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Thread: Arguments For and Against the Existence of God

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    Arguments For and Against the Existence of God



    Argument from Design

    It would have to mean that the designer of this plan was unbelievably lazy and inept, or unbelievably callous. And cruel. And indifferent. And capricious. And that is the case with every argument for design, and every argument for revelation and intervention, that has ever been made.
    Christopher Hitchens, on what by necessity follows from all arguments from design[1]
    The argument from design, also known as the teleological argument, is an argument for the existence of God (or life-engineering aliens) that may be summarized as follows: When I see a complex object such as a watch, I know it has been designed: therefore, when I see a complex object such as a tiger, I should infer that it has been designed. This act of comparing two objects and drawing similar conclusions based on similarities (while ignoring important differences) is a prime example of a false analogy.

    The argument from design, also known as the teleological argument, is an argument for the existence of a divine designer based on instances of order or purpose in nature. The argument has been used since ancient Greece and remains a popular argument. The intelligent design movement is based on this argument. The conclusion only states there is a designer but does not support any particular religion.


    Arguments for and against the validity of the argument have been advanced by many philosophers and apologists. David Hume was highly critical of the argument in his seminal book Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. William Paley introduced the Watchmaker analogy which is a popular wording of the argument.


    A typical argument from design is as follows:
    "Some natural systems, especially living systems, contain ingenious solutions for solving technical problems. Human inventors must solve the same physical problems in order to achieve similar results [...] Ingenious biological features were [...] engineered by our wise, benevolent, and powerful Creator. Nature has never been observed inventing these kinds of complex structures, each well-suited to its task, and there is not even a theoretical, realistic step-by-step evolutionary explanation for how they could have developed. Thus, in the same way that we infer a painter from a painting, or an engineer from an engine, we infer a Creator from a creation."

    Formal Argument

    There are three formal variants of the argument from design. [2] They are used individually or together in informal statements of the argument.
    Deductive version:

    • a1) Objects that are designed by humans are ordered*.
    • a2) The order* in any object originates from an external source.
    • a3) There is no other external source of order* other than a designer,
    • a4) An object X (for instance, an eye or the whole universe) is ordered*.
    • c1) X was designed.
    • c2) Therefore a designer of object X exists.

    * or have purpose, complexity, beauty or any other characteristic property of design.
    Analogical (inductive) version:

    • a5) Objects that are designed by humans are ordered*.
    • a6) A certain object X (for instance, an eye or the whole universe) is also ordered*.
    • a7) By analogy human objects are similar to object X, and the causes must be the same.
    • c3) X was designed
    • c4) Therefore a designer of object X exists.

    There is a third form of the argument which does not rule out other explanations for order, but selects design because it is supposedly the most probable explanation.[2]

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    The anthropic principle simply states that there are several universal constants and that these constants take on their values according to the requirement that carbon based life can evolve at some point during the universe's history. The universe must be old enough that this has already occurred.

    Weak anthropic principle (WAP)
    The weak anthropic principle states that in a universe that is large or infinite in space and/or in time, the conditions necessary for the development of intelligent life will be met only in certain regions that are limited in space and time. The intelligent beings in these regions should therefore not be surprised if they observe that their locality in the universe satisfies the conditions that are necessary for their existence." (Steven Hawking. A Brief History of Time)

    Strong anthropic principle (SAP)

    This form states that a universe "must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage of its history." (John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle)

    Participatory anthropic principle (PAP)

    This form states that a universe cannot come into being without observers (Barrow and Tipler). The implication is that these observers must be sentient.

    Final anthropic principle (FAP)


    This form states that intelligences must evolve within a universe and that once evolved will not die out.
    The FAP has also been dubbed "the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle (CRAP)" by author and skeptic Martin Gardner.

    Syllogism


    p1. There is some kind of special significance to human life and or the human frame of reference.
    p2. From the human frame of reference we seem to observe a number of 'constants' that are necessary for human life to be sustaineda. Goldilocks zoneb. Oxygen levelc. Strength of gravity fieldsd. Etc
    p3. It is far too improbable for all the necessary 'constants' to occur by chance
    c1. Therefore the universe was specifically made this way
    c2. Therefore God

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    The natural-law argument states that because there are consistent and predictable natural laws in the universe, there must be a law-giver who set those laws in motion. That law-giver is assumed to be God.
    "If nature made you, what made nature? [1]"
    "Although it is possible for things such as particles to pop into existence from "nothing," it has never been shown that non-quantum-sized objects can perform such feats. Even if it were possible, why would it be expected that such laws of physics would exist that universes to be created from nothing? [2]"

