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How to argue for the existence of god

How to argue for the existence of god

Have you ever found yourself in a discussion or argument with someone about God, and they dared you to prove God exists? Or that Jesus is who he claimed to be? Or that the Bible is the inspired word of God? I’ve seen or heard that hundreds if not thousands of times. Here’s the thing – “prove” is quite a strong word and does not fit at all in those types of discussions. Can you prove God exists? Yes, and it’s easier than you think, but not in the way many skeptics want it.

What does it mean to “prove” something? Well, it means to show something to be the case. But what is the standard of proof? There are a few to consider but only one is the most reasonable one to use when speaking about the existence of God.

Prove with Certainty?

Some will actually demand full and complete demonstration of facts with no room for doubt and with zero questions left unanswered – absolute certainty. This is a silly demand. Nothing in the world can meet this standard. Aside from mathematical proofs, certainty is elusive. So this standard is way too high.

People demanding this standard when they want you to prove the existence of God are likely not asking for proof in earnest. Often the demand for proof is only a smokescreen to try to shut the believer and stop him in his tracks.

Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?

There are others who will not necessarily ask you to prove God exists with certainty but will insist on proof beyond a reasonable doubt – like in a criminal trial. What about this standard? Is this lower standard appropriate for proving God exists? It’s better but still not appropriate.

The standard of “beyond a reasonable” doubt is used in criminal trials when, more often than not, there is some physical evidence or overwhelming circumstantial evidence. This evidence is gathered from the physical world. The trails of evidence are left in time and space by the physical bodies of human beings.

However, God is not a physical being. As such, God can not really leave this type of evidence even if he intervened the physical world. Also, God has no direct eyewitnesses of his actions. When people live their lives, every day they leave traces of themselves in where they go, what they do, with whom they speak, etc. God does not leave such a trace. The only trace God leaves is by the times he himself decides to intervene in the physical world. The incarnation would be one example of this. God became man, performed miracles, rose from the dead – all evidence but not the kind of evidence that you can systematically gather any time you want and repeatedly test.

The Correct Standard to Use to Prove God Exists

The instances when God intervened in the physical world were rare. And when God did intervene, he did not and cannot have left any identifiable physical trace of himself because, again, he’s not a physical being. The only way to have evidence for God is through reasoning, examining the effects of the physical world that demand a certain kind of cause, and eyewitnesses to those instances when God did intervene in nature. Again, the incarnation would be an example of both evidence from eyewitnesses and evidence from effects requiring a certain kind of cause.

Mere human beings don’t regularly perform miracles. People don’t regularly have control of the natural elements like the wind. People don’t regularly die and come back to life on the third day. This one person did and he predicted it. And we have eyewitnesses to both his death and him alive after his death.

The case for the existence of God is a circumstantial case, a very strong circumstantial case. We cannot use the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt because this is not that kind of topic that lends itself to that kind of examination; it would be unreasonable for us to do so.

When we’re trying to determine whether or not God exists, we have two options –

  • God exists or
  • God does not exist

Imagine a plot line from 0 to 100 with 0 being the certainty that God does not exist and 100 being the certainty that God does exist. The point in the middle – 50 – would be our marker for someone evaluating the case. Every bit of evidence against the existence of God would move the dial back and every bit of evidence for the existence of God would move the dial forward. We don’t start at 0 and we don’t need to get to 100; we simply need to be at 51, which leans in favor of the existence of God. And this is precisely the way in which civil trials work – the standard of proof is not “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but “the preponderance of evidence” – more likely than not. I What Is the Difference Between Criminal Law and Civil Law?, Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/story/what-is-the-difference-between-criminal-law-and-civil-law All we really need to say to “prove God exists” is that it is more likely than not that God exists.

To Prove God Exists…

Certainty is only possible in mathematical proofs. Beyond a reasonable doubt is not a reasonable standard of proof to use when discussing God. The preponderance of evidence is the only legitimate way to asses the existence of God and is the only way to prove God exists. Even if someone’s at marker 51, he believes in God. The rest of the unknown 49 markers must be traversed by faith. We trust in the 51 because of the preponderance of evidence. The remaining 49 is faith. This is how reason and faith work together. We know what we know and the rest we concede as unknown but traversable. For evidence for the existence of God and Jesus and the Bible, feel free to browse this site.

How to argue for the existence of god

The following was originally published here as part of a Q&A with Greg Koukl on RZIM Connect.

Question from Marvin: What are the top most powerful arguments for the existence of God, and if there’s a logical order in which we should present them.

Marvin, this one is fairly easy for me since I have two favorites I think are relatively easy to follow and are really powerful evidences for God.

Let me introduce the first one—my favorite—with a question: What is the most frequently raised objection against theism of any sort? If you answered “the problem of evil,” you’d be right. There’s a reason for this. There is one thing every person knows, no matter where he lived or when he lived. Everyone knows the world is broken. Things are not the way they’re supposed to be. That’s the complaint. And they don’t simply mean that things happen they don’t like. That’s relativism. They mean there really are evil, wicked things that take place (objectivism).

Since this awareness is universal—it’s an obvious and undeniable feature of reality—we can use it as an ally to make our case for God. Contrary to popular belief, the problem of evil is not a good argument against God. It’s actually one of the best arguments for God. The problem with the problem of evil is that if God does not exist, there can be no real evil to object to. Here’s why.

The complaint about evil itself requires transcendent, universal laws that govern the world—objective morality—in order for real evil to exist as a violation of those laws. Transcendent moral laws require a transcendent lawmaker—God. Saying the world is “supposed” to be a certain way requires a “sposer,” so to speak—someone who intended the world to be much better than it is.

If there is no God, then there is no transcendent moral lawmaker. If no lawmaker, then no universal moral laws we’re all obligated to obey. If no moral laws, then no broken laws. If no broken laws, then no problem of evil. Simply put, then, if there is no God, there can be no evil (or good, for that matter).

Yet there is a problem of evil (we all know this), so there must be broken laws, so there must be laws, so there must be a transcendent law maker, so there must be a God.

If you want the philosophic mumbo jumbo, here it is. This approach is classically called the moral argument for God’s existence. Stated as a syllogism, it looks like this:

  • If there is no God, then there is no objective morality (no lawmaker, then no laws).
  • But there is objective morality (evidenced by the problem of evil).
  • Therefore, there is a God.

The form of the syllogism is valid (modus tollens), and the premises are true. Therefore, the argument is sound.

My second favorite argument for God’s existence is a little easier. It has a fancy name—the Kalam cosmological argument—but it’s really easy to understand. By the way, a “cosmological” argument is any argument for God’s existence that’s based on the mere existence of the cosmos, the universe.

Here’s the basic idea.

  • First, for anything that came into existence, there must have been something that caused it to come into existence. Clearly, effects have causes. Pretty basic, and entirely consistent with our common-sense experience of the world.
  • Second, the material universe (the cosmos) came into existence sometime in the past. Virtually everyone affirms this point because of the widespread and, I think, justified belief in the Big Bang.
  • Therefore, the material universe must have had a cause.

Put most simply, “a Big Bang needs a big Banger.” The bang didn’t bang itself. Note, by the way, that this line of thinking puts the cause of the cosmos outside of the material universe. So the cause would have to be immaterial, intelligent, powerful, and personal—since only persons can start a causal chain of events.

This argument doesn’t prove the God of the Bible, of course, but it gets us pretty close, and it’s a great springboard to other arguments and other evidences for Christianity.

The Summa Theologica is a famous work written by Saint Thomas Aquinas between AD 1265 and 1274. It is divided into three main parts and covers all of the core theological teachings of Aquinas’s time. One of the questions the Summa Theologica is well known for addressing is the question of the existence of God. Aquinas responds to this question by offering the following five proofs:

1. The Argument from Motion: Our senses can perceive motion by seeing that things act on one another. Whatever moves is moved by something else. Consequently, there must be a First Mover that creates this chain reaction of motions. This is God. God sets all things in motion and gives them their potential.

2. The Argument from Efficient Cause: Because nothing can cause itself, everything must have a cause or something that creates an effect on another thing. Without a first cause, there would be no others. Therefore, the First Cause is God.

3. The Argument from Necessary Being: Because objects in the world come into existence and pass out of it, it is possible for those objects to exist or not exist at any particular time. However, nothing can come from nothing. This means something must exist at all times. This is God.

4. The Argument from Gradation: There are different degrees of goodness in different things. Following the “Great Chain of Being,” which states there is a gradual increase in complexity, created objects move from unformed inorganic matter to biologically complex organisms. Therefore, there must be a being of the highest form of good. This perfect being is God.

5. The Argument from Design: All things have an order or arrangement that leads them to a particular goal. Because the order of the universe cannot be the result of chance, design and purpose must be at work. This implies divine intelligence on the part of the designer. This is God.

“Aquinas’s Five Proofs for the Existence of God.” In The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Teacher Guide. © 2011 by Saint Mary’s Press. https://www.smp.org/resourcecenter/resource/7061/

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The moral argument begins with the fact that all people recognize some moral code (that some things are right, and some things are wrong). Every time we argue over right and wrong, we appeal to a higher law that we assume everyone is aware of, holds to, and is not free to arbitrarily change. Right and wrong imply a higher standard or law, and law requires a lawgiver. Because the Moral Law transcends humanity, this universal law requires a universal lawgiver. This, it is argued, is God.

In support of the moral argument, we see that even the most remote tribes who have been cut off from the rest of civilization observe a moral code similar to everyone else’s. Although differences certainly exist in civil matters, virtues like bravery and loyalty and vices like greed and cowardice are universal. If man were responsible for that code, it would differ as much as every other thing that man has invented. Further, it is not simply a record of what mankind does—rarely do people ever live up to their own moral code. Where, then, do we get these ideas of what should be done? Romans 2:14-15 says that the moral law (or conscience) comes from an ultimate lawgiver above man. If this is true, then we would expect to find exactly what we have observed. This lawgiver is God.

To put it negatively, atheism provides no basis for morality, no hope, and no meaning for life. While this does not disprove atheism by itself, if the logical outworking of a belief system fails to account for what we instinctively know to be true, it ought to be discarded. Without God there would be no objective basis for morality, no life, and no reason to live it. Yet all these things do exist, and so does God. Thus, the moral argument for the existence of God.

There is evidence for the existence of God. Not everyone finds that evidence compelling or convincing; this does not mean such evidence is nonexistent. Most who deny evidence for God demand forms of proof—or levels of certainty—that are either irrelevant or unreasonable. Looking at logic, experience, and empirical observations, there is much evidence for the existence of God.

