The arguments that prove God exists
Evidence for the existence of the Theistic God is found in three main arguments used by theists today. These arguments are:
1. the cosmological argument,
2. teleological argument,
3. the moral law argument.
When each of these arguments is incorporated together in one’s apologetic task, the existence of the Theistic God is established and is undeniable. There are other arguments that establish the characteristics of the Theistic God or reveal man’s need for Him, but they do not establish His existence. Some of these arguments are the ontological argument, the argument from religious need, and the argument from joy. The ontological argument shows that if the theistic God exists, then his existence is a necessary existence. The other arguments from religious need and joy are founded upon man’s need and desire for God.
The cosmological Argument
The cosmological argument focuses on the creation of the universe and concludes that there must have been a Creator. This argument is based on the law of causality, which says that everything that had a beginning had a cause outside of itself. The fact that the universe had a beginning has been proven scientifically and philosophically through the second law of thermodynamics, the expanding universe, the radiation echo, the great mass of energy, and the philosophical proof that finding the end of infinite time is impossible. These five proofs establish the fact that the universe had a beginning. The law of causality shows us that anything that had a beginning was caused by another.
Therefore, it must be concluded that the universe had a cause outside of itself (Creator). This argument is also known as the ‘horizontal argument’ or the ‘kalam cosmological argument’. There is another form of the cosmological argument, which stresses a sustaining cause for the universe rather than just an original cause for the universe, as seen above. This argument for a sustaining cause of the universe is known as the ‘vertical argument’. If the world was brought into existence from nothing by a cause outside of itself, then the same cause must also be sustaining or causing the world to continue to exist. The attribute of omnipotence is attributed to the originating and sustaining Cause of the universe through these two forms of the cosmological argument.
Two forms of the argument
The cosmological argument has two different approaches with which to firm the foundation of proof for the existence of the Theistic God. The first approach is known as the ‘horizontal’ argument and the second approach is called the ‘vertical’ argument. The horizontal argument reasons from the beginning of the universe to its Beginner, from the creation of the universe to a Creator, from the origin of the universe to the Originator. The vertical argument reasons from the continued existence of the universe to the One who causes it to continue, from the sustaining of the universe to its Sustainer. Both of these approaches are based on the law of causality, which states that everything that had a beginning is caused by something other than itself. Because the universe does exist rather than not at all, there must be a Cause beyond itself.
The cosmological argument has a unique history. Starting with Plato (428-348 B. C.) and Aristotle (384-322 B. C.), the development of arguments based on causality were formed. Even though Aristotle held the polytheistic views of the Greek culture his ‘unmoved movers’ would later be expounded upon by other thinkers in more detailed forms. Muslim philosophers, Alfarabi (870-950) and Avicenna (980-1037), contributed greatly to the formation of the cosmological argument. Alfarabi reasoned from accidental beings (contingent) to a Necessary Being who gives existence to all others. Avicenna took Alfarabi’s Necessary Being and reasoned that this Being is the First Cause. Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) reasoned for a Necessary Being and First Cause and also offered proof for a First Mover.
The Christian philosopher Anselm (1033-1119) contributed three arguments for the existence of God. The first reasoned from the existence of good things to one Supreme Good; the second reasoned from less-than-perfect beings to a perfect standard which is the Most Perfect Being; and the last reasons from the existence of something to a supremely perfect Being. Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) gave five arguments for the existence of God. Alfarabi, Avicenna, Maimonides, and Anselm had previously created four of these arguments; Aquinas took their arguments and restated them according to the context of his own philosophy. Aquinas himself formed the fifth argument, which reasons from the existence of dependant beings to the first, uncaused Cause.
John Duns Scotus (1265-1308) took the argument of Aquinas and modified it to make it more full proof. Some years later, Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) and his disciple Christian Wolff (1679-1754), formed cosmological arguments from the basis of sufficient reason. This basis was not based on conclusions that are beyond doubt, but on concepts or ideas. The arguments of Leibniz and Wolff were subjected to much criticism.
Both the horizontal and the vertical arguments depict the God of the Theistic worldview. The God that not only spoke the universe into existence also sustains it moment by moment by the same word. He is the uncaused, independent, eternal, Necessary Being on which the whole universe relies on for existence.
The teleological argument
The teleological argument focuses on the complex, intelligent design of the universe and life and comes to the conclusion that an intelligent Designer accomplished both. The basic structural unit of all living organisms, known as the single cell, is so complex that each specific part has to be in place in order for it to function. If the single cell lacked any single part of its makeup, then it would die.
