Thursday, January 21, 2010
Arguments for the Existence of God, are they worth having?
For the past two days, we have been going over the different arguments for the existence of God, and it is about the third or fourth time I have been over these arguments in a class. (We are going over the teleological arguments, cosmological arguments and ontological arguments.) They get old after the first time. The sleeping bear represents how I felt during class, I could have taken a nap. (But I didn't!)
In this post I will be raising the question, are these arguments worth studying? I conclude that they are. Their are two main reasons: First, it provides an avenue for us to better understand God and second, it can remove intellectual obstacles for those who are struggling with the belief in the existence of God.
Before I critique these two reasons, I first want to make a point about the validity and soundness of the arguments in general. As it stands now, I do not think that if someone is not convinced by these arguments, it doesn't mean they are being irrational. I would also add that if someone accepts these arguments without attempting to fully understand them is being a bit naive.
Also, one must not put your faith in these arguments. For instance, the Fine-tuning argument is based upon a lot of scientific theory that could be change in the future. It is not a good idea to rest one's belief in God on stuff that could shift. Belief in God needs to be more foundational.
I find it hard to accept these arguments because they are trying to pin down God in a purely logical manner. They could work, but they don't tell us much about God. You might be able to get to the point where God is proven to be a personal being, but what about his character? When I study these arguments, my picture of God becomes limited. So as to the first reason for studying these arguments, I find it hard to get a lot out of them. Furthermore, even though it provides a platform to look at some interesting stuff (telos, actual infinites, fine-tuning in the universe), there is nothing explicitly Christian about these ideas. You can affirm these arguments and deny the incarnation or trinity. (If your theism is not Christian, this would not apply.)
This brings us to look at the the second reason: if you have to resort to intellectual arguments in order to have "faith," what is your faith? I don't think I would call that faith. It can lead to faith, the Holy Spirit uses a lot of different stuff, but if it is the foundation, the core of your belief, I wonder what exactly do you believe? Is God loving then? what are his attributes, does he have attributes?
Someone who first hears about the arguments for the existence of God and begins to study them, might be fascinated and enjoy studying them. He/she could remove certain intellectual obstacles. (Such as the idea of a God is incompatible with how science explains things or that the big bang removes reason for an unmoved mover.) Also, people who are not familiar with the ideas about God that these arguments deal with would become open to some really important ideas. (God being an infinite being, as the originator of the universe)
So their is reason to continue studying these arguments, even if you don't agree with them, that is assuming you are a theist. They can only go so far though. Ultimately one cannot become a religious person because of these arguments nor can you develop a personal relationship with Him through these arguments. Hence, I find them boring and not very helpful to me at this moment in my life. So, I'm gunna join the bear and take a nap.