A brief history of cosmological arguments

There is no such thing as the cosmological argument. Rather, there are several arguments that all proceed from facts or alleged facts concerning causation, change, motion, contingency, or Hnitude in respect of the universe as a whole or processes within it. From them, and from general principles said to govern them, one is led to deduce or infer as highly probable the existence of a cause of the universe (as opposed, say, to a designer or a source of value). Such arguments have a venerable history. A cosmological argument from heavenly motion to a ‘world soul’ is found in Plato’s Laws, bk. l0. This kind of argument is given extended elaboration and defense by Aristotle, both in the Physics (bks. 7-8) and the Metaphysics (hk. 12/lambda), where he argues for an ‘unmoved mover` from the existence of motion within the cosmos (again, primarily astronomical). Cosmological arguments abound in medieval Arabic philosophy. There are arguments to the existence of a necessary cause of the universe from the existence of contingent beings (due to the falsafa (‘philosophy’) scholars, a school heavily influenced by Greek thought) and arguments to the existence of a iirst cause of the universe from the temporal frnitude of the universe (due to the lcalarri (‘discourse’) scholars, a rival school of more traditional Qufanic theology) (Craig 1980: ch. 3). Defenders of the contingency argument include al-Farabi/Abu Nast (c.870—950), ibn Sina/Avicenna (980—lO3Y), and [bn Rushcl/Averroes (1i26e98). Supporters of what is now known as the kalam cosmological argument include al·l
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