by C Michael PattonNovember 12th, 2008 64 Comments
1. Cosmological Argument: Also called the argument from universal causation or the argument from contingency, the cosmological argument is probably the most well know and well loved among theistic apologists. The basic argument is that all effects have an efficient cause. The universe and all that is in it, due to its contingent (dependent) nature, is an effect. Therefore, the universe has an cause. But that cause cannot be an effect or one would have to explain its cause. Therefore, there must be an ultimate cause, an unmoved mover, an uncaused cause that began the process. This cause must transcend time and space in order to transcend the law of cause and effect. This transcendent entity must be personal in order to willfully cause the effect. This ultimate cause is God.
2. Teleological Argument: (Gr. telos, “end” or “purpose”) This is also know as the argument from design. This argument moves from complexity to a necessary explanatory cause for such complexity. The universe has definite design, order, and arrangement which cannot be sufficiently explained outside a theistic worldview. From the complexities of the human eye to the order and arrangement of the cosmology, the voice of God is heard. Therefore, God’s existence is the best explanation for such design. God is the undesigned designer.
3. Moral Argument: This argument argues from the reality of moral laws to the existence of a necessary moral law giver. The idea here is that if there are moral laws (murder is wrong, selfishness is wrong, self-sacrifice is noble, torturing innocent babies for fun is evil), then there must be a transcendent explanation and justification for such laws. Otherwise, they are merely conventions that are not morally binding on anyone. Since there are moral laws, then there must be a moral law giver who transcends space and time. This moral law giver is God.
4. sensus divinitatus (“sense of the divine”): While this argument goes by many names, the sensus divinitatus argues for the existence of God from the innate sense of the divine that exists within all people. This sense of the divine, it can be argued, is the “God shaped void” within all people. This explains why people, societies, and cultures of all time have been, by nature, those who sense a need to worship something greater than themselves.
5. The Argument from Aesthetic Experience: This is the argument from universal beauty and pleasure. Beauty and pleasure are universally recognized as such. Even subjective variation in one’s definition of what is beautiful are not distinct enough to relativize this principle. From the beauty or the sunset over the Rockies to the pleasure of eating certain foods, there is a common aesthetic experience that transcends the individual. This transcendence must have a ultimate source. This ultimate source is God.
6. Argument from the Existence of Arguments: The idea here is that there is no such thing as an argument without order and rationality. In the absence of God, all that exists is chaos. Chaos does not give birth to order. Arguments assume order. Order assumes purpose and design which in turn requires a transcendent being for its genesis. To even argue against the existence of God assumes his existence and is therefore self-referentially absurd. Therefore, there is no such thing as an “argument” against Transcendence (God).
7. Argument from the Existence of Free-will Arguments: If there is no God, then all we have is a meaningless series of cause and effect stretching back into eternity. This series of cause and effects is necessary and determined, being the result of the previous cause and effect. As a billiard ball is hit by another and has no self-motivated movements of its own, so all of human existence exists under the same attributes. All things are determined, not self-motivated, including beliefs. Therefore, if someone does not believe in God, it is not the result of self-motivated free-will beliefs, but because of a determined and fatalistic series of causes and effects stretching back into eternity. To argue against the existence of God would not be the result of looking at the evidence and making a more reasoned decision to not believe in God, but because that is what people were fatalistically determined to do. Therefore, all arguments are absurd and unjustified without God.
8. Argument from the Existence of Evil: Like the moral argument, this argument assumes the existence of a universal characteristic that is meaningless without God. Some argue that the existence of evil disproves God (or at least a good God), but to argue such is formally absurd since one would have to have an ultimate and transcendent standard of good in order to define evil. If evil exists, goodness exists. If both exist, there must be a transcendent norm from which they get their meaning. Since evil does exist, God exists.
9. Argument from Miracles: There are events in human history which cannot be explained outside of the existence of God. Many people have their subjective stories that bend them in the direction of theism, but there are also historical events such as the resurrection of Christ and predictive prophecy which cannot be explained without an acknowledgment of God. In short, from the Christians standpoint, if Christ rose from the grave, then God exists. There is no alternative reasonable explanation which accounts for such an event outside a belief in God. History convincingly demonstrates that Christ did rise from the grave. Therefore, God exists.
10. Pascal’s Wager: Popularize by French philosopher Blaise Pascal, Pascal’s Wager argues that belief in God is the most rational choice due to the consequences of being wrong. If one were to believe in God and be wrong, there are no consequences. However, if one were to deny God and be wrong, the consequences are eternally tragic. Therefore, the most rational choice, considering the absence of absolute certainty, is not agnosticism or atheism, but a belief in God.
11. Ontological Argument: Save for another time
What do you think. Put these in the order of the most persuasive to the least.
- Ten Arguments for the Existence of God
- Fridays with Aquinas: Can it be Demonstrated that God Exists
- Why is there Something Rather than Nothing?
- Stephen Hawking Worships the “Unknown God”
- Why is There Something Rather than Nothing? The Only Six Options