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Augustine: God is 'something than which nothing more excellent or sublime exists' ... Suppose you could conceive of God's nonexistence ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: God

  • A Priori Arguments

Classical Theism
  • Classical conception of God God is
  • Omnipotent
  • Omnipresent
  • Omniscient
  • Eternal
  • Transcendent
  • Compassionate

Dissident conceptions
  • Via negativa-- the negative way
  • We can only what God is not
  • Deism
  • God created the world, but has no further
    interaction with it no miracles
  • Pantheism
  • God is everything
  • Panentheism
  • God includes everything

Argument from Thought
  • Where do we get our concept of God?
  • Its the concept of something perfect
  • We never experience perfection
  • So, the concept of God is innate
  • It must come from something perfect
  • So, God must exist

Descartess Premise
  • Now it is manifest by the natural light that
    there must at least be as much reality in the
    efficient and total cause as in its effect. For,
    pray, whence can the effect derive its reality,
    if not from its cause? And in what way can this
    cause communicate this reality to it, unless it
    possessed it in itself? And from this it follows,
    not only that something cannot proceed from
    nothing, but likewise that what is more perfect
    -- that is to say, which has more reality within
    itself -- cannot proceed from the less perfect.

Descartess Argument
  • The cause of the idea of X must have at least as
    much reality as X
  • We get the idea of fire from fire
  • We get the idea of red from red things
  • The cause of our idea of God must have at least
    as much reality as God
  • Only God has as much reality as God
  • So, our idea of God must come from God

The Ontological Argument
  • Augustine God is something than which nothing
    more excellent or sublime exists
  • Anselm (1033-1109) God is that the greater than
    which cannot be conceived-- the greatest
    conceivable being

Anselms Argument
  • Even the Fool ... is forced to agree that
    something, the greater than which cannot be
    thought, exists in the intellect, since he
    understands this when he hears it, and whatever
    is understood is in the intellect. And surely
    that, the greater than which cannot be thought,
    cannot exist in the intellect alone. For if it
    exists solely in the intellect, it can be thought
    to exist in reality, which is greater. If, then,
    that, the greater than which cannot be thought,
    exists in the intellect alone, this same being,
    than which a greater cannot be thought, is that
    than which a greater can be thought. But surely
    this is impossible. Therefore, there can be
    absolutely no doubt that something, the greater
    than which cannot be thought, exists both in the
    intellect and in reality.

Anselm in outline
  • Suppose you could conceive of Gods nonexistence
  • Then you could think of something greater than
    God-- something just like God, but existing
  • But nothing can be conceived as greater than God
  • So, Gods nonexistence is inconceivable

Descartess Ontological Argument
  • God has all perfections
  • Existence is a perfection
  • So, God has existence

A Posteriori Arguments
The Cosmological Argument
  • Aristotle God is the prime mover of the universe
  • Udayana (1000)
  • 1. Argument from effectsThings like the earth
    must have a cause.Because they are effects.Like
    a pot.

Aquinass Argument
  • The second way is based on the nature of
    causation. In the observable world, causes are to
    be found ordered in series we never observe, or
    even could observe, something causing itself, for
    this would mean it preceded itself, and this is
    impossible. Such a series of causes, however,
    must stop somewhere. For in all series of causes,
    an earlier member causes an intermediate, and the
    intermediate a last (whether the intermediate be
    one or many). If you eliminate a cause you also
    eliminate its effects. Therefore there can be
    neither a last nor an intermediate cause unless
    there is a first. But if the series of causes
    goes on to infinity, and there is no first cause,
    there would be neither intermediate causes nor a
    final effect, which is patently false. It is
    therefore necessary to posit a first cause, which
    all call 'God'.

Aquinass Argument
  • Let a be the current state of the world
  • It was caused, as was its cause, etc.
  • . . .
  • This cant go on to infinity, or wed never have
    reached a
  • So, there must be a first cause, God
  • God

Avicennas Argument
  • Contingent has a reason for its being
  • Necessary has no reason for its being
  • God the necessary being

Avicennas Argument
  • Suppose there were no necessary being
  • Everything, including the current state of the
    world, a, would be contingent
  • There would be an infinite series
  • . . . .
  • But then the conditions for as existence would
    never be satisfied
  • So, there is a necessary being, God

Al-Ghazalis Objections
  • Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), The Incoherence of the
    Philosophers scepticism
  • Why not an infinite regress of reasons or causes?

Infinite Regress
  • Its not self-evident that the world could not
    extend back infinitely far
  • Plato, Aristotle, al-Farabi, and Avicenna thought
    of some things other than God as eternal
  • Is there an argument?

