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Arguments for the Existence of God

Let’s cover some of the classic and not so classic arguments for the existence of God. There are lots of them, and as we find new ones, I’ll add them to the list below.

We understand that no logical argument or proof is that important to someone who has put his or her faith in Jesus Christ. Such a person is well beyond the need for physical-based proof, but knowing the information presented here can give one the knowledge needed to counsel others who aren't as strong in faith, and the arguments are great ammunition for defeating the onslaughts of atheists who constantly try to convince others that God doesn’t exist.

Keep in mind that this list is currently in work, and this page is a work-in-progress. I've listed several arguments and will provide information on them as I get it and time permits. However, any argument listed below can be searched via Google, and I encourage everyone to delve into the ones that mean the most to you in order to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Who knows, you may find a way to improve that argument, or you may invent a new one. So, let's take a look. You can click on a title to go directly to the argument, or just scroll down through them.

Index of Arguments

Cosmological Argument

Teleological Argument

Ontological Argument

Existence Requires Observation

Argument from Non-Neurological Consciousness

Moral Argument

Fire in the Equations

Anthropic Principle

Argument from Instincts

Argument from Elegance

Argument from Something Rather than Nothing

Argument from Knowledge of Infinity

Argument from the Impossibility of Nothing

Lack of Atheistic Argument

Argument from Desire

Veridican Argument for the Existence of God


Cosmological Argument


Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 A.D.) put forward the most famous version of this argument, even though it most likely had its origin with Plato and Aristotle. Nevertheless, a concise form of this argument goes like this:

Every finite and contingent thing has a cause.

Finite means existing in time, and contingent means something that does exist, but doesn’t have to exist. In other words, an elephant is both finite and contingent. It exists in time, and it doesn’t necessarily have to exist. It’s possible for it not to exist.

Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.

Notice that everything you see around you has a prior cause for its existence. A coffee cup didn’t just pop into existence by itself out of nothing. Something, or more likely someone, made it. So, it has a cause outside itself. It doesn’t cause it’s own existence.

A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.

Take the same coffee cup and start thinking about the chain of causes that lead up to its existence. If you imagine that there are an infinite number of causes going all the way back for eternity, then the cup would never come into existence. It would be impossible given the definition of “infinite” A never-ending chain of causes can’t result in anything because it never ends. The idea of a “infinite regression of causes” is considered an “absurdity.”

The universe is finite and contingent, therefore it must have a cause for its beginning.

For the centuries that this argument has been around, no one knew for sure that the universe had a beginning, but they knew it existed in time, and they knew it wasn’t a logical necessity. Now we know, by the overwhelming evidence of the Big Bang, that the universe for certain had a beginning. So this premise of the argument is pretty much a given these days, even though there used to be all kinds of logical arguments to prove it in the past before we had the astronomical proof.

The ultimate cause of the universe, itself, cannot have a cause, and must have a necessary existence. This necessary cause we call God.

The ultimate cause of the universe can’t have a cause, otherwise you eventually end up with an infinite regress of causes, and that’s absurd. That means the entity that caused the universe must be necessary. In other words, it can’t not exist and it was never caused.

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Teleological Argument

The most famous statement of this teleological argument using the watchmaker analogy was given by William Paley in his 1802 book Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity.

If there’s order in a system, it implies an intelligent designer of that order.

The universe is orderly; therefore, something with intelligence must have designed it.

This intelligent designer of the universe could only be God.

For instance, if you find a wristwatch on a beach, you don't consider it a chance collection of metals, glass and jewels; you automatically infer that someone designed and built it. Therefore, when we see the complex order of the universe, we infer that only God could have made it.

This argument is often called the “Divine Watchmaker” argument.

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Ontological Argument

Saint Anselm was a Benedictine monk, Archbishop of Canterbury, and one of the great medieval philosophers. He lived in the 11th Century and invented this argument. Basically, it goes like this:

We have an idea of an infinite and perfect being than which no greater can be conceived. But such a being, in order to be perfect, must also exist. If this being did not have existence as part of its perfection then we would conceive of an even greater being that did. Therefore God exists. In other words, because we have a notion of God, there must actually be a God.

