-Daniel James Hole
With modern day skepticism many of the classical proofs of God’s existence have been unfairly dismissed without any real engagement. And this is no truer than with the 5 ways of Thomas Aquinas which have been thoroughly dismissed by people such as Dawkins and Russel without any good reason. And so many of these proofs have in a sense therefore been thrown into the shadows in the Atheist community. And so in light of this I will seek to briefly present the strength of the case of Aquinas’s forgotten first way.
Aquinas begins by acknowledging a truth already discovered by Aristotle and deeply engrained into the surrounding culture of his time, as to the nature of motion. That when we talk of something in motion, we are describing something going from a potential, to an actual. Dr. Edward Feser, a Thomistic scholar explains this by the analogy of a cup of tea. When the cup of tea is hot it has the potential, that is the possibility to be, cold. And if the cup were to become cold, then it would become actually cold. And in this way we understand motion, as the actualization of a potential.
But some of the sceptics say, surely motion does not have to exist! But this is just absurdity. Can the person say that not in motion? Or can they think on what they are going to say without motion? Or even read the text in front of them? I think not, and if you think otherwise then you have proven the existence of motion. And so Aquinas starts on the firm ground to the existence of Motion and proceeds from there.
Continuing Aquinas questions to how anything is in motion. He points out how something just with the possibility to be cannot itself become actual. As the mere possibility to be does nothing on its own. A dog may have the possibility to run, sleep or lie down, however that does not causally tell you what becomes actual. And so their must exist something that is itself not potential that causes things to become actual, as no potential alone has that ability.
And so we are led inevitably to the question of what this thing must be that is not itself potential, but instead actualizes the potential. What we may call a ‘purely actual actualizer’, or as Aristotle called it, a ‘Unmoved Mover’. But the sceptics call out, this is not God! And to an extent they are correct, but only in the sense that we have not yet done a conceptual analysis as to the nature of this being.
So let us consider 4 qualities that this ‘unmoved mover’ must possess.
And so we come to conclude from Aquinas’s first way that this purely actual, unmoved mover must be a timeless, transcendent, all powerful being with at least one intellect. Something one may say sounds quite similar to God.
Anselm defines God as “that which nothing greater can be conceived”. This is his basic definition of God for the sake of his Ontological Argument. It’s interesting that he would use this definition as it seems to go against the medieval mysticism of the incomprehensible nature of God. It appears that human reason is fully capable to understand what God is since he is “that which nothing greater can be conceived”. Dionysius writes about the darkness in the mystery of the incomprehensibility of God. Anselm seems to take a stance that we can understand the nature of God. The Ontological Argument will argue this definition of God which presupposes comprehension of God. The Argument’s premises and conclusion can be stated this way:
Premise 1: God is that “which nothing greater can be conceived”.
Premise 2: The fool must admit that “that which nothing greater can be conceived” is conceivable.
Premise 3: If “that which nothing greater can be conceived” is conceivable, then it must exist outside the mind to be truly “That which nothing greater can be conceived”.
Premise 4: “That which nothing greater can be conceived” is conceivable.
Premise 5: Therefore, “that which nothing greater can be conceived” exists outside the mind.
Premise 6: “That which nothing greater can be conceived” exists in reality.
Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.
Alvin Plantinga’s version:
Anselm’s ontological argument has been revised by Philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Instead of Anselm’s definition of God, Plantinga defines God as the greatest conceivable being or a maximally great being. It’s more helpful since being is implied instead of a thing. Being implies personhood, which deals with objections that may ask: “Why does “that which nothing greater can be conceived” be personal? Plantinga’s argument will deal more with modal logic, which deals with possible worlds semantics. This does not mean multiple worlds or a multiverse. Rather deals with possibility and necessity of things. Model logic deals with how the world could have been and not been. We are contingent beings and could have failed to exist. Unicorns could exist in some possible world, but not all possible worlds. This is important to understand before this argument is laid out. Here is the argument in its logical form:
Premise 1: It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
Premise 2: If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
Premise 3: If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
Premise 4: If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
Premise 5: If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
Conclusion: Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
This argument states that if it is even possible for a maximal great being to exist, then this being actually exists. For this argument to follow, a maximally great being must have possibility of existence, so the world could have been this way. However, to be maximally great, this being would have to exist in every possible world. This is true because this maximal great being could only be maximally great if this being exists in every possible world. This argument basically argues that to be maximally great, necessity must be part of this being’s nature.
