Philosophy of Religion

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Hume and Kantís Criticism of the Cosmological Argument

Both David Hume (1711-1776) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) criticised the Cosmological Argument.

Hume maintained that we have no experience of universes being made and it is simply not possible to argue from causes within the universe to causes of the universe as a whole. There is a logical jump which the argument fails to recognise. It is one thing to talk about causes that operate within the system of the universe, but it is an entirely different matter to speculate about whether the system as a whole is caused.

Immanuel Kant rejected the argument outright not only because he maintained that the idea of a ĎNecessary Beingí was incoherent but also because our knowledge is limited to the phenomenal world of space and time and it is not possible to speculate about what may or may not exist independently of space and time.

Hume argued that it was illegitimate to move from saying that every event in the universe has a cause to the claim that the universe has a cause. Bertrand Russell made a similar point by remarking that this was like moving saying that every human being has a mother. One cannot move from individual causes to the claim that the totality has a cause.

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