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 Responses

  1. Jaso N says:

    Related to the argument of contingency, there is point I occasionally hear brought up asking why the universe we live in is the this universe in particular, leading to the conclusion that we observe this universe because it is capable of observation and there are many that are not, that is related to the argument of contigincey saying that if we very well could never had existed, something must be necessary, but we valued very well have not of existed, but we can only think that because we exist.

  2. Astray says:

    The contentions raised to Aquinas' arguments funnily revolve around the nature of the Divine rather than the existence of the Divine. The nature of the Divine is a separate dialectic which has been touched on by numerous theists. Regarding the contentions to the existence of the Divine, they fundamentally misunderstand the distinction between the material and immaterial. The material world is a projection of the immaterial world, but the laws of causality and such don't apply. We find the nature of God through observing His creation and using Logos.

  3. Ethiopia Mel says:

    If going to say God is self sufficient, self existent infinite, would you say energy and matter are interchangeable than why cannot be that the universe is equivalent to energy which is eternal? The problem is just declaring personal God into it without any evidence. To me that’s it simply declaration.
    How did he decide the first cause is a being or personal God? We don’t have access to nothingness, so we can’t say something can not come from nothing. How did you know whether can or can’t, we always experience and surrounded by something , we don’t have anything that is 100% nothingness. So we don’t know. If anyone know what is nothingness please respond. Sorry English is not my first language. Is it possible nothingness is impossible? Maybe it has always been something never nothing, maybe something always excited .

  4. Telperio says:

    regress of contingency isn`t going back in time. It`s an immediate non-temporal relation between actual and potential objects the hylemorphic concept which is crucial for understanding these arguments which was stated by Thomas a lot of times and is ignored by modern critiques.

  5. Steven Chernets says:

    Why can't we have infinite progress but not infinite regress?

  6. hey boss says:

    7:31 can you list all the Gods & Goddesses there?

  7. Liz Kaufman says:

    So it reduces to infinite regress. Now nobody can prove or disprove it through reason or logic.

  8. Nick Van den Brande says:

    Well indeed its self destructing, and it doesn't proof any God, only there is a start and we don't know how, there for …

  9. Rain Littledeer says:

    "You're basically a fluke" Lol!

  10. Maxmilian Costello says:

    This is a very superficial understanding of Aquinas and his five ways. The five ways are one small section in the summa theologic and are by no means expected to stand alone. He has the rest of the Summa theologica as wel as the Summa Contra Gentiles which answer a lot of the questions that this guy claims Aquinas did not consider. They are absolutely not supposed to define God completely, they are intended to say that God is not completely ineffable, and there are certain characteristics we can understand about a FEC. It is not intended to say anything about a personal God, and Aquinas has the realization that reason alone cannot prove everything, and faith is needed to understand empty holes. This is a very superficial, close-minded understanding of Aquinas's philosophy, and completely ignores any of Aquinas' philosophies regarding the relationship of faith and reason. This video does nothing to lead others towards the truth, and only confuses people further with misguided information.

  11. Aidan K says:

    he is saying that these do not prove the Christian God, but he should acknowledge that the show that God must exist, who ever it is

  12. Tim Taft says:

    I don't think this video does Aquinas justice. As much as I love CrashCourse, this summary is filled with caricatures and straw man arguments. Of course, it is kind of hard to find an accurate portrayal of the Aristotelian/Aquinas Argument these days. Your portrayal of Aquinas' argument was evidently false the moment that the dominoes were brought into equation. The way in which the argument from "motion" is portrayed here is rather superficial. Hank kind of assumes that the kind of motion Aquinas' is talking about is "I hit a ball with a cue stick and the ball moves" when what Aquinas is more accurately describing is better titled "change" as opposed to "motion" in general. A better statement of the argument is as follows:

    1. The things in the world undergo changes of various kinds (spatial, quantitative, qualitative, physical states, etc.)
    2. Change occurs because things in the world are presently in one manner (i.e. actual) yet have the capability of being another way (i.e. potential).
    3. So the things we see in this world are comprised of act and potency.
    4. No potency can bring itself — or another potency — to act.
    5. So change involves the actualization of a potential by something already actual.
    6. So whatever is changed is indeed changed by another.
    7. If there is to be a cause of all change, then there must be a first changer (something which can

    impart change to all things without itself undergoing change).