The principle of sufficient reason can be applied to this argument to help strengthen it. This principle states, that everything has an explanation for its existence, whether in the necessity of its own nature or something external. A maximally great being would not be contingent, but rather have the property of necessity. Necessity would imply that things with necessity have to exist in all possible worlds. Such as the laws of logic and truth itself. A maximally great being would have this in order to be maximally great. If there is a world in which this being could not exist, then it would not be maximally great. For this argument to be unsound, the objector would have to show that a maximally great being cannot exist in any possible world. To do this, they would have to show a logical contradiction in the idea of a maximally great being. Of course, the fool(non-believer) will have other objections.
Dealing with Objections:
Anselm did not receive as many criticisms in his day as Plantinga receives to this day. One of the main objections to Anselm’s version was the assertion that it’s possible to think of “that which nothing greater can be conceived” to not exist. Anselm simply replies that if this is the case, then it would not be “that which nothing greater can be conceived”. This can seem a bit circular since there might be a world in which the greatest thing conceived only exists in the mind. This is why Plantiga’s argument is better worded and employs model logic. A maximally great being would have to exist in every possible world to be maximally great.
Some objectors to Plantinga’s argument give an argument from analogy. Couldn’t there be a maximally great pizza? The answer is no because what would pertain to this pizza? Taste is subjective, so there’s no real way to get a true standard by which you could determine for a pizza to be maximally great. Plus, pizza can be eaten and not exist in a possible world. This of course is just exercising the thoughts that come from this silly objection. Another objection is the mere assertion that there is a world in which a maximally great being doesn’t exist. This of course is never demonstrated and is a mere assertion. As asserted before, to show this argument to be unsound, the objector would have to show a logical contradiction in the definition of a maximally great being.
A final, common objection to this argument is an epistemological one. Scientism is used to argue that science is the only real way to truth, so arguments from logic need empirical data to back up the premises. It can be simply asked, has scientism demonstrated scientifically why it should be accepted as the best epistemological methodology? The answer will be no, so the objection does not follow at this point.
For God to be “that which nothing greater can be conceived” he must be a maximally great being that exists in every possible world. Anselm was onto this and so is Plantinga with his argument. Anselm would say that to understand this being, we must first believe in order to understand. I would argue that since we do understand that God is a maximally great being, we should believe in order to understand him. The Ontological argument is one of many arguments in the cumulative case to show why we should have faith in God in order to understand him.
Anselm's Major Works: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006L2XMBK/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
Ontological Arguments Book: https://www.amazon.com/Ontological-Arguments-Classic-Philosophical-ebook/dp/B07GNJLV18/ref=sr_1_1?crid=13JV17YF6T1SJ&keywords=ontological+argument&qid=1555186229&s=digital-text&sprefix=Ontological+%2Cdigital-text%2C136&sr=1-1
The Fine-Tuning Argument is the argument for God existence, that argues that the universe is designed for intelligent life by an intelligent designer. Fine-Tuning is a list of parameters that allows life to exist and have been set at very specific numbers. If these Fine-Tuned numbers were changed by a very small amount, then life could not exist. Fine-Tuning doesn’t imply design, but rather the best explanation for these incomprehensible parameters for life is a designer.
Here’s the form of the argument:
Premise One: The fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life is due either to physical necessity, chance, or design.
Premise Two: It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
Premise Three: Therefore, it is due to design.