Looking from a broader view, the universe was pre-arranged or suited specifically for mankind to exist. Human life would not exist if the Cause of the universe had not fine-tuned the creation in such a way so as to sustain life on planet earth. If the universe and life both show great design, and every design has a designer, then there must be a Great Designer of the universe and life. The teleological argument clarifies to us the tremendous intelligence of the Designer of the universe and life.
Two Perspectives of the argument
The teleological argument reasons from the intelligent design of the universe and life to an intelligent Designer. There are two different categories by which to reason for the teleological argument. The first looks at the specified complexity of life on earth. The second looks at the design of the universe as a whole, which can also be called the anthropic principle. It is an undeniable fact that every building implies a builder; every painting implies an artist; and every computer program implies a computer programmer. Since a building, a painting, and a computer program imply an intelligent cause, shouldn’t we look at the specified complexity of life on earth and the great design of the multifaceted operation of the universe and not also agree that an intelligent cause is behind these? To do otherwise would be illogical.
The teleological argument can be found in early Greek philosophy, but found its maturity during the middle ages and on through to today. One of Thomas Aquinas’s arguments for the existence of God was a teleological argument. He reasoned from natural agents that act for an end, yet have no intelligence themselves. Since they have no intelligence they must be directed to accomplish their end by an intelligent Being. William Paley reasoned for an intelligent Designer through his “Watchmaker” argument. The basic reasoning of his argument is that if a watch was found in the wilderness no one would conclude that it was constructed by random chance, but would conclude that it had an intelligent cause. A watch implies a watchmaker. With the same reasoning, no one would look at the even more complex design of the world and say that it originated by random chance, but it too had an intelligent Designer. A fictional theist named Cleanthe took Paley’s argument one-step further by showing that design implies designer, but great design implies Great Designer. Later, John Stuart Mill opposed Paley’s argument and offered his own argument. He did so based on the reasoning from analogy that Paley used.
Mill’s argument, though, did not eliminate evolution via natural selection. Stuart Hackett objected to Mill’s criticism of Paley using reason from analogy. Hackett stated that analogy is used in all reasoning concerning maters of fact and the rejection of analogy in reasoning would render all factual reasoning false. Many others also criticized Mill’s objections. Bertrand Russell took advantage of the open door in Mill’s argument that left the option for natural selection as an explanation for obvious intelligent design. Russell reasoned that adaptation in the world is a result of evolution and not design.
If adaptation exists, then there is no need for design as an answer. Ultimately, Russell’s faulty argument did not disprove intelligent design, but only forced modification of the argument. David Hume also gave two responses to the teleological argument. The first argument assumed design, but posited that the god(s) indicated by design would be finite, imperfect, multiple, male and female, and have physical the traits of humans. Hume’s second argument reasoned that the possibility of the world being brought about by random chance is credible. A. E. Taylor later brought forth a teleological argument that he hoped would tackle the evolutionary adaptation and random chance theories. His reasoning started with the obvious order in nature that shows forth pre-arrangement for survival. This pre-arranged order couldn’t be accounted for by natural laws.
Therefore there must have be a Mind behind the pre-arranged order. The teleological argument took on some changes to challenge Hume’s random chance argument. The chance argument is highly improbable, so much so, that J. Huxley who was a defender of evolution figured out the odds. He figured that the odds against evolution happening by pure chance are 1 followed by 3 million zeros to one. Even after figuring the odds Huxley remained an evolutionist. Ultimately, Paley’s argument, which used Hume’s principle of uniformity, reasoned that intelligence is the only cause linked to design and therefore the only reasonable answer for the wise man. The random chance argument given by Hume is contrary to his own principle of uniformity. This means that chance is an irrational explanation according to Hume’s own principle. Therefore, intelligent Design is the only rational answer for the specified complexity of the universe and life.
Today, through the advancement of science, we see more than ever the specified complexity of life on every level of existence. Intelligent Design is the only probable explanation for the genetic code of DNA, the irreducible complexity of the single-cell, and for the immense amount of genetic information that exists in the human brain. These, and many more evidences, solidify the teleological arguments reasoning for the Great Designer of the universe and life.
The moral law argument
The moral law argument focuses on the universal moral law that is written in the heart of mankind and comes to the conclusion that a Moral Law Giver must exist. There are many proofs that a universal moral law exists. The very fact that people claim that actions are just or unjust proves that the moral law exists. How can one claim that an action is unjust unless they first know what is just? If there were no moral law, then moral comparisons could not be made. No one would be able to accuse Hitler, Stalin, or Charles Manson of wrong doing unless there was first a moral standard by which to compare them with.
