Aquinas & the Cosmological Arguments: Crash Course Philosophy #10

Aquinas & the Cosmological Arguments: Crash Course Philosophy #10


Crash Course Philosophy is brought to you
by Squarespace. Squarespace: share your passion with the world. Nothing gets people talking like proving the existence of God — just look at the comments on our last video. And that is what Anselm of Canterbury did.
He claimed, in the 11th century, to have come up with deductive proof of God’s existence, through what we now know as the ontological argument. And, if there was such a thing as a social
network of medieval Christian philosophers back then, it was positively abuzz with the
news. For a long time. Because, almost 200 years later, Italian theologian and philosopher
Thomas Aquinas encountered Anselm’s argument. But, like many others, he just didn’t buy
it. Aquinas did believe in God. It was just that,
as a philosopher, he felt that it was important to have evidence for your beliefs. He knew
that if he was going to dismiss Anselm’s argument, he’d need to come up with something
better. So, he set out to construct five arguments that would prove God’s existence, once and
for all. Yeah, five. Apparently, he was concerned one
wasn’t going to do it, so he figured that, out of five, one was bound to stick. His first four arguments are known together
as the cosmological arguments, as they seek to prove God’s existence through what he
argued were necessary facts about the universe. So, in keeping with the method that we discussed
in our very first episode, we’re going to examine these first four arguments of Thomas
Aquinas — and really try to understand them. And then we’ll consider their merits…
…and their weaknesses. [Theme Music] Maybe the most striking thing about the cosmological
arguments of Aquinas, at least to modern eyes, is that some of them are firmly based in the
natural world. Even though he lived in a pretty unscientific time, Aquinas argued for the
existence of God through his understanding of science, and with the help of what he thought
was physical evidence. For example, the first of his cosmological
arguments is known as the Argument from Motion. In it, Aquinas observed that we currently
live in a world in which things are moving. And he also observed that movement is caused
by movers — things that cause motion. Aquinas was convinced that everything that’s moving
must have been set into motion by something else that was moving. By this logic, something
must have started the motion in the first place. Otherwise, you’d be stuck in a philosophical
quandary known as an infinite regress. You get an infinite regress when, in a chain of
reasoning, the evidence for each point along the chain relies on the existence of something
that came before it, which in turn relies on something even further back, and so on,
with no starting point. Basically, Aquinas thought the very idea of
infinite regress was absurd, logically impossible. Because, it implied that any given series
of events began with…nothing. Or, more accurately, never really began. Instead, it could have
been going on forever. In the case of physical motion, Aquinas wanted
to trace the cause of the movement he saw in the world all the way back to its beginning.
And he figured there MUST have been a beginning. Otherwise, for him, it would be like watching
these blocks fall, and being told that nothing ever pushed over the first block. Instead,
they had always been falling down forever, backward into eternity. There must have been
a time when nothing was in motion, Aquinas thought, and there also must’ve been a static
being that started the motion. And that being, according to Aquinas, is God – the Unmoved
Mover. So his Argument From Motion ran something
like this: Objects are in motion
Everything in motion was put into motion by something else
There can’t be an infinite regress of movers So there must have been a first mover, itself
unmoved, and that is God Now, the second cosmological argument
of Aquinas was a lot like his first one. Here, he proposed the Argument from Causation, and it, too, sets out to avoid the problem of an infinite regress. But instead of it explaining the motion of
objects, it set out to explain causes and effects, in general, all over the universe. The argument went along these lines:
Some things are caused Anything that’s caused has to be caused
by something else (since nothing causes itself) There can’t be an infinite regress of causes So there must have been a first causer,
itself uncaused, and that is God Just like with the Argument from Motion, the
point here is pretty simple: Effects have causes. If you think about how you wound up watching this
video, you can trace the line of causation back, from moment to moment. If you think about it long enough, you can probably go pretty far back. But Aquinas said, again: It can’t go back
forever. There had to be a First Thing that started off the chain of causes and effects.
And that Thing is God. Argument number three was the Argument from
Contingency. And we should step back and get a little background for this one. In philosophy,
we often distinguish between necessary beings and contingent beings. A contingent being is,
simply put, any being that could have not existed. That includes you. Sure, you
do exist, but you could not have. If you had never been born, the world would go on. And
yes, things would be different – we’ve all seen It’s A Wonderful Life – but the
world would go on. Instead, your existence is merely contingent on the existence of other
things. In your case, you only exist because a certain sperm met a certain egg and swapped
some genetic information. You’re basically a fluke. But what does that have to do with God? Well,
again, Aquinas believed that there had to be something that prevented an infinite regress
of contingency. That would mean that the contingency on which everything existed would just keep
going back in time. And we can’t have a world where everything is contingent, Aquinas
said, because then — by definition — it all could easily have never existed. So he
needed at least one necessary being – a being that has always existed, that always
will exist, and that can’t not exist, in order to get everything going. And that necessary