This argument only applies to "that than which no greater can be conceived," so it doesn’t apply to perfect unicorns or perfect Santa Clauses, as atheists often try to stipulate; it only applies to our conception of God.

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Existence Requires Observation

This is an argument put forward by Bishop George Berkeley in the 1700's. It states that everything in the universe is made up of elements that only exist to a conscious mind. Without a conscious mind, nothing exists. The universe is made up of elements that require conscious observation; therefore, something conscious must be observing it at all times or it wouldn’t exist. The universe exists; therefore, God exists. A thought experiment along these lines goes something like this:

Imagine you’re holding an apple in your hand, and one by one you take away all the aspects of it that require consciousness. You make it invisible so it can’t be seen; you take away it’s firmness and weight so it can’t be felt; you take away it’s odor so it can’t be smelled; you mute it in some way so that it can’t be heard if you flick it or drop it. Now, on top of all that, you stop thinking about it altogether. What is left of the apple? Hasn't it, in fact, become equal to nothing?

Now, try this: Imagine you and the apple are the only two things that exist. Only you and the apple are floating in a black void. No stars, no planets, nothing—just you and the apple. Not even God exists, just you and the apple. What happens then if you die? What happens to the apple? If you think it's just floating around without you, then you must still be alive because you're still thinking about it. The existence of the apple is not even logical without you there to observe it.

Now, we know that the universe had to exist before there was any living thing in it, but it couldn't have existed without conscious observation, just the same as the apple couldn’t. Therefore, there had to be a consciousness that observed the universe during its creation. What else could such a consciousness be except for God?

And not only did God have to be in place before the creation of the universe, God has to constantly observe the universe, otherwise the vast majority of it which is not observed by any living thing would simply cease to be.

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Argument from Non-Neurological Consciousness

This argument, created by Edward Jerome Gordon, comes from observations he made of protozoa (namely paramecium) while studying them through a microscope in 2002. It goes like this:

If one examines a drop of pond water under a microscope, they will observe many types of algae and protozoa. One of these protozoa is called a paramecium caudatum. It's a single-celled, ciliated creature that swims around in its aqueous environment. It’s the most common form of protozoa found in fresh water.

If one watches P. caudatum for more than a few seconds, one will notice a startling fact: the paramecia display behaviors that are unquestionably brought about by a conscious will. They swim and look for food in one algae patch, turn around and swim to another and look for food there, swim all the way across the drop and look for food there; they investigate this or that structure, and then swim all the way back to where they started.

None of this is particularly startling, until you realize these protozoa have no brain or nervous system of any kind. Their entire single-cell structure is nothing more than proteins, DNA, and maybe a few chemical enzymes. There's nothing in their structure that can account for their undeniable conscious will.

In addition, these paramecium have demonstrated the ability to be trained using discrimination learning. Which means they possess memory. See the research done by Harvard L. Armus, Amber R. Montgomery, and Jenny L. Jellison of the University of Toledo.


Click here to read their paper entitled: Discrimination Learning in Paramecia (P. caudatum).

Unless you subscribe to magic, the only place such a will can come from is the very mind of the Creator of the universe, Himself. Just as the background radiation of the universe is undeniable evidence of the Big Bang, so too is the consciousness of paramecia undeniable evidence of a present and conscious non-physical mind. Since all paramecia are contingent, this non-physical mind must have its genesis in an even greater non-physical mind. We call that mind, God.

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Moral Argument

There are many versions of the “Moral Argument.” C.S. Lewis is probably one of the most famous champions of this argument. Nevertheless, all the versions go basically like this:

We have an innate sense of moral perfection.

Morality consists of a set of commands.

Commands must come from a commander.

Our sense of moral perfection must come from a perfect commander.

