Arguing God's Existence, by Alvin Plantinga
by Robert Lawrence Kuhn (9/27/10 10:03 pm)
People have been giving arguments for the existence of God ever since the ancient world. These arguments haven’t necessarily had the intended effect in all cases: As someone once said, no one doubted the existence of God until the theologians starting proving it. Probably the most convincing theistic arguments start from the design of the universe or parts of it; the most recent of these design arguments revolves around the “fine-tuning” of the universe—the fact that various physical constants and parameters have to take on values that lie in an enormously small range if the universe is to be the sort of place in which life and consciousness can find a home.
People have also tried to disprove the existence of God; perhaps the most popular of these arguments would have to do with the evil the universe displays. Why would a wholly good, all-powerful, all-knowing Creator permit so much evil in the universe?
These arguments are interesting and important, and in my opinion, the arguments for the existence of God are better than the arguments against it. Perhaps these arguments really do show that it is more likely than not that there is such a person as God. I doubt very much, however, that any of these arguments taken singly or all of them taken together are strong enough to underwrite the way in which most believers in God actually do believe. Most believers believe much more strongly than these arguments warrant. At best, their conclusion would be that it is probable that there is such a person.
Does that mean that religious belief—in particular, belief in God—is intellectually substandard or second rate or irrational or unjustified or without warrant, or in some other way deplorable? People who want to claim that belief in God is irrational often seem to think their job is done if they succeed in showing that the theistic arguments don’t work. But are they right? Why think a believer in God needs good arguments if she is to be rational? There aren’t any good arguments for the existence of the past. As philosopher Bertrand Russell once pointed out, it’s possible that the whole world, together with all its wrinkled faces, apparent memories, rusted cars, crumbling mountains—it’s possible that it all popped into existence just 10 seconds ago. But no one believes that. Everyone believes in the existence of the past and does so in perfect rationality, even though there aren’t any good (non-question-begging) arguments for the past. In fact, what would be irrational would be to refuse to believe in the existence of the past on the grounds that there aren’t any good arguments for it.
Maybe the same goes for belief in God. The vast majority—maybe 90 percent—of the world’s population believes in God or something like God, and the alleged experts (in the scientific study of religion) now tell us that we are hard-wired to believe that way, just as we are hard-wired to believe in a past and in other persons. Most people who believe do not believe on the basis of arguments. They believe because they think they have experienced God in one way or another, felt God’s presence, or because the thought that there is such a person as God just seems natural, right, acceptable.
So if that’s right, what is the function of arguments here?
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The Whole (TW) is by definition that entity outside of which there cannot be anything. If there is anything outside The Whole, then it is not The Whole. In this sense we can say that our universe is The Whole, if there is nothing outside our universe. Thus by definition TW can never be in any space, in any time. By definition TW can never have any space, any time. From this it then necessarily follows that TW will always be spaceless, timeless, changeless, immortal, all-pervading, one, unborn, uncreated, without any beginning, without any end, everlasting and not composite. This is because by definition TW is neither in space nor in time, and so by definition TW cannot have any space, any time. So by definition TW will always be spaceless and timeless. TW being neither in space nor in time cannot change at all, because change can occur either in space, or in time. So by definition TW will also be changeless. TW can never cease to be, it can never go into non-existence, because ceasing to be is also some sort of change, but for TW no change can ever occur at all. So by definition TW will be immortal also. An entity for which no change can ever occur will also be unborn, uncreated, because to be born is some sort of change and being created is also some sort of change. Similarly TW will also be without any beginning, without any end. Having a beginning means change, and coming to an end also means change. So an entity for which no change can ever occur will always be without any beginning, without an end. It will be everlasting, because it will have no beginning, no end. TW will always be one, because being The Whole it will encompass everything, and there will be nothing left outside it that can be another TW. TW being one will be all-pervading, because there will be nothing else there that can share space with it. TW will also be not composite. Not even an infinitesimal part of it can be separated from the main body of TW, because there will be no space at all where this infinitesimal part can be dumped or thrown away. This is