Monthly Archives: November 2008

Cosmological Argument

2723284090_b1fa3a8521THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT is an attempt to prove that the universe must have been caused by something which, among other things, was not itself caused.  The obvious upside to this lies in the attributes of the Uncaused-Cause one may derive from the Cosmological Arguments. There are several known variations of the Cosmological Argument.  They are; the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Argument from Contingency, Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas, and my Expanded Cosmological Argument.

Obviously, to begin with, one must count up his options, right?  In this question, there are only the two main options of believing the universe to be caused, or not.  Very well.  How much can be said about the two? Either:

a.) The Universe was not caused (does not actually exist now)

b.) The Universe was not caused (came from nothing)

c.) The Universe was not caused (has always been here)

d.) The Universe was caused (finite, has not always been, nor will always be)

To begin, the first option contradicts observation.  The observation in question being that the universe exists.  We can see it, touch it, taste it, hear it, and smell it even.  So, it seems logical to suppose that it exists, right?  Quite so, at first glance.  However, certain famous nuisances have come up with the idea that we could very well be just like brains-in-vats.  This concept is called solipsism, and is the notion that nothing is real but yourself; that the universe is illusory.  People have tried, and tried, and tried to push this idea through the population at large with little success over that last few centuries, and most every other time it pops up under a new name.  Now for the sake of coherence within this blog, I shall call these illusion doctrines, the Matrix Theory.  A key thing to note is that the Matrix Theories, though having different names, always fall prey to the same refutations.   The only one you’ll need to use however, with regard to the Cosmological Argument, is a double-weapon composed of Leibniz’ Principle of Sufficient Reason, and the notion of Self-Consciousness.  Simply put; everything requires an explanation, yourself incuded.  If you’re just in the matrix, and you say that nothing really exists, YOU are forgetting the fact that YOU are in the matrix, and YOU say that nothing exists.  You yourself require a reason for your existence.

The next option, which dictates that the universe came from nothing and by nothing, is implausible.  We see things in the universe which have reasons for their existence and/or state of being.  Indeed, everything we see in the universe has sufficient reason for its existence.  The universe is merely an expansion of space, time, and matter.  These are things, in fact.  However, since time and space are a bit more difficult to quantify and conceive than matter, I will ask you to understand that the three together behave in the much same way with regard to causality as matter alone.  So we see that all the material objects (plants, animals, planets etc…) in the universe requires sufficient reason for its existence, but what exactly is meant by all matter?  The universe is matter.  It is things:

All things require sufficient reason for their existence = The universe requires sufficient reason for its existence.

So, if it cannot have come from nothing, by nothing, does it still need a cause for it’s existence? Could it not have simply always existed?  Well, if by always, one means “at all times” then you would be absolutely right.  As with matter above, the universe is time and/or time is the universe.  However, if by always one means infinite, then you would be absolutely wrong.  If the universe never had a cause for its existence, if it never began to exist, but it exists now, then it is infinite.  Given infinite time, every possibility is allowed to be actualized, including the possibility for everything to cease to exist.  If then, the universe has already existed for an infinite time, then why hasn’t everything ceased to exist?  Follow that out.

Now the last option is that the universe was caused: that it has not forever been, nor will forever be.  Seeing as how the universe obviously exists, and this is our last option, it is either right, or I have overlooked a possible option.  Try me.

So, according to the third refutation, it is impossible to have an infinite regress of causes. For more reasons behind this notion, see the links at the bottom.  However, there are the actual presentations of the Cosmological Arguments themselves to be shown.  Very well, then.:

I have already presented an explanatory version of the Argument from Contingency above, and my extended Cosmological Argument is an expansion of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, I shall present my Expanded Argument, and then paste the Five Ways.

EXPANDED COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

1 Everything which begins to exist must have a cause for its existence.

1.2 The universe began to exist

1.3 Therefore the universe had a cause for its existence

2 The universe is primarily the expansion of time, space and matter

2.1 Therefore time, space and matter were caused.

3 An effect may be no greater than its proper cause

3.1 A thing may not cause itself to exist

3.2 Therefore the cause of the universe is eternal and immaterial.

4 Only a free-agent is able to produce real change (greater change) either through time, space and matter, in its creation, or in its annihilation.  All other changes are merely natural and deterministic processes (lesser change)

4.1 In the absence of the universe (time, space and matter) there could be no change of the lesser sort

4.2 Therefore the immaterial, and eternal cause of the universe was not an inanimate thing, but a free-agent, a mind.

5 The difference between nonbeing “in reality” and being “in reality”, is an infinite difference

5.1 The difference between nonbeing “in the mind” and being “in the mind” is an infinite difference

5.2 The free-agent in question created something from nothing, and it follows that it conceived something from nothing

5.3 To create something from nothing is an infinite power, and to conceive something from nothing is an infinite act of conception or knowledge.

5.4 Therefore the cause of the universe is an eternal, transcendent, omniscient, omnipotent mind, which can properly be called God.

Obviously, there are many objections to be raised against my argument.  Several may be valid, indeed I wouldn’t be surprised if they were.  But I’m confident enough with my argument to bet that I can refute every objection raised.  And I shall do so on another page.

 

THE FIVE WAYS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS were the first official Christian formulations of the Cosmological Argument.  The first four are indeed Cosmological Arguments, but the fifth is a Teleological Argument.  Nowadays, more modern versions of the Cosmological Argument are used, but the Five remain the foundation of First-Cause Theistic argumentation.

 

THE FIVE WAYS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

 

Below is a quote from the Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas, Second and Revised Edition, translated by The Fathers of the English Dominican Province, 1920.

 

“The existence of God can be proved in five ways.

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence–which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But “more” and “less” are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.”

Of all things, do NOT send me objections to the Five Ways.  They’re rather archaically worded, and thus if you think you’ve refuted them it is more likely that you have misunderstood the text, than actually made a valid counter-argument.  All the same, if you are yet unconvinced of your counter-argument’s fallacy, post it as a comment, and I shall answer it on an objections page.

More often than not, the atheists who are well-enough informed such that they know what a Cosmological Argument is, are prone to scoffing away its simplicity with the claim that it’s meaningless.  This claim is almost valid, and really when you think about it, they make sense.  What good is a first-cause alone?  It’s no good at all, I say.  What must be done after the presentation of the 1st three premises is an elaboration on what exactly the Cause must have been.  I make the argument that it has all the classical attributes associated with God (sans omnibenevolence, Trinity, and love to name a few) and usually, this is enough to make any atheist stop in their tracks.  Most self-dubbed atheists will not react to this argument by converting.  This is because of the Wall of Incredulity, the most formidable obstacle to evangelism, which shall be discussed later. 

The crucial thing to know, then, is that even though this is a valid proof, it will only change the toughest of minds

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The Resurrection

I think that this might be one of the biggest stumbling blocks for non-believers to accept.  “The resurrection never happened- people don’t just rise from the dead!” they scoff.  Well, yes.  People don’t.  That’s why it’s a miracle.  Now, I’ll talk about miracles a little later, but let’s just stick with the assumption that they can happen, for the moment.  While keeping our minds open to the possibility of a miraculous occurence, let’s consider the theories surrounding Jesus’ death and return to life.

1. The Apostles Lied
Jesus died on the cross and, three days later, as he failed to come again, the Apostles gathered together and came up with a plan- if they just said he returned, no one could prove them wrong, could they?  So they go out and preach the word of the “risen” lord to the unwitting public and dupe them into joining their church.  This theory has some major flaws in it, the greatest of these being this- the Apostles died.  All of them were tortured to death, the exception being John who was boiled in oil and then thrown off a tower, and after these failed to kill him, was exiled to the Island of Patmos.  Peter was crucified upside down.  James was torn apart.  Matthias, the oft forgotten twelfth-prime apostle, was captured and eaten by cannibals for his beliefs.  At any point in the events leading up to their death, if they had renounced their beliefs they would’ve been allowed to go free.  But no one did.  No one who is morally corrupt enough to lie to thousands would have the strength of character to stick to that lie whist being burned alive, or being thrown to the lions.  There was no conceivable benefit for them to lie about this, which brings us to the next hypothesis.

2. The Apostles Were Deranged
In a fit of grief, they experience a group hallucination of Jesus coming down and speaking to them.  This doesn’t fit the facts either.  Having a psychotic break, and then continuing to adhere to the beliefs produced as a result of it makes a person at the very least mentally ill.  The disciples of Christ, about 70 people, went out and converted people by the thousands, taking what was a very small messianic ‘cult’ in Judaism, and turning it into The Major Religion of the western hemisphere.  While mentally ill people can and do convince others of their beliefs, they will by and large turn people off with their fervor.  Consider UFOlogists.  There is a substantially sized group of people in the world with rational explanations and what they consider real experiences with aliens.  But they are still dismissed as kooks to the fringes, and very few people seriously believe that extraterrestrial beings are abducting corn farmers in Nebraska.

