The Temple

Arguments for the Existence of God

In light of the discussion on the Plantinga vs. Dawkins post, I thought it would be beneficial for many of you to launch a few posts on the arguments for the existence of God. Let’s start with the classical basic arguments:

The Cosmological Argument (3 forms)

Motion

  • p1-Motion exists in the world
  • p2-Whatever moves must have a mover
  • p3-There can be no infinite regress of movers
  • C1- there must be an unmoved mover

Cause/Effect

  • p1-we see “effects”
  • p2-An effect must have a cause
  • p3-the can be no infinite regress of causes
  • C1-there must be an uncaused cause

Necessity/Contingency

  • p1-Some contingent beings exist
  • p2-Contingent beings require a non-contingent ground of being in order to exist
  • C1-a non-contingent ground of being exists

The Ontological Argument (Anselm’s Version)

  • p1-We have an idea of a greatest being (being than which none greater can be conceived, btwngcbc)
  • p2-existence in reality is greater than existence in the mind alone
  • p3-If the btwngcbc exists in the min alone, then it is not a btwngcbc.
  • C1-Btwngcbc exists in reality

Teleological Argument (Thomas)

  • p1-World is designed
  • p2-Design requires a designer
  • C1-That designer is God

A proof for God’s existence cannot be found, and none of these arguments are perfect. There are 5 total arguments above and each one has flaws, none totally proving God’s existence, yet together are the beginnings of a rational basis for God’s existence.

In Plantinga’s review of Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion”, Plantinga gives a modified argument from design (teleological):

“Recently a number of thinkers have proposed a new version of the argument from design, the so-called “Fine-Tuning Argument.” Starting in the late Sixties and early Seventies, astrophysicists and others noted that several of the basic physical constants must fall within very narrow limits if there is to be the development of intelligent life—at any rate in a way anything like the way in which we think it actually happened. For example, if the force of gravity were even slightly stronger, all stars would be blue giants; if even slightly weaker, all would be red dwarfs; in neither case could life have developed. The same goes for the weak and strong nuclear forces; if either had been even slightly different, life, at any rate life of the sort we have, could probably not have developed. Equally interesting in this connection is the so-called flatness problem: the existence of life also seems to depend very delicately upon the rate at which the universe is expanding. Thus Stephen Hawking:

reduction of the rate of expansion by one part in 1012 at the time when the temperature of the Universe was 1010 K would have resulted in the Universe’s starting to recollapse when its radius was only 1/3000 of the present value and the temperature was still 10,000 K.6

“That would be much too warm for comfort. Hawking concludes that life is possible only because the universe is expanding at just the rate required to avoid recollapse. At an earlier time, he observes, the fine-tuning had to be even more remarkable:

we know that there has to have been a very close balance between the competing effect of explosive expansion and gravitational contraction which, at the very earliest epoch about which we can even pretend to speak (called the Planck time, 10-43 sec. after the big bang), would have corresponded to the incredible degree of accuracy represented by a deviation in their ratio from unity by only one part in 10 to the sixtieth.7

“One reaction to these apparent enormous coincidences is to see them as substantiating the theistic claim that the universe has been created by a personal God and as offering the material for a properly restrained theistic argument—hence the fine-tuning argument.8 It’s as if there are a large number of dials that have to be tuned to within extremely narrow limits for life to be possible in our universe. It is extremely unlikely that this should happen by chance, but much more likely that this should happen if there is such a person as God.”

I will give some more arguments in future posts including some from CS Lewis and Plantinga’s version of the Ontological Argument.

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March 2, 2007 - Posted by | Christianity, God's Existence, Philosophy

4 Comments »

  1. As a graduate of divinity school and strong believer in Christ – I find the exercise and attention paid to Dawkins strange and miss placed. I thank you for putting the arguments for god’s existence in such a compact forms. I get the science of our time is breaking into spheres once reserved for god but each time some new and more profound mystery is found to prevent finding what source everything . I also not suggesting that the question should not be expressed – the life of the mind is worthy in and of itself. Its a little envy I guess, but that much energy focused on any concern now facing your life could benefit greatly. If I could frame the great question of the day for those sharp minds that comment of god’s existence, I would ask what are the mighty deeds being done today by God, leaving the subversion of his status to a much later day, maybe never.

    Comment by oldude59 | March 3, 2007 | Reply

  2. Sadly, our world continues to insist on having proof when it comes to beleiving in His existence, yet the ordinary man on the street rarely demands proof that there is oxygen in the air around us (which equally can’t be seen), yet takes every breath with faith that it is there for them. There are multiple things in this world that absolute proof does not always exist for, yet that doesn’t mean those things don’t exist in themselves. Not everything has to be seen to be believed in – I can’t see radio waves, but can trust in their existence every time I turn the radio on. I suspect the reason God gets such special attention is because He DOES exist, and every living person on this planet knows it in their being, but many prefer to deny Him His place, and so have to find ways of doing that which are plausible to them. As Christians, I think it behooves us to absolutely desire Richard Dawkins to come to that same awesome saving knowledge of Jesus as Saviour and God in his life, given the alternative facing him on death. Sadly he will discover all too late perhaps that he should have paid more attention to that still small voice within him. His judgement will be all the heavier for his proactive and vociferous defamation of His Creator and in pushing his views out so heavily to the eager masses. God has decreed that it’s bad enough to fall away from faith yourself, but those who then go out of their way to lead the ‘ignorant’ astray are doubly held accountable. 😦 .

    Comment by Ha Tikvah | March 3, 2007 | Reply

  3. God… we don’t know anything about Him… but we know everything there is about us, humans. And so we can say, we are finite and that is a fact, and we can say we are imperfect and that is a fact. But how do we come to know those things? that we are finite that we are imperfect? Aren’t those terms a relative term? a term that can’t exist in itself?… we know we are imperfect because we have some idea of what it means to be perfect. We know we are finite because we have an idea of the infinite. But perfect and infinite is what we are NOT, how do we know that? imperfect as we are, as finite as we are, it could not have come from our own imaginations. Absolutely everyone of us, humans, is finite how are we able to come up with that?
    It is this very thing rene Descartes was arguing about. He said it could not have come from us since we are obviously finite and imperfect it must have come from a Being separate from us, a Being who possesses all these things. A Being he calls, must be God.
    Don’t know if I explained these well, but I just felt like writing things, your topic is a good one. ^_^

    Comment by gnggng | March 4, 2007 | Reply

  4. Ha Tikva: I don’t insist on proof of God’s existence; I just don’t think your proofs are any good. The existence of oxygen in the air may be accepted on faith by some, but any calm and unprejudiced person who is willing to learn can be convinced of it, with recourse to established facts (a fact is a claim from which it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent, such as that heavy objects fall down, when close enough to the Earth and not moving too fast). God doesn’t rest on facts: it would be more like it to say that facts rest on Him.

    gnggng: So because I’m imperfect I can’t imagine perfection without there actually being an instance of perfection somewhere? Don’t know about you, but like Han Solo I can *imagine* quite a bit.

    Comment by John Cowan | November 20, 2008 | Reply


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