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God A Priori Arguments. Classical Theism Classical conception of God: God is Classical conception of God: God is Omnipotent Omnipotent Omnipresent Omnipresent.

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Presentation on theme: "God A Priori Arguments. Classical Theism Classical conception of God: God is Classical conception of God: God is Omnipotent Omnipotent Omnipresent Omnipresent."— Presentation transcript:

1 God A Priori Arguments

2 Classical Theism Classical conception of God: God is Classical conception of God: God is Omnipotent Omnipotent Omnipresent Omnipresent Omniscient Omniscient Eternal Eternal Transcendent Transcendent Compassionate Compassionate

3 Dissident conceptions Via negativa-- the “negative way” Via negativa-- the “negative way” We can only what God is not We can only what God is not Deism Deism God created the world, but has no further interaction with it; no miracles God created the world, but has no further interaction with it; no miracles Pantheism Pantheism God is everything God is everything Panentheism Panentheism God includes everything God includes everything

4 Argument from Thought Where do we get our concept of God? Where do we get our concept of God? It’s the concept of something perfect It’s the concept of something perfect We never experience perfection We never experience perfection So, the concept of God is innate So, the concept of God is innate It must come from something perfect It must come from something perfect So, God must exist So, God must exist

5 Descartes’s Premise “Now it is manifest by the natural light that there must at least be as much reality in the efficient and total cause as in its effect. For, pray, whence can the effect derive its reality, if not from its cause? And in what way can this cause communicate this reality to it, unless it possessed it in itself? And from this it follows, not only that something cannot proceed from nothing, but likewise that what is more perfect -- that is to say, which has more reality within itself -- cannot proceed from the less perfect.”

6 Descartes’s Argument The cause of the idea of X must have at least as much reality as X The cause of the idea of X must have at least as much reality as X We get the idea of fire from fire We get the idea of fire from fire We get the idea of red from red things We get the idea of red from red things The cause of our idea of God must have at least as much reality as God The cause of our idea of God must have at least as much reality as God Only God has as much reality as God Only God has as much reality as God So, our idea of God must come from God So, our idea of God must come from God

7 The Ontological Argument Augustine: God is “something than which nothing more excellent or sublime exists” Augustine: God is “something than which nothing more excellent or sublime exists” Anselm ( ): God is “that the greater than which cannot be conceived”-- the greatest conceivable being Anselm ( ): God is “that the greater than which cannot be conceived”-- the greatest conceivable being

8 Anselm’s Argument “Even the Fool... is forced to agree that something, the greater than which cannot be thought, exists in the intellect, since he understands this when he hears it, and whatever is understood is in the intellect. And surely that, the greater than which cannot be thought, cannot exist in the intellect alone. For if it exists solely in the intellect, it can be thought to exist in reality, which is greater. If, then, that, the greater than which cannot be thought, exists in the intellect alone, this same being, than which a greater cannot be thought, is that than which a greater can be thought. But surely this is impossible. Therefore, there can be absolutely no doubt that something, the greater than which cannot be thought, exists both in the intellect and in reality.”

9 Anselm in outline Suppose you could conceive of God’s nonexistence Suppose you could conceive of God’s nonexistence Then you could think of something greater than God-- something just like God, but existing Then you could think of something greater than God-- something just like God, but existing But nothing can be conceived as greater than God But nothing can be conceived as greater than God So, God’s nonexistence is inconceivable So, God’s nonexistence is inconceivable

10 Descartes’s Ontological Argument God has all perfections God has all perfections Existence is a perfection Existence is a perfection So, God has existence So, God has existence

11 A Posteriori Arguments

12 The Cosmological Argument Aristotle: God is the prime mover of the universe Aristotle: God is the prime mover of the universe Udayana (1000): Udayana (1000): “1. Argument from effects Things like the earth must have a cause. Because they are effects. Like a pot. ”

13 Aquinas’s Argument “ “The second way is based on the nature of causation. In the observable world, causes are to be found ordered in series; we never observe, or even could observe, something causing itself, for this would mean it preceded itself, and this is impossible. Such a series of causes, however, must stop somewhere. For in all series of causes, an earlier member causes an intermediate, and the intermediate a last (whether the intermediate be one or many). If you eliminate a cause you also eliminate its effects. Therefore there can be neither a last nor an intermediate cause unless there is a first. But if the series of causes goes on to infinity, and there is no first cause, there would be neither intermediate causes nor a final effect, which is patently false. It is therefore necessary to posit a first cause, which all call 'God'.”

