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Apologetics: Kreeft Chapter 3 - Existence of God

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Notes for the apologetics course at LTCi, Siliguri

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Apologetics: Kreeft Chapter 3 - Existence of God

  1. 1. Arguments for the existence of God Pocket handbook of Christian Apologetics Peter Kreeft & Ronald TacelliSaturday 19 November 2011
  2. 2. Can you actually demonstrate, or argue for, the existence of God? In Christian apologetics this discussion has an important place. Kreeft says of those arguing for God’s existence, “they have also believed that an effective rational argument for God’s existence is an important first step in opening the mind to the possibility of faith.” These arguments need to be thought through by Christians - the proofs are helpful in our own lives as well as in encountering others who have no faith in God.Saturday 19 November 2011
  3. 3. The argument from efficient causality Some things cause other things to be - beginning to be or continuing to be - e.g. a man playing drums causes music to be produced. Question: are all things caused to exist by other things right now, at this moment? If they are then imagine if there is no uncaused being, no God, then nothing could exist. This is because everything needs something outside of itself to exist.Saturday 19 November 2011
  4. 4. So even things which are causing other things to exist now still need to have been caused to exist in the first place - they can give being to something only if they have been given being. On this hypothesis everything that exists needs to have been caused to exist. But we have a problem - beyond everything there is nothing: surely this is silly, everything that exists was caused by, an depends on, nothing. It would appear there must be something uncaused, on which all things needing a cause are dependent.Saturday 19 November 2011
  5. 5. Existence is like a gift given from cause to effect - if there is no one who has the gift it cannot be passed on to others. If all the class are meant to read a book but no one has the book then no one will ever get it. If there is no God who has existence by his own eternal nature - then this gift of existence cannot be passed on. On this argument because we have existence, we get our existence from somewhere, we argue from God, who did not need to receive existence.Saturday 19 November 2011
  6. 6. The Design argument For many people the beauty and order of the world around us touches us deep within. But still the question has to be asked as to whether what we see around us is the result of intelligent design / conscious purpose? There are many different variations of this argument - here we shall show the main thrust of them.Saturday 19 November 2011
  7. 7. 1. The universes displays great intelligibility in what we observe and the way these things relate to one another - they exist and coexist in intricately beautiful order and regularity which appears amazing to the observer. In nature many different things work together to produce a valuable end, like all the organs in our body working to produce life and health. 2. The intelligent order is either produced by chance or intelligent design.Saturday 19 November 2011
  8. 8. 3. It cannot be by chance as less (or no) order does not produce more order. 4. Therefore the universes is the product of intelligent design. 5. Design only comes from a mind, a designer. 6. Therefore the universe is the product of an intelligent designer.Saturday 19 November 2011
  9. 9. Question: but what if we only think there is order, it is a product of our minds. Even though we cannot think utter chaos and disorder maybe that is how things really are. Answer: only by our minds do we know reality. If we agree something cannot exist in thought, we cannot go ahead and say that it might exist in reality. In effect by doing that we would be claiming to be thinking what we claim cannot be thought.Saturday 19 November 2011
  10. 10. The Kalām argument The Arabic word Kalām literally means speech but came to denote a specific form of philosophical theology - one containing demonstrations that the world could not be infinitely old and must therefore have been created by God. Christians and Muslims appeal to this.Saturday 19 November 2011
  11. 11. The argument is built on three premises: 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being 2. The universe began to exist 3. Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being Most people accept the first premise. Premise 2 - did the universe begin to exist? Natural science in the Big Bang theory supports the idea. Philosophical arguments are in favour too: can an infinite task ever be finished or completed?Saturday 19 November 2011
  12. 12. If to reach an end you had to take an infinite series of steps could you ever get there? Of course not, not even in infinite time. If it always was then it is infinitely old - and therefore an infinite amount of time must have existed before today - so an infinite number of days must have been completed in order for us to arrive at the present time . But, this then parallels the idea of an infinite task being completed.Saturday 19 November 2011
  13. 13. The Ontological argument Designed by Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) - an intensely philosophical proof for God’s existence. It has long been argued over. 1. It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind and reality than in mind alone. 2. God means “that than which a greater cannot be thought”Saturday 19 November 2011
  14. 14. 3. Suppose God exists in the mind but not in reality. 4. Then a greater than God could be thought - one that has all the qualities of our thought of God and with existence too. 5. But this is impossible for God is “that than which a greater cannot be thought” 6. Therefore God exists in the mind and reality.Saturday 19 November 2011
  15. 15. The Moral argument 1. Real moral obligation is a fact. We are really truly obligated to do good and avoid evil. 2. Either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the “religious” one is 3. But the atheistic one is incompatible with there being a moral obligation 4. Therefore the “religious” view of reality is the correct one.Saturday 19 November 2011
  16. 16. Premise 1 dos not mean that there are people who claim they have to perform certain duties, or to avoid others, but it is claiming that as humans we have to perform certain duties because of the way things really are not based upon desires or the way we feel. It is not the belief in moral values that is a fact but the moral value itself that is an objective fact. So if we agree with moral obligation - does atheism accord with this fact? No! Atheists tell us we are chance products of events which are blind to human purpose or striving.Saturday 19 November 2011
