The Existence of God

The Existence of God
Everything must have a cause. It is impossible to continue backwards to infinity with causes, therefore there must have been a first cause which was not conditioned by any other cause. That cause must be God. Objections: If you allow one thing to exist without cause, you contradict your own premise. And if you do, there is no reason why the universe should not be the one thing that exists or originates without cause. Animals, plants and planets show clear signs of being designed for specific ends, therefore there must have been a designer. A very large number of people claim to have personal religious experiences of God. Objections: We cannot assume that everything imagined in mental experiences (which include dreams, hallucinations etc) actually exists. Such experiences cannot be repeated, tested or publicly verified. Mystical and other personal experiences can be explained by other causes.
While theology may take God?s existence as absolutely necessary on the basis of authority, faith, or revelation, many philosophers-and some theologians-have thought it possible to demonstrate by reason that there must be a God. St. Thomas Aquinas, in the thirteenth century, formulated the famous ?five ways? by which God?s existence can be demonstrated philosophically:
1. The ?unmoved mover? argument. We know that there is motion in
the world; whatever is in motion is moved by another thing; this
other thing also must be moved by something; to avoid an infinite
regression, we must posit a ?first mover,? which is God.
2. The ?nothing is caused by itself? argument. For example, a
table is brought into being by a carpenter, who is caused by his
parents. Again, we cannot go on to infinity, so there must be a
first cause, which is God.
3. The cosmological argument. All physical things, even mountains,
boulders, and rivers, come into being and go out of existence, no
matter how long they last. Therefore, since time is infinite,
there must be some time at which none of these things existed. But
if there were nothing at that point in time, how could there be
anything at all now, since nothing cannot cause anything? Thus,
there must always have been at least one necessary thing that is
eternal, which is God.
4. Objects in the world have differing degrees of qualities such
as goodness. But speaking of more or less goodness makes sense
only by comparison with what is the maximum goodness, which is
God.
5. The teleological argument (argument from design). Things in the
world move toward goals, just as the arrow does not move toward
its goal except by the archer?s directing it. Thus, there must be
an intelligent designer who directs all things to their goals, and
this is God.
There are several famous arguments for the existence of God. The argument from the First Cause maintains that since in the world every effect has its cause behind it (and every actuality its potentiality), the first effect (and first actuality) in the world must have had its cause (and potentiality), which was in itself both cause and effect (and potentiality and actuality), i.e., God. The cosmological argument maintains that since the world, and all that is in it, seems to have no necessary or absolute (nonrelative) existence, an independent existence (God) must be implied for the world as the explanation of its relations. The teleological argument maintains that, since from a comprehensive view of nature and the world everything seems to exist according to a certain great plan, a planner (God) must be postulated. The ontological argument maintains that since the human conception of God is the highest conception humanly possible and since the highest conception humanly possible must have existence as one attribute, God must exist. Immanuel Kant believed that he refuted these arguments by showing that existence is no part of the content of an idea. This principle has become very important in contemporary philosophy, particularly in existentialism. The consensus among theologians is that the existence of God must in some way be accepted on faith.

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