Assessing evidence includes properly categorizing it. Some balk at the idea of “evidence” for a God who is invisible and immaterial. However, even hardened skeptics accept the meaningful existence of many such things, such as the laws of logic. Logic is neither material nor visible, yet it’s legitimately considered “real” and can be both perceived and examined. One cannot see logic or mechanically quantify it, but this does not justify any useful claim that logic does not exist. The same is true, to varying degrees, with other concepts such as morality.

This point also establishes that logic and philosophy are relevant when discussing evidence for the existence of God. As demonstrated in the case of the laws of logic, even if empirical proof is unconvincing, that does not mean the subject in question cannot be “real.” The probability that God exists is in no way reduced simply because empirical evidence is subject to interpretation; it is at least possible that something intangible, non-material, and meaningful actually exists.

With that in mind, there are several broad categories of evidence for the existence of God. None are self-sufficient to prove that God exists or that the Bible’s description of Him is accurate. Combined, however, they form a compelling argument that the God described in Scripture is real.

Human beings have a natural “sense” of God. Historians and anthropologists alike recognize belief in some supernatural reality as common to almost all human beings who have ever lived. The number of people who categorically reject every form of higher power or spirit is vanishingly small. This is true even in profoundly “secular” cultures. Even further, secular fields of study such as cognitive science of religion suggest that such beliefs are ingrained in the natural state of the human mind. At the very least, this suggests there is something real to be perceived, just as senses like sight and hearing are targeted at actual phenomena.

Logic points to the existence of God. There are several logic-based arguments indicating that God exists. Some, like the ontological argument, are not considered especially convincing, though they’re hard to refute. Others, such as the kalam cosmological argument, are considered much more robust. Continuing along the same spectrum, concepts such as intelligent design—teleological arguments—make logical inferences from observations to argue for the existence of God.

General observations support the existence of God. Teleological arguments arise because so many aspects of reality appear to be deliberately arranged. That evidence, in and of itself, is often extremely indicative of a Creator. The Big Bang is a classic example. This theory was initially resisted by atheists for being too “religious.” And yet the idea of a non-eternal universe, as demonstrated by secular science, is strongly supportive of the claims made in the early chapters of the Bible.

History, literature, and archaeology support the existence of God. Whether critics like it or not, the Bible is a valid form of evidence for the existence of God. Not merely “because the Bible says so,” but because the Bible has proved to be so reliable. Dismissing it as biased, simply because it says things skeptics do not accept, is not a rational response. That would be as irrational as dismissing every book describing Julius Caesar and then claiming there are no records describing Julius Caesar. The reliability of the Bible and its coordination with secular history and archaeology are reasonable points to raise when it comes to discussing the existence of God.

Personal experiences support the existence of God. Obviously, these are compelling only for those particular persons. Yet many people have come to know and understand God in a deeply personal way. So far as those experiences coordinate with other evidence, they’re reasonable to consider as part of the evidence for the existence of God.

Evidence will never overcome obstinance. Perhaps the weakest response to evidence of God’s existence is ignoring it: claiming “there is no evidence.” Closely related is the suggestion that a skeptic finds the evidence uncompelling. This kind of claim often comes with an ever-shifting threshold for proof. As happened with the Big Bang Theory, even when a position is effectively “proved,” the committed skeptic can always pivot to claim that this proof actually supports his fundamental views. Just as one person’s belief is not hard evidence regarding God’s existence, one person’s disbelief is not hard evidence of the opposite. This is especially true given that God’s existence touches on issues like personal morality and autonomy. Both in Scripture and in daily life, it’s common to see examples of those presented with more than enough evidence, yet who choose to stubbornly ignore it (Romans 1:18–20; Psalm 19:1; John 5:39–40; Luke 16:19–31; James 2:19).

Combining what we know of experience, logic, history, science, and other disciplines, there is more than enough evidence that God exists. Thankfully, we aren’t expected to find all that evidence in order to have a right relationship with Him. Rather, we are obligated to absorb what we can see and understand and follow the process of “ask . . . seek . . . knock” (Matthew 7:7–8).

How do you know if something is morally right or wrong? How can you ground a belief that says acts such as torturing an innocent child, rape, murder, racism, and other such things are objectively immoral? By “objectively,” we mean that such acts are immoral in a way that goes beyond personal opinion or feelings; they are immoral whether anyone thinks they are or not. It may surprise you to know that, without God, it is impossible to have objective moral values. Instead, unless God exists, all that is left is mere emotive opinions.

Those who do not believe in God object to such an assertion and say that a person does not need to acknowledge any kind of deity to understand moral right and wrong. And, they are right. Human beings do not need to believe in God to discern moral duties or understand that objective moral values exist. But, that has never been the argument of those who believe in God. Instead, the Christian argument is that in order to ground an objective moral law, you need to have a transcendent source of those values.

This truth is acknowledged by leading atheists. For example, the famous nihilist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: “You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist.” Richard Dawkins, a leading voice of atheism, says, “Humans have always wondered about the meaning of life. life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA. life has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”

Why do intellectually honest atheists admit that, without God, objective moral values cannot exist? Because it is the logical result of taking atheistic philosophy to its natural conclusion. If there’s such a thing as evil, you must assume there’s such a thing as good. If you assume there’s such a thing as good, you assume there’s such a thing as an absolute and unchanging moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. If you assume there’s such a thing as an absolute moral law, you must posit an absolute moral law giver, but that would be God – the one whom the atheist is trying to disprove. So now rewind: if there’s not a moral law giver, there’s no moral law. If there’s no moral law, there’s no good. If there’s no good, there’s no evil. Which is just what Richard Dawkins admits to.

At issue are the requirements for being able to have objective moral laws. Three things are needed: (1) an absolute and unchanging authority; (2) an absolute and unchanging standard; (3) absolute truth. Atheism and naturalism admit to nothing being absolute, that everything is random, and that everything is changing. In such an environment, no one can ever be sure anything is truly and objectively right or wrong.

Without an unchanging, absolute authority that uses an unchanging, absolute standard, which is based on the right and unchanging truth, ethics simply becomes emotive and opinion. Rape doesn’t become wrong, but rather the strongest statement that can be made about it is, “I don’t like rape.” C. S. Lewis put is simply when he said: “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” For those without God, that unchanging straight line does not exist.

However, the rub comes from the fact that every human being recognizes moral absolutes. They may not practice them, but they understand and acknowledge them. There is a difference in what a culture and its people are doing and what they ought to do; a difference between something that is descriptive and that which is prescriptive. And one thing that history has shown is that humanity recognizes universal right and wrong. Acknowledging this, atheist philosopher Louise Antony has stated: “Any argument against the objective reality of moral values will be based on premises that are less obvious than the existence of objective moral values themselves.” Antony is correct. No one can name a land where, for example, lying is praised and honesty belittled.

Where does this universal understanding of moral right and wrong come from – an understanding that transcends human opinion? Why does a small child immediately know when they’ve been treated unfairly or know that it is wrong to have something stolen from them? They know because there is a universal moral law that has been intrinsically woven into them by their Creator. This fact produces what is called the moral argument for the existence of God, which can be stated in the following way:

• Laws imply a Law Giver
• There is an objective Moral Law
• Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver

True objective moral good cannot be defined without purpose, and purpose cannot be defined without a cause. Without God – the cause of everything – all that is left is time + matter + chance. And such a combination only produces chaos; not an absolute moral framework.

Poet Steve Turner spells out this awful conclusion – what morals really equate to in a world without God – in his poem entitled Creed, which ends with these words:

“If chance be the Father of all flesh,
Disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
And when you hear
State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!
It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.”

Does God exist? This is the question that Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the famed theologian, Thomas Aquinas, attempted to answer using medieval reasoning, logic, and scholasticism. By following their logic, the answer to the mammoth question of divinity is in the affirmative: God does indeed exist. However, it is necessary to examine exactly how and by what methods Anselm and Aquinas arrived at and justified their ultimate conclusions to fully understand their final answers.

Both Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury and Thomas Aquinas delve into their subject matter gradually. They do not just dive straight in and trumpet the existence of God. Instead, they actually begin by acknowledging the opposing opinion that God is not real and some people do not believe in him, even though neither Anselm nor Aquinas agree with that point view.

To be specific, Anselm starts off by posing a series of questions. He asks, “If, however, [God] is everywhere, why do I not see [Him] here?”[1] and, “Why did he deprive us of light, and cover us with darkness instead?”[2] By asking these questions, Anselm gets the reader thinking and turns their mind toward the possibility that there might actually not be a God, or that God might be flawed. This is a particularly effective rhetorical method. In doing this, Anselm deprived the people who might disagree with him by denying them the opportunity to say that he did not examine both sides of the argument. Anselm also proved himself to be a true scholar by doing this, since it follows the tenets of logic, reason, and rhetorical argument that were so deeply ingrained into medieval scholasticism.

Aquinas employs a similar technique in his Summa Theologica. He also begins by addressing the opposing side. However, rather than posing a series of questions like Anslem, Aquinas listed “objections.” In Summa Theologica, “objections” are the arguments made by the opposing side of the argument and the conclusions that the opposition has or would likely, logically draw from them. An example of one of these “objections” and the conclusion draws from it is this: “It seems that God does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word “God” means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist.”[3] Using this strategy gives Aquinas, just like Anselm, the safety net of covering both sides of the argument from the start of his work. There was no way that the opposition could claim that their point of view had been wholly stifled.

Next is the justification for the existence of God, starting with Anselm. After posing his line of questions, Anselm moves on to the “meat” of his argument. Anselm refers to the concept of God as “the greater than,”[4] rather than referring to God directly for most of his argument. One of Anselm’s main pieces of evidence supporting the existence of God that he goes back to time and time again is all about thoughts and the thought process. It is a very complex argument. To break it down to its simplest, most basic terms, Anselm contends that since God is so vast and infinite, it is entirely impossible for the human mind to reason his existence because the human mind is not infinite itself. For that reason, the existence of God must be accepted on the basis of faith alone. To back this claim up, Anselm also says that God cannot exist only in thought, because if God existed only in thought, then man could create it for himself because all human thought is based off of some form of already existing reality that the mind can draw from. Therefore, it is not a “greater than” if the human mind can fully comprehend it.

