Arguments of existence for God

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  • Arguments of Existence for God
    • The Teleological Argument
      • Looks at the world around us and attempts to use that as evidence for God’s existence.
      • Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) Summa Theologica
        • ? Intelligent being required to direct world to its end.
        • ? By analogy: an arrow can’t reach its target without as skilled archer.
        • ? Therefore, there must be an intelligent being that directs unintelligent things to their end. This is         God.
        • ? Just as a formal garden shows evidence of a gardener so the regularity of the universe shows evidence of a designer (design qua regularity).
      • William Paley Natural Theology (1802)
        • ? Look at a watch – it is so complex it must have a designer even if we hadn’t seen it being made.
        • ? The Universe is the same and so it too must have an intelligent designer.   This is God. (Design qua purpose.)
        • ? Look at the regularity in the universe. (E.g. the Eye orthe rotation of the planets). This is evidence of God.(Design qua regularity.)
      • Strengths
        • Coheres with experience – The chances of the universe happening are astronomical.
        • Answers the question, ‘Why is there anything at all?’
        • Swinburne: the simplest and most logical explanation is that God planned it. (He is following a principle called Ockham’s Razor-the idea that the simplest explanation is the most likely)
        • FR Tennant and the Anthropic principle: The world is so exactly right to create the precise environment for man to evolve that it must have been planned. If the Earth were closer to or further from the Sun, we may not exist. The chance of this happening is so slim that someone must have done it. The Universe has been made for us.
      • Weakness
        • Hume Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion             (1757) -       ? Analogy – should be something organic. He knew the conclusion he wanted so used a watch which needs a watchmaker. Should have used a cabbage or         carrot?        ? Cause: cannot go from evidence from this world to a  BOOC God. Could be a God that died, a committee of Gods etc. Simply cannot know. ? Scales example: We can see the left side is up but can’t see the right side. We do not know what is causing this. Could be an elephants foot or a ton of feathers.
        • Epicurean Thesis: Entirely possible it’s all due to chance or randomness. If the universe is made up of a finite number of particles with infinite time, they could eventually come up with the combination.
        • J.S. Mill Discussions and Dissertations (1875) - The world is not just or ordered (Flaws & Evil).Either God is not omnipotent or not omni-benevolent. Evil suggests this is not the J-C God.       - This designer is morally flawed. I would not be described a s a good ship builder if my ships were leaky buckets at the mercy of storms and wild waves.
        • Charles Darwin The Origin of Species (1858) - The world has gradually evolved without a designer.It is the result of chance.        - What seems to be design is the result of natural selection. They exist now because they fit in.     - If there was a designer he would also be wasteful e.g. species dying out.
      • Responses to Weakness
        • To Mill:         - Nature doesn’t intend to do       anything.      - Something which appears disordered may be order to someone           else.      - Argues against a good God not a God in general.
        • To Darwin:    - Most Christians recognise that the Bible is not a          literal record. - Natural selection doesn’t account for morality or appreciation of the arts.
    • The Cosmological Argument
      • A posteriori – as it aims to prove God’s existence by using the world around us. Aristotle had a similar argument with his idea of the“Prime Mover”.
      • Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) Summa Theologica
        • - Motion > Prime Mover (The Unmoved Mover) Everything is in motion. Everything is moved by something else. There isn’t an infinite chain. There must be a Prime Mover. This is God.
          • - Cause >First Cause (The Uncaused Cause) Everything has a cause. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes. There must be a first cause that was not caused.        - Contingency >Necessary Being (The argument from necessity)
            • Something that is necessary relies on itself alone for existence. Something that is contingent requires other factors for its existence. Everything in the universe relies on something else for its existence. At one point there was nothing. Nothing comes from nothing. There must have been anecessary being which is the cause of contingent beings.
      • Copleston 1947 Radio debate with Bertrand RussellThe Self-explanatory Being
        • - There are things in the universe which are contingent – thatis there was a time when they did not exist e.g. you and me.
