Does God exist?

Rational proofs support the internal consistency and rationality of
the Christian faith. Thomas Aquinas argued thus:

1. There is a cause for everything that we see. If premise one is
true, is there an infinite regression of causes or does the buck stop
somewhere, namely, with God? How did the universe come into existence?

2. Existential argument: The argument from design. The mind of God is
expressed in the works of God. How did the ordering of the universe
come about? There seems to be some kind of purpose in our own lives,
which functions as evidence for design. We are here because God is
here, and he longs for us to discover him. Until we discover God, we
shall remain unfulfilled.

3. Inference to the best explanation. Are we here by accident? Are we
here because God designed us to be here? There is a human longing for
significance, and Christianity (a God who creates, who redeems, and
who is with us now) is the best explanation.

The Gospel (good news) makes sense in itself, but it makes sense of
everything else as well.

4. Argument from morality. Being a Christian transforms one’s life in
a confused postmodern culture. What is the ultimate ground of
morality? How do we live the good life? What if there was a concept of
good that were beyond our control? That is precisely what the gospel
is saying.

5. Argument through bearing witness. God is real and not simply true.
God transforms our lives.

6. Argument from numbers. Why do so many people believe in God when
there is no God to believe in?

7.  Argument from beauty. Scripture speaks about the fair beauty of
God. The quest for beauty, meaning and truth- can it be fulfilled? Is
it a signpost pointing beyond itself to the source, God? There are
things that we haven’t discovered yet, but it’s there. God exists. For
nature is beautiful.

Problems:

1. The problem of evil. Why is there suffering in the world?

There is no such being as God, supposedly all-knowing, all-powerful
and all-loving. This is clear from the existence of evil. Since evil
exists, then God, if he exists, either knows nothing about it, is
incapable of doing anything about it, or does not want to do anything
about it. So the existence of evil proves that God does not exist.

Reply: There are two parts to this:

–       Making sense of suffering. Suffering is part of the givenness of the world.
–       Coping with suffering. The gospel enables us to cope with suffering
because God is there to console and strengthen us and to accompany us
through the dark places. The theme of Christian hope holds that we
will one day be delivered from this suffering altogether.

2. Problem of Divine Omnipotence

Either God can create a stone so heavy that he himself cannot lift it
or he cannot create such a stone. If the former, then there is at
least one thing God cannot do, namely, lift the stone in question. If
the latter, then there is at least one thing God cannot do, namely,
create such a stone. So God is not omnipotent.

3. Problem of Circularity

“God exists. It says so in the Bible, and the Bible is the word of God.”

The Bible says that God exists.
The Bible is the word of God.
The word of God is true. (Implicit)
So God exists.

The second premise presupposes that God exists, which was precisely
what we were trying to prove. So the conclusion has been “smuggled”
into the second premise.

4. Anselm Proves Too Much?

God is a perfect being, namely, a being greater than which no other
can be conceived. But if He did not exist, then a being greater than
Him would be conceivable, namely, one just like Him, but which, in
addition, possessed the virtue of existence. So God must exist. (St.
Anselm of Canterbury)

“A perfect island is an island greater than which no other island can
be conceived. But if such an island did not exist, then an island even
greater would be conceivable, namely, one just like it, but which, in
addition, possessed the virtue of existence. So a perfect island must
exist.”

(The flaw in Anselm’s argument is difficult to spot. But the mock
argument indicates a flaw somewhere. Anselm’s argument seems to prove
too much.)

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