because there will be no space at all outside TW. So, simply by definition, and not for any other reason, TW will have all these attributes. Thus in a sense we can say that TW is self-defined, self-caused. Simply from its definition we can know what will be its attributes. But from its definition alone we cannot necessarily know whether it does really exist. Here, and here only, we need some definite proof/evidence. And in the light we get that proof/evidence. There is no entity other than TW about which it can be said that it is placed neither in space nor in time. So, there is no entity other than TW for which space and time can be non-existent purely naturally, or simply by default. Despite this we find that space and time cannot exist for the light. For some mysterious reason space as well as time becomes non-existent for the light. But whereas in case of TW it can be said that the non-existence of space and time is quite natural, because by definition it is neither in space nor in time, in case of the light it cannot be said so, because the light is placed within space and time. Anything placed within space and time and not forcefully or artificially deprived of them cannot naturally have any lack of them. So, if we now find that the light lacks both space and time, then from this we can conclude that its cause can be neither a natural one nor an unnatural one. Natural cause is for that entity that is placed neither in space nor in time (Entity-A). Unnatural cause is for that entity that is placed in space and time, but that is forcefully or artificially deprived of them (Entity-B). The light is neither Entity-A nor Entity-B. So, the cause making space and time nonexistent for the light is neither a natural one nor an unnatural one, and therefore this cause can only be something else that is neither natural nor unnatural. And this cause can only be TW. The reason that can be given for our choice here is that TW is self-caused, and so, if the light receives its properties from TW, then there will be no infinite regress. But this TW is none other than God, because about God it is also being said that He is spaceless, timeless, changeless, immortal, all-pervading, one, unborn, uncreated, without any beginning, without any end, everlasting and not composite. Thus the so-called properties of the light that space and time cannot exist for it proves that there is a God.
Posted 1:13 AM / May 02, 2013
It has been my experience that most intelligent people, apparently including Dr. Kuhn, get hung up on the God-existence question because certain fundamental premises of their queries are false when applied to this issue. One false premise, I believe, is that higher-level intellectual processes,and stratagems based on such processes (like the scientific method) are required to understand any "truth". A corollary false premise is that such processes, when followed (ostensibly) correctly, will lead one to "truth". I think yet another false premise is that rigorous human logic is sufficient to properly interpret the validity of external, objective evidence, at least in the general case.
I would disagree with the applicability of these premises when applied to the search for God. I would rather submit that, although honest and disciplined intellectual processes are important for certain classes of truth, they cannot address metaphysical questions. This is why Dr. Kuhn and so many others consistently come away from intellectually-based God queries remaining soundly dissatisfied.
Holding out on the absolute requirement of well-defined, intellectually-derived understanding before one can even "detect" God will only ensure that God will remain essentially unavailable. Not only are human mental processes generally inadequate to address metaphysical issues, but they are soundly inappropriate when applied to the ultimate metaphysical -- the "God" question. Besides, the fundamental nature of God is inscrutable to the human mind. Only His existence and His nature can be intellectually perceived given our limited abilities.
I believe there is a way to remove the human-limitation obstacle in this quest. But I will reserve further comment for now and leave this on the board for consideration or response.
Posted 3:28 PM / April 08, 2013
Elias C wrote:
Hey Alvin, nice question... I would say it is more of a consequent disfunction. In that there is only an argument with the implementation of a disagreement. As you mentioned no one disagreed to the existence of God until scholars tried to prove it... If there is no God then nothing matter regardless how profound or silly of an attempt at revealing it's truth... But if there is a true and living God - We must know that he is... Otherwise we could endure thousands of years of tribulations of this life we became aware of... That is our evident challege today as we consider... So the function of the question is 'we must know'... Here is something to consider regarding a statement - Science holds to evolution for lack of a more definitive alternative -
It’s understandable I’ll give you, by default, to derive an origin of US such as evolution for lack of a more definitive alternative we could all clearly understand without contradicting science or reason, as ST. Augustine put it regarding a literal interpretation of a proclaimed testament… In truth, the ‘evolution’ of man is dissolved by the phenomenon of the entity of words itself. – Another time perhaps.