          • - Everything in the world is like this. Nothing in the worldcontains within itself the reason for its own existence i.e.nothing is self-explanatory.
            • The cause of everything must be outside of the world.
              • This cause must contain within itself the reason for its own existence. It must be self -explanatory. It must be a necessary being.
                • ? This being is God.
      • Leibniz & amp; the Principle of Sufficient reason:
        • There must be a reason why the Universe is the way it is rather than not.
          • Infinite regress is not an answer (partial explanation)  - Pointing to a God who is the reason for his own existence (necessary) is a sufficient explanation.
      • Strength
        • Weakness
          • Hume Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion(1778)  -Fallacy of composition: the logical error of assuming that what is the case for one thing is the case for the whole thing e.g. a human is caused therefore the whole world must have been caused. - He is arguing that Aquinas & amp; Leibniz are wrong to say that because we can see causation there must be a cause of the whole thing.
          • Bertrand Russell 1947 Radio debate with Copleston. Universe is a brute fact – no need to ask the question!  You can’t apply the same logic to the specific and the general.     No such thing as a necessary being.      Just because you have a Mother doesn’t mean the Universe does!Other weaknesses:- Is infinite regress really impossible?- Could have been chance!
        • Coheres with experience – cause andeffect.
        • It seems to be based on reason and logic.
          • Helps belief in God to seem reasonable – contingency and necessity.
            • Answers the question, ‘Why is there anything at all?’
            • Could potentially work with scientific ideas such as the Big Bang.
    • The Ontological Argument
      • Aims to prove the existence of God from the meaning ofthe word “God.” It is determined by the question: “Whatis my concept of God?”
        • St. Anselm (1033 – 1109) Proslogion:
          • 1. Nothing greater than God can be conceived.
          • 2. The idea of God exists in our mind.
          • 3. If God only existed in our minds He would not be asgreat as one who actually existed.
          • 4. Therefore, the idea of God - as a conception which cannot be bettered - must correspond to one in reality (i.e. He actually exists).
        • Rene Descartes:
          • 1. God possesses all perfections.
            • 2. Existence is a perfection.
              • 3. Therefore God exists.
                • Just like you cannot think of a mountain without a valley,you cannot think of God without existence.
        • Strengths
          • Weakness
            • Immanuel Kant-Existence is not a predicate, Anselm is wrong to suggestexistence is a predicate of God – it tells us nothing more. Also,God might existence but you can’t prove it with logic.
            • Kant preferred the idea of synthetic proof, which means you can prove something through experience. He argued this is the only kind of proof that could verify God’s existence.
            • Russell: offering existence doesn’t tell us anything, just that thing is “represented”
            • Aquinas: We all have different definitions of God
          • It uses premises that the atheist is likely to accept
          • It is a priori, thus is not contingent upon empirical evidence which could be found to be false in the future
          • The conclusion seems to follow from the premises.
          • Malcolm: Something is either impossible orexists. God is not impossible so exists!
        • Gassendi to Descartes:
          • We should onlybother talking of perfection regardingthings we know exist. We do not know Godexists so we should not even attempt totalk of his “perfections”.
        • Gaunilo vs. Anselm
          • Gaunilo of Marmoutiers > God is mysterious – we don’t have an idea of him.The Perfect Island – logic used in the argument applied to an island - it doesn’t work!Just because you can imagine something does not mean it must exist – you cannot move from a concept to reality.There will always be a greater island.
        • Anselm’s Response to Gaunilo
          • The proof doesn’t require complete understanding of God. God is not just the greatest thing of a certain type or the greatest thing of all. God is not contingent so the island example doesn’t work.
      • Anselm’s second version:
        • 1. Necessary existence is better than contingent existence.
        • 2. God is that than which nothing greater can beconceived.
          • 3. God has necessary existence.
            • 4. God exists.

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