The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

Author: Dr.Franklin ,

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  • Dr.Franklin
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    The Argument

    Leibniz's argument consists of 3 premises and 2 conclusions, as follows:
    •    Premise 1: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence
    •    Premise 2: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God
    •    Premise 3: The universe exists
    •    Conclusion 1: The universe has an explanation of its existence
    •    Conclusion 2: Therefore the explanation of the universe's existence is God

    However, is it a good argument? A good argument must satisfy the following criteria:
    •    The premises must be true, and
    •    The conclusions must follow logically from the premises.

    In this article, I will work backwards. I will firstly discuss the logical structure of the argument (its validity) and then consider the premises. We will firstly assume that the premises are true and verify whether the conclusions follow from the premises.


    Logical Structure

    Conclusion 1 is justified by Premise 1 and 3 as follows:

    •    Premise 1: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence
    •    Premise 3: The universe exists
    •    Conclusion 1: The universe has an explanation of its existence

    Thus if everything that exists has an explanation of its existence and the universe exists, then it follows that the universe has an explanation of its existence.

    Conclusion 2 follows from premise 2 and conclusion 1 as follows:
    • Premises 2: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God
    • Conclusion 1: The universe has an explanation of its existence
    • Conclusion 2: Therefore the explanation of the universe's existence is God
    I think it is fairly self-evident that the logical structure of the argument is valid. Now we will look at the premises.


    Are the Premises True?

    •    Premise 3

    Premise 3 states that the universe exists. I think this is fairly self-evident. I am sure that there have been extreme sceptics that have questioned this claim, but I will not concern myself with them.

    •    Premise 1

    •    Objection 1
    Premise 1 states that everything that exists has an explanation of its existence. This has prompted the following objection:

    If premise 1 is true, then God must have an explanation of his existence. The explanation of God's existence must be some other being greater than God. That's impossible; therefore, premise 1 must be false.

    However, this objection is a misunderstanding of what Leibniz meant by "explanation". According to Leibniz, there are 2 kinds of explanations:

    •    Beings that exist necessarily (necessary beings), or

    •    Beings that are produced by an external cause (contingent beings).

    Necessary beings are those that exist by a necessity of their own nature. In other words it is impossible for them not to exist. Some mathematicians believe that abstract mathematical objects, such as numbers, sets and shapes (e.g. circles and triangles) exist necessarily. Necessary beings are not caused to exist by an external entity and necessarily exist in all possible worlds.

    On the other hand, contingent beings are caused to exist by something else. They do not exist necessarily and exist because something else produced them. This includes physical objects such as people, planets and galaxies. It is easy to imagine possible worlds in which these objects do not exist. Thus we could expand premise 1 as follows:

    Premise 1: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either due to the necessity of its own nature or due to an external cause.

    It is impossible for God to have a cause. Thus Leibniz's argument is really for a God who must be a necessary, uncaused being. Thus the argument helps to define and constrain what we mean by "God".

    •    Objection 2
    Some atheists have objected that premise 1 is true of everything in the universe, but not the universe itself. However, it is arbitrary to claim that the universe is an exception. After all, even Leibniz did not exclude God from premise 1. This objection is also unscientific. Modern cosmology is devoted to a search for the explanation of the universe's existence, and rightly so. To give up and declare that the universe exists reasonlessly would stymie science.

    •    Objection 3
    Some atheists have suggested that it is impossible for the universe to have an explanation of its existence. Their argument goes something like this:

    The explanation of the universe would have to be a prior state of affairs in which the universe did not exist. This would be nothingness. Nothingness cannot cause anything, Therefore the universe exists inexplicably.

    This objection assumes that the universe includes everything and that there is nothing outside the universe, including God. The objection has excluded the possibility of God by definition. However, an alternative definition is that the universe contains all physical things, but that God exists apart from the universe. This objection assumes that atheism is true and argues in a circle. It is clearly begging the question.