However, Thomas Aquinas, yet again, took a slightly different (yet just as effective) approach than Anselm of Canterbury to qualify his conclusion that God is real. In a highly organized fashion, Aquinas direct answers and provides the logic used to arrive at those answers to the specific objectives discussed, rather than addressing broad ideas and generalizations as Anselm did. Aquinas also uses possible arguments from the opposition, turns them around, and makes them collapse in on themselves. Though Summa Theologica is filled with this type of logic, here is a particularly vivid example: “If truth does not exist, then the proposition ‘Truth does not exist’ is true: and if there is anything true, the must be truth.”[5]

Aquinas goes on to state that “the existence of God can be proved in five ways.”[6] The first of these is about motion. He argues that since everything is in motion, something had to originally put the very first being or thing into motion, and that “Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.”[7] He also discusses cause and effect, the second way to prove the existence of God, with a similar technique. He says that indeed, every effect has a cause, so there had to be an original cause/effect with no previous cause/effect: and infinite God. Aquinas’ third piece of evidence that God is real “is taken from possibility and necessity.”[8] This argument basically contends that something had to create everything else, and that something had to be God, who has no beginning or end. Fourth, Aquinas discusses absolutes, or “gradation.”[9] He articulates that there is an end to every spectrum: “as fire which is the maximum of heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.”[10] This means that everything is measured on a scale, and there has to be a maximum for all things. Aquinas states that maximum is God. Finally, Aquinas discusses the reason for things happening. He says that things cannot possibly happen randomly, that “all natural things are directed,”[11] like how “an arrow is shot to its mark by the archer.”[12] All humans have a purpose and a final goal, and that final goal is to be as close to God and as godly as possible, according to Aquinas.

Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury and Thomas Aquinas were two extremely influential theologians during the medieval period. Their arguments tackle a subject that is immensely deep, complex, and highly controversial, especially in modern society. However, they both do so in the most elegant, understandable way possible. If one were to base their opinion on the existence of God based solely off of the arguments presented by Anselm and Aquinas, it is safe to say that the answer would almost undoubtedly be yes. It seems that even centuries down the road, Anselm and Aquinas are still deftly proving their point: that God does exist.

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Arguments for the Existence of God: A Power Point

Logical arguments for the existence of God. A power point. Notes included below.

Arguments for the Existence of God

A philosophic question: Does God reveal his nature both through general (natural) and special revelation? On some level, both the cosmological and the teleological arguments assume general revelation is valid. Psalms 19:1-4, Job 38:1-42:6 as well as Romans 1:18-20 are examples of Bible writers applying “general revelation” as reason to believe in God.

I. Cosmological Argument

Aristotle: The “unmoved mover” but he assumed the physical universe had existed forever, so applied it in a different way

Avicenna, Muslim philosopher 980-1037 AD A more modern version

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) gave the modern version of this argument.

The cosmological argument could be stated as follows:

  1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.
  2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.
  3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
  4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

God is the uncaused cause. We know that everything in the universe has a cause, so what caused the universe?

“That the universe exists is perhaps the greatest mystery of all.” Why does anything exist? Leibnitz: Why is there something rather than nothing?

Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

The rather strong evidence for the Big Bang seems to support the cosmological argument. The universe was created!

More modern version:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. The universe has a cause/causer.

My opinion: This argument is a good one. In the modern version, it is useful, but it is too abstract to be of much general use.

II. Teleological Argument

The argument from design. Like David said, The heavens declare the glory of God Psalm 19:1-4. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

William Paley: The watchmaker argument.

As we will see, fantastic new evidence has arisen in the past 30 years to support this argument.

Fine tuning argument

Necessary information for life argument

III. Moral Argument (also called the axiological argument)

This may well be the strongest of the arguments for the existence of God. All of us believe that there is right and wrong, good and evil. We believe that these are absolutes, not just relative things. What is the source of morality-of right and wrong?

1. If God did not exist, then objective moral values would not exist.

2. Objective moral values do exist.

3. Therefore, God exists.

If there is no morality, then what compels us to do good or even defines for us what is good to do?

Even Richard Dawkins is morally outraged at all the evil done in the name of religion.

If an absolute morality exists. If the word “good” “right” “wrong” and “evil” have any real meaning, then we have a strong argument for God.

Does a human being have value? (more than the $4.57 worth of elements) The we accept the moral argument.

Do you believe in innate human rights? US Constitution: We hold this truth to be self-evident: All men were created equal. If so, then you believe in the moral argument.

Note: The alternatives are postmodern relativism or scientific materialism. We will talk about these when we discuss the Christian World View.

IV. Ontological Argument. Anselm of Canterbury 1077 God is the thing “that than which nothing greater can exist.” Alvin Plantinga. God, by definition, is the maximally excellent thing.

V. The Inspiration of the Bible.

If it can be shown that the most reasonable conclusion from all the evidence is that the Bible is divinely inspired-that it could only be the product of supernatural intervention-then we have a strong argument for the existence of God.

The teleological argument will be affective for some and the moral argument will be affective with many. These arguments are best presented within a broader argument for the Christian world view. My favorite of the five arguments for the existence of God is from the inspiration of the Bible because this “kills two birds with one stone.” This is true, because the first four arguments establish God, but which God?

In his “The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics,” Martin Heidegger asks the primary question in philosophy, which is: Why do we have something rather than nothing at all? The question may seem abstract at first, but the essential issues Heidegger raises are ones that we all will wrestle with at some point. Why are we here and where has everything that we know come from?

It should first be pointed out that the atheist and the theist both believe in the eternal. As succinctly pointed out by the great theologian Jonathan Edwards, you must go back to something that is eternal because, as Edwards put it,

• Something exists
• You don’t get something from nothing
• Therefore, a necessary and eternal ‘something’ must exist

The atheist claims that the eternal ‘something’ is the natural universe; whereas the theist says an eternal Creator brought everything we know into existence. The question then becomes, which possibility is supported by the best evidence?

Scientists are unequivocal in their response that the universe we know and live in is not eternal. Every intellectually honest drop of evidence points to the fact that the universe – at some point in the past – expanded out of nothing into what we know today.

Anything that has a beginning (such as our universe) cannot be eternal and therefore must have a cause beyond and/or behind it. The Scottish skeptic David Hume admitted as much when he wrote, “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.” This truth can be put into the following series of logical statements:

• Everything that begins to exist must have a cause
• The universe began to exist
• Therefore, the universe had a cause

Because there are only two, eternal ‘somethings’ that are possible – the universe and a Creator – and one of them has been ruled out by all the evidence we have, a reasonable conclusion is that an eternal Creator is the cause for why we have something rather than nothing at all. This line of argumentation is often called the cosmological argument for the existence of God.

However, critics have tried to attack this argument in two general, philosophical ways. The first has been through asking the question, “If everything needs a cause, then who caused God?” The British skeptic, Bertrand Russell (influenced by philosopher J. S. Mill), tried to argue against the cosmological argument in just such a fashion. However, both Russell and Mill commit two errors when they attempt to undo the cosmological argument. First, they commit the logical error of a category mistake – you cannot cause the uncaused or create the uncreated. Second, the cosmological argument does not say that everything needs a cause, but only those things that have a beginning. God, who has no beginning and is uncaused, needs no cause.

The second attack on the cosmological argument has come from atheistic scientists who have proposed other possible causes for our universe. The two main options put forth are the multi-verse (multiple universes) hypothesis and the quantum mechanics theory that purports things can arise and come into existence without a cause.

However, both alternatives fail when studied closely. The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem has scientifically proven that that even if our universe is just a tiny part of a so-called “multiverse” composed of many universes, the multiverse must have had an absolute beginning. In other words, it also requires a cause.

As for the quantum mechanics proposal, it is simply not true that things begin to exist from nothing in a quantum mechanics environment. Anything arising results from fluctuations in the quantum vacuum, which is not “nothing” by definition. Instead, it comes from energy that is locked in the vacuum, which is a sea of fluctuating energy governed by physical laws having a physical structure. No evidence suggests that things come into being from nothing in quantum mechanics.

Both the multiverse and quantum mechanics arguments are examples of what in philosophy is called “drowning the fish.” You can use all the water in the oceans in an attempt to drown the fish, but in the end, it will still be there affirming its existence and presence.

In the end, the cosmological argument for God stands intact. The reason we have something rather than nothing is because, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Rather than being defeated by modern science (as is the eternal universe claim), the opening line of the Bible is supported by science. Quantum chemist Henry F. Schaeffer says, “A Creator must exist. The Big Bang ripples and subsequent scientific findings are clearly pointing to an ex nihilo creation consistent with the first few verses of the book of Genesis.”

Dr. John Lennox sums up the overall matter of the cosmological argument well when he writes: “There are not many options – essentially just two. Either human intelligence ultimately owes its origin to mindless matter; or there is a Creator. It is strange that some people claim that it is their intelligence that leads them to prefer the first to the second.”

The issue of whether an omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent God exists amidst all the evil that is being experienced in the world has remained to be one of the highly debatable issues among various stakeholders of religious-based education. Some people may argue that such a God would logically be incompatible with the world and, therefore, he does not exist. This argument is supported by the fact that such a God would prevent evil if indeed, he existed.

This is identified as the logical problem of evil. There also exists the evidential problem of evil where proponents argue that there exists a lot of scientific evidence of evil, while the existence of God can only be explained by the assumption that greater good permits some evil while at the same time reducing the evil and suffering in the world, but then there is no evidence of the existence of such a greater good or a supernatural being with such a character hence there is no God.

There is also the argument that perceiving existence through logic or evidence is an assumption, and one should identify the existence of evil and that of God by making as little assumptions as possible. This is because the assumption that for something to exist, some evidence must be available negates the hypothesis that there is the existence of powers that are above human comprehension. This is seen where evil is identified to occur naturally and evidence of its cause does not exist while the consequences can be seen.

The nature of evil can be divided into two, which is a moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil is the result of an action or failure to act by a person. A good example is a murder, which is brought about by an action done by a human being; hence it is a moral evil. In this case, the proximate cause applies where cases such as death by poisoning may be identified to have been caused by the person who gave out the poison and not by the natural action of the poison on the victim’s body. In cases where people starve to death while the governments are not willing to distribute emergency relief food, the evil here is identified as moral since the officials holding the relief food are the cause of the deaths and not the famine.

On the other hand, natural evil is not as a result of any action by man. It is usually out of the control of human beings and there is nothing that can be done to prevent it. An example is where a person undergoes a slow and painful death due to an incurable disease such as cancer. Theodicy must be internally consistent and also defend the internal consistency of the argument on the existence of evil. In this case, the existence of moral sin lies squarely with the choices made by human beings who are often motivated by selfish needs. On the other hand, natural sin is a manifestation of nature’s ability over human ability. Moral evil attracts punishment from God for those who commit it, while natural evil attracts blessings from God for those who make a positive impact on the lives of those who are suffering.

Proponents of theodicy argue that the existence of either natural evil or moral evil does not negate the existence of God. One of the arguments presented is that moral evil is a direct result of the free will that God has advanced to human beings. It is then upon man to practice this free will to create evil or to reduce it. This is the case for those who choose to kill others. There are those like the police and the doctors who work towards reducing human suffering by stopping those who choose to commit murder or treat those suffering from diseases.