On the other side of the coin, no one would be able to say that someone did the right thing in a certain instance if there is no standard for which to judge right and wrong. There would be no victims of wrongdoing if the moral law did not exist. This moral law should not be determined by what people do, but by what they should do. Whether or not a person actually does what is right does not negate the fact that right and wrong exist. Since a universal moral law does exist, and moral laws imply a Moral Law Giver then there must be a Moral Law Giver. The moral law argument reveals the moral nature of the Moral Law Giver.
Formation of the argument
According to Kant, his argument presupposed God’s existence, but was not offered as a rational proof for the existence of God. His argument reasons from the thought that happiness and duty co-exist in the pursuit of the greatest good, in which all people should pursue and can achieve. But without God, people are not able to comprehend the greatest good. Therefore, people must assume that God exists and the afterlife also exists where the greatest good is achievable. Many philosophers and theologians challenged the idea that the greatest good is achievable. Hastings Rashdall offered a moral law argument that reasoned from an absolutely perfect moral ideal to an absolute moral Mind as the creator of the moral ideal. Rashdall also reasoned that the absolute moral ideal existed independently of the individual mind. He suggested that we wouldn’t know that something is getting better or worse unless there is a moral best by which to compare it. Therefore, the moral best must come from an absolute moral Mind.
W. R. Sorley has a similar argument to that of Rashdall, but Sorley makes an important distinction between natural laws and moral laws. The distinct difference between the natural laws and the moral laws is that the natural laws describe the way things operate normally in the universe and the moral laws prescribe the way things ought to be amongst people. Some criticize the idea of a universal moral law by saying that it merely could be the result of overlapping human moral ideals. Elton Trueblood added to the moral law argument by reasoning that the moral law must be objective and not subjective. If the moral law was subjective, then there could not be agreement or disagreement on it’s meaning, every moral view would be right (even contradictory views), there would be no meaning to ethical questions, and loyalty to moral ideals and to truth even unto death would be purposeless and meaningless. A subjective moral law is completely irrational.
C. S. Lewis proposed the most complete moral law argument, which also gave answers to the objections of the universal moral law. Lewis reasons that a universal moral law must exist, or else, moral disagreements and moral criticisms would be meaningless, making treaties and promises and keeping them would not be wrong, and making excuses for our breaking the moral law would not happen as it always does. Thus the universal moral law requires a universal Moral Law Giver that is absolutely good. For the source of what is good must be absolutely good, since the standard of all good must be completely good. The absolutely good Moral Law Giver must exist. Lewis’s argument answers several objections to the moral law argument. Lewis’s own arguments against God collapsed through the knowledge of justice and injustice in the world. He came to the conclusion that the only way he could say or think the world to be unjust was to have a standard by which to measure the injustice. He concluded that to speak of things or action as unjust or just would be senseless unless there was a universal moral law by which to judge the thing or action. Through this logical thinking, Lewis came to believe in God and commit his life to Christ.
Other Arguments for God’s existence
Other arguments (ontological, from religious need, from joy) given in the article do not establish the existence of the theistic God. The ontological argument can be used to show God’s necessary existence after his existence has already been established. The joy and religious need arguments are subjective evidences and have value in the apologetic task, but are not absolutely necessary. Each one of the three main arguments (cosmological, teleological, moral law) by itself does not prove the ‘Theistic’ God, but something less than. But when the three arguments are together, along with the ontological argument, the ‘Theistic’ God is established.
Importance of a Worldview
Every individual views reality according to his or her set of beliefs, whether it is eternal or temporal reality. Our values, morals, ideas, principles, and actions are determined by our set of beliefs. These beliefs affect every aspect of our lives. This is known as a worldview. Every individual that has ever existed has had a worldview through which one tries to make sense of life. Of course, false worldviews can leave a person confused and without the ability to make sense of reality, and can steer them in a direction that has a negative eternal consequence. But, the correct worldview can give a person purpose, direction, a proper view of reality, and give an answer for our origin and our destiny.
The major worldviews are: theism, deism, atheism, pantheism, panentheism, finite godism, and polytheism. Each one of these worldviews has mutually exclusive claims concerning God, salvation, origin of universe, ethics, evil, man, afterlife, etc. Therefore only one worldview can be true. And if only one worldview is correct, then that leaves multitudes of people living in deception. This would make apologetics of extreme importance, not only for those who have the correct worldview, but also for those who don’t.
This article (Worldview) falls under the third proposition in the apologetic argument for Christianity. The theistic worldview is established by necessarily proving that ‘The Theistic God exists’. Once this is done, then there are only three religions left to decide from: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
Objections and alleged disproofs
Objections to these above proofs