The Moral Cosmological Argument
T. Mander May 26, 2009

This is a work in progress.
The main sources are:
Etienne Gilson, The Elements of Christian Philosophy.
Norman L. Geisler, Christian Apologetics.
J. I. Packer, Knowing God.

Discussion about vertical cosmological argument - added May 26, 2009

1. God holds the universe in existence.
2. He is the ground of our very being and is the foundation for all meaning and value.
3. As we come to know God better our understanding of the world around us also becomes clearer.

1. God holds the universe in existence.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
       Who created all these?

Teaching physics, all the greats seem to end up writing about God:
Robert Jastrow, Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, Stephen W. Hawking

It’s not that they all agree but that they all deem the universe to be something demanding explanation. I mean, it’s hardly something you miss first time and then find yourself surprised when you trip over it.

The great prophet Isaiah answered the question “Who created all these?” when he says…

       He who brings out the starry host one by one,
       and calls them each by name.
       Because of his great power and mighty strength,
       not one of them is missing.

This is not some idea that is strange to the rest of us. The existence of God is so obvious that some philosophers even go as far as calling it self-evident and not needing to be proved at all. Alas there are the atheists referred to in Psalm 53:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” That kind of silliness would not be possible if the knowledge of God’s existence was so universal.

We need to demonstrate God’s existence to both answer the critics and to strengthen our own faith. But the burden the atheist faces to demonstrate the opposite, that God doesn’t exist, is stacked against them from the start simply because pretty much everyone thinks he does.

This is not just a question about a God that we might be able to ignore. It is a God who we have a lot to do with. Some people have a belief and yet live their lives mostly ignoring the reality of their Creator. It’s compartmentalisation. But the existence of God is bigger than that.

Etienne Gilson:
“There is a God… Creator of heaven and earth, cause of its existence and ultimate end of all the beings it contains as well as of all their operations.”

This can be shown to be true.

“But if one supposes it to be true, one must accept the consequence that, whether they realise it or not, all beings are acting in view of God as in view of their ultimate end… In fact, since God is their last end, what men are pursuing in the enjoyment of creatures, under the name of happiness, is God. Their will is orientated toward God, only they do not know this.”
Example of rock music drummer Raman saying that the devil had all the best music. “But they are all in time with each other. They are striving together as a group to produce their own order on the sound within a framework and language of music.”TM

“When in consequence of some reasoning, a man has proved that there is a God, he easily realises that this God had always been the object of his desire. God was that which, under the name of happiness, he was pursuing as his ultimate end. When a man knows that God has always been the end of his desire, he cannot help feeling that he has always known God.”

So let’s do some reasoning about God’s existence and then see where that might lead us in our search for happiness, fulfilment in our lives, and doing the right thing.

There are two main forms of the cosmological argument.

  • There is a cause of the universe coming into existence (Gen 1:1)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

  • There is a cause of the universe continuing to be right now (Col 1:17)

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.


  • There is a cause of the universe coming into existence (Gen 1:1)

Horizontal cosmological argument
J.P. Moreland, Scaling the SecularCity
William Lane Craig, Apologetics: An Introduction

1. Everything that had a beginning had a cause
2. The universe had a beginning
3. Therefore, the universe had a cause

Did the universe have a beginning? There are only two possibilities: Beginning or no beginning.
If the universe has always existed then it makes no sense to ask the question “how did it get there” because it never “got there.” However, the mass of scientific evidence gained from actually looking at the universe indicates it had a beginning.
Stephen Hawking says in the foreword of The Cosmos Explained (Cambridge, July 28, 1997): "At the Big Bang, the universe and time itself came into existence…
This is the most studied scientific topic in the history of the planet. It is also the most expensive.
A quick look at some of the evidence:
Second law of thermodynamics
The amount of usable energy is running out like a torch running out of battery power
The universe is heading toward disorder. The original system was highly ordered and there is increasing disorder (entropy) over time.

Universe is expanding - If time were reversed, the universe would collapse back into nothing.

Radiation Echo - April 25, 2000 cosmic background radiation maps released at NASA.

Great mass discovered 1992. “If you’re religious, it’s like looking at God.” George Smoot

End of infinite time impossible
1. An infinite has no end
2. Today is the end day in the series of days before today
3. Therefore, there were not an infinite number of days before today. Time and the universe has a beginning.

 “…astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world….the essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same.” (Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 14.)

“Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth.  And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. . . . That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.” (Agnostic Astronomer Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies.)

If the universe had a beginning, then it must have had a Beginner.
The evidence leaves us with the following three options.

