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DOES GOD EXIST?. In asking, “Does God exist?” we must first ask what this question means. For Christians, the most important question is not whether or not a god of some sort exists, but whether or not the biblical God exists. THE VALUE OF ARGUMENTS FOR GOD.

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the value of arguments for god

In asking, “Does God exist?” we must first ask what this question means.

For Christians, the most important question is not whether or not a god of some sort exists, but whether or not the biblical God exists.

the value of arguments for god1

The Bible is not primarily concerned to demonstrate that some sort of God exists, but to explain exactly what sort of God exists and how we can know that God.

The arguments for God’s existence are not necessarily fundamental to one’s experience of God.

the value of arguments for god2

They are rational in character. Many of life’s most important decisions are not based merely on rational reflection.

These arguments are subject to interpretation.

They can do no more than point to probability.

They do not necessarily lead one to the biblical God.

They cannot reveal the one true God in a polytheistic culture.

the value of arguments for god3

They can reinforce a Christian’s belief.

They can remove obstacles to faith.

They can create a sense of crisis in one investigating the Christian Gospel.

types of theistic arguments





teleological arguments

Teleological (from the Greek word telos)arguments for God’s existence are based upon the observation of order and/or design in the universe.

    • Arguments from Order
    • Arguments from Design
Teleological Arguments
teleological arguments1

Order arguments contend that order is apparent in the universe; thus, there must be an orderer.

Design arguments note that non-conscious things often seem to work toward a purpose. Purpose cannot be the result of impersonal causes.

Teleological Arguments
teleological arguments2

To say that order occurs by chance is to say either:

    • (1) that we are unable to ascertain what the cause is while nonetheless affirming that some cause must exist; or
    • (2) that there is no cause and that orderly events in nature randomly occur, for no reason and with no explanation.
Teleological Arguments
teleological arguments3

If we take seriously the idea that the world seems to run on a design on several levels, and yet deny the existence of a designer, we must ask, “Why is this so?” The answer most often given is “evolution.”

But such an answer only puts off the original question: “Why does evolution work in the way that it does?” Simply put, evolution is not a cause for design, but is in fact the result of observing design in the first place.

Teleological Arguments
teleological arguments4

Another argument that may be used to deny design arguments is that nature seems to fail more often than it succeeds. How many sperms or eggs die without successfully producing? But consider what would happen if every sperm and egg were “successful.” The result would be cataclysmic. Perhaps even nature’s failures fail for a purpose.

Teleological Arguments
psalm 8

O Lord, our Lord,    how majestic is your name in all the earth!You have set your glory above the heavens.2      Out of the mouth of babies and infants,you have established strength because of your foes,    to still the enemy and the avenger.

psalm 81

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,4  what is man that you are mindful of him,    and the son of man that you care for him?

5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings    and crowned him with glory and honor.

psalm 82

6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;     you have put all things under his feet,7 all sheep and oxen,    and also the beasts of the field,8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Lord,    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

romans 1 18 20

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

ROMANS 1:18-20
analysis of teleological arguments

This argument need not lead to the biblical God

This argument does not logically lead to a single God

This argument depends upon the principle of analogy—but the universe is a one of a kind sort of thing—and thus not subject to analogy.

This argument need not lead to the Greatest Possible Being—only a very powerful, creative being.

Some say that this argument does not require a personal being.

cosmological argument

Cosmological arguments for God’s existence are based upon the concept of contingency (that is, something existing that does not have to exist, necessarily.

Cosmological arguments work from the world to God. Cosmological arguments are “a posteriori” in nature, that is they reason “after the fact” from effects to causes. They thus have an inductive starting point—our experience of the world.

aquinas s cosmological arguments

Thomas Aquinas is classically the high point of Cosmological argumentation. Four of his famous “Five Ways” are actually cosmological arguments.

Aquinas’s Cosmological Arguments
1 the argument from motion or change

All mutables bring us back to a first immutable.

The universe is mutable (it exhibits characteristic change).

Therefore there is an immutable cause of the universe—this we call God.

#1 The Argument from Motion or Change
2 the argument from causation

No effect or efficient cause can exist in and of itself—it must have its own cause.

An infinite regress of efficient causes is impossible.

Therefore there must be a first or necessary cause—and this we call God.

#2 The Argument from Causation
3 the argument from contingency

If contingent beings exist, then there must be a necessary being.

Contingent beings evidently exist.

