Cumulative case for God’s existence: There are plenty of evidences for God’s existence
It is worth thinking of the arguments for God’s existence as a cumulative case. Even if an argument is not strong independently, or it doesn’t feel as strong to you, with others it will be stronger like a law case, the more witnesses, the more evidence, the stronger the conviction of truth can be made,
But one focus would be if an argument is strong by itself then as a cumulative case, it would be very strong to which I believe it is. Don’t think of the arguments like a link in the chain, its more like chain mail. Each chain reinforces the other to make it stronger.
DNA evidence, fingerprint evidence, eyewitness evidence together can build a strong case.
This may feel more like a summary but it’s primary principle is to take you on a journey through the arguments for God’s existence and how we might build a case for Christianity.
There are three steps/premises in Leibniz’s reasoning:
- Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence.
- If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
- The universe exists.
So What would follow logically from these three premises? 1 to 3 — If everything that exists has an explanation of its existence and the universe exists, then it would follow logically that:
4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.
Now notice that premise 2 says that if the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God. And 4 says the universe does have an explanation of its existence. So from 2 and 4 the conclusion logically follows:
5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.
Given the truth and reliability of the three premises as we explain in the article, the conclusion is the only one left on the table, that God is the explanation of the existence of the universe.
As well as this, the argument posits that God is
- An unembodied Mind
- who transcends the physical universe and even space and time themselves
- exists necessarily.
Kalam Cosmological Argument
We can summarize Ghazali’s argument in three simple steps:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
It’s logically airtight, easy to remember, simple to share and if the first two premises are true, the conclusion follows logically. The debate was on the first two premises.
Elminitating all other options leaving us with design, the cause of the universe must have certain properties:
- Uncaused: An infinite series is impossible, so there must be an uncaused first cause
- Immaterial & non-physical: since it created space and time it must transcend it
- Unimaginably powerful: It created all matter and energy
- Personal being: Contingency argument plus only an unembodied mind fits the above description
Ghazali has given another great reason for why the First Cause must be personal: It’s the only way to explain how a timeless cause can produce a temporal effect with a beginning like the universe.
Here’s the issue: If a cause is sufficient to produce its effect, then if the cause is there, the effect must be there, too. For example, water will freeze when the temperature is below 0 degrees centigrade; the cause of the freezing is the temperature’s falling to 0 degrees. If the temperature has always been below 0 degrees, then any water around would be frozen from eternity. It would be impossible for the water to begin to freeze just a finite time ago. Now the cause of the universe is permanently there, since it is timeless. So why isn’t the universe permanently there as well? Why did the universe come into being only 13.7 billion years ago? Why isn’t it as permanent as its cause?
Ghazali maintained that the answer to this problem must be that the cause is a personal being with freedom of the will. His creating the universe is a free act that is independent of any prior conditions. So his act of creating can be something spontaneous and new. So, we’re brought not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe but to its Personal Creator.
The Kalam cosmological argument thus gives us powerful grounds for believing in the existence of a:
- Enormously powerful
- Personal Creator of the universe.
Fine-Tuning of the Universe
The universe is clearly fine-tuned as figures from all backgrounds, beliefs and understandings state. The question was what was the cause?
- The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
- It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
- Therefore, it is due to design.
We concluded through analysis that physical necessity and more importantly chance were unsuccessful to handle the data and concluded that the universe is therefore designed.
Putting it simply and building upon the foundations of the Contingency and the Kalam, apart from a personal creator we can know that he specifically is an intelligent personal designer. This might be inferenced apart from the Fine-tuning argument, this argument merely bolsters the claim and looks to the specific complexities in our universe.
The argument for objective moral values and duties
The moral argument in one of its simplest forms would look like this:
- If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
- Objective moral values and duties do exist.
- Therefore, God exists.
We have successfully argued that the first two premises are true as many are reluctant to deny them. This again is complementary to the 3 prior cosmological arguments—all seeking the grounding point. This argument informs us of the moral nature of God and gives us a:
- Necessarily existent being
- Who is Perfectly good
- Their nature is the standard of goodness and whose commands constitute our moral duties.
Every time we make a moral decision, this argument appears.
Life is meaningless without God
We have also explore what life without God’s existence at all would look like:
- If God does not exist, then all human life as well as every individual life will eventually be destroyed.
- If there is no God and no life beyond the grave, then life itself has no objective meaning, value, or purpose. A.
- Without immortality your life has no ultimate significance and makes no difference to the world’s outcome.
- Without God there is no broader framework within which man’s life can be seen to matter.
- Without immortality there is no moral accountability, and your moral choices become inconsequential.
- Without God moral values are just delusions ingrained into us by evolution and social conditioning.
- Without immortality your only destination is extinction in death.
- Without God there is no purpose for which you came into this world.