  17. 17. So for an atheist we have to ask, in what is moral good rooted? If moral standards are rooted in human will and desire (which atheists would argue comes arbitrarily due to our evolution) then there is no basis for judging these desires. There is also no obligation to do good of any kind - a desire to do good is simply your own and not to be imposed upon anyone else. This really is the basis for moral subjectivism.Saturday 19 November 2011
  18. 18. The argument from Conscience Moral subjectivism is common today - there are no universally binding moral obligations, we simply follow our own conscience. Is admitting to a conscience a tacit confession of believing in God? Most people would say you should not disobey your own conscience - even if it is disagreement with other peoples. This makes conscience your moral absolute - where does such an idea of obeying your conscience come from?Saturday 19 November 2011
  19. 19. 1. From something less than me - nature 2. From me - individual 3. From others equal to me - society 4. From something above me - God Considering each of these: Premise 1: How can I be absolutely obligated to something less than me- like animal instinct or practical survival needs? Premise 2: Am I absolute? Can I demand absolute obedience from anyone? If I am absolutely obligated to myself, can I choose to let myself out of such obligation?Saturday 19 November 2011
  20. 20. Premise 3: What right does society have to obligate me, to impose their values on me? Does a certain number of individuals agreeing and joining together make it absolute? Is society “God”? Premise 4: The only real source of absolute authority is something who is superior to me - this morally binds me and demands complete obedienceSaturday 19 November 2011
  21. 21. Premise 3: What right does society have to obligate me, to impose their values on me? only a certain number of individuals agreeing God is the Does adequate source and ground for and joining together make it absolute? Iswhen we need to moral obligation which we feel society “God”? Premise 4: obey our conscience - conscience thus is The only real source of absolute authority is something who is defined -as the voice of Goddemands soul. superior to me this morally binds me and in our complete obedienceSaturday 19 November 2011
  22. 22. The argument from Desire 1. Every natural, innate desire within us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire. 2. But, there exists in us an innate desire that nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy 3. Therefore there must exist something greater than time, earth, creatures that can satisfy this desire. 4. This something is what people call “God” and “life with God forever”Saturday 19 November 2011
  23. 23. Considering each premise: 1 - there are 2 kinds of desires, innate and externally conditioned, or natural and artificial. Natural desires - food, sleep, sex, friendship, knowledge, beauty - (we avoid hunger, loneliness, ugliness, and ignorance.) This comes from within Artificial - cars, political office, superman like powers, Leicester City winning the premier league These desires are on different levels - we do not see deprivation of the artificial in the same way as the natural. This comes from without - society, fiction, advertising etc.Saturday 19 November 2011
  24. 24. Natural desires are to be found in each one of us but the artificial ones vary from person to person. The existence of artificial desires does not necessarily mean that they exist - sports cars do, being like Superman does not. With natural desires they do all exist - no one has ever found a natural desire for a nonexistent object.Saturday 19 November 2011
  25. 25. When we look at premise 2 we can only ask if someone really is happy with money or sex or playing games - we can ask “Are you really happy with that?” but we cannot compel. Even the atheist Jean Paul Satre admitted, “there comes a time when one asks, even of Shakespeare, even of Beethoven, ‘Is that all there is?’” CS Lewis sums this up in the following quote:Saturday 19 November 2011
  26. 26. “The Christian says, Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those 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 in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.Saturday 19 November 2011
  27. 27. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”Saturday 19 November 2011
  28. 28. The argument from Atheistic experience 1. There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach 2. Therefore there must be a God You either see this one or you don’tSaturday 19 November 2011
  29. 29. Pascal’s Wager This is a different type of argument - and is not a proof for the existence of God but a help for searching for God in the absence of such proof. Pascal assumed that logical reasoning of itself could not prove the existence of God - there was good reasoning on both sides. So if we cannot prove it, and if it is so important, then we need to “wager”. The question becomes: “Where are you going to place your bet?”Saturday 19 November 2011
  30. 30. Pascal’s Wager This is a different type of argument - and is not a proof for the existence of God but a help for searching for God in the absence of such proof. Pascal assumed that logical reasoning of itself could not prove the existence of God - there was good reasoning on both sides. So if we cannot prove it, and if it is so important, then we need to “wager”. The question becomes: “Where are you going to place your bet?”Saturday 19 November 2011
  31. 31. Place it with God - and even if he doesn’t you lose nothing. Place it against God - if he does exist, you lose everything. The argument is that if you win, you win everything, if you lose, you lose nothing. This can seem very selfish, but has been reformulated to apply to a higher moral motive: If there is a God of infinite goodness, and he justly deserves my allegiance and faith, I risk doing the greatest injustice by not acknowledging him.Saturday 19 November 2011
  32. 32. Saturday 19 November 2011
  33. 33. The wager should not coerce belief - but can be an incentive to search for God - it can motivate the prayer of the sceptic: “God I don’t know whether you exist or not, but if you do, please show me who you are.” Pascal suggests 3 kinds of people: - those who have sought God and found him (reasonable and happy) - those who are seeking and have not yet found (reasonable and unhappy) - those who neither seek nor find (unreasonable and unhappy)Saturday 19 November 2011
  34. 34. The wager should not coerce belief "Ask, and it will be - but can be an incentive to search for God - to you; seek,prayer given it can motivate the and of the sceptic: you will find; knock, “God I don’t know whether you exist orit will be opened to and not, but if you do, please show me who you are.” you.suggests 3 kinds of people: For everyone who Pascal - asks receives, and the those who have sought God and one who seeks finds, found him (reasonable and happy) - those who are seeking and have and to (reasonablewho not yet found the one and knocks it will be unhappy) - those whoopened. nor find neither seek (unreasonable and unhappy)Saturday 19 November 2011

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