That perfect commander can only be God.

No matter how much a person tries to make morality relative, they are unable to do so, since even the command: “morality should be considered relative” is in itself a moral command. We know that there is a moral perfection, and that knowledge is a direct knowledge of God’s character.

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Fire in the Equations

I'm not sure who the author of this one is, but it's fairly new. If anyone knows the author, please e-mail me (Ed Gordon) at Christian Cross Talk, and let me know. Basically, here's the argument in a nutshell:

Naturalism assumes cause and effect.

The laws of physics govern cause and effect.

The laws of physics must have an organizing principal.

Mind is the only example of an organizing principal.

An organizing principal based upon mind that results in the laws of physics is called God.

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Anthropic Principle

Here is a description of the anthropic argument, which is a more specific form of the teleological argument. This comes from a post at:

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/rossuk/c-anthro.htm

The Anthropic Principle was first suggested in a 1973 paper by the astrophysicist and cosmologist, Brandon Carter from Cambridge University, at a conference held in Poland to celebrate the 500th birthday of the father of modern astronomy, Nicolaus Copernicus.

The Anthropic Principle is an attempt to explain the observed fact that the fundamental constants of physics and chemistry are just right or fine-tuned to allow the universe and life as we know it to exist. The Anthropic Principle says that the seemingly arbitrary and unrelated constants in physics have one strange thing in common—these are precisely the values you need if you want to have a universe capable of producing life. The universe gives the appearance that it was designed to support life on earth.

Consider some of the following facts:

Gravity is roughly 1039 times weaker than electromagnetism. If gravity had been 1033 times weaker than electromagnetism, "stars would be a billion times less massive and would burn a million times faster."

The nuclear weak force is 1028 times the strength of gravity. Had the weak force been slightly weaker, all the hydrogen in the universe would have been turned to helium (making water impossible, for example).

A stronger nuclear strong force (by as little as 2 percent) would have prevented the formation of protons—yielding a universe without atoms. Decreasing it by 5 percent would have given us a universe without stars.

If the difference in mass between a proton and a neutron were not exactly as it is--roughly twice the mass of an electron—then all neutrons would have become protons or vice versa. Say good-bye to chemistry as we know it--and to life.

The very nature of water—so vital to life—is something of a mystery (a point noticed by one of the forerunners of anthropic reasoning in the nineteenth century, Harvard biologist Lawrence Henderson). Unique amongst the molecules, water is lighter in its solid than liquid form: Ice floats. If it did not, the oceans would freeze from the bottom up and earth would now be covered with solid ice. This property in turn is traceable to the unique properties of the hydrogen atom.

The synthesis of carbon—the vital core of all organic molecules—on a significant scale involves what scientists view as an astonishing coincidence in the ratio of the strong force to electromagnetism. This ratio makes it possible for carbon-12 to reach an excited state of exactly 7.65 MeV at the temperature typical of the center of stars, which creates a resonance involving helium-4, beryllium-8, and carbon-12--allowing the necessary binding to take place during a tiny window of opportunity 10-17 seconds long.

Taken from God the Evidence by Patrick Glynn The fact that we are living and can observe the universe, implies that the fundamental constants must be "just right" to produce life. There is an element of circular reasoning here, because if the constants were not "just right", we would not be here to observe the universe. However, the fact is that the universe does not seem to be a random or chance event. We can postulate a many universe scenario, in which only one or some universes produce life, but we cannot validate that scientifically because we only live in one of those universes.

Argument From Instincts

Where do birds learn how to build nests? How is it that bees know exactly what to do for the hive from their very birth? Where do instincts come from? Think about it: an instinct is not like a reflex, an instinct is knowledge that doesn’t come from learning, but it is knowledge contained at birth.

Even if this knowledge is stored in the chromosomes, which is probably asking too much from an organic molecule, who wrote the software for it?

