Monday, September 17, 2012

A Teleological Argument from Providence

The following argument is logically valid.

1. There are patterns of regularity found in the laws of nature. (Premise)

2. The laws of nature are either the result of chance, necessity or design. (Premise)

3. Patterns of regularity cannot be the result of chance alone. (Premise)

4. Therefore, the laws of nature are either the result of necessity or design. (From 1 - 3)

Whether the laws of nature are explained by necessity or design is inconsequential at this point of the argument.  After all, given that chance is a very poor explanation, the laws of nature must be the result of someone or something's providence.

That providence is what we believers call, "God."  If it's a "someone," then we have an argument for a personal designer.  If it's a "something," then we're left with some form of pantheism.

To be honest, I just don't get why atheists won't embrace pantheism.  I think there are a lot of problems with pantheism, but pantheism makes much more sense to me than atheism.  If the atheist will simply come to terms with pantheism being a more viable belief than atheism, then I think we can make some real progress.  The debate would no longer be about theism versus atheism, but rather theism versus pantheism.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Practical Argument for God's Existence

Suppose you're resigned to an agnostic position: it is impossible to tip the scale in favor of theism or atheism by reason alone.  Can theism still be the preferred position?  Consider the following argument.

1. If there is no God, everyone has the same fate of eternal death. (Premise)

2. The fate of eternal death is depressing. (Premise)

3. Hence, if there is no God, then everyone has a compelling reason to be depressed. (From 1 and 2)

4. All things being equal, it is more rational to believe in something that leads to happiness than in something that leads to depression. (Premise)

5. Therefore, all things being equal, it is more rational to believe in God than not. (From 3 and 4)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Argument from Suffering and an Ad Hominem Argument for the PSR

The more sophisticated argument from suffering against God's existence is surely its evidential form.  It goes something like this:

1. If God exists, then there will not be any gratuitous sufferings. (Premise)

2. There are gratuitous sufferings. (Premise)

3. Therefore, God does not exist. (From 1 and 2)

Lest we forget, it's important to note that even if this argument were successful, it would not demonstrate that there is no God whatsoever.  There very well may be a God qua creator and sustainer of all contingently existing entities, for example.  Nevertheless, the argument from suffering, if cogent, does demonstrate that a maximally excellent God (omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect) does not exist.

As theists, we have often challenged both premises of the argument from suffering.  However, I want to tackle this at a different angle.  I want to argue that in order for any non-trivial argument from suffering to succeed, the skeptic must accept, perhaps unwittingly, some variant of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR).

The standard response to the logical version of the argument from suffering is that God may have morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil.  The skeptic who agrees that the existence of God and the reality of suffering are compatible appropriately retorts that while God may have morally sufficient reasons for permitting suffering, he does not have such sufficient reasons in light of the many gratuitous sufferings.

Let that sink in for a moment.  The proponent of the evidential argument from suffering agrees with the theist that God can and must have morally sufficient reasons for allowing suffering.  It's at this point that the skeptic presupposes the PSR.  If he weren't, then he wouldn't be requiring God to have any morally sufficient reasons at all.

I realize this is an ad hominem argument, but not all ad hominem arguments are fallacious or personal attacks.  What I've been seeking to do in this post is simply lead the skeptic to the logically inescapable conclusion that either the PSR is true, or else God needn't provide any morally sufficient reasons for permitting suffering of any kind.  The skeptic will simply have to pick his poison and either adopt some form of theism via the PSR, or else abandon the most promising argument against an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect being.