being is God. Aquinas spelled out the reasoning of his Argument
from Contingency this way: There are contingent things
Contingent things can cause other contingent things, but there can’t only be contingent
things Because that would mean that there’s an
infinite regress of contingency, and a possibility that nothing might have existed
An infinite regress is impossible So there must be at least one necessary thing,
and that is God Let that marinate in your brain for a minute
while unpack the next argument. This one is built on the idea that we simply need a measuring stick in order to understand the value of things. Good/bad, big/small, hot/cold – none of
these concepts can exist in isolation. If you go out for a walk and you see an animal,
and it’s like this big, that animal would be on the small side if it turned out to be
a dog. But if it were a rat, that would be HUGE. How do we know? Because we gauge the size
of things in terms of other things. The same idea applies to more abstract concepts, like your grades. How do we know that an A is good? Because it’s at the top — we know that there are grades lower than an A, but nothing higher. And Aquinas thought that all of our value
concepts would just be floating randomly in space if there weren’t some anchor – something
that defined the value of everything else, by being perfect – and that, again, is God. This is how Aquinas developed Number four,
known as Argument from Degrees. Properties come in degrees
In order for there to be degrees of perfection, there must be something perfect against which
everything else is measured God is the pinnacle of perfection Ok, so we’ve considered Aquinas’ four
cosmological arguments. But remember, that’s only step one. The next, and equally important
step in philosophy, is critical evaluation. So what do we make of ‘em? As philosophers, if you think an argument
is flawed, it’s your job to try and figure out why. And by and large, philosophers – theists
and atheists alike – have been relatively unimpressed by these four, having found many
problems in them. For one thing, these arguments don’t seem
to establish the existence of any particular god. Even if the arguments are correct, it
doesn’t look like Aquinas gets us to the personal, loving God that many people pray
to. Instead, we’re left with unmoved movers and uncaused causers who seem to have little
in common with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob … the God who feels emotions, and
cares about his creation, and answers prayers. Basically, this objection says that
Aquinas’ god is so far removed from the god that theists actually believe in, that
it doesn’t help anything. But maybe you’re happy just believing
someone’s out there. That’s fine. But then how about multiple someones? Because – guess what – Aquinas’ arguments
don’t rule out polytheism. There’s nothing in any of his arguments to prove that God
isn’t actually, like, a committee. Aquinas’ cosmological arguments also don’t prove
the existence of a sentient God. So, it might be an old guy with a beard. It might be six
old guys with beards. But it also might be an egg, or a turtle, or just a big block of
stone. These observations have made some philosophers
uncomfortable with Aquinas’ ultimate conclusion. But there are two objections that are thought
by some to be real nails in its coffin. The first is simply that Aquinas was wrong
in his insistence that there can’t be an infinite regress of anything. Aquinas takes
it as a given that there had to be a starting point for everything — whether it’s the
movement of objects, or causes and effects, or contingent beings being created. But it’s
unclear that this is true, or why it has to be true. If infinite regress can be possible, then
Aquinas’ first two arguments fall apart. But perhaps the most significant charge made
against Aquinas’ arguments is that they’re self-defeating — that is, they actually prove
themselves wrong. For example: If Aquinas is right that everything
must have been put in motion by something else, and everything must have a cause other
than itself, then it seems that God should be subject to those same stipulations. And
if God is somehow exempt from those rules, then why couldn’t other things be exempt
from them too? If they can exist without God being responsible them, then we don’t need
God to establish things in the first place. All right, I’ve given you a lot to think
about. So before we close, let’s pause and remind
ourselves about a couple of things. First, you can accept a conclusion but reject
an argument. So you might agree with Aquinas that God exists, but think none of his arguments
prove it. Second, if you disagree with an argument,
you don’t get to just say, “yeah, you’re wrong.” You have to give a counterargument. What did Aquinas get wrong, and how can you do better? Why are your reasons superior to his?
Remember, philosophy is a dialectic. Yes, Aquinas has been dead for centuries. But he started a conversation. And you get to participate in that when you engage with his arguments, and offer your own, either in an effort to help him out – by fixing flaws in his arguments while preserving his conclusion – or by refuting his entire project. This is what it means to do philosophy – to engage with arguments about stuff that matters. And whether or not there’s a God seems to matter quite a bit, particularly in the lives of theists. Today we’ve learned about cosmological arguments,
and considered four of them. Next time, we’ll look at Aquinas’ fifth argument, the teleological
argument. This episode of Crash Course Philosophy is
made possible by Squarespace. Squarespace is a way to create a website, blog or online
store for you and your ideas. Squarespace features a user-friendly interface, custom
templates and 24/7 customer support. Try Squarespace at squarespace.com/crashcourse for a special
offer. Crash Course Philosophy is produced in association
with PBS Digital Studios. You can head over to their channel and check out some amazing shows like PBS Idea Channel, The Chatterbox, and PBS Space Time. This episode of Crash Course was filmed in
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100 thoughts on “Aquinas & the Cosmological Arguments: Crash Course Philosophy #10

