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July 11, 2008

Comments

Fremen66

I still consider myself a Christian, some might argue against that based on my views on soteriology (I wouldn't call myself a universalist, but I'm probably closer to that than to your typical evangelical soteriological view).

I started perusing Christianity Today last week to see if it was really as bad as you say and even I could see that it was a load of B.S.

I'm really tired of the moral argument because it can be easily refuted by evolutionary psychology. I hold to a morality worldview, but I'm not under the impression that it makes a good argument for the existence of God.

Russell

Respectfully...

Repsonse to #1:
Aside from the "no true Scotsman" variant regarding Campus Crusaders let's ask ourselves: can we prove categorically that this argument is wrong? No. Does all created reality have a cause? Yes. Is God created? No. Therefore He does not have to have an outside cause. Can I "prove" this? No more than you can disprove it.

Response to #2:
Is it agreed that everything that had a beginning must have had a cause? Yes. Did God have a beginning? No. Therefore He did not have to have a cause. Obviously I assume He did not have a cause, but do those who say He did not have proof that there is nothing that can be eternal? No. Those who argue (if there are any left) that the universe is eternal don't think so. The laws of logic cannot preclude something that exists eternally because such assertions cannot be proven. That may not be "proof" that God is eternal, but it gives just as much (or more) difficulty to those claiming that just as the universe had a beginning, so must God.

Response to #3:
Not quite as sure on this on since Greg did not address it directly. It is not absolute proof, but the "fine-tuning" spoken of seems far from random. It appears much more problematic for the anti-god crowd to explain why such optimal conditions exist with nothing but "chance" to credit.

Response to #4:
It's hard to refute "This one's boring" but your assesment of the big three (Rape, molestation, murder) might also be used to insist that God has placed a basic understanding of morality in all of us.

Response to #5:
Here Greg goes toe to toe with Plantiga (and others). Without dealing directly with the points of the argument, this fact does show that much greater minds see its validity (albeit a "modified" version).

Greg, you make the point that tyring to prove God's existence is quixotic but I don't think any of these arguments are meant to "prove" God exists in the way you propose. They are, more aptly put, meant to show valid reasons to accept the fact that there is a God or that belief in God makes sense. Again, "prove" can mean different things. When we see "... therefore God exists" we still have no "smoking gun." Instead we have bolstered our support for accepting the fact that a "Supreme Being" does exist.

I think the article is written mainly from a standpoint that says, "Hey, you think all the leading scholars have come to the conclusion that believing in God doesn't make any sense,... well, these leading scholars think belief in God still makes the most sense. Here's why..."

greg

Russell,

leading scholars? You'll notice that Craig said Plantinga used a modified version of the ontological argument. He also didn't go into detail about that modification. Wolterstorff, the most respected Christian philosopher by far, isn't even in the article. These aren't leading scholars. They are apologists.

As for your arguments, if you can't prove God isn't created, and you can't prove he is, then you might as well be saying that the primary cause of all that is created is a nine-legged centipede with hemorrhoids that is invisible to everyone who searches for him. It's equally valid in terms of defining what kind of think god is. As far as God having a beginning, that is an assumption you make. Without a referential object to point to in the world, it's impossible to say "the definition of god is x."

You seem to have missed that as the larger point. Even if you can prove God's existence, you can't clearly define his character, preferences, expectations, values, etc., without resorting to revelation. These arguments get Christians no further than deism. I'll happily accept a deistic god; that would at least explain why he appears not to give a shit.

Fremen66

Really the apologist movement is anti-atheist more than anything. All these different religions use pretty similar thinking in their apologetics.

They then resort to pseudo-philosophical arguments and "what would you rather believe in" questions to root out the competition from the other religions.

The atheist is seen as the main enemy, the anti-Christian. Whereas all the other religious people are uncomfortable allies who are all going to hell.

Russell

The list of things that imply that he does give a turd (funnier word than "shit") is much longer to some, than the list that implies that He does not.

Given all of the religious evidence, the Christian view makes the most historical and reasonable sense to me. That being said, you are absolutely correct that "proof" is not a realistic expectation. The Bible itself claims that faith is required and faith isn't needed with a "smoking gun." You may reply that the "faith requirement" is akin to some form of circular reasoning or begging the question (you teach logic and are more qualified to catagorize such terms than I) but the possibility that it is one of those doesn't, technically, mean that they still couldn't be true.

I won't try to convince you because I don't think arguing with you would accomplish anything. You have not been anything but gracious with me and (as you mentioned) I am free to believe what I want, as are you.

Enjoy your weekend and thanks for the dialogue.

Jay Kelly

@Russell

In Response to #1, you said, 'Can I "prove" this? No more than you can disprove it.'

But the burden of proof is on you--on the person who says God doesn't have to have a cause. You have to be able to tell an at-least-plausible story about how God gets a free pass on not needing a cause.

Jon Inglettt

These arguments only work or not work, I guess, if God exists within the realm of the universe and natural science and philosophy.

If he is immanent in the universe, then let's build a spaceship and hold a God conference.

If he/she/it/they is/are absent from the universe and transcendent, then we may need some kind of string theory wormhole to get there. :-)

--Jinglett

bobstevens

Hm,

I whipped this out in a religion thread on some random forum and got shot down, but I think it's pretty solid:

Point 1: everything that had a beginning had a cause
Point 2: for anything to exist, something has to have existed for eternity past

Both seem self-evident to me, but were challenged by the others participating.

I don't mean these as arguments to prove God's existence of course. They're just things I worked out on my own that seem obvious to me.

Point 2 seems to follow from Point 1, but I notice you discuss point 1 above. Is there some problem with it, or is there just a problem using it as evidence of God's existence?

greg

Bob,

Not a problem with it, per se. It's just that there is a silent assumption there that makes the logic "work." The assumption is that God did not have a beginning, therefore, she's exempt from causation. That allows the theist/deist to argue for everything else being contingent, except for God. But if you're going to justify foundational claims, why not all of them? Since it's impossible to a) prove God, and b) prove claims about God, you can make any foundational statement you want about God. Your conclusions may be valid, as they will follow from the unspoken premise that God has no beginning, but we'll never know if they're sound.

cheek

Quantum physics seems to be telling us that Point 1 isn't true. If it turns out to be, then I agree that Point 2 follows, but that something could as easily (and much more conceivably) be matter as an extra-universal deity.

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