3. Jesus Didn’t Die
The Roman soldiers made a mistake and took him off the Cross when he had simply passed out from the pain or from blood loss, and he later recovered in the tomb and made his way back to the Disciples.  This theory is extremely absurd, but it is still oft mentioned so I have to address it here.  The Roman Soldiers who performed the crucifixion were highly experienced.  Their entire job consisted of killing people, and if they failed to perform their job up to snuff, they were likely to be killed themselves.  They would’ve made very sure Jesus was dead before taking him off the cross, knowing that to botch the job that utterly would result in their deaths.  Anyone who holds the belief he didn’t die has not seriously considered the mechanics behind crucifixtion.  One isn’t scourgified, beaten, have nails the size of railroad spikes driven through your forearms and feet, and then be left to the elements all day, and then be able to walk away from it all.  Jesus died after his lungs collapsed- we know that because they had filled with water when his side was pierced to see if he was dead or not.  He was laid to rest in a tomb with a boulder rolled in front of it and two Roman guards posted in front of it.  How would a seriously wounded, fainting man push aside a boulder from the inside and then by pass two soldiers with out attracting attention?  Or, how would the Disciples have overpowered the guards, removed the stone, and made off with Jesus’ body with out being identified and stopped?

The fact is, there is a great deal more evidence FOR the resurrection then their is AGAINST it.  For the entirety of the Early Church’s history, when it was still widely attacked as heretical and blasphemous, there was one condemning piece of evidence that would’ve stopped it in it’s tracks- the body of Jesus.  Had the Jews or Romans been able to provide Jesus’ body, wouldn’t they have?

-Sarah

Other Resources:
Evidence for the Resurrecton
All About Jesus Christ: The Resurrection
Catholic Encyclopedia: Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Religious Tolerance.org: The resurrection of Jesus Christ; Fact or Fable?

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Teleological Argument

A presentation of the Teleological Argument will be here shortly.

-Payton

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Aesthetic Argument

A presentation of my own Aesthetic Argument will be here shortly.

-Payton

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Axiological Argument

jpg_law_justice_003THE AXIOLOGICAL ARGUMENT is an argument from the existence of objective moral values. It is my favorite argument for the existence of God, probably because it was the first one I was ever exposed to. The first time I ever began to seriously consider the possibility of proving God’s existence was when Sarah loaned me a book called The Language of God .  The author, Francis Collins, hinted that the existence of an innate Moral Law within every human being was indicative of God.  Needless to say, I saw the significance.  The Law of Nature, is such an odd thing, really.  It quite simply shouldn’t exist.  Upon inspection, it is indeed as objective and transcendent as any law of science.  But how odd then, that though the Laws of Science describe how things are, the Law of Nature prescribes how things ought to be.

THE MORAL ARGUMENT

1.)  If there is no God, then objective Moral Facts do not exist

2.)  Objective Moral Facts exist

3.)  Therefore, God exists

We simply have to clarify what this argument means before moving on to argue it.  By “God”, I mean an Ultimately Authoritative Commander of  Moral Facts.  By “Moral Facts”, I mean “oughts” and “ought nots” which are objectively  binding.  To say something is objective is to say it is independent of ones subjective preference, or universal, or absolute etc.  The first premise of the argument is one which is commonly misunderstood.  This does not mean that one must believe in God do be a good person, nor does it mean that atheists are intrinsically evil and theists are intrinsically good.  To use the words that Sartre attributed to Dostoyevsky, the first premise reads: “If there is no God, then everything is permissible.” To use the words of Payton, the second premise then reads: “Funny thing is, not everything is permissible”.  From this, it can be argued that God exists.

Descriptive facts are facts about the way that the world is. It is a fact that cats eat mice because there are actual cats who actually eat actual mice. It is a fact that Paris is the capital of France because there exists a city called Paris that is the capital of an actual place called France. For descriptive facts, there are objects in the actual world that make them true.  Another way of saying this is that descriptive facts are grounded in reality by the nature of the objects they describe.

