If you want to be able to say anything intelligent about cosmological arguments, especially if you teach philosophy and are intellectually honest, read Edward Feser’s righteous shredding of the beloved “If everything has a cause, what caused God?” “objection” (scare quotes) to “the cosmological argument” (scare quotes) that you hear at the beginning of every semester in Philosophy 101 classes; you know, that rhetorical Sherman’s march through theism whose unstoppable force is matched only by the brilliance and originality of the questioner.
- Straw men and terracotta armies (March 22, 2009)
- So you think you understand the cosmological argument? (July 16, 2011)
- “The New Atheists and the Cosmological Argument,” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 37/1 (2013) pp. 154-177.
- Clark on the stock caricature of first cause arguments (July 12, 2014)
- The straw man that will not die (September, 2014)
In addition to offering a much needed but yet unheeded point of correction, Feser also raises suggestive sociological questions that need to be asked about those who continue to peddle the “objection.” Their profiles, despite being “professional philosophers,” do not seem to markedly differ from that of the freshman who I saw raise the “objection” during the last Intro to Philosophy class I TAed for: unamused, inattentive, saying anything to meet the requirement of saying something. Dispatching “the cosmological argument” for this student demanded as much thought as waiving a fly away, requiring not even that she avert her gaze from Facebook.