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Arguments for the existence of God

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
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Alan C.
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#81 Post by Alan C. » September 15th, 2010, 10:17 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

mickeyd
So you must think it possible that you do not exist. But your non-existence is impossible, because in that case you would not exist to think it possible. But you clearly do think it possible ("certain as one can be"). Therefore you exist - with 'absolute certainty'.
I think you need to up your medication mickey, :smile:
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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animist
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#82 Post by animist » September 16th, 2010, 12:09 am

mickeyd wrote:Hi Nirvanam,

You raise a profound question, and I preface my remarks below by observing that the origin of evil is nowhere finally explained in the Christian faith. If God created human beings with an inclination only to evil then God would be evil, but God is good. Alternatively, if God created us with an inclination only to good, then why did we (and do we) do evil? Then again, if God created us with no inclination either way, how did we choose anything (either good or evil)?

However, I don't reject what I do know because of what I don't, and so I offer the remarks below, but grant that they are in no way a final explanation.

1. For evil to go unpunished would be unjust; justice requires retribution.

2. There seems to be no necessary reason why, if we can accept the justice of punishment for evil, that the duration of punishment should not exceed the duration of doing evil. For example, people are sent to prison for a longer duration of time than that in which they committed their crime(s).

3. To regard eternal punishment as unfair assumes that we know the true magnitude of the crime that has called forth the eternal punishment. Do any of us, can any of us, know how heinous it actually is to deliberately rebel against our infinite righteous Creator? Enmity towards God, and the pursuit of autonomy, robs God of his honour; and since God is infinite, we should suppose that such conduct is infinitely evil.

4. If God punishes forever those who hate him, it is equally true that they punish themselves forever. God is giving such people what they want; they don't want God, they want autonomy. Hell is eternal separation from God, the source of all good. In rejecting the Good they lose good, because God gives them over, finally and forever, to their own evil. Even if people in hell were to be offered the possibility of reconciliation with God, they would still reject it.

5. The Bible could not be clearer that all people have a cognitive awareness of God but repress it (Romans Chapter 1 and elsewhere). There is no excuse of ignorance. People deliberately, irrationally and perversely reject their Creator.


None of these points fully satisfy me, I admit it. Like everyone else, I want there to be a happy ending to the story but it's very difficult not to conclude that God has created a world in which a tragic element will be forever. But I also recognize that my perspective could, and no doubt will, change when I leave this world. I see only through the eyes of this time, this age, in which I am called to love my fellow human beings, whether they love or reject God; and as a redeemed sinner, but still a sinner, I emphathize with their plight; indeed, I am no better or different than them. But for the grace of God there go I.

Regards,
Mickey


These arguments are silly. Yes, arguably, often justice requires retribution, but most evil is created by God (if there is one) - for instance natural disasters and animal suffering. So God is not good and needs to be punished; in fact, maybe you should be punished for your lies. Even more ludicrous is your basing punishment duration on crime duration, and I can't believe that you're serious: I could murder someone in a second, and my life sentence relates to the severity of my crime, not to how long I took to commit it. Your points 3-5 simply assume your faith in the Bible, that we all actually know that God exists (well, even you must by now realise that we do not) and that God is good - which he is not, as I have already said. I would hate to be associated with your God, and I damn him and you for all the suffering there is in life.

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#83 Post by mickeyd » September 16th, 2010, 12:18 am

Hi Matthew,

Let P be a proposition that contains the first person pronoun "I".
Let B be the belief that P is true.

What is your argument from the existence of B to the existence of the referent of "I"?
(And of course, the non-existence of B is possible...)



P: I am not absolutely certain that I exist
B: Your belief that P is true

If B does not exist you do not believe P. But you do believe P. Therefore B exists. Therefore you exist, because you are the referent of "I" in P.

Mick

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#84 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » September 16th, 2010, 12:44 am

mickeyd,

I appreciate that you've been busy, but it would be good to know whether you intend to reply to the post I made several days and two-and-a-bit pages ago about the debate between Copleston and Russell.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

Matthew
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#85 Post by Matthew » September 16th, 2010, 6:41 am

P: I am not absolutely certain that I exist
B: Your belief that P is true

If B does not exist you do not believe P. But you do believe P. Therefore B exists. Therefore you exist, because you are the referent of "I" in P.