A Possible Argument
  • Imagine the series
  • . . . .
  • It would have to be necessary or contingent
  • It consists of contingent beings, so it cant be
  • But it doesnt depend on anything outside itself

Al-Ghazalis Reply
  • But the series could be necessary, even though
    every event in it is contingent

  • Averroes (ibn Rushd, 1126-1198)
  • Harmonizes religion and philosophy, and refutes
    al-Ghazali, in The Incoherence of the Incoherence

Two Kinds of Causes
  • Efficient cause once caused, result is
    independent of cause
  • Dependence result continues to depend on cause
    cause and effect are inseparable

Contingent, Necessary
  • Ambiguous
  • Contingent having an efficient cause having a
    causal explanation OR
  • Contingent depending on something else
  • Necessary having no causal explanation OR
  • Necessary independent, self-sufficient

Averroess Argument
  • The world of efficient causes
  • . . .
  • G1
  • G2
  • God

Leibniz (1646-1716)
  • Principle of Sufficient Reason Nothing happens
    without a sufficient reason.
  • So the universe the series of contingent causes
    must have a sufficient reason for its existence
  • Something which is its own sufficient reason for
    existing God

Aquinass Design Argument
  • All bodies obey natural laws.
  • All bodies obeying natural laws act toward an
  • Therefore, all bodies act toward an end.
    (Including those that lack awareness.)
  • Things lacking awareness act toward a goal only
    under the direction of someone aware and
  • Therefore, all things lacking awareness act under
    the direction of someone aware and intelligent

Aquinass Design Argument
  • All things lacking awareness act under the
    direction of someone aware and intelligent.
  • The universe as a whole lacks awareness.
  • Therefore, the universe as a whole acts under the
    direction of someone aware and intelligent-
    namely, God.

William Paley (1743-1805)
  • Suppose you find a watch
  • Intricate
  • Successful
  • Youd infer that it had an intelligent maker
  • Similarly, you find the universe
  • Intricate
  • Successful
  • You shoud infer it had an intelligent maker, God

Humes Criticisms
  • Analogy isnt strong
  • Universe may be self-organizing
  • Taking analogy seriously
  • God not infinite
  • God not perfect
  • Difficulties in nature
  • Cant compare to other universes
  • Maybe earlier, botched universes
  • Maybe made by committee
  • Why machine, rather than animal or vegetable?

Humes Scepticism
  • Variability Many hypotheses are possible
  • Undecidability We have no evidence that would
    let us select the most probable
  • So, we cannot establish Gods existence

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
  • Does God exist?
  • Place your bet
  • Total uncertainty no data
  • What should you do?

Pascals Wager
  • Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering
    that God is. Let us estimate these two chances.
    If you gain, you gain all if you lose, you lose
    nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He

Pascals Wager
  • You believe You dont believe
  • God Heaven Hell
  • No God Virtue Nothing
  • A bet on God cant lose a bet against God cant

Kants Moral Argument
  • We cant prove Gods existence rationally
  • But we cant live and act except by assuming that
    God exists
  • Bad things happen to good people the wicked
  • Why, then, be good?

Kants Moral Argument
  • Its rational to be moral only if its rewarded
  • That doesnt happen in this life
  • It must happen in another life
  • There must be an afterlife, and a just God

The Problem of Evil
  • If God exists, He is all good, all knowing, and
    all powerful
  • If He is all good, He is willing to prevent evil
  • If He is all knowing, He knows how to prevent it
  • If He is all powerful, He can prevent it
  • But evil exists
  • So, God does not exist

Augustine General Providence
  • We must judge universe as a whole, not part by
  • Analogy the best life is not one with no
    adversity, but with adversity overcome
  • It is good that there is some evil
  • General providence of God system of natural law
    underlies everything good

Augustine Evil as privation
  • Plotinus (204-270) Evil is not a thing it is
    the absence of good
  • God didnt create evil he simply created things
    with differing degrees of goodness
  • But that variety is itself good
  • Whatever is, is good

Augustine Corruptibility
  • Only God is perfect
  • To create, God had to create things that were
    imperfect, corruptible
  • Humans in particular are corruptible
  • We have the freedom to choose evil

Augustine Free Will
  • Free will cant explain natural evils
  • Punishment for original sin?
  • Who gave us the capacity and sometime inclination
    to do wrong? God
  • In the end, the problem is insoluble
  • We cannot understand God

Possible Solutions
Plato Gnostics Mani Avicenna
Plotinus Augustine Hinduism
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