of the argument. Saint Thomas Aquinas (in the thirteenth century) and Samuel Clarke (in the eighteenth century) are the dominant contributors in the development of the argument (Rowe 21). Though their arguments differ slightly, both men based their arguments on the observation that the world is rooted on causal relationships. Their arguments can be summarized into one argument as follows:

(1) Either the world is made up of things that depend

on others for their existence (dependent beings), or things that are self-existent (independent beings).

(2) Not everything can depend on another for its existence.

(3) Therefore, there is some self-existing being, and that being is God...

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...e. "Even if PSR is a presupposition we all share, the premises of the Cosmological Argument could still be false. For PSR itself could be false" (Rowe 29).

Ultimately, if we want to use the Cosmological Argument to prove the existence of God, then we need more evidence to prove that the Principle of Sufficient Reason is true. PSR is the basis for the premises of the Cosmological Argument, and Rowe has shown that the traditional arguments in favor of the truth of PSR are unsound. Until there is evidence to prove that PSR is true, the Cosmological Argument is not able to provide support for the existence of God.

Bibliography:

Feinberg, Joel and Russ Shafer-Landau, ed. Reason and

Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of

Philosophy. 10th ed., Philosophy of Religion, by William

L. Rowe. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1999.
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