"If God does not exist, then why is He living in my heart?"
The question of God's existence has occupied the minds of the world's greatest thinkers for millennia.
Section 1 of this paper examines the many rational arguments for and against the existence of God, highlighting the views of some of the great philosophers. The outcome is that one can rationally determine that there is a First Cause or causes and that the universe was designed by an intelligent Being or beings. However, the theist cannot take the next step by determining that there is only one God and that He is a personal God.
Section 2 examines the reliability of rational argument and finds that it is incapable of supporting sufficiently comprehensive arguments for or against the existence of God. Logic, as a methodology, was found to be incomplete, unable to handle all concepts, and unable to link validity to truth. Its greatest weakness is its inability to be used as a tool to discover the unknown from the known. Unless God is already known, logic is of no use.
Having discredited all rational arguments for and against the existence of God and discrediting blind faith, Section 3 outlines the CTR Model which demonstrates how a person can have proof of God's existence. The Model's foundation is the direct communication between God and man. This communication or revelation gives man direct proof of God's existence and Who He is without the pitfalls of empirical observation, defective senses and intellect. The truth and relevance of things observed in the world and even religion can be established by reference to this divine revelation.
The conclusion is that man can have absolute proof of God's existence if God choses to reveal Himself to man. To those who have not received revelation, there is no proof.
1.2 Teleological Arguments
1.3 Cosmological Arguments
1.4 Ontological Arguments
1.5 Moral Arguments
1.6 Arguments from Consciousness
1.7 Other Arguments for the Existence of God
1.8 Summary and Conclusions
2.2 The Incompleteness of Logic
2.3 The Inability of Logic to Handle all Concepts
2.4 The Inability of Logic to Handle the Unknown
2.5 The Inability to Link Validity to Truth
2.6 Summary and Conclusions
"Don't do it", they said. "The subject is too big for such a paper."
They were right - the subject was too big, but they were not right that this issue should not be tackled. It is certainly the most important issue facing humanity. For if God exists, then one should live according to His laws. If God does not exist, then what is the foundation of morals, ethics, honesty and charity?
Despite this, many people I have spoken to, both Christian and atheist, have expressed disinterest in the topic for various reasons. The atheist usually states that there is insufficient evidence to prove God's existence, but have rarely carried out sufficient research to justify their claim. The Christian usually states that believing in the existence of God is simply blind faith that does not need to be supported. Still others are frightened that exploring the question of God's existence will either make them a Christian, thereby "cramping their style", or threaten their existing Christian faith and the foundation on which their life is based. I reject these attitudes as unacceptable.
As a Christian, I knew that exploring the philosophies of history's great thinkers would threaten the foundations of my faith. However, for faith to be genuine, it must be able to withstand any test. Blind faith is unacceptable - it must have a foundation in reality.
During the six months of research for this paper it could only be said that I went "through hell and back". If my Christian faith had been a ten story building, six levels were torn away. The main cause of this was David Hume, an atheist of the eighteenth century, who put forward particularly strong arguments for a materialist view of the universe which were in direct conflict with Christianity. Fortunately, when things seemed darkest, help came in the form of friends and Divine Revelation. It soon became apparent that there were major weaknesses in Hume's methodology. Things looked even better when it became apparent that there were ways of being sure of God's existence that were immune to Hume's criticisms.
I am pleased to say that I have come through this experience with my faith intact, though the six new levels are somewhat different to the ones that were torn away. I would like to thank Stacy, my wife, for her patience throughout this trial, and my friends for listening to me, especially Simon Walmsley who took the time to discuss intelligently the real issues.
Richard Host, April 1994.
God generally refers to one supreme, holy, personal Being, the divine unity of ultimate reality and of ultimate goodness. This is the definition used in this paper to define God.
Certainly, the ultimate question of all time is whether God, as described, actually exists and if so, what He is like. Some believe logic is necessary to substantiate any conclusion. Others believe that faith instead is the only valid way to search for God. Still others believe they have found God through other methods.
Section 1 of this paper examines the major rational arguments for the existence of God and the major rational objections to them. They will be analysed and appraised in terms of their logical validity and weight of evidence. As will be seen, many philosophers' life work was dedicated to arguing from one particular perspective which in many cases failed to pass the test of logic.
Section 2 examines why logical argument is inherently flawed and unable to answer the question of God's existence. It shows how the weaknesses in the foundation of logic completely undermines the validity of the arguments examined in Section 1.
Section 3 outlines a model which overcomes the deficiencies of rationality and the unacceptability of unfounded faith by explaining how people can know with certainty that God exists. This model also explains how Christianity is and must be the only way one can know God personally.
Rational argument seeks to validate or invalidate various propositions using logic and reason applied to fact. Such argument, in its purest form, attempts to definitively link various facts to substantiate relationships between them. This substantiation provides a proof and is often used to determine the truth of various propositions.
In its less pure form, rational argument can be used to provide weight of evidence for a particular proposition. Using deduction and induction, one can formulate a persuasive argument for a particular point of view.
Rational argument can also be used as a tool to argue against certain propositions. For instance, issues concerning blind faith are rejected as having no logical support. Some logical arguments may be rendered invalid by exposing missing links in the logical linkage of facts.
This section examines the major rational arguments for the existence of God as put forward by great philosophers of the last three millennia. As will be seen, many have also dismissed these same arguments on the grounds of irrationality.
Psalm 19: "How clearly the sky reveals God's glory! How plainly it shows what He has done!"
1.2.1 The argument For the Existence of God from Design
Look around you and see all the things that man has made. The cup on the desk, carefully designed and manufactured for a particular purpose. Everything in its place, crafted by the mind of man. The cup, the table, the watch - none of these things "just happened" or accidentally materialised. There is purpose and design behind the creation and placement of each and every article.
