From antiquity to the present, there have been many great philosophers who have made "cosmological" arguments for the existence of God. Are they still compelling?
Hi Delenda, Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. I took the liberty of sharing these observations with Dr. Feser (the inspiration for the article) and asked for his permission to share his response:
I'd say that this is merely a set of undefended (and not always clear) assertions that don't answer, but just ignore, arguments like those I set out in Five Proofs. For example, those arguments identify specific features of the things we find in the cosmos (having potentialities in need of actualization, being composed of parts, etc.) that call out for explanation, and attempt to demonstrate that the only possible explanation lies in e.g. something that is purely actual, non-composite, etc. For this guy simply to assert that a cosmos doesn't need explaining just begs the question. There's not a specific criticism here of arguments like the ones I've defended that needs answering, but rather a lot of hand-waving.
Here's a link to his book on this topic: https://www.amazon.com/Five-Proofs-Existence-Edward-Feser-ebook/dp/B0754MJFMG?ref_=ast_author_dp
I think the cosmological argument is correct, but it doesn't show what the theist thinks it does. IF there exists a cosmos, it must have a principle which is the necessary condition of possibility for the myriad particulars. What's more, no cosmos can appear (and a fortiori, be intelligible), without being *kosmos* in the Ancient Greek sense of the term - an ordered system of nature. So: it makes no sense to speak of 'the necessary condition of possibility' in complete abstraction from at least some given actually existing particular or other (and hence also fundamental relations like temporal passage). In other words, we cannot coherently speak of "Pure Being" in se; Being, understood in terms of the necessary condition of possibility for all essents, *must* be differentiated into contingent particular beings. There's a close analogy here with Aristotle's hylomorphic theory of substance: every substance is formed of the inextricable union of material and formal causes; these causes can only be distinguished in thought, they have no distinct ultimate ontological correlate. What all this amounts to, is that the cosmos is eternal in the manner which Aristotle asserted it was. Contingent particulars have a cause, but the world as a whole does not, and cannot, have a cause. The principle of possibility, by definition, cannot be caused.
But this is not to say that the cosmos exists by an *absolute* necessity; it certainly does not. This is for the simple reason that differentiation, the appearing of a(ny) world (whatsoever) is not necessary. Again: IF there exists a cosmos, then perforce there must be a condition of possibility and it would underwrite eternality of the world. But it is obviously *not* necessary that any contingent particular (or relation) *whatsoever* exists. And given that particulars and the necessary condition of possibility are ontological correlates, if you take away all particulars you have extinguished the world.
The ultimate question, again, is: "Why is there something, rather than Nothing?" The "alternative" to the world/the cosmos, is Parmenidean Not-Being, in which "case" it would be necessarily impossible that anything could exist. The cosmos levitates as it were above a groundless origin; in a meta-ontological sense, though its eternality consists in "necessary being," in the necessary condition of possibility, it nonetheless is not *absolutely necessary.* To borrow some terminology from Kant, the necessary condition of possibility maintains by a 'hypothetical imperative,' ontologically speaking. IF you want a world, THEN you need condition of possibility. But a world is not necessary; and some of the world's great sages have suggested that it would be preferable to have the Purum Nihil (e.g. Job's lament in the 3rd chapter of the Book of Job).
Cosmos then, is in an ultimate sense contingent. It is radically contingent - and always will be. "God" is truly an unnecessary hypothesis.