mickeyd wrote:Dear fellow human beings,
Christianity cannot die because God lives, as the following proves:
RATIONAL PROOF OF GOD
Kant’s critique of this argument was effective because Anselm didn’t state it fully. It is true that Anselm only proved that the idea of a supreme being exists.
It is critical to note, in order to complete the proof, as Sproul et al point out, that once we conceive of a being that could not be more, that could not possess more being-ness, that exists infinitely and necessarily, we cannot then conceive of such a being not existing. This is the only being we cannot conceive of existing merely as an idea or by definition; if we do, we are not conceiving of a being whose being is infinite (unlimited in any and every respect).
The ultimate and most compelling proof of anything is that we cannot conceive of its non-existence. If the non-existence of something cannot be conceived, then it’s existence cannot be conceivably denied.
Suppose someone objects, “All of this is still just in your mind, it doesn’t prove at all that God actually exists.” The objection argues that the ontological proof is saying nothing more than this: “if something that exists necessarily exists, then it necessarily exists”, but it remains to be proven that something exists necessarily. However, as Sproul et al show, quoting Malcolm Diamond, in its clause “if something that exists necessarily exists” the objection is clearly self-contradictory and therefore self-refuting; if something exists necessarily then it cannot not exist and so the clause is nonsensical.
The ontological proof is a startling, vivid, somehow miraculous conception because it has come (and could only come) to our minds from the infinite being that it proves. The existence of the infinite is both the source and validation of the proof; it begins in God and ends in God (although self is the point of departure on the journey of the proof on the human side, because it is us who have to think it in order to be persuaded by it).
What if the concept of God is contradictory, as some maintain by asking questions of the type, “Could God create a rock too heavy for God to lift?” They then object that God is a nonsensical concept because if God could not create such a rock he could not be God (infinite), and if God could create such a rock he could not lift it and so could not be God in this case either. But it is the objection that is nonsensical rather than the concept of God. Any rock that God created would have a finite weight because being created it could by definition possess no infinite attributes. There is no such thing as an infinite created entity by the definition of the terms involved. So the objection is really asking, “can the infinite create the infinite?” which is a contradiction in terms and therefore nonsensical.
Consider the universe or anything in it, a molecule for example. There are, say Sproul et al, four possibilities for the molecule:
1. It’s an illusion
2. It’s self-created
3. It’s self-existent
4. It’s ultimately created by something that is self-existent.
Discussion of Option 1
Doubt requires a doubter. So if the molecule is an illusion (Option 1), then is the illusioned-one an illusion, self-created, self-existent or ultimately created by something that is self-existent? If [the illusion of the illusioned-one] is an illusion, then is the illusion of [the illusion of the illusioned-one] an illusion, self-created, self-existent or ultimately created by something that is self-existent? And so on ad infinitum. So Option 1 is an intellectual dead end, it cannot progress beyond itself.
Discussion of Option 2
If the molecule created itself (Option 2), it would have to exist before it existed in order to effect creative power upon itself. This violates the law of non-contradiction, which says that A cannot be A and not-A at the same time and in the same sense. But is the law true? Everyone in fact believes that it is whatever they may say. All sane people stop at the road junction when they see a lorry coming because they do not believe there can be a lorry coming and not coming at the same time and in the same sense. Further, any denial of the law involves using it, because the denial can only be meaningful if the law cannot be true and untrue at the same time and in the same sense. To deny the law of non-contradiction is to affirm it. Indeed, any affirmation or denial can only be meaningful if the law is true, and so human life and knowledge is only possible if the law is true. Specifically, if reality was truly contradictory, then induction would be functionally impossible and deduction functionally useless. Induction requires individuation of phenomena, but if something and its contrary can both be affirmed then this would be impossible. Deduction would be useless because (a) no particulars can be inductively established from which to draw deductive inferences and (b) no such inferences could in any case be validly tested against a contradictory reality.
Could some, but not all, aspects of reality be contradictory? Could the law of non-contradiction only hold true partially? No, because all aspects of reality are ultimately connected, hence the well known observation that the flapping of butterfly wings in one location could potentially produce a storm in another location. If any single aspect of reality was contradictory (i.e. could be affirmed along with its contrary), then all of reality would be contradictory. For example, suppose the whole of reality is non-contradictory except this paper, which both exists and does not exist at the same time and in the same sense. But then you the reader of this paper would be reading it and not reading it at the same time and in the same sense.
What about scientific anomalies and indeterminacy? This is just a particularisation of the objection answered in the preceding paragraph. Indeterminacy is not non-determinacy. Indeterminacy is a way of saying that some aspect of reality is not fully understood, not that it is non-determinate, because if it was non-determinate it would be intrinsically non-understandable, and if that were true than all scientists would be redundant and looking for new jobs (see preceding paragraph). It cannot yet be determined how light can behave as both a wave and a particle, but if this question is intrinsically non-determinate then neither this aspect of reality nor the rest of connected reality is understandable, and so science is finished. The unpredictably that current theory in quantum mechanics maintains is not the same as causelessness. Saying that the appearance of a particle in a given volume of space in a given interval of time is not fully predictable, is not equivalent to saying that its appearance is causeless, because unpredictability and causelessness are not identical concepts.