By defining B as "your belief that P is true" you are the begging the question. I defined B as "the belief that P is true."

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#86 Post by mickeyd » September 16th, 2010, 1:02 pm

Hi Matthew,

So it's not your belief that P is true?

Mick

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#87 Post by mickeyd » September 16th, 2010, 1:15 pm

Hi all,

I've got to take another break for a week or so due to work pressure (I'm self-employed).

Best,

Mickey

Nirvanam
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#88 Post by Nirvanam » September 16th, 2010, 3:12 pm

Alan C. wrote:
mickeyd
So you must think it possible that you do not exist. But your non-existence is impossible, because in that case you would not exist to think it possible. But you clearly do think it possible ("certain as one can be"). Therefore you exist - with 'absolute certainty'.
I think you need to up your medication mickey, :smile:
Ah the wise one speaks! the difference between you and others here, o wise one, is that others respect the opposite person as a human being. Get off your high horse, and argue if you have any logical or rational grounds to argue with. Knowing you, nope you don't...it is rather apparent in the way you run away when a question is addressed to you.

Nirvanam
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#89 Post by Nirvanam » September 16th, 2010, 3:19 pm

mickeyd wrote:Hi Nirvanam,

You raise many questions, it will take time to answer them. Replying in the order you raise them:

Whose evil? Is what Nick calls evil, actually evil? Is what you call evil, actually evil? Is what I call evil, actually evil?


Does this mean that you don't believe in the reality of evil? If yes, then what is your view on, for example, torturing babies?

Regards,
Mickey
Sorry mickeyd, a reverse question will not do...the question asked of you is very simple - whose code of evil is the right code? I promise you I'll answer your reverse question once you answer my question...and that is a gentleman's word.

In fact, if you want let's forget the other questions totally...just answer these two questions for me,

a. Now in my country a majority, more than say 75%, of the population knows about Jesus. But they don't accept the bible. So according to you, my country, India, is evil, or stupid? You see they know about the man but they choose not to accept his divinity as THE divinity.

b. If Hitler, Bush, The Brits of the 18th and 19th centuries who raped the world, the Americans of the 20th and 21st century who did the same, the Indians of the ages who were prejudiced against Sudras, all of them a few moments before they died (or for that matter even during their life, turned to JC and with their heart of hearts, from deep inside, no treachery nothing, plain true feelings, genuinely asked JC for forgiveness, will they go to heaven?

Matthew
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#90 Post by Matthew » September 16th, 2010, 3:46 pm

mickeyd wrote:So it's not your belief that P is true?

It is my belief if and only if I exist. Of course, the most certain thing I can believe (if I do exist) is that it is me doing the believing. But the notion of absolute certainty with respect to a proposition Q seems to require the impossibility of Q being false. Yet there are many possible worlds in which I don't exist - after all, I'm a contingent being. (This is why I think only God, as a necessary being, has absolute certainty and thus perfect knowledge.)

mickeyd
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#91 Post by mickeyd » September 16th, 2010, 4:46 pm

Hi Matthew,

Managed to find a slot between customers.

I'm not asking you about other worlds, I'm asking you if you exist in this world.

It is my belief if and only if I exist.


Wrong, it is your belief because you believe it, and therefore you exist.

Your position is utterly inconceivable Matthew. You think it is conceivable because you haven't faced its implications to the limit. I’ve already stated my view on this forum that the ultimate proof of anything is that we cannot conceive of it not being true. Having started out with a commendable reverence for the omniscient God, you end up more skeptical than Hume!! An agnostic theist! You reason that because God's knowledge is absolutely certain then no rational soul that God creates can have absolute certainty of anything. But this is a non sequiter. You dispute this. I hear you object that we can have no absolute certainty of anything but that which God tells us, because God alone is omniscient. But then how can we have absolute certainty that God is telling us? We must be absolutely certain that God is telling us in order to have absolute certainty of the absolutely certain knowledge that God is revealing. Similarly, can we experience God without first knowing with absolute certainty that God is? No, since otherwise we could not know that we were experiencing God.