Fine-Tuning is established science and is virtually not challenged by main stream science. As Paul Davies (Physicist ASU) would say: “The entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural 'constants' were off even slightly.” Where the disagreements arise, is the metaphysics and ontology of why the universe is Fined-Tuned for life. Chance and physical necessity are two of the three main options for why the universe in Fine-Tuned for life. Chance is highly improbable, if not impossible. To demonstrate this, lets discuss the fine tuning of the universe for intelligent life.
The fundamental laws of nature are Fined-Tuned for life ranging from the strong force, all the way to Earth’s tilt relationship to the sun. The weak force, strong force, gravitational force, and electromagnetic force are all Fined-Tuned to allow atoms to form and many other phenomena to happen for intelligent life to exist. These are the four fundamental laws of nature, so keep that in mind. The type of galaxy the earth is in, is Fine-Tuned along with the area of the spiral galaxy we are in.
Here are some astounding fine-tuning parameters for the universe:
If the Cosmological Constant were altered by 1 to 10^90 then we would not be here.
The Cosmological Constant is the driving force of the expansion of the Universe, so if it were altered the universe would expand to fast, or collapse back in on itself, or not expand at all.
If gravity of the strong force strength for stars varied, then stars would burn up, implode, of lose mass:
If stronger by 1 in 10^34, stars burn out too fast for life.
If stronger by 1 in 10^36, stars implode.
If weaker by 1 in 10^36, stars lose mass to radiative pressure.
The ratio of electrons to protons must be Fine-Tuned.
If altered by 1 in 10^37, then galaxies, stars, and planets would not have formed.
As we know, without galaxies, stars, and planets, no life can exist.
The ratio of electromagnetic force to gravity must be Fine-Tuned as well.
If altered by 1 in 10^40, then the mass of stars would change altering the course of the universe to have no life in it. The change in mass of star would affect elements that are essential to intelligent life to exist.
The initial expansion rate of the universe of the early universe must be Fine-Tuned for intelligent life to exist.
If altered by 1 in 10^55, then the universe would either expand to rapidly or would collapse back in on itself. Some may try and explain this away with inflation, but Paul Steinhardt documents would have suggested that even inflation would need to be Fined-Tuned.
This sounds like the cosmological constant, but it is not. The cosmological constant also needs to be Fine-Tuned for the expansion rate to even happen. With both of these mind, the probability of our existence becomes even more unlikely.
These are just five examples of fine-tuning parameters that need to happen for intelligent life to even have a chance at existence. There are even more of these parameters set at 10^37 or higher for matter, chemistry, galaxies, stars, or planets to exist. After we have these, then it’s even possible for life to form naturally. All these parameters are set in the universe all at the same time to have a functioning universe. Galaxies and planets have to be Fine-Tuned for intelligent life to exist as well.
The three types of galaxies are elliptical, irregular, and spiral galaxies. Both elliptical and irregular galaxies cannot support life as we know. Elliptical galaxies lack heavy elements that are needed for life to exist. Irregular galaxies contain to many supernovas (Stars blowing up) for life to exist in them. Spiral galaxies are the only galaxies that can support life, but even then we have to exist in the right spot in the milky way to exist. Mainly due to black holes and radiation in spiral galaxies. Our solar system just happens to exist in the right spiral galaxy at the right time.
Earth is even Fined-Tuned for life in relation to its solar system. If Jupitar wasn’t in the right place, then Earth would be bombarded with meteors. The tilt of the Earth’s axis is just right to the position of the Sun. Earth’s moon is just the right size for gravitation force of our planet. Earth’s atmosphere is just right as well concerning the ratio of nitrogen to oxygen. There are many more constants that allow for the Earth to exist as well that are Fine-Tuned.
Chance is the most irrational view one could take to try and explain the fine tuning of the universe for intelligent life to exist. To infer chance would be like the scene from Dumb and Dumber, when Lloyd Christmas asks Mary whether he has a chance with her. Mary responds by saying that there’s a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of them getting together, Lloyd response’s: so your telling me there’s a chance!