1. Uncaused: No one created something out of nothing (atheistic view)
According to the Big Bang Theory, the whole matter of the universe began to exist at a particular time in the remote past. A proponent of such a theory, at least if he is an atheist, must believe that the matter of the universe came from nothing and by nothing. 
(Atheist Anthony Kenny, Five Ways, 66)
As anyone who has seen The Sound of Music will tell you, “nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could.” The only thing nothing ever causes it nothing.

2. Self-caused: The universe caused itself to come into existence from nothing
Self-generating universes: multiple universes grow like branches from a tree trunk in a model that allows the universe to create itself.
“It’s sort of like we’re brushing our ignorance under the rug of the very early universe.” – Chris Impey, Cosmologist, University of Arizona.
This implies that the universe must have existed before its own existence in order to cause its own existence! It’s like pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps – it doesn’t work. The rebounding universe theory doesn’t avoid the problem of the laws of thermodynamics.

3. Caused by another: Someone created something out of nothing (theistic view)
Which view is more reasonable? The scientific evidence leads to a Supernatural Cause.

The bottom line from an agnostic astronomer:
“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; He is about to conquer the highest peak; As he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” 
(Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 116)



  • There is a cause of the universe continuing to be right now (Col 1:17)

“For in him we live and move and have our being” Acts 17:28

1. Every part of the universe is dependent.

  • Some things undeniably exist (I can’t deny my own existence)
  • My non-existence is possible – it is not necessary that I exist
  • If existence is not a necessary part of who I am and yet I undeniably exist I must be getting my existence from somewhere else. I am dependent.

2. If every part is dependent, then the whole universe must also be dependent.
3. Therefore, the whole universe is dependent right now on some independent Being beyond it for its present existence.

Question to ask an atheist: “If there is no God, why is there something (right now) rather than nothing at all?”

A question from the floor was regarding point 2 above. What if there is some synergy that makes the universe better than the parts to the extent that the universe isn't dependent at all.

In response
a) It's like a big jigsaw where all the pieces are coloured red. When you put it alltogether it's not going to be blue with orange spots. The colour of the parts is integral to the colour of the whole picture.
b) What about one of those party games where everyone tries to sit on the knees of the people behind them? Alone you fall over but with the entire group in a circle you don't. The entire circle is, of course, being supported by the ground and is thus still dependent.
c) The point is whether or not the thing being talked about for the parts is the same thing being talked about for the whole. If you have a metal bolt one can say the bolt is obviously a dependent object. If you put a bunch of them together to make a Mark 2 Ford Escort there is synergy and the car travels a lot faster than the bolt by itself. The point, however, is that the speed and colour of the car is a different issue from that of ontological dependency. The whole is greater than the parts but not in the area of also being dependent.
d) Finally, if you take all the parts of the universe away you end up with no universe. But a being that ceases to exist when you take its parts away must be dependent.



2. He is the ground of our very being and is the foundation for all meaning and value.
The alternative ideas about God don’t give a realistic foundation for living.

Pantheism – affirms God but denies evil. Not reality based.
Pantheism. Good yes, evil no.
The NAM teaches that pain and suffering don’t exist, that they are just an illusion.  This aspect of pantheism doesn’t even attempt to offer a solution to the problem of evil, it just says there isn’t a problem at all!  A whole belief system in denial.  To which we respond with the famous poem, “If pain is an illusion tell me why it is that when I sit on a pin and it punctures my skin, I dislike what I fancy I feel?”  If pain is just illusion why is it so persistent, why does it hurt so much, and why doesn’t it go away?  How much better is a faith in Jesus Christ that can help you through the difficult times and offer hope for the future (see Romans 5:1-11).
"Whenever you find a man who says he doesn't believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later." CS Lewis --The Case for Christianity
Agnosticism claims you can’t know God, indeed that we might not know anything at all

Open God theology - God is all powerful but not all knowing. He’s hoping it turns out alright in the end too.

Finite God theology - God is all knowing but not all powerful. He’s trying to help out but you know how it is, his hands are tied.

Atheism – affirms evil but denies God. No basis for affirming evil. Denying God is to deny any standard of goodness exists against which any action can be weighed.

There is a Christian alternative. An alternative reflected in the very existence of the universe around us.

Theism – affirms that God and evil exist. The immediate cause of my existence must be infinite, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all perfect.
Of all the different worldviews it is only in Christianity that there are at least some answers we can understand and most of all some hope that helps us live through the rough times.

You can’t give something that you don’t have. And all of these descriptions are ones that are directly concerning the nature of being itself.

