Why is there something rather than nothing? This is the famous question of philosopher G.W.F. von Leibniz, whose cosmological argument took a slightly different approach than Aquinas’s. Instead of arguing from cause itself, Leibniz argued there must be a sufficient reason for the existence of the universe.
Leibniz bought into Aquinas’ arguments regarding cause but saw that it did not address the why of the cause. Things that are caused and states of affairs do not just happen without reason. And in the same way that everything that is caused has a prior cause, Leibniz observed that everything that exists has a reason outside of and prior to its existence. And just as there can be no infinite chain of causes, there can be no infinite chain of reasons. Thus, the universe cannot provide a sufficient explanation for its own existence or state of affairs. The only sufficient reason must be found outside of the universe in a being whose existence is “self-explanatory … (and) logically necessary.” And this being is who we call God.
This post is an excerpt from the Holman QuicSource Guide to Christian Apologetics by Doug Powell. It is used with permission. You can purchase this resource in its entirety here.
Published February 16, 2018