Monday, June 14, 2010

The Argument from Cosmic Intentionality

I argue in my defense of the Thomistic Cosmological Argument that a necessary, unique, omnipresent and eternal being (e.g. Pure Being) - in short, something God-like - exists. In closing the gap between Pure Being and God, it is reasonable to suppose that the key attribute is personality. This may lead us to consider various other arguments of natural theology that increase the probability that what we call "Pure Being" is a personal agent. There's the fine-tuning argument, the moral argument, the conceptualist argument, and perhaps even the ontological argument.

I would like to consider something more akin to Reppert's Argument from Reason, what I call the "Argument from Cosmic Intentionality":

1. There are beings that possess intentionality. (Premise)

By "intentionality," I'm thinking of purpose, direction, or anything that would qualify under the broad understanding of deliberation. Human beings, I take it, are uncontroversially intentional beings.

2. The universe has brought about beings with intentionality. (Premise)

Again, under any realistic scientific and/or evolutionary hypothesis, human beings are at least the product of the laws of nature. This is something both Creationists and Evolutionists can agree on.

3. Intentional beings that come into existence are either the result of intentionality or non-intentionality. (Premise, law of excluded middle)

Either X or ~X.

4. Intentional beings are unlikely to arise from non-intentionality. (Premise)

One might be tempted to make (4) even stronger by suggesting that intentional beings cannot arise from non-intentionality. I suppose the basis for this would be on the grounds that since something cannot come from nothing, some thing (intentionality) cannot arise from the same quality's absence. If one is persuaded by this, then not only is (4) as stated acceptable, but its much stronger version is also taken to be true.

5. Pure Being is the cause of all other realities. (Premise)

See the TCA.

6. Only persons have intentionality. (Premise)

This appears more reasonable than not. A rock might have a purpose, but its purpose is given to it by persons, e.g. in a sculpture. Rocks and other non-persons don't themselves intend anything.

7. Therefore, Pure Being possesses personality. (Conclusion)

This is a really rough version of the argument. I'm not even sure it's valid, but it's something to think about. I take it that (4) is the most controversial premise.


  1. Please consider a post of mine in a similar vein, either to scare off obvious errors as you develop your argument or to suggest new lines of progress.


  2. Have you read J.P. Moreland's "The Recalcitrant Imago Dei"? He argues that there is good reason to think that a Person is "behind" it all, given the nature of consciousness/rationality/morality/intentionality/normativity/free-will/etc.

  3. Andrew, thanks for the recommendation. I haven't read that, but I have listened to one of Moreland's lectures - I think on the Veritas Forum - in which he discusses the argument from consciousness. I also own the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, but I haven't made it to Moreland's chapter yet.