    Argument

    Syllogism

    p1. There are natural laws which govern the universep2. All laws have a law giverc1. That law giver is GodCounter arguments

    False premise p1: Natural laws

    This argument relies on equivocation between two meanings of the word "law".
    Legislative laws, such as "Do not murder" or "No littering" are prescriptive: they are established to demarcate acceptable and unacceptable behavior. If a person breaks such a law, he or she has committed a crime, and may be subject to punishment.
    Natural laws, on the other hand, are descriptive: they are human concepts that describe how some aspect of the universe behaves. For instance, Newton's law of motion F = ma describes how solid objects behave when acted upon by a force. If a person or object breaks a physical law, then it is the law that is in error, since it obviously does not adequately describe what it seeks to describe. However, there are natural laws that are at odds with one another and are still taken to be true because there is a clear and consistent pattern. For example, entities governed by the laws of quantum mechanics do not follow the same thermodynamic laws that govern the macro universe.

    Bertrand Russell
    :

    "We now find that a great many things we thought were Natural Laws are really human conventions. You know that even in the remotest depth of stellar space there are still three feet to a yard. That is, no doubt, a very remarkable fact, but you would hardly call it a law of nature."
    This is peripherally related to the Transcendental argument for god, in that it heavily confuses a conceptual abstraction with concrete reality.

    False premise p2: The law giver

    The laws in question are descriptive abstractions of what the universe does, not prescriptive legislations about what the universe can do. As such they do not require a law giver, but as long as a law giver is being asserted, it opens up the question of where god got his laws. This opens up a paradox somewhat similar to the euthyphro dilemma.

    Bertrand Russell
    :

    "Why did God issue just those natural laws and no others? If you say that he did it simply from his own good pleasure, and without any reason, you then find that there is something which is not subject to law, and so your train of natural law is interrupted. If you say, as more orthodox theologians do, that in all the laws which God issues he had a reason for giving those laws rather than others -- the reason, of course, being to create the best universe, although you would never think it to look at it -- if there was a reason for the laws which God gave, then God himself was subject to law, and therefore you do not get any advantage by introducing God as an intermediary."

    Broken compass c1: Which god?

    Main Article: Which god?The argument is an argument from ignorance, god of the gaps and a broken compass argument. The origin of natural laws may have some unknown cause that is not even divine!

    Even if we grant the false premises that there are prescriptive natural laws, and by extension the existence of a lawgiver god, it does not follow that that god is the one the apologist has in mind, or even that there is only one god involved. It could just as likely be the Flying Spaghetti Monster, purple space pixies, Santa Claus, or invisible pink unicorns, as it could be Yahweh.

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    Divine command theory suggests that any statement about ethics is actually a statement about the attitudes and desires of God. That is, it claims that God's commands and morality are identical. To suggest that morality can exist without God is therefore a contradiction. Divine command theory is a form of theological voluntarism.
    Divine command theory is favored by many Protestant denominations. In contrast, Catholic morality uses the concept of natural law.


    Semantic objection
    As pointed out by William Wainwright, "being commanded by God" and "being obligatory" have distinct meanings. It is necessary to establish the connection between these two separate concepts, if it is to be the basis of morality.

    "'x is obligatory but God did not command x' is not false on its face; and 'If x is obligatory, God commands x' and 'If God commands x, x is obligatory' are not bare tautologies. Hence, 'x is obligatory' does not mean 'God commands x.' [4]"

    Divine command theory cannot prove that God is the source of morality because that is precisely what it assumes. That is, divine command theory assumes that whatever God commands must be moral (in fact, in most cases it defines morality that way). However, it's not clear that I am morally required to do something just because God commands it. I might want to obey God in order to escape punishment, but this is a matter of my own selfish interest and not an absolute moral obligation. Similarly, it's not clear why I should assume that there's no other possible source of morality.

    Unless divine command theory can first demonstrate that it is the most appropriate view of ethics, one cannot assume that it is correct to prove anything else.
    "Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values. Obviously humanism does not deny the possibility of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does insist that the way to determine the existence and value of any and all realities is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assessment of their relations to human needs.[5]"

    Non-standard usage of the words "good" or "moral"

    Most people have an intuitive sense of what it means for an action to be good or to have a moral obligation, and this set of moral attitudes typically pre-dates or is independent of any religious beliefs. To define a new meaning for "morality" as meaning what God wants, then to act as if this is the same as the everyday conception of morality, is to commit an equivocation fallacy. Morality is either a system for determining which actions are right or wrong, or a desire to obey the will of God. It can't mean both things at the same time, unless one first demonstrates that both meanings are equivalent.

