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Cumulative Case for God (Outline)
A) Christian Theism is the hypothesis.
B) It is more reasonable to believe in God than to be an atheist.
C) Christian Theism offers a more adequate explanation than atheism does for the following aspects of reality:
- the beginning of the universe– the universe had a beginning and needs a Cause
- the continued existence of the universe– the existence of dependent beings necessitates the existence of a totally independent Being
- the design and order in the universe– the design/information in the universe needs an Intelligence to produce it
- the possibility of human knowledge (human reason)- human reason needs a rational Cause
- the existence of universal, eternal, unchanging truths (logic)- the source for these truths must be an eternal, unchanging Mind
- the reality of universal, eternal, unchanging moral laws- objective morality proves the existence of an eternal, unchanging moral Lawgiver
- the meaning of life (purpose)- if God does not exist, life is absurd
- a reason to be oprtimistic about the future- God and eternal life are needed for eternal hope
- a guarantee that evil will ultimately be defeated- apart from the death, resurrection and return of Jesus there is no guarantee that evil will be defeated
- free will and human responsibility- if only matter exists, then there is no such thing as free will & we are not responsible for our actions.
D) Mere molecules in motion, combined with time and chance, cannot explain any of these factors
E) The atheist must either deny the reality of these aspects of reality or say “they are just there”
*Outline taken from Dr. Phil Fernadez’s lecture on the evidence for God’s existence
10 responses to “Cumulative Case for God (Outline)”
Since this thread follows directly on the Atheism Refuted thread, it seems reasonable to continue here as a response to your assertion B) It is more reasonable to believe in God than to be an atheist.
You employ the gambit of “Presuppositional Apologetics” as your refutation of atheism. However, this is really the epistemological version of Pascal’s Wager. If Naturalism and Empiricism have epistemological difficulties then your theism has them too: You just assume that God wants you to know the truth and has granted you rational correspondence with the real world. However, this is only one of innumerable theistic possibilities. What if God is really an evil deity who just likes to mess our minds? In a world with an evident problem of evil, this is not a farfetched assumption. What if all the apparent order and design and beauty that you perceive, the Bible and even the death and resurrection of Jesus are just sucker plays to build your hopes up so that they can be dashed in some horrible denouement that God enjoys watching? It is only through faith in a particular version of God that you are able to have assurance that your senses are reliable and your reasoning correct. You do not really know this any more than I know that evolution by natural selection has produced a human brain that is capable of accurate sensory perception and correct abstract reasoning. So enough with the presuppositional apologetics already! Theism and naturalism are on an equal footing epistemologically. Let’s proceed to discussing which view better explains the evidence at hand.
Just to clear up one last point from the last series:
I was not was not trying to say that beileif in God is inherently superstitious. My point was that belief in Luck is just as much “a properly basic belief” as is belief in God. People have developed systems around Luck that function in paralell with their religion. Luck and Religion each satisfy different basic human needs. Both luck and religion are aspects of the way that our brains work. So if Christians want to deny the validity of Luck and the vaious ways ways people try to influence it, they are also digging under their own foundation.
presuppositional apologetics are very successful in showing the veracity of God’s existence. We both presuppose logic to even have a discussion, but your worldview can not, I repeat, can not account for the universal nature of logic. Your worldview requires pluralism, which denies the unity of things like the laws of thought. Your naturalistic worldview requires that logic be a human convention- which to me is not acceptable .
Regarding epistemology- the only way we can know anything at all is if an Infinite mind exists to make knowledge possible. This is a relatively complex philosophical argument that I will not expand on here.
Regarding the possibility of an evil deity- An evil deity is a possibility. However, because God has revealed Himself in the Old and New Testaments as a good and trustworthy God who has an answer to the problem of evil, I have no compelling reason not to trust Him. Because He has stepped into human history died on the cross and rose to life again to save my soul from evil, I am convinced that He is worthy of my allegiance.
Also, It is a reasonable faith in the only Wise God that makes my sense experience and rationality reliable and possible. God exists in reality and therefore I am able to reason because their is a reason(purpose). Naturalism does not allow reason because it ultmately has no reason(purpose).