    8. But every candidate for a first changer in the world, is itself changing or is subject to change.
    9. So this first changer must exist beyond the world and is responsible for all change within the world.
    10. Therefore, God exists (God being the first changer, a timeless, immaterial, ground of Being for the universe).

    See what Aquinas is talking about here goes beyond mere dominoes and cue sticks but rather the complex notion of potency and act in general. Hank seems to understand this superficially as in a temporal, linear sense when what Aquinas was really going after was a hierarchical understanding.

    Aquinas never argued that an infinite regress of temporal causes and effects was impossible. Again, Aquinas is speaking here in hierarchical terms. Aquinas himself thought that an infinite sequence of an accidentally sorted series was impossible to disprove. Rather, Aquinas sought to prove that even if the universe was eternal than it still required a Ground of Being to sustain it, and that Ground of Being we call God. Think about it like you would the light being reflected off of a moon. Obviously the light did not originate from that moon but came from somewhere else. So perhaps the light is reflected from another moon. But then that moon would have to have its own reflector. Suppose we had an infinite series of moons reflecting light off of each other. Are we justified in asserting that an infinite series explains the light reflected by these moons? Certainly not. For even if there is an infinite series of moons it does not explain where the light originated from but rather continues to delay the explanation. The argument here is really that in any structured hierarchy there must be a first cause that imparts act upon and sustains each and every member of this chain. So the objection that Aquinas was wrong in asserting the existence of an unmoved mover because we cannot prove that an infinite regress is impossible is false as we can clearly see that in structured hierarchies there must be a first causer.

    Also one of the other objections that was raised which was that Aquinas did not prove any particular god nor that this God is personal is just dismissive at best. The cosmological arguments presented by Aquinas were merely foundational work. Aquinas himself went on to write books worth of material on why this God must be the Christian God and he also responded to the objection that it didn't disprove multiple gods.

    One of the other objections which was that the argument makes a special pleading fallacy is patently absurd. Remember that the argument is a deductive argument. The whole point is that if the universe is a structure hierarchy of causes as it obviously is than just like any structured hierarchy it requires a first causer/changer. An unactualized actualizer. So essentially what Hank is asking is "what caused an uncaused thing?" which is a ridiculous question and I need not explain why.

    That said, I did appreciate this video despite its mischaracterizations of Aquinas' arguments and a big shoutout to Hank for being willing to make a video on such a controversial topic as this (though I understand that this video is rather old)!

  13. Daniel M. says:

    This isn’t a crash course on the five ways, it’s a misrepresentation on the five ways. For one, Aquinas never committed to the universe as temporal, the arguments work even if we posit an eternal universe. Second, his arguments do in fact rule our polytheism or that God is a turtle. Third, the arguments, if you actually understand them, lead to the conclusion that the first cause is indeed uncaused necessarily. This was a poor representation of Aquinas arguments and I can only believe that you simply did not understand them yourself.

  14. Rahul Deepak says:

    7:28 is that Thor.

  15. Scott Charles HERMAN says:

    Is anyone else here for school?

  16. Thanoes says:

    1:18 what you all came for

  17. Eduard Hsia says:

    But Aquinas doesn't actually explain why he believes an infinite regress is impossible. Me personally, I believe it is a possibility that the universe actually has no beginning. I'm not a scientist and I'm not saying this is for sure true or not, I'm just saying it's a possibility.  Ofcourse we as humans haven't been able to and may never be able to know what came before the big bang. While there is evidence for the big bang, what caused the big bang? Some people say before the big bang there were particles and energy that condensed until it exploded and created the known universe. But technically the Universe is anything and everything that exists, so if there were things that caused the big bang, then the universe did exist before the big bang. Even if you believe god exists and created our world, then even then the universe has always existed, because people who believe in god say god created everything and before that he/she was always there. Even if there was only god and nothing else, well then god would have been the universe, because the universe is everything that exists. I think humans don't yet have enough knowledge to assume the universe began at a particular time, because we can't yet observe what happened before the big bang. If the big bang was when the universe started then there could have been absolutely nothing before that; no time and space. If there was anything before that, literally ANYTHING, then the universe did NOT start with the big bang. Just the current format of the universe, with galaxies, stars, planets, etc. Even if before the big bang there were only particles floating around, those particles would EXIST and therefore there would be a universe. I also think its a possibility that the universe does not have any edges or boundaries, but that it is also infinite in size. Again, I'm saying Possibility, because I have to look at everything with scepticism. I haven't proved anything, I'm just suggesting what I believe are possibilities.