14 Aquinas’s Argument Let a be the current state of the world Let a be the current state of the world It was caused, as was its cause, etc. It was caused, as was its cause, etc.... <— e <— d <— c <— b <— a... <— e <— d <— c <— b <— a This can’t go on to infinity, or we’d never have reached a This can’t go on to infinity, or we’d never have reached a So, there must be a first cause, God So, there must be a first cause, God God <—... <— c <— b <— a God <—... <— c <— b <— a

15 Avicenna’s Argument Contingent: has a reason for its being Contingent: has a reason for its being Necessary: has no reason for its being Necessary: has no reason for its being God = the necessary being God = the necessary being

16 Avicenna’s Argument Suppose there were no necessary being Suppose there were no necessary being Everything, including the current state of the world, a, would be contingent Everything, including the current state of the world, a, would be contingent There would be an infinite series: There would be an infinite series:.... <— e <— d <— c <— b <—a.... <— e <— d <— c <— b <—a But then the conditions for a’s existence would never be satisfied But then the conditions for a’s existence would never be satisfied So, there is a necessary being, God So, there is a necessary being, God

17 Al-Ghazali’s Objections Al-Ghazali ( ), The Incoherence of the Philosophers: scepticism Al-Ghazali ( ), The Incoherence of the Philosophers: scepticism Why not an infinite regress of reasons or causes? Why not an infinite regress of reasons or causes?

18 Infinite Regress It’s not self-evident that the world could not extend back infinitely far It’s not self-evident that the world could not extend back infinitely far Plato, Aristotle, al-Farabi, and Avicenna thought of some things other than God as eternal Plato, Aristotle, al-Farabi, and Avicenna thought of some things other than God as eternal Is there an argument? Is there an argument?

19 A Possible Argument Imagine the series Imagine the series.... <— b <— a.... <— b <— a It would have to be necessary or contingent It would have to be necessary or contingent It consists of contingent beings, so it can’t be necessary It consists of contingent beings, so it can’t be necessary But it doesn’t depend on anything outside itself But it doesn’t depend on anything outside itself

20 Al-Ghazali’s Reply But the series could be necessary, even though every event in it is contingent But the series could be necessary, even though every event in it is contingent

21 Averroes Averroes (ibn Rushd, ) Averroes (ibn Rushd, ) Harmonizes religion and philosophy, and refutes al-Ghazali, in The Incoherence of the Incoherence Harmonizes religion and philosophy, and refutes al-Ghazali, in The Incoherence of the Incoherence

22 Two Kinds of Causes Efficient cause: once caused, result is independent of cause Efficient cause: once caused, result is independent of cause Dependence: result continues to depend on cause— cause and effect are inseparable Dependence: result continues to depend on cause— cause and effect are inseparable

23 ‘Contingent’, ‘Necessary’ Ambiguous Ambiguous Contingent = having an efficient cause = having a causal explanation OR Contingent = having an efficient cause = having a causal explanation OR Contingent = depending on something else Contingent = depending on something else Necessary = having no causal explanation OR Necessary = having no causal explanation OR Necessary = independent, self-sufficient Necessary = independent, self-sufficient

24 Averroes’s Argument The world of efficient causes: The world of efficient causes:... <— c <— b <— a... <— c <— b <— a|G1|G2|God

25 Leibniz ( ) Principle of Sufficient Reason: “Nothing happens without a sufficient reason.” Principle of Sufficient Reason: “Nothing happens without a sufficient reason.” So the universe— the series of contingent causes— must have a sufficient reason for its existence: So the universe— the series of contingent causes— must have a sufficient reason for its existence: Something which is its own sufficient reason for existing: God Something which is its own sufficient reason for existing: God

26 Aquinas’s Design Argument All bodies obey natural laws. All bodies obeying natural laws act toward an end. Therefore, all bodies act toward an end. (Including those that lack awareness.) Things lacking awareness act toward a goal only under the direction of someone aware and intelligent. Therefore, all things lacking awareness act under the direction of someone aware and intelligent: God

27 Aquinas’s Design Argument All things lacking awareness act under the direction of someone aware and intelligent. The universe as a whole lacks awareness. Therefore, the universe as a whole acts under the direction of someone aware and intelligent- namely, God.