    Divine command theory is not an absolute system of morals

    See also: Euthyphro dilemma

    Divine command theory implies that whatever God commands must be the morally correct course of action. Therefore, if/when God endorses genocide, infanticide, animal sacrifice, slavery, or rape, those things are good, whereas if/when he forbids eating certain foods or working on certain days or having certain kinds of kinky sex, those things immediately become bad. This makes divine command theory a subjective theory of morals, one which is arbitrary and can change at God's whim.

    One way of countering this argument is to say "God wouldn't do that", but this doesn't help at all. For one, in many religious traditions he does do such things. For another, if God is the source of morality, he can do whatever he wants and it would still be just as "good" as anything else.

    Another thing to note is that many apologists claim that the god they speak of is unpredictable and works in mysterious ways; By their own claim, they cannot wrap their "flawed human reasoning" around what's beyond its ability to anticipate, aka what said god would or would not carry on. A biblical example is Abraham being unflinchingly convinced that God's commandments were inherently good even when said deity commanded him to sacrifice his son Issac. The lamb appearing before the sacrifice, which Abraham never expected, doesn't change how the later saw that his god's orders as undeniably good, even if it would have ended in Filicide. It seems their idea of what is "bad, and my god wouldn't do it" is derived of a more personal moral code, outside their religion. After all, people interpreted passages differently throughout history (Many justified enslaving Afro-Americans by quoting the bible in the past, but said ideology greatly fell out of society's favor nowadays).

    Thomas Aquinas believed that God's commands come from his own (unchanging?) essence and thus were not arbitrary pronouncements. This is irrelevant to the problem. Either there is a single absolute, necessary code of morals that governs everything, in which case God's commands merely reflect (or fail to reflect) this standard, or else there is no such code, and so the commandments of God cannot reflect an absolute morality. Either way, it gets you nowhere to say that actions are good for no other reason than because God approves of them.

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    Pascal's Wager is the argument that states that you should believe in God even if there is a strong chance that he might not be real, because the penalty for not believing, namely going to hell, is so undesirable that it is more prudent to take your chances with belief.
    A crude form of Pascal's wager is based on avoidance of hell, which relies on an emotional appeal.
    "And that they [in heaven] will live a very happy life without sickness, pain, sadness, or death; God will be pleased with them; and they will live there forever. So after this, how can a wise person risk loosing all these pleasures?! [1]"
    The argument from pragmatism builds on Pascal's wager in an attempt to shift the burden of proof.


    Overview

    God might or might not exist. It is a gamble whether you believe in him or not. As with any gamble, we should consider the odds.
    Pascal described the pay-off of this gamble as follows: If God does not exist, then you neither gain nor lose anything from belief or disbelief. In either case, you just die and that is the end. However, if you choose to believe in God, and you are right, then the reward is infinite: eternal bliss in heaven. On the other hand, if you choose not to believe in God, and you are wrong, then your pay-off is negative infinity: eternal suffering in hell.
    To summarize:
    Table of Payoffs Believe in God Don't believe in God
    God doesn't exist 0 0
    God exists +∞ (heaven) −∞ (hell)

    Since the chance of God existing is unknown, but the pay-off/punishment scheme is infinitely in favor of believing in God, you should believe just in case he exists. That is the safe bet, per Pascal.


    Syllogism


    p1. Believers and non believers alike, agree that payoff is good, punishment is bad.
    p2. if God is real, then you receive infinite punishment for disbelief or infinite pay-off for beliefa. if you believe, then you go to heaven for eternity.b. if you do not believe, then you go to hell for eternity.
    p3. if God is not real, then you really neither lose nor gain anything either way.a. if you believe falsely that God does exist, then you have not really lost anything.b. if you do not believe and it turns out God does not exist, then you do not really gain anything.
    c1. Therefore, even if there is strong evidence against God, it is still better to believe.a. the pay-off for believing if there is a God is infinitely better than the benefit for not believing if there is no god.b. the punishment for not believing if there is a God is infinitely worse than the loss caused by believing falsely that there is a God.

    Counter-arguments to Pascal's Wager

    Begging the question

    Pascal's wager commits the fallacy of begging the question, by assuming in its premises, certain characteristics about the very god the argument is intended to prove.