On the other, handsome argue that evil exists out of a greater good that God has foreseen. Proponents of this philosophy identify natural evil to be a way through which God manifests the good in humanity. An example is where people come together to alleviate the suffering that results after a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a hurricane. However, the problem lies in the suffering that such an occurrence brings which in itself is identified as the lack of good in the world. The argument, therefore, arises on whether humanity has to suffer through evil for there to be good especially if God exists. In this case, some people may identify this as a weak excuse and argue that there is no God. It is, therefore, impossible for a solid argument on the existence of God especially the belief in him, without actually attacking God.

Bibliography

Drees, Willem. Is nature ever evil? Religion, science, and value. London; Routledge, 2003.

Elwell, Walter. Evangelical dictionary of theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2001.

Towns, Elmer. Theology for today. Upper Saddle River: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2008.

ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD – THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

The Argument

The Cosmological Argument, also sometimes known as the Unmoved Mover or the Uncaused Cause, is the argument that the existence of the world or universe implies the existence of a being that brought it into existence (and keeps it in existence). The argument, the essence of which goes back to Aristotle in the 4th Century BC, is that everything that moves is moved by something else; an infinite regress (that is, going back through a chain of movers forever) is impossible; and therefore there must exist a first mover (what Aristotle called the Prime Mover) i.e. God.

In the same way, everything that exists or happens (including the universe itself) is caused by something else, and this chain of causation can be traced back to a first cause, which was not itself caused by anything but just “was”, and which can be called “God”.

The argument comes in two main forms, “modal” (having to do with possibility), and “temporal” (having to do with time):

  • The Modal Cosmological Argument, also known as the Argument from Contingency, suggests that because the universe might not have existed (i.e. it is contingent, as opposed to necessary), we then need some explanation of why it does exist. Wherever there are two possibilities, something must determine which of those possibilities is realized. Therefore, as the universe is contingent, there must be some reason for its existence, i.e. it must have a cause. The argument continues that the only kind of being whose existence requires no explanation is a “necessary being”, a being that could not have failed to exist. The ultimate cause of everything must therefore be a necessary being, such as God.
  • The Temporal Cosmological Argument (also known as the Kalam Argument for the medieval Muslim school of philosophy of al-Kindi and al-Ghazali which first proposed it) argues that all indications are that there is a point in time at which the universe began to exist, (a universe stretching back in time into infinity being both philosophically and scientifically problematic), and that this beginning must either have been caused or uncaused. The idea of an uncaused event is absurd, the argument continues, because nothing comes from nothing. The universe must therefore have been brought into existence by something outside it, which can be called “God”.

The Refutation

Critics of the Modal Cosmological Argument or Argument from Contingency would question whether the universe is in fact contingent. We have no idea whether this universe “had” to exist or not, nor whether it is in fact the only one and not just one of a potentially infinite number of different universes in a “multiverse” for example.

If God is thought not to have, or not to need, a cause of his existence, then his existence would be a counter-example to the initial premise that everything that exists has a cause of its existence! If God or the Prime Mover “just is”, then why can the universe not “just be”? Why is there a need to go a step further back? The widely accepted concept of “Occam’s Razor” suggests that the simplest solution to a problem is always the best, and that additional unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

Even if one accepts that the universe does in fact have a beginning in time (as the generally accepted Big Bang theory suggests), the Temporal Cosmological Argument does not explain why there could not be more than one first cause/mover, or why the chain could not lead back to several ultimate causes, each somehow outside the universe (potentially leading to several different Gods).

Neither does it explain why the something which is “outside the universe” should be “God” and not some other unknown phenomenon. There is no compelling reason to equate a First Cause with God, and certainly Aristotle did not conceive of his Prime Mover as something that should be worshipped, much less as the omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent God of later Christian, Jewish and Muslim tradition.

The whole concept of causality and time as we understand it is based entirely on the context of our universe, and so cannot be used to explain the origin of the universe. Causal explanations are functions of natural laws which are themselves products of the universe we exist in, and time itself is just an aspect of the universe. If there is no “time before” the universe, then the whole notion of “cause” ceases to apply and the universe cannot sensibly have a “cause” (as we use and understand the concept). Indeed, perhaps there IS no “cause” of the universe.

Interestingly, at the sub-atomic quantum level, modern science has found that physical events are observed to have no evident cause, and particles appear to pop in and out of existence at random. In the first infinitesimal fraction of a second after the Big Bang singularity, classical physics is known to break down and just such unpredictable and counter-intuitive quantum effects are thought to apply.

There is another variation of the Cosmological Argument (sometimes called the Argument from Nature) which claims that if there are “laws of nature”, then this implies the existence of a lawgiver, or God. However, the analogy of social order based on man-made laws does not extend to scientific or natural laws, because nature’s laws are descriptive, not prescriptive.

Personal reflections along the road to Tomorrow’s World

My sermon last Sabbath was about what the Bible teaches about the purpose of man (we have a great booklet on that: Your Ultimate Destiny), and in it I spoke a bit against the abuse of logic and philosophy. But that does not mean I’m anti-logic or anti-philosophy in general. Actually, I’m very pro-logic, and even pro-philosophy as it’s most simply defined (courtesy of Dictionary.com: “the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct”). I’m currently working on a Tomorrow’s World telecast tentatively titled “Why Believe in God?” (offering The Real God: Proofs and Promises) and the logic behind concluding that there is a God is very much on my mind these days.

Recently I’ve enjoyed some podcasts from William Lane Craig’s website ReasonableFaith.org, and I think his book On Guard is pretty good. Being a debater and popularizer of philosophy, Craig has crafted his book with a focus on the practical side of logical argumentation, with some convenient charts explaining his arguments’ flow and illustrating how some objections are handled. For someone new to logical argumentation, the book is a good starter I think, and I might add it to my kiddos’ reading list (at least the older boys). While Dr. Craig and I would passionately disagree on a number of items concerning biblical doctrine, I appreciate the thinking he’s done on matters of proving the truth of God’s existence, the nature of time and knowledge, and defending the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

On the matter of arguing that God exists, I appreciate that he includes in his books an argument from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz — not because the argument is special to me or anything like that. Rather, being the former Calculus teacher that I am, Leibniz is one of my old heroes and it’s nice to see his work on something even more important than Calculus (believe it or not) given some credit. (The crucial, uncredited role that Leibniz played in bringing about the end times Beast Power of Revelation is something I enjoy explaining on occasion–with tongue firmly planted in cheek, of course–and I may add that tale here to the blog one day.)

Here’s the essence (as I understand and summarize it) of Lane’s presentation of Leibniz’s argument for the existence of God, for your viewing pleasure…

  1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence.
  2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
  3. The universe exists.
  4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.
  5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

The premises 1 & 3 lead to the conclusion 4, and 4 combined with premise 2 leads to the conclusion 5.

It’s a valid argument, in the sense that it is structurally solid and its conclusion would follow from its premises, but is it a sound argument–that is, is it also true? Clearly, that depends on the truth of its premises. No one would question premise 3–if they would, you could simply call it a day and take them out for some non-existent coffee. Consequently, the truth of the conclusion boils down to whether or not premises 1 and 2 are true.

The obvious objection one could bring up (and Craig mentions this) is that if one says that everything that exists has an explanation and if you are claiming God exists, then God, too, must have an explanation. (If you already thought of that, treat yourself to a cookie!)

However, this glosses over a subtlety in Leibniz’s argument that goes unstated in the formulation above–namely, that there are things that exist due to external causes and things that exist of necessity. God is not “caused” by anything–by nature, He exists necessarily. This leads Craig to refine his statement of Leibniz’s argument making these claims explicit:

  1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
  2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
  3. The universe exists.
  4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.
  5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

This narrows possible disagreements to arguing against premise 1–say, by claiming, say, that nothing can exist necessarily (essentially assuming God does not exist from the start), disagreeing that everything has an explanation of its existence (specifically, disagreeing that universe has an explanation for its existence)–or arguing against premise 2–say, by claiming that the universe exists necessarily.

Again, I’m fond of Leibniz (and look forward to meeting him one day), and it was nice to see him featured in this way. I prefer Dr. Craig’s Kalam argument, which I might mention in another post sometime, but here I thought I would give Leibniz some props. After the whole Newton/Calculus affair, it’s nice to give him some credit where he’s earned it. 🙂

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How to argue for the existence of god

What is a wager? I was unsure of the definition, but all it took was a brief search on the internet for me to understand the word “wager” is sort of like the act of gambling. You place something, it can be anything, on the line unaware of the results. Learning this definition helped me better understand Pascal’s argument about the existence, or non-existence, of God.

Pascal says there is really no way to figure out if God truly exists. Nobody really knows what occurs after death. But he utilizes basic reasoning to determine the consequences of believing and not believing in God’s existence. The argument is quite simple and can be divided into four scenarios. First scenario, God exists and you believe in him. There is no punishment, in fact, you are given a spot in heaven and eternal rewards. What is better than being able to obtain all the rewards you desire, eternally? Nothing, says Pascal. That is what you receive in exchange for your faith on the almighty God. Second scenario, God exists but you don’t believe in God. Terrible idea. You are stranded in hell and receive eternal suffering, obviously nobody desires that in their afterlife. Third scenario, you believe God exists but he doesn’t, nothing happens, no punishments or rewards. And lastly, if you don’t believe in God and he doesn’t exist, you have absolutely nothing to lose or win.

So the question now is, should we believe in God? We are selfish creatures. Always looking to see what benefits us, how we can suffer the least possible through our actions? Our rationale makes us think of this all the time. An example of this was discussed during the lecture and goes as follows; Your child is about to get hit by a car and you are able to prevent this by placing yourself there instead of the kid. Bystanders might think this is a heroic act, a selfless sacrifice. In reality, why did you save your child? Because it’s your kid and you love him/her? This is partly true but there is more reasoning behind this action. Many parents would say, “Well of course I’d sacrifice my life for my child. The pain of losing him/her would be unbearable. ” And there it is, the reward or benefit you would receive in exchange for your actions. You would rather let that child live instead of yourself because you do not dare live in pain or suffer, instead, you’d want to erase your existence and feel no guilt. It was all for your benefit.

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Article Summary

Arguments for the existence of God go back at least to Aristotle, who argued that there must be a first mover, itself unmoved. All the great medieval philosophers (Arabic and Jewish as well as Christian) proposed and developed theistic arguments – for example, Augustine, al-Ghazali, Anselm, Moses Maimonides, Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus. Most of the great modern philosophers – in particular René Descartes, Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant – have also offered theistic arguments. They remain a subject of considerable contemporary concern; the twentieth century has seen important work on all the main varieties of these arguments.