28 William Paley ( ) Suppose you find a watch Suppose you find a watch Intricate Successful You’d infer that it had an intelligent maker You’d infer that it had an intelligent maker Similarly, you find the universe Similarly, you find the universe Intricate Successful You shoud infer it had an intelligent maker, God You shoud infer it had an intelligent maker, God

29 Hume’s Criticisms Analogy isn’t strong Analogy isn’t strong Universe may be self-organizing Universe may be self-organizing Taking analogy seriously: Taking analogy seriously: God not infinite God not infinite God not perfect God not perfect Difficulties in nature Difficulties in nature Can’t compare to other universes Can’t compare to other universes Maybe earlier, botched universes Maybe earlier, botched universes Maybe made by committee Maybe made by committee Why machine, rather than animal or vegetable? Why machine, rather than animal or vegetable?

30 Hume’s Scepticism Variability: Many hypotheses are possible Variability: Many hypotheses are possible Undecidability: We have no evidence that would let us select the most probable Undecidability: We have no evidence that would let us select the most probable So, we cannot establish God’s existence So, we cannot establish God’s existence

31 Blaise Pascal ( ) Does God exist? Does God exist? Place your bet Place your bet Total uncertainty— no data Total uncertainty— no data What should you do? What should you do?

32 Pascal’s Wager “Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.”

33 Pascal’s Wager You believeYou don’t believe You believeYou don’t believe God Heaven Hell God Heaven Hell No God VirtueNothing No God VirtueNothing A bet on God can’t lose; a bet against God can’t win A bet on God can’t lose; a bet against God can’t win

34 Kant’s Moral Argument We can’t prove God’s existence rationally We can’t prove God’s existence rationally But we can’t live and act except by assuming that God exists But we can’t live and act except by assuming that God exists Bad things happen to good people; the wicked prosper Bad things happen to good people; the wicked prosper Why, then, be good? Why, then, be good?

35 Kant’s Moral Argument It’s rational to be moral only if it’s rewarded It’s rational to be moral only if it’s rewarded That doesn’t happen in this life That doesn’t happen in this life It must happen in another life It must happen in another life There must be an afterlife, and a just God There must be an afterlife, and a just God

36 The Problem of Evil If God exists, He is all good, all knowing, and all powerful If God exists, He is all good, all knowing, and all powerful If He is all good, He is willing to prevent evil If He is all good, He is willing to prevent evil If He is all knowing, He knows how to prevent it If He is all knowing, He knows how to prevent it If He is all powerful, He can prevent it If He is all powerful, He can prevent it But evil exists But evil exists So, God does not exist So, God does not exist

37 Augustine: General Providence We must judge universe as a whole, not part by part We must judge universe as a whole, not part by part Analogy: the best life is not one with no adversity, but with adversity overcome Analogy: the best life is not one with no adversity, but with adversity overcome It is good that there is some evil It is good that there is some evil General providence of God: system of natural law underlies everything good General providence of God: system of natural law underlies everything good

38 Augustine: Evil as privation Plotinus ( ): Evil is not a thing; it is the absence of good Plotinus ( ): Evil is not a thing; it is the absence of good God didn’t create evil; he simply created things with differing degrees of goodness God didn’t create evil; he simply created things with differing degrees of goodness But that variety is itself good But that variety is itself good Whatever is, is good Whatever is, is good

39 Augustine: Corruptibility Only God is perfect Only God is perfect To create, God had to create things that were imperfect, corruptible To create, God had to create things that were imperfect, corruptible Humans in particular are corruptible Humans in particular are corruptible We have the freedom to choose evil We have the freedom to choose evil

40 Augustine: Free Will Free will can’t explain natural evils Free will can’t explain natural evils Punishment for original sin? Punishment for original sin? Who gave us the capacity and sometime inclination to do wrong? God Who gave us the capacity and sometime inclination to do wrong? God In the end, the problem is insoluble In the end, the problem is insoluble We cannot understand God We cannot understand God

41 Possible Solutions Form Matter Building Man God Evil Plato Gnostics Mani Avicenna Philo Plotinus Augustine Hinduism Origen


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