So too the natural world. Its apparent design is evidence of an intelligent Architect. The intricate human eye, the tremendous complexity of the brain. Design and order can be seen throughout the universe; in the galaxies of billions of stars down to the atomic level.
It is with this apparent order and design in the universe that the Teleological argument for God's existence begins. It has been popular for thousands of years and has been offered by theists as strong evidence for the existence of God.
Socrates (ref: Xenophon's Memorabilia) Plato (ref: Phaedo) and Aquinas (ref: Summa Theologica 1.2.3 "Fifth Way") continued the tradition with William Paley (1743-1805), the archdeacon of Carlisle, presenting one of the more recent well-known arguments. He said that if one found a watch in a field, one would conclude that it was made by a watchmaker because of its obvious design. Similarly, the complex design of the world points to a grand Designer. In fact, the world shows an even greater evidence of design than a watch because of the magnitude of its greatness, the greater complexity and the endless variety of means adapted to ends (ref: 2)
Another argument is based on the principle of entropy. The universe naturally tends towards chaos with a deterioration of order. However, we observe order and a continuance of complexity. In fact, the apparent evolutionary development of animals and plants supports the notion of initial design and planned process.
Finally, the probability of the world just coming into being by chance is so low as to make it unbelievable. There would be a greater chance of the unabridged Oxford dictionary resulting from an explosion in a printing shop (ref: 2)
The Teleological argument is simple, straightforward and powerful. Even great philosophers who strongly opposed religion, such as Immanuel Kant, regarded the Argument from Design as generally acceptable, even if not logically compulsive.
1.2.2 The argument Against the Existence of God from Design
It was around this time that a number of philosophers came out with fatal criticisms, the most severe being that of David Hume. He introduced the notion that the universe could have happened by chance rather than by design.
But how could this be? Wouldn't it be incredibly unlikely that all the atoms in the universe accidentally or randomly came together to form what we see today? This is why the theist frequently argues that the probability of the world coming into existence as it is with all its complexities is so remote that the notion of it all happening by chance is close to ridiculous. Only design by a supreme Architect could account for the overcoming of such great odds.
Is it unlikely though? Given an infinite amount of space and an infinite amount of matter in the universe, the probability of the atoms which constitute this region of the universe coming together in the combination in which we now find them in a finite amount of time is indeed an extremely remote probability. However, given an infinite amount of space and an infinite amount of matter, the probability of the atoms which constitute this region of the universe coming together in the combination in which we now find them in an infinite amount of time is almost 100% certain. A practical example demonstrates the principle:
If I were to empty a container of rice onto the kitchen floor, each grain would randomly come to rest somewhere on the floor surface. If I repeated this process thousands of times, eventually the grains may fall so as to create a pattern of some kind. Taken to the extreme, if I repeatedly dropped the rice onto the floor, on one of those occasions it would form a pattern that spells out my name. It may take years for this to happen, it may in fact take thousands of years. However, the longer I have to repeat the process, the more likely it is that this will occur. It follows that given an infinite amount of time, the probability of this happening is almost certain (The laws of probability state that it can only ever approach 100%. It can never actually reach 100%). Likewise, given an infinite amount of time, the atoms of the universe would eventually form the combination we see today.
(Interestingly this follows in the case of there being an infinite amount of space, matter and time and in the case of there being a finite amount of space and matter but an infinite amount of time. It would not follow in the case of there being an infinite amount of space and time yet a finite amount of matter, nor the case of there being a finite amount of time.)
This is a very strong and almost mathematically conclusive argument that God is not needed for the design of the universe. Rather, the laws of probability can be held to be all that is necessary. The theist's argument was further weakened by scientists such as Darwin who claimed that the process of random mutation and natural selection was responsible for the complexities we observe in the animal kingdom rather than the purposeful design previously supposed.
It is reasonable, therefore, to imagine the universe to be infinite in space and time with a never-ending series of "big-bangs", one of which created this present universe. So it can be said that though the probability of this particular universe coming into existence at any one point in time is extremely low, the probability of this particular universe coming into existence at some time is extremely high. (Presumably, if this particular universe had been much different, we would not be here to see it anyway.)
This mathematically (hence logically) strong argument appears particularly persuasive when compared to the nebulous argument from design which is supported merely by analogies based on experience.
1.2.3 The Argument for the Existence of God from Design Fights Back
A number of theists fought back with refined Teleological arguments. A.E. Taylor argued that nature reveals an anticipatory order; that is, it plans for its own preservation (ref: 2). This is evidence, he said, for design rather than pure random selection. R.E.D. Clark (R.E.D. Clark, The Universe: Plan or Accident? London: Paternoster, 1949) basing his defence on the second law of thermodynamics, said that the universe must be slowly "running down" and can therefore not be eternal. Since this process cannot be reversed, he claimed it showed advanced planning and design by the entity that began the whole process. However, this argument goes against what we now know about the amount of matter and energy in the universe remaining constant (E=MC2). Most other defenders concentrated on arguments based on the improbability of the universe coming about by chance, which, as has already been explained, is not only invalid but is itself unlikely.
1.2.4 The Death Blow to the Argument for the Existence of God from Design.
David Hume, having seriously wounded the theist's argument by introducing the notion of chance as a likely cause of the universe, dealt five further blows in his "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion". Of these five, only two hold significant weight:
The first argument involved questioning "the weakness and remoteness of the analogy between the products of human design and the works of nature, and the resulting vagueness of any conclusions that can be drawn from that analogy" (ref: 1). Though the analogy has some value, it is invalid to relate an example of a watch with that of a rock and thereby deduce that since the watch was designed by man, so must the rock have been designed by God. The argument is taking the analogy beyond reason. Additionally, while we can see the watch and its maker, we cannot see the rock and its maker.