Discussion of Option 3
If the molecule is self-existent (Option 3) then it is God, since, as Sproul et al observe, the transcendence of God is ontological rather than necessarily spatial or geographic. The distinction between the finite and infinite has to with contingency, the former contingent and the latter not. It is an ontic rather than linear distinction. Anyone who believes the molecule to be self-existent should properly bow down and worship it; or indeed the universe if that is self-existent (it would be time for the atheist to start hugging trees).
Discussion of Option 4
The existence of a self-existent (infinite) creator (Option 4) is not at all irrational, although it is necessarily incomprehensible by finite beings. It involves no dead end as in an illusionary reality, no contradiction as in a self-created reality, and requires no-one to ascribe deity to the material universe or anything in it.
But if God is uncaused then what caused God? Does the self-existence of God really escape contradiction? We say that it does escape contradiction but not incomprehensibility. Self-creation and self-existence are not equivalent concepts. Further, apart from a self-existent creative agency nothing could exist (see discussion below), and so no sceptics would exist to challenge the rationality of the concept of a self-existent agency. So their challenge disproves their challenge. Conan Doyle was right when Sherlock Holmes said “When you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Well, almost right, in the context of the cosmological proof. We do not say, a priori, that the existence of a self-existent creative agency is either probable or improbable; this is a non-question from the human perspective since it relates to the probability or otherwise of the existence of a being on whose existence the existence of the questioner depends. There is no rational basis on which to even begin answering the question. We do reason, however, a posteriori, given the existence of contingent reality, that a self-existent creative agency most certainly exists because no other explanation of contingent reality is possible.
What about Bertrand Russell’s argument which says the universe is an infinite regress of finite causes and effects? As Russell remarked in his famous BBC debate with Father Copleston, “Every man who exists has a mother,… but obviously the human race hasn’t a mother”, seeking to demonstrate that if every event in the series has an explanation then no explanation for the series is required. But then we must ask, does the infinite series exist necessarily? Is it impossible for it not to exist? (Either it is impossible or possible, it cannot be both, since these are contraries). So, (a) if the answer is yes, and the series exists necessarily, then the series is God because self-existent (non-contingent); but Russell denies the existence of God and so his argument leads to a contradiction. To free himself from contradiction he must become a pantheist who worships the universe. (b) If the answer is no, then the infinite series is contingent, but contingent on what? Russell says the infinite series is self-explanatory (non-contingent) and all encompassing (so there’s nothing else for it to be contingent on), and so in this case his argument leads to a double contradiction. So whether the infinite series is necessary or contingent, either way Russell’s argument leads to contradiction. However, suppose Russell says that even though the infinite series does not exist necessarily, it could still exist non-contingently, causelessly, it “just is”. Then, it would be something from nothing, which would violate the law of non-contradiction, which cannot be denied without affirming it. Russell, in order to maintain his position, would be forced to deny the undeniable, which is clearly arbitrary and nonsensical. Let us elaborate on this conclusion. Russell, to be consistent with his own premises, is forced to argue that the infinite series is neither necessary nor contingent, because in the former case it would be God (which he denies) and in the latter case it would require explanation (which he denies). So he must argue, presumably, and somehow, that it is both necessary and contingent, which is impossible. So the argument is absurd.
We have said above that arguing for the causelessness of finite events is arguing for something from nothing and therefore breaks the law of non-contradiction. Specifically, it violates the law of causality which is an axiomatic corollary of the law of non-contradiction. Any denial of cause that has a cause demonstrates the law of cause. But what if the denial of cause is causeless? Then, as Sproul et al rightly observe, we must ask what causes satisfaction with the causeless denial of cause. If causelessness causes satisfaction with the causeless denial of cause, then even causelessness becomes employed to demonstrate the truth of the law of cause. Everyone believes in the law of causality whatever they may say. We pull up at the road junction before the lorry going past because we believe there to be a causal nexus by which our pulling out in front of a lorry that cannot stop before hitting us (cause), will involve some degree of injury to our car and perhaps ourselves (effect). All life and knowledge is dependent on the law of causality.