    Rather than the typical Christian god, what if we hypothesize the possibility of a god who rewards skeptical thinking unbelievers and punishes credulous believers? Such a god would be consistent with the fall-back response of theologians, "We cannot understand the ways of God," so it is conceivable that such a god would want to reward atheists. This god would not need to be malevolent, merely inactive (e.g., Eru Ilúvatar of J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium or Ao of the Forgotten Realms Pantheon). This also mirrors deism with regards to creation, and wanting to reward those who take a rational, logical, reasonable, and or skeptical approach to their beliefs.

    The new table including a Maltheist god may look like this:
    Table of Payoffs Believe in God Don't believe in God
    God doesn't exist 0 0
    Legalistic religious god exists +∞ (heaven) −∞ (hell)
    Anti-conventional god exists −∞ (hell) +∞ (heaven)

    The mere possibility of such a god makes the expected outcomes for each column undefined, but more importantly, equal.

    If you can accept Pascal's Wager as a realistic reason to believe, that leads you to a point where you have no choice but to believe just about everything on the same grounds. Lacking specific evidence about the nature of the true religious faith, there are an infinite number of possible requirements for going to heaven and avoiding hell. Maybe only those who collect stamps go to heaven. Maybe you have to donate $10 a week to Iron Chariots for life. Why quibble about a few measly dollars if it will save you from eternal hellfire?

    False Dichotomy

    The main flaw in this entire argument is assuming that atheism and Christianity (or whatever religion you choose, for that matter) are the only two options.
    In reality, there is Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc. so what if the person asking the question of, "What do you have to lose?" is, in fact, wrong in their assessment that the religion they chose is the true religion? You have quite a lot to lose if you are Christian and it turns out that Hinduism is the truth. How do we determine which religion to believe in?

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    Argument from the origin of the idea of God




    Portrait of René Descartes

    The argument from the origin of the idea of God, also referred to as the trademark argument or the cosmological-ontological argument (COA), is based on finding the origin of mental concepts and is a variant of the argument from degree and the ontological argument.
    The argument was proposed by Descartes and claimed that mental concepts originate either internally, from the mind, or externally:
    "Among these ideas, some appear to me to be innate, some adventitious, and some produced by me. For I understand what a thing is, what truth is, what thought is, and I appear to have derived this exclusively from my very own nature [1]"

    He discounts internal sources and the sensations of our senses but still considers the concept of God had an external origin:
    "All that remains for me to ask is how I received this idea of God. For I did not draw it from the senses; it never came upon me unexpectedly, as is usually the case with ideas of sensible things when these things present themselves [...] to the external organs [1]"
    The conclusion is that this external origin is actually God.



    Formal argument
    The argument runs as follows: [2]

    1. Mental concepts exist in our minds, including the concept of "God"
    2. Some are produced internally and some originate externally
    3. The concept of "God" did not originate internally from the mind
    4. Therefore the concept has an external cause
    5. The concept "God" can only have arisen from something that resembles the concept "God"
    6. Nothing exists with qualities similar to God, except God
    7. Therefore the concept "God" originated from God
    8. God exists


    Concepts might be innate or invented

    Main Article: Humans are predisposed to believe in godsDisposition to believe certain concepts are innate. We interpret our sensory experience somewhat imperfectly based on our cognitive biases and the belief in a particular concept is the result. We can see examples of an generally positive experience with more or less negative qualities, or human design with more or less flaws. It is easy to extrapolate these instances to believe in a perfect design or experience with no flaws. We do not need an example of perfection to imagine it but it does not demonstrate that perfection is possible.
    A counter argument: [2]

    "But is that really enough? How can we think away limitation or imperfection unless we first recognize it as such? And how can we recognize it as such unless we already have some notion of infinite perfection? To recognize things as imperfect or finite involves the possession of a standard in thought that makes the recognition possible."

    Noticing imperfections is probably an innate ability in humans which is necessary to solve practical problem. If we attempt a task and fail because of our approach or our tools, the imperfections are all too obvious.
    There are many examples of objects being compared based on imaginary concepts, such as their magical properties. This does not imply the concept "magic" is coherent or it was based on actual examples of the concept. The concept can be a fiction invented by humans.

    Things with perfect attributes don't exist

    Main Article: Argument from the attributes of God

    There are no other examples of objects that have a concrete and perfect attributes. We have a concept of a perfect circle but no perfect circle has a concrete existence. Therefore, the argument implies the non-existence of God.