The second argument, and perhaps the strongest, states that it is logically invalid to argue the case for a supreme creator (who lies beyond the world) from experiences and observations (of this world). There is no way to logically link something unknown that lies beyond the world with something known in the world. Experience is the boundary of knowledge. As Kant states, the best the Teleological argument can do is merely suggest the possibility of a Grand Architect. It cannot provide evidence that the matter of the universe was created. Perhaps it always existed. God may merely have been an architect playing with a universe that already existed? After all, this is the most that the analogy of human manufacture could indicate (ref: 1). He would then not be omnipotent.
The Teleological argument is also limited by the fact that it cannot conclude that the universe was made, or in fact designed, by only one god. The clock analogy used by the theist equally allows the possibility of there being many gods.
The Teleological argument has some value in indicating the possibility of an architect, but falls far short of being useful to the theist who wants to prove the existence of an omnipotent, perfect, loving Creator. Clearly, it does not take the theist as far as he would like to go.
The real possibility (even probability) that the world may be the product of random events and the support given by solid mathematics, causes the Teleological argument to look less than persuasive. The inability to connect logically the observed world with a God beyond the world and the incapacity to determine any of God's characteristics, renders the argument from design less than useful to the theist.
Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the Lord...."I am the First, and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God."
There may be hope yet for the theist. Even if the universe is randomly formed and there appears to be no design behind it, we do see every day cause and effect in operation. The law of cause and effect demands that there must be a first cause in any chain of cause and effect. The whole universe seems to be a huge mass of causes and effects, from "big bangs" down to the interactions of subatomic particles. Therefore, if one were to wind all these chains of causes and effects back, they must originate in one almighty cause. That is, there must be a First Cause. This we call God.
1.3.2 The Argument For there being a First Cause
The logical argument for the First Cause began with Plato (Phaedrus: The Collected Dialogues, ed. Edith Hamilton and H.Cairns Huntington. NY: Pantheon, 1941) who reasoned for a first mover of the world. He began by stating the obvious: every day we observe things moving. Whatever moves is either moved by another or is self-moved. If a thing is self-moved, it must be eternal, or else there would never be movement of any kind in the first place. This self-mover is known to us as God (ref: 2)
This argument has since been refined by many people (Aristotle: Fundamentals of the History of His Developments, trans. R.Robinson, 2nd Ed., Oxford: Clarendon, 1934, p353. Augustine: on Free will 2.1-15. Anselm: Monologion 1-3. Alfarabi: A History of Medieval Philosophy, Armand A. Maurer, NY: Random. 1962. Avicenna and Aquinas: Summa Theologica 1.2.3.). The common thread is that they begin with the world and observable change, and argue back to God, the uncaused Cause of the world.
The argument for causation therefore overcomes the problems of the Teleological argument in that it now does not matter that the world was created by random interactions. What matters is that an intelligent, independent First Mover is self-evidently necessary which is proof of the existence of God.
1.3.3 Arguments Against there being a First Cause
Many criticised the Cosmological argument, but none so ruthlessly as David Hume in the 18th century (ref: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, ed. Norman Kemp Smith. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1955).The first of his criticisms is that of theists arguing back to an infinite Cause from the observation of finite causes. He said it was only reasonable for one to argue a sufficient cause for a particular effect. Since all effects we know of are finite, it is reasonable to argue for finite causes. Anything more than that would be an invalid jump of logic. Secondly, he argued that an infinite series of causes and effects is possible. What is more, he argued that a system of eternal series of causes and effects cannot itself have a cause, because this would fall outside time and time is necessary in order for a cause to occur.
Hume also argued that there is a need for causes to explain the effects seen in the universe, but the universe taken as a whole does not need a cause to explain it - it always has existed. After all, he claimed, if one can state that God has always existed, why is it unreasonable to suggest that the universe has always existed? Likewise, if the universe must have a cause, then logically God must also have a cause. Stopping the regress of causes at God is an arbitrary decision.
1.3.4 Analysis - First Cause
There are a number of problems with David Hume's arguments, the first being the illogical conclusion that it is possible for there to be an infinite regress of causes. The following example clearly demonstrates why.
In the case of a coal train, one carriage pulls the carriage next to it and so on. No matter how long the train is, there must be an engine at the front, or the train cannot move. Even if the train is of infinite length, it must have an engine at the front. Clearly, an infinitely long train of carriages will still not move without an engine. Likewise, a train that is circular, with the last carriage connected to the back of the first, will not move without an engine - a first mover.
Therefore, though some things may always have existed, nothing would be moving now if something had not first moved it. Since we observe very large movements in so many things, especially on a galactic scale, it is reasonable to postulate that the First Mover is indeed very powerful. It is also reasonable to hold this First Mover to be God.
Secondly, Hume unreasonably argues that one can only logically argue a finite cause for a finite effect. If everything in the universe is finite, this implies that each thing has a beginning and an end. This being so, there must have been a time when each thing did not exist which implies that at one time, nothing existed. Since something cannot come from nothing, yet today we see that there is something, this clearly indicates that something must not be finite. At least one thing must be infinite, have always existed, something that is uncreated. This must be the First Mover. Admittedly this argument allows for there to be many uncreated first movers. However, the point of this argument is that there must be at least one infinite, uncreated thing. As Sartre (Being and Nothingness, NY: Washington Square, 1966. pp758 & 762).and Schopenhauer The Ontological Argument: From Anselm to Contemporary Philosophers, Garden City, NY: Double Day 1965) argued, to cause oneself is logically impossible.
At this point, things would look good for the theist in that there must be a First Mover who is uncreated and infinite, except for the issue of dependence brought forward by Hume. This states that to imply that there is a cause and effect, there must be a proven relationship of dependence by the thing being moved on the thing which is the cause. If this relationship of dependence cannot be demonstrated, then the cause and effect relationship cannot be substantiated.