  1. An infinite regress of Actio and Reactio would imply that a finite process would have finished the past infinite process which is impossible, since a finite process (in it's properties) cannot finish something without an end.

  2. Only when philosophy starts using objective data when talking about proof or evidence can it be taken seriously. Anything else is just hot air dressed to impress.

  3. but we exist on earth as a result of contingency. A little further from the sun and we would not be here. If our birth is contingent then so is the birth of every animal ever

  4. Is there actually any evidence for Infinite Regress actually occurring? Because I'm pretty sure most Astronomers can point us to a "big bang" or cosmic origin.

  5. "If they can exist without God being responsible for them…" This exerpt needs a better explanation especially in terms of the words "responsibility". A police officer doesn't have to follow traffic laws. A referee of Football doesn't have to worry about lining up offside in a football match. To me this statement is attempting to place God in a strictly defined box that it couldn't possibly do unless it actually understood God and what he was like…

  6. God is not the initial stage of the world, it's just a final stage of every living being.

    This way we'll save the argument from infinite regress and that the God is the first mover/cause.

    World has been eternal and works it up according to its systems of the growth of knowledge every living being has and plans to take forward.

    God is what each one of us wishes to be, not what each one of us wonders could be.

  7. I would much disagree that the Middle Ages were "unscientific".

    Different note: These arguments are part of a larger work (Summa Theologica). Many of of the "rebuttals" such as that the cosmological arguments do not rule out polytheism etc. are treated in other parts of the Summa. That just wasn't the point of the cosmological arguments- their only objective was to prove existence 🙄🙄🙄

  8. What you state after 7:20 is false. Aquinas develops multiple arguments against polytheism, for instance, in his Summa Contra Gentiles. He also clarifies why God cannot be an object in space-time like the ones you give as examples. You are missing too many of his arguments on many of these ideas and are giving a very inaccurate account of his theology. For example, for St. Thomas Aquinas the arguments for the existence of God were insufficient to produce faith because acts of faith cannot be deduced through reason. These arguments are called preambles of faith, and even though they point toward the possibility of God, are insufficiently persuasive in order to produce what he would call faith, a theological virtue inspired by the Holy Spirit.