These arguments come in several varieties. Since Kant, the traditional Big Three have been the cosmological, ontological and teleological arguments. The cosmological argument goes back to Aristotle, but gets its classic statement (at least for European philosophy) in the famous ‘five ways’ of Aquinas, in particular his arguments for a first uncaused cause, a first unmoved mover, and a necessary being. According to the first-mover argument (which is a special case of the first-cause argument), whatever is moved (that is, caused to move) is moved by something else. It is impossible, however, that there should be an infinite series of moved and moving beings; hence there must be a first unmoved mover. Aquinas goes on to argue that a first mover would have to be both a first cause and a necessary being; he then goes on in the next parts (Ia, qq.3–11) of the Summa theologiae to argue that such a being must have the attributes of God.

The perennially fascinating ontological argument, in Anselm’s version, goes as follows: God is by definition the being than which none greater can be conceived. Now suppose God did not exist. It is greater to exist than not to exist; so if God did not exist, a being greater than God could be conceived. Since God is by definition the being than which none greater can be conceived, that is absurd. Therefore the supposition that God does not exist implies an absurdity and must be false. This argument has had many illustrious defenders and equally illustrious attackers from Anselm’s time to ours; the twentieth century has seen the development of a new (modal) version of the argument.

Aquinas’ fifth way is a version of the third kind of theistic argument, the teleological argument; but it was left to modern and contemporary philosophy to propose fuller and better-developed versions of it. Its basic idea is simple: the universe and many of its parts look as if they have been designed, and the only real candidate for the post of designer of the universe is God. Many take evolutionary theory to undercut this sort of argument by showing how all of this apparent design could have been the result of blind, mechanical forces. Supporters of the argument dispute this claim and retort that the enormously delicate ‘fine tuning’ of the cosmological constants required for the existence of life strongly suggests design.

In addition to the traditional Big Three, there are in fact many more theistic arguments. There are arguments from the nature of morality, from the nature of propositions, numbers and sets, from intentionality, from reference, simplicity, intuition and love, from colours and flavours, miracles, play and enjoyment, from beauty, and from the meaning of life; and there is even an argument from the existence of evil.

The Argument from Design for the Existence of God

Lesson Plan

One of the most plausible arguments for the existence of God is the argument from design. This argument proceeds by pointing out how all things in the world seem fitted to one another, something that is also true of all the elements of each organism. It then points out that, when we find design in created things – from watches to books – we know that they were created by someone. Reasoning by analogy, the claim is that the world must also have a creator, only one with much greater intellect and power than any human being.

Yellow and Pink presents two puppets arguing about whether they must have been designed. This charming book actually does a nice job of presenting both sides of this discussion before its surprise ending resolves the issue. After reading the book to students, you can pose interesting questions about both sides of the argument, stressing that the issue is not whether or not God exists but the viability of this argument for establishing the existence of a creator of the world.

One interesting way to proceed is to ask students to evaluate the cogency of each side of the argument. One criterion in favor of the argument from design is its simplicity: Just taking a creator to exist can explain a wide range of different features of the world. The supporter of the “accidental existence” view, on the other hand, can point out that her view adheres to the advice of Ockham’s Razor not to needlessly multiply entities. (William of Ockham was a medieval philosopher.) This can open up the doors for an interesting discussion of the plausibility of this proof of God’s existence.

Nietzsche is famous for saying that God is dead, but news of The Almighty’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. Here are some of the most fascinating and provocative philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

To be clear, these are philosophical arguments. They’re neither rooted in religious scripture nor any kind of scientific observation or fact. Many of these arguments, some of which date back thousands of years, serve as interesting intellectual exercises, teasing apart what we think we know about the universe and our place within it from what we think we’re capable of knowing. Other arguments, like the last two listed, are attempts to reconcile questions that currently plague scientists and philosophers.

8 Great Philosophical Questions That We’ll Never Solve

Philosophy goes where hard science can’t, or won’t. Philosophers have a license to speculate about

Now, none of these arguments make a definitive case for the existence of God, and many of them are (fairly) easily debunked or problematized (as I’ll try to show). But at the very least, they offer considerable food for thought.

Finally, by “God” or “god,” we’re not talking about any specific religious deity. As this list shows, the term can encompass everything from a perfect, omnipotent being to something that can be considered even a bit banal.

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1) The very notion of an all-perfect being means God has to exist

This is the classic ontological, or a priori, argument. It was first articulated in 1070 by St. Anselm, who argued that because we have a conception of an all-perfect being — which he defined as “that than which nothing greater can be conceived” — it has to exist. In his essay Proslogion, St. Anselm conceived of God as a being who possesses all conceivable perfection. But if this being “existed” merely as an idea in our minds, then it would be less perfect than if it actually existed. So it wouldn’t be as great as a being who actually existed, something that would thus contradict our definition of God — a being who’s supposed to be all-perfect. Thus, God must exist.

Okay, admittedly, this sounds a bit weird by modern standards. Actually, it even sounded weird back then; Gaunilo of Marmoutiers ripped apart Anselm’s idea by asking people to conceive of an island “more excellent” than any other island, revealing the flaws in this type of argumentation. Today, we know that this type of a priori argument (i.e., pure deduction) is grossly limited, often tautological, and utterly fails to take empirical evidence into account.

But surprisingly, it was a position defended by none other than Rene Descartes. His take on the matter is a bit more illustrative; Descartes, in his Fifth Meditation, wrote that the conception of a perfect being who lacks existence is like imagining a triangle whose interior angles don’t sum to 180 degrees (he was big on the notion of innate ideas and the doctrine of clear and distinct perception). So, because we have the idea of a supremely perfect being, we have to conclude that a supremely perfect being exists; to Descarte, God’s existence was just as obvious, logical, and self-evident as the most basic mathematical truths.

2) Something must have caused the Universe to exist

Philosophers call this one the First-Cause Argument, or the Cosmological Argument, and early advocates of this line of reasoning included Plato, Aristotle, and St. Thomas Aquinas. It’s predicated on the assumption that every event must have a cause, and that cause in turn must have a cause, and on and on and on. Assuming there’s no end to this regression of causes, this succession of events would be infinite. But an infinite series of causes and events doesn’t make sense (a causal loop cannot exist, nor a causal chain of infinite length). There’s got to be something — some kind of first cause — that is itself uncaused. This would require some kind of “unconditioned” or “supreme” being — which the philosophers call God.

I’m sure you’ve already come up with your own objections to the First-Cause Argument, including the issue of a first-causer having to have its own cause. Also, infinity does in fact appear to be a fundamental quality of the universe . All this said, however, cosmologists are still struggling to understand the true nature of time and what “caused” the Big Bang to happen in the first place.

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  • Published: August 18, 2016
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Mind, body and God have always caused the major philosophical debates. Philosophers worked out various theories about their connection and combinations of them. This paper’s aim is to study the arguments of Descartes and Berkeley about God existence. We are going to stop at the main proofs, their consequences and the main problems connected to these arguments. Descartes studied the issues of God in his third meditation; the previous meditations were however based on his statement that in order to live he had to think.

For Descartes his existence was evident and thus he drew a conclusion that all the things, that he was able to see, were all true. The arguments of Descartes started from the splitting of the “thought” into four parts: ideas (concepts), volitions (choices), emotions (desires), and judgments (beliefs) (Bonk, 54). Each of them he analyzed in order to define the one that could cause the mistake. He came to the conclusion that there can not be a mistake in an idea. The mistake could be in the judgment about this idea, stating whether it is correct or not.

This meant that the idea itself and the belief that this idea was correct were two different things. Volitions and emotions according to Descartes did not include any mistakes either. Everything in this world can be however treated relatively, meaning, that we can not be absolutely sure, that all the things that we see, are true and those, we can not see, are false. Just one simple example: we do not see the electricity or intuition, b

ut we know that they are true, they exist. We can see optical illusions in the desert, but this doesn’t mean, that the things we see there are real and exist there.

Descartes talked about two types of the sources, where the ideas come from: inside – thus innate or outside- those, that are additional. Another important rule was closely related to the idea – “objective reality cannot exist without formal reality” (Atherton, 391), this means that there should be always the cause for the idea. Descartes considered himself to be imperfect as long as he was under influence of doubts. Using his previous rules, he concluded that this idea also ought to have a cause. Descartes stated that God would possessed the ideas that comprised perfections.

God, according to Descartes was “infinite, independent, supremely intelligent, supremely powerful, and which created myself and everything else” (Henze, 150). If God is infinite and Descartes a finite being, than the more perfect idea of infiniteness cannot grow from the less perfect idea of finiteness, and this proved, that this idea didn’t originate from Descartes only. Thus, philosopher concluded that the God exists. The idea of Descartes, that if we are thinking about our existence then it is proved that we exist seems to be correct, but the conclusions he made are quite vague.

The argument, that the existence of God should be based on clarity, with which we interpret the idea of God, seems to reach a deadlock as on the other hand our clarity of

the idea of God depends a lot on the existence of God. Also, what is important, from the very beginning of Descartes’ meditation we know that he considered himself to be imperfect, and then it is not logical, that he is able to make judgments about what is perfect and what is not. Berkeley also tried to avoid skepticism and he accepted the “cogito” of Descartes.

However he didn’t agree with the two notions of properties worked out by Descartes. Descartes suggested, that there were two types of properties for each substance: primary – shape, position and so on, secondary – sensory characteristics, for example colors. Berkeley in his turn concluded, that all the perceptions he got were all secondary, based on this he couldn’t agree with presence of physical world as substance. The only substance, which really existed according to Berkeley, was the mind.

“Now, why may we not as well argue that figure and extension are not patterns or resemblances of qualities existing in Matter; because to the same eye at different stations, or eyes of a different texture at the same station, they appear various, and cannot therefore be the images of anything settled and determinate without the mind? ” (Burnyeat, 32). But Berkeley argued, that God was needed as a cause for regular and orderly ideas of him. He didn’t consider matter as a cause of ideas and this let him not to stop at the problem of connection between mind and body.

What is common about the arguments of Descartes and Berkeley, is that they built their arguments about God existence through presenting God as the cause of the ideas. The difference lies in the fact that Berkeley regarded God as the unique cause for all ideas. There is a problem here as if God is only one and he is the source of all ideas this means, that all people should have the same ideas, as they are probably all in the same situation with the same conditions.

Berkeley stated that “being is to be perceived”, but he never said that as soon as you can not perceive the sensible thing it will disappear. According to him all the sensible things were collected together in the mind of God constantly and in case he can not perceive them they do not exist. He made God a Divine Mind, storing all the sensible things and being the source for the ideas. In the perceptual relativism of Berkeley could be found a serious drawback, namely the existence only of the things that can be perceived.

He himself never stated that he could perceive God. He said that he had no idea about God and other spirits. This means that he insisted on denying the physical world, which could be actually perceived and at the same time concluded that God exists even without perceiving it. Overall, both Berkeley and Descartes studied the existence of God and tried to find proofs based on the ideas and perception, thus on the basis of mind work. Their arguments have rational points, but still finally both

of them failed to produce absolutely indisputable arguments for God’s existence.

