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God. A Priori Arguments. Classical Theism. Classical conception of God: God is Omnipotent Omnipresent Omniscient Eternal Transcendent Compassionate. Dissident conceptions. Via negativa-- the “negative way” We can only what God is not Deism

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God

God

A Priori Arguments


Classical theism

Classical Theism

  • Classical conception of God: God is

    • Omnipotent

    • Omnipresent

    • Omniscient

    • Eternal

    • Transcendent

    • Compassionate


Dissident conceptions

Dissident conceptions

  • Via negativa-- the “negative way”

    • We can only what God is not

  • Deism

    • God created the world, but has no further interaction with it; no miracles

  • Pantheism

    • God is everything

  • Panentheism

    • God includes everything


Argument from thought

Argument from Thought

  • Where do we get our concept of God?

  • It’s the concept of something perfect

  • We never experience perfection

  • So, the concept of God is innate

  • It must come from something perfect

  • So, God must exist


Descartes s premise

Descartes’s Premise

  • “Now it is manifest by the natural light that there must at least be as much reality in the efficient and total cause as in its effect. For, pray, whence can the effect derive its reality, if not from its cause? And in what way can this cause communicate this reality to it, unless it possessed it in itself? And from this it follows, not only that something cannot proceed from nothing, but likewise that what is more perfect -- that is to say, which has more reality within itself -- cannot proceed from the less perfect.”


Descartes s argument

Descartes’s Argument

  • The cause of the idea of X must have at least as much reality as X

    • We get the idea of fire from fire

    • We get the idea of red from red things

  • The cause of our idea of God must have at least as much reality as God

  • Only God has as much reality as God

  • So, our idea of God must come from God


The ontological argument

The Ontological Argument

  • Augustine: God is “something than which nothing more excellent or sublime exists”

  • Anselm (1033-1109): God is “that the greater than which cannot be conceived”-- the greatest conceivable being


Anselm s argument

Anselm’s Argument

  • “Even the Fool ... is forced to agree that something, the greater than which cannot be thought, exists in the intellect, since he understands this when he hears it, and whatever is understood is in the intellect. And surely that, the greater than which cannot be thought, cannot exist in the intellect alone. For if it exists solely in the intellect, it can be thought to exist in reality, which is greater. If, then, that, the greater than which cannot be thought, exists in the intellect alone, this same being, than which a greater cannot be thought, is that than which a greater can be thought. But surely this is impossible. Therefore, there can be absolutely no doubt that something, the greater than which cannot be thought, exists both in the intellect and in reality.”


Anselm in outline

Anselm in outline

  • Suppose you could conceive of God’s nonexistence

  • Then you could think of something greater than God-- something just like God, but existing

  • But nothing can be conceived as greater than God

  • So, God’s nonexistence is inconceivable


Descartes s ontological argument

Descartes’s Ontological Argument

  • God has all perfections

  • Existence is a perfection

  • So, God has existence


A posteriori arguments

A Posteriori Arguments


The cosmological argument

The Cosmological Argument

  • Aristotle: God is the prime mover of the universe

  • Udayana (1000):

    • “1. Argument from effectsThings like the earth must have a cause.Because they are effects.Like a pot.”


Aquinas s argument

Aquinas’s Argument

  • “The second way is based on the nature of causation. In the observable world, causes are to be found ordered in series; we never observe, or even could observe, something causing itself, for this would mean it preceded itself, and this is impossible. Such a series of causes, however, must stop somewhere. For in all series of causes, an earlier member causes an intermediate, and the intermediate a last (whether the intermediate be one or many). If you eliminate a cause you also eliminate its effects. Therefore there can be neither a last nor an intermediate cause unless there is a first. But if the series of causes goes on to infinity, and there is no first cause, there would be neither intermediate causes nor a final effect, which is patently false. It is therefore necessary to posit a first cause, which all call 'God'.”


Aquinas s argument1

Aquinas’s Argument

  • Let a be the current state of the world

  • It was caused, as was its cause, etc.

  • . . . <— e <— d <— c <— b <— a

  • This can’t go on to infinity, or we’d never have reached a

  • So, there must be a first cause, God

  • God <— . . . <— c <— b <— a


Avicenna s argument

Avicenna’s Argument

  • Contingent: has a reason for its being

  • Necessary: has no reason for its being

  • God = the necessary being


Avicenna s argument1

Avicenna’s Argument

  • Suppose there were no necessary being

  • Everything, including the current state of the world, a, would be contingent

  • There would be an infinite series:

  • . . . . <— e <— d <— c <— b <—a

  • But then the conditions for a’s existence would never be satisfied

  • So, there is a necessary being, God


Al ghazali s objections

Al-Ghazali’s Objections

  • Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), The Incoherence of the Philosophers: scepticism

  • Why not an infinite regress of reasons or causes?


Infinite regress

Infinite Regress

  • It’s not self-evident that the world could not extend back infinitely far

  • Plato, Aristotle, al-Farabi, and Avicenna thought of some things other than God as eternal

  • Is there an argument?


A possible argument

A Possible Argument

  • Imagine the series

  • . . . . <— b <— a

  • It would have to be necessary or contingent

  • It consists of contingent beings, so it can’t be necessary

  • But it doesn’t depend on anything outside itself


Al ghazali s reply

Al-Ghazali’s Reply

  • But the series could be necessary, even though every event in it is contingent


Averroes

Averroes

  • Averroes (ibn Rushd, 1126-1198)

  • Harmonizes religion and philosophy, and refutes al-Ghazali, in The Incoherence of the Incoherence


Two kinds of causes

Two Kinds of Causes

  • Efficient cause: once caused, result is independent of cause

  • Dependence: result continues to depend on cause— cause and effect are inseparable


Contingent necessary

‘Contingent’, ‘Necessary’

  • Ambiguous

  • Contingent = having an efficient cause = having a causal explanation OR

  • Contingent = depending on something else

  • Necessary = having no causal explanation OR

  • Necessary = independent, self-sufficient


Averroes s argument

Averroes’s Argument

  • The world of efficient causes:

  • . . . <— c <— b <— a

    |

    G1

    |

    G2

    |

    God


Leibniz 1646 1716

Leibniz (1646-1716)

  • Principle of Sufficient Reason: “Nothing happens without a sufficient reason.”

  • So the universe— the series of contingent causes— must have a sufficient reason for its existence:

  • Something which is its own sufficient reason for existing: God


Aquinas s design argument

Aquinas’s Design Argument

  • All bodies obey natural laws.

  • All bodies obeying natural laws act toward an end.

  • Therefore, all bodies act toward an end. (Including those that lack awareness.)

  • Things lacking awareness act toward a goal only under the direction of someone aware and intelligent.

  • Therefore, all things lacking awareness act under the direction of someone aware and intelligent: God


Aquinas s design argument1

Aquinas’s Design Argument

  • All things lacking awareness act under the direction of someone aware and intelligent.

  • The universe as a whole lacks awareness.

  • Therefore, the universe as a whole acts under the direction of someone aware and intelligent- namely, God.


William paley 1743 1805

William Paley (1743-1805)

  • Suppose you find a watch

    • Intricate

    • Successful

  • You’d infer that it had an intelligent maker

  • Similarly, you find the universe

    • Intricate

    • Successful

  • You shoud infer it had an intelligent maker, God


Hume s criticisms

Hume’s Criticisms

  • Analogy isn’t strong

  • Universe may be self-organizing

  • Taking analogy seriously:

    • God not infinite

    • God not perfect

      • Difficulties in nature

      • Can’t compare to other universes

      • Maybe earlier, botched universes

      • Maybe made by committee

  • Why machine, rather than animal or vegetable?


Hume s scepticism

Hume’s Scepticism

  • Variability: Many hypotheses are possible

  • Undecidability: We have no evidence that would let us select the most probable

  • So, we cannot establish God’s existence


Blaise pascal 1623 1662

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

  • Does God exist?

  • Place your bet

  • Total uncertainty— no data

  • What should you do?


Pascal s wager

Pascal’s Wager

  • “Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.”


Pascal s wager1

Pascal’s Wager

  • You believeYou don’t believe

  • God Heaven Hell

  • No God VirtueNothing

  • A bet on God can’t lose; a bet against God can’t win


Kant s moral argument

Kant’s Moral Argument

  • We can’t prove God’s existence rationally

  • But we can’t live and act except by assuming that God exists

  • Bad things happen to good people; the wicked prosper

  • Why, then, be good?


Kant s moral argument1

Kant’s Moral Argument

  • It’s rational to be moral only if it’s rewarded

  • That doesn’t happen in this life

  • It must happen in another life

  • There must be an afterlife, and a just God


The problem of evil

The Problem of Evil

  • If God exists, He is all good, all knowing, and all powerful

  • If He is all good, He is willing to prevent evil

  • If He is all knowing, He knows how to prevent it

  • If He is all powerful, He can prevent it

  • But evil exists

  • So, God does not exist


Augustine general providence

Augustine: General Providence

  • We must judge universe as a whole, not part by part

  • Analogy: the best life is not one with no adversity, but with adversity overcome

  • It is good that there is some evil

  • General providence of God: system of natural law underlies everything good


Augustine evil as privation

Augustine: Evil as privation

  • Plotinus (204-270): Evil is not a thing; it is the absence of good

  • God didn’t create evil; he simply created things with differing degrees of goodness

  • But that variety is itself good

  • Whatever is, is good


Augustine corruptibility

Augustine: Corruptibility

  • Only God is perfect

  • To create, God had to create things that were imperfect, corruptible

  • Humans in particular are corruptible

  • We have the freedom to choose evil


Augustine free will

Augustine: Free Will

  • Free will can’t explain natural evils

  • Punishment for original sin?

  • Who gave us the capacity and sometime inclination to do wrong? God

  • In the end, the problem is insoluble

  • We cannot understand God


Possible solutions

Possible Solutions

God

Form

Building

Origen

Man

Matter

Philo

Plato Gnostics Mani Avicenna

Plotinus Augustine Hinduism

Evil


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