Imagine a 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 over 30 times. Some of the constants are set way above 10^37. One analogy to show this improbability goes like: if you shot a bullet across the universe and hit a target dead center, then this just shows the improbability of 1^37. As we know, there was no chance between Lloyd and Mary. The fine tuning of the universe is not due to chance, so what about physical necessity?
Physical necessity says that it’s impossible for the constants to be different. As we know, this is not true. It’s more reasonable than chance, but doesn’t has much explanatory power. Leibniz’s contingency argument shows that the universe could have failed to exist and could have existed in a different fashion. Plus, the fine tuning is independent of the laws of nature. Also, the laws of nature are Fined-Tuned as well. The amount of atoms could have been different, altering the amount of stars, galaxies, and planets that would actually exist. Simulations show that the universe could have been different and is not restricted to this type of universe. The universe could only be physically necessarily by a designer anyway. Mainly due to the fact the design best account for the fine-tuning parameters of the universe. The type of universe could only exist by an intelligent designer based on all the Fined-Tuned constants of the universe. The universe is contingent because is began to exist and the elementary particles could have been different leaving physical necessity not a viable option for the fine tuning of the universe.
Therefore, the fine tuning of life is due to design. The designer would be described as immaterial, timeless, space less, and powerful based on the Kalam Cosmological argument. With the Fine-Tuning Argument, we have a personal and intelligent designer because it designed the universe for intelligent life to exist. Objections to this argument will be dwelt with in my future article, “Dealing with the Top Ten Objections to the Fine Tuning Argument.” As of now, it’s reasonable to infer an intelligent designer is behind the fine tuning of the universe.
•God’s Crime Scene
•The Creator and the Cosmos
Logic is the science of valid inference. Laws of logic are not just descriptive as to the physical world, but are prescriptive as to rationality. They prescribe the right way to think. They are of the mind and apply conceptually, immaterial as it were, to truth statements.
For example, the law of non-contradiction is not just perceptively true—it is true.
Laws of physics don't impose themselves on our minds like this. The law of gravity doesn't tell us what to think; not how to think, the right way to think or how to come to truth statements by inductive, deductive, or abductive (e.g., scientific method) reasoning.
All conceptual laws reflect the mind of a lawgiver. We see this in societal laws. They reflect the mind of those who created the law. The only reasonable explanation for the kind of mind necessary to ground the existence of transcendent, absolute, and conceptual laws like logic is God, via syllogism.
Its true God upholds the world in a logical fashion, but laws of logic as we know them are conceptual, existing only in our minds. If laws of logic are simply properties of our brain ("how our brains work"), then why do we need laws of logic to correct how our brains works? If laws of logic simply are how our brains work, then we shouldn't need them to correct how our brains work. We should just think logically all the time, all things being equal of course. But negative. laws of logic actually prescribe to us "how to think" by guiding our thought processes.
Humans don't form laws of logic from observation (they are conceptual) or by convention (like which side of the road to drive on), we instead confirm pre-existing logical truths, which are absolute and universal, with our observations. As Astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle remarked: "Laws of logic are conceptual in nature.” They do not describe aspects of the universe. Rather, they describe the correct chain of reasoning from premises to conclusions.” Hence, logical absolutes are abstract entities because concepts are incorporeal; yet being semantic debunking Platonism.
Second, if laws of logic were descriptions of the physical universe, then we might expect different regions of the universe to have different laws of logic since different regions of the universe are described differently; but laws of logic apply everywhere. Third, we would have no way of knowing if laws of logic apply in the future as they have in the past, since no one has experienced the universe's future. After all, conditions in the universe are constantly changing. If laws of logic were descriptions of such conditions, then they would change as well." If laymen atheists believe they know the universe better than an astrophysicist who graduated with highest honors at a secular university and who is a biblical creationist, then that's their folly.