Maybe this is due to the fact, that religion was always based on pure faith and never had the task to provide proofs and material confirmations for its supporters. Probably also the fact, that God existence was and still is one of the most controversial issues for philosophers and scientists, hindered their success. To some certain extend the ideas of both philosophers could be accepted, but none of them as the final proof that God really exists. People nowadays as well as it was most luckily hundreds of year ago prefer to trust the things they choose themselves and see their own arguments and proofs in the events of their lives.

Rationalists and Empiricists have both argued in their own fashion in supporting the existence of God. Differences in their views are based on the extent of emphasis each side lays on human sense experience. Empiricists claim the existence of God based on information and knowledge gathered through sense faculties endowed to humans. Rationalists on the other hand knowledge and truth lay outside/independent of human perception, but yet offer support for the existence of God. Rationalists generally develop their view in two ways.

“First, they argue that there are cases where the content of our concepts or knowledge outstrips the information that sense experience can provide. Second, they constuct accounts of how reason in some form or other provides that additional information about the world.” (SEP, Aug, 2008)

Using this framework, rationalists argue that although no one can claims to have ‘seen’ God, there is enough circumstantial evidence to prove his/her existence. For example, the beauty and splendor of the natural world with its own myriad of complexity and design suggests the existence of a benevolent creator. This is the argument some creationists employ to counter evolutionary biologists’ theories of random genetic mutations. The regularity of natural phenomena such as the rising of the Sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, the presence of other life-forms on earth, are all examples of the work of the omnipresent (yet unobservable) creator or God. Rationalists further argue that the tendency for higher animals to exhibit altruistic behaviour and unconditional love can be taken as more proof. At a broader level, the evil forces in the world need a countervailing positive force in the form of God. Empiricists, on the other hand, present complementary lines of thought.

“First, they develop accounts of how experience provides the information that rationalists cite, insofar as we have it in the first place. (Empiricists will at times opt for skepticism as an alternative to rationalism: if experience cannot provide the concepts or knowledge the rationalists cite, then we don’t have them.) Second, empiricists attack the rationalists’ accounts of how reason is a source of concepts or knowledge.” (SEP, Aug, 2008)

According to Empiricists, some of the transcendental experiences that occur to humans, whereby the realm of consciousness if elevated to another higher level is proof enough of God’s existence. Indeed, most such transcendental experiences coincide with a religious event such as prayer or divine music, making the associations between the two quite strong. These divine experiences of God’s presence are not usually grasped through sense organs in the course of daily life, but require special dedication to the faith and divinity for the revelation to occur. Moreover, such revelations are not uniform or homogenized among people, as it has a strong personal flavour attached to it. Since Rationalists deal with generalized ideas and concepts applicable to all human beings, their analytic framework would not be sufficient to account for these individual experiences. And as countless religious faithful assert, they carry a deep, intimate and personal interaction with God, which cannot be verified by rational investigation.

References:

Rationalism vs. Empiricism, (Aug 6, 2008) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, retrieved from , on 18 th June, 2011.

Maxwell, Nicholas (1998), The Comprehensibility of the Universe: A New Conception of Science, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Anthony Gottlieb (July 18, 1999). “God Exists, Philosophically”. The New York Times: Books. Retrieved 2009-12-07.

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The question of the existence of God has puzzled people since the beginning of time. There are two ways we learned in class about how people get to their answer. First through religion which does not have any proof of God’s existence but says that we should have faith that a being like God must exist to explain the creation of everything on earth. The second way is through logic; this is the way philosophist has argued for the existence of a being like God. They argue that for a being like God to exist he must have several core attributes.

The core attributes are omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (all-knowing), omnipresent (present everywhere), Eternal (time), Infinite (space), necessary, and perfect and by breaking down this core attributes logically they find arguments to support or oppose the existence of god. In this essay, we discuss the three arguments philosophers use to argue the existence of god and the objections presented in each argument. The two arguments are the ontological argument, cosmological argument.

The ontological argument is created by an 11th-century French monk Saint Anselm of Canterbury. He created an argument of the existence of God based on what he understood to be the nature of God being. In his argument god is the best possible being we can imagine. He says there are two ways for anything can exist. They could exist in only our mind example is the Easter bunny, and Santa this is imaginative beings that no one has ever seen, but everyone in society believes they exist.

The other way anything could exist is in our mind and reality. Beings that exist in reality are better than beings that only exist in our imagination. If God existed only in our imagination, he would not be the most significant being we can think of because god, in reality, would always be better, so therefore God must exist in reality. The argument runs into criticism because it can be used to prove whatever you most desire but wouldn’t make it real. An example of this is to imagine a car that could drive itself and also fly at the same time.

However, because you can imagine this car does not make this car real. Anselm responds to this criticism saying that his argument only works for necessary beings who is God. His argument creates the fallacy known as begging the question. According to the Oxford companion to philosophy fallacy is defined as “a form of argument with some invalid instances. Fallacy is plainest when the argument, or some instance of the form (called a counter-example), combines true premises with an untrue conclusion.”(p.228)

By adding the idea of a “necessary being” to his definition of god. Anselm uses god existence as a part of the definition of god. The second argument of the existence of God is the cosmological argument. This was created by Italian theologian and philosopher St Thomas Aquinas. He used the known facts about the universe to create his argument of god’s existence. Aquinas writes about four ways to prove God exist in the “Summa theologica.” The first was the argument of motion with this argument Aquinas says we live in a world where everything is in motion, and movers cause movement. Everything that moves must have been set into motion by the prime mover who is God.

He wanted to trace the cause of the movement he saw in the world to the beginning. He figured the universe must be finite in time because there must be a time where nothing was in motion, and there must have to be a static being that started the motion in the first place. The second argument by Aquinas for the existence of God was the argument from causation (the first cause). He uses this argument to explain cause and effect that appears in the universe. He believes that somethings in the universe are caused, and anything that’s caused has to be caused by something else since nothing can cause itself.

There can’t be an infinite regression of causes, so, therefore, there must be a first causer itself uncaused, and that is God. The first mover must be real and must not be an effect of a previous cause. His third argument was the argument from contingency. Everything has a beginning and an end. With this argument, Aquinas says suppose everything was contingent that would mean everything has a finite past and if so a state of nothingness would’ve obtained nothing “Ex nihilo, nihil fit” (from nothing, nothing comes). So this means not everything in the universe is contingent there must be a necessary object, and this important object is God. The fourth is the argument from degrees.

Aquinas uses this argument to build on the idea that we need a measuring stick in other to understand the value of things. We gage the size of things in terms of other things. He believes that there has to be an anchor to our value concept. Something that defined the value of everything else by being perfect and this thing is God. The criticism for Aquinas’s argument states that although he does an excellent job of proving the existence of god it falls short because God is exempt from the rules of causality and motion. Why can’t anything else be exempt from this rules?

In conclusion, Aquinas and Anselm proved great arguments to prove the existence of God. To create these arguments they used common questions about the universe to logically prove that even though there is no physical proof of God’s existence, there has to be a reason for the events happening around us. Life is too complicated to believe that everything happens randomly.

Bibliography

  1. Honderich, Ted. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2005.
  2. Tallman, Ruth. “Aquinas and the Cosmological Arguments: Crash Course Philosophy #10.” YouTube, PBS Digital Studios, 11 Apr. 2016, youtu.be/TgisehuGOyY.
  3. Tallman, Ruth. “Anselm and the Ontological Arguments: Crash Course Philosophy #9.” YouTube, PBS Digital Studios, 11 Apr. 2016, youtu.be/TgisehuGOyY.

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How to argue for the existence of god

TRANSCRIPT

NATHAN W. BINGHAM: What are the arguments for the existence of God? I’m here on the Ligonier campus with our chief academic officer and one of our teaching fellows, Dr. Stephen Nichols. So, Dr. Nichols, what are the arguments for the existence of God?

DR. STEPHEN NICHOLS: Well, first of all, I love a question that the answer begins with, “As Thomas Aquinas has said.” So let me just quote Thomas Aquinas here: “When the effects of a thing are known, but the cause is not known, then you use the effects to know the cause.” So what we have in this world is effects. We have us existing as human beings. We have the world itself. This is all an effect.

And one thing we know, the law of causality, every effect has an equal or greater than cause. So the world is an effect; it had to have a cause. And this has been an argument. It goes back beyond Aquinas, goes back to Aristotle. This is called the cosmological argument for the existence of God, and it boils down to this: you need an explanation for the world. And the only rational explanation for the world is that it had a cause; it had a beginning; and that cause was personal, and that cause was intelligent. And so, we say as Christians, it is perfectly reasonable to consider God as the cause of the world. It’s actually irrational to think chance created the world or chance resulted in everything that we see, not just that the world exists, but the complexity and the beauty of the world. Chance caused all this? Or did a personal cause? That’s the main argument. It’s called the cosmological. Sometimes we put a twist on that and call it the teleological argument, which points to the order in the universe.

The design argument is one of the widely used arguments in apologetics to make a cumulative case for the existence of God. It is basically about inferring a designer from the design that we see around.

How to argue for the existence of god

When we see a car or a motorbike or a house, the first thing we know is that there’s a designer behind it. It is never a case that a car or a bike simply appears to be in existence without a designer.

Every design, be it a car or a bike or the whole wide universe, has a designer. The precision with which the universe has been built or the way the universe exploded into being at the big bang provides a robust case for an intelligent designer.

There are quite a few forms of the argument but the most famous is the one proposed by William Paley (1743-1805), who used the watchmaker analogy. It is also known as the teleological argument, which is derived from the Greek word ‘telos’, which means ‘design’.

The Teleological argument for God’s existence

  1. The Fine tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance or design.
  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
  3. Therefore, it is due to design. [1]

Like any other argument, if anyone wants to deny the conclusion they must refute either premise 1 or premise 2. The first premise talks about three possibilities as to why the universe is fine tuned. It could be either by physical necessity, chance or design. It could not be because of physical necessity, the reason being is that the universe doesn’t have to be the way it is, it could have been otherwise. Many naturalists hold on to the belief that the universe had to be the way it is, it had absolutely no chance of not being the way it is, i.e. life permitting. P.C.W. Davies writes in this regard,

Even if the laws of physics were unique, it doesn’t follow that the physical universe itself is unique; the laws of physics must be augmented by cosmic initial conditions; there is nothing in present ideas about “laws of initial conditions” remotely to suggest that their consistency with the laws of physics would imply uniqueness. Far from it, it seems, then, that the physical universe does not have to be the way it is: it could have been otherwise.”[2]

Similarly, if we rely on chance that we just happen to be on a universe that is life permitting, that doesn’t explain the complexity of the universe. Therefore, we are left with the only option, which is that design (and therefore designer) can only explain the complexity of the universe.