  18. Uzayr Arif says:

    The so called athiest counter arguments that he quickly went through are flawed within themselves. There would be chaos if there are multiple Gods but we live in a finely tuned world. Finely tuned meaning that the condition allows for existence. For example: Here in the UK when you are learning to drive, the instructor sitting on the passanger seat has their own steering wheel and pedals. If the student wanted to go North and the instructor wanted to go South- where would the car travel to?

  19. Uzayr Arif says:

    If infintite regression can be possible…well its not possible thats the whole point.

  20. Uzayr Arif says:

    'Personal loving God'..thats not the argument. The argument is does God exist. If he does we are subordinate to God regardless of how we feel about God.

  21. Uzayr Arif says:

    God being and egg, turtle, old man etc is beyond the point. That is starting an argument about the aesthetics of God which humans will fail to fathom becuase God is outside of the material world. Rather we should focus on the the attributes of God. 1) Must be intelligent to create this complex yet finely tuned universe 2) Must be independant 3) Must be POWERFUL

  22. Bill V says:

    I think Aquinas was using the same scientific world by which men claim there is no God. Therefore, atheism cannot be proven correct by these counter arguments. I would also want to say that neither can I accept evolution based on these rebuttals

  23. jimbob4484 says:

    I like the part where an infinite being is involked to address the problem of an infinite regress 🤔

  24. God Of Theory says:

    Buddha is not a god,btw.

  25. Shadowreeper213 says:

    Pragmatic agnosticism is the way to go until our knowledge of any sort of godlike being(s)/thing(s) or scientific findings are definitive and complete without room to question them any further.

  26. Helmer Erazo says:

    Well we are left with faith hooray just what do you put it on?:D

  27. The God Bringer says:

    Easy to disprove an infinite regress. If the past is infiite you could never get to now. An infinite amount of time (and events) has to pass to get to now, a beginning is certain. Secondly Aquinas' god is defined as 'uncaused', 'unmoved' etc, so doesn't need to be subject to the arguments. He's saying we need something different at the beginning eg God, or if you like "unknown thing X". To then ask 'what caused Thing X' is to misunderstand the definition of thing X altogether.

  28. Marcus Lopez-pierre says:

    Aquinus figured out the big bang and called it God

  29. Elijah Barrett says:

    to ALL who look at the comment section woe unto you

  30. I Cook Ravioli and You Watch Me Cook Ravioli says:

    I mean the "nail in the coffin" is far from an actual nail in the coffin. It seems to ignore the distinction between a maximally great and necessary being and an influenced contingent being.

  31. Safflower Sunshine says:

    Self-defeating, indeed?

  32. Yousef says:

    It’s laughable to hold a course on the Philosophy of Religion without mentioning the contributions of the works of Kalam scholars like Ghazali, who have presented similar arguments long before Aquinas. Crash Course interested in the truth? Nahhhh, just another form of entertainment, gotta make something relevant to its major audience: Western theists and atheists stuck in argument. How else are you gonna get those views and sponsor revenue without making videos designed to stir that comment section pot

  33. Albeit_Jordan says:

    4:57 But the Universe very well could have easily not existed…

  34. jammalammaDD says:

    This guy is the (or at least A) King of the straw man…

  35. Ryan Cain says:

    I'm always surprised by the idea that something must be before god in the argument of the first cause or motion. The whole argument is structured on the premise that there was a first thing (or things if we allow the Committee of Gods); therefore the first thing(s) would be the exclusive exception(s) from the rule by necessity. The first thing is first, right? So the objection seems incoherent and silly.

  36. journeyfiveonesix says:

    I know this comment will be at the bottom of the comment section, but this is an incorrect analysis of Aquinas' arguments.