The central theme of Hume's philosophy is that this relationship between cause and effect cannot be substantiated by empirical observation. The following example demonstrates Hume's point:
In a row of dominos, the pushing of the first domino topples the next domino which in turn pushes the next, etc. until the last domino falls. Most people would assume that the cause of each domino's fall was the falling of the previous domino, that there is a necessary connection between the two events. Hence, the falling of the domino (reaction) was dependent on, and necessarily connected to, the fall of the previous domino (cause). Hume says that most people make this assumption based on experience of falling dominos. Many people would be willing to state this relationship as a logical formula such as "a falling domino will, after hitting the side of the adjacent domino, cause it to fall".
However, Hume goes on to say that one cannot know that this will happen the same every time. For instance, in strong wind, under the sea and in space, we know that this will not happen. A gust of wind could cancel out the effect of the first domino's fall; under the sea, the dominos may float; in space, the dominos cannot fall. Additionally, someone may have glued a domino to the table. Consequently, a casual observer, who has seen dominos fall in the same way hundreds of times in the past, cannot without doubt, predict accurately that the falling of the first domino will cause the last domino to fall. Additionally, though one thing regularly follows another, such as night and day, one does not necessarily cause the other. In conclusion, Hume states that though one can find an "invariant conjunction" between causes and events based on experience, one cannot logically validate a "causal connection".
The result of this is that the dependency of the effect on the cause cannot be substantiated. Therefore, it is invalid to link causes to previous causes and to trace all causes back to a First Cause. In Hume's mind, the Cosmological Argument is rendered invalid.
1.3.5 Analysis - Probability
This seems to block the theist at the front door. However, a closer look at what Hume is actually saying shows that his argument, though it has some legitimacy, does not render the Cosmological Argument useless at all.
Another way of looking at Hume's principle of causality is to say that since people can't know everything there is to know about a particular situation, there is no way a person can take into account every action and reaction concerning that situation. Therefore, it is impossible for a person to predict what will happen in any particular circumstance. It is therefore impossible to state anything regarding the observable world (causes and reactions) as a logical formula.
It is true that one cannot be absolutely sure about anything unless, of course, one is God Who knows everything. Kant takes this further by saying that we can also never know everything there is to know about everyday objects we see and touch. We are limited by our sensing apparatus and our limited intellect. In conclusion, we as humans don't know very much about the universe as it is and are unable to make definite predictions about any particular cause and effect based on previous experience.
However, probability does seem to have a predictive capability. How can this be so if there is no linkage between causes and events? A brief study of the nature of probability reveals some interesting insights into what can and cannot be known.
The rules of probability were only formalised as recently as the 17th century and only last century has been applied to many of the sciences (For example, the central Limit Theorem states that the sum of a large number of independent and identically distributed random variables has, under certain general conditions, an approximately Normal Distribution. ref: Grolier Encyclopedia - Multimedia Encyclopedia Version 1.5, Grolier Inc. 1992.) Probability has remarkable predictive capabilities. Today, many complex real-world situations can be simulated on a computer. By repeating experiments billions of times, computers can very accurately determine the probabilities associated with a particular cause and effect. Any sensible person could not deny that there appears very strong evidence of definite linkages between cause and effect. I am sure that if Hume were alive today, he would not stand in the way of a speeding train or jump off a cliff shouting: "one cannot possibly know what will happen this time".
It is evident that probability is a good predictor and can give insight into likely outcomes, but why can it not be used to predict outcomes accurately and definitely? The following example explains the definition of probability in the context of knowledge (ref: "Chaos Theory", Grolier Encyclopedia - Multimedia Encyclopedia Version 1.5, Grolier Inc. 1992).
If one throws a coin into the air, the coin will eventually land on the floor - heads or tails. Providing the coin is not interfered with, lands on its edge, is flipped in space, etc., the probability of the coin landing on tails is 50%. This can, of course, be supported by empirical observation. Tossing a coin many thousands of times will invariably lead to approximately half the tosses resulting in a "tails" outcome. Each time I toss the coin, I know that there will be one of two possible outcomes. So, I know the first cause - the tossing of the coin, and I know the two possible outcomes - heads or tails. What I don't know are the many millions of causes and effects that will occur between the coin leaving my hand and its stopping on the ground. If I did understand every cause and effect, then I would know the amount of force exerted on the coin by my hand as I threw it up; the degree of friction of the coin on my hand and as it passed through the air; the effect of the air moving over the coin as it spun; the billions of reactions with molecules of dust and gases; and finally as it hit the ground, the flexibility of the coin's metal, the resonance effect of the ground, the minute variations in the texture of the surface of the coin and the ground, etc.
Now, if I understood all these things, it could be possible to throw the coin in such a way that I could make it land as I chose. If I wanted it to land on tails, I would know how to throw it based on my thorough understanding of the complexities involved. Now, if you found out that I had total control of how I threw the coin and fully understood the complexities of tossing a coin, then the fact my next toss resulted in a "heads" would not be considered a factor of probability, but rather an act of deliberate action on my part. My knowledge of the intermediate causes and effects cancelled out probability.
Therefore, probability can be redefined as the ignorance of intermediate causes and effects when the first cause and the final outcomes are known.
Taking this to its logical conclusion, if God exists and God knows and understands everything, then the concept of probability is merely reduced to the realms of human ignorance. This theme will be taken further later in this paper.
Startling discoveries, that Hume could not have dreamed of, have been made in just the last fifty years. Scientists and mathematicians have found grounds to support the theory that causes and effects in the universe are indeed necessarily linked. For instance, the tendency of the natural world towards disorder has been formulated under the heading "Chaos Theory". Mitchell Feigen Baum determined certain consistent patterns of rate doubling as a system tends towards chaos (Microsoft Encarta, Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Corporation, 1992). Applying such principles, the path of a dust particle through turbulent water can be accurately predicted. How could this be so if there is no linkage between cause and effect?