    Argument from ignorance

    While religious beliefs occur in many cultures, humans may have an innate disposition to belief in God. This naturalistic hypothesis is arbitrarily ignored by the argument. What process occurs by which we become aware of God and form a concept of "God"? Without these being known, this is an argument from ignorance.

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    Versions of The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

    Knowledge depends on God

    That is, knowledge cannot be obtained absolutely unless the source of that knowledge is itself an absolute source (read: being/God). Therefore, either you subconsciously believe in an absolute being that upholds and makes absolute the laws of the universe/morality or you do not—and can not—know anything for certain.

    "The best, the only, the absolutely certain proof of the truth of Christianity is that unless its truth be presupposed there is no proof of anything. Christianity is proved as being the very foundation of the idea of proof itself. [...] It is the firm conviction of every epistemologically self-conscious Christian that no human being can utter a single syllable, whether in negation or affirmation, unless it were for God’s existence."
    Cornelius Van Til

    "in order to affirm rationality and logical thinking, there needs to be some ground of this in God rather than in the evolutionary process because the evolutionary process doesn't aim at truth. It merely aims at survival. [13]"

    "Thus I see plainly that the certainty and truth of all knowledge depends uniquely on my awareness of the true God, to such an extent that I was incapable of perfect knowledge about anything else until I became aware of him."
    René Descartes

    "[...] we have Locke's word that acceptance of a divinely ruled and rational universe is a necessary precondition for knowledge. [14]"
    "When you are arguing against Him, you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on."

    C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    "But order, logic, design, and truth can only exist and be known if there is an unchangeable objective source and standard of such things[15]"
    There are many variant wordings of the argument. The argument is classically stated as:
    (1) If God did not exist, rational thought would not be possible.
    (2) Rational thought is possible.
    (3) Therefore, God exists. [16]

    Based on the way the argument is actually employed, a more complete version would be:

    1. Epistemological problem X exists. (such as the existence of rational thought or the foundation of logic)
    2. Without God there is no solution to X.
    3. God is a possible solution to X.
    4. X must have a solution (either theism or not theism).
    5. If God did not exist, X is not explainable.
    6. Therefore God exists.


    Logical absolutes depends on God

    Other iterations of the same general theme exist.

    "But why do the laws of logic hold? For the Christian, there is a transcendent standard for reasoning. As the laws of logic are reduced to being materialistic entities, they cease to possess their law-like character. But the laws of logic are not comprised of matter; they apply universally and at all times. The laws of logic are contingent upon God’s unchanging nature and are necessary for deductive reasoning. The invariability, sovereignty, transcendence, and immateriality of God are the foundation for the laws of logic. Thus, rational reasoning would be impossible without the biblical God. [7]"

    "since The Laws of Logic are always true everywhere and not dependent upon human minds, it must be an absolute transcendent mind that is authoring them. [4]"


    • The logical absolutes are rational, transcendent and not material.
    • Atheism presupposes that everything comes from material sources.
    • Therefore, atheism lacks any objective source for logic.
    • The logical absolutes are based on either theism or atheism (materialism).
    • Since atheism is refuted, theism must be true.
    • God exists.


    Treating the logic absolutes as existent things is rather like the natural-law argument.

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    Which of these arguments for the existence of God do you find more convincing?
    Which do you find easy to understand?
    Which can you refute?

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    Unmoved mover




    Thomas Aquinas argued for an unmoved mover


    As formulated by Thomas Aquinas, the unmoved mover argument is stated as follows:
    "Nothing moves without a prior mover. This leads us to a regress, from which the only escape is God. Something had to make the first move, and that something we call God."This argument is one of the Quinque viæ, "Five Ways", or "Five Proofs".

    Counter-apologetics


    Many of the responses to the "uncaused cause" argument also apply to this one:

    1. If nothing moves without a prior mover, then God must need a prior mover, as well. Otherwise God is nothing, which contradicts the conclusion. Thus, either the premise is untrue, in which case the argument is unsound, or the conclusion doesn't follow, in which case the argument is invalid. In fact, as stated, the argument is clearly self-contradictory.
    2. Who created God?
    3. Which god? The argument does not demonstrated anything like a God. The arbitrary use of the word "God" in the argument carries a lot of undesirable cultural baggage, denoting an intelligent being. If the ultimate cause of our universe turns out to be, say, a random quantum fluctuation, then that would be "God" by Aquinas's definition, but to call this phenomenon "God" would be very misleading.
    4. Two bodies at rest will start to move towards each other due to gravity. They can be each other's first mover. Therefore, the prior mover requirement is unnecessary.
    5. Pairs of virtual particles are created (and annihilated) all of the time, out of literally nothing. These particles affect each other's motion, thus disproving Aquinas's premise. Not all events necessarily have causes.
    6. More exotically, if time were circular (i.e., if time repeated every so often, so that the year 1 were also the year ten trillion and one), then every motion could have a prior cause without infinite regress. This does not seem to be the case, though.
    7. Even if there is an infinite regress of causes, so what? The human mind is uncomfortable with the concept of infinity, but reality has no obligation to make us comfortable.



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    Principle of sufficient reason



    For more information, see the Wikipediaarticle:Principle of sufficient reason




    Portrait of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz


    The principle of sufficient reason is the view that for every entity, event or true proposition, there is an explanation. This is usually attributed to Leibnizalthough it has been used in various forms since ancient times. The concept is a premise in various cosmological-type arguments such as:


    The opposite view is called the Glendower problem which points out that not all events necessarily have causes or explanations.


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    The argument from degree is based the comparison of objects allegedly requiring extreme examples as a basis for a comparison.
    As formulated by Thomas Aquinas, the argument, also known as Aquinas' fourth way, is stated as follows:

    "We notice that things in the world differ. There are degrees of, say, goodness or perfection. But we judge these degrees only by comparison with a maximum. Humans can be both good and bad, so the maximum goodness cannot rest in us. Therefore there must be some other maximum to set the standard for perfection, and we call that maximum God."
    Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 2006, pp, 78-79, excerpted in Why There Is No God, The Times, Oct. 31, 2006


    "if these degrees of perfection pertain to being and being is caused in finite creatures, then there must exist a "best," a source and real standard of all the perfections that we recognize belong to us as beings. This absolutely perfect being—the "Being of all beings," "the Perfection of all perfections"—is God."
    — Strange Notions, Argument from Degrees of Perfection

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    God Created Numbers Argument
    A less sophisticated form of TAG, the God created numbers argument simply asserts that certain logical or mathematical ideas were the creation of a perfect or omnipotent mind, and that their existence is proof of his existence (since any mind capable of creating numbers in the first place deserves to be called God).


    Discussion and rebuttal


    Begging the Question
    Such an argument is begging the question. The main weakness of this argument is that it's not clear that the numbers need creating. In fact, to suggest that a mind created the numbers and other basic logical and mathematical objects suggests that there could be a state in which they did not exist, and that there is an intelligent and creative mind capable of functioning before any basic mathematical or logical processes have occurred. Put another way, to say that God created the numbers implies that he had some choice, and could have either not made them or made them differently. What would that even mean, to live in one of these alternative worlds? The idea is completely incoherent.

    Descriptive versus Prescriptive

    One last variation on this counter-argument: do the numbers exist? Clearly numbers are useful for describing certain aspects of the world, and we can talk about their properties in an objective way. They do not exist as concrete, physical entities in the world. We can talk about some hypothetical person or hypothetical piece of furniture, and we can talk about what it means for that person or furniture to exist; we mean that either there's an object in the world that corresponds to the concept that we have, or there isn't.

    It's not clear what it means for an abstract concept like "justice" or the number "4" to exist or not exist, and it's not clear that one can meaningfully talk about whether or not such things "exist" in the same way as we discuss whether or not physical objects or physical features of the world exist. And if the very existence of numbers is suspect, their creation is even more so.

    A better way at understanding numbers is that they are basically labels we place on real-life phenomena. The labels only exist in the same sense that a computer program exists in the memory of a computer. We identify a group of apples, and label the quantity "four", for ease of communicating ideas. There's nothing particularly special about four apples sitting next to each other. It's simply a description we place on reality.

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    The argument from nonbelief, argument from reasonable nonbelief, and argument from divine hiddenness are a related set of arguments against the existence of God having the following rough form:

    1. If God existed, this fact would be more obvious.
    2. God's existence is not, in fact, as obvious as we would expect, if he existed.
    3. Therefore, God does not exist.

    "If God wants us to do a thing he should make his wishes sufficiently clear. Sensible people will wait till he has done this before paying much attention to him."
    — Samuel Butler

    Related argument from vagueness

    1. God either does or does not reveal his existence
    2. If God does not reveal his existence, there is no reason for belief
    3. If God does reveal his existence, there is no reason for belief, only knowledge
    4. The problem of vagueness indicates that there is an unclear ground for belief.