    "Now two things would seem to weaken the above arguments. The first of these is that they proceed from the supposition of the eternity of movement, and among Catholics this is supposed to be false. To this we reply that the most effective way to prove God’s existence is from the supposition of the eternity of the world, which being supposed, it seems less manifest that God exists." (Summa Contra Gentiles I.8)

    Further, Aquinas' actual argument says:
    Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another. (Summa Theologica I.2.iii)

    So while it is a common interpretation that that Aquinas argued here for the beginning of the universe, he did not.

    Blessings!

  37. hektorforever says:

    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.

  38. Peter Carlson says:

    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.

  39. Mark Anthony says:

    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

  40. Zeus says:

    Atheists: "This does put a smile on my face."

  41. Gw G says:

    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.

  42. Gw G says:

    "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…

  43. Omar K says:

    Thomas Aquinas's arguments are flawless and perfect.

  44. Sayyam Jain says:

    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.

  45. Rabeet Makhdoomi says:

    The more I watch these videos, the more I doubt my belief in God
    😂 😂

  46. Alicia Rossano says:

    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 🙄🙄🙄

  47. Luis Urgelles says:

    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.

  48. Eoghan Connolly says:

    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.

  49. izbavynasotlukavago says:

    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.

  50. Logan T. says:

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

  51. Andy Diaz says:

    you can't give what you don't have. a rock can't give sentience :•)

  52. Del Steinhoff says:

    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.

  53. Daniel Bradley says:

    Bishop Robert Barron has a pretty good response to this 🤔

  54. barbaro267 says:

    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.

  55. Lolipicaplyse says:

    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

  56. philackey says:

    So an infinite regress is possible? 7:52 I thought we already established that we aren't allowing that.

  57. M.I.A. says:

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

  58. M.I.A. says:

    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? 😂😂😂

  59. inqwizit0r says:

    argument from contingency is convincing. Think harder about it.

  60. Spaceflight Enthusiast says:

    Does anyone know how the comment section isn't a verbal battle Royale?

  61. adam b says:

    It's Wesley Snipes

  62. Soviet Plays Games says:

    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.

  63. Richard Ball says:

    Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object….Guess What Happens.

  64. T B says:

    So Aquinas was talking about philosophical relativism in the middle ages? And arguing against it?

  65. xys007 says:

    If you have evidence for your believe, it is no longer a believe.

  66. Prashant Dahiya says:

    Woah, I mean woah

  67. tupac shakur says:

    gematria proves the devil is real

  68. Fathomistic Fantasy says:

    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?

  69. John Michael says:

    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

  70. CrixZivion JL says:

    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

  71. tulin says:

    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 :/

  72. tulin says:

    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

  73. StriderMack says:

    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?

  74. Johnny Morris says:

    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

  75. C Alex says:

    So was Elon Musk a contingent occurrence, or a deliberate design planted by God?

  76. CryptoNugs _dot_club says:

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

  77. TheKoopaKing says:

    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.

  78. Douglas Hearne says:

    One giant argument from ignorance

  79. silas frisenette says:

    Why is it impossible that everything might not have existed …?

  80. silas frisenette says:

    Also – isn't the big bang basically also a logical result of those deductions? 😛

  81. Lewis72 says:

    Oh, the specious art of arguing something into existence.

  82. Rebecca Olinger says:

    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.

  83. Samuel Stephens says:

    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.

  84. G Buz says:

    I am pretty sure I am not contingent since I do exist and I cannot be unexisted.

  85. Pretentious Ass Wipe says:

    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

  86. Pete Brown says:

    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?

  87. Maccabeus Catholic Music says:

    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.

  88. braedon Poteat says:

    It's quiet a talent to completely misunderstand every argument yet speak with such confidence.

  89. TreviusFox Music says:

    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?

  90. WTF how bizarre says:

    dominoes are the perfect example of determinism.

  91. Paul says:

    Your objections are answered in depth by Aquinas. You're so predictable that you lost a debate to a dead guy.

  92. Olenka says:

    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.

  93. Van Tha says:

    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.

  94. Christian Dianne Oro says:

    How is this for free? Thank you Crash Course!

  95. Ceasar Rustilio says:

    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.

  96. Cdawgthree says:

    Do a Spinoza video

  97. saeidhn says:

    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. 😉

  98. Astute Cingulus says:

    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

  99. Astute Cingulus says:

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

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

  100. Astute Cingulus says:

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

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