- It is impossible to live consistently and happily with an atheistic worldview.
- If we live happily as atheists, it is only by inconsistently affirming meaning, value, and purpose for our lives, despite the lack of foundation for them.
- If we live consistently as atheists, we shall be profoundly unhappy and even in despair because we know our lives are really meaningless, worthless, and purposeless.
- Biblical Christianity challenges the worldview of modern man.
- According to biblical Christianity God exists and life does not end at the grave.
- Biblical Christianity thereby affirms the two conditions sufficient for a meaningful, valuable, and purposeful life: God and immortality.
- Biblical Christianity therefore supplies a framework within which one can live consistently and happily.
- So why not look into the truth of biblical Christianity?
So far we’ve established strong long-standing arguments for God’s existence and that to live without a God at all would be abysmal. Good thing we have evidence. But how do we make the leap to Christianity?
So what have we established so far as background factors?
- Uncaused (x2)
- An unembodied Mind
- Beginningless (2)
- Timeless (2)
- Spaceless (2)
- Enormously powerful
- Personal Creator of the universe (2)
- Intelligent designer
- Necessarily existent being (2)
- Perfectly good
- His nature is the standard of goodness and whose commands constitute our moral duties.
So we have a lot going into this and more specifically a type of God that doesn’t seem to fit the material gods of paganism, nor the eastern religions. No, you are left with the Abrahamic faiths.
Why is the resurrection the crutch? Well in Islam, they believe Jesus never died but was a prophet; Judaism believe he died and wasn’t the Messiah and Christianity believe he was the Messiah and died then later rose from the dead. They can’t all be right! They can all be wrong, sure, but we believe as Christians there is adequate evidence for the resurrection.
There are many evidences for the claim God rose Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, but the minimal case evidences is presented as follows:
- Jesus is well attested to have died by crucifixion
- Scholars, contemporary New Testament sources and later sources attest the disciples truly believed they saw the risen Jesus and believed he was the Messiah convincingly as a result
- Scholars, contemporary New Testament sources and later sources attest the sceptical brother of Jesus, James, truly believed they saw the risen Jesus and believed he was the Messiah convincingly as a result
- Scholars, contemporary New Testament sources and later sources attest the Christian persecutor, Saul (Paul), truly believed he saw the risen/glorified Jesus and believed he was the Messiah convincingly as a result
- Many Scholars, contemporary New Testament sources and later sources attest that Jesus was buried in the tomb and that same tomb was empty on the third day
Many critical scholars such as Anthony Flew, one of the leading atheists in the late 20th century granted 12 facts so there’s more. But these five are enough to stand as a force against every existing opposing theory of the resurrection.
Now with the cumulative case in play, strong evidence for God’s personal existence and strong evidence for the personal Messianic figure of Jesus we must weight up defeaters to have a consistent case.
As for all the arguments above, there are common refutations that are known as responses. The arguments from natural theology will always be defended and continued to do so in different ways over the centuries depending on the new types of objections or recycled objections packaged in new ways.
There are two objections that stand out:
- The reliability of the Bible
- The problem of evil
For the Christian case to have more weight, adequate answers to at least suffice for these areas are required. But as weighty as they may appear:
- If the Bible is not reliable and is just historical recordings of a time long ago with no guidance from God, then they are still historical documents like that of Caesar, or Plutarch. And if Jesus has risen from the dead and had such an impact, this strongly outweighs any secondary discussion with regards to perfect preservation with adequate preservation ok (I do not defend this view, but it’s allowable to many)
- In a world of justice and free choices, the problem of evil in one way is no surprise and Jesus has used suffering himself to bring ourselves to him.
So as much as these defeaters arn’t really problematic in the wider scheme of things, they can be responded to efficiently.
For the reliability of the Bible I have presented a case for
- A reasonable case of inerrancy & inspiration
- A plausible model of oral tradition and transmission
- A thorough defence of the text via textual criticisms data
- Presented internal evidence for the Bible
- Presented external evidence for the Bible
- Defended the authorship of the New Testament
- Exposed myths about councils, rejected books and more
With the responses in place we can be happy with the conclusions we have for the Bible’s reliability or at least enough to deem it as plausible (we’re never going to get 100% certainty unless we time travel but no ones asking realistically for such a high bar!).
Now when it comes to the problem of evil I am preparing (so this will be updated) defeaters for this objection. These are the following areas that will be addressed in 2020
- The philosophical objections to the problem of evil
- Emotional and social objections to the problem of evil
- Evil acts in the Old Testament
- Heaven and hell
- Animal suffering
- Natural evil
- Specific questions
Now if you have a series of arguments for God’s existence, evidence for the resurrection, plausible responses to the defeaters listed here then you have a well structured argument. With all this data, you are ready to learn and deploy Pascal’s Wager