The laws of physics, chemistry and many of the sciences may not be perfectly accurate and may be added to or corrected in the future, but so far, they have proved to be very successful and provide strong evidence of uniformity in the world. In fact, scientists are now concentrating on the area of quantum mechanics where small discrepancies to these "laws" can be detected. The work, called "Hidden Variables Theories" involves finding the missing causes and effects at the sub-atomic level which would describe absolutely the state of a given system (ref: A Survey of Hidden-Variables Theories, F.J.Belinfante, International Series of Monographs in Natural Philosophy Volume 55, Pergamon Press, 1973).
In conclusion, probability offers an excellent predictive capability that can only be so because the world exhibits a degree of uniformity - that is, a cause and effect (events) are linked. Furthermore, probability, the degree of human ignorance, can be reduced as human knowledge of causes and effects is increased. It follows that perfect knowledge and understanding of the first and intermediary causes and effects eliminate probability altogether. Therefore, contrary to Hume's proposition (that events are not linked), if all causes and effects could be known and understood, they could be traced back to the First Cause (or first causes) which, as previously demonstrated, must exist.
Where does this leave the theist? He has determined that there must be a First Cause or causes, but that is all. The Cosmological Argument does not allow the theist to take that next step of linking a personal God with the First Cause or causes. It does not indicate that the First Cause or causes even had to be a creator as some things may always have existed. Clearly, the argument falls far short of where the theist wants to be.
Perhaps the answer is to be found in the Ontological Argument...
God is by definition that than which nothing greater can be conceived.
1.4.1 The argument For the Existence of God from Pure Reason
All philosophical arguments have a starting point, a foundation on which to build the argument. Both the Teleological and Cosmological arguments begin with our experience; what we can see and touch, and build from there. In contrast, the Ontological arguments begin with "self-evident" concepts. By using logic and the mind only, the defects of human sensory apparatus and our inability to properly grasp an appreciation of reality is overcome.
In the 11th century, St Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) (ref: The Ontological Argument: From Anselm to Contemporary Philosophers, ed. Alvin Plantinga, NY Doubleday, anchor books, 1965, pp3-27.) developed what we now know to be the Ontological Argument (Coined by Kant).It is based on the idea of there existing a being that is the greatest being imaginable. In Anselm's words, "a being than which nothing greater can be conceived". Anselm began his argument by saying that even a fool can grasp the concept of "a being than which nothing greater can be conceived". This means the being exists at least in the person's mind or understanding, as a mental object, just like a painting may exist in the mind of an artist before it exists on canvas (ref: The Miracle of Theism by J.L.Mackie, Claredon Press, Oxford, 1982. p50.). Anselm said that a fool would say that the concept of this being exists only in his mind and the minds of others, but not in reality. However, even the fool would admit that it is possible to conceive of this being existing in reality too. Now, a being that exists in reality is greater than one that exists only in the mind. Having admitted this, the fool can no longer hold to his original argument that "a being than which nothing greater can be conceived" only exists in the mind, because the "being than which nothing greater can be conceived" that exists in reality also, must be greater still. To hold the first view only, would be contradictory. Therefore, that being must exist in reality also. This being we call God. Therefore, God exists.
In the 1600's, Rene Descartes brought the Ontological Argument into prominence again by restating it two ways. Firstly, he said that it is impossible to think of an absolutely perfect Being as lacking anything. If an absolutely perfect Being did not exist, then it would lack existence. Therefore, as it is clear that an absolutely perfect Being cannot lack existence, the Being must exist (ref: The Miracle of Theism by J.L.Mackie, Claredon Press, Oxford, 1982. p128).
Descartes' second restatement says that everything has attributes, some of which are necessary attributes. For instance, "having three sides" is a necessary attribute of a triangle whereas "yellow" is not. A necessary attribute of an absolutely perfect Being is "existence", for without it, an absolutely perfect existent Being would not exist and clearly this would be a contradiction. Since existence is a necessary attribute of an absolutely perfect existent Being, It must exist.
Numerous versions of Anselm's and Descartes' arguments have been restated by many philosophers. Amusing as some of these arguments are, this paper will only briefly touch on the major strengths and weaknesses of the Ontological Argument.
1.4.2 The argument Against Anselm & Descartes
Even the theist must admit that this argument seems too good to be true. There must be something wrong with it but it's hard to pick what it is.
Anselm's greatest critic was Gaunilo who frequently debated with him "on behalf of the fool". He considered that Anselm's argument was based on the false assumption that whatever exists in the mind must also exist in reality. He also said that it was not possible to properly form the concept of the most perfect being possible because we are incapable of forming an accurate and complete mental image of this being. The statement "a being than which nothing greater can be conceived" is therefore merely a statement - a series of words with no empirical reference or meaning (ref: The Miracle of Theism by J.L.Mackie, Claredon Press, Oxford, 1982. pp125-126).
Gaunilo's more amusing counter-argument runs like this: I can imagine an island more perfect than any other island. I can also understand the concept that this most perfect island could exist in reality. Since a real perfect island is greater and more perfect than an imaginary one, it must exist.
1.4.3. Anselm's Reply
Anselm claimed that his argument could not be applied to islands, but only to God. Whereas an island can lack existence and reside in the mind only, an absolutely perfect Being necessarily cannot lack anything and therefore cannot lack existence. Descartes backed him up by saying that the argument applies only to an absolutely perfect or necessary Being. Any other thing or being can be conceived not to exist. Only a necessary Being cannot be conceived as not existing. Further, Descartes argued that it is impossible to conceive of two or more supremely perfect beings. There can only be one completely perfect Being possible. The concept of a necessary Being must be what it is and it cannot be otherwise. Hence, the concept of a necessary Being cannot be the product of one's imagination (ref: The Miracle of Theism by J.L.Mackie, Claredon Press, Oxford, 1982. pp128).
