Arguments for the existence of God

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  • Arguments for the existence of God
    • A priori (logic)
      • The Ontological Argument
        • St. Anselm- 11th century -Proslogium (1077–1078) Chapters 2–4 &  Responsio to Gaunilo.
        • The proposition ‘God exists’ is a priori or deductive
          • In the proposition ‘God exists’, the subject ‘God’ contains the predicate ‘exists’, so God must exist
            • God’s existence is a necessary truth, not a contingent one.
        • wrote On Behalf of the Fool
        • God is 'a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.’
        • Crticisms: Gaunilo
          • 'perfect lost island'
            • reductio ad absurdum, Latin for ‘argument to absurdity’
          • Responsio:  shows that necessary existence is a predicate only of God, and not of things.
          • Criticisms: Kant
            • Existence is not a predicate
            • We can accept the proposition that ‘existing necessarily’ is part of what we mean by ‘God’, but it does not follow from this that God exists in reality.
        • Strengths:
          • It's a deductive argument, so if it succeeds, it is a proof of the existence of God.
          • Karl Barth- not intended as a  proof but the result of a religious experience given to Anselm in which God revealed his nature as: ' that than which nothing greater can be conceived’
          • useful - distinguishing between analytic/synthetic and necessary/contingent beings
    • A posteriori (sense)
      • The Teleological Argument
        • William Paley- Natural Theology- 1743-1805
          • Watch analogy
        • Inductive reasoning
          • use premises to supply strong evidence for the truth of the conclusion.
        • Based on observation: complexity, regularity & purpose
          • Evidence of design = must be a designer
        • Criticisms: Hume
          • Could've been a lesser being
          • Evil&suffering= a limited designer
          • Anthropromorphic
          • Multiverse theory
        • Strengths:
          • Swinburne argues that: 'simplicity is always evidence for truth’
          • Evil is unavoidable - FWD
          • Compatible with evolution
          • Paley’s argument is good because it is based on induction
      • The Cosmological Argument
        • St. Thomas Aquinas 1225–1274
          • Criticisms: Hume and Russell
            • R- commits the fallacy of composition
              • Response: Bruce Reichenbach- the whole has the same qualities as the parts
            • H: the statements about God having a necessary existence are synthetic not analytic
              • Response: God is metaphysically necessary
            • R: the universe is the necessary being
              • Response: The case for necessarily-existing matter is no stronger than the case for a necessarily existing mind.
        • Way 3
          • observation that all things in the universe are contingent
            • something must exist necessarily (outside of the universe)
          • Inductie reasoning
        • observation of the cosmos convinced him that its basic processes did not explain themselves
        • Galaxies, stars, planets, moons: all things in the universe move and are changed, and those changes are the result of cause and effect.


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