Finally, you suggest that I can’t know any of this with more certainty than you can know that natural selection has produced a brain that can reason abstractly. Of course I can- that is the point. Only God can produce a rational being capable. Rationality, reason, purpose, logic, information, etc. can not develop from mere molecules in motion. Theism and naturalism are not a equal footing epistemologicaly. Theism can explain the existence of knowledge, naturalism can not. Even if I grant natural selection and macroevolution, God is still necessary- Theistic evolution is a possibility.
When confronting materialism of his era, the great theist philosopher Rene Descartes started with “I think therefore I am.” Now here you go starting from “I think therefore I am a theist.” Might you be over-reaching?
Another great theist philosopher, Imanuel Kant, devoted a lengthy book, The Critique of Pure Reason, to showing how our logical and critical judgements are grounded in our perception of three spacial dimentions with time as the single dimention of experience. In other words logic is rooted in the universe or cosmos however it got to be here. Thus, logic is not merely a human convention and if we should ever encounter intelligent life outside of the earth, we would expect to be able to communicate with them through a common logical framework. If God happens to be logical too,well great, but it is not a necessary postualte for us to understand logic. The video at this link might provide a helpful example of how our experience could be different in ways that would affect our logical sense:
You say: “Your worldview requires pluralism, which denies the unity of things like the laws of thought.” I do not think that this is necessary or true. Human beings share unity in our thought processes with each other and in greater to lesser degrees with all of the animal kingdom because we all share a common evolutionary heritage. Life does have a purpose which may not be transcendent but which accounts for 99.99… % of what has transpired on earth over the last 400 million years: To stay alive long enough to pass our genes on to a new generation of whatever we happen to be. Life’s purpose does not have to be transcendental or even explicitly understood in order to motivate behavior.
You say: “the only way we can know anything at all is if an Infinite mind exists to make knowledge possible.” So everything has to be known by one mind before anything can be known by any other mind? Nonsense! Mind is an organism’s apparatus for interacting with its environment whether it is merely sensing light or movement or writing a dissertation on any subject except theology ;-).
You say: “Rationality, reason, purpose, logic, information, etc. cannot develop from mere molecules in motion.” You don’t know this. Actually, processes of organic chemistry and biochemistry are not random. Evolution is not random. We know that we share our biological ancestry with animals far less rational than ourselves – primates and pre-primates. We have evolved to the point that our brains are large enough to perceive abstract patterns in words and numbers. Thus we are rational.
Just so were clear: You do agree that you are playing Pascal’s Wager – you just feel very good about the bet you are making. Consider, though, to a sufficiently evil mind nothing is more titillating than the betrayal of trust and the unraveling of hope. In the Bible, God can be harsh and arbitrary commanding genocidal massacres in Joshua but granting a magnanimous pardon to Nineveh in Jonah. Misfortune and suffering strike believers and non-believers, virtuous and wicked people indiscriminately. Sometimes prayers seem to be answered clearly, other times they go unanswered and you just have to tell yourself that no answer is an answer in itself. Perhaps God is giving you just enough to string you along. Anyway, the point that I want to make is that whatever level of skepticism you apply to the naturalist hypothesis, I can apply as much to theism.
Either God exists or He doesn’t. Each point of the cumulative case strengthens the hypothesis that God exists. Also, the argument from the existence of logic is also extremely robust. You don’t seem to fully comprehendits cogency.
