Dissecting Clarke’s Cosmological Argument
In the following paper, I will outline Samuel Clarke’s “Modern Formulation of the Cosmological Argument” and restate some of the points that he makes. Samuel Clarke’s argument for the existence of God states that “There has existed from eternity some one unchangeable and independent being” (37). The argument follows a logical flow and can be better understood when the structure is laid out and the argument reconstructed.
Clarke begins his argument with a use of disjunctive syllogism, a form of valid logical reasoning that proposes two outcomes, denies one, and thus proves the other to be true. Clarke’s premise states that one of the two following statements must be true: either there has…show more content… He states that since the series of dependent beings couldn’t be caused by any external or internal source, that it would have to be cause “absolutely by nothing”. He then states that this is a “contradiction to be done in time; and because duration in this case makes no difference.” He also states that it is a “contradiction to suppose it done from eternity.” Since the universe has parts that come into existence at one occasion and not another, it must have a cause. There could supposedly be an infinite regress of causes if there was evidence for such, but lacking such evidence, God must exist as the cause. Clarke does not specifically identify God at any point in his argument. He ends with “There must be on the contrary, of necessity have existed from eternity, some one immutable and independent Being” (37). Whatever one chooses to call this “Being”, it is the one unchangeable and independent being that Clarke attempts to prove the existence of in his argument.
Feinberg, Joel, and Russ Shafer-Landau. Reason and Responsibility, Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy. 14th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2008.