Argument from logical necessity

Arguments for the Existence of God
by Metacrock - edited by JMT
Used with Permission

XXXVI. Argument From Logical Necessity

A. Summary of Argument and Definition of Terms.

1) Necessary truth:

"A proposition is said to be necessarily true, or to express a logically necessary truth iff [if and only if] the denial of that proposition would involve a self contradiction." [Anthony Flew, Philosophical Dictionary, Revised Second Edition. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979, 242]

2) Contingent Truth:
"A proposition which happens to be contingently true, or which expresses a contingent truth which could nevertheless be denied or asserted without contradiction." In other words a fact which could otherwise not have been. As Karl Popper said, empirical facts are facts which might not have been. Everything that belongs to space time is a contingent truth because it could have been otherwise, it is dependent upon the existence of something else for its' existence going all the way back to the Big Bang, which is itself contingent upon something. [Ibid.]

3) Arbitrary Necessity:

Arbitrary necessity is related to a contingent truth. For the purposes of this argument it is a contingency which is treated like a necessity, or a contingent fact which is placed in the position of a logically necessary truth. In explaining necessary and contingent truths, Flew uses an example from Shakespeare's Hamlet. He says "what Horatio wanted was some contingent proposition one the truth or falsity of which could not be known just by understanding the meaning" [Ibid] So necessary truth is true by definition, if we understand the meaning we understand the truth of it. Examples of this type of proposition would be "all husbands are married men" or "all villains are errant knaves" (the example form Shakespeare that Flew uses--Hamlet's line). Empirical facts are contingencies, that is why they must be ascertained empirically. If we say all swans are birds, than we know this is true and cannot be otherwise, it cannot fail to be true without contradiction. But to say that all swans are white, we must go out and study all swans to actually see if they are white. This means that all swans are white is an empirical fact and thus, could fail to exist, or is contingent. Or to use Flews example again, "had Hamlet said that all Danish Villains suffer material deprivation this would have been not necessary but could be known to be true only by some study..." [Ibid]

When we transfer this concept to speak of being the necessity becomes the necessity of existing. This is only logical since to deal with existence would mean we consider the necessary or contingent truth of existence. The contingency becomes the ability to fail to exist without contradiction. Thus, Hartshorne so defines necessity and contingency.

4) Logical Necessity:

This corresponds to necessary truth in that it is something which cannot fail to exist without contradiction. This is also how Hartshorne defines it.

B. The Universe is a Contingency

1) Anything that can fail to exist without contradiction is a contingency

2) The universe has a beginning, thus it could have failed to exist without contradiction

3) Therefore, the universe is a contingency

4) The universe is made up of contingent parts.

The universe is a collection of contingencies, thus the universe is contingent.

C. Naturalistic Alternatives = Arbitrary Necessity, therefore, They are impossibilities.

1) Oscillating Universe opens the door to an infinite causal regress, which is illogical, and an arbitrary necessity.

Let Us turn to a quotation from a philosopher who is summarizing the work of another major philosopher, William Rowe

Rowe's version of CA

Gary Varner, Philosophy Tx. A&M

Samuel Clark's "Modern Formulation":


* Rowe emphasizes that by the time Clark was writing (around 1700), exponents of the cosmological argument were making an importantly different claim than Aquinas did. Whereas Aquinas denies that a chain of causes can go on to infinity, Clark (and other 18th century exponents of the argument) allowed that this might be the case. Popular treatments of God's existence often simply dismiss this possibility, as Aquinas did, but the argument's 18th century proponents did not, nor do all contemporary scientists who study cosmology (the development of the universe).

* Clark argues that "There has existed from eternity some one unchangeable and independent being," but not because the chain of causes and effects cannot be infinite. Rather, he emphasizes that "An infinite succession . . . of merely dependent beings . . . [would be] a series of beings, that has neither necessity nor a cause, nor any reason at all of its existence." That is, Clark allows that in an infinite series of causes and effects, the existence of each dependent being could be fully explained in terms of preceding beings (which caused it to come into existence), but the fact that there is an infinite series would still go unexplained. To put this in the context of modern cosmology, Clark's point would be that even if the series of events back to and before the big bang could be explained in terms of various causal laws, that still would not give us an explanation of why there is a universe rather than nothing at all.

2) Uncaused universe is an arbitrary necessity.

Positing the notion of an uncaused universe is asking us to believe that a contingency could exist necessarily, which is an arbitrary necessity. This is illogical. The uncaused universe would be a contingency because it still could fail to exist without contradiction, but it is also a necessity because it comes to exist without dependence upon a cause. Therefore it is merely taking a contingency and placing it into the realm of a necessity for no other reason than to have an answer for the theist.

Because this is asking us to believe the absurd, there is no reason to believe it. Thus it is the skeptic's burden of proof to show us that this is possible.

D. God is the Logical Necessity and Thus is the Logical Conclusion

1) The Ultimate Origin of the Universe must be eternal.

The reasons here are stated above. If not, than we either have to account for prior origins or the door is opened to ICR. Both of these alternatives are impossible, thus, the ultimate origin must be eternal.

2) Must be first cause

Since it can't be ICR, there must be a stopping point where the chain of causation begins.

3) Must be logically Necessary.

If it is eternal, it cannot fail to be, must have been, and cannot cease to exist. Thus, such a cause is logically necessary since that is what it means to be necessary.

4) Must be capable of freely choosing to create

This is so because otherwise, if the conditions and forces which make up the ultimate cause just happen to be there, always with no ultimate reason for being, and they just happen to give rise automatically to all else, with no discretion in the matter, than existence is merely an arbitrary necessity, because it is made up of nothing more than contingencies which are placed into the eternal where they don't belong.

There is no other logical conclusion to posit but that God is the ultimate origin of the universe. Only God fits the criteria mentioned above, and they are a good description of God's major attributes. God is:

5) Eternal

6) First cause

7) Logically necessary

a) Necessary

b) A logical necessity

8) Is capable of freely choosing the creative act.

Thus we are justified and warranted in the inference that God is the Ultimate Cause of the origin of the universe.


By Metacrock. Used with Permission.
For more articles by the same author, see Doxa.