Archive for ‘Existence of God’

March 26, 2012

VT Debate–The Problem of Gratuitous Evil

by Max Andrews

One of the objections made by one of the atheists in the VT debate on the existence of God was William Rowe’s form of the problem of gratuitous evil:[1]

  1. There exist instances of intense suffering that an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse. (Factual premise)
  2. An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering that being could, unless that being could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse. (Theological premise).
  3. Therefore, There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being.

Or, simply put:

  1. There are unnecessary evils.
  2. God would prevent evils without losing some greater good.
  3. Therefore, God does not exist.
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March 24, 2012

VT Debate–The Moral Argument

by Max Andrews

The following is David Baggett’s moral argument* for the existence of a perfectly moral person I used in the VT debate on the existence of God. (I highly recommend Baggett’s book co-authored with Jerry Walls Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality.) This version of the moral argument is an abductive version. I believe this argument, when used in an abductive form, is the strongest form of the argument. You’ll usually see it in a deductive form, a la William Lane Craig. For my method of argumentation please see: VT–My Method of Argumentation.

  1. There are objective axiological/moral facts that obtain.
  2. Either the world alone or the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
  3. It is the case that the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
  4. Therefore, the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.

In essence, it seems that there are objective moral facts and this asks the question, “What’s the best explanation for these facts?”

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March 24, 2012

VT Debate–The Fine-Tuning Argument

by Max Andrews

The following is Robin Collins’ fine-tuning argument for the existence of a fine-tuner I used in the VT debate on the existence of God.  This version of the fine-tuning argument is an abductive version.  I believe this argument, when used in an abductive form, is the strongest form of the argument.  You’ll usually see it in a deductive form, a la William Lane Craig.  For my method of argumentation please see: VT–My Method of Argumentation.

The fine-tuning argument argues that when the physics and the laws of nature are expressed mathematically their values are ever so balanced in a way that permits the existence of life.  This claim is made on the basis that existence of vital substances such as carbon, and the properties of objects such as stable long-lived stars, depend rather sensitively on the values of certain physical parameters, and on the cosmological initial conditions.[1]  I’m merely arguing that the universe/multiverse is fine-tuned for the essential building blocks and environments that life requires for cosmic and biological evolution to even occur.

  1. Given the fine-tuning evidence, a life permitting universe/multiverse (LPM) is very, very epistemically unlikely under the non-existence of a fine-tuner (~FT): that is, P(LPM|~FT & k’) ≪ 1.
  2. Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPM is not unlikely under FT (Fine-Tuner): that is, ~P(LPM|FT & k’) ≪ 1.
  3. Therefore, LPM strongly supports FT over ~FT. [2]
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March 23, 2012

VT Debate–The Thomistic Cosmological Argument

by Max Andrews

The following is Thomas Aquinas’ cosmological argument from contingency I used in the VT debate on the existence of God.  This version of the cosmological argument can be traced back to antiquity originally advocated by Plato and Aristotle.  For my method of argumentation please see: VT–My Method of Argumentation.

  1. What we observe and experience in our universe is contingent.
  2. A network of causally dependent contingent things cannot be infinite.
  3. A network of causally dependent contingent things must be finite.
  4. Therefore, There must be a first cause in the network of contingent causes.

In this context, what I mean by contingent is that if X is contingent then X owes its existence to something else. For a thing that has the potentiality of movement cannot actualize its own potential; some other thing must cause it to move.  The universe consists of a network of causes. A was caused by B, but only because B is caused by C, and so on. We know of nothing that spontaneously initiates its own causal activity. (Even supposed quantum indeterminacy requires a state of affairs, or preceding causal conditions, such as the governance of the laws of nature, for the event to occur).  This is a hierarchical network of causation and not temporal.  Note that nothing here turns on our having to know about everything.

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March 23, 2012

Student Testimonial on Philosophy and the VT Debate

by Max Andrews

Last night, the day after my VT debate on the existence of God, I received an email from one of the students in the Intro. to Philosophy course I assist teaching.  I was very encouraged by this email.  The email was addressed to me and the professor I work for. (Used with permission from the student).

Dear sirs,

I just wanted to express my gratitude to you for teaching our Philosophy class. It is such an enormous blessing to be learning this subject from a Christian perspective. As I do the assigned homework, I realize that there are many others elsewhere that are required to naively or perhaps unwillingly read many things averse to the theistic belief. Especially after hearing the “God Debate” at Virginia Tech, I am so excited to be at Liberty where I am learning how to defend my beliefs. It was an honour to hear Max present such a clear, well-reasoned case.
Blessings to you both!

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March 23, 2012

Reflections on My Virginia Tech Debate on the Existence of God

by Max Andrews

This past Wednesday (March 21, 2012) I participated in a debate titled “Does God Probably Exist, or Not?” at Virginia Tech.  My debate partner was a very loving fellow who was an undergraduate in International Relations.  My two atheist opponents were a PhD student in Physics and the other was an undergraduate in biology.  I was thoroughly pleased and impressed with the university and the love and kindness that the organizers and participants extended to me.  I certainly felt like I was in a friendly atmosphere and sensed no hint of hostility.

