What is God? Does God exist? If God exists, where did he originate? If God formed the universe, what created God? What significance does the existence, or rather non-existence, of God have on mankind? Why do believers, and non-believers alike, hold on to their beliefs as they do? These and a vast array of many more unanswered questions surround the debate regarding God’s existence. Philosophical arguments for or against God’s existence are probably some of the most evolved of all philosophical arguments. God’s existence is an ever enduring and popular philosophical problem. Several arguments claiming to attest the existence of God have been proposed throughout man’s existence. These are often based on some feature of the natural world. Equally, there have been attempts to refute the existence of God.
Many proofs or arguments of God’s existence have been put forward by philosophers. Ontological is one of argument that proves God exists. This argument points out that a perfect being is possible to imagine and it could not be perfect if it did not exist (Mackie, 56). This implies that the existence of a perfect being is a must. The main objective in this argument is to show that a thing cannot be imagined or defined into existence. The argument is entirely a priori, and it is based on reasoning alone. There is no empirical evidence in this argument but mere explication of God’s concept. According to the argument, perfection incorporates God’s concept and it entails the existence of God. It was framed by Anselm of Canterbury who argued that God’s identification was which that no superior can be conceived (Mackie, 57). He further suggests God must exist.
Causal argument argues that everything has a cause (Mackie, 85). It points out that going backwards to endlessness with causes is impossible. Consequently, there should have been a first cause that was not accustomed by any cause. This unconditioned cause automatically must be God. Objective of the argument is that the universe originated with a cause.
According to the philosopher Thomas Aquinas, things in the world are moved (Aquinas, 5). He understood the motion as a reduction from potential state to a state of act. He argues that for something to be in motion, it has to be relocated by something else and that by another thing and so on and so forth. Aquinas argues that if these motions continue infinitely, there would be no principal mover. Therefore, there must be a principal mover moved by no one; who is understood to be God. God is the sole cause of reality. This is because without Him the reality cannot be explained (Aquinas, 6).
The third argument is the design argument that is of the opinion that planets, plants and animals were designed (Mackie, 70). The designer had a specific end for them. Evolution and self-organization principles explain the existence of an apparent designer who in this case must be God. Design argument can also be called teleological argument.
According to Thomas Aquinas, we lack a proper understanding of things such as natural bodies. These natural bodies achieve their end in a designed manner and not fortuitously (Aquinas, 23). Automatically natural things are directed by a being called God. He further suggests exceptional levels of intelligent designs by his analogy that an archer directs an arrow; similarly natural things are directed by a supreme being. Unless directed to a target by the archer, an arrow cannot move by itself. Correspondingly, natural things such as succession of seasons and planet motions are as a result of an intellectual designer.
William Paley argues if different parts, which are different in shape and size, are placed in a manner that there is no motion, they would not serve any purpose (Paley, 1). He argued his way out using a watch. Paley created a scenario where a watch was found on the ground. Someone will enquire how the watch came into being. Paley says that human artifacts and works of nature have a specific characteristic that reliability indicates design. This clearly a designer exists who is God.
Cosmological argument or principle is the fourth proof that God exists. It points out that universe laws seem to be outlined in a form that planets and stars are formed followed by life emergence (Craig, 12). A lot of constants of nature are finely tuned for this. Odds against all potential universes are truly much likely to be astronomical. Nonetheless, one of these universes has to be real. To add to this, if many universes existed unquestionably, some of them would have life possibilities.
Under cosmological argument, we have Kalam, Thomistic and Leibnizian cosmological arguments. Kalam’s cosmological argument shows that the universe arose in the finite past (Craig, 282). In addition, the argument shows that the universe has infinitely existed implied by temporal, finite relapse of past happenings. Its form is that anything that begins to exist unquestionably it has a cause; the world began to exist and, therefore, it has a cause.