Evil is like a hole in a bucket.
"Badness is only spoiled goodness." CS Lewis

God is pure being. We are a mixture of being and potential.
We are in a state of Becoming, God is in a state of Being
We have the Potential to change, to become more actual. God is perfect in his Actualisation.
We have limitations to our being. God is not limited in his being.
We are limited in what we can do. There is nothing that God is limited in except for those very things that are against his perfect nature. God cannot sin.

What is the Good?
Thomas Aquinas said “The good and the being are the same in reality; they differ from the point of view of reason only.” We think about them in different ways. One we say is about existence. The other whether we like it or not. Desirability. “Get that car off the front lawn.” vs “I like Blue.”

In my apologetics course I talk about God being the basis of morality. A standard which exists whereby actions can be measured against. Hitler vs. Mother Teresa. We can see something is really better than something else because it is closer to an external standard of perfection.

A thing is not good then because it is universally desired.
It is universally desired because it is good.

Perfection is actuality itself, as opposed to mere potentiality.
A thing is good inasmuch as it is being.
What is not being, or does not have being, is nothing.

“Hence goodness and being are really the same, but goodness is being conceived under the aspect of its desirableness, itself grounded in the very actuality of being.

Every being is good inasmuch as it is being. For to be is to have actuality, to have actuality is to have perfection, and to have perfection is to be desirable, which itself is to be good.”
- Etienne Gilson

C.S. Lewis converted to Christianity when he realised that evil could only be explained in the presence of good. The existence of evil is linked categorically to the existence of an unbroken state it has fallen from.

“God is beauty because he is good, God is good because he is being, and since the essence of God is the very act of being (esse), there is nothing to set any limit either on goodness or on being.”
Etienne Gilson “The Elements of Christian Philosophy

Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion attempts to answer this entire argument with just 2 or 3 sentences. His response only ends up affirming it in an even stronger way.
“You might as well say, people vary in smelliness but we can make the comparison only by reference to a perfect maximum of conceivable smelliness. Therefore there must exist a pre-eminently peerless stinker, and we call him God.”

In his own words, “that’s an argument?”
It’s pretty clear that in this case the biggest stinker isn’t God. A privation or lack in an attribute like smell does not result in a really evil smell (or a really good one for that matter) it results in no smell at all. Dawkins shows no understanding of what being is all about. In addition, he tries to limit reality and ultimate being by his own inability to conceive it.
3. As we come to know God better our understanding of the world around us also becomes clearer.

  • Agnosticism and the 6 blind men

Common story told by pluralists describing the search for God: “It’s like the six blind men and an elephant. There are different religions but just one common faith. Religions are just different sides of the same coin.” Of course the story does the opposite of that intended. Instead of showing how religions are relative to our perspective, it shows how the one truth doesn’t change despite there being 6 false views of it. As Stephen Colbert late night comedian put it, “Jesus is the elephant.”

  • Our understanding might change but the foundation for us even to be able to understand things does not change. The foundation of our existence is God.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17; cf. Heb 13:8

  • Special revelation ties the way we should act to how God is


Target of our Love
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt 5:43-45 love your enemies).

Target of our Thoughts
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:8,9

Target of our thoughts and actions
1 Peter 1:13-16
13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."[a]
Realisation of our place in the universe
Coupled with the connection of God with us.
The limited changing man united with the unlimited changeless God.
1 Peter 1:22-25
 22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.[b] 23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24For,
   "All men are like grass,
      and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
   the grass withers and the flowers fall,
    25but the word of the Lord stands forever."[c] And this is the word that was preached to you.
So if our view of God is tied so closely to our view of morality why is it that humanity still does, actually, maintain a fairly common practise of morality?
All the misunderstandings in the world don’t change the real God from being what he is.
It’s God’s universe we inhabit. All truth is God’s Truth. All goodness is God’s goodness.


Isaiah idols.
The Problem stated:
No one stops to think,
       no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
       "Half of it I used for fuel;
       I even baked bread over its coals,
       I roasted meat and I ate.
       Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
       Shall I bow down to a block of wood?"
 20 He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him;
       he cannot save himself, or say,
       "Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?"
The Reality
 21 "Remember these things, O Jacob,
       for you are my servant, O Israel.
       I have made you, you are my servant;
       O Israel, I will not forget you.
The Salvation
 22 I have swept away your offences like a cloud,
       your sins like the morning mist.
       Return to me,
       for I have redeemed you."
 23 Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this;
       shout aloud, O earth beneath.
       Burst into song, you mountains,
       you forests and all your trees,
       for the LORD has redeemed Jacob,
       he displays his glory in Israel.

Gitanjali - A Bengali Poem
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

Good reading:
Etienne Gilson, The Elements of Christian Philosophy.
Norman L. Geisler, Christian Apologetics.
J. I. Packer, Knowing God.

Good viewing: Dancing Matt



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