1.4.4 The Final Criticism
Kant dealt the most deadly blows to the ontological argument by putting forward a number of criticisms.
Firstly, he claimed that the argument is simply based on words rather than reality. Playing with words will not influence the real world one bit and the existence or otherwise of a perfect existent Being. Anselm and Descartes are merely playing games.
Secondly, using the words "necessary" and "absolutely perfect" as part of the definition of what would be God is a sneaky way of inserting the concept of existence. Existence is already part of the definition and then Anselm pretends to arrive there by logic.
Thirdly, and most devastatingly, Kant agrees that it is true that a being which is "necessarily existent" must exist by definition. However, a "necessarily existent being", taken as a whole, need not exist at all.
The Ontological Argument is very attractive because it relies on pure reason and concepts rather than empirical observations. However, it is clear that the argument is deceptive in that the definition of the being in question has the concepts of "perfect", "necessary" and "existent" built into it. It then pretends to prove the validity of the definition by using the definition itself. It is a clever play on words which, no matter how self-verifying the definition is, can never extend out into reality. A being existing in a person's mind can never cause that being to exist in reality. Even if a link could be made from a concept in the person's mind to reality, it has already been established that a person's mind is not large enough to contain the complete concept of an absolutely perfect being. Finally, even if the argument was able to establish the existence of an absolutely perfect being, it has no capacity to link such a being to the theist's God. Therefore, on all these counts, the Ontological Argument fails.
1John 3:20 (GNB) - If our conscience condemns us, we know that God is greater than our conscience and that He knows everything.
1.5.1 Introduction - Moral Law
The Theist has a problem. The Teleological and Cosmological arguments are based on observations of this world and cannot logically be extended to a "personal God" outside this world. The Ontological Argument is merely the manipulation of words and concepts which likewise cannot be projected into reality. So, is there any argument that is conceptually valid, manifests itself in the real world, and necessitates the existence of God? The defenders of Moral arguments believe there is.
1.5.2 The Argument For the Existence of God from Moral Law
J.H. Newman (ref: J.H. Newman, A Grammar of Assent (Longmans, London, 1870, Chapter 5.) argued that conscience is part of our mental activity. In particular, it supplies us with a sense of duty and information about what is the right and wrong thing to do in a given circumstance. It imposes obligations upon us and has the capacity to affect our emotions. He claimed that when a person acted contrary to its commands, the person "felt a lively sense of responsibility and guilt, though the act be of no offence against society... felt regret, even though in itself [the act was] most pleasurable". In addition, a person felt this guilt even when there was no way anyone else could know about the immoral act! This feeling of responsibility, shame and guilt implies "that there is One to Whom we are responsible, before Whom we are ashamed, Whose claims upon us we fear. Equally, the enjoyment of a good conscience implies a person in Whose approval we are happy."a These feelings in us must have been caused by an intelligent Being. Furthermore, these feelings must originate from a Being that knows man's heart. Lastly, consistency of these feelings across all peoples indicates that it could not come from any one person, but rather must originate in a supreme Being, namely God.
Immanuel Kant (I.Kant, Critique of Practical Reason. ref: The Miracle of Theism by J.L.Mackie, Claredon Press, Oxford, 1982. p109.) rejected this argument as a theoretically invalid proof for the existence of God, but did accept the argument as the only way to practically make sense of our moral experience. In other words, though the argument fails as a strictly logical argument, people must accept and live as though God exists. Kant's argument went like this:
Happiness is the desire of all human beings. Virtue (morality) is the duty of all human beings. Often, doing what is right (morality) is good but does not make one happy. Likewise, making oneself happy, which is good, may require acts of immorality. If both can be completely achieved, then this is the greatest good. This "greatest good" should be sought since it is the greatest good. Unfortunately, finite human beings in finite time can never perfectly achieve both of these at the same time. However, the moral necessity of doing something implies the possibility of doing it. The only way of achieving the unity of both is with God's help (because only He has the power to achieve it) and with immortality - life after death (because this will give us the time to achieve it). Therefore, God must exist.
C.S. Lewis (ref: C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Fount Paperbacks, Harper Collins Publishers, London, 1952) calls moral law the "Law of Nature". He argues that morality is as much a part of the universe as the law of gravity and thermodynamics. People all over the world "have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can't get rid of it." There is tremendous consistency across all nations and throughout all time. Lewis' critics claimed that this "Moral Law" is simply herd instinct. Lewis defended his argument by saying that if a person has two instincts in opposition to each other, the stronger will prevail. When a person is put in a position of saving someone's life while at the same putting their own safety in jeopardy, the stronger instinct would be to run away. Yet, the weaker moral "instinct" often wins out, proving that "moral law" is not an instinct at all.
1.5.3 An Argument Against the Existence of God from Moral Law
The herd instinct may be partially responsible for people acting morally in that they fear reprisals by others if they do not do the right thing by society. However, a much greater contributor to people's adherence to "moral law" is pure and simple selfishness. For instance, people may keep to the speed limit simply because they do not want to receive a fine. They may not drink-drive because they fear being caught.
People naturally seek the "highest good" for themselves. Living in a homogeneous society which is both peaceful and secure is generally regarded as one of the "highest goods". That is, people do not want to be attacked when they go down the street or have a car accident because no one adheres to the road rules. Therefore, most people generally adhere to the "moral law" (which is backed up by the "laws of the land") even though it may be immediately inconvenient. Because of this, immediate selfish desires are often overruled by the long-term selfish desire in order to live in a stable society. That is, people seek the highest good for themselves. It is interesting that most people regard "doing the right thing by society" as an unselfish act when, in reality, it is consistent with seeking the highest good for oneself (maximising long-term self-interest).