It's curious that you accuse me of reading too much Van Til when it is precisely the presuppositionalism of Van Til, with its vicious circularity, that I am rejecting. You seem to have completely misunderstood Van Tillian apologetics.

I must leave it there for now, and get back to work. Be back next week,

Mick

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#92 Post by mickeyd » September 17th, 2010, 1:04 pm

Hi Matthew,

A major customer has delayed due to my heavy cold! So I've got time for this:

P: I am posting on this forum
B: the belief that [I am posting on this forum] is true.

Argue from B to the existence of the referent of “I” in P:

P1: Belief implies a believer
P2: To accept P as true is to believe P.
P3: Belief in P implies a believer (by P1).
P4: Belief in P implies and is implied by the basic reliability of sense perception.
P5: The basic reliability of sense perception implies and is implied by the believer in P existing and being the referent of “I” in P
P7: Rejection of the basic reliability of sense perception implies and is implied by radical agnosticism
P8: Radical agnosticism is self-refuting because to predicate unknowability implies knowability.
P7: The falsity of radical agnosticism implies the falsity of rejecting the basic reliabilty of sense perception (by P7).
P8: The falsity of rejecting the basic reliability of sense perception implies the believer in P existing and being the referent of “I” in P (by P5)
Conclusion: Not only does the referent of “I” in P exist, but also the referent is the “I” in P.


Regards,

Mick

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#93 Post by animist » September 18th, 2010, 5:28 pm

Matthew wrote:
mickeyd wrote:So it's not your belief that P is true?

It is my belief if and only if I exist. Of course, the most certain thing I can believe (if I do exist) is that it is me doing the believing. But the notion of absolute certainty with respect to a proposition Q seems to require the impossibility of Q being false. Yet there are many possible worlds in which I don't exist - after all, I'm a contingent being. (This is why I think only God, as a necessary being, has absolute certainty and thus perfect knowledge.)

Not sure why you think there is a necessary being; logical necessity is a relationship between propositions, so how can an entity be necessary? But surely the old Descartes "cogito" argument is still valid as far as one's own existence is concerned - "I think therefore I am". I seem to remember that Bertrand Russell quibbled over this on the ground that all one could say is "there are thoughts", but when I mentioned this to my philosophy tutor he said that he wanted to march down the street with a placard saying "No thoughts without a thinker!"

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#94 Post by animist » September 18th, 2010, 5:39 pm

Dave B wrote:Seen a lot of logic chopped but I am still awaiting proof that God exists - like a sign that can have no other possible origin.

yawn (does that have a smiley?) - could not agree more

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#95 Post by Maria Mac » September 19th, 2010, 12:43 pm

animist wrote:
Dave B wrote:Seen a lot of logic chopped but I am still awaiting proof that God exists - like a sign that can have no other possible origin.

yawn (does that have a smiley?) - could not agree more


Here ya go. :yawn:

'Fraid I've split your next post off to the dump because of gratuitous abuse - especially towards someone who has been unfailingly polite as mickeyd has - crosses the line as far as this forum is concerned.

Please keep it civil.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#96 Post by animist » September 19th, 2010, 1:02 pm

Maria wrote:
animist wrote:
Dave B wrote:Seen a lot of logic chopped but I am still awaiting proof that God exists - like a sign that can have no other possible origin.

yawn (does that have a smiley?) - could not agree more


Here ya go. :yawn:

'Fraid I've split your next post off to the dump because gratuitous abuse - especially towards someone who has been unfailingly polite as mickeyd has - crosses the line as far as this forum is concerned.

Please keep it civil.

it was a bit OTT, so I apologise

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#97 Post by Paolo » September 19th, 2010, 2:20 pm

Sticking to the thread topic, the only arguments for the existence of God (gods) that I have ever seen or heard have either been based on assumptions founded on religious texts (which I do not consider to be a valid source for a variety of reasons, not least because there are so many different texts that say different things) or they rely on God (gods) to explain gaps in our understanding of the Universe. Except of course, citing God to fill a gap and then falling back on the premise that God is unknowable (or imbued with logic-defying properties) provides a convenient avoidance of difficult questions about the nature of reality.

