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Handbook of Christian Apologetics: God Proofs

01/05/2011

We have included some arguments which we regard as probable but not certain, for these also count, as significant clues, especially when considered cumulatively. Ten converging clues are almost as convincing as one demonstrative argument in most areas of life (e.g., in court, at war or in love) (105).

Note: Could this be a case of molding explanations after the fact, or is it reasonable to approach things this way?

when something comes to be in a certain state, such as mature size, that state cannot bring itself into being (465).

Note: Growth requires outside things. Decay doesn’t. Argument 1 answered.

Therefore this being outside the universe is outside matter, space and time. It is not a changing thing; it is the unchanging Source of change (480).

Note: But how does this point to God? Lightning must come from above, from something of considerable energy and power and this something we call Zeus. Does God change? What does change mean?

Now ask yourself: Are all things caused to exist by other things right now? Suppose they are (482).

If there is no God who has existence by his own eternal nature, then the gift of existence cannot be passed down the chain of creatures and we can never get it (489).

Note: Why can’t the universe have existence as it’s own eternal nature? God introduces more than is necessary to answer this question equally well. Proof 2 answered.

A causes B, B causes C, and C causes A. That is absurd (497).

Note: Would a cyclical explanation make sense, or would we need an explanation for the cycle? Not sure. What counts as a sufficient ultimate explanation?

2. Whatever comes into being or goes out of being does not have to be; its non-being is a real possibility (513).

Note: Does the block universe contradict this?

12. This absolutely necessary being is God (519).

Note: Non sequitur! Again, why not consider the universe itself to be necessary? Or how about any alternative cause?

We believe, for example, that a relatively stable and permanent way of being is better than one that is fleeting and precarious. Why? Because we apprehend at a deep (but not always conscious) level that being is the source and condition of all value; finally and ultimately, being is better than nonbeing (534).

Note: Our subjective preferences are not proof of objective “betterness.” In addition, as animals, we are afraid to die. This improves survival.

But if these degrees of perfection pertain to being and being is caused in finite creatures, then there must exist a “best,” a source and real standard of all the perfections that we recognize belong to us as beings (539).

Note: I’m good at math, therefore something exists that is infinitely good at math. I don’t see the logical connection. I can jump high. I have big muscles. I can eat a lot of chicken. Do these all really require infinite versions? Proof 4 answered.

You can speak subjectivism but you cannot live it (543).

Note: If I eat an apple, that doesn’t necessarily imply that I consider it an objective good. Maybe I think it’s good for me.

2. Either this intelligible order is the product of chance or of intelligent design (549).

Note: Are there any other options? On a higher order level, is it fair to assert that it is evolutionarily beneficial to be able to react to the world approximately as it is, or is there a deeper question being asked here? Maybe the intelligibility of the universe is a necessary truth, like 1+1=2. Can the nature of the universe be the same?

5. Design comes only from a mind, a designer (550).

Note: Not always. Evolution. The argument is not valid. Proof 5 asnwered. The answer is not necessarily God, but what is the answer? Perhaps many of these proofs are like that.

The first premise is certainly true-even those resistant to the argument admit it. The person who did not would have to be almost pathetically obtuse (551).

Note: Quantum physics? If you think you understand it, you don’t.

Did the universe-the collection of all things bounded by space and time-begin to exist? This premise has recently received powerful support from natural science-from so-called Big Bang Cosmology (594).

Note: Not the main theory of time.

The problem comes from supposing that an infinite sequence could ever reach, by temporal succession, any point at all (601).

Note: Applies equally as a problem for an eternal God. Did he always exist? Boom. Regress.

A being not limited in these ways cannot “come” to be or “cease” to be. If it exists at all, it must exist eternally (616).

Note: Outside of time and space, the word “exist” itself becomes incoherent. something cannot cease to be, come to be, or exist.

Is there a way out? Yes, if the universe is the result of a free personal choice (621).

Note: Three problems. Firstly, choice is incoherent outside of time. Secondly, if changes in will can occur outside of time, then changes in extra-time circumstances can also occur, to lead to a non-eternal universe. Lastly, assuming a personal cause, the reasons (conditions) for a personal being to act will exist from eternity as well, leading to an eternal universe. Proof 6 answered.

But reason can at least let us know that “someone did it.” And that is of great value (652).

Note: This forces agency into the picture unnecessarily. Also, although things within the universe have contingency, the universe as a whole has a nature unknown to us. It may be necessary in itself. This explanation has the benefit of making fewer assumptions than the theistic one, although it is still not satisfacory. Proof 7 answered.