Because instincts exist, there has to be a Creator, and that Creator must be an intelligent, conscious being, or there wouldn’t be any instincts in animals at all.

Argument From Elegance

Ockham’s Razor suggests that given two possible solutions to a problem, selecting the one that is simplest is to be preferred. By simple, William of Ockham in the 14th Century meant, the most elegant. That is the one that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities.

God, as a necessary being that is uncaused and eternal is the simplest possible cause of the universe. No explanation is needed for his existence, because His existence is necessary.

On the contrary, suggesting the universe began by a singularity and an explosion of that singularity, means we have to keep coming up with causes for the singularity and it’s preceeding causes. We have to explain why there is a singularity as compared to no singularity.

Without God, the creation and existence of the universe is extremely complicated to explain.

Argument From Something Rather Than Nothing

Atheists will have a hard time with this one, because it represents the limit of what they can know and yet it demands an answer, an answer only a theologian can provide.

Why should there be something rather than nothing? Think of the universe before it began: if all that existed was a void, why should it ever stop being a void?

For the atheist, there simply is no reason or answer. Thus for them, the world is essentially without meaning or the possibility of meaning, but that is absurd.

The thing that stirred the void must have had will, intent and capability and must contain within itself its own reason for existence. Such an entity we call God.

 

Argument From Knowledge of Infinity

Infinity, though understood by everyone, is necessarily a spiritual concept. There is nothing in nature that is infinite.

To say the singularity at the heart of the big bang was matter of infinite density and zero volume is tantamount to saying it was an attribute of God.

When it comes to things that are eternal, perfect, zero, chaotic, and infinite, they are no different than things that are omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. These are God-terms, and yet we understand them to be real.

This knowledge of infinity, which no other animal seems to possess, is proof that we hold a concept of God. This argument might also be considered a precursor to Anselm’s Ontological Argument, because he assumes we have an idea of an infinite and perfect being than which no greater can be conceived.

The Argument from the Impossibility of Nothing

Nothing cannot exist.

Contingent substances must have a predicate.

The ultimate predicate must have a necessarily eternal existence (see 1).

That ultimate predicate we call, God.

Because nothing cannot exist, and because the universe is contingent, we cannot believe that there is not an eternal pre-existing predicate. This cosmological argument is unique only in that it posits the impossibility of nothing.

What do you think? Can you defeat this argument and keep your atheism intact?

Lack of Atheistic Argument

Because by definition, God is an eternal being and is not contingent and contains as attributes the definitions of perfections, God either must exist, or cannot possibly exist. There is no agnostic position. There is no scale of possibility in which a rational belief can be based. God, by definition, must exist, or else God, by definition, must be impossible.

Since God is either necessary or impossible, this should be provable, at least by a logical argument. But there are no atheistic arguments against the existence of God. Therefore, if a person proposes an idea, but has no argument for that idea, that person is not rational. The atheistic position is not rational.

Argument from Desire

Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire, but there exists in us a desire, which nothing in time, nothing on earth, and no creature can satisfy. Therefore, there must exist something more than time, earth, and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.

There are innate desires (food, air, water, sex, sleep, knowledge, Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs) and artificial, externally conditioned desires (cars, political office, flying through the air like Superman). Innate desires are the ones we feel a corresponding state of deprivation should we not have them. Artificial desires don’t have a corresponding state of deprivation attached to them.

One of the innate needs is the constant desire for more, the absolute lack of satisfaction we feel, no matter how satiated we are with whatever we have. The “more” is actually infinitely more. The more is X. And we constantly desire it.

This argument does not so much give us a particular brand of God as it proves that we are pulled down an infinitely long corridor that can only end in God. Only God can satisfy our constant craving. That craving is innate, and in every single instance we find that innate desires also have a corresponding object in reality.

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find n myself a desire, which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. –C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, “Hope”)

Veridican Argument for the Existence of God

The first thing you must do is define what God is, because if you go looking for a false notion of God, you won't find it. A false-God truly does not exist, so there is no proof of it.