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    Drange's argument from non-belief

    1.God is omniscient.

    2.God is omnipotent.

    3.God wants everyone to believe in him.

    4.Since God is omniscient, he knows exactly what demonstration would convince any given person that he exists.

    5.Since God is omnipotent, he is capable of performing this demonstration.

    6.Since God wants everyone to believe in him, he wants to perform this demonstration.

    7.However, atheists manifestly exist.

    8.Therefore, the god described by the first three conditions does not exist.

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    Evolutionary argument.

    People created God/Spirituality/Supernatural to quickly explain what they don't understand, to feel better and safer with omnipotent Friend and spirits of ancestors, to make sense of suffering and dying, and to feel better being special and chosen.

    It is so much easier to explain god(s) in frame of evolution that explain evolution in frame of god's creation. Occam's razor might be an indicator which one is most likely right. Not mentioning that all observable facts, from archeology, DNA to phisics, point to evolution of universe and life on earth being true, and existence of god and supernatural world being more and more elusive than ever.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Petros Agapetos View Post
    Divine command theory suggests that any statement about ethics is actually a statement about the attitudes and desires of God. That is, it claims that God's commands and morality are identical. To suggest that morality can exist without God is therefore a contradiction. Divine command theory is a form of theological voluntarism.
    Divine command theory is favored by many Protestant denominations. In contrast, Catholic morality uses the concept of natural law.


    Semantic objection
    As pointed out by William Wainwright, "being commanded by God" and "being obligatory" have distinct meanings. It is necessary to establish the connection between these two separate concepts, if it is to be the basis of morality.

    "'x is obligatory but God did not command x' is not false on its face; and 'If x is obligatory, God commands x' and 'If God commands x, x is obligatory' are not bare tautologies. Hence, 'x is obligatory' does not mean 'God commands x.' [4]"

    Divine command theory cannot prove that God is the source of morality because that is precisely what it assumes. That is, divine command theory assumes that whatever God commands must be moral (in fact, in most cases it defines morality that way). However, it's not clear that I am morally required to do something just because God commands it. I might want to obey God in order to escape punishment, but this is a matter of my own selfish interest and not an absolute moral obligation. Similarly, it's not clear why I should assume that there's no other possible source of morality.

    Unless divine command theory can first demonstrate that it is the most appropriate view of ethics, one cannot assume that it is correct to prove anything else.
    "Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values. Obviously humanism does not deny the possibility of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does insist that the way to determine the existence and value of any and all realities is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assessment of their relations to human needs.[5]"

    Non-standard usage of the words "good" or "moral"

    Most people have an intuitive sense of what it means for an action to be good or to have a moral obligation, and this set of moral attitudes typically pre-dates or is independent of any religious beliefs. To define a new meaning for "morality" as meaning what God wants, then to act as if this is the same as the everyday conception of morality, is to commit an equivocation fallacy. Morality is either a system for determining which actions are right or wrong, or a desire to obey the will of God. It can't mean both things at the same time, unless one first demonstrates that both meanings are equivalent.

    Divine command theory is not an absolute system of morals

    See also: Euthyphro dilemma

    Divine command theory implies that whatever God commands must be the morally correct course of action. Therefore, if/when God endorses genocide, infanticide, animal sacrifice, slavery, or rape, those things are good, whereas if/when he forbids eating certain foods or working on certain days or having certain kinds of kinky sex, those things immediately become bad. This makes divine command theory a subjective theory of morals, one which is arbitrary and can change at God's whim.

    One way of countering this argument is to say "God wouldn't do that", but this doesn't help at all. For one, in many religious traditions he does do such things. For another, if God is the source of morality, he can do whatever he wants and it would still be just as "good" as anything else.

    Another thing to note is that many apologists claim that the god they speak of is unpredictable and works in mysterious ways; By their own claim, they cannot wrap their "flawed human reasoning" around what's beyond its ability to anticipate, aka what said god would or would not carry on. A biblical example is Abraham being unflinchingly convinced that God's commandments were inherently good even when said deity commanded him to sacrifice his son Issac. The lamb appearing before the sacrifice, which Abraham never expected, doesn't change how the later saw that his god's orders as undeniably good, even if it would have ended in Filicide. It seems their idea of what is "bad, and my god wouldn't do it" is derived of a more personal moral code, outside their religion. After all, people interpreted passages differently throughout history (Many justified enslaving Afro-Americans by quoting the bible in the past, but said ideology greatly fell out of society's favor nowadays).