That is almost the definition of an idea (671).

Note: Perhaps ideas have this feature, but is it the only thing?

Now a real idea cannot actually exist and be effectively operative save in a real mind, which has the creative power to bring such a system into real existence (673).

Note: It takes more than a mind to create.

A cosmic-wide order requires a cosmic-wide Orderer, which can only be a Mind (674).

Note: Not necessarily. Does it require a law giver that 1+1=2?

Thus our material universe necessarily requires, as the sufficient reason for its actual existence as an operating whole, a Transcendent Creative Mind (677).

Note: Can’t say I understand this one. Proof 8 passed over mostly.

Therefore, there are numerous events whose only adequate explanation is the extraordinary and direct intervention of God (679).

Note: How about psychics or aliens? Supernatural explanations have the weakness of always having equally likely but totally different alternatives.

it would be very hard to consider what happened a deception or even an extraordinary coincidence (688).

Note: True, but God is not the only third alternative.

So there is not really a proof from miracles. If you see some event as a miracle, then the activity of God is seen in this event (697).

Note: Primacy of Faith. If you see the event as alien in origin, then you can see aliens in the event.

The argument is not a proof, but a very powerful clue or sign (700).

Note: Of aliens? Proof 9 answer postponed to chapter 5. Miracles are clues of alien visitation.

Either this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence, or both intelligibility and intelligence are the products of blind chance (705).

Note: I’m trying to think if there’s a third alternative. Evolution is chance + selection, not pure chance. Can’t the development of minds that can understand the world be caused by something besides or in addition to chance?

If naturalism is true, Lewis argued, then it seems to leave us with no reason for believing it to be true; for all judgments would equally and ultimately be the result of nonrational forces (709).

Note: An assumption that a process of evolution favoring approximating reality seems a good enough explanation. It predicts our intelligibility of the ‘middle world’ as Dawkins puts it, as well as how things outside of that approach unintelligibility. If we evolved to understand, it would only be necessary to understandon our scale. Proof 10 provisionally answered, but in need of work.

This proof might appeal to someone who shares a Platonic view of knowledge-who (727).

Note: Since I find the assumption unlikely to be true, I say this argument 11 is answered. The main objection is that there is no evidence for Platonic ideals.

4. This idea could not have been caused by ourselves, because we know ourselves to be limited and imperfect, and no effect can be greater than its cause (734).

Note: The idea of the infinite is not infinite itself so finite beings can cause them. Proof 12 answered.

How can we think away limitation or imperfection unless we first recognize it as such(740)?

Note: We can think of boundlessness because we have bounds, or infinity because we have the finite. Perfection may equal the absence of flaws.

1. It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind and in reality than in the mind alone. 2. “God” means “that than which a greater cannot be thought.” (750)

Note: God’s definition has existence forced into it through the backdoor of the concept of “greatness.” The argument is really just “I define God as something that exists, therefore God exists.” Proof 13 answered.

1. There is a possible world (W) in which there is a being (X) with maximal greatness (776).

Note: Maximal greatness is the back door through which Plantinga sneaks presupposed existence into the proof.

Real moral obligation is a fact. We are really, truly, objectively obligated to do good and avoid evil (781).

Note: Why is this always asserted without proof? Or if proof is given, it’s a fallacious argument from final consequences.

2. Either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the “religious” one (782).

Note: False dichotomy. There are many atheistic as well as “religious” moralities.

Moral obligation can hardly be rooted in a material motion blind to purpose (789).

Note: No single atom is alive, yet together, many atoms create life. The whole is often more than the sum of the parts.

What view is compatible? One that sees real moral obligation as grounded in its Creator, that sees moral obligation as rooted in the fact that we have been created with a purpose and for an end (795).

Note: On this view, if our creator seeks to bring about our ultimate and infinite suffering, we would have a moral obligation to seek that. If that is what morality is, a simple following of what created us, then that is not a morality worth having. In addition, where does obligation come from, even given that we were created with a purpose? Doesn’t that just reflect our creator’s desires? Proof 14 answered.

If they move to correct the inconsistency, it will be a move toward the religious view and away from the atheistic one (802).

Note: One can still strive against that which they don’t desire along with like minded people without assuming ultimate morality.

Isn’t it remarkable that no one, even the most consistent subjectivist, believes that it is ever good for anyone to deliberately and knowingly disobey his or her own conscience (813)?