We don't govern logic. Logic governs us. It tells us how to think and applies conceptually to truth statements. It prescribes rational thought. Logical truths exist whether there is a human mind to recognize them or formulate them into axioms or not. They are definitely "of the mind" and so the only sound foundation for universal, immaterial, prescriptive laws of logic is the unembodied mind of God. The TAG is simply an ironclad proof for the existence of God.
More articles on the TAG argument on the existence of God:
In my studies of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, I’ve come across some interesting objections. Some of these objections are good objections and some are just held high among YouTube, atheist laymen. This article will deal with the good objections and a link will be given to Dr. Craig’s response to the online YouTube objections. I’ll give my opinions and refutations of ten good objections to the Kalam Cosmological Argument.
Objection #1: What if the Big Bang Theory is wrong?
Big Bang Cosmology is accepted among the majority of cosmologists, physicists, and other scientists that deal with these fields of science. If this theory is proven wrong, then we must remain neutral on whether the universe had a beginning or not. Until a future model of science proves the universe is eternal, then we must withhold judgment about the universe origins. The Laws of Thermodynamics is proven science and is understood as fact. These laws would still prove the beginning of the universe and so would the philosophical arguments.
Objection #2: Quantum Vacuums have shown that something can come from nothing.
Quantum Vacuums are described by Lawrence Krauss as vacuums of empty space that subatomic particles pop into existence without of a cause. These vacuums are described as nothing. This commits the fallacy of equivocation because it switches the definition of nothing. Nothing is not anything, but a Quantum Vacuum is something. A Quantum Vacuum is a sea of fluctuation of energy that pop these particles into existence. A Quantum Vacuum is not nothing in the philosophical sense, but in the scientific sense which are two complete different definitions of nothing.
Objection #3: The first premise doesn’t apply to the universe, since time began at the Big Bang.
Time began at the universe, so A theory of time only applies to the universe. The first premise is everything that begins to exist has a cause. Either a material cause or a sufficient cause. Something cannot come from nothing because out of nothing, nothing comes. If you deny this, then you have a heavy burden of proof. Science lives by this rule and would be destroyed if something could come from nothing. Why doesn’t a desk, a copy of myself, or anything else pop into existence out of nothing at any time. We just don’t see this and it’s reasonable to conclude that the same applies to the universe. If this rule doesn’t apply to the universe, then why doesn’t a universe pop into existence by nothing in our universe? God, an unchanging and timeless being which could solve this objection at the end of the day.
Objection #4: The singularity is infinite and eternal of just matter.
When we trace the expansion of the universe backwards, we find that there was a singular moment when there was no time, space, or matter. This right of the back shows that there could not be a singular point with an eternal and infinite amount of matter. Also, general relativity would show this to be false as well because it shows that time, matter, and space are relative. If one comes into existence, then they all have to. If space didn’t exist, then where would matter be. If time didn’t exist, then when would matter be. The Big Bang theory shows at least time coming into existence, so it follows that matter and space do as well.
Objection #5: It’s a God of the Gaps argument.
Does this argument plug in God to explain something that we don’t understand? Is the argument just one big appeal to ignorance? At first glance, this objection may seem reasonable, but under cross-examination it just falls apart. I would refer you to my article on the appeal to ignorance fallacy to explain what this fallacy is. I’ll leave a link in this article. This is a philosophical argument that is not used to explain some sort of scientific phenomenon that we can’t explain. Science that we understand is actually used to help reinforce the second premise, that the universe began to exist. In fact, we are using God to explain something that we do understand such as the fact that the universe had a beginning and that everything that begins to exist has a cause. You would have to refute these premises to accuse the argument of explaining something that we don’t understand. Finally, if you claim that science will one day have an explanation, then you must state what the explanation is. Otherwise, you commit the appeal to ignorance fallacy because you are appealing to something that we don’t know anything about. This would be a future naturalistic explanation to explain the origin of the universe. It would also beg the question because you assume there will be a naturalistic explanation. This sounds like blind faith to me.
Objection #6: Why does the Cause have to be God?
