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Existence of God

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There are dozens of arguments for the existence of God that have been put forth by philosophers and theologians for thousands of years. Usually in discussions, debates and apologetic materials for Christian theism there are five such rational arguments for the existence of God. These arguments have gone through popular treatments and technical analyses by many prominent philosophers and believers such as William Lane Craig, Charles Taliaferro, Richard Swinburne and Alvin Plantinga. The arguments are considered positive for the case of Christian theism specifically and that must have their premises refuted through positive arguments for the atheist or agnostic case for belief. The arguments for the existence of God can be used by Christians and theists alike to build a cumulative case for the existence of a transcendent, timeless, spaceless, personal creator of the universe. Being logically sound the conclusion that God exists must necessarily follow from the premises.

Arguments for the existence of God

Below are five arguments for the existence of God. The cosmological, contingency, teleological, moral and the historical case for the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Cosmological

Main Article: Cosmological argument

The cosmological argument is not a single argument but actually an entire family of philosophical arguments (logos; See: Logic) found in natural theology. There are subtle differences between versions of the cosmological argument and seek to demonstrate, by way of a priori and empirical (a posteriori) arguments, a "Sufficient Reason or First Cause" for the cosmos.[1] The family of cosmological arguments hold together through a common metaphysics. Theism throughout the history of the argument has been necessary so that any version requires a transcendent First Cause. Or, to put another way, a space-less, timeless, beginning-less, eternal, supernatural being of unimaginable power, namely God, is the cause of the origin of the universe. It is from this position then that a short traverse can be made into apologetics for the resurrection of Christ as how God has revealed Himself to humanity. (See: Minimal facts method)

It uses a general pattern of argumentation (logos) that makes an inference from certain alleged facts about the world (cosmos) to the existence of a unique being, generally identified with or referred to as God. Among these initial facts are that the world came into being, that the world is contingent in that it could have been other than it is, or that certain beings or events in the world are causally dependent or contingent.[2]

The kalam cosmological argument is;

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. (Premise 1)
  2. The universe began to exist. (Premise 2)
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. (Conclusion)[3][4]

Contingency

The argument from contingency recognizes that everything within the universe requires a cause or explanation for its existence. Everything is contingent including, people, cars, plants, animals. Atheists claim that may be true within the universe but not of the universe. If the universe never began to exist, it must be eternal, which goes against the prevailing cosmology of the Big Bang. It would be arbitrary for the atheist to appeal to contingency for everything in the universe but stop at the universe itself needing an explanation for its existence.

  1. Anything 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. Therefore the explanation of the existence of the universe is God.[5]

Fine-tuning, design or teleological

Main Article: Cosmic fine-tuning

Cosmic fine-tuning is the evidence that every little aspect of life is perfectly placed in order to sustain life. If altered even by the slightest amount, life would not be able to exist. How could something so specific have happened by chance? There are multitudes of examples of things so finely tuned, such that if even a single element were different, life could not exist.

Mathematical numbers underpin the fabric of our universe - not just atoms, but galaxies, stars and people. The properties of atoms - their sizes and masses, how many different kinds there are, and the forces linking them together - determine the chemistry of our everyday world. The very existence of atoms depends on forces and particles deep inside them. The objects that astronomers study - planets, stars, and galaxies - are controlled by the force of gravity. And everything takes place in the arena of an expanding universe, whose properties were imprinted into it at the time of the initial Big Bang.[6]

The argument for the existence of God from the fine-tuning of the universe states:

  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due either to physical necessity, chance or design.
  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
  3. Therefore, it is due to design.[7]

Morality

Main Article: Morality

The argument from morality is an apologetic put forth by Christians in support of the necessity of the existence of God. If God does not exist, if there is no morally perfect transcendent being outside human persons there is actually no objective moral values and duties. If there is no morally perfect being then morality is just a mere product of human social construction. For a rational view of the moral order in the universe and its obvious objective nature the atheist cannot point merely to the utilitarian or usefulness of acting moral. Atheists have no justification to say that the torture of innocent children or that Nazi concentration camps, for example, is objectively evil. An atheist can know they are wrong but may not know the ultimate reason why they are wrong. On an atheist worldview the ultimate justification of their objective morality is based in subjective judgements brought about by biological evolution and any "deeper meaning is illusory".[8] There is no transcendent ethical standard to appeal to. This is in stark contrast to Christian theism because there is a morally perfect being that transcends human psychology and sociology, the necessary anchor of the objectivity of moral values and duties. Thus objective moral values and duties flow from the very nature of that being, which is God.[9]

The moral argument for the existence of God has many different forms by theists but can essentially be expressed as:

  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
  3. Therefore, God exists.[10]

Historical Jesus

Main Article: Minimal facts method

The minimal facts method is a historical apologetic that makes the case for the supernatural resurrection of Jesus Christ. The minimal facts method is also called the minimal facts approach and was pioneered in the 1970's by the philosopher, historian and prominent Christian apologist Gary R. Habermas. It is considered within specifically historical apologetics as a scholarly approach to establish specific reliability in the Bible showing the central doctrine of Christianity as historical fact.[11]

References

  1. J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (IVP Academic 2003), pg 465
  2. Cosmological argument by Bruce Reichenbach. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2008
  3. J. Howard Sobel on the Kalam Cosmological Argument Response by William Lane Craig (requires free registration)
  4. New Atheist Arguments Against God's Existence Refuted (1 of 5) By William Lane Craig
  5. Bruce L. Gordon and William A. Dembski, The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2011), page 904
  6. Rees, Martin, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe, (Basic Books, 2000). First American edition, page 1.
  7. Bruce L. Gordon and William A. Dembski, The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2011), page 909
  8. Michael Ruse, The Darwinian Paradigm (Routledge, 1989) page 268.
  9. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologietcs Third Edition (Crossway books, 2008), page 104
  10. Bruce L. Gordon and William A. Dembski, The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2011), page 912
  11. A historical fact is what historians consider knowable history; they do not necessarily mean it to be a logical proof.