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The Contingency Argument

The cosmological argument comes in a variety of forms. Here’s a simple version of the famous version from contingency:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

3. The universe exists.

4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1, 3).

5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God (from 2, 4)

 

In my defence of the teleological argument, I made reference to the terms necessity and contingency. Necessity being something that has to exist no matter what, or a brute fact, and something that is contingent is something that could be different or not exist at all.

1.

Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. 

 

This argument, I will try to shows that things have explanations of its existence, which are either contingent on other things, such as yourself, you were contingent on your father and mother, the seat you are sitting on is contingent on materials it is made from etc. Or things that could not otherwise exist or brute facts. William Lane Craig puts it like this “According to (1) there are two kinds of being: necessary beings, which exist of their own nature and so have no external cause of their existence, and contingent beings, whose existence is accounted for by causal factors outside themselves.  Numbers, sets, and other mathematical objects would be prime candidates for the first sort of thing, while familiar physical objects like people and planets and stars would be examples of the second kind of thing"(1)(2)

 

It seems then plausible that things need explanations for its existence, for example, Richard Taylor gives an illustration of someone finding a translucent ball on the forest floor whilst walking in the woods.(3) If your friend just claimed “there is no explanation, it just is there" you would rightly think it bizarre to assume it just came into existence inexplicably, it would need some explanation! This would be true, regardless of the size or shape of the object! If the ball were the size of the earth, it would still need an explanation and so too if it was the size of the universe.

2.

If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God. 

 

So, what could be the explanation of the universe? Well as William Lane Craig states in his Reasonable Faith website regarding this topic, the second premise is logically equivalent to what the atheist says, I quote “Now what do I mean by logically equivalent? I mean that these two statements always have the same truth value. For example, let’s take the statement “P -> Q.” The arrow (->) is a logical symbol meaning implies. This could also be read “If P then Q where P is a sentence and Q is a sentence.” This is logically equivalent to saying “¬Q implies ¬P” where the crooked sign is the negation sign. So those are really logically equivalent. If P then Q is logically equivalent to saying not-Q implies not-P. In fact, that is exactly what you have here. If we leave P be “the universe has an explanation of its existence” and Q be “the explanation is God” what atheists have always affirmed is this: “If God does not exist (if the explanation of the universe is not God) then the universe has no explanation of its existence.” That is to say, atheists have very often said this: “If God does not exist then the universe has no explanation.” This is what atheists very, very often say. If God does not exist the universe has no explanation. As Bertrand Russel, the great atheist philosopher, put it, “The universe is just there. And that’s all.” There is no explanation.”.(4)

 

So, the second premise isn’t question begging or circular reasoning, as it is logically equivalent to what the objector might say. We have started to look at what constitutes as a necessity or external cause (contingent). The universe is all of space and time. As Carl Sagan used to say, “The cosmos is all there is, was, or ever will be.” He was speaking as an atheist. The universe includes all of physical reality – all matter and energy, space and time themselves. So, if there is a cause of the universe it cannot be within spacetime, thus, must be something that transcends, space, matter, energy and time. God I will argue is the best explanation for this, as the cause of spacetime cannot be within spacetime, right? If you think that is possible, it would be like trying to argue, you created yourself or something, which is absurd.

What are the candidates that match the properties of being transcendent? There are only two types of things which philosophers have ever thought to match those properties.  The first being abstract objects, as we mentioned before, these were mathematical objects, numbers and sets. The number 7 for example doesn’t exist somewhere in time or space, so is timeless and immaterial.

The second kind of thing which would fit the description would be a personal mind. By mind, I do not mean a physical brain. What I mean, is a self-consciousness or soul, so to speak. Although it is a controversial subject, mind is wholly independent from the brain as it is becoming more evident in the scientific community. (5)(6)(7)(8)(9)Such a mind would be immaterial, because mind is not physical, that it, not made of matter, and it could be timeless if it exists beyond time and is changeless.(10)

However, abstract objects have no causal powers, the number 7 doesn’t cause anything, as William Lane Craig puts it “One of the characteristics of abstract objects is that they are causally impotent. They are causally effete. They stand in no causal relations. So that means that the explanation of the existence of the universe must be a transcendent mind. And that is exactly what theists mean by God.”(4) Mind, has the causal efficiency to stand in causal relations, we know this from everyday experience.