    Thomas Aquinas believed that God's commands come from his own (unchanging?) essence and thus were not arbitrary pronouncements. This is irrelevant to the problem. Either there is a single absolute, necessary code of morals that governs everything, in which case God's commands merely reflect (or fail to reflect) this standard, or else there is no such code, and so the commandments of God cannot reflect an absolute morality. Either way, it gets you nowhere to say that actions are good for no other reason than because God approves of them.
    Observation of simple group animals like ants can quickly destroy above argument. Ants work together for common good to build a nest, they collect food and share with whole colony. Ants take care and protect their offspring, and they fight together and even sacrifice their life defending colony against external threats. All of these are very moral and ethical actions by human standards.
    How is this possible coming from such simple animals with puny brains, doing all of this without superior human understanding and human morality? On contrary, they are born with knowledge of morality. The only explanation is that their knowledge was passed as programmed knowledge in their DNA, and manifested as an instinct. They don't need to be taught and they know how to eat, work, and be moral from day one.

    Morality is just a system of rules to benefit a group of animals or people. Whatever makes a group stronger is moral, whatever destroys a group is immoral. Morality comes mostly in genetic programing like in Ants, but also some of it is learnt like in humans.

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    Occam's Razor (or Ockham's Razor) is the philosophical principle which states: entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. It has been paraphrased in various forms:

    "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one."

    "Out of several equally good explanations, pick the simplest one."

    "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Therefore, to the same natural effects we must, so far as possible, assign the same causes"
    Isaac Newton

    "Whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities"
    Bertrand Russell

    In this context, the word "simplest" means "the explanation that contains the fewest assumptions." Similarly, "equally good" refers to the ability of the explanation to account for the observation and not to the veracity of the explanation. Occam's Razor is one of the key principles of skepticism.
    Occam's Razor has perhaps less application to religion than is commonly assumed because religion is often not a predictive explanation. Therefore, any other predictive theory which is even remotely correct is considered better than a non-predictive religious explanation. Occam's Razor does apply in cases where God is needlessly invoked, such as with theistic evolution.


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    The problem of non-God objects asserts that if God is a maximally great being against which nothing could hope to compare, then God would never create any Non-God Objects.

    Consider the concept of "GodWorld," a possible world in which God never actually creates anything. If we presume that that God exists, we can assume that GodWorld could exist, since the act of creating the universe (or any non-God object) was a choice that was not borne of necessity.


    • Proposition P1: If the Christian God exists, then GodWorld is the unique best possible world.
    • Proposition P2: If GodWorld is the unique best possible world, then the Christian God would maintain GodWorld.
    • Proposition P3: GodWorld is false because the Universe (or any non-God object) exists.
    • Conclusion: Therefore, the Christian God, as so defined, does not exist.


    Justifying P1

    If God exists, he is an ontologically perfect being - meaning he has those great-making properties to their maximal compossible degrees and no such properties to any lesser degree. A world comprised of only the maximally-great being for eternity would be a world comprised of all those great-making properties to their maximal compossible degrees and no such properties to any lesser degree. Unless there is some source of unique Goodness - Goodness that exists outside of and fully independent of God, GodWorld must be the unique best possible world. GodWorld eternally sustains the highest overall ontological purity and, therefore, overall ontological quality to which no other world can compare, therefore it is the unique best possible world.

    Justifying P2

    An omniscient being would be aware of the fact that himself existing alone for eternity as GodWorld is the unique best possible world that could ever exist, and because God is essentially morally perfect, he couldn’t have a motivating reason to intentionally alter the overall maximal purity and, therefore, the quality of the unique best possible world - because any alteration in overall purity by the introduction of a universe or any Non-God object, would, by necessity, be a degradation of overall purity and, therefore, overall quality. God wouldn’t introduce limited entities each with their own unimpressive set of degraded great-making properties like the creation myth of Genesis records. While Adam and Eve clearly do have great-making properties (knowledge, power), they have them to an unimpressive degree and so introducing such beings would result in a degradation of overall ontological purity and, therefore, a degradation of overall ontological quality. To suggest God is in the degrading business is to suggest he wasn’t maximally great in the first place.

    Justifying P3

    P3 is the easiest of the three to justify. It can be justified merely by a simple recognition that you, yourself, are not God.

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