Let's start with a different assumption - God is a human construct intended to explain the hard-to-explain. This construct has become such a powerful concept that it has been used to justify and lend credibility to the actions of powerful people. As a result the powerful have been careful to propagate the concept of gods as a way of reinforcing their own "God given" powers (often at the expense of others - look to the Ayatollah Khomeini, Henry VIII, the Pope, etc.). This self-justification is embedded in every culture and it means the assumption of some god's existence is a hard one to overcome, but it needs to be for any meaningful discussion to arise.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#98 Post by animist » September 19th, 2010, 2:33 pm

Paolo wrote:Sticking to the thread topic, the only arguments for the existence of God (gods) that I have ever seen or heard have either been based on assumptions founded on religious texts (which I do not consider to be a valid source for a variety of reasons, not least because there are so many different texts that say different things) or they rely on God (gods) to explain gaps in our understanding of the Universe. Except of course, citing God to fill a gap and then falling back on the premise that God is unknowable (or imbued with logic-defying properties) provides a convenient avoidance of difficult questions about the nature of reality.

Let's start with a different assumption - God is a human construct intended to explain the hard-to-explain. This construct has become such a powerful concept that it has been used to justify and lend credibility to the actions of powerful people. As a result the powerful have been careful to propagate the concept of gods as a way of reinforcing their own "God given" powers (often at the expense of others - look to the Ayatollah Khomeini, Henry VIII, the Pope, etc.). This self-justification is embedded in every culture and it means the assumption of some god's existence is a hard one to overcome, but it needs to be for any meaningful discussion to arise.

phew, to say it again, Paolo, UR so beautifully laid-back, unlike moi - but I wonder if MickeyD will respond much to this reflection of yours. I cannot look at Mickeyd's stuff without wanting to pulverise it - there is so much which is idiotic and arrogant, yet there are genuine points too. I don't really want him to go and am impatient to hear his response to my damning him (I am not sure whether this alone would have earned me the reasonable rebuke from Maria).

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#99 Post by animist » September 19th, 2010, 4:54 pm

mickeyd wrote:Dear fellow human beings,

Christianity cannot die because God lives, as the following proves:





RATIONAL PROOF OF GOD



Ontological Proof

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.




Cosmological Proof

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”.






Teleological Proof

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




Personal addendum

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!

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animist
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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#100 Post by animist » September 19th, 2010, 5:26 pm

mickeyd wrote:Hi Lord Muck of Gentry,

I disagree that Russell did not invoke the infinite regress idea, because if every effect must be explained by a prior cause, but Russell denies a first cause, then ipso facto we arrive an infinite regress, whether Russell explicitly stated it or not.

Therefore the critique of Russell in my original post is applicable.

Regards,

Mickey

what is wrong with an infinite regress? It is at least conceivable in the past as in the future, and I don't hear anyone claiming that the universe simply CANNOT continue into an infinite future. God is far harder to conceive of, that will be always be your problem.

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Re: Arguments for the existence of God

#101 Post by animist » September 19th, 2010, 5:56 pm

mickeyd wrote:Hi Maria,

“This argument only works if one accepts the implied premise that 'existence' is a defining property of 'absoluteness'…. the dictionary definitions for 'absolute' you've copied don't include the word 'exist' nor any of its derivatives”

An absolute being is defined, in the English dictionary, as a being having no restriction, exception or qualification. Then it cannot have any ontological restriction, exception or qualification. But if it existed only as an idea, it would be ontologically restricted and qualified. Therefore existence beyond idea is a defining property of absoluteness. Therefore the argument works as you acknowledge above.


Regards,

Mickeyd

To reinforce what Maria has already said, EXISTENCE IS NOT A PREDICATE. Therefore you cannot argue from the dictionary definition of the PREDICATE "absolute" to the ontological status of existence.

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