Thomistic cosmological argument argues that in a series of contingent causes, a first cause must have been there (Craig, 283). It shows that what we see in the world is contingent; a series of related contingent things is finite since they cannot be infinite. Leibnizian cosmological argument comes from a German polymath known as Gottfriend Wilhelm Leibniz (Craig, 284). His argument is that everything that exists has an explanation based on its external cause; God explains the existence of the universe; therefore the universe is something that exists.
Another argument is the experimental argument. Several people have claimed to have personal experiences with God Himself (Mackie, 80). Paul of Tarsus, an early church prosecutor, on his way to Damascus had a conversion. This made him a pillar of the Church. In Barhma Kumaris religion, they believe that God entered a diamond merchant body Lekhraj Kripalani which gave rise to the religion on 1939 (Babb, 56). These are few personal experiences that show God’s existence.
Fifth, we have pragmatic argument or anthropological argument. The argument is based on humanity conditions (Mackie, 90). Basically, it is all about mankind’s elementary moral standards. Human beings have a yearning for God. It explains that human societies need morals and ethics to survive. People fear God, and that is when ethics are enforced in an effective manner. Moreover, people fear hell, and this strengthens ethics enforcement. Simply, man has a conscious when he offends God.
This argument was famously postulated by Blaise Pascal who rationalized that it is well to trust in God, rather than not. He also added that a reward will be given to us if we believe in God. This reward is eternal happiness in heaven. He pointed out that we would just forgone sinful pleasures if we believed in Him and He did not exist. Otherwise, if He existed and we believe in Him, we could enjoy sinful pleasures but the reward for that would be eternal damnation.
Lastly, there is an argument called argument from desire (Paley, 45). These arguments show that we desire things that are prior existing. Religion itself is a desire to appease a Supreme Being. Consequently, this Supreme Being must be in existence. Christians argue that creatures are not born with desires that do not exist. Babies feel hungry, and there is the existence of food; sexual desires are felt by men since sex exists. Therefore, God must exist since our desires are met.
David Hume is one of the critics of existence these. This is shown in part 11 of his book of Dialogue Concerning Natural Religion. He says that the world is one great machine. He further says that this machine is sub-divided into smaller machines, which in turn are subjected to further divisions. Eventually, these subdivisions are beyond what humans can explain using their senses.
He has two main grounds according to his critic. First of all, he rejects the analogy between particular human artifacts and material universe. According to Hume, cases are dissimilar to infer that they are effects with like causes, and we lack satisfactory justification that material universe possesses intelligent causes. Secondly, Hume argues that similar causes between human artifacts and material universe do not justify that all perfect God exists (Hume, 144).
There are other philosophers who had a contribution to this controversial issue. Kant tried to prove God’s existence, but his work showed that God’s nature is beyond our experience to prove what is real. He argued that we cannot know who God actually is, even if He existed (Mackie, 150). According to Kant, we need to have trust in God. Hegel believed that God was Geist or an intuition of Absolute Spirit. Hegel argued that God is immanent. Soren Kierkegaard argued that God’s existence cannot be proved. Kierkegaard said that believing in God was not rational. In addition, he believed that God is beyond reason (Mackie, 133). In relation to Feuerbach and Mark religion, God does not make the man. Otherwise, God is developed by human conscious. Marx argued that religion is just ideological, and it just encourages those who are oppressed into accepting their fate. He further says that religion is the sentiment of a world that is heartless, a sigh of oppressed creatures, and soul to soulless situations (Mackie, 155). Simply, it is the opium of people.
There are critics of God’s existence. Many philosophers come up with arguments and reasons as to why there is no God. They say that the existence of evil proves show that God cannot be able, all-knowing, loving and all-powerful at the same time (Mackie, 100). Another argument is based on pain. They say that God allows pain through natural disasters and diseases. Therefore, He cannot be loving and reasonable according to human sense in the pain context. Injustice is used by philosophers to claim that God does not exist. Allocation of destinies is not by merit or equality. Destiny is allocated arbitrarily. This shows that God is not just or fair and, therefore, He is not all powerful and all knowing. There is also the context of multiplicity. God’s of different religions differ broadly based on their characteristics; hence, none or only one God of these religions is true. Lastly the critics argue that God is invisible, and this translates to the universe being no different if He did not exist. In other words, it is simpler to make assumptions that God does not exist since He is invisible (Mackie, 101).
