Introduction toPhilosophy200 Spring 2008 My Proof of Theism Jenny Wiggins In this essay, I plan to give proofs that defendtraditional theism. Traditional theism is defined by E. K. Daniel in his essay, A Defense of Theism, as: “ there exists a being, God, who has all of the following attributes: God is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), supremely good (omnibenevolent), infinite, eternal, a being who possesses all perfections, transcendent to the natural universe, but the creator of the universe (Daniel, p. 259). ” I find it ironic to prove theism in philosophy class.
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Even Greek philosophers believe in a higher power. The question that is not always agreed upon is which or what higher power to believe? That being said, since there are views that refute theism, I will also take some of these arguments and try to find their weakness. The first classical argument that I will put forth to argue the existence of God is the first cause argument also known as the cosmological argument. This argument simply says that everything has a cause, so if we proceed backwards to find every cause, we would never be able to stop.
This is unintelligible. For one to think about it rationally there must be a first cause, a cause that in itself is uncaused. This uncaused being we will call God. Therefore, God exists. The first cause argument proposes that the universe is finite, which means it is limited, and to think of it as infinite would be unintelligible. It also says that the universe is contingent, by stating that each thing in it has a cause. Since the universe could not have caused itself, there must something uncaused that caused the universe.
Daniel reformulates the first cause (cosmological) argument this way: P1: Everything in the universe is finite. P2: Whatever is finite is limited. P3: Hence, whatever is limited cannot be the cause of its own existence. P4: Everything in the universe is contingent. P5: Whatever is contingent is dependent on something else for its existence. P6: Hence, whatever is contingent cannot be the cause of its own existence. P7: The totality of things making up the universe is also finite and contingent. P8: Thus, the totality (universe) must also have a cause for its existence.
P9: Since it cannot be the cause of its own existence, the cause must be something external to the universe. P10: That is, since the universe cannot contain the reason for its existence within itself, the reason for its existence must be something external to it. P11: Hence, there must exist an infinite and self-subsistent (non-contingent) being who is the cause of the universe. P12: Unlike that which is finite and contingent, such a being must exist necessarily. P13: Such a being is commonly called God. Conclusion: Therefore, there exists an infinite, necessary, and uncaused cause – God (Daniel, p. 68). A question to this argument may be: Do the attributes of finite and contingent, referring to the universe, necessarily need an uncaused being to have created its existence? The very definitions of finite and contingent rationally conclude, yes. If the claim that an infinite sequence of causes was untrue the universe would possibly not exist at all, because if even one of those causes were taken out all succeeding causes would cease to exist. I would also like to take a look at another classical argument which is the design argument also known as the teleological argument.
The design argument says that the universe is created in such a way that everything is designed and adapted for a purpose (Daniel, p. 261). The fact that the universe and everything in it seems to be put there in an orderly fashion with things working together in order to give purpose and produce a means to an end, suggests that there was a maker. Consider my argument in defense of the teleological argument below: P1: If we examine an automobile of any kind, we can see that each part has a purpose and design. P2: We can also see that there is an order and complexity.
P3: We find that the parts are arranged in such a way that they will operate together in order for us to drive the automobile. P4: This is certainly evidence of rationality and design. Conclusion: Hence, there exists a rational being that designed and brought the automobile into being. Daniel defends the teleological argument by reformulating it in this way: P1: Look out at the universe and the things within it. P2: The universe also shows evidence of design and purpose. P3: We detect orderliness and intricacy. P4: More importantly, we find purposiveness: a marvelous adaptation of means to ends.
P5: An example of such purposeful adaptation is the existence of two sexes for the end of procreation or the structure of the eye for the end of seeing. P6: All this is also evidence of rationality and design. P7: Hence, there must exist a rational being who designed and brought the universe into existence. Conclusion: That is, there must exist a Cosmic Designer –God (Daniel, 269). An objection to the teleological argument could be: This earth is not well made; there are plenty of things that do not have adaptation of means to ends.