In the recent times Michael Behe has coined the term ‘Irreducible complexity’, especially referring to the kind of complexity found in the living cell. The irreducibly complex system is a system containing several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to its basic function, and where the loss of any single part causes the system to cease functioning. [3] Behe writes in his book the Darwin’s Black Box,

“The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself – not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs. Inferring that biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. . . [Thus,] the result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell – to investigate life at the molecular level – is a loud, clear, piercing cry of “design!” The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein.” (Behe, DBB, 232-33.)

Behe, in his response to the argument that irreducible complexity can evolve in small steps, writes,

“No one at Harvard University, no one at the National Institutes of Health, no member of the National Academy of Sciences, no Nobel Prize winner – no one at all can give a detailed account of how the cilium, or vision, or blood clotting, or any complex biochemical process might have developed in a Darwinian fashion. But we are here. All these things got here somehow; if not in a Darwinian fashion, then how?” (ibid, DBB, 187.)

Other forms of the Teleological argument

The other form of the teleological argument could be stated as follows: –

  1. All designs imply a designer.
  2. There is great design in the universe.
  3. Therefore, there must have been a Great Designer of the universe.

It could also be stated as follows:-

  1. Every design had a designer.
  2. The universe has highly complex design.
  3. Therefore, the universe had a designer.

The argument has also been re-stated by adding the anthropic principle (the precise conditions of the environment), by Frank Turek:-

  1. Every design had a designer.
  2. As verified by the Anthropic Principle, we know beyond a reasonable doubt that the universe is designed.
  3. Therefore, that universe had a Designer. (Turek, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist, 111).

Conclusion

As we have seen so far the only option out of physical necessity, chance or design that can fully account for the irreducible complexity that we see around is design which logically leads us to the conclusion that there is a Designer behind it.

[1] Craig, William Lane, Reasonable Faith, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books; 3 ed. 1998), 161.

[2] Davies, Paul, The Mind of God, (New York, NY: Simon & Shuster, 1992), 169.

Paley’s argument for God’s existence is a substantial work. The argument is based on multiple points because the philosopher tried to answer to all possible criticisms to his ideas. Paley’s work contains multiple objections and counter-arguments defending the philosopher’s way of thinking.

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In his work, Paley uses a teleological argument based on the watchmaker analogy. The philosopher compares the creator to a watchmaker and states that the presence of design proves the existence of a designer, although some of his ideas and statements fail to pass a logical approach.

The teleological argument stands for the statement that is based on the observations of the outer world and nature. In the very beginning of his, work, Paley compares two situations. In the first case, a person in the forest finds a stone, and in the second one, a person finds a watch on the ground. In both cases, the finder wonders where the object came from.

In the case with a stone, the man believes that it could have been lying there forever, whereas in the case with a watch Paley notes that a person would never assume that the watch came from nowhere or was a part of the surroundings.

The philosopher describes the mechanism and constituents of a watch in detail to prove that witnessing such complexity and balanced work of many pieces of various shapes and materials would make the finder think that the watch was created by intelligent thought.

Paley states that the finder does not need to know how to make a watch, or how it works, he does not need to know the watchmaker to believe that the complex design of the watch has a purpose and was built by someone. This belief would not change even if the watch did not work properly, or if the finder detected a detail that was unnecessary, or if the finder did not know the purpose of the mechanism.

Paley emphasizes that the complexity is what makes the watch different from a stone, it makes the person who found it wonder where it came from and assume that the mechanism has a purpose and was made by an intelligent force.

The philosopher also notes that there is no power that could have made such mechanism apart from an intelligent creator and that the finder holding a watch in their hand would never assume that this complicated object could have been assembled by itself or by some intrinsic principle of order. Paley states that one cannot say that laws of nature are causes of anything, because laws assume power and power assumes an agent that uses it.

In the next part of his argument, Paley asks the readers to imagine that the watch found in the forest has a miraculous ability to reproduce itself. The philosopher assumes that if the watch was impressive for the finder before this new quality was discovered, it means that its discovery would add another reason for the finder to believe that the watch was made by an intelligent creator.

Paley believes that a random combination of physical forms could not be considered a cause of a purposeful watch. The philosopher bases this statement on the fact that no one ever witnessed anything like that assembling by itself under the influence of the principle of order.

Paley adds that even if the principle of order was the cause of the existence of a mechanism that can reproduce itself, this would not make his argument weaker, on the contrary, this would mean that the intelligent creator standing behind it all is incredibly skilled. The fact that the watch can reproduce itself adds complexity to this object and strengthens the finder’s expectation that the watch has a maker.

Besides, the fact that the watch can re-create itself does not change the belief that the design implies a designer. Even if there is a chain of self-reproducing watches, this chain cannot be infinite. This leaves the finder with the initial question about the maker of the very first watch. Paley concludes that the design comes from some intelligent source, the creator.

To my mind, the strength of Paley’s argument is the fact that it appeals to the typical for humans way of thinking that is based on the unstoppable search for laws and connections between the things around us. People’s attempt to systematize and organize the world around according to certain rules, laws, and similarities is our way of cognition.

Paley’s argument is an attempt to rationalize an unexplainable idea of the initial creation using analogy with something more familiar to a human mind. This argument seems quite logical until the reader starts wondering if the author’s assumptions are correct. For example, on what basis does Paley suppose that a person that found a complex device such as a watch in the forest would assume that this object had a creator?

To know that for sure the scientists have to conduct and experiment by taking a person and presenting them to an unexpected finding. After that, they will see what kind of assumptions this person would make about the object. Besides, I think that these assumptions would also differ depending on the kind of finder that is selected.

For example, a modern person familiar with high technologies is most likely to assume that a complex mechanism was made by an intelligent creator, given that the mechanism looks like a mechanism, but not like a stone.

At the same time, if the finder is, for example, a tribal dweller of a hill somewhere in Africa or Asia that has never seen a watch or any other mechanism before it will be very hard to predict what kind of assumptions this person would make.

One of the most popular objections to Paley’s work could be the imperfection of the creation as proof of the absence of excellent design and a designer. Paley thought this through and noticed that the presence of unnecessary detail in a watch does not deny the presence of the watchmaker. To my mind, the observation of nature is useful for the cognition of the outer world only when a person can experiment with the object of the study and examine it.

The theoretical guesses based on observation of nature can be considered the truth only when there are scientific proofs of these theories and assumptions. Paley’s argument is built on a chain of groundless assumptions and general statements and any facts do not support it. The philosopher describes only one of the possible scenarios, which could happen if a man found a watch on the ground, and assumes that this is the only possible scenario.

I think that observation without a scientific experiment is ineffective and confusing; to state something, we need more information than just our observations. Information is gained empirically. Observations alone can give us hypotheses, but not facts. To my mind, one cannot tell if God exists through observations of nature only.

Read Peter Kreeft’s webpage “Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God” at
http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm

Evaluate arguments 6, 14, 16, 18, and 19 and select the one that you would feel most comfortable using when trying to convince an open-minded non-believer in the existence of God.

Write analyzing your argument. Be sure to take into account of the following guidelines:

1. State the argument in your own words.
2. Explain the argument’s strengths
3. Explain (two) of the argument’s weaknesses (you should consider another reliable Internet source when addressing the weaknesses).
4. Explain which attributes of God are supported by the argument. For example, “Is the God proven to exist actually a personal God?”
5. Explain how you think that the argument might affect your non-believer intellectually and emotionally.

400-500 words in length.

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https://brainmass.com/religious-studies/religion-in-the-modern-world/arguments-for-the-existence-of-god-to-a-non-believer-521302

Solution Preview

I’ve included my response as a .doc attachment. Of course, I cannot answer the questions for you, but I’ve given you a rational outline as to how you might structure a solid answer.

State the argument in your own words.
Explain the argument’s strengths
Explain (two) of the argument’s weaknesses (you should consider another reliable Internet source when addressing the weaknesses).
Explain which attributes of God are supported by the argument. For example, “Is the God proven to exist actually a personal God?” Explain how you think that the argument might affect your non-believer intellectually and emotionally.
6, 14, 16, 18, and 19

I’ve been reading Kreeft for many years. I know his style and mentality well.
Of course, I can’t write the essay for you (nor will I answer every single question). I can, however, do the next best thing – give you a conceptual outline that you can then put into your own words. Trust me, you’re in good hands with me.

Argument 6 is a strange one. It relies on the concept of infinity having no beginning or end (by definition). This argument is very old and predates Christianity. Aristotle and others held that matter was eternal. This also developed in the French Enlightenment.

The philosophical problem, however, makes this concept absurd. If the universe always was, then it is infinitely old. If it is infinitely, old, then everything that ever could happen has already happened, including me typing this right now. Time itself collapses. All that has ever happened, ever could happen, and will ever happen has already happened. We can conclude therefore, on many more bases than this one, that matter has a beginning.

This argument is tough to argue against. Most atheists that you come up against will not make the claim that matter is eternal. Hence, it is not one of the more important ones. It is a “formal” .

Solution Summary

The following posting provides arguments for the existence of God to a non-believer.

How to argue for the existence of god

The Scene: Monday morning, your cubicle at work. You’re enjoying the last of your Starbucks joy-in-a-cup while reading your emailed daily devotion. You’re the first one in to the office, so all is quiet.

Coworker Joe: Hey, how’s it going?

You: Oh, morning Joe. I’m well, how about you?

Joe: Hating that it’s already Monday. Ugh.

Joe: You’re not working already, are you? It’s not 9 yet.

You: No, I was just having some quiet time, reading a little devotional before it gets crazy in here.

Joe: What’s a devotional?

You: Oh…well…it’s like a mini Bible study type of thing. It has a few verses of scripture with a short commentary.

Joe: Hum. Here’s the only “devotional” you really need: Life is short. Party a lot, ’cause eventually you die. That’s it. I don’t buy into the whole God-business.

You: Oh. Why is that, Joe?

Joe: I’m a realist. If modern science ever proves there’s a God, I’ll rethink things. I don’t trust an old book that’s been re-copied and changed over thousands of years. Don’t get me wrong; if it makes you feel better to believe it, I say good for you. But it’s not for me.

You: Uh…okay…well…hmmm… So, how about those Cowboys yesterday?

How to argue for the existence of god

Ever found yourself in a scenario similar to this one? I have, multiple times over the course of my adult life. Like the character in the above dialogue, I failed. Miserably. I can still recall the names and faces of all the “Coworker Joes” that came and went in my life before I left my career to be home with my children during their preschool years. It is the haunting memory of my failures to give a reasoned response to those who sneered at my faith that eventually led me into what I believe to be my calling in apologetics education. At this point, I can only pray for those that crossed my path in years past, but my mission in life now is to make sure I’m better equipped and to encourage and empower others to equip themselves.