Time, matter, and space had a beginning so the cause cannot be contained of these three things. To say otherwise would be begging the question. The cause would have to be uncaused because we have to stop at a certain point because otherwise we are left with an infinite regress. It’s not special pleading because atheists like David Hume have assumed that the universe had always existed. The cause would also be very powerful to be able to create a universe. This is what we mean by God, a timeless, space less, immaterial, powerful, uncaused, eternal being.
Objection #7: Why would the cause have to conscious/personal?
The wind causes a leaf to fall of a tree, so why would the cause not be an impersonal force like the wind. Would it not be special pleading to say the cause of the universe is a being of some sort. The person claiming this would be missing the point and would realize the special case. There are three reasons why the cause of the universe would have to be a mind. First, there are two main immaterial realities. Abstract objects like numbers or an unembodied mind. Minds have freewill capability and would be able to cause the universe. Abstract objects have no causing power, but an abstract mind like God could. Secondly, the cause would have to be a mind because if this cause was an unconscious object, then it’s effect would be eternal as well. Think of water freezing. If the cause of water freezing was eternal, then it’s effect like the cause would be eternal. A mind could make a choice and its effect would not be an eternal effect. Finally, the initial conditions set at the big bang are fine-tuned, such as the expansion rate of the universe after the big bang. This would imply rationality, which implies a type of mind. These are three main reasons for why the cause would be a mind.
Objection #8: Could the multiverse have caused our universe?
It’s possible that that there’s many universes that caused our universe, but it’s just not reasonable to believe. First of all, there’s no evidence for the multiverse at all. We also must remember that we could not access something physical like this because our universe is a closed system. It’s more of a metaphysical, philosophical question than a scientific question because it can’t be proved or disproved by the scientific method. Also, The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem help shows that any universe expanding is finite in the past. Essentially, the whole show of the multiverse would need a beginning. It also seems to push the problem back even more because the second law of thermodynamics would still apply to these other universes. The multiverse is also an objection to the fine-tuning argument, so I’ll give the rest of my critique of it in my future articles on the fine-tuning argument. At the end of the day, the multiverse is just highly speculative.
Objection #9: What about an oscillating universe model?
Even though it’s not accepted by most cosmologists, it’s still an objection that’s possible. Has the universe been contracting and expanding for eternity? First, this claim needs to be proved and it has not meant its burden of proof. However, I will give my arguments against this model’s existence. The second law of thermodynamics is highly understood and would refute this model. It would require more energy for the universe to expand and contract multiple times, so we would expect the universe to reach heat death eventually. Obviously, we are not in heat death. The philosophical arguments would help against this oscillating universe as well. This would have to be an infinite process, but we know we can’t have an actually infinite number of events. This oscillating universe would leave us with an infinite regression that destroys science. Going with Occam’s razor, it’s more simply to infer the universe had a beginning. Finally, the most disastrous thing to this model is our current law of gravity. If the universe crunched back on itself, then it would not be able to expand again.
Objection #10: Who created God?
If everything needs a cause, then what caused God? Every time I present this argument to my atheist friends, they always ask this question. The first premise is everything that begins to exist has a cause. Unless you can prove that an uncaused thing like God had a beginning, then this is a nonsensical question. Asking this question leads to an infinite regress which again, would destroy science. This is also another objection to the fine-tuning argument, so the design aspect will be dealt with in future articles. Why couldn’t the universe cause itself? The universe began to exist, so the cause must be something other than the universe. It would be like me saying that I gave birth to myself. It’s simply nonsensical and a question begging statement. This question is the biggest strawman of all arguments against the existence of God.
These questions and objections are worth the discussion. The Kalam Cosmological argument is a logically valid argument in its syllogistic form and has sound premises. It has withstood its scrutiny and objections. Since it’s a successful argument, we can infer that a theistic God is the cause of the universe. For extra resources, check out the links given below.
Kalam Cosmological Argument:
Appeal to Ignorance Fallacy:
Extra resources that deal with even more objections:
Dr. Craigs response to online laymen objections: