1 Collier’s encyclopedia with
Bibliography and Index, volume 2 (Ohio: Springfield, The Crowell-Collier
publishing company, 1965), 142.
Bruce R. Reichenbach. The cosmological argument a reassessment (Illinois:
Charles C Thomas Publisher, 1972), 6.
5 Reichenbach, 86-87.
6 http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/sum005.htm accessed December 10, 2017.
8 Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion (London:
Transworld Publishers, 2006), 77-78.
William Lane Craig. The Cosmological
Argument from Plato to Leibniz (London: The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1980),
again through observation and senses, the crux of the argument is developed, for
the denial of an existence of eternal being is a denial to our existence as
well. In addition, since the world has no ability to create himself, this
follows that an external force has caused all the contingent beings to exist.
Consequently, the only way to know
whether the argument of contingency is capable of answering our question or not
is to ponder the logical construction of this argument as it was constructed by
Maimonides. Since it is a cosmological argument, it starts the same way the
cosmological arguments do, from senses and observation, by asserting that
everything exists. Further, the senses affirm that it is irrational to declare
that all things are without both beginning and end, for human sees things get
into existence and come out of it. Similarly, it is logically inadmissible that,
as skeptics claim, all beings have beginning and end. For this may mean that
nothing would exist now because there would be no being to cause things to
exist, and this is clearly unacceptable because humans perceive their existence.10
though the argument of contingency is usually imputed to Aquinas, it is
magnificent to emphasize that this argument could be traced back to the Greek
philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle. In addition, the argument has been widely
developed through centuries, especially by the work of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides
(1135-1204 A.C.), from whom Aquinas derived this argument and many other
arguments, for Aquinas was considerably influenced by the ideas of Maimonides.9
The need for a necessary being:
skeptics, such as the eminent atheist Richard Dawkins, have claimed that
Aquinas’ argument of contingency does not differ from his argument of
causality. For both of them are an attempt to ascribe the starting of this
world to first cause, that is God.8
However, even though the two arguments may seem similar, but a distinct
difference distinguishes the argument of contingency from which of causality is
that the former is devoid from the idea of infinite regress which is objected
by many philosophers and atheists.
it is a cosmological arguments, the argument of contingency flows from the truth
that whatever exists in reality may, or may not, exist. But since things have
the possibility not to exist, this entails that everything at one time may not
exist and thus nothing would exist now, for the existence of what exists now hinges
on something already existed.6 In
other words, there are things that exist but do not have to exist, and
therefore what depends on these things in his existence would not exist.
Accordingly, an urgent need is for a necessary being whose existence does not
depend on another beings, but rather his existence is caused by himself, and
from whom other beings have been caused.7
Aquinas’ argument of contingency:
philosophers, such as Kant, make an objection contending that the cosmological
arguments are no more ontological ones put in new form.5
However, in spite of this objection, the fact that the cosmological arguments’
premises are drawn from reality accords these arguments more credibility and
interest among both theists and atheists than which of the ontological.
The arguments for the existence of God have been widely contemplated
through history. Two approaches to formulate these arguments were followed. The
ontological arguments, on the one hand, are arguments which tackle the issue of
God’s existing by initiating from reason rather than from observation. Such
arguments are usually charged for falling into circular reasoning.3 On
the other hand, the cosmological arguments are the arguments which start from
observation, taking into account human’s curiosity about existence and the
origin of substance.4 In
other words, the cosmological arguments resort to what is materialistic so that
what is supernatural could be illuminated.
The cosmological and the ontological
pointing out to a being as a contingent does not mean that Aquinas believes
that this very being coincidentally came to existence; rather, Aquinas begins
from this existential fact in order to conclude that this contingent being came
into existence due to the will of a necessary being from whom creatures derive
It is crucial, before commencing to explain the argument, to define
the word “contingent.” Reichenbach discusses the implication of this
word using three examples. The first one, concerning propositions, argues that when
both a proposition and its antithesis are possible to exist, then this
proposition is contingent. Besides, he defines what he calls contingent events,
considering any event that may happen or not as a contingent one. Ultimately,
he applies this on beings, claiming that the contingent being is every being
that could have not existed.2
Defining the word “contingent:”
follows is an abbreviated summary in which I will try to illustrate Thomas
Aquinas’ third argument for the existence of God, and evaluate if it denotes a
theistic God or not.
Thomas Aquinas is a prominent
Italian theologian and philosopher. He was born in Italy about the year 1226, and
died in 1274. He was well-known for his influential and widespread book
“Summa theologiae,”1 in
which he wrote his five arguments for the existence of God. In fact, many
people suppose that these five arguments occupy a considerable space of summa
theologiae, but the staggering fact is that the aforementioned arguments are
occupying less than two pages of this huge book. However, the former fact does
not change the impact of these five arguments, not just on the Christian
domain, but on the whole intellectual world as well.