What if asking how existence came to exist is a non-question because the physical laws did not hold at the beginning of the universe? If this objection is saying that only reality that can be accounted for by physics can exist, then we must ask what accounts for physics? Can physics account for physics? If not, then physics cannot exist by the rationale of the objection. But this would mean that nothing exists, neither reality explainable by physics (because physics cannot exist) nor reality unexplainable by physics (the existence of which the objection disallows). So can physics account for physics? If it can then physics is God because it possesses sufficient ground of existence within itself; it is non-contingent (infinite). But since the objection denies the existence of God it cannot accept that physics is God, and so as shown above nothing exists, and so the objection reduces to absurdity because if nothing exists then neither does the objection. Therefore something not explainable by physics can exist and so at least to this extent asking how existence came to be is not a “non-question”. The cosmological proof stands. A variant of the objection might be that a reality not explainable by physics cannot be thought about, and so still the cosmological proof relies on asking a “non-question”. But if something not explainable by physics can exist (and we have shown above that it can) then it can be thought about. To conceive of the possible reality of something is to think about it; it is not inconceivable, and so again the cosmological proof does not rely on a “non-question”.
We note two facts:
1. The universe exhibits order: days, seasons, years etc. It is a cosmos (Greek word for order);
2. The organisms within the universe are fighters for ends, in particular survival and reproduction.
How do we account for these facts?
Could chance produce order? Suppose someone attempts to release a lock that opens with the 3 digit combination 123. Given enough attempts they’ll probably hit on 123, and the more attempts the higher the probability. But then the question goes back one stage further when we try to account for the existence of 123, or any other combination that represents order as oppose to disorder. If chance, given enough tries, can almost certainly make the potential of order become actual order, we still have to explain the existence of the potential (and, as the cosmological proof shows, the existence of chance itself – but we’ve already covered this proof above). Where does potential order come from? If order is not actual but nevertheless possible (i.e. potential), there must be some grounds for its possibility. Pure disorder can only remain disordered, because if disorder is total then order cannot exist even potentially. Total disorder contains nothing capable of being ordered, or it would not be total disorder; nor does it contain an ordered and therefore ordering-capable agency, not even to an infinitesimally small degree. So total disorder, for so long as it exists, must remain totally disordered. From this it follows that order can only come from order. But then where does order come from? If order can only come from order then it can only come from an ordered agency that possesses order of itself, an intrinsically ordered agency. That agency we call God. We have just proved the existence of God. We cannot understand how this God can exist necessarily or possess order intrinsically, but because we are not God we could hardly expect to.
What if some finite mechanism for producing order could be unequivocally demonstrated? This would only raise the question of what explains the finite mechanism, and then what explains the explanation of the finite mechanism, and so on ad infinitum. Any finite explanation itself requires explanation because being finite it is contingent. This is why we say that an intrinsically ordered agency must exist. The teleological proof proves the existence of an ordered, and therefore intelligent, and therefore personal, infinite being.
What about natural selection? In fact, natural selection is merely nature doing what nature does, hence the term natural selection. It is a false construct to argue that natural selection is more than nature. To account for natural selection we must account for a nature that is selective. Organisms are at the very least matter in organisation, and they seek to continue that organisation either in themselves and/or through progeny. Clearly this behaviour is structured, it exhibits pattern. (Indeed, it manifests itself so intensely sometimes that a person will voluntarily and spontaneously forfeit their own life in order to save not merely their progeny but the life of another whom they have never met, as we see in acts of altruistic self-sacrifice.) Hence the theologian RC Sproul, “Even the [atheistic] evolutionist … must assume some sort of design to explain his theory of evolution.” Reason to Believe, Zondervan 1982, p115
I recently had a conversation with a friend who insisted that God cannot be proved by the use of rational laws (logic). We discussed the cosmological proof and whilst maintaining his insistence that God cannot be proved rationally, at the same time he admitted that the Big Bang must have come from something. As confirmation, I then asked him if he agreed that something cannot come from nothing. He insisted that he does not know, he has no answer to the question. When I asked him if he knows why he does not know he had no answer. So then I asked him how he knows he does not know, given that he will offer no reason why he does not know, and again he had no answer. Did we part company with him becoming a theist? No.
This shows, as all such conversations do, that the problem with accepting the theistic proofs is not, in the final analysis, an intellectual problem (my friend is highly rational in all other respects), but rather a motivational one. The problem is one of profoundly ingrained psychological prejudice. The Christian Gospel explains why this prejudice exists. Since the prejudice is against God, in people who are not otherwise given to prejudice, it must derive from the nature of our relationship with God. It is our relationship with God that is the focus of the Christian Gospel.
Your arguments are ridiculous, almost too idiotic to bother with, but I must try and be patient. You just bandy words around carelessly - one should always define terms. "Infinite" is not at all the same as "necessary" so the fact that God, if there is such, may be infinite does not entail that he is necessary in any sense. God is neither necessary nor self-contradictory (though I think the Xian God does come near to being self-contractory because of Epicurus's dilemma). Another point is that you seem to confuse deductive logic with the inductive logic of causes: "Something can come from nothing" is not self-contradictory even though it may appear to violate most ideas of causation. All for now, but I am looking forward to hearing from you - forgive my unconventional greeting!