Does God exist?
The highly religious culture established in the Philippines makes this question a taboo. However, within the academic confines of a philosophy class, this precious inquiry is given a safe haven for sholarly discourse. The main motions can be divided into three: Logic reveleals God, Morals reveal God. What will be presented are the arguments for God’s existence and their respective counter arguments.
Logic reveals God
Aquinas was a formidable logician. His attempts to reason God into existence is inscribed in The Five Ways within Summa Theologica.Argument from Motion: (1)Nothing can move itself; (2)If every object in motion had a mover, then the first object in motion needed a mover; (3)This first mover is the Unmoved Mover, called God. Causation Of Existence: (1)There exists thing that are caused by other things; (2)Nothing can be the cause of itself; (3)There can not be an endless string of objects causing other objects to exist; (4)Therefore, there must be an uncaused first cause called God. Contingent and Necessary Objects: (1)Contingent things are caused; (2)Not every being can be contingent; (3)There must exist a being ehich is necessary to cause contingent beings; (4)This necessary being is God. Argument from Degrees and Perfection: (1) Objects have properties to greater or lesser extents; (2)If an object has a property to a lesser extent, then there exists some other object that has the property to the maximum possible degree; (3)So there is an entity that has all properties to the maximum possible degree; (4)Hence God exists. The Argument from Design: (1)Among objects that act for an end, some have minds whereas others do not.; (2)An object that acts for an end, but does not itself have a mind, must have been created by a being that has a mind; (3)So there exists a being with a mind who designed all mindless objects that act for an end; (4)Hence that being is God.
Logic reveals God: Counter Arguments
The first three arguments of Aquinas may also be referred to as the Cosmological Argument; Something can’t come from Nothing. Claims of his nature aim to exempt God from the need of a cause, this is a fallacy known as Special Pleading. As Bertrand Russell put it: “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument.”
A common rebuttal against the ‘degrees of perfection’ is that it does not follow that simply because we can conceive of an object with some property in a greater degree, that such an object exists.
While the rest of Aquinas’ ways may be countered with mere philosophy, the ‘argument from design’ seems to be a case where a strong scientific footing is necessary for a viable counter. A popular contemporary variation of this is of Intelligent Design, where humans and other species are ‘obviously’ designed by some intelligence. Sufficient knowledge in biology shows that evolution is the best candidate for the state of each species today, and if ever each were designed, evidence suggests that the designer is not very good at his job.
A few popular examples are as follows: The Laryngeal Nerve that takes an unnecessary detour, the unfortunate wiring of the eye, vestigial structures that serves no purpose, Ectopic pregnancy caused by imperfections in the Fallopian tube. These mistakes would be inconsistent to the theory of an intelligent designer, but from the perspective of evolution through natural selection, it all makes sense.
Morals reveal God
We know right from wrong. If there are moral laws, then there is a moral law giver. If there is no God, then everything is permitted. The moral argument for God given by Dr. William Lane Craig: (1)If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist; (2)Objective moral values and duties do exist.; (3)Therefore, God exists.
Morals reveal God: Counter Arguments
Question: My question is for professor Dawkins. Considering that Atheism cannot possibly have any sense of absolute morality, would it not then be an irrational leap of faith, which atheists themselves so harshly condemn, for an atheist to decide between right and wrong?
Professor Dawkins’ answer:
The absolute morality that a religious person might profess would include what, stoning people for adultery,
And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.Leviticus 20.10
The Jew brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from amongst them who have committed (adultery) illegal sexual intercourse. He ordered both of them to be stoned (to death), near the place of offering the funeral prayers beside the mosque. Hadith Sahih Muslim
death for apostasy,
If thy brother … or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods … Thou shalt not consent unto him … neither shall thine eye pity him … But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. Deuteronomy 13.6-10
“Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” — Muhammad Sahih al-Bukhari
punishment for breaking the Sabbath?
These are all things which are religiously-based absolute moralities. I don’t think I want an absolute morality. I think I want a morality that is thought out, reasoned, argued, discussed, and based upon what you could almost call an intelligent design.
I need God
I do believe that religiosity is not matter of intelligence. There are numerous scientists who believe in a higher power. The culprit for the belief in God is fear, more specifically, the fear of death. The sufficiently learned won’t care to regurgitate the debunked arguments of Aquinas or cling to ridiculous pseudoscience, “I want to believe” is often as simple as they put it. From this commendable honesty, it can be extracted that the lack for proof of a higher power is acknowledged but set aside.
Why? Simple because life is hard, unjust. Unjust in the sense that the universe is indifferent to the whims of man; Unmoved by the beauty of the noblest deeds; Apathetic to the cries of the most hideous injustice. We dislike the burden having to be solely responsible for our destinies. “Man is nothing more than what he makes himself to be” as Sarte put it.
Science and Philosophy is not limited to debunking hopes of an afterlife, some have articulated profound insights to how we can view this predicament called life.
Biology on Life: Richard Dawkins
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”
Astronomy on Life: Carl Sagan
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Cosmology on Life: Niel deGrasse
“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”
Agnosticism on Life: Marcus Aurelius
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but…will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
Humanism on Life: Stephen Fry
“How can I be happy? Some people believe that there is one single meaning of life. They think that the universe was created for a purpose and that human beings are part of some larger cosmic plan. They think our meaning comes from being part of this plan and is written into the universe waiting to be discovered.
A humanist view of meaning in life is different. Humanist do not see that there is any obvious purpose to the universe, but that it is a natural phenomenon with no design behind it. Meaning is not something out there waiting to be discovered, but something that we create in our own lives. And although this vast and incredibly old universe was not created for us, all of us are connected to something bigger than ourselves, whether it is family and community, a tradition stretching into that past, an idea or cause looking forward to the future, or the beautiful, wider natural world on which we were born and our species evolved.
This way of thinking means that there is not just one big meaning of life but that every person will have many different meanings in their life. Each one of us is unique and our different personalities depend on a complex mixture of influences from our parents, our environment, and our connections. They change with experience and changing circumstances. There are no simple recipes for living that are applicable to all people. We have different tastes and preferences, different priorities and goals.
One person may like drawing, walking in the woods, and caring for their grandchildren. Another may like cooking and watching soap operas, savoring a favorite wine, or a new food. We may find meaning through our family, our career, making a commitment to an artistic project or a political reform, in simple pleasures, such as gardening and hobbies, or in a thousand other ways, giving reign to our creativity or our curiosity, our intellectual capacities, or our emotional life.
The time to be happy is now and the way to find meaning in life is to get on and live it as fully and as well as we can.”