Dilemma, before billions could endure the belief of a ‘questioned’ testament as to the origin of our existence, we must first know in our heart that the source of this heard word is real or a reality… Otherwise, the validity of its truth is rendered void or vain… We have nothing that the ‘worlds’ view of understanding can clearly see as of yet with regard to a more definitive alternative. An evidential stalemate, from the layman to the scholar…
Please, bear with me. To have a shot at understanding this introduced truth, let’s consider the widely accepted by science ‘impact theory’ as to the origin of our man named moon. It can be seen on a discovery channel video “the day the moon was gone”. The video in short shows the significance of the moon for sustaining life here on this ‘one and only’ planet we inhabit by supposing it vanished and the subsequent catastrophe in its disappearance and thus the explanation as to its origin. The Science community, accepts a mars size mass impacted this planet causing the coalescing of the subsequent debris forming our now orbiting moon, lastly the scientists go on to deduce, had the impact missed the planet or had not occurred complex life forms, specifically us, would not exist…
Now this introduces ‘two’ new implications as to the planet and its inhabitance in addition to our previous understanding as to the origin of our existence – The Big Bang universe, to our current planet and the eventual evolving of man to present day since Lemaitre and Darwin…
The first – In spite of the 14 billion years of the big bangs universe, ‘something else’ had to take place ‘inducing’ complex life form on this planet. Until or unless this impacting event occurred there would be no life, regardless of existing universe. With all material matter, protons, neutron, hydrogen gases etc. available, light years of existence was void producing no complex life, and had that random rock missed this random rock, who knows how many more billions of years the universe would still be dead or irrelevant to natural life…
The second implication - the impact caused a ‘divide’ to this single mass of molten rock, ‘resulting’ in two necessary orbiting masses, ‘creating’ a new life sustaining environment, unique to the previous void one… I have not said or asserted anything; as you know, this is peer reviewed science…
However, I submit; this life sustaining ‘dividing event’ was testified to and identified by name, thousands of years ago by the ‘literal account’ of Genesis 1, before it was ‘falsely interpreted’ an account as to the origin of the universe, that in fact, predates the literal life sustaining dividing event of this planet by some 10 billion years or so…
The testified literal account of this dividing event identified by name 9 times in the account alone was declared millenniums before the development and technology of modern science could prove or implicate such a dividing event of the planet to be literally true and thus verifying the words of the ‘only source/creator’ who could have known of such a creation to be factually true and none else…
Otherwise; the idea or notion of such a divide or detachment of anything ‘above’ the stand point of view from earth, to anyone born of a woman on this planet ‘thereafter’, would not have been possible for them to imaging or conceive ‘without’ the testament itself, with us from its foundation…
Lastly; our problem is evidently this – The genesis account proclaiming a ‘literal’ dividing event, identified by name 9 times in the account of the event alone, is unknown to ‘bear record’ of the two introduced scientific implications of a dividing event theory – due to the fact that the worlds view of understanding and/or belief, is only aware of an ‘invalidating interpretation’ of a creation account as to the origin of the universe. Thus, rendering the belief held and the account itself false, with no alternative…
To restore the false belief held of an ‘accused’ invalidating interpreted account as to the origin of the universe – (Augustine to Hawking)
Clearly see the newly ‘revealed’ scientific implications that account for a ‘literal dividing event’ of the planet that was ever since then called earth to justify the truth of its Creators very word and declares the glory of his hands work without contradicting science or reason and thus receiving the spirit of its truth in your heart, empowering you to with calm endure, even unto the end…
Posted 9:31 PM / January 27, 2013
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