Therefore there is a necessary being—and this we call God.

#3 The Argument from Contingency
4 the argument from degrees of perfection

If anything at all exists, there must be something that exists perfectly (to the nth degree).

Evidently things (e.g. the universe) exist.

Therefore there is a perfect cause of all imperfect things—this we call God.

the kalam cosmological argument

First developed by medieval Arabic philosophers.

Popularized today by William Lane Craig.

Craig joins the deductive logic of this argument to inductive, Big Bang cosmology.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument
the kalam cosmological argument1

If something had a beginning, it must have a cause.

The universe had a beginning (Big Bang cosmology).

Therefore the universe had a cause (God).

The Kalam Cosmological Argument
hebrews 3 3 4

For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

analysis of cosmological arguments

Such arguments need not lead to the biblical God

Such arguments do not logically lead to a single God

Such arguments need not lead to the Greatest Possible Being—only to a very powerful, creative being or beings.

Some have denied a necessary relationship between cause & effect.

Each of these arguments is tied to the accuracy of our perception. If our perceptions are uncertain, then the premises of each argument are flawed.

moral arguments

Moral arguments for God’s existence are based upon the concept of conscience.

In its classical form this argument works much like a cosmological argument. There is an awareness of a sense of oughtness within everyone. That sense could not spring from nothing or be contained within each individual. Thus there must be a source of goodness.

pragmatic arguments moral

In its Kantian form, however, a different approach is taken. Kant argues reductively ( for Y to be X is required). Kant argues that all people possess two things: (1) a sense of universal oughtness (categorical imperative) that drives us to seek the summumbonum(highest good), which means the highest degree of happiness; and (2) moral freedom. The two together imply responsibility.

c s lewis moral argument

1. There must be a universal moral law or: (a) moral disagreements would make no sense; (b) a all moral criticisms would be meaningless; (c) it is unnecessary to keep promises or treaties; (d) There must be a universal moral law or else we would not make excuses for breaking the moral law.

C. S. Lewis’ Moral Argument
c s lewis s moral argument

2. A universal moral law requires a universal Moral Law Giver since (a) the source of it gives moral commandments; (b) it is interested in our behavior (as persons are);

C. S. Lewis’s Moral Argument
c s lewis s moral argument1

3. This universal Moral Law Giver must be absolutely good: (a) or all moral effort would be futile since we would be sacrificing our lives for what is not ultimately right; (b) since the standard of all good must be completely good.

C. S. Lewis’s Moral Argument
analysis of moral law arguments

Cannot human moral consciousness come from evolution?

Cannot human moral consciousness come from cultural conditioning?

Are moral standards genuinely objective?

Is there really a universal moral sense?

This argument need not lead to one God, or to the Christian God. Perhaps a committee or a group of powerful and moral beings created or organized the world.

One cannot get from ethics to ontology.

ontological arguments

Ontological arguments for God’s existence are based upon the concept of perfection or necessity.

At the heart of ontological arguments lies the question, “which is greater?” The “lesser” is never to be associated with God, the Perfect, or Greatest Possible Being (GPB).

ontological arguments1

One attraction of ontological arguments is that they are a priori and deductive in nature. As such, a properly constructed (valid) argument with true premises should be necessarily true (sound).

anselm s first ontological argument

God is by definition, the Greatest Conceivable Being (GCB) with every possible perfection.

  • Existence is a perfection (i.e., it is more perfect to exist than not exist).
  • Therefore, God must exist.
a or b
Idea in Mind Only

The idea refers to that which exists in our minds, but not in reality.

Idea as Existing

The idea refers to that which exists in reality, and not only in our minds.

The First Ontological Argument Summarized


Which Idea is Greater?

anselm s second ontological argument

If God exists, we must conceive of him as a Necessary Being.

  • By definition, a Necessary Being cannot not exist.
  • Therefore, if a Necessary Being can exist, then it must exist.
analysis of ontological arguments

Those who reject modal arguments for God’s existence insist that all the theist has done is “define God into existence.” Nevertheless, if God is properly designated as GPB, then the reasoning is sound.

analysis of ontological arguments1

The idea of an ontological argument is very attractive because a sound ontological argument would logically prove necessarily compelling.

But ontological arguments are notoriously difficult—thus their lay apologetic use is limited.

The ontological argument doesn’t necessarily lead one to the biblical God or even the god of theism broadly understood.