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Arguments for Theism<br />Pascal’s Wager<br />Pascal’s Wager is an argument for belief in God based not on an appeal to evidence that God exists but rather based on an appeal to self-interest. It is in our interests to believe in God, the argument suggests, and it is therefore rational for us to do so.<br />The claim that it is in our interests to believe in God is supported by a consideration of the possible consequences of belief and unbelief. If we believe in God, the argument runs, then if he exists then we will receive an infinite reward in heaven while if he does not then we have lost little or nothing.<br />If we do not believe in God, the argument continues, then if he exists then we will receive an infinite punishment in hell while he does not then we will have gained little or nothing.<br />Either receiving an infinite reward in heaven or losing little or nothing is clearly preferable to either receiving an infinite punishment in hell or gaining little or nothing. It is therefore in our interests, and so rational, to believe in God.<br />The Ontological Argument<br />The ontological argument is an argument that attempts to prove the existence of God through abstract reasoning alone. The argument begins with an explication of the concept of God. Part of what we mean when we speak of “God” is “perfect being”; that is what the word “God” means. A God that exists, of course, is better than a God that doesn’t. To speak of God as a perfect being is therefore to imply that he exists. If God’s perfection is a part of the concept of God, though, and if God’s perfection implies God’s existence, then God’s existence is implied by the concept of God. When we speak of “God” we cannot but speak of a being that exists. To say that God does not exist is to contradict oneself; it is literally to speak nonsense.<br />The Teleological Argument<br />The teleological argument is the argument from the order in the world to the existence of a being that created it with a specific purpose in mind. The universe is a highly complex system. The scale of the universe alone is astounding, and the natural laws that govern it perplex scientists still after generations of study. It is also, however, a highly ordered system; it serves a purpose. The world provides exactly the right conditions for the development and sustenance of life, and life is a valuable thing. That this is so is remarkable; there are numerous ways in which the universe might have been different, and the vast majority of possible universes would not have supported life. To say that the universe is so ordered by chance is therefore unsatisfactory as an explanation of the appearance of design around us. It is far more plausible, and far more probable, that the universe is the way it is because it was created by God with life in mind.<br />Cosmological Argument<br />According to Plato in his dialogue the Timaeus,<br />... everything that comes to be or changes must do so owing to some cause; for nothing can come to be without a cause.<br />This is the idea behind the cosmological argument, which infers the existence of God from the apparent fact that the universe and the phenomena in it exist when it seems that they need not do so (hence the question that occurs to many people, philosophers or not: quot;
why is there something rather than nothing?quot;
). The argument was later formulated in different ways by Aristotle, Aquinas and Leibniz, the idea being to note that the universe cannot account for its own existence—so it is claimed—and thus a cause is sought outside of it to explain the brute fact of existence.<br />The cosmological argument is the argument from the existence of the world or universe to the existence of a being that brought it into and keeps it in existence.<br />Thomas Aquinas’ quot;
The Five Ways of Proving the Existence of God.”<br />The Argument from Motion. Thomas argues that since everything that moves is moved by another, there must thereby exist an Unmoved Mover.<br />The Argment from Efficient Cause. The sequence of causes which make up this universe must have a First Cause.<br />The Argument to Necessary Being. Since all existent things depend upon other things for their existence, there must exist at least one thing that is a Necessary Being.<br />The Argument from Gradation. Since all existent things can be compared as to such qualities as goodness, there must exist something that is an Absolutely Good Being<br />The Argument from Design. (also named quot;
The Teleological Argumentquot;
) The intricate design and order of existent things and natural processes imply that a Great Designer exists.<br />Arguments for Atheism<br />The Problem of Evil<br />The problem of evil is the problem of reconciling the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent God with the existence of a world full of evil and suffering. If God is omniscient then he knows how to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering. If God is omnipotent then he is able to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering. If God is benevolent then he wants to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering. But if God knows how to, is able to and wants to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering, then why does he not do so? The simplest answer is that God does not do so because he does not exist. This is by far the most popular argument for atheism.<br />Arguments for Agnosticism<br />The Argument from Uncertainty<br />The argument from uncertainty takes the fact that we cannot achieve certainty as to whether God exists as justification for agnosticism. Whatever evidence there is for theism and for atheism is fallible, the argument suggests, and therefore ought to be rejected. Of course, we accept fallible evidence as sufficient justification for many of our beliefs, so this argument will only be persuasive if there is some reason to require better evidence when answering religious questions than we require in these other cases. One possible reason for so doing is the importance of being right concerning the existence of God.