You also seem to be arguing against naturalilsm. You said that “logic is rooted in the cosmos however it got to be here.” Naturalism can not account for the presence of the universal, eternal nature of logic. You must simply say its just there- just as you have. Are you really admitting that logic is not a human convention? I don’t think you are going from one step to the next. Your worldview admits that before life or things that think ever existed there was no intelligence, right? Where did intelligence come from? You say it evolved by natural selection. So was logic there in the cosmos before humans? So seem to indicate that it was. Was logic there but not intelligence? So in your view a cosmos that just has logic(rationality) with no intelligent(rational) beings at some point in the past or over millions of years developed into a cosmos with logic(rationality) and creatures with advanced brains now able to have logical thoughts that correspond with objective reality. Let me undertand you. Logic was just there and the nonliving, nonrational stuff without any intelligent intervention started to develop in such a way so that at some point in the distant future the nonliving, nonrational stuff became living and rational i.e conscious. This sounds a lot like theism. Logic is eternal but it is not impersonal. God is Logic. Logic is rationality(intelligence) God is intelligence. Nonliving matter became living and rational because the eternal God (Logos) decided to create beings with the ability to rationate. Again i ask- where did logic come from? You say it is just there. I say God is logic. In your view how could non-rational stuff in motion come to be rational? How did it come to be in motion? I think theism offers a better explanation to these questions. I promise you that if you develop these concepts to their logical conclusion you will conclude that an Infinite Mind must and does ineede exist.
You said that life has purpose that is not transcendant. Please hear this because it is where the rubber meets the road. Sure you can tell yourself that your life has meaning, significance or purpose. But that meaning as you admitted yourself is in your view not transcendant or ultimate. Bro in your view there can be no ultimate purpose, meaning, value, reason, whatsoever. What ever is, is. The cosmos is all there was , is, or ever shall be, right? Your view necessitates that you are not qualitatively different than any other biological species and there is no ultimate value to your life. I could come through cyber space and strangle you and in your view my actions not only are not really wrong, but they were determined to happen because humans like every other creature do not have genuine freedom to act contrary to chemical and electircal stimuli that are a cause and effects machine with no “soul.” And accordinig to natural selection and survival of the fittest- might makes right. It must! there is no other alternative. Thus, If I eliminate all other points of view through my will to power- evolutionarily my perspective simply wins and becomes the way things are. Plus, if your life is ultimately meaningless, then what difference does it make if you ever came into existence? If life is ultimately without transcendant purpose what is the point?- to create meaning for ourselves? What if I want to destroy others for fun? who is there to tell me I’m wrong? In your view their is no ultimate wrong. In your view virtue and vice are necessarily blended because they are not objective. I migth think stealing your stuff is a virtue. Even if all of humanity disagrees, because I am capable of inventing a bomb to wipe out the whole human race and remain the only one left standing, then according to your survival of the fittest, I am right. Your worldview is a worldview of death and hopelessness. There is no objective hope. Some scientists tell us that the universe will run out of energy like a wound up clock running out of time. If I murder you and kill myself, in the end it makes no difference because we’re all destined to die without a purpose anyway, right? There is no one, according to your view who can or will judge my actions as good or bad or right or wrong so who cares? There is no reason to live or die. There is no reason to sacrifice myself for others. Why save someone when at the end of the day no one will be saved?- and all life will simply cease to be?
Do you believe in or stand up for any causes? Why do you fight for atheism? Why don’t you just live for as much pleasure that you can eek out of your very short existence? Why spend time trying to convince me of atheism? What so-called good do you think it will bring? If there is no ultimate purpose there is no ultimate truth. If I were an atheist I would not be spending my time trying to get people to think like me. I would probably be stealing their stuff- and if I was in alot of pain or suffering greatly I would proabably just end my miserable existence because my life makes no bit of difference in the grand scheme because there is no grand scheme. But if I were healthy, I would be doing whatever I thought would give me the most satisfaction iin my life even if it was contrary to the public good. According to naturalism why care for the public good unless it brings you pleasure. There is no ultimate good. Why waste your existence trying to improve something that can’t be improved because everything is the way it simply is.
Your wordlview is not worthy of adherence. It leaves human life without hope or purpose. I admit that the human predicament in a world without God does not make His existence true. Yet the sheer weight of the evidence is in favor of an ultimate and transcendant reason and purpose to life- God. A God who gives to all their life and breath and intelligence and uphold all things by the word of His power, who stepped into human history so that we can know that we are not without hope! There is a reason and hope for life… His name is Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life!