    •    Premise 2

    Premise 2 states that if the universe has an explanation of its existence, then that explanation is God. This appears controversial at first, but in fact it is not. This is because atheists typically argue that if atheism is true, then the universe has no explanation of its existence. Thus if there is an explanation of the universe, then atheism must be false (i.e., God is the explanation of the universe). This conclusion follows from the following rule of logic: If p => (implies) Q, then "not Q" => "not P". An example is, "If it is raining, then there are clouds. Thus if there are no clouds, then it is not raining."

    All atheistic alternatives now seem to be closed, but not quite. Some atheists have claimed that the universe exists necessarily (i.e., the universe is a necessary being). If that were the case, then the universe would not require an external cause. However, this proposal is generally not taken seriously for the following reasons. None of the universe's components seem to exist necessarily. They could all fail to exist. Other material configurations are possible, the elementary particles could have been different and the physical laws could have been different as well. Thus the universe cannot exist necessarily.

    However, is it valid to resort to God as the explanation of the universe? Are there other possibilities? The universe consists of space, time, matter and energy. The cause of the universe must be something other than the universe. Thus the cause of the universe must be non-physical, immaterial and beyond space and time. Abstract objects are not possible candidates as they have no causal relationships. Thus it seems reasonable to conclude that the cause of the universe must be a transcendent, unembodied mind.


    Conclusion

    Leibniz's argument from the Principle of sufficient reason is an interesting argument for the existence of God, but it goes beyond just God's existence. It also constrains the attributes of God to be a transcendent, uncaused, unembodied mind, who necessarily exists. In other words, this being is what the major monotheistic religions traditionally refer to as "God".

  • drafterman
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    Premise 2 states that if the universe has an explanation of its existence, then that explanation is God. This appears controversial at first, but in fact it is not. This is because atheists typically argue that if atheism is true, then the universe has no explanation of its existence. Thus if there is an explanation of the universe, then atheism must be false (i.e., God is the explanation of the universe). This conclusion follows from the following rule of logic: If p => (implies) Q, then "not Q" => "not P". An example is, "If it is raining, then there are clouds. Thus if there are no clouds, then it is not raining."
    Lol, no. If there is an explanation of the universe then that just means the atheists who argue that the universe has no explanation are wrong about that particular point. Not that atheism itself (which says nothing about the universe other than that there is no god) is wrong.
  • Mopac
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    I dispute that an explanation could be God, because explanations are contingent on the existence of an explainer.

    The Ultimate Reality can not be contingent. In that same way, God can not be a conception, because a conception requires a thinker.


    An explanation is inherently a conception. A conception is inherently an object of the mind, or noumenon. Noumenon can't be God.





  • Mopac
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    --> @3RU7AL

    Noumenon can't be God!



  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @Mopac
    ultimate reality is BS
  • Mopac
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    --> @Dr.Franklin


    Bull shit cannot be The Ultimate Reality, because bull shit comes from bulls. Never mind all the things that bulls need to exist and produce colon loaf.

    If it requires something else to exist, it cannot be God.

    That is why an explanation cannot be God.


  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @Mopac
    dude its not that complicated
  • Mopac
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    No, it isn't.

    It is The Ultimate Reality that gives existence to the universe.

    Therefore,

    The Ultimate Reality is God.


    Am I doing it right?

    I'm not the brightest cookie.

    The next step of course would be to pray....

    Father God, by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, this Word, The written Word of "God" be sanctified and rightly proclaimed to be the very incarnation of Divine Truth in The Flesh, and let it be recognized that you and and your incarnation are One, that no confusion be there between divine nature and created nature, but let them be demonstrated to be united in that divine hypostasis of Your Incarnate Word.

    May all who are worthy partake of the transcendent bread of life. May all those who do not discern the body be put to shame.

    To the glory of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit who are blessed now and ever and unto ages of ages amen.




  • disgusted
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    Prem 1: Yersinia Pestis, provide your explanation.

