Philosophical Proofs for the Existence of God
We are of a culture that demands evidence, and despises contradiction and conjecture. And at first glance, the possibility that God exists seem may absurd. But an examination of some logical deductions prove that the existence of God is far from an illogical fantasy, and gives the thinking person more of a case to consider the God of Creation.
The following are ages old thought patterns pursued by eminent philosophers, scientists, skeptics and even atheists in a sincere attempt to answer this most important of questions. These arguments are displayed in a traditional logic / presupposition / conclusion format. A summary of the most effective follows:
The Argument of Evident Causality – St. Thomas in his Summa Theologica proposed five proofs of the existence of God, which come to the conclusion that there must be a God from Natural Theology, and can be summarized as follows:
Mankind’s experience in the world indicates that all things have a cause. Consideration of this fact leads us to the conclusion that ‘causes’ must continue in history back into infinity, but this is clearly not possible in practicality, so there must have been an ‘un-caused cause.’ This first cause is known as ‘God.’ And because nothing can be created by itself, there must be that which exists by itself. That which exists by itself is known as ‘God.’ Among the things that exist there is separation of value, indicating a rule by which to measure this value. That source of all value is known as ‘God.’ Finally, the reason for anything ‘existing’ instead of ‘not existing’ implies purpose – even things that appear to lack knowledge still have purpose, and act in accordance to a purpose beyond themselves. That purpose beyond all things is known as ‘God.’
Even Kant, who disagreed with the proposition that God could be proven by human reason, called these proofs “the oldest, the clearest, and the most accordant with the common reason of mankind.” These proofs succeed because they are clear and universal.
The Argument of Design – Perhaps the most reasonable argument, with all of creation literally at our fingertips. Where did it come from? How does it sustain itself? How do we fit in to the whole of creation? The argument for a Designer is as follows:
1) Every aspect of the universe displays an incredible amount of order, both in the things we can see and the way things react to each other. Think about the organs in your body – all working wonderfully for the sustaining of our live, perfectly tuned and connected. This axiom can be extended almost indefinitely, from the amount of oxygen in the air for us, to the food available for our bodies to consume, to the gravity keeping us on the ground, etc etc etc…
2) Either this order is the product of intelligent design, or random chance.
3) Chance is incapable to produce this magnitude of order.
4) Order comes from a designer – with a purpose for the order.
5) Therefore, the universe is the result of an intelligent designer.
The crux of this argument is the 3rd premise. It can be nothing more than wishful thinking to claim that chance could produce an intelligent, related design, much less from nothing. (Remember that old yarn about God and Darwin arguing about evolution, where Darwin claimed that time and energy could eventually produce a man from the dirt, and God said ‘Go for it.” As Darwin gathered up the dirt to apply time and energy to it, God said “Wait a minute, you go get your own dirt!”) It is silly to think that a believer in the creation allows themselves to be put on the defensive by the skeptic and asked to show proof in God, when the real proof should be provided by the skeptic in the form of evidence of chance providing order on this scale. And a little further about Darwin, remember that even an argument about survival of the fittest presupposes the arrival of the fit! Darwin and evolution never presume to explain the beginnings of the universe. Only cosmologists claim an answer for this one, with their big bang theory. More on that in the creation discussions.
The Argument from Consciousness – Intelligence seems to be different than inanimate matter. In other words, there is something different about the lump of carbon and other chemicals that make up my body, and the lumps of carbon and other chemicals found in nature (rocks, etc., even dead bodies with all the 'chemicals' there and in order.) This difference is intelligence, or consciousness. So intelligence is within the cosmos, yet the cosmos is not intelligent (self-aware.) So where did it come from? Lets try the logical stream
1) We experience the universe as intelligible. This experience we have intelligence.
2) Either the intelligible universe and the finite minds able to grasp it are the products of intelligence, or they arrived from blind chance.
3) Not blind chance.
4) Therefore the intelligible universe and the finite minds able to grasp it are the products of intelligence.
Closely related to the design argument, it is easy to see why mankind pursues the antithesis of statement 3. But blind chance is a lousy designer in experience. Has anyone seen intelligence 'created?' No. Can anyone explain it? Not without conjecture and a final belief in truth created accidentally. This by definition would not be truth then, would it? So how could anything that is produced by blind chance be trusted? Again, it is NOT irrational to believe in a Creator / God. "Is it not reasonable to conclude that life, mind and personality have their source in something living with a mind and personality?" David A. Noebel, Understanding the Times, pg 87
The Argument of Desire – An internal yearning for God? Surely that cannot be logical?! In fact it is clearly logical, and easy to understand, even for the skeptic (as long as he is searching for truth.) Lets try it out:
1) All the desires within us correspond to something that can fulfill the desire
2) But there is a desire within us in which nothing on earth seems to fulfill
3) Therefore something must exist outside of earth, time, and material that will satisfy this desire.
4) This something can only be what people refer to as ‘God,’ and a fulfillment (life) with Him forever.
At first glance this argument may seem silly, but upon further reflection it is clear. There are two types of desires: those that are natural, and those that are developed. Natural desires are for things such as food, sleep, knowledge, sex, friendship, beauty, etc. Developed desires are for things such as football games, licorice, Barbie dolls, a better job, etc. The former all people desire, the latter come from outside of us, from society, fiction, or preference. How could all people desire something that is never satisfied in this world? Don't believe it? Get that new car, you'll soon want a better one. Get that new job or love or whatever your heart desires, soon it won't satisfy. The yearning in our hearts never seems to be filled – what could it be leading us to? Is it illogical to assume that the Creator placed this desire within us to lead us to search for Him? I don't think so.
Does philosophy answer our questions? Of course not – we must be very careful when philosophizing. Someone once said that 'there is nothing so absurd that a Philosopher has not proposed it.' However, philosophy has a place in leading us to consider and examine our presuppositions, which is what Francis Bacon meant when he said “A little philosophy inclineth a man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s mind about to religion.”