MORALITY CONSISTS OF A SET OF PRESCRIPTIVE FACTS

Moral facts are different from facts about geography or science. The fact that we ought to do something about the existence of evil is not a fact about the way that the world is, it’s a fact about the way that the world ought to be.  There is nothing out there in the physical world that makes moral facts true. This is because moral facts aren’t descriptive, they’re prescriptive; moral facts have the form of commands.  Unlike descriptive facts, which are grounded in reality by the objects they describe, prescriptive facts are grounded in the subject which prescribes them.

PRESCRIPTIVE MORAL FACTS IMPLY A MORAL PRESCRIPTOR
There are some things that necessarily exist in pairs. There can’t be something that is being carried unless there is something else that is carrying it. There can’t be something that is hated unless there are lots of people that hate it.  Commands are like this; commands can’t exist without something else existing that commanded them.  Morality consists of a set of commands, and therefore requires a commander. 
 
What remains to be seen however, is what this commander is like.  At this point, it is not exactly clear why the commander of morality has to be like God at all.  It could be society, or evolution perhaps. 

OBJECTIVE MORALITY IS ABSOLUTELY OBLIGATORY

Morality is absolute and objective. If someone ought to do something, then no matter what they think or prefer, they still ought to do it. It might be in my best interests not to give any money to charity, and though I’ll be considerably poorer afterwards, I am morally obligated to do so, so I ought to. It might be in my best interests to pretend that I’m too busy go to the Sea Scout meeting on Monday so that I can loaf around and watch House M.D., but I’m morally obligated to go, so all things considered, I ought to go. 

pakistanis20burn20israeli20flag1If everyone began to think the sky was fuschia, would that make it so?  If tomorrow, Al Qaeda took over the world and killed everyone who believed the Holocaust ocurred, would that make it true that there was no Holocaust?  What if they killed everyone who thought the Holocaust was wrong?  Would Hitler still be guilty?  Of course!  Just as guilty as he is now!  Very many people do not believe in the Holocaust, in fact, the world is genuinely divided on the issue.  Does this make the Holocaust any less real?  Any less objective?  Nope.  People may be mistaken.  A difference of opinion does not harm objectivism.

Absolute moral obligation is the only factor by which to determine what one absolutely ought to do, though by definition what you ought to do is synonymous with what you’re morally obligated to do.  However, there is a degree of precedence within morality.  Of course, there is the Absolute Moral Obligation that I’ve been talking about, but there are other common moral systems that many would be familiar with.  The law, one example, has tremendous roots in absolute moral obligation, but is distinct from it in many places.  Political systems are, in essence, grounded in morality for their application.  Social Conventions like etiquette, chivalry, and fashion are miniature moral systems.  A very interesting thing to note about these examples is that they are relative systems.  The law is relative to its proper state, and social conventions are relative to their societies.  This is not the case with absolute moral obligation, which is objective.

If someone has one reason to do one thing, but ought to do another thing, then all things considered they ought to do the other thing.  Prescriptive moral facts are the only factors that impact whether or not one ought to do something.  Morality has unique authority.

ABSOLUTELY OBLIGATORY PRESCRIPTIVE MORAL FACTS IMPLY AN ABSOLUTELY AUTHORITATIVE PRESCRIPTOR

Commands, though, are only as authoritative as the person that commands them. If I were to command everyone to pay extra tax so that we could bail out the economy, then no one would have to do so. I’m not the President. But if the President were to command everyone to pay extra tax so that we could bail out the economy, then that would be different, because he does have that authority.

As morality has more authority than any human person or institution, the moral argument suggests that morality cannot have been commanded by any human person or institution. As morality is absolutely authoritative, as morality overrules everything, morality must have been commanded by a prescriptor who has authority over everything. The existence of objective moral facts thus points to the existence of an absolutely authoritative Prescriptor of  said facts, who can properly be called God.

CONCLUSION

 

1.)  If there is no God, then objective Moral Facts do not exist

Prescriptive facts imply a prescriptor

2.)  Objective Moral Facts exist

The aforementioned sort of prescriptive facts exist in reality, and have certain characteristics

3.)  Therefore, God exists

The characteristics exhibited by said prescriptive facts are necessarily shared by their prescriptor, rendering it so suspiciously similar to God as to validate the propostion that something like God exists.

Payton

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Transcendental Argument

A presentation of the Transcendental Argument, along with refutations of TANG, and an intro to presuppositional apologetics will be here shortly.

-Payton

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Rational Contingency Argument

A presentation of the Rational Contingency Argument, and an introduction to miracles will be here shortly.

-Payton

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