The modal cosmological argument or “argument from contingency” is the argument from the contingency of the world or universe to the existence of God. The argument from contingency is the most prominent form of cosmological argument historically. The classical statements of the cosmological argument in the works of Plato, of Aquinas, and of Leibniz are generally statements of the modal form of the argument.What distinguishes the modal cosmological argument from the kalam cosmological argumentis that it is consistent with the idea that the universe has an infinite past. The kalam cosmological argument rests on the controversial claim that the universe has a beginning in time. The argument from contingency, in contrast, is consistent with the universe having existed from eternity.The argument from contingency draws on the distinction between things that exist necessarily and things that exist contingently.
Critics of the argument from contingency have sometimes questioned whether the universe is contingent, but it remains at least plausible to think that it is so.
The only adequate explanation of the existence of the contingent universe, the argument from contingency suggests, is that there exists a necessary being on which its existence it rests. For the existence of the contingent universe must rest on something, and if it rested on some contingent being then that contingent being too would require some explanation of its existence. The ultimate explanation of the existence of all things, therefore, must be the existence of some necessary being. This necessary being is readily identified by proponents of the cosmological argument as God.
The argument from contingency, then, can be summarised as follows:
The Argument from Contingency
- (1) Everything that exists contingently has a reason for its existence.
- (2) The universe exists contingently.
- (3) The universe has a reason for its existence.
- (4) If the universe has a reason for its existence then that reason is God.
- (5) God exists.
Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing-Bede Rundle–here
“A valuable and…original contribution to metaphysics as a whole and, above all, a welcome contrast to much recent work of a more speculative nature.”–Erik
J. Olsson, Lund University
Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency-Timothy O’Connor-here
“A breathtaking sweep from metaphysics through theology. This is a superb book in the philosophy of religion, the like of whose quality and originality is
rare.”Alexander Pruss, Baylor University
Natural Signs and Knowledge of God: A New Look at Theistic Arguments–C. Stephen Evans–here
“There are many reasons to recommend C. Stephen Evans’ new book… It is accessible and open in its style, and deals skillfully with what I consider to
be the most important subject we can study: our ability to know God… The book can be read with proft by a wide audience, from undergraduate and graduate
students to the interested general public…”-Graham Gould, Journal of Theological Studies
The following video is from the series, “Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God: The Argument from Time and Contingency.” Script for the video is from the article from Dr. Peter Kreeft