Arguments for the Existence of God
Recently I spoke at an apologetics conference alongside William Lane Craig, arguably the leading Christian philosopher and apologist today. He discussed the evidence for God in the final talk of the “On Guard” conference. Craig offered four arguments for the existence of God, which I will briefly state below.
Objections are raised to these, and Craig has responded to these objections on his web site www.reasonablefaith.org. I also expand on these arguments (except the first) in my recent book, Is God Just A Human Invention? But here they are laid out briefly along with simple comments for understanding.
ARGUMENT 1: THE CONTINGENCY ARGUMENT
This argument stems from the question of why there is anything at all. Why does the universe exist?
Premise 1: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. (For example, if you found a translucent ball in the wilderness you would know that it has some explanation for its existence. Numbers may necessarily exist, but things such as people and mountains require an existence).
Premise 2: The universe exists (Buddhists may deny this, but virtually everyone else accepts the existence of the universe as obviously true).
Premise 3: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is an external, transcendent, personal cause. (Why? The cause must be greater than the universe. If we consider the entirety of the universe—space and time—then the cause must be spaceless and timeless. Only personal intelligences and abstract objects fit this description, but since abstract objects have no causal powers, the only cause of the origin of the universe must be a mind).
Conclusion: Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is an external, transcendent, personal cause.
ARGUMENT 2: THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause. (There is both empirical evidence that things don’t pop into existence as well as philosophical support that something cannot come from nothing).
Premise 2: The universe began to exist (This premise has both philosophical and scientific support. For example, modern cosmology almost universally accepts that the universe began to exist a finite time in the past).
Conclusion: Therefore, the universe began to exist (This conclusion necessarily follows if the first two premises are true. Since time, matter, and space came into existence the cause must have been timeless, spaceless, immaterial, intelligent, powerful, and personal).
ARGUMENT 3: THE FINE-TUNING OF THE UNIVERSE (Teleological argument)
Premise 1: The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design. (“Necessity” assumes the universe had to be as it is. “Chance” assumes we are lucky. But necessity is implausible because the quantities of the constants in nature could have varied. In fact M-theory allows for 1 x 10500 different possible universes. Chance is also excluded because the odds are incomprehensibly great. The common escape hatch for the naturalist is the “Multiverse,” even though not a shred of evidence for the existence of other universes).
Premise 2: It is not due to physical necessity or to chance.
Conclusion: Therefore, it is due to design. (Detractors often say the mind of the universe also needs an explanation. But this misunderstands the nature of an explanation. For an explanation to be the best you don’t need an explanation for an explanation. If this were required then there would need to be an explanation of the explanation and on and on into infinity. Also, a mind has a different level of complexity than the universe. Ideas in the mind may be complex but a mind itself is not composed of physical parts).
ARGUMENT 4: THE MORAL ARGUMENT
Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist (Both atheists and theists agree on this. J.L. Mackie, the well-known atheist, admitted that if values are objective then God would exist. Nietzsche argued that without God values are simply human constructs. On a naturalistic view, what is so special about humans? On a naturalistic worldview rape may not be socially advantageous, and thus has become taboo, but this does nothing to prove that rape is actually wrong).
Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist (There is no more reason to deny the existence of moral values than the existence of the physical world. In moral experience we do apprehend moral values and duties.)
Premise 3: Therefore, God does exist.
Craig concludes that there are multiple signposts in the universe that point beyond it to an intelligent mind—God. These reasons, says Craig, provide a powerful cumulative case for the existence of a transcendent, necessary, all good being that created the world and brought humans into existence.
I would love to know your thoughts about these arguments. Do you find them compelling? If so, which one is the most compelling? If you don’t find them compelling, why not?
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