An explanation for this is even though it seems that something does not have purpose for one reason or another it does, but we cannot understand it. Yet another objection may be can we hypothesize that in order to have something of an intricate design that there had to be an intelligent maker? The answer would be yes because a designer cannot make something intelligent by not being so himself. Last but not least I would like to look at the moral argument. This argument states that people have a sense of moral obligation, a feeling to do what is good and right, coming from outside of them.
There is no explanation for the sense of completemoral obligation that a person feels other than there is a moral law giver transcendent of the universe. Therefore, such a moral law giver, God, must exist. Human needs and behavior do not explain the complete sense of obligation to do what is right or moral (Daniel, p. 261). Take for example the missionaries sense of obligation to do whatever is in their power humanly and spiritually to help others that they do not even know. The missionaries may possibly risk their very own lives by entering a violent situation just by feeling a complete moral obligation to do so.
Another example may be of parents that forgive a murderer who has murdered their only child and they are unable to conceive a new child. These instances are examples of the moral argument. Our doing of good works and deeds by complete moral obligation that is felt to come from outside of ourselves at the forfeit of our ownhappinessmakes no sense unless there is something outside of this universe that compels us to do so, I believethat that compelling force is God. An objection to the moral argument would be:
Couldn’t our parents have simply brought us up to do what is morally right? It is not a sense in that one can be taught but a complete sense that will not fail. The decision we make may go against what we are taught as children. I will now take a look at the problem of evil which is most frequently used in the argument against theism. In H. J. McCloskey’s essay, God and Evil, he states the problem in this way, “ Evil is a problem for the theist in that a contradiction is involved in the fact of evil on the one hand, and the belief in the omnipotence and perfection of God on the other.
God cannot be both all-powerful and perfectly good if evil is real. ” An argument can be formulated to disprove the existence of God in the following way: P1: God is a being that is both all-powerful and perfectly good. P2: An all-powerful being could eliminate all evil. P3: A perfectly good being would eliminate all the evil it has the power to eliminate. P4: Evil exists in the world. P5: Therefore, there is no being that is both all-powerful and perfectly good (McCloskey, p. 328).
An argument that would refute the problem of evil is as follows: P1: Evil is necessary to appreciate goodness. P2: Evil is unreal. P3: Evil is necessary for the goodness of the world. The world is made better by the evil in it. P4: Evil is not due to God but to man’s misuse of the free will that God gave him (McCloskey & Hick, 332 &347). With regards to the latter of these two arguments one might think of the analogy of having something that you think is not good, losing it, and then realizing that what you hadwasn’t so bad in the first place.
Most people learn lessons from the hardships that they face in life and go on to live an even better life. Man does not always make the most rational decisions in his life and those bad decisions usually have consequences. This is no evidence that there is not an all-powerful and perfectly good God. K. D. Ellis refutes theism in his essay, Why I Am an Agnostic, on the grounds that there are no good reasons, meaning no reliable empirical evidence or sound rational arguments, to believe that there is a God (Ellis, p. 296).
He suggests that the classical arguments that are stated in Daniel’s essay, “ may offer some support for the plausibility of the belief in a god, but they are not sufficiently strong enough to compel our assent to the conclusion that a god exists. ” He also says that there is no knowledge in the statement, God exists (Ellis, p. 297). However, Ellis also refutes atheism because of the philosophical atheist’s main arguments flaw which is as follows: P1: There is no good reason for anyone to believe that God exists. Conclusion: Therefore, God does not exist.
This way of arguing is an argument of ignorance. To say I know what you mean by the ideal of God as a transcendent entity, but, he does not exist. This argumentis fallacious. This is Ellis’ reason for refuting atheism (Ellis, p. 298). Ellis instead makes his stand with agnosticism, because there are no good arguments for God’s existence or refuting God’s existence. Both claims cannot be trueas he states, “ I have tried to show that we cannot know which is true. ” Therefore, he takes the position of traditional agnosticism (Ellis, p. 301).