bookmark_borderRichard Swinburne on Aquinas’s First Way

Aquinas’s first way is sometimes said to be a version of the cosmological argument, but it does not count as one on my definition of a cosmological argument, since it argues not from the existence of physical objects, but from change in them. It claims in effect that, given that there are physical objects, change in them is so surprising that we need to invoke God as its source. I cannot see that change in them is so surprising that we need to invoke God as its source. Given the existence of physical objects, it seems to me no more surprising that they should change than that they should remain changeless. Aquinas’s supposition to the contrary arises from the Aristotelian physics that is closely meshed with his philosophy. It is more plausible to suppose that the existence of orderly change is surprising, but the argument from orderly change is Aquinas’s fifth way and is a teleological argument that I shall discuss in the next chapter.

Richard Swinburne, The Existence of God (second ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp 135-136.