The locus of logic
You said: “God is Logic.” OK… Does this mean that logic is intrinsic to God’s nature in such a way that it constitutes an internal necessity? If so, you have just turned God into an infinite non-material computer. Congratulations! If God is purely logical, then God cannot lie, pretend, or exaggerate. If this is true, then God is not truly free and thus is not really omnipotent.
If God is not logical out of internal necessity, then logic is grounded outside of God – i.e. in the universe. As I have said before: Logic is grounded in our spatial and temporal experience. If you do not think that this true, then please provide your refutation of The Critique of Pure Reason. Was Kant wrong about his formulation of a priori analytic and synthetic judgments?
You said: “Naturalism can not account for the presence of the universal, eternal nature of logic. You must simply say its just there…” To say that Logic cannot exist if there are no minds around to perceive it is like saying that the lights cannot be on if nobody is at home to see. Of course, you want to say that God is always home and always know whether the light are on or off. However, such an assumption is unnecessary and absurd. Since space and time have existed at all, there has been logic grounded in the natural laws of space, time, matter and energy.
At this point I don’t want to diverge into a discussion of the nature of God. But briefly I would say that God is logic in a similar way that He is love- in that He is their source. You may not like how I explain the existence of these immaterial aspects of reality. However, these immaterial aspects could not exists in a naturalistic universe. Also, your analogies are flawed. Indeed, God cannot lie because He is the source of truth. God cannot create a square circle or do anything else which is logically impossible because He is the source of logic. Omnipotence does not require that God have the ability to do things contrary to His nature. Regarding God as a free agent, I won’t even open that can. But according to naturalism, there is no such thing as a free agent and thus humans are not responsible for their actions anymore than other biological species- and even if we were, our actions have no value according to naturalism and so responsibility is meaningless.
Also, God is the source of logic and the cosmos is not. The cosmos in a naturalistic worldview is made up of only matter (physical stuff), right? Is matter the source of logic? I think not. You mentioned in a previous commetn that you would prefer to use the term cosmos over universe. I think that the term universe is better here because it means unity in diversity. This is our experience. Yet naturalism by definition is synonymous with pluralism- there is nothing that unifies the particulars. Are you a naturalist? or are you a monist? Is logic your God- an impersonal force?
You have yet to answer sufficiently where the information contained in the laws of thought (Logic) came from. How can your cosmos be irrational/unintelligent but yet contain the first principles necessary for intelligent beings to be rational? There is a disconnect here. We seem to be going in circles. Lets cut to the chase. In my view- logic, rationality, and intelligence are integrated if not synonymous terms. I’m not saying as you suggested that logic cannot exist if there are no minds to perceive it. Rather I am suggesting that logic and rationality are not features produced by a naturalistic/pluralistic irrational cosmos but are aspects of a universe created by an Infinite intelligence, we call God.
Regarding Kant- He is not (nor is Hume) the end all of epistemological discourse. And I don’t need to take the burden of proof regarding the existence of logic. Naturalism bears the burden of proof in explaining where logic came from- not simply asserting that it is just there. But consider the words of Hugo Meynell (Phd in Philosophy form Cambridge and I believe a current professor at the U of Calgary) “In the course of impugning rational theism in The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant writes: ‘All synthetic principles of reason allow only of an immanent employment’ (that is, one within the world of experience); ‘and in order to have knowledge of a supreme being we should have to put them to a transcendent use, for which our understanding is in no way fitted. If the empirically valid law of causality is to lead to the original being, the latter must belong to the chain of objects of experience, and in that case it would, like all appearances, be itself again conditioned.’ But if we are to have knowledge of events, things, and states of affairs of the three kinds just mentioned, we have in any case to put them to ‘a transcendent use’ to get at what is over and above ‘the chain of objects of experience’, taking what Kant almost immediately afterwards calls a ‘leap beyond the limits of experience’. And if we are able properly to do this in these cases, why should we not invoke something which cannot be an object of our experience to explain the very general fact of the intelligibility of the universe?”