I thought the debate went very well.  My only criticism was that I was under the impression that there was going to be a twenty or twenty-five minute cross-examination period but that never came to fruition.  I present three arguments for the existence of God: the argument from contingency, the fine-tuning argument, and the moral argument.  For the contingency argument I used Thomas Aquinas’ argument.  The fine-tuning argument was an abductive form and a slightly modified version of Robin Collins argument.  The moral argument was an abductive argument modeled after David Baggett’s version.  In a few following posts I’ll share my arguments and methodology in more detail but here are the forms of my arguments I used:

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March 18, 2012

Upcoming VA Tech Debate on the Existence of God

by Max Andrews

Last Monday I had sent an email to Gary Habermas asking him about this paper I read and I wanted to know what he thought.  He responded with his comments and then asked if I wanted to participate in a debate at VA Tech on the existence of God.  As the week unfolded it turned out that only one theist from Tech was willing to go up against the atheists. It’s a two on two format.  The topic of the debate is “Does God probably exist or not?”  My debate partner is an undergraduate in International Relations and the two atheists are PhD Physics students.  I’m not very concerned about this because this is a philosophy debate.  The question of whether or not God exists is a metaphysical question. The format has been recently said to be a fifteen minutes presentations by each person followed by a twenty-five minutes cross-examination and a Q&A with the audience afterwards.  It’s supposed to be a coin-flip to see who goes first but I’ve suggested that the affirmative go first (us).  That’s the traditional format of any American/academic debate.  The time varies depending on the debate but affirmative always goes first, so I hope that follows suit.  I also requested twenty minutes instead of fifteen so that we can present a robust cause for theism.  Fifteen minutes are a very narrow time frame to make the case needed for the debate.

I ask that you saturate me, my debate partner, the two atheists, and the audience is prayer.  For us, the theists, that will appropriately defend the truth and that our minds will be sharp, quick, and clear.  For the atheists, that they will seriously consider and reflect upon our arguments.  It’s not my expectation that this will have an immediate impact on them but that this could be a seed waiting to be sown.  For the audience, that they will be open and interested and for anyone truly seeking the truth of theism and Christianity that they will be drawn to it.

For anyone in the Blacksburg, Roanoke, and Lynchburg area please come to the event.  It will be held in the Colonial Hall auditorium at VA Tech March 21 from 7-9pm.  I’ll be posting my arguments after the debate here on the blog.

January 20, 2012

A Response to the Problem of an ‘Evil God’ as Raised by Stephen Law

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest blog post by Michael Rundle. Michael has a BA in Theology with Honors (PGCE).  His area of research is in the philosophy of René Descartes and twentieth century theology.

__________

Stephen Law has suggested that arguments such as the cosmological and teleological arguments could serve equally well to support an evil god hypothesis.

He says:

The challenge is to explain why the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-good god should be considered significantly more reasonable than the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-evil god.”1

This reminds me of the evil demon in Descartes’ Meditations. However, whereas Descartes was introducing the evil demon hypothesis for epistemological reasons Law is raising the evil god hypothesis as a challenge to theism. His challenge is for theological reasons.

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January 17, 2012

William Lane Craig’s “J. Howard Sobel on the Kalam Cosmological Argument”–A Review

by Max Andrews

A Review of William Lane Craig’s “J. Howard Sobel on the Kalam Cosmological Argument.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (2006): 565-584.

William Lane Craig formulates retort to J. Howard Sobel’s objection to kalam as he typically formulates it.[1] Premise 1 seems obviously true—at least, more than its negation.  To suggest that things could just pop into being uncaused out of nothing is to quit doing serious metaphysics and is a premise that Sobel acknowledges to be true.  Sobel’s objection is with 2—that the universe began to exist.  This would then run into an infinite regress, which is philosophically and mathematically untenable.  Because an actually infinite number of things cannot exist, the series of past events must be finite in number and, hence, the temporal series of past, physical events is not without beginning.[2]

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January 17, 2012

Mark Nowacki’s “Assessing the Kalam Cosmological Argument”–A Review

by Max Andrews

Review of Mark Nowacki’s “Assessing the Kalam Cosmological Argument,” Philosophia Christi 12 (2010):  201-212.

Mark Nowacki’s article is in response to an ongoing dialogue between himself and Arnold Guminski.  Guminski had recently written critiques of Nowacki’s version of the kalam cosmological argument and Nowacki responds by clarifying misconceptions and elaborating on key premises to the argument.  Nowacki’s argument is based on the impossibility of an actual infinite magnitude [not multitude] with respects to temporal marks.

Nowacki begins by developing an account of modality called substantial modality with respects to substances that obtain in the actual universe.  Substantial possibility is a more restricted domain than logical possibility.  Substantial possibility is the domain of possibility that tracks what is causally open to substances as a function of the particular natures that those substances possess.  Anything that is substantially possible is logically possible, but the converse does not hold:  something maybe logically possible without being substantially possible.[1]  One substantially necessary feature for any physical body is that it possesses a definite shape.

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