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Thomas Aquinas' First Three Ways

The cosmological argument expanded

Thomas Aquinas was a 13th century Italian Christian philosopher. He is famous for developing the cosmological argument, which is also known as the first cause argument.

The cosmological argument asks: ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?'

It argues that the very fact that things exist provides evidence that God exists.

Aquinas developed five key arguments around creation offering evidence that God exists. These are known as The Five Ways. The first three arguments are presented below.

1. The First Way: The Argument From Motion

  • Everything that moves is set in motion by something else: nothing moves on its own.
  • It is impossible for a chain of movers to go on for infinity
  • There must be a first mover to set things in motion. This first mover must be God.

2. The Second Way: The Argument From Causation

  • Everything that exists has been caused to exist.
  • Nothing which exists can be the cause of its own existence.
  • It is impossible for a chain of causes to go on for infinity.
  • There must be a first cause that causes things to come into existence. This first cause must be God.

3. The Third Way: The Argument From Contingency and Necessity

A contingent being is one that relies on something else for its existence. A necessary being relies on nothing else for its existence.

  • Everything that is contingent relies on something else to exist.
  • Everything that exists must have been caused to have existed by something else; a necessary being.
  • The necessary being relies on nothing else for its existence. This necessary being must be God.