<br />The Argument from Incomprehensibility<br />An alternative approach to arguing for agnosticism is the argument from incomprehensibility. Theists have often been content to say that we are unable to comprehend God, that his being transcends our mundane experiences and that our concepts, which are derived from such experiences, cannot be used to describe him. If true, then this might be thought to count in favor of agnosticism; if we cannot comprehend God, then how can we reason with any confidence concerning his existence?<br />End Notes:<br />Religion plays a vital role in an individual’s life. One may take a position, whether theism, atheism, or agnosticism. Each one may differ from another’s view, but in the end religion is and will always be personal. It is something that a person chooses freely for himself and not dictated by anyone. Whether one believes or not, or doesn’t really care at all it’s his choice. We always aim for a goal, an end point, and a destination. Religion then is like a vehicle, one that we chose in order for us to get to our desired destination. More specifically for theists, religion helps us to connect with God. Be it a bicycle, a jeepney, or a bulletin train, we are somewhat assured that our vehicle of choice would bring us there. The travel time might differ, but we are certain that we are moving towards our destination or are we? <br />And yes, religion is good, but far greater than religion is having a personal relationship with God. In the end, God will not ask us, “what is your religion?” God doesn’t favor one religion over another, and so no one manipulates salvation. Any religion who would claim that theirs is the way to salvation is deceiving its entire follower. Instead, God is more concern with our personal relationship with Him. Try asking yourself, “do you have a personal relationship with God?”<br />_____________________________________________________________________________________________________<br />References:<br />All About God Ministries, Inc. 2002.  Attributes of God. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from   HYPERLINK quot;
http://www.allaboutgod.com/attributes-of-god-2.htmquot;
 http://www.allaboutgod.com/attributes-of-god-2.htm<br />All About Philosophy. Org. 2002. Deism. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/deism.htm<br />Archie, Lee C. 2006. Thomas Aquinas’ The Five Ways. Philosophy of Religion. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from http://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/aquinas.shtml.<br />Herling, Brad. 2010. What is Religion? Accessed last February 16 from http://www.studyreligion.org/what/index.html.  <br />Holt, Tim. 2008. Philosophy of Religion. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from http://www.philosophyofreligion.info. <br />Newall, Paul. 2005. Philosophy or Religion. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from http://www.galilean-library.org/site/index.php/page/index.html/_/essays/introducingphilosophy/ 15a-philosophy-of-religion-part-1-r31. <br />Taliaferro, Charles. 2007. Philosophy of Religion. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from  http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2011/ entries/philosophy-religion/. <br />
A Primer on the Philosophy of Religion and the Problem of God's Existence (part2)
A Primer on the Philosophy of Religion and the Problem of God's Existence (part2)

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A Primer on the Philosophy of Religion and the Problem of God's Existence (part2)

  • 1. Arguments for Theism<br />Pascal’s Wager<br />Pascal’s Wager is an argument for belief in God based not on an appeal to evidence that God exists but rather based on an appeal to self-interest. It is in our interests to believe in God, the argument suggests, and it is therefore rational for us to do so.<br />The claim that it is in our interests to believe in God is supported by a consideration of the possible consequences of belief and unbelief. If we believe in God, the argument runs, then if he exists then we will receive an infinite reward in heaven while if he does not then we have lost little or nothing.<br />If we do not believe in God, the argument continues, then if he exists then we will receive an infinite punishment in hell while he does not then we will have gained little or nothing.<br />Either receiving an infinite reward in heaven or losing little or nothing is clearly preferable to either receiving an infinite punishment in hell or gaining little or nothing. It is therefore in our interests, and so rational, to believe in God.<br />The Ontological Argument<br />The ontological argument is an argument that attempts to prove the existence of God through abstract reasoning alone. The argument begins with an explication of the concept of God. Part of what we mean when we speak of “God” is “perfect being”; that is what the word “God” means. A God that exists, of course, is better than a God that doesn’t. To speak of God as a perfect being is therefore to imply that he exists. If God’s perfection is a part of the concept of God, though, and if God’s perfection implies God’s existence, then God’s existence is implied by the concept of God. When we speak of “God” we cannot but speak of a being that exists. To say that God does not exist is to contradict oneself; it is literally to speak nonsense.<br />The Teleological Argument<br />The teleological argument is the argument from the order in the world to the existence of a being that created it with a specific purpose in mind. The universe is a highly complex system. The scale of the universe alone is astounding, and the natural laws that govern it perplex scientists still after generations of study. It is also, however, a highly ordered system; it serves a purpose. The world provides exactly the right conditions for the development and sustenance of life, and life is a valuable thing. That this is so is remarkable; there are numerous ways in which the universe might have been different, and the vast majority of possible universes would not have supported life. To say that the universe is so ordered by chance is therefore unsatisfactory as an explanation of the appearance of design around us. It is far more plausible, and far more probable, that the universe is the way it is because it was created by God with life in mind.<br />Cosmological Argument<br />According to Plato in his dialogue the Timaeus,<br />... everything that comes to be or changes must do so owing to some cause; for nothing can come to be without a cause.