While this can explain the vast majority of moral behaviour, it does not adequately explain charity. It might be true that some people give to the poor because this contributes to reducing the number of starving people and lowers the crime rate, however, it is not a complete explanation. For instance, it does not explain the feeling of shame and guilt when no one else knows about the immoral act committed. It also does not explain the considerable pressure placed upon an individual by his conscience to help another person whom he may not even know and which may place him in considerable danger. That is, the person is under apparent pressure to act unselfishly.
The most probable explanation for this is that human beings are able to empathise with other people (Humans differ from animals in that they have a large frontal lobe in the brain. This provides the ability to imagine and manipulate mental images and hence to empathise. ref: Grolier Encyclopedia - Multimedia Encyclopedia Version 1.5, Grolier Inc. 1992.) That is, they can think about what it is like to be the other person in a particular situation. Evidence of this is all around us. In many sports, the participant must frequently view things from the opponent's perspective. When we watch a sad movie, we share the sadness of the characters portrayed. When we see the good guy win, we feel happy for him. When we see someone's arm being crushed or a tooth being drilled we also feel or relive some of their pain. It is in like manner that we stop and help someone in need because we empathise with them in that condition. We may wish at times that we did not have this capacity, but because we do, we cannot help doing it. It is worth stopping and thinking about this for a moment. In reality, by empathising with another person, we in fact temporarily adopt (place upon ourselves) the attributes of the other person's situation, making them, to an extent, ours. Our selfishness then acts on the adopted attributes as if they were our own. Because of our mental capability to empathise, we can not actually avoid doing it. Only when our own selfish desires are stronger than those we have adopted can we ignore the adopted ones. Some people have a greater capacity for empathy than others. Hence, we see apparent "unselfishness" to varying degrees among people.
The foundation of the concept of selfishness as the driving human force is examined in greater detail in the next section - "The Argument from Consciousness".
1.5.4 Analysis - Moral Arguments
Newman's argument rested on three points. Firstly, that people feel a sense of guilt when acting contrary to their conscience. Secondly, that people must feel this guilt because there is One to Whom they are responsible and Who has claims on them. Thirdly, the argument is strengthened by its consistency across all peoples and the fact that we feel this guilt even when no one else could ever find out about the immoral act committed.
The first point - the feeling of guilt - is explained by empathy with the other person (see Section 1.5.3). The second point - there must be One to whom we are responsible and Who has claims on us - is true, except that the person in question is our self. Only we are responsible to ourselves. If we did something immoral in private, we could not help imagining what other people would think if they knew what it was we had done. As a result, we would necessarily take on what we imagine their attributes to be (their dismay, anger, condemnation, etc.) and therefore would feel shame and guilt. No One need be involved. Newman's third point - the amazing consistency across all nations and eras - is not really surprising as people's intellectual capacity to empathise does and has not varied much. Therefore, Newman's argument is weak on all points.
Kant's argument rested on a number of assumptions which do not have a logically valid foundation. Firstly, he states that all people should seek the "highest good" because it is the "highest good". Kant is making a big assumption which has no valid foundation in logic. Why should all people seek the "highest good"? Secondly, Kant states that the moral necessity of doing something implies the possibility of doing it. This would hold true only if God exists and is the One who imposes obligations on man. Again, this is an unfounded assumption. It is not surprising that Kant admitted that his argument was not logically valid. His proposition that the argument for God's existence was necessary to explain the phenomenon of morality observed in humans is invalid because, as has previously been outlined, there are other reasonable explanations which do not include God.
Lastly, C.S. Lewis' argument has some validity but comes to the wrong conclusion. Morality is consistent across all nations and time for the reasons previously outlined, not because they necessarily originate in a Supreme Being. In his second argument, he stated that morality could not be instinct because the stronger one of self-preservation would override the instinct to help others. Because we often see people helping others (the weaker instinct), even to the point of giving up one's own life, morality could not possibly be the result of instinct. Even if this were true, it need not necessarily mean there is a God. Simply, as one empathises with another, the attributes adopted from that person (in that situation) may be stronger than one's own. Therefore, the other person's situational attributes take precedence. It is only an illusion to observers that the person has not acted out of self-interest.
1.5.5 Conclusion - Moral Arguments
The Moral Argument for the existence of God has no logical foundation. The major mistake appears to be in the understanding of what morality actually is. Rather than being a decisive unselfish act, it is the logical action on criteria sourced from both one's own situation and the situation of those being empathised with. One must logically conclude that morality is an illusion that does not require God for explanation. (Section 2 of this paper demonstrates why a logically valid argument does not necessarily reflect reality.)
Descartes - cogito ergo sum
1.6.1 Introduction - Argument from Consciousness
As Descartes concluded, the one thing I can be sure about is that I am thinking. Because I am thinking, I have a consciousness, I am aware of my surroundings and I am aware that I am aware.
If I were merely "a bunch of atoms" bouncing off each other in a fairly random manner as the materialists assert, is it possible for such matter to have thought? Is it instead the case that the mind is separate from the body, a sort of spirit or soul, as the theist asserts?
The argument for the existence of God from consciousness attempts to demonstrate that God is the source of consciousness. A by-product of this argument is the question of whether consciousness exists at all, whether a material brain can have consciousness and whether a spirit (or soul) is required. The ramifications of the answer to this question are great and will be discussed in detail at the end of this section.
