Friday, August 21, 2015

Why I Became a Theist

Like many people at a young age, I wanted sound philosophical arguments to believe in God.  While reading Thomas Aquinas, it was his Fifth Way that persuaded me that there exists a Cosmic Designer, aka God:

1. Whatever lacks intelligence and exhibits regularity is the result of design. (Premise)

2. The laws of nature lack intelligence and exhibit regularity. (Premise)

3. Therefore, the laws of nature are the result of design. (From 1 and 2)

Premise (2) isn't controversial; otherwise they wouldn't be laws in the first place.  Premise (1) we can infer through induction.  The arrow lacks intelligence and exhibits regularity, or an end with the aim of the archer.  Winning the lottery a thousand times in a row meets the same criteria.  Hence, there exists a Cosmic Designer, which must transcend the universe and be timeless, changeless, immaterial, very powerful and intelligent.  This everyone understands to be God.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument (LCA)

I haven't spent much time defending the LCA, but it's not because I think it's a weak argument.  As my readers know, the vast amount of time defending theism proper I spend vigorously defending St. Thomas Aquinas' Five Ways.  With that said, I consider the LCA, the conceptualist argument, and the argument from desire to be the next strongest.  Let's take a look at the LCA:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. (Premise)

2. The universe exists. (Premise)

3. Hence, the universe has an explanation of its existence. (From 1 and 2)

4. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is a timeless, changeless, immaterial, powerful cause. (Premise)

5. Therefore, a timeless, changeless, immaterial, powerful cause exists. (From 3 and 4)

Premise (2) is hardly controversial.  Premise (1) is known through experience.  If there were an elephant standing in the middle of the street, and someone claimed that the elephant has no explanation whatsoever, then surely people would think he is either crazy or merely jesting!  Nobody would take such a claim seriously.

Since the remaining premises, except (4), are equally uncontroversial, let's focus on premise (4).  Would it really be reasonable to think the universe exists necessarily?  Does every quark exist necessarily?  Moreover, to exist necessarily is to have its existence and essence identical.  Yet, the universe has diverse essences, which makes a necessary universe impossible.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Benign "First Way"

St. Thomas Aquinas' "First Way" provides us with certainty regarding the existence of God. I only think it's unfortunate that Christians today are often treated as though being a Christian is so unusual. The First Way is a fairly benign argument, so much so that any rejection of the argument's premises (and its conclusion) is demonstrably false. Here's how the argument goes: 

1. Changing things exist. (Premise)



2. Whatever changes exhibits potentiality and actuality. (Premise)

3. No potentiality can actualize itself. (Premise)



4. Either an Unmoved Mover exists, there is a circularity of causes of change, or there is an infinite regress of sustaining causes of change. (Implied by 1 and 2)



5. There cannot be a circularity of causes of change or an infinite regress of sustaining causes of change. (Premise)



6. Therefore, an Unmoved Mover exists. (From 3 and 4)

Of course, the argument doesn't end there. We may deduce that the Unmoved Mover is eternal, immutable, immaterial, unique (there is only one Unmoved Mover), as well as enormously powerful and intelligent (if not omnipotent and omniscient). The Unmoved Mover's goodness may be inferred on the grounds of its Pure Actuality.

(I'd be happy to defend each of the argument's premises. This is just a summary.)

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Mereological Argument for Pantheism

It should be clear that I am not a pantheist, but a classical theist.  Just three arguments in favor of classical theism I support are the First Way, the Fifth Way, and the Argument from Desire.  Nevertheless, I'd like to defend pantheism for the sake of argument.

1. I exist. (Premise, contingent a priori

2. (Hence) Some--i.e. least one--thing exists. (From 1) 

3. Whenever some things exist, there is some thing of which they are all parts. (Premise, from mereology) 

4. (Hence) There is exactly one thing of which every thing is a part. (From 2, 3) 

5. The unique thing of which every thing is a part is God. (Definition, pantheism) 

6. (Hence) God exists. (From 4, 5)

The argument is logically valid, but it is unsound.  The defeater is found in the arguments of classical theism.

An Evolutionary Argument for Theism

1. Evolution provides rationally justified advantages. (Premise)

2. Belief in God is an evolutionary advantage. (Premise)

3. Therefore, belief in God is rational justified. (From 1 and 2)

The argument's conclusion is rather modest.  Belief in God is said to be rationally justified, not rationally compelling.  Of course, there are sound arguments for God's existence, e.g. the First Way, the Fifth Way, the Argument from Desire, etc.  However, those arguments are beyond the purview of this post.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Knock-Down Argument in Favor of Religious Freedom

For the record, I love engaging in constructive debate. However, I hate confrontation. Nevertheless, I have to reiterate once more that religious freedom trumps one's emotional feelings. As a libertarian, I hold that marriage should be privatized. As a Christian, I believe that marriage is the union between one man and one woman. If same-sex couples want to have a wedding, then that's fine by me. However, that does not give them the right to legally require those opposed to same-sex weddings to participate in a same-sex wedding. As I've repeated before, I'm a Christian and a record producer. It would be completely unreasonable for me to be legally required to record the music of a band that I have religious objections to, e.g. a Satanic band's music.

Feel free to post your objections to this post, but I'm finished debating the issue. I only write this because religious freedom is being threatened, and religious freedom is one of the foundational principles of our Constitution. Marriage, in general, is not.

Who would object that I should be legally required to record a Satanic band's music?  If you oppose such a legal requirement, why the double-standard with respect to same-sex weddings?  I'm not saying homosexuals are Satanists, but the principle is the same nonetheless.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Propositions as both True Conditionals and Impossible Instantiations

Let's take the following proposition:

P1: If the devil were to repent, God would forgive him.

Now, on Christian theology, is P1 true or false?  Moreover, if it is true, then is there a possibility for the devil to repent and return to heaven?  Answers to this question will inevitably vary from one Christian theologian to another.  However, let's assume that P1 is true.  Does this make any more difference than P2?

P2: If there are square-circles, then the law of non-contradiction is false.

P2 appears to be true as a conditional statement, yet impossible to instantiate.  This is because the consequent ("the law of non-contradiction is false") is necessarily false.  However, that does not make P2 any less meaningful.  We still understand P2 as providing information that corresponds to reality.

The question for the Christian theologian to ponder is whether or not P1 is like P2.  Certainly God forgives those who repent, but is it possible for the devil to repent?  This question is tricky because it depends on how one understands the manner in which redemption is made possible.  Most orthodox Christian theologians accept St. Anselm's argument in Cur Deus Homo ("Why God Became Man").

When humanity sinned against God, only God could forgive us, yet only man could provide satisfaction for the sin.  Hence, God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man: one person with two distinct natures.  His death "satisfied" humanity's sin against God, and allowed our repentance to lead us to redemption.  Hence the saying: "Dying you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life."

If this account of the Incarnation is taken to be true, what it implies is that for any fallen angel, including Lucifer/the devil to be led to redemption, God would have to take on the nature of an angel and be both fully God and fully angelic.  Whether this is possible can be left open to debate.  However, I am personally inclined to think one's will is voluntarily fixed upon entering heaven or hell.

This would make any notion of repentance, much less redemption, for the devil impossible.  If I am correct about this, then P1 is a true conditional statement that is impossible to instantiate.  The difficulty is that the simultaneous truth and impossibility of instantiation of P1 is not nearly as obvious as that of P2.