<br />This is the idea behind the cosmological argument, which infers the existence of God from the apparent fact that the universe and the phenomena in it exist when it seems that they need not do so (hence the question that occurs to many people, philosophers or not: quot; why is there something rather than nothing?quot; ). The argument was later formulated in different ways by Aristotle, Aquinas and Leibniz, the idea being to note that the universe cannot account for its own existence—so it is claimed—and thus a cause is sought outside of it to explain the brute fact of existence.<br />The cosmological argument is the argument from the existence of the world or universe to the existence of a being that brought it into and keeps it in existence.<br />Thomas Aquinas’ quot; The Five Ways of Proving the Existence of God.”<br />The Argument from Motion. Thomas argues that since everything that moves is moved by another, there must thereby exist an Unmoved Mover.<br />The Argment from Efficient Cause. The sequence of causes which make up this universe must have a First Cause.<br />The Argument to Necessary Being. Since all existent things depend upon other things for their existence, there must exist at least one thing that is a Necessary Being.<br />The Argument from Gradation. Since all existent things can be compared as to such qualities as goodness, there must exist something that is an Absolutely Good Being<br />The Argument from Design. (also named quot; The Teleological Argumentquot; ) The intricate design and order of existent things and natural processes imply that a Great Designer exists.<br />Arguments for Atheism<br />The Problem of Evil<br />The problem of evil is the problem of reconciling the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent God with the existence of a world full of evil and suffering. If God is omniscient then he knows how to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering. If God is omnipotent then he is able to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering. If God is benevolent then he wants to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering. But if God knows how to, is able to and wants to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering, then why does he not do so? The simplest answer is that God does not do so because he does not exist. This is by far the most popular argument for atheism.<br />Arguments for Agnosticism<br />The Argument from Uncertainty<br />The argument from uncertainty takes the fact that we cannot achieve certainty as to whether God exists as justification for agnosticism. Whatever evidence there is for theism and for atheism is fallible, the argument suggests, and therefore ought to be rejected. Of course, we accept fallible evidence as sufficient justification for many of our beliefs, so this argument will only be persuasive if there is some reason to require better evidence when answering religious questions than we require in these other cases. One possible reason for so doing is the importance of being right concerning the existence of God.<br />The Argument from Incomprehensibility<br />An alternative approach to arguing for agnosticism is the argument from incomprehensibility. Theists have often been content to say that we are unable to comprehend God, that his being transcends our mundane experiences and that our concepts, which are derived from such experiences, cannot be used to describe him. If true, then this might be thought to count in favor of agnosticism; if we cannot comprehend God, then how can we reason with any confidence concerning his existence?<br />End Notes:<br />Religion plays a vital role in an individual’s life. One may take a position, whether theism, atheism, or agnosticism. Each one may differ from another’s view, but in the end religion is and will always be personal. It is something that a person chooses freely for himself and not dictated by anyone. Whether one believes or not, or doesn’t really care at all it’s his choice. We always aim for a goal, an end point, and a destination. Religion then is like a vehicle, one that we chose in order for us to get to our desired destination. More specifically for theists, religion helps us to connect with God. Be it a bicycle, a jeepney, or a bulletin train, we are somewhat assured that our vehicle of choice would bring us there. The travel time might differ, but we are certain that we are moving towards our destination or are we? <br />And yes, religion is good, but far greater than religion is having a personal relationship with God. In the end, God will not ask us, “what is your religion?” God doesn’t favor one religion over another, and so no one manipulates salvation. Any religion who would claim that theirs is the way to salvation is deceiving its entire follower. Instead, God is more concern with our personal relationship with Him. Try asking yourself, “do you have a personal relationship with God?”<br />_____________________________________________________________________________________________________<br />References:<br />All About God Ministries, Inc. 2002. Attributes of God. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from HYPERLINK quot; http://www.allaboutgod.com/attributes-of-god-2.htmquot; http://www.allaboutgod.com/attributes-of-god-2.htm<br />All About Philosophy. Org. 2002. Deism. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/deism.htm<br />Archie, Lee C. 2006. Thomas Aquinas’ The Five Ways. Philosophy of Religion. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from http://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/aquinas.shtml.<br />Herling, Brad. 2010. What is Religion? Accessed last February 16 from http://www.studyreligion.org/what/index.html. <br />Holt, Tim. 2008. Philosophy of Religion. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from http://www.philosophyofreligion.info. <br />Newall, Paul. 2005. Philosophy or Religion. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from http://www.galilean-library.org/site/index.php/page/index.html/_/essays/introducingphilosophy/ 15a-philosophy-of-religion-part-1-r31. <br />Taliaferro, Charles. 2007. Philosophy of Religion. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed last February 15, 2011 from  http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2011/ entries/philosophy-religion/. <br />