One must get past the belief of (and the need for) a God that is like a human figure of a man sitting on a large throne in an astral place called heaven. Certainly, God could appear that way in a "vision" but that vision would be completely subjective to the one having it--just like a burning bush was to Moses (presumably).

For this argument, it is assumed that God is a monistic entity. That means He is the only thing that is real and all other things that seem to exist are modalities of his substance. Do not confuse this with pantheism. Pantheism states that God is the universe. Monism states that the universe comes from the substance of God. Monistically speaking, the universe is God, but God is not just the universe. God is that which is the only real thing that exists, that has ever existed, that will always exist.

Secondly, don't go looking for a physical sign of God's existence. It doesn't work that way. If God exists as the monistic entity, then God necessarily is of a higher order of existence than the physical world--thus proof is going to have to be of a higher order, because the "physical" proof of God is, after all, the entire physical universe. To ask for physical proof of God is like standing in a hundred acres of trees and asking for proof of the forest.

The next step is to move your thoughts to that higher order of thinking. Contemplate "nothingness." By that I mean true nothingness. Imagine nothing exists--not even you as the imaginer of it. This can't be done ordinarily, of course, which is why you must use higher thought to envision it, like when we try to imagine a fourth dimension or space-time. Chances are, as you contemplate it, you will only glimpse it in your mind. But that will be enough to follow this argument.

Therefore:

Axiom #1: Nothingness is an eternal state.

If there is a state of nothingness, there will always be and has always been a state of nothingness. To imagine something popping into existence from nothingness requires "magical thinking," which isn't rational, but even if it were rational, then true nothingness would not have existed in the first place--there would have always been the magic that pops something into existence. If there was ever nothingness--there would still only be nothingness.

Axiom #2: Something exists.

The universe with all its forces and matter exists.

Axiom #3: If something exists, then something has always existed.

For if there was a time when there was nothing before there was something, then nothingness would still exist, because nothingness is necessarily eternal (see axiom #1).

Axiom #4: If something exists, it is the only thing that has ever existed.

For if there were two things wholly separate from one another, then between those two things would be nothing--and if nothingness exists anywhere at any time, it is eternal.

Axiom #5: Something and nothing cannot exist together.

Either there is one thing that has always existed, or there is nothingness that has always existed. And if there is a state of nothingness of any size or shape, then it existed before something. For once something exists, it is the only thing that exists. Keep in mind that "something" does not float in a sea of "nothingness" There is no "outside" of the universe. There is not that which exists and that which does not exist. There is only one or the other, and as we know, there is something that exists (Axiom #2).

Axiom #6: The one thing that exists has consciousness as an attribute.

It may have many other attributes as well. It may have infinite attributes or at least all the attributes that can exist. But one of those attributes is consciousness. We know this because we are conscious, and we are necessarily part of the one thing that exists.

Conclusion:

If nothingness was ever a state of being, it would have never changed from that. Because something does exist, it is the one thing that does exist and must have always existed. That one substance that exists is minimally a conscious entity. Therefore, the one thing that has existed eternally and is conscious is what we call God.

NOTE: This argument was originally created by Edward Jerome Gordon on October 10, 2018.


 

 

Here's a list of more to come, so keep checking back:

From Religious Instinct
From Religious a priori
From Mystical experience
Thomas Reid Argument
Argument from the Sublime
Existential Argument
Feeling of Utter Dependence
Hartshorne's Modal Argument (ontological)
From Perfection
Plantinga's Possible Worlds
Transcendental Signifier
Tillich's Ground of Being revised version
Metacrock's Version of Ground of Being revised version
Garrett's Argument from Logical Necessity
Argument from Moral Judgment and Abstract Values
Argument From Temporal Beginning
Rejection of Universal Skepticism
Hick's Argument from Personal Origin
Materialism Vanishes (2 pages)
Argument from Arbitrary necessity
Modes of being
Cumulative Case