Sunday, May 1, 2011

Arguing for God as the Logos

We observe diverse things coming together in certain kinds of order. These composite entities either have an external cause of that order or they do not. That much is obvious. What is more controversial, but still seemingly obvious to those of us without a strong prejudice against even quasi-religious statements is that these composite entities really do have external causes of their order. I call this statement "quasi-religious" because of its implications.

1. Composite entities have order. (Premise)

2. If a composite entity has order, its order most likely has an external cause. (Premise)

3. The universe as a whole is a composite entity with order. (Premise)

4. Therefore, the universe's order most likely has an external cause. (From 1 - 3)

The external cause - called the "Logos" by the ancient Greeks - of the universe must itself be non-composite, or simple, if we are going to avoid the regress problem. This is already apparent, though, since if a thing such as the Logos is not extended in space, it cannot be composed of any (physical) parts. The non-temporality of the Logos is also indicative of its eternality. And, of course, the Logos must also be very powerful if it is going to cause order in something as vast as the universe.

Obviously, whenever we introduce the notion that the Logos is intelligent, we are going to come across more resistance. However, if there exists an immaterial, eternal, and very powerful entity that causes the order throughout the entire universe, shouldn't atheists concede that something exists that is at the very least God-like? I would even be thrilled to see a retraction of the term "delusion" so often attached to descriptions of theistic belief.

It's also important to keep in mind that arguments like the one above should not be taken in isolation from one another. The argument from order may be combined with, say, the fine-tuning argument as part of a cumulative argument for God's existence.


  1. I would even be thrilled to see a retraction of the term "delusion" so often attached to descriptions of theistic belief.

    I doubt I'm saying anything that's news to you, but simple guys like me love to state the obvious at times: Atheists call theism a delusion for rhetorical effect, because the motivations against theism are usually aimed at particular varieties for political reasons. There's one most-likely way to get atheists to drop such rhetoric - and that's for more theists to make use of such when it comes to atheism.

    That aside, I agree with the thrust of your post: An immaterial, eternal, powerful entity should at least give many pause, if it's agreed to be a reasonable conclusion. It may not be a 'person' if one stops there, but it's something to mull over.

  2. Crude, I think you're absolutely correct to point out the rhetorical use of the term, "delusion." On the other hand, I agree with St. Augustine (as I'm sure you do, too) that rhetoric should be subservient to substance.

    If the atheist grants that ordered composite entities even possibly have external causes, and that the universe as a whole is an ordered composite entity, then surely the conjunction of these two statements is at least prima facie possible. I'm probably preaching to the choir, though. :)

  3. Have a look at these posts and see if they add to your reflections: , i.e. sec. I, 50, 6–9 . Thomas makes a similar argument there. I'm not a huge fan of "the design argument" but there is something on the tip of my mind how even, or perhaps especially, the strong anthropic principle strengthens the notion of there being an intelligence behind the unity of natural diversity. If the only thing that could be called a universe, i.e., the only thing that could be one would have be so under an intelligible formal unity, then only a universe disposed to the "emergence" of intelligent could exist. Since, however, primal natural accidents cannot of themselves direct at the rise of intelligence, the rise of intelligence from them must itself be an effect of Intelligence.

    and plus the comments from and to djr . I would appreciate your input.