So, it would seem that premise 2 is plausible, given the atheist admits the premise in a logically equivalent manner. Moreover, it seems we have good grounds for affirming a transcendent necessarily explanation, which is a personal mind that is best explained as God.

3.

Therefore, the universe exists.

 

This is undeniable for anyone who is honestly seeking truth!

It would be a bizarre form of scepticism to deny the existence of the universe. It seems obvious, right? Such truths as, I exist, there are other minds other than myself and the universe exists seem properly basic beliefs that no rational person should deny.

 

4.

 

Therefore, the universe has an explanation for its existence.

 

This follows logically from premises 1 and 3. Just to clarify, premise 3 states the universe exists and premise 1 states, that existing things needs an explanation.

 

5.

Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

 

This follows logically from premises 2 and 4. To clarify, premise 2 says the explanation is best explained by a necessarily existent, transcendent mind best described as God. Premise 4 following premises 1 and 3 show the universe has an explanation for its existence. Thus, the argument shows the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

Conclusion

So, it seems we have a good philosophical argument for the truth, that existent things need explanations for their existence, and that explanation is best described as God. The objector, who wishes to deny this argument, will have to show that either one or more of the premises are false, or show a better alternative to the explanation.

References:

(1)Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Crossway. William Lane Craig. 2008 third edition. P107

(2) https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism-mathematics/

(3) Richard Taylor, Metaphysics, 4th ed., Foundations of Philosophy 9Englewood Clifs,N.J.:Prentice-Hall,1991), 100,101.

(4) https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-1/s1-argument-from-contingency/argument-from-contingency/

(5) https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/reconciliation/science-and-the-soul

(6) https://mindmatters.ai/2020/12/has-neuroscience-proved-that-the-mind-is-just-the-brain/

(7) https://mindmatters.ai/2020/01/meat-has-no-opinions/

(8) https://mindmatters.ai/2018/10/does-brain-stimulation-research-challenge-free-will/

(9) https://ismailignosis.com/2014/06/04/does-the-soul-exist-consciousness-brain-and-quantum-physics/

(10) Time and eternity: exploring God's relationship to time. William Lane Craig. Crossway. 2001

 
OIP.jpg

The Contingency Argument

The cosmological argument comes in a variety of forms. Here’s a simple version of the famous version from contingency:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

3. The universe exists.

4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1, 3).

5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God (from 2, 4)

 

In my defence of the teleological argument, I made reference to the terms necessity and contingency. Necessity being something that has to exist no matter what, or a brute fact, and something that is contingent is something that could be different or not exist at all.

1.

Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. 

 

This argument, I will try to shows that things have explanations of its existence, which are either contingent on other things, such as yourself, you were contingent on your father and mother, the seat you are sitting on is contingent on materials it is made from etc. Or things that could not otherwise exist or brute facts. William Lane Craig puts it like this “According to (1) there are two kinds of being: necessary beings, which exist of their own nature and so have no external cause of their existence, and contingent beings, whose existence is accounted for by causal factors outside themselves.  Numbers, sets, and other mathematical objects would be prime candidates for the first sort of thing, while familiar physical objects like people and planets and stars would be examples of the second kind of thing"(1)(2)

 

It seems then plausible that things need explanations for its existence, for example, Richard Taylor gives an illustration of someone finding a translucent ball on the forest floor whilst walking in the woods.(3) If your friend just claimed “there is no explanation, it just is there" you would rightly think it bizarre to assume it just came into existence inexplicably, it would need some explanation! This would be true, regardless of the size or shape of the object! If the ball were the size of the earth, it would still need an explanation and so too if it was the size of the universe.

2.

If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God. 

 

So, what could be the explanation of the universe? Well as William Lane Craig states in his Reasonable Faith website regarding this topic, the second premise is logically equivalent to what the atheist says, I quote “Now what do I mean by logically equivalent? I mean that these two statements always have the same truth value. For example, let’s take the statement “P -> Q.” The arrow (->) is a logical symbol meaning implies. This could also be read “If P then Q where P is a sentence and Q is a sentence.” This is logically equivalent to saying “¬Q implies ¬P” where the crooked sign is the negation sign. So those are really logically equivalent. If P then Q is logically equivalent to saying not-Q implies not-P. In fact, that is exactly what you have here. If we leave P be “the universe has an explanation of its existence” and Q be “the explanation is God” what atheists have always affirmed is this: “If God does not exist (if the explanation of the universe is not God) then the universe has no explanation of its existence.” That is to say, atheists have very often said this: “If God does not exist then the universe has no explanation.” This is what atheists very, very often say. If God does not exist the universe has no explanation. As Bertrand Russel, the great atheist philosopher, put it, “The universe is just there. And that’s all.” There is no explanation.”.(4)

 

So, the second premise isn’t question begging or circular reasoning, as it is logically equivalent to what the objector might say. We have started to look at what constitutes as a necessity or external cause (contingent). The universe is all of space and time. As Carl Sagan used to say, “The cosmos is all there is, was, or ever will be.” He was speaking as an atheist. The universe includes all of physical reality – all matter and energy, space and time themselves. So, if there is a cause of the universe it cannot be within spacetime, thus, must be something that transcends, space, matter, energy and time. God I will argue is the best explanation for this, as the cause of spacetime cannot be within spacetime, right? If you think that is possible, it would be like trying to argue, you created yourself or something, which is absurd.

What are the candidates that match the properties of being transcendent? There are only two types of things which philosophers have ever thought to match those properties.  The first being abstract objects, as we mentioned before, these were mathematical objects, numbers and sets. The number 7 for example doesn’t exist somewhere in time or space, so is timeless and immaterial.

The second kind of thing which would fit the description would be a personal mind. By mind, I do not mean a physical brain. What I mean, is a self-consciousness or soul, so to speak. Although it is a controversial subject, mind is wholly independent from the brain as it is becoming more evident in the scientific community. (5)(6)(7)(8)(9)Such a mind would be immaterial, because mind is not physical, that it, not made of matter, and it could be timeless if it exists beyond time and is changeless.(10)

However, abstract objects have no causal powers, the number 7 doesn’t cause anything, as William Lane Craig puts it “One of the characteristics of abstract objects is that they are causally impotent. They are causally effete. They stand in no causal relations. So that means that the explanation of the existence of the universe must be a transcendent mind. And that is exactly what theists mean by God.”(4) Mind, has the causal efficiency to stand in causal relations, we know this from everyday experience.

So, it would seem that premise 2 is plausible, given the atheist admits the premise in a logically equivalent manner. Moreover, it seems we have good grounds for affirming a transcendent necessarily explanation, which is a personal mind that is best explained as God.

3.

Therefore, the universe exists.

 

This is undeniable for anyone who is honestly seeking truth!

It would be a bizarre form of scepticism to deny the existence of the universe. It seems obvious, right? Such truths as, I exist, there are other minds other than myself and the universe exists seem properly basic beliefs that no rational person should deny.

 

4.

 

Therefore, the universe has an explanation for its existence.

 

This follows logically from premises 1 and 3. Just to clarify, premise 3 states the universe exists and premise 1 states, that existing things needs an explanation.

 

5.

Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

 

This follows logically from premises 2 and 4. To clarify, premise 2 says the explanation is best explained by a necessarily existent, transcendent mind best described as God. Premise 4 following premises 1 and 3 show the universe has an explanation for its existence. Thus, the argument shows the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

Conclusion

So, it seems we have a good philosophical argument for the truth, that existent things need explanations for their existence, and that explanation is best described as God. The objector, who wishes to deny this argument, will have to show that either one or more of the premises are false, or show a better alternative to the explanation.

References:

(1)Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Crossway. William Lane Craig. 2008 third edition. P107

(2) https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism-mathematics/

(3) Richard Taylor, Metaphysics, 4th ed., Foundations of Philosophy 9Englewood Clifs,N.J.:Prentice-Hall,1991), 100,101.

(4) https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-1/s1-argument-from-contingency/argument-from-contingency/

(5) https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/reconciliation/science-and-the-soul

(6) https://mindmatters.ai/2020/12/has-neuroscience-proved-that-the-mind-is-just-the-brain/

(7) https://mindmatters.ai/2020/01/meat-has-no-opinions/

(8) https://mindmatters.ai/2018/10/does-brain-stimulation-research-challenge-free-will/

(9) https://ismailignosis.com/2014/06/04/does-the-soul-exist-consciousness-brain-and-quantum-physics/

(10) Time and eternity: exploring God's relationship to time. William Lane Craig. Crossway. 2001