Pictured: Contemporary–and consistent–understandings of Heaven.
Now that Reddit has re-introduced the world to threaded conversations, we’ll get back to the old days here. Groovyman, in fact, began as an online bulletin board with threads. What follows is the basic type of thread you will find argued over on the “Front Page of the Internet” in-between fat-shaming. Do share your opinions.
Question: Does God Exist?
Without attempting to offend anyone, let me say that I am a STRONG believer in distinguishing between religion and spirituality. This is not a religious discussion. Because I am neither a philosopher nor a theologian, allow me to offer a few contemporary and classical arguments for the existence or non-existence of God.
With all due respect to Richard Dawkins (who is still alive), Christopher Hitchens (who is not), Marcus Borg and other big thinkers who have made this kind of discussion worthy of Barnes & Noble shoppers, my goal here is not to sell books on Amazon. Thomas Aquinas, after all, never even had such a chance.
I. Contemporary and Classic Arguments
A. Paley’s teleological argument for the existence of God uses an analogy as follows: a watch is to a watchmaker as a universe is to a universe-maker (God). For a more complex description, click here.
B. Aquinas’ cosmological argument for the existence of God involves motion. All things move yet they must be moved by something else, nothing is a self-mover (movement is actually a change from potentiality to actuality). A more descriptive analysis of his belief can be found here.
C. Clifford’s argument that faith in God, without reasonably strong proof, is told through a story. Clifford claims that it is always wrong to believe anything based on insufficient evidence. Read Clifford’s full story here.
D. Pascal’s wager that belief in God is rational, concerns the idea that we are incapable of knowing whether God exists, yet that we should wager one way or the other. Pascal’s wager is broken up into three main parts: (1) Decision Matrix, (2) Probability, and (3) Maxim about decision making. For a more detailed description of his “wager,” click here.
II. An evil look at God. Or maybe not.
Evil is a good way of examining whether God exists. Without offering any answers.
1. God is a good person who is omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect.
- If God is omnipotent he can eliminate all evil.
- If God is omniscient he knows of all the evil that exists.
- If God is morally perfect he should have a desire to eliminate all evil.
2. Evil exists.
- If both evil and God exist how can God be omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect.
3. God doesn’t exist.
III. Final notes to be organized in Paradise. (Montana, soon.)
This argument from evil does work, yet may not be true, because the majority of premises are correct. Several defenses, brought up by Mackie, include that good cannot exist without evil and that evil is due to free will. Suffering is often an effect of humankind and we were given the freedom when we were created. However, there are also people who argue against this claim by saying that it is impossible to prove unjustified evil and that all suffering serves a purpose. Although it is not my personal belief that God doesn’t exist, I see valid points being made throughout this argument (on suffering). My main concern within this argument is that it is impossible to prove unjustified evil. For example, we have no way of proving why natural disasters happen (although it could be due to climate change), therefore it is wrong to say that God doesn’t exist because of this. I believe the difficult part of this argument has to do with justified evils, that were not committed by humankind. These actions made me wonder why a God would choose to allow this to happen. Despite this fact, I side with others against the argument that suffering serves a purpose. We have all been given life, yet no one ever said it would be fair. I believe that through suffering we demonstrate strength and ultimately proof of our existence. For if we did not suffer, how would we distinguish between good and evil? I look to God as the ultimate good because spiritual faith is very important to me. At the same time, I’ve acknowledged the fact that evil exists under God’s ruling and I’m fine with this.