Talk:Arguments for the existence of God

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Doesn't the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the 1980s miniseries, not the Disneyfied movie) say that once God is proven to exist, He won't? ;)--Autofire 22:15, 7 June 2007 (EDT)

Thank you, but I'm not sure that would qualify as an argument ;-) Learn together 22:22, 7 June 2007 (EDT)

I don't think Douglas Adams style theology will fly very far on this site. DanH 22:31, 7 June 2007 (EDT)

I don't expect it to. I was trying to make a funny. Apparently, I failed. :(--Autofire 22:32, 7 June 2007 (EDT)

42. DanH 22:33, 7 June 2007 (EDT)

Ah, yes. Except the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is actually 54...

"Six by nine?"

"Forty-two?!"

"I always said there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe..." --Autofire 22:36, 7 June 2007 (EDT)

Freewill

The "God exists because there is freewill" argument can be challenged by quantum mechanics. While it is not necessary, even impossible, to describe fully in an article such as this, it should be pointed out that quantum mechanics, due to the uncertainty principal, allows for freewill without God. Ajkgordon 13:24, 21 September 2007 (EDT)

I don't know how the uncertainty principle allows for free will. It allows for randomness, which is certainly different from determinism, but how does randomness imply that beings can make free, deliberate choices? Ungtss 19:35, 21 September 2007 (EDT)
It's up for debate in physics. Before quantum mechanics, physicists claimed that it would be possible, in principal, if you knew all the parameters of every particle in the universe and had enough processing power, to calculate and predict the future - therefore no free will. However, since the advent of quantum mechanics, we now know that we can't know all the parameters of even one particle let alone all of them. Now, of course, our ignorance doesn't necessarily mean that these particles don't have a determined future. But most physicists now believe that the probability in quantum mechanics means that the universe is not deterministic even in principal and so the door remains open for free will as a fundamental aspect of the universe. But as I said, it's still debated. Ajkgordon 14:33, 24 September 2007 (EDT)
Agreed ... but I don't understand why the potential existence of random events implies that people have free will. If a choice I make is prompted by some random quantum event, it's not free -- it's partly random, and partly determined, but certainly no choice. For me to freely choose something, there must be something more than randomness and determinism ... there must be some force ... call it a soul ... that is at least somewhat free of physical causation and randomness, and chooses things ... Ungtss 15:36, 24 September 2007 (EDT)
This is a controversial topic. However, there are plenty of examples where science attempts to explain how quantum events are used by the brain or consciousness to make choices. This is different to simple randomness. As you say, randomness doesn't imply free will - it simply implies ignorance of measuring techniques or unpredictability. But ideas such as the Quantum Mind, while not a fully formed theory, is an example of how science attempts to classify free will as a natural phenomenon without the need for the supernatural or God. Some theologians have also postulated that natural free will must exist because God would design a natural universe with the capacity for free will - His Creation is, after all, perfect. While naturalistic free will might not be correct, it should be added to your otherwise excellent list of objections. Ajkgordon 08:18, 25 September 2007 (EDT)
Very interesting stuff -- thanks for bringing it to the fore. I read a little about Quantum Mind, and I can see how they attempt to use quantum thought to explain consciousness, but I still can't see how they use it to explain free will. I found an interesting article on it here ... http://www.cneuroscience.org/Topics/Will/Quantum_Free_Will.htm ... the authors had a similar reaction to mine:
"These theoretical physicists show a profound misunderstanding of what free will is. The human will is not a random action, dependent upon quantum uncertainty or a toss of a player's dice. It is the free choice of the human will, as it is determined by the intellect. It is a not a human will determined by the material causality of an instinctual nature. Rather, it is free (whence the term 'free' will) from material causality, and it finds its efficient causality in intellectual self-determination."
That being said, I think you're right, and arguments about a "naturalistic free will" should be there ... I'll take a stab at it ... Ungtss 10:04, 25 September 2007 (EDT)
I think my key word in all this would be "attempt". Science doesn't explain free will but there is much scientific conjecture that attempts to - Quantum Mind being but one. What they are doing, of course, is applying the scientific method to consciousness/mind/free will/etc. As the supernatural is outside the realm of science, the only method for investigation they have is the scientific one in the natural universe. Stepping out of that constraint brings science full circle when it used to be called natural philosophy! This means that science can't give us an answer on how (or even if) we have free will - at least not yet - just that the existence of free will doesn't prove the existence of God. Ajkgordon 12:02, 25 September 2007 (EDT)
I agree with you for the most part ... with one caveat: Your use of the phrase "scientific conjecture." You say science must stay within the constraint of the "natural universe." But I think there's another constraint on science we must take into account -- experiment:)! IMO, the "scientific conjecture" you mention above is an oxymoron. There is science, and there is conjecture, but there's no such thing as a scientific conjecture. A conjecture becomes science when we find a way to test the conjecture, and it passes the test -- and then it's not conjecture anymore -- it's falsifiable science. Before you can test a proposition, though, it remains only conjecture. Perhaps what you mean is materialistic conjecture ... meaning conjectures based solely on materialistic causes?
I say all this because I think it's important to recognize when "scientists" are out of the realm of science and in the realm of conjecture and philosophy ... where the credibility of "science" doesn't apply, because the rigors of experiment cannot be used and one guess is just as "unscientific" as the next one ... and anytime a scientist (or anyone else for that matter) tells you something he can't experimentally test, he's not acting like a scientist ... Ungtss 12:34, 25 September 2007 (EDT)
Yes, begging your pardon. I actually meant scientific hypothesis rather than conjecture. My bad. Ajkgordon 12:43, 25 September 2007 (EDT)
Fun conversation! Thanks for the interesting info on Quantum mind ... Ungtss 12:48, 25 September 2007 (EDT)
Indeed. I much prefer conversations like this with, ah, theists, than the "you'll burn in hell" ones I get sometimes. Ideology leaves little for discussion. Your intelligent approach - obviously better informed than mine - is refreshing. Ajkgordon 14:57, 25 September 2007 (EDT)
Flattered! Seems like when everybody's more interested in learning than in defending themselves, there's very little for anybody to argue about and everybody comes away with more than they arrived with:). Ungtss 17:05, 25 September 2007 (EDT)
Indeed again! Personally I find the last two arguments - free will and consciousness - rather weak. Arguments maybe but certainly not proofs in any meaningful sense. If used to debate with atheists, they can easily be refuted. It makes the case weaker except when there is no debate, i.e. among theists. My edit would be simply to delete those two sections as they detract from the whole article, but that might be controversial. Ajkgordon 08:43, 28 September 2007 (EDT)