  9. Okay so I think this video does a pretty good job of poking enough holes in Aquinas' arguments that they fall apart, but I think that the third argument – argument from contingency – is especially wrong, which is important, because it's one of the most frequent arguments I hear from theists today. While the infinite regress of motion, say, is problematic for me, that of contingency is not. I'm perfectly willing to accept that everything could have not happened. People tend to assume that that's impossible, but I see no reason why it can't be that we just got very lucky and things could have been very different – or not at all.

  10. Infinite regress is impossible according to math. It is impossible to reach a sequential point on the number line between negative infinity and zero using a math equation without going to zero first and then back to a negative point on the number line (negative infinity plus positive infinity = 0 – x). Time is sequential, therefore it is impossible to reach the year we live in from negative infinity by adding a year at a time to negative infinity, you can never add enough years to reach the year you were born in for example, it is impossible to arrive at any point on the number line, or any year in history. Ergo infinite regress is irrational.
    Of course the existence of God is philosophically abhorrent to those who wish to be master of their own destinies, so irrationality is a reassuring safe haven.

  11. Is it funny to other people to think of there being several people acting as God on a “committee”. A God committee?

  12. The point is that nothing in this universe that is even half way close to what God is, can be, and was and because of that nothing can effect him. Its like if a human created a watch, everything that’s inside that watch will move on its own because the human put it together but that doesn’t mean that whatever goes on inside can effect the outside. Basically God wasn’t caused because the law that something needs to be caused only applies inside the universe.

  13. Man, I need to read more from some of the earlier theologians. I've only gotten sum-up info about what they believed in comparison to each other. This stuff is so interesting, and Thomas Aquinas was one that always interested me. He even has his own "philosopher" part of the song "Tower of Babble" from the musical Godspell.

  14. I don't think Aquinas ever meant for these to be proofs of God. He's more explaining how a belief in a god may be possible from the evidence around us

  15. Oh so I am basically a flook eh? Me,” Mom! Am I flook? Mom”, “no sweetie you were just a untimely miracle”.

  16. What if we don’t exist, and we’re just characters in a game, tv show, movie, sitcom, horror, drama.. 🤔Do you think they have action figures or plush dolls of me? 😂😂😂

  17. His arguments don’t apply to series stretching back in time. They were meant to apply to simultaneous causal series that exist at any moment. A table holding up a cup is a good example. These series must have a first cause because we observe them in everyday life, and, without a necessary cause, they shouldn’t exist.

  18. If no one has figured it out. Yes, I am a Christian but, I like to challenge my beliefs. Hints the reason I like Lee Strobel's story/testimony. Another difficult concept of religion is acknowledging that human intelligence may not be what its all cracked up to be. In psychology the first thing to learn is that there is no such thing as a perfect brain. If you take this into consideration then you will have to admit our human understanding is a lot more limited than we realize. In Proverbs 3:5 the Bible tells us not to rely on our own understanding. One must decide if secular logic is stable enough to lean on or if we need to acknowledge that secular logic is far from perfect. Is it possible that there is a really important piece of the puzzle missing?

  19. This is a well put together series! I think there are a few hasty generalizations, and instead of listing them, will simply refer the listener to google William Lane Craig Cosmological Arument

  20. I'm absent in my philosophy class in the morning and my teacher said that they discuss about five proofs of the existence of God… And it's been 6 hours now that I've been binge watching everything related to it… Imma say this 6 hours change my perception of the universe itself

  21. Oh my, how do you even explain the First Way without explaining what is motion in the thomistic view? And act and potency? And matter and form? And that the series of motions that can't go back to infinity are necesseraly per se?
    Weak video :/

  22. My God, this video is so wrong that if you read just a small introduction like Aquinas: A Beginner's Guide from Ed Feser before watching it you'd cringe

  23. Yo, the argument of contingency, that something could have not happened, is contradictory to deterninism. With that, because of causes, everything couldn't have not happened. So are we contingent or are we determined?

  24. Just because someone says an infinite regress can't happen doesn't make it true. All it takes is 1 example to disprove it and since they are making the claim they have to prove infinite regress can't happen. 08:51

  25. Your arguments against the 1st 4 arguments were lacking for several reasons. You did not tell the whole story – was it intentional intellectual dishonesty?