    Prem 2: It doesn't and make believe is never an explanation.
  • disgusted
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    --> @Mopac
    The written Word of "God"
    What is the written word of God?

  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    This is because atheists typically argue that if atheism is true, then the universe has no explanation of its existence.

    Some atheists have suggested that it is impossible for the universe to have an explanation of its existence.

    Some atheists have claimed that the universe exists necessarily

    Does it bother you that this argument is built on a pile of strawmen?
  • ethang5
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    Good analysis Doc. Clear and easy to follow. Too bad you flew over the heads of most your responders.

    They will all readily tell you that its wrong, but don't hold your breadth waiting for any of them to show you how its wrong.
  • Mopac
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    --> @ethang5
    Nah, I realized that used properly, the argument works.

    My gut reaction towards proving God with logic is that questioning the existence of God is in itself ludicrous and wicked if you recognize that The Truth is God.

    How dare anyone be so arrogant as to deny The Truth.

    So what I believe completes the argument is the invocation. In that invocation, The Trinity is simultaneously witnessed while at the same time the Oneness of God is confessed.

    See post 8, and may Christ be your wisdom.




  • ethang5
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    --> @Mopac
    Christ is our only wisdom, but some do not know Him.

    Doc is, correct me if I am wrong, saying that the the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument is logically valid, not that it is true. He may personally believe it is true, but his case here is to it's logical validity.

    My gut reaction towards proving God with logic is that questioning the existence of God is in itself ludicrous and wicked if you recognize that The Truth is God.
    I agree. But many do not recognize that The Truth is God. We must speak to them none-the-less.
  • disgusted
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    Posts 9 and 10. Good luck.
  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @Discipulus_Didicit
    No those are common objections not the actual points
  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    I think if you took a survey of athiests probably less than half would find those objections valid because the views expressed within said objections do not match their views.

    You know what a strawman is right?
  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @Discipulus_Didicit
    ok that doesnt matter. it's your opinion and not a fact these are just rebuttals to some common objections

  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @ethang5
    good point
  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @ethang5
    good point
  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    ok that doesnt matter. it's your opinion and not a fact these are just rebuttals to some common objections

    What about the fact that it is possible for their to be an explanation for the universe that does not involve god? Your strawman sets it up as being either god or no explanation at all as the only two options.
  • Tejretics
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    •    Premise 1: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence
    •    Premise 2: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God
    •    Premise 3: The universe exists
    •    Conclusion 1: The universe has an explanation of its existence
    •    Conclusion 2: Therefore the explanation of the universe's existence is God
    Cool.

    Premise 3 states that the universe exists. I think this is fairly self-evident. I am sure that there have been extreme sceptics that have questioned this claim, but I will not concern myself with them.
    Yup.

    Premise 1: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either due to the necessity of its own nature or due to an external cause.
    Why is it “possible for the universe to not exist”? Why is the universe contingent and not necessary?

    Some atheists have objected that premise 1 is true of everything in the universe, but not the universe itself. However, it is arbitrary to claim that the universe is an exception. After all, even Leibniz did not exclude God from premise 1. This objection is also unscientific. Modern cosmology is devoted to a search for the explanation of the universe's existence, and rightly so. To give up and declare that the universe exists reasonlessly would stymie science.
    I don't necessarily think this objection is correct, but keep in mind that the “laws of physics” exist within the universe, so it seems like the fallacy of composition to assert they apply elsewhere.

    The principle of sufficient reason has always seemed vague to me. I understand the kalam cosmological argument’s idea that “everything that begins to exist has a cause,” but it seems weird to simply assert that “everything is either ‘necessary’ or ‘contingent,’ and if it is possible for something to not exist, there must be a reason why it exists.” 

