Thursday, November 10, 2016

An Edited Version of the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

I love to study the arguments for the existence of God.  I greatly enjoy considering deductive arguments and the validity of the premises therein.1

One such argument originated with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.  His argument is one of the cosmological arguments for God's existence. One version, as defended by philosopher William Lane Craig, is as follows:

1) Everything which exists has an explanation of its existence

2) If the universe has an explanation for its existence, that explanation is God

3) The universe exists

4) The universe has an explanation of its existence

5) Therefore God exists2

As philosopher J.W. Wartick explains "...this outlining of Leibniz’s argument is a little forward. Premise 2 may be a bit strong."3  I concur.  While the argument is certainly logically valid, if I allow myself to step into the shoes of the skeptic, I could see how they could stumble over the wording of Premise 2.  

Therefore, Wartick has edited the argument as follows:

1) All entities which exist have explanation of their existence. This explanation is either their own necessity or (for contingent entities) an external cause. (P1)

2) The universe exists (Axiom [A] 1)

3) The universe’s existence is not found in its own necessity (P2)

4) Therefore, the universe has an external cause (P1, P2)

5) There cannot be an infinite series of non-necessary causes (A2)

6) Therefore, the cause of the universe is transcendent (external) to it and necessary (4, A2 [I’m skipping a few steps here, but it would end up here eventually, as follows from 4 and A2])4

What do you think of this version?  Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Further, for those who are unfamiliar with the argument, Wartick explains the argument and defends each of the premises here.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. For those who aren't sure how deductive arguments work, go here.
2. William Lane Crain, On Guard, p. 54.
J.W. Wartick, "The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument," Oct. 6, 2010

4. Ibid.

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