Existence of God on Using Arguments Thesis

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Existence of God

On Using Arguments to Establish the Case for God

McCloskey states in his article that the problem with most theists is that they come to believe in God based on other factors and reasons other than proofs alone.1 He may be referring to subjective factors like faith and personal evidence, which he possibly might abandon as true proofs and for good reason. However, he does acknowledge that there are three "proofs" that motivate the theist to believe in God -- the cosmological proof, teleological proof, and the argument from design -- all of which he describes as defective.1.

It's probably worthwhile to consider these "proofs" in light of the Cumulative Case approach in the PointeCast presentation. The Cumulative Case is noteworthy because it accepts that there is not one argument that can prove the existence of God but only "a series of arguments that when cumulatively put together offer a very strong case for God."2 Hence, instead of claiming only one argument or "proof" as the most plausible explanation, the cumulative approach builds the case carefully by putting together three arguments in a coherent manner.

These three arguments, or their premises and supporting statements thereof, are in fact the three "proofs" that McCloskey says lead theists to their theism. These are the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments.2 Each has its own set of premises that support reasons for thinking that (1) the Universe is created by a self-existent being; (2) that it is perfectly designed; and (3) that its designer is morally perfect, respectively2. Put together, the cumulative case can be summarized as: "A personal, moral, intelligent creator of the Universe is the best explanation for the universe we experience." 2

2. On the Cosmological Argument

At the core of Evans' discussion of the cosmological argument is the premise that some contingent beings exist.3 Contingent beings are things around us that exist but don't necessarily have to. For example, when we look around us, we see objects -- trees, animals, soil, clouds, etc. -- that exist but could easily not exist. If they exist, then there must be a reason for their existence or a necessary being. In other words, Evans' argument of the universe is this: Why should the universe exist at all if not for the purpose of something else that caused it? Hence, the cause of the universe -- inferred to as God -- is necessary. One objection to this argument is that "If everything needs a cause, then God must have a cause."2 (McCloskey is of this view, claiming that the cosmological argument is defective because it's causal nature leads to an infinite regress of causes.) 1 Evans replies that this objection is misguided because it presupposes that everything needs a cause.3 His premise is that only some things are contingent. Thus, He implies that God is not a contingent being; God is self-existent and is uncaused.

If, as McCloskey claims, the cosmological argument "does not entitle us to postulate an all-powerful, all-perfect, uncaused cause,"1 then what is the alternative? If there is no Creator of the universe, what metaphysical view is the most plausible explanation for the universe's existence?3 As Evans explains, the question about God is not proving the existence of another being but rather attempting to explain the nature and character of the universe as a whole.3 While there are rival views to the cosmological argument like pantheism and naturalism, a theist may argue that the cosmological argument is a reasonable explanation for the existence of the universe.3

3. On the Teleological Argument

McCloskey says that for a powerful, intelligent, perfect planner of the universe to exist, there must be "genuine indisputable examples of (His) design and purpose"1 He claims that in fact, as suggested by the Theory of Evolution, there is no evidence of such design or purpose.1 He doesn't elaborate, but he seems to imply that evolution is indisputable and hence a "very conclusive objection."1 First of all, the Theory of Evolution is just a theory or a tentative explanation of a phenomenon. As such, it is not infallible. Even the top evolutionary experts agree that evolution is by no means a complete theory, with gaps still waiting to be filled. Second, as someone writing from the late 60's, McCloskey would not have known about some future discoveries in modern science that continue to challenge the so-called "indisputability" of the theory of evolution.

Assuming that for argument's sake, evolution is true, it actually leads to the existence of a designer, rather than as McCloskey implies, "displaced the need"1 for one. Evolution cannot seem to proceed at random but rather through a series of events that follow a logical order. Evolution can be thought of as the mechanism by which the cosmos was created, guided by intelligent design and planning.4 Evans illustrates this using shoe production as a model. The machine is the mechanism that makes the shoe, but the machine itself is devised to do so by the shoe designer.4

If the conclusion of the matter were that there exists a perfect designer and planner of the universe, then the next step for the theist would be to know more about the Creator's purpose and character to make sense of the rampant evil in a world supposedly under His rule and order.4

4. On the Problem of Evil

To McCloskey, the presence of evil constitutes strong evidence against God.1 He stresses this claim repeatedly in his paper through the logical form of the problem: (a) God is perfect and benevolent; (b) Evil exists and is persistent; (c) Therefore God does not exist. According to Evans, a theist might respond to this claim using the soul-making and free will arguments.5

In the first instance, the occurrence of evil is sometimes necessary for the result of a greater good. Evans illustrates this using a heroic soldier who might sacrifice his life for the sake of his comrades.5 Similarly, natural evils (e.g. illnesses) are perhaps necessary in order for a person to cultivate certain virtues.5 From a theistic perspective, then, there is no utterly pointless evil. Experiencing evil can be viewed as a test of faith. This judgment is simply based on a believer's personal evidence of God's goodness (i.e., the evidential form of the problem of evil), which is as valid as the atheistic argument.5

In his free will argument, Evans states that "it is logically possible for God to create free beings who always choose to do right, but it is not logically possible for God to create beings who inevitably do right."5 In other words, it is entirely up to man whether to use his freedom for good or evil. If man deliberately chooses to engage in morally evil acts that result in injury to innocent persons, then the resulting evil is due to man and not God.5 If God easily arranges man to be biased to always choose to do what is right (as what McCloskey suggests what God might do) then that is not true free will at all. As Evans puts it, God does not intend to control men so they can be His robots; He wants men to love and serve Him freely.5

5. On Atheism as Comforting

In his paper, McCloskey concludes that atheism is more comforting than theism1. To someone who seems to be suffering pointlessly, McCloskey suggests it's better for him not to believe in God rather than wrack his brains trying to figure out why God allows the suffering. Atheism leads to self-reliance and self-respect, allowing man to give and seek comfort where it can be given and visibly found. 1

Craig, on the other hand, believes that life without God is absurd.6 If there is no God, then man and the Universe are doomed, because that means life has… [END OF PREVIEW]

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