Naturalists would be well advised to abandon their routine citations of the arguments of Hume and Kant against rational theism which have become fashionable.
Let’s cut to the chase, indeed.
The beginning of the universe, the origin of life on earth, and the origins of consciousness are difficult problems that are not yet fully comprehended in our current scientific theories.
You say “Difficult problem… Therefore GOD” and you have marshaled voluminous metaphysical arguments to prove that solutions are impossible.
I do not take that route. Just because there are some problems that we have not yet solved does not mean that they are unsolvable or can never be solved. I also do not think that metaphysical arguments really constrain what can actually happen in physics or biology. I do not think the statements “I believe what has been proven abstractly” and “I believe has been proven empirically” carry equal weight.
You may say that I am articulating a faith proposition here and perhaps that is true. However, when you consider how far we have come in the ascendency of naturalism and empiricism since the middle ages, if there is such a thing as reasonable faith, this is it. Naturalism and empiricism have outperformed every other philosophy and methodology in increasing human knowledge and human well being.
On the other hand, the Bible is replete with scientific errors as well as contradictions and failed prophesies. It really contains no surprising information about the universe, the earth or life on earth that we don’t find in other ancient literature. Apparently God did not see fit to stretch the minds of his Apostles and Prophets with anything truly revolutionary. The scientists associated with the Christian apologetic movement have yet to produce original work of credible scientific merit. Intelligent Design is nothing but a compendium of objections to the theory of evolution with no cogent, testable hypotheses to put in its place. I see no compelling reason to adopt this view regardless of metaphysical arguments brought in support of it.
I know that you will get the last word because this is your site, but just to be clear I will say this again:
Logic is about relationships. Logic deals with truth value of propositions regarding objects that exist in space and time and abstract objects representing objects in space and time.
Intelligence is an organism’s capacity to interact with its environment whether that is as basic as response to light, temperature or movement or as advanced as piloting the Space Shuttle.
Rationality is the capacity of an organism to apply logic to interactions with the environment.
None of these require a personal or transcendental agent as their cause.
At his point I feel ready to say “Stick a fork in this debate. It’s as done as it’s going to get.” We are repeating ourselves a lot. There is much more that I have to say about the moral arguments you included above, but I think we have gone as far as far as we can with our discussion of logic. I must say that I have enjoyed it even if it is just you and I talking to each other. I am curious though if anyone else is reading these pages. The Top Posts list looks like it’s mostly me.
you’ve sure said alot. I think you’re right in that we should probably move on. You are obviously an adamant atheist. To be honest I’m not quite sure why as I “see” so many obvious reasons to trust the Living God. Nor am I sure why you are so interested in getting others to think atheism is true. I know that the Bible reveales that the unbeliever is blinded much like Pharoah was when he did not let Israel go. It also talks about those who are perishing outside the Faith suppressing the Truth. I don’t mean to be belittleing if it seems so, rather I want you to be challenged at the possibility that you are fighting on the wroong side. And according to naturalism, you have no reason to. So why bother. My guess is that if you got to know the minds and hearts of some of my mentor thinkers, you too would be a slave of Christ. I really appreciate our discussions and hope that we can continue our friendship. Maybe when I get back to Shelton someday- Lord willing, we can grab some breakfast. I be praying for your well being.
You have both engaged upon a very interesting discussion.
I have dealt with copious atheist who commit what I call the fallacy of future human omniscience. Which is to say that they claim that we cannot come to supernatural conclusions until we know everything that there is to know and everything about everything, how it all interacts in every possible scenario. Ergo, as per above, “problems that we have not yet solved does not mean that they are unsolvable or can never be solved.” Not “yet” but just wait, and wait, and wait…
Meanwhile, Christians are not surprised when we uncover material causes for material effect because God created the material realm and set in place time based cause and effects. That a rational God created a rational creation is one of the premises on science.
Regarding the Bible: if we were to grant that it is false, faulty and its God does not exist this would say absolutely nothing about god’s existence, it would merely discredit one particular theology.
From what I understand, Kant claimed to know that we cannot know reality—need any more be said?
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