  26. I think the best argument against the premise "All things are caused" is the existence of virtual particles. Fermilab and PBS Space Time have good videos on them, but the tl;dr is that the vacuum of space isn't actually a vacuum. There are matter and anti-matter collisions that pop into and out of existence all the time. They have no cause but we can observe their effects via the Casimir effect and increased precision on electron measurements when factoring their existence in to the equations.

  27. This guy really missed the point of Aquinas' argument. On 8:22 he says: "If Aquinas is right that everything must have been put into motion by something else and everything must have a cause other than itself, then it seems that God must be subject to those same stipulations. And if God is somehow exempt from those rules, then why couldn't other things be exempt from them too?"

    He simply didn't understand the premisse of Aquinas' argument, which is, "everything THAT'S MOVING must have been set into motion by something else that WAS MOVING", God isn't moving, God is pure act, thus God cannot be subject to those rules, those rules apply to things that are moving, that's why other things can't be exempt from them too, only God isn't moving since he's pure act.

    Anyways, we need movers because we were put into motion (since everything that has begin to exist must have a cause) whereas God wasn't put into motion since he has no beggining.

    Also, everything must have a cause other than itself because something cannot come up out of thin air, therefore it follows that everything that has begin to exist must have a cause.

  28. I call these sort of deductive arguments for the existence of God “your mileage may vary” arguments. Your mileage may vary on how accepting you are of Aristotelian metaphysics, or if you can even understand it enough to asses the premises meaningfully (I know I probably can’t). Your mileage may vary on how much you can penetrate the language and track what is meant by words like motion, potential, pure act, etc. in this particular context. Your mileage may vary on how much incredulity you carry about the idea of an infinite regress of any sort of efficient causes. Your mileage may vary on whether you are willing to go along with the additional arguments Aquinas has to tack on to these in order to justify calling the entity in the conclusions “God.”

    This is why I will probably never be convinced of arguments for the existence of God through pure reason alone. Even if we accept the logic as sound, there is still a requirement to investigate and confirm. I’ve heard plenty of reasonable arguments for why we are all living in a computer simulation. Zeno’s paradoxes seem pretty reasonable on paper. To me, it’s little more than a thought experiment. Interesting, perhaps a good starting point for investigation. But when the conclusion of an argument is that something exists in reality, then we really need to do more work.

  29. one thing we can all agree on regardless of your race, religion or creed is that Catholic Priests are the smartest people in the world, can I get an amen

  30. Good video overall but there are several errors in the presentation. Aquinas' arguments most definitely ruled out God being a body or God being more than one. He later shows shortly after in the Summa that the God who is the Uncaused first cause cannot be many or have a physical body. It is true that Aquinas' arguments do not get you to the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, but they were not supposed to do that. We're trying to see what we can establish by reason. It is also true that proving that an infinite regress is possible would invalidate his arguments. But does the video really do that except to raise the question? To go back to the dominoes example and answer the question you yourself posed:.can you have a whole series of dominoes falling with nothing that makes the first one fall? Or to use another example: can you have a series of paperclips hanging one from another with nothing holding the first one?

  31. This is a bad presentation of Aquinas. Aquinas makes assumptions built in Aristotle, who had already proven Monotheism. And it is NOT logical to believe that infinite regress is possible. That's like saying it is possible for logic to be illogical. It's nonsense!

    And the name of the Hebrew God is what ties it all in. God tells Moses His name is "I Am," meaning He is existence itself. That is assumed in Aquinas' arguments and ties them all together.

  32. The problem with an infinite regress is that it forms a paradox. If we go back to the beginning of time, would that mean the beginning of the universe or way back? How can there be a beginning if something could've happened before it?