Note: Wow, really? The consciences of people in the past said women shouldn’t vote and those of different “races” shouldn’t marry. I would hope that I would be able to defy my conscience. Proof 15 answered.

Conscience is thus explainable only as the voice of God in the soul. The Ten Commandments are ten divine footprints in our psychic sand (822).

Note: My conscience says that the ten commandments are ridiculously crappy, unsatisfactory rules, with a few exceptions.

4. The only rationally acceptable answer to the question of the relation between God and morality is the biblical one: morality is based on God’s eternal nature (845).

Note: The arbitrariness pointed out by the Euthyphro dilemma remains. Why would God’s nature rule out murder as good? God’s good nature could easily include toturing the innocent, unless e have some standard outside of God’s nature. The only way to make the concept of “good” non arbitrary is to ground it outside of God. Proof 15 answered.

e. The universe, evolution, natural selection and survival all fare even worse as explanations for morality. You cannot get more out of less. The principle of causality is violated here. How could the primordial slime pools gurgle up the Sermon on the Mount (855)?

Note: Yes, you can. Mindless ants together create a colony that is greater than the constituent parts. Also, included in the end is an argument from incredulity.

2. But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy (866).

Note: Not innately or naturally. Many in more atheistic countries lack a desire in something infinite, and many find lasting satisfaction in this finite life. Proof 16 answered.

17. The Argument from Aesthetic Experience There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Therefore there must be a God. You either see this one or you don’t (915).

Note: Lamest argument ever. They don’t even put in the effort. Awe and wonder do not equal God. There is no logical connection between the two. Proof 17 answered.

2. It is inconceivable that so many people could have been so utterly wrong about the nature and content of their own experience (923).

Note: Racism, earth is flat, optical illusions provide points where people are ignorant of what’s true due to misunderstandings of their own perceptions.

1. the consistency of these claims (are they self-consistent as well as consistent with what we know otherwise to be true?) (928).

Note: They are not consistent with each other, which undercuts their reliability.

2. the character of those who make these claims (do these persons seem honest, decent, trustworth)?); and 3. the effects these experiences have had in their own lives and the lives of others (have these persons become more loving as a result of what they experienced? More genuinely edifying? Or, alternatively, have they become vain and self-absorbed?) (929).

Note: Some are of good character, but even those who have these experiences will be admitted “sinners”. The effects are also consistent with mere belief. If these effects can be created when we know there is no spiritual element, then they would be explained sufficiently (speaking in tongues). Proof 18 answered.

1. Belief in God-that Being to whom reverence and worship are properly due-is common to almost all people of every era. 2. Either the vast majority of people have been wrong about this most profound element of their lives or they have not. 3. It is most plausible to believe that they have not. 4. Therefore it is most plausible to believe that God exists (938).

Note: Once again, racism, optical illusions, self serving bias in worldview selection all are what you’d call “universals” and yet we have reason to believe that they reflect incorrect views of the world. That is why argument ad populi is a fallacy. It takes a lot more than popularity to prove a point, especially when plausible defeaters exist. Proof 19 answered.

But if God does not exist, what is it that believers have been experiencing (951)?

Note: Overactive agency detection, not psychosis.

one that takes full account of the experience of believers and shows that their experience is best explained as delusion and not insight. But atheists have never done so (957).

Note: Overactive agency detection explains the variety of faiths in a way that no particular religious explanation does. It also does not make assumptions of different types of being, only referring to a phenomenon that has been demonstrated to exist.

If you place it with God, you lose nothing, even if it turns out that God does not exist (974).

Note: I lose my life, any chance at approaching the truth.

The Wager cannot-or should not-coerce belief. But it can be an incentive for us to search for God, to study and restudy the arguments that seek to show that there is Something-or Someone-who is the ultimate explanation of the universe and of my life. It could at lease motivate “The Prayer of the Skeptic”: “God, I don’t know whether you exist or not, but if you do, please show me who you are” (982).

Note: There are elves that will torture you forever unless once in your life you say “elves are the shit.” Is this good reason to say that? Only if there is some prior evidence for these elves. Otherwise there are infinite postulations that we would be obligated to indulge. Proof 20 not a proof, so not in need of an answer.

5. Why are there more than twenty arguments for and only one against God (the problem of evil)? (See chap. 6.) (992).

Note: False. Divine hiddenness, contradiction, incoherence, lack of evidence.

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