Hello. Thank you for accepting my debate. Here are several arguments that can prove the existence of god. Sources will be provided at the end of each round.
- It is a conceptual truth (or, so to speak, true by definition) that God is a being than which none greater can be imagined (that is, the greatest possible being that can be imagined).
- God exists as an idea in the mind.
- A being that exists as an idea in the mind and in reality is, other things being equal, greater than a being that exists only as an idea in the mind.
- Thus, if God exists only as an idea in the mind, then we can imagine something that is greater than God (that is, a greatest possible being that does exist).
- But we cannot imagine something that is greater than God (for it is a contradiction to suppose that we can imagine a being greater than the greatest possible being that can be imagined.)
- Therefore, God exists.
Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
The universe exists.
Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1, 3).
Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God (from 2, 4).
Now suppose you increase the size of the ball in this story to the size of a car. That wouldn’t do anything to satisfy or remove the demand for an explanation. Suppose it were the size of a house. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of a continent or a planet. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of the entire universe. Same problem. Merely increasing the size of the ball does nothing to affect the need of an explanation. Since any object could be substituted for the ball in this story, that gives grounds for thinking premise 1 to be true. One might try to justify making the universe an exception to premise 1. Some philosophers have claimed that it’s impossible for the universe to have an explanation of its existence. For the explanation of the universe would have to be some prior state of affairs in which the universe did not yet exist. But that would be nothingness, and nothingness can’t be the explanation of anything. So the universe must just exist inexplicably. This line of reasoning is, however, obviously fallacious because it assumes that the universe is all there is, that if there were no universe there would be nothing. In other words, the objection assumes that atheism is true. The objector is thus begging the question in favor of atheism, arguing in a circle. The theist will agree that the explanation of the universe must be some prior state of affairs in which the universe did not exist. But that state of affairs is God and his will, not nothingness.
Now, moving on to Premise 2, which may seem controversial at first, it is actually logically equivalent to what an atheist would normally argue in regards to the contingency argument. The atheist will typically assert the following:
Since, on atheism, the universe is the ultimate reality, it just exists as a brute fact. But that is logically equivalent to saying this:
B. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, then atheism is not true.
So you can’t affirm (A) and deny (B). But (B) is virtually synonymous with premise 2! (Just compare them.) So by saying that, given atheism, the universe has no explanation, the atheist is implicitly admitting premise 2: if the universe does have an explanation, then God exists. Premise 2 is very plausible in its own right. For think of what the universe is:all of space-time reality, including all matter and energy. It follows that if the universe has a cause of its existence, that cause must be a non-physical, immaterial being beyond space and time. Now there are only two sorts of things that could fit that description: either an abstract object like a number or else an un-embodied mind. But abstract objects can’t cause anything. That’s part of what it means to be abstract. The number seven, for example, can’t cause any effects. So if there is a cause of the universe, it must be a transcendent, un-embodied Mind, which is what Christians understand God to be.
Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith. 3rd ed. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. [ch. 3]
Davis, Stephen T. “The Cosmological Argument and the Epistemic Status of Belief in God.” Philosophia Christi1 (1999): 5–15.
*———. God, Reason, and Theistic Proofs. Reason and Religion. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.
Leibniz, G. W. F. von.“On the Ultimate Origin of Things.” Pages 345–55 in Leibniz Selections. Edited by P. Wiener. New York: Scribner’s, 1951.
———. “The Principles of Nature and of Grace, Based on Reason.” Pages 522–33 in Leibniz Selections. Edited by P. Wiener. New York: Scribner’s, 1951.
*O’Connor, Timothy. Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.
*Pruss, Alexander. “The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument.” Pages 24–100 in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
*———. The Principle of Sufficient Reason: A Reassessment. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
- Anselm, St., Anselm's Basic Writings, translated by S.W. Deane, 2nd Ed. (La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing Co., 1962)
- Aquinas, Thomas, St., Summa Theologica(1a Q2), "Whether the Existence of God is Self-Evident (Thomas More Publishing, 1981)
- Barnes, Jonathan, The Ontological Argument (London: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1972)
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