  33. The problem with this presentation of the five ways (not five arguments, it's all one argument from different perspectives), is that the idea of motion and causation, etc., are essentially being understood from a Humean understanding of causation: essentially the equivalent of billiard balls hitting each other. This is in opposition to the Aristotelian understanding of causation (ie. the four causes). This is the main reason that the argument seems self-defeating. Essentially, Aquinas is actually saying that there are things like motion (energy), and things that exist, etc., and these things are not self-explanatory, since they can be recognized as essentially effects, we can infer the existence of a cause. Because the things that we see (energy, existence, etc.) are not responsible for themselves (considering that it is possible that they could have been not in motion, or not existing, or not caused), there must be a cause that has these principles in it qua itself and not dependant on something for these principles. For example, if something is illumined, that is not the same thing as being capable of serving as a light source, and if we determine that the thing which is illumined is not its own light source, we infer that there must be a light source illuminating the thing that is illumined. A thing which we call "a god" would be this cause, ie. the principle on which existence, energy, causation, everything, is. Also, all of the further arguments concerning the kind(s) of god(s) are answered by Aquinas, you just have to read further. He acknowledges that the proof for the existence of god is 'bare bones', and that God is one, and infinite, and etc… are separate questions, which he answers subsequently. He even goes on to explain in great detail what others have claimed can be proven about God actually cannot be proven and how it is wrong to assert the ability to prove something which you actually cannot.

  34. The second, which this guy thought to be the strongest one, objection simply misunderstood the nature of the God of the Bible because in His very nature, He is self-existent.

  35. To say that a valid counter argument to Aquinas is that his premise of a first cause is a fallacy is not persuasive because it isn’t logical. Where is it that we have observed something being created from nothing? Seems to me that POV is dead on arrival.

  36. This proves that philosophy is the greatest way to waste your time just second to a cat chasing it's tail. Philosophy is like a pair of panties. It can be beautiful but for sure it cover things that are much more beautiful behind it. 😉

  37. Theism is a hyponym of religion which requires at least one person-god.
    Personhood isn't metalogically fundamental, instead a process mostly involving thought, so we have to analyze it in terms of information theory.

    Personhood isn't a simple in philosophy (study: simple in philosophy) because it requires component memories.

    theism = personocracy/personocentrism at the cosmological level

  38. Aquinas' arguments consider personocracy/personocentricity something given, and not to be tested.

    He wasn't merely a bad philosopher, but instead a non-philosopher.

  39. What is "cosmological personocracy = theism"?
    Make some videos on it.
    Not all religions are forms of "theism = personocratic religions (a hyponym)".

  40. Aquinas does not take it as a given that infinite regress is impossible, and centuries of theologians have argued for the impossibility of infinite regress.

    For example, how did we reach now? If past is infinite, how do you get through the past to reach present? We are at present, therefore past must be finite.

    The objection that the first mover God is not similar to theist conceptions of God is also rooted in misunderstanding, as the objectors are looking for the God of theistic personalism – a wholly different conception of what it means that "God" exists. Theistic personalism states that God is a person with various traits and powers. For example, the capacity to do anything, which is the personalistic conception of omnipotence. This is not the sort of being these arguments try to establish. Instead, the cosmological arguments of Aquinas attempt to demonstrate the existence of the God of Classical Theism. This conception of God states that he is a "Pure Act" or an "Ipsum Esse Subsistens." That which is itself none contingent, but which is the grounds for all contingent things to exist, including the universe. If you see somebody believing the argument reaches anything but the God of classical theism, you may inform them that they have a poor understanding of the argument and indeed, this objection stands.

    The final objection I shall discuss is the last one mentioned in your video, and I find it odd that you believe this is a "nail in the coffin" for Aquinas. If you follow the argument from change, you reach a being which is purely actual, with nothing else in existence but possible being(potentiality.) The pure act then actualizes possible being, thereby creating a universe. If God can exist without cause, why cant the universe? Because the universe contains contingent things, which were themselves actualized by another thing. God's timelessness is a logical conclusion of these facts, but a self creating universe is not a thing that I've ever heard an argument for, and is a made up possibility that in no way defeats an argued for conclusion, the existence of a God.

  41. Hank, you conflated hierarchical series of causes and linear series of causes. Dominoes are linear series. Atoms->molecules->people are a hierarchical series. Aquinas believes linear series could be infinite, but that hierarchical series must have a beginning.

  42. Thomas Aquinas lived during a pretty unscientific period? How do you get away with throwing around baseless false statements like that?
    Albert the Great, Roger Bacon, and Thomas Aquinas, helped establish the scientific method.

  43. I don't think Aquinas' argument leaves room for polytheism. A pantheon of beings usually has one single cause in any mythology. And he is not trying to prove the existence of a personal loving God. But just ONE supreme being with a perfect intellect and will. And he says it has to be the highest degree of perfection. A rock or an egg cannot be the highest degree of perfection. Part of the argument is the necessity of at least one non contingent cause. So that rules out the last objection too.

  44. There is no proof of god. PERIOD! If there is a god, he is certainly akin to the god of the deists, and is nothing like the Abrahamic god that is causing all the trouble in the world. Can’t we all just love and care about one another without a “babysitter in the sky” telling us who to love and who to hate.

  45. If you practice the love that god teaches us you would be in jail. Kill heathens, kill gay people, kill children who do not obey their parents, make women who are raped marry their rapists, practice slavery. These are all proper morals the bible teaches us. We have the ability to love one another without god or religion. People were loving one another long before religion was ever invented.

  46. Damn, don't know if the arguments are accurate, but this video set me in motion to go look for the original Aquinas book.

  47. I find it wildly amusing that all the arguments about proving whether God is real are predicated on the contention that God is real—-aka psuedoscience….

  48. While it's true that the cosmological argument lacks in proving any particular god, it doesn't leave room for a rock or a turtle or an egg. Rocks, turtles, and eggs don't create universes. While the god demonstrated by the argument could take any form the god wishes, introducing these possibilities isn't really an objection and seems disingenuous. The goal of introducing a rock seems to be to mock the possibilities, instead of address where the argument fails to establish its conclusion.

    Further, the argument can't be applied to polytheism, at least none of the polytheistic religions in existence. Polytheistic religions posit gods that are not omnipotent, etc.; they're more like superheroes (as shown in the clip). The gods of polytheism don’t have the capability of creating from nothing, as Aquinas argues. Further, while you might posit the idea of multiple omni*** gods, why would you do so? There’s nothing in the argument that can make sense of this. It seems that having multiple gods wouldn’t solve the problem at all, since why would there be multiple omni*** gods?

    Lastly, the objection of “what caused God?” doesn’t really work either. Aquinas doesn’t argue that everything must have a cause; he argues that everything that begins to exist must have a cause. If we are to defeat the problem of infinite regress or a causal loop (which Hank dismisses as a non-problem without reason, and I won’t address here), then you can’t simply object by saying that actual infinity is possible. Hank seems to believe this (emphasis on believe) without reason. Further, “other things can(’t) be exempt from those rules”, because there can only be one exception, or the problem isn’t solved.

    Yes, these videos are meant to be instructional and cover the general conversation around a philosophical issue, but Hank presents these as if they are genuine objections, and they are not. The main objection isn’t actually an objection to the argument, and this is that the argument doesn’t prove the existence of any particular god. Uniquely among his videos, the objections he covers are actually bad objections.

  49. Aquinas is primarily dealing with the duality of potency and act. A thing being able to be, and actually being. Movement is the actuality of a potency. A cause gives the act to a potency. Perfection is the actualizing of potencies. Etc. With this, he is arriving at a God who is Pure Actualization. This of course, needs not be “caused” or “moved” as you so presumptuously assume, because it is already fully actualized.

    Moreover, this renders multiple Gods an idiotic consideration; for two or more beings who are all pure act would render them the same thing, and therefor one. It also renders any “material” idea of God likewise absurd. For matter by its nature (and what is called prime matter, more fundamentally) still contains/is potency to be something else. Potency separates and divides, act is a unifying principle.

    All in all, these questions cannot be brushed over with such a haughty disregard. Form and matter, act and potency, temporal regression vs. essential regression…all these things must be taken into account (especially considering Aquinas’ Aristotelian background and focus) if you wish to consider yourself in any way a serious philosopher. Else, you are the PBS of the intellectual community. And no, you don’t get props for being lukewarm in your search for the truth, as no one ought to (Kant and Hegel are perfect examples of the ridiculous conclusions of lukewarm study).

    Best to you,
    A stubborn Aquarius 😉

  50. I have to say, I am always amazed by Crash Course’s neutrality in their material. There is barely any sense of bias whatsoever, which is so refreshing to see.

  51. The understanding of Aquinas in this video is grossly oversimplified. While doing an ok job on most of the cosmological arguments, it leaves no room for what is referred to an essentially ordered series, as opposed to an accidentally ordered series. This explains exactly how it is not possible for a infinite regress. "To claim an infinite regress is possible is to say that a painting does not need a painter as long as the handle is long enough on the paint brush"

    As for the other objections raised in this video. The purpose of the 5 ways of Aquinas is only to prove the existence of God, not His nature. If a single one of his critics would turn the next page in his works, they would see how he then proves the nature of God (such as his Love, Intellect, Simplicity, monotheism). Aquinas' arguments are famously critiqued by people who have not even read the work in which they critique. The 5 ways of aquinas are a small section of Aquinas' summary of theology. And are not in their own right his entire synthesis for the proof of God.

    Dawkins is the most famous of all to critique Aquinas, and fails entirely to even address Aquinas' arguments, instead completely straw-maning. Dawkins' argues against his own assumptions of what Aquinas is saying. And from them on, every athiest has continued on the assumption that Aquinas has been addressed and refuted. This couldn't be further from the truth.

  52. there must be a mistake in interpreting Aquinas' arguments: something that BEGAN to (exist, move, or caused, etc.) must have been caused by something else; God did NOT begin to move/cause, etc., knowing God is beyond time, so the word 'beginning' cannot possibly be applied to His existence. therefore, He is not caused by anything.

  53. Let's go through your critiques of St. Thomas Aquinas' arguments:

    1. "They don't prove any particular God."-

    Well, for one, he was just trying to prove that God exists and is necessary, not that any particular God exists. If he were trying to prove the Christian God exists with these arguments, then you would have a fair point.

    2. "How do we know there is only one of these Unmoved Movers?"-

    Simple: since each of these arguments prove (or at least attempt to prove) that an Unmoved Mover exists, we should invoke Occam's Razor; dare we assume each argument proves a different Unmoved Mover, or is the more simple and logical interpretation that all of these arguments prove ONE Unmoved Mover (since there is no evidence for multiple).

    3. "Aquinas does not prove a sentient God."

    Eggs are physical, contingent, and had a beginning through evolution. Turtles are physical, contingent, and had a beginning through evolution. As you even admitted, Aquinas was establishing a necessary Unmoved Mover- one that created all things. So, it wasn't contingent or physical, and didn't have a beginning.

    4. "An infinite regress is possible."

    No. You must see Steve Patterson's video on the logic of an infinite regress- you'll see why.

    5. "Aquinas' arguments are self-defeating."

    Oh, the classic "who created God" argument that was formulated against theists once they made their first-cause arguments. Do you understand was Aquinas was saying? If an infinite regress is impossible, then everything must be put in motion by something else- but since it would be impossible, there has to be a thing which ISN'T put into motion by anything- it is necessary.

  54. I'm not convinced by Aquinas's arguments but I suspect the reason he made 5 wasn't because he was worried he needed that many but rather because he thought they were all good and gave him grounds to say something like "look with all these arguments to believe in God, how could you not believe in God?". I.e. he probably believed he was building an argument for consilience by having so many different arguments for God.

  55. This is the same argument Dawkins attempted to make and it failed. The God of the Bible is not caused. This was written long before Aristotle. God is self existent and eternal. An atheistic ideology leaves you with an infinite regress which is not logical. A self existent Being is completely coherent to all we experience and learn and gives the answer to the WHY questions that relative atheism lacks.

  56. Most objections to Aquinas' five arguments for the existence of God seem to be that they don't get down to the finer points of proving a Christian God. All that the five arguments set out to do in the first place though is establish the fact that A God has to exist – not that the God that does exist is the God that we as Christians believe in since before he can argue the latter we have to establish the former. If you read/listen to (it's extremely long) the entire Summa for instance – you'll find thousands of arguments why and how the God that we as Christians believe in is the one true God. The five proofs that a God exists in the first place is just a baseline for the many arguments that follow.

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