Aristotle

Aristotle first of all does prove that an infinite chain of events is impossible. An infinite chain of events disagrees with science. Second of all the cosmological argument is compatible with the God of the Bible, unlike the other editor says, he/she must not be aware that Thomas Aquinas, Maimonides and others used it to argue that there is a God. -- 50 star flag.png Deborah (contributions) (talk) 20:23, 4 July 2008 (EDT)

Where does Aristotle prove that an infinite chain of events is impossible? The argument for the Unmoved Mover is in Metaphysics Lambda (ch. 7), but the claim against an infinite chain of contingent causal interactions is merely presupposed in ch. 6, never actually argued for. If I've missed something, by all means, point me to the source.
Furthermore, the claim is not that the entity posited by the various forms of the Cosmological Argument is incompatible with the Christian God, merely that the CA does not go far enough to prove that it is the Christian God. God certainly is non-contingent, existed at the beginning of the universe, and is sufficient to explain the universe, but those three properties do not add up to all that God is. NosnhoJE 20:33, 4 July 2008 (EDT)
Also, a note: Of course St. Thomas and many others have used the Cosmological Argument to demonstrate the existence of God. But those authors are fully aware that the Cosmological Argument by itself is not sufficient to prove that the First Cause is the Christian God. There's a lot more work to be done. That's all my edit is saying. NosnhoJE 20:36, 4 July 2008 (EDT)
Finally, what do you mean by "an infinite chain of events disagrees with science"? If you're going to go to the Big Bang, remember that all science says is that scientific inquiry can't look farther back than that. NosnhoJE 20:38, 4 July 2008 (EDT)
Science says that entropy increases over time. This itself rules out an infinite chain of events.
Also, your edit that the Big Bang somehow replaces the need for God doesn't, because you then have the question of what caused the Big Bang.
Philip J. Rayment 12:07, 5 July 2008 (EDT)
Well, more accurately, science says that entropy increases over time in a closed system. But this still does not rule out an infinite chain of events: even in a closed system, it's just the case that eventually, any events which happen will be pretty boring, since they'll just be the static almost-but-not-quite-absolute-zero distribution of matter through space.
In re: the Big Bang. Remember that the Kalam formulation of the Cosmological Argument says that anything which begins to exist must have a cause. The Big Bang is an event, not an object. So as it stands, the Kalam argument is inadequate. You are correct, of course, in saying that if it were changed to admit events as well as objects, the Big Bang would need an explanation, but as it is presented (and as it is presented in the given source, Craig's book), this objection stands. This is why I said "further development is possible". NosnhoJE 14:45, 5 July 2008 (EDT)
So... do you have any further objection to the inclusion of my edits? For your reference, the last edit you reverted actually raises a classic problem for omniscience. There are a few ways out, but the problem is worth noting in an article on this topic. The argument goes like this:
  • If any subject S knows some proposition p, then p is true.
  • An omniscient being knows everything, including the proposition "Philip will have X for lunch tomorrow", where X is whatever you'll actually have for lunch. Let's call it a sandwich.
  • So it's true that you'll have a sandwich for lunch tomorrow.
  • But if it's true that you'll have a sandwich for lunch tomorrow, then you cannot choose to have, say, a slice of pizza for lunch tomorrow.
This argument seems to show that omniscience (or, at least, knowledge of the future choices of agents) is incompatible with genuine libertarian free will. The most effective response is probably the Leibnizian theodicy, which you can find in sections 13 and 30 of his Discourse on Metaphysics, because that defense also works (as you might guess) against the problem of evil.
If I don't hear from you in the next couple of days, I'll assume you've moved on to other discussions and go back to work here. NosnhoJE 21:32, 6 July 2008 (EDT)
"...science says that entropy increases over time in a closed system": Which the universe is.
Unless God exists. Or unless the Universe is cyclical (a proposition which is not ruled out by any current science) NosnhoJE 03:47, 7 July 2008 (EDT)
