Arguments for existence of God

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  • Created on: 04-04-13 11:49

Cosmological arguments

What are cosmological arguments:

- Why is there something rather than nothing
- universe needs explanation
- must be external to universe
- God is the only existence as does not need explanation
- Has a necessary existence known a posteriori from inductive reasoning

 Kalam argument: different from other cosmological arguments as it insists universe has a beginning in time 

1. Everything that has a beginning of existence has a cause for its existence
2. Universe has a beginning of its existence
3. Universe has a cause
4. If a universe has a cause then that cause must be God
5. God exists 

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Analysing Kalam argument

Does everything need to have a cause?

- Hume no as it is not an analytic truth
- Universes beginning did not take place in space in time as they came into being with universe so cannot use events in universe as analogies for universe as a whole 

Does universe have a beginning?

- Yes Big Bang - may not be a begginning in time but a finite past 
- Finite time - impossibility of actual infinite
- Could argue came from previous universe - universe thought to have density = or less than critical density

Impossibility of actual infinite:

- Cannot get infinite by adding finite numbers
- e.g. would never get infinity by adding grains of sand forever
- Therefore cannot get infinite time from adding finite time moments
- Therefore cannot get infinite past
Problem of how God exists infinitely - outside time 

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Argument from contingency (Copleston)

Everything is contingent (dependent on something else)
Though not everything is contingent
Must be non-contingent being
This is God

 Criticisms: Russell
Copleston incorrectly assumes that God exists is synthetic - it is analytic
If God exists is a necessary statement it should be analytic - truth contained within itself
Necessary existence cannot be applied to objects
Observations of cause and effect in the world do not necessarily mean world is caused in the same way
World does not necessarily need a cause 
Problem is that all beings in universe are contingent - universe is contingent on these beings existing - something must have created them
 Another reply
matter and energy are necessary beings - Big Bang theory suggests this is not the case 

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Swinburne's inductive argument

Cosmological argument not deductive - otherwise would be impossible to imagine a world without God
Based on scientific understanding universe exists without explanation
things that occur without explanation are more likely to be simple not complex
God is more simple than God - likelihood of being a simple God without explanationis higher than a complex universe
Does not prove God's existence but makes it more likely - when combined with design, miralces and religious experience makes it more likely than not God

 Mackie's criticism - Raising likelihood of God still is very unlikely
Similarly unlikely that God of classical theism would exist
Response - More unlikely that universe simply came to be  

Other criticisms - More simple than God and universe would be nothing at all - this shows that most simple explanation is incorrect
Doesn't prove existence
No reason to think of God of classical theism or that he still exists - God must be out of time for argument to make sense (so always existed), and one God is more simple

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Argument from religious experience

Religious Experiences are generally:

Sense of union with God
dependence on God
Separateness of God

Religious experience = direct awareness of God or God's actions
Similarities to perception - immediate awareness of something other than oneself
Happen to range of people

HP Owen - I just know X exists
X can be anything in the world
same applies to religious believers
appeal to intuition - empirical evidence + intuition = knowledge
E.g. would not doubt if I said this table is over there 

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William James

Common core to religious experiences:

1. Ineffability - cannot be explained to others with normal language
2. Noetic quality: revelation of eternal and universal truth
3. Transiency: short-term, imperfectly remembered but with a profound impact
4. passivity: experiencee has no control

 Experiences should have some impact on our lives
All religion has idea of something wrong with the world as it stands - and this is remedied as we come in touch with a higher power - gain an assurance of safety and a feeling of peace etc.

Might argue that it is something psychological but -  

Authority of religious experience lies in itself - if I have a religious experience it is reasonable to say I had one
If someone converts they have as much right to hold the belief as we have to criticise - both based on evidence
It makes God the best explanation for these experiences

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Criticisms (general)

Reasons to doubt RE like perception: Everyone has perception but only few people have experiences - we trust perceptions because they are widespread and we generally agree on them 

response - only few people know how to identify a birds song doesn't mean we should doubt them 

also - if religious experience did not change someones life we might doubt its authenticity - but if it does it is safe to assume something happened 

Reason to doubt its God:

- religious experience comes up with different Gods and ideas
response - RE cannot give us whole philisophical system just give us idea of something spiritual also people can see same thing and disagree on what they saw e.g. witnesses in court

- People want it to happen/ are hallucinating / already believe
response - not all of them seem to be  

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Criticisms Freud + response

Father figure needed when young - need protector

Religions cannot be proved or refuted - only science can tell us about the world
Illusion that introspection can tell us about the external world
RE is just hallucinations we want to happen - appear real as they happen whilst conscious - intense feelings as nature of subject matter

Response - If it was produced by God, they would also act like this

Unconscious might be conduit of spiritual reality

Freud is incorrect to say that religion is always set as to be comforting

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Background assumptions of religious experience arg


God exists outside the universe
if he created the universe he must exist outside it
religious experience is taken to put us in touch with something outside our minds, it must come from outside our minds

What does God exists mean?
raises importance of analysing language used to describe religious experience
Assumption that language used reflects some element of truth

Belief in God must be supported by rational arguments
Belief can be deduced by premises that are more certain that God's existence
Beliefs formed directly in response to an experience 

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