    Premise 2 states that if the universe has an explanation of its existence, then that explanation is God. This appears controversial at first, but in fact it is not. This is because atheists typically argue that if atheism is true, then the universe has no explanation of its existence. Thus if there is an explanation of the universe, then atheism must be false (i.e., God is the explanation of the universe).
    1. I haven’t heard a single atheist in the world assert that if the universe has a cause, that cause is God. In fact, that’s the weakest premise, in my opinion, of any cosmological argument.
    2. This seems like classic “God of the gaps” reasoning. I don’t understand how God could have caused the universe into existence, physically. It seems as absurd to say God magically made the universe come into existence as to say the universe has no explanation for its existence, prima facie—so if we’re using prima facie reasoning to justify the principle of sufficient reason, I don’t understand why that can’t simply reject this argument.
    3. I would argue that some of the properties used to define God—such as God being a mind or being a sentient entity—depend on the existence of the universe. I don’t think a mind, for example, can exist without physical reality supporting it.

    Some atheists have claimed that the universe exists necessarily (i.e., the universe is a necessary being). If that were the case, then the universe would not require an external cause. However, this proposal is generally not taken seriously for the following reasons. None of the universe's components seem to exist necessarily. They could all fail to exist. Other material configurations are possible, the elementary particles could have been different and the physical laws could have been different as well. Thus the universe cannot exist necessarily.
    There’s a difference between the universe existing necessarily and the universe’s properties being configured in a particular way being necessary. I should also add that God doesn’t necessarily have a set of given properties, so for any definition of God, under your logic, the set of properties that define that God are contingent and not necessary...

    However, is it valid to resort to God as the explanation of the universe? Are there other possibilities? The universe consists of space, time, matter and energy. The cause of the universe must be something other than the universe. Thus the cause of the universe must be non-physical, immaterial and beyond space and time. Abstract objects are not possible candidates as they have no causal relationships. Thus it seems reasonable to conclude that the cause of the universe must be a transcendent, unembodied mind.
    1. Transcendent, unembodied minds don’t have causal relationships either—because we know of no such unembodied mind that exists. I don’t understand how that’s any more coherent than saying abstract concepts cause something. I think William Lane Craig came up with this argument when defending a different cosmological argument, and it’s never made sense to me. And I don’t understand how an unembodied mind could cause something into existence. 
    2. Minds aren’t immaterial. Every mind we know of seem to depend on certain other biological structures; e.g., inductively, we know that rocks don’t have minds, nor do dead humans, but living humans seem to have them. So, just immediately, it seems like substance dualism doesn’t have evidence in the universe. Furthermore, even if it’s possible that minds are separate from bodies, I don’t see how this is any less controversial than saying the principle of sufficient reason is false—we’ve never observed anything of the sort so far.
    3. It seems like a much simpler answer is humans can’t conceptualize anything that is “timeless and spaceless.” It doesn’t seem any more likely it’s an intelligent being than it’s an object that we can’t detect or imagine because our understanding of cosmology is limited to assuming space-time exists. In particular, I don’t think we have a good conception of what it means to “cause” something into existence without time and space. Efficient causation involves a cause preceding an effect—but “preceding an effect” is meaningless without time. Simultaneous causation, causation with no time gap between cause and effect, is one contender, but there are no real-world examples of simultaneous causation. People say “if I press a pin against a cushion, the dent on the cushion has a simultaneous cause,” but really, that’s just an approximation—with a time interval of zero, events don’t actually happen. The cause-effect relationship there involves time approaching zero, not exactly equaling zero (if you’ve studied differential calculus, you’d understand what I mean—if A is the current state of the world and is the time interval between the cause and the effect, then dA/dt is the change in the state of the world, i.e., an effect, for an incremental change in time, and that’s the kind of causal relationship the pin and cushion are in). 

  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @Discipulus_Didicit
    its not my strawman
  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    So it is impossible for there to be an explanation for the universe that does not involve god? 
  • Mopac
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    I think this argument can be useful for identifying God, because The Ultimate Reality is really all that can explain the universe's existence.