"But this still does not rule out an infinite chain of events: even in a closed system, it's just the case that eventually, any events which happen will be pretty boring, since they'll just be the static almost-but-not-quite-absolute-zero distribution of matter through space": First, an infinite chain of events sounds pretty much like a perpetual motion machine, which is one of the very things that the laws of thermodynamics does rule out. Second, we are not talking about almost-nothing events, but enormous, universe-creating events.
No, we are talking about events simpliciter. Nothing in science anywhere rules out an infinite sequence of events. These are meant to be arguments which do not depends on the facts of observation; if they were, they would be vastly weaker in every sense. I am sure you are aware of the difficulties here. NosnhoJE 03:47, 7 July 2008 (EDT)
"...the Kalam formulation of the Cosmological Argument says that anything which begins to exist must have a cause. The Big Bang is an event, not an object.": Regardless of what a particular formulation of an argument says, events need causes also.
Hmm... Really? Because according to our best science, individual atomic decay events lack causes. That is to say: Consider, say, an individual atom of U-235. There is a 50% chance that that very atom will decay within some millions of years (2.06 times 10 to the 6, if I recall correctly). When that atom decays, if its decay was not caused by neutron capture in a nuclear reactor (or other device), there is quite literally no reason whatever for its decay at that moment. This is good reason to believe that not all events have causes. If you want to expand on the classical Principle of Sufficient Reason to admit events, you are stuck with things like, "God caused Atom #147 to decay at 12:35 PM CST on 8 July 2008". If you're forced to say that God causes all events, you're a Malebranchian -- not that this is a bad thing, but it's something you'll have to deal with. NosnhoJE 03:47, 7 July 2008 (EDT)
There is a fallacy in your argument about knowledge of the future. What your argument amounts to is the following:
  • If any subject S knows some proposition p, then p is true.
  • An omniscient being knows everything, including the proposition "Philip will choose to have X for lunch tomorrow", where X is whatever you'll actually have for lunch. Let's call it a sandwich.
  • So it's true that I'll choose to have a sandwich for lunch tomorrow.
  • But if it's true that I'll choose to have a sandwich for lunch tomorrow, then I cannot choose to have, say, a slice of pizza for lunch tomorrow.
So the argument is really that in choosing X I cannot choose Y (where X and Y are mutually exclusive). Which is basic logic, not an argument against omniscience.
As for your edits, I wasn't objecting to them in toto, simply because I hadn't thought them through. Rather, I was responding to one point of the argument. If the Big Bang replaces God as the direct cause of the universe, but God is needed for the Big Bang, it's disingenuous to say that "if the Universe was caused to exist by the Big Bang, there is no need to suppose a Divine cause". And that was my point: proposing the Big Bang is insufficient reason to say that a Divine cause is not required. It just removes the Divine cause one step.
Philip J. Rayment 03:12, 7 July 2008 (EDT)
Not exactly. The argument is that, if it is known that you will choose X, then you could not choose Y. It's not an argument against omniscience at all -- it's an argument against the compatibility of omniscience with free will. As I said above, there are various ways around it -- I personally prefer the Leibnizian theodicy -- but it's still a problem that has to be dealt with by anyone who believes in both libertarian free will and an omniscient being. NosnhoJE 03:26, 7 July 2008 (EDT)
And, I should say, you are completely correct. Supposing that the Big Bang caused the Universe just removes the Divine by one step. The point is: that is a step not taken by the Kalam argument; and so the Kalam argument as presented in its most sophisticated form to date is not able to deal with this problem. This is meant to be an encyclopedia; as such it behooves us to deal with only those arguments which have actually been presented in, say, print. The Kalam argument is not sophisticated enough in any current form to deal with the objection I have presented. William Craig (in personal correspondence) has admitted as much, and within the next few years I do not doubt that we will see an updated version of the argument. The problem is a sticky one: if we admit events into our ontology, we are stuck with (in various areas) some seriously unpalatable results. Craig is more than aware of this (see his piece in Pojman and Rea's Philosophy of Religion anthology). NosnhoJE 03:30, 7 July 2008 (EDT)