In many faiths, the origin of God is straightforward. In the Christian doctrine, God has no beginning and thus eternal. “Before the mountains were born or you gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God” (Psalms, 90:2). This verse and several others like it emphasize God’s complexity in relation to time. Theologians argue that God created time itself, and hence sees all history at once since He exists outside of time. On the contrary, biblical scholars point out that the scriptures portray God as acting in time. For example, while negotiating Sodom and Gomorrah’s fate with Abraham, God certainly seems to be responding to the unfolding course of events and in time. Nevertheless, the question still remains, could God not be both outside of time? Could He also be capable of acting within this time? Religious doctrine answers are seldom adequate for nonbelievers.
What is a religious experience? According to Aquinas a religious experience refers to a non-empirical occurrence that can be seem as supernatural, or a mental occurrence endured by an individual – either spontaneous or as a result of intensive praying. There are different forms of religious experiences: spiritual experience, mystical experience or sacred experience, all being subjective, where the individual reports contact with a transcendent reality or encounter with the Devine. Religious experiences cannot, however, be easily categorized as either one thing or another, but all of them usually involve extraordinary events different from our everyday, ordinary experiences.
In science evolution mainly includes random factors in both natural selection and genetic mutation (Polkinghorne, 20). Scientists, mathematicians and statisticians describe the evolution as being preceded by situations where there is no predetermined outcome – chance. So, how does chance and randomness align with the belief in God’s sovereignty and purpose? Quantum mechanics is often flaunted as having revealed that the world is actually non-deterministic, although this is still a controversial issue among philosophers in physics (Polkinghorne, 25). For example, a coin flip; on one hand, one can argue that its landing is governed by deterministic physical laws like angular momentum and the law of gravity.
On the other hand, one can argue that God can also use a chance. According to Aquinas God maintains the planets in their orbits, not directly but through a secondary agent called the law of gravity. Aquinas saw God as “the first cause” and “the prime mover” of everything in the universe. He argued that God’s work in the universe was, however, primarily through secondary agents like human beings, natural processes created by God and laws governing such processes. Aquinas, however, was not familiar with the concept of Non-determinacy as we use it today.
Nevertheless, we cannot fail to notice that secondary agents frequently include non-deterministic elements. For instance, approximately 100 female children for every 106 male children are born in the about 100 million conceptions that occur every year in the world (Paley, 56). However, men have higher childhood mortality than women resulting in a more or less equal number of males and females reaching adulthood. Does God choose the genetic makeup, including gender of every born child – is God the primary agent in genetic selection? Does God choose the particular egg to be fertilized, and the particular sperm to fertilize it? Scientists call this “chance”.
Believers see God as the primary agent who has put in place a process that uses non-determinacy (secondary agent) to produce equal numbers of female and male adults without his direct control at the sperm and egg level. Nevertheless, some Christians refute the existence of chance. They argue that the occurrence of all events is a direct consequence of the will of God and not by chance.
In conclusion, the world disclosed by modern science is far nuanced and subtler than the world in which theologians and philosophers have lived for the precedent few centuries formulating their arguments about the mysterious relationship between the physical world, causality, time and God. Nonetheless, no development in contemporary science poses a particular challenge to the outlook by believers that God is the creator. Some developments, especially in physical laws, like the discovery of fine-tuning are supportive of traditional affirmations.
However, in the face of recent scientific developments, the common sense assumptions that have traditionally undergirded this entire discussion need reconsideration. In making claims about God, as the creator, we must be intellectually humble. Nonetheless, we can also state with confidence that denials regarding God as creator are fraught with more irresolvable difficulties, providing no satisfactory grounding in a world where meaning and purpose play imperative roles. At this time, neither theological nor scientific knowledge is adequate to provide the absolute truth about the being or existence of God. In fact, both may be true, or wrong.