What I didn’t know way back when, and what you may not know now, is that there are excellent answers we can give to skeptics who don’t believe the Bible to be true (much less divinely inspired) about the existence of God. In this post, I’d like to focus specifically on one easy-to-learn argument that you can use in most any circumstance. (In a future post, I’ll present another stand-alone yet supplementary argument.)

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

The overwhelming scientific consensus about the origin of our universe is that it is not eternal. In other words, it came into existence at some time in the past and is moving towards an ultimate end at some point in the future. There are several lines of evidence from astrophysics that make an excellent case for this. For example, we know from Edwin Hubble’s work that our universe is in a state of continual expansion, with the galaxies moving away from one another at a high rate of speed. In efforts to explain how our universe was first born, the event popularly known as the Big Bang, scientist have extrapolated backwards to estimate what triggered this Bang and what exactly went “bang.” The predominant view is that prior to the Bang there existed a tiny point of infinite heat and density known as the Singularity. Outside of this Singularity, there was no matter, no space and no time. Nothing. Then, the Singularity exploded (for some reason) and expanded into our universe.

Basically, it is important to know that scientific consensus says that the universe had a beginning in the finite past. There have been multiple attempts to construct a theory that circumvents the idea of an ultimate beginning of the universe. Suffice it to say that those theories are problematic, highly speculative, and not often (if ever) endorsed by leading astrophysicists. For further reading on this, see Paul Copan and William Lane Craig’s book, Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration .

Okay, so the universe (therefore all matter, space, and time) had a definite beginning. How, you may ask, does this get me anywhere with atheist Coworker Joe?

Enter: the Kalam Cosmological Argument:

1. Whatever comes into existence has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore the universe has a cause.

The big problem for a naturalistic explanation of the primordial singularity and the Big Bang is that the known laws of physical science don’t apply in a realm devoid of matter, space, or time. What we do know from experience is that nothing comes into existence out of nothing. William Lane Craig says, “To suggest that things could just pop into being uncaused out of nothing is to quit doing serious metaphysics and to resort to magic” (Reasonable Faith, p. 111).

From this, it is reasonable to deduce that there was, by necessity, a Creator of the Singularity and a Cause of the universe’s expansion out of that point. This Cause has to have existed eternally (without need for its own creator), outside of space and time, and have the power to choose to act with creative, causal intention. The only type of cause that meets these requirements is Mind; an omniscient, omnipotent, disembodied Mind; what we refer to as…

Visit Melissa’s blog at www.hcchristian.wordpress.com

Resources for Greater Impact

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Contents

  • 1 Overview
    • 1.1 Apologetics
    • 1.2 Definitions
    • 1.3 Purpose of the argument
  • 2 Favorite arguments
    • 2.1 Most common theistic arguments
    • 2.2 Favorites of professional apologists
    • 2.3 See Also

Overview [ edit ]

Apologetics [ edit ]

As long as there have been two or more people with differing religious views, there has been proselytism. This of course presents a problem; as religion is based on faith rather than evidence, logic, or reason, how does one go about convincing other people that their religion is the correct one? After all, if it’s based on faith and not reason, your faith is by definition really no more a reasonable position than anyone else’s. If you don’t like what the church is doing, just form your own. You don’t need evidence, just faith. As a result of this complete lack of evidence on what the true faith apparently is, there are over 30,000 denominations of Christianity alone, and no empirical reason to believe any of them.

Over the years, attempts to convert people to a particular faith have taken many different forms, most of them involving brute force and threats of violence – Convert or suffer the wrath of god’s chosen people! This was fine up until about the end of the Dark Ages, with the adage that-

unknown source:

After the enlightenment, the church started to have serious problems justifying its position. As science expanded our view of the world, God had fewer and fewer places to hide. Coupled with the fact that it was now considered slightly uncouth to simply torture and burn alive those that disagreed with you, the church and its parishioners now had to work very hard to justify their positions of belief, and harder still to convert others. Thus apologetics was born.

In a nutshell, apologetics is the discipline of attempting to justify a theological position through evidence, philosophy, science, metaphysics, and history. However, when these apologetics arguments are actually reviewed under scrutiny, we find they rely on:

  • evidence so incredibly poor that even the apologists using it wouldn’t accept such evidence as proof of anything in any other argument than for that of their personal god,
  • horrific straw man representations of true scientific theories,
  • convoluted metaphysics that ultimately have no real world underpinning, and
  • the distortion of historically documented events and evidence in a fashion similar in degree and irrationality to holocaust denial.

There are many conflicting arguments which attempt to support the existence of many conflicting gods. Being often mutually contradictory, they can’t all be correct – but they can all be wrong. Indeed, every “argument” presented for gods thus far has one or more problems with validity or soundness. At their core, even the most seemingly persuasive apologetics are founded upon cognitive biases, magical thinking, logical fallacies, or basic unproved assertions, and the fact that theists of all stripes tend to use the same arguments for their specific god or gods speaks more to the common flaws in human thinking than it does to the usefulness of the arguments.

Definitions [ edit ]

It is important when engaging in an argument with a theist that all the required concepts involved in the argument are clearly defined; particularly the definition of God. Having clearly defined definitions prevents the theist from moving the goalposts mid-argument, or even more frustratingly getting to the end of the argument and then having the theists say “but that’s not my God” or “that’s not in my Bible”.

Purpose of the argument [ edit ]

It is also important to make sure that the discussion is one that will be enlightening. An important question is, “what is the purpose of this discussion/argument?”

Prior to the onset of the hopefully dialectical discussion, both sides must reflect on the purpose and aim of the discussion. Argumentation will only prove to be fruitful if both sides are aware and accepting of the limits of persuasion in argumentation.

Religious people will almost never be “convinced” by any logically defeating counter-point, remaining staunch in their conviction, unless their faith is solely dependent on reason and proper logic. Therefore, it seems the appropriate middle-way seems to be to approach these discussions, on the whole, as forums for insightful discussion, rather than grounds for a conversion war, an approach that has proven and will continuously be proven to be ineffective in convincing religious theists to lay down their dogma.

It is important to consider the reason that successful logical arguments fail to convince theists is precisely that these theists were not convinced by logical arguments in believing in a divine being. It is usually based on personal experience, some subjective conviction that cannot be formulated into logical terms. It seems that even those who claim that their theistic belief is constructed upon some logically argumentative foundation, when pushed, eventually admit there is some fundamental subjective impetus for belief. However, if a particular theist maintains that they have a logical, objective foundation, but then dogmatically refuse to acknowledge the failure of his argument and are unwilling to question his theistic belief, then further communication is unnecessary and pointless.

Why the moral argument for the existence of God by C.S Lewis is seriously flawed.

I was enraged by this article on wordpress written by apologists. It claimed to prove the existence of God by the moral argument but failed miserably (as is expected by a apologetic).

The writer(or writers maybe, but I will assume it to be written by one person) claims that “morality is something we already know and hold to be true”. Well, maybe you know and you hold it to be true, but that does not mean it is the case. This claim is unfounded. We believe in morality because it helps us progress, that does not mean it is objective.

Then, the writer claims that no one who is human can be amoral. This claim is backed by serious, philosophical and indubitable arguments like the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

This is how the writer first puts the premises and the conclusion.

● If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

● Objective moral value and duties do exist.

● Therefore, God exists.

There is nothing wrong in the logic. The problem is with the premise. The first premise might be true. If God does not exist( he indeed does not exist) then objective moral values and duties also do not exist. The second premise is wrong. Objective moral values do not exist. We holding it to be true for our benefit, and it being objective are two very very different things. But the apologetic writer need not worry. Only clever people are able to discern such differences. And thus the conclusion, God exists.

Aren’t values subjective by definition? What philosophical arguments do I have to prove that values are subjective? Oh yes, I have one. The definition of values in the Anas Azeem dictionary!

Then the writer puts the premises and conclusion in the loved version.

● We know that morality exists and is something that we believe should be followed by all.

● The best explanation is that God is the source of that morality.

The premise of this loved version is what we should inspect, because the second one is the conclusion which just follows. “We know that morality exists”(‘we’ are people who smoke weeds) – by that if you mean that you know morality to exist objectively, then you know wrong. You might now argue that knowing cannever be wrong because of the definition of “knowing by the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Please don’t give such a reliable source to back your arguments please, I am dumbfounded by so indubitable arguments.

Then the writer’s very sorrowful, pitiful, insightful, beautiful, mournful storythat just proved(philosophically, without any doubt) that morality is objective.

Then the writer gets back to work and overcomes his desire to write about himself. He puts something. He puts that emotions are not atoms smashed together. Yes, you are right, emotions are actually atomes stacked together(This is I believe my third joke in this post). The author then asks a very critical, philosophical and insightful question which would not be that insightful had the writer learnt something called the “Theory of Evolution” at college. The author might now argue that theory is just a theory by giving reliable souces like the definiton of theory from the Stupid People Dictionary! Yes, emotions are just the flow of neurotransmitters in the billions of neurons at differnet rates per second that is the basis of all morality that is felt by all humans from the dawn of their time on earth to now. You ask the mechanism? We don’t know yet. Unlike your theological problems that will never be solved, gaps in scientific understanding is bridged with time. If I don’t have an answer, so do you. God made morality- this too is no mechanism. But, you might say that this is indeed a mechanism showing me the definition of mechanism by the Stupid Apologetic Dictionary. Now, the apologetic writer, you first of all go to college and get a degree in Evolutionary Biology. You might now ask me to go and read the gospels. Well, I don’t waste my time. I have only 54 years left to live if I live upto 70 and only 44 years if I live upto 60(I am 16 years old).

The author then asserts (because the previous arguments have holes waiting to be filled by the garbage of the Bible– another reliable source of information) that morality is best explained by God and arguably the God of the Bible. Otherwise morality is a product of the collision of matter. I will help the author(because I always help needy people,I pity them though pity is subjective) expanding his philosophical philosophical horisons by asking him to search “God of the Gaps” on the internet.This fallacy is upon which the whole structure of this argument is built, directly or indirectly. This is how this fallacy works.

◆You say-science can’t explain it!

◆ And then run towards God(but never reach him; my pathetic sense of humour is beyond my control).

This C.S Lewis argument works this way:- science can’t explain how collison of matter caused morality, therefore God. What is the mechanism that God used to create morality? The question still remains(slightly different from before) but God exists now. The writer never mentioned the possibility that science might answer how collision of matter caused morality in the future. How would he? The conclusion that God exists should be certain! Because the uncertain possiblity of God’s existence would curb the writer’s subjective right (I can imagine human-rights activists abusing me for calling rights subjective) to claim that he proved that God exists in his blog!

Disclaimer – The jokes in this blog are to be taken seriously!