Going back to the big bang, I asked a pyschicist and he said the universe has an age, the only people who try to claim the universe has existed forever are some atheists, but that most atheists agree with the big bang. -- 50 star flag.png Deborah (contributions) (talk) 23:56, 6 July 2008 (EDT)

I fail to see how this is relevant to the arguments at hand. The question is not: "How old is the Universe?"; the question is: "How old could the Universe be?". Since we are making logical arguments here, rather than empirical claims, what some atheists believe or what some theists believe is utterly irrelevant. To which physicist did you speak? At best, that person seems to be misunderstanding the question.
If you want to get into a credentials fight, I promise I'll win. I would, of course, prefer to win this debate on the merits, but I realize that this is not always possible on the Internet, where I don't have the power to flunk people who aren't paying attention. NosnhoJE 03:26, 7 July 2008 (EDT)

Cosmological Arguments

Although the cosmological arguments make some sense, they don't really imply the Christian God, or really any specific sort of god, merely a god. Deism, along with all sorts of other theisms, and even agnosticism, is still compatible with these arguments. I'm not sure how or even if the page should reflect this, but they're not terribly good arguments.

I personally feel the other arguments, as well as apologeticism in general, are false, but at least arguable, and they do prove some manner of "Christian-like" God in that they prove the existence of anything. Plus, they all have very nice objections/counterpoints. However, the cosmological arguments are just... inadequate. Nobody really uses them for proofs of God, just "a god." Zastem 14:43, 9 November 2008 (EST)

The arguments were not meant to be of the Christian God in particular, but admittedly that wasn't clear, so I've added some explanation to the article. Many arguments against God's existence are against any god, not specifically the Christian God, so arguing the basic position that some sort of God must exist is a legitimate first step. Philip J. Rayment 20:27, 9 November 2008 (EST)
Mmkay. Still feel they're... well, to be honest, there've been a few times where an apologist used a version of one of these as "one of the many ways" God can be proven, and it always especially irks me. Actually, you can apply that to all of these, pretty much - you can get a "God" that's very unlike the God of the Bible from even the strongest of these arguments. But yeah, clarifying section. Nifty. Zastem 23:45, 9 November 2008 (EST)
Also to be clear, because I think I'm guessing I may have been a little disjointed with my comments: It's fine, thanks for the addition/change. Zastem 18:49, 10 November 2008 (EST)

The problem with cosmological arguments seems to me that one can assume the universe is eternally, and doens't require a cause. Ckikilwai 18:58, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

One can "assume" whatever he likes; but not all assumptions are true. The assumption that the universe existed eternally is utterly false. Not even atheistic scientists believe in that assumption.--Andy Schlafly 19:33, 14 June 2009 (EDT)

Unless I am misunderstanding some premises of the Kalam argument, it doesn't seem to actually argue the existence of any god whatsoever. Rather, it argues that the universe has a cause. Now, this can certainly be extended to argue that there exists a god, but an additional premise must be added that "a god is defined as the creator of the universe". Dekarrin 19:09, 30 July 2011 (EDT)

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