1.6.2 The Argument for the Existence of God from Consciousness
How could consciousness arise in a purely material universe? How could minds be made out of matter? (ref: 1) Many theists argue that it is ridiculous to suppose that atoms which "knock, impel and resist one another" a could possibly have any kind of thought. Can mere atoms experience love or know beauty? Can atoms imagine, be courageous, and have beliefs?
Locke (J.Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book IV, Chapter X, Section 10) argues that if material structures could think, then this would only be possible by an elaborate arrangement and adjustment of the parts that make up the structure. Since it is extremely improbable that material structures would fall into this arrangement of their own accord, there is very probably a divine consciousness that is arranging the structure to bring this about (Teleological).
Swinburne (ref: Swinburne, The Existence of God, Chapter 9) supports this argument by saying that it is not remotely possible to explain consciousness in terms of a material brain. He challenges scientists and materialists to link mental events with neurophysiological states and occurrences. That is, scientists would need to prove that a causal account of brain events is the ultimate determinant of what goes on. Swinburne does not believe that scientists will ever be able to do this which, he says, severely weakens the materialist's argument. A much better explanation is that man has a mind and a body, a kind of dualism. He said that "Any world-view which denies the existence of experienced sensations of blueness or loudness or pain does not describe how things are - that this is so stares us in the face. Some kind of dualism of entities or properties or states is inevitable".
It is indeed difficult to explain abstract concepts such as blueness, loudness or pain in a purely materialist world. Why are not electrical impulses from nerves travelling to the brain simply just electrical impulses from nerves travelling to the brain? Who or what is experiencing "pain"?
Others argue against materialism from a biological point of view, stating that there is not enough room in the brain to explain all that we see in human nature. For instance, there are only ten billion neurons in the brain (ref: Grolier Encyclopedia - Multimedia Encyclopedia Version 1.5, Grolier Inc. 1992) many of which we apparently do not use. In computer terms, this is 10 GigaBits, the equivalent to the amount of information stored on three CD-ROMs (Compact Disc - Read Only Memory) or that found on a modern personal computer. This seems hardly enough, theists argue, to account for the volume of memories and complex behaviour attributable to human beings. Furthermore, post mortems on people who suffered hydrocephalus, have shown that most of their brain had deteriorated (their skull was almost empty), yet intellectually they behaved normally until their death.
The theist's conclusion is that consciousness cannot be explained by the material world alone. Consciousness must have originated from a higher consciousness, namely God.
1.6.3 The Argument Against the Existence of God from Consciousness
Consciousness is awareness, the ability to know. A conscious being is aware of its environment, is aware that it is thinking, and has feed-back mechanisms to monitor and build on previous thought. For example, humans have the ability, that animals do not seem to have, of being able to form a thought (an imagination or idea), hold this in memory as an object, and then manipulate it as if it was part of the environment. This facility, in combination with environmental awareness through the senses and the ability to extract experience from memory, form a very powerful capability. Having established what consciousness is, each of the arguments put forward in the previous section will now be criticised.
Firstly, Locke's argument that it is extremely unlikely that material structures would fall into an arrangement as complex as the brain of their own accord has already been addressed and rendered invalid in the "Argument from Design". It was shown that material objects of almost infinite complexity would inevitably exist at some time (given infinite time to occur). (I acknowledge that it is possible for some combinations not to ever occur due to constraints from the laws of the universe. However, this in no way weakens the argument as it is impossible to determine which combinations they might be.)
Swinburne's argument that scientists cannot link mental events with neurophysiological states was correct in his day, but has been rendered invalid in recent years. Admittedly it is most difficult to do due to the complexity of the brain and the difficulty in observing live brain processes. However, in recent years it has been possible to observe and measure certain thought processes and the reciprocal chemical and electrical action of the brain. Memory locations of certain thoughts have been ascertained, and progress in this field is accelerating with technological breakthroughs and the use of machines such as magnetic resonance devices. Never-the-less, even if the linkages between most mental events and neurophysiological states cannot yet be clearly defined, it does not mean that they do not exist. For instance, we cannot know all the complex interactions taking place in world weather patterns, however, we would never ascribe consciousness to this. We cannot predict with any accuracy the movement of a cyclone, however, we do not ascribe consciousness to this just because we do not fully understand the interactions (ref: 1). Likewise, we cannot assume there must be a consciousness just because scientists cannot define all the links between mental events and neurophysiological states. Sufficient relationships have already been found to support the argument that such linkages do exist.
Lastly, it is not true that there is not enough room in the brain to account for human behaviour. It is true that there are only 10 billion neurons, however there are up to 10,000 times that number of connections between neurons. It is these connections (possibly several trillion) that collect information that eventually triggers a neuron to "spike". Connectivity, rather than the number of neurons, is what matters most (ref: Mr Indvrkhya, Department of Computer Science, University of Sydney, Australia). Neural networks have been simulated by computers in recent years. Rather than being simple memory locations which are manipulated by programmed processing units as is found in conventional computers, their foundation is the complex linkages. To date, simulations have been carried out on neural networks comprising 200,000 neurons. Though quite inferior to networks found in the brain (because all the attributes of cells cannot be programmed easily), they have been able to achieve significant results. Apart from being able to simulate low life forms, they have created networks that learn and improve their "intelligence" over time. Even slugs, which have just 200 neurons, show considerable intelligence and adaptiveness. People involved in the field of neural networks have no hesitation in stating that the trillions of connections between billions of neurons found in the human brain would be more than adequate to explain human behaviour (ref: Tom Osborn, Department of Science, University of Technology & Mr Indvrkhya, Department of Computer Science, University of Sydney, Australia).
Further evidence for the brain accounting for human behaviour abounds. It is well known that the human forebrain is responsible for understanding, language, conceptualisation and abstraction, judgement and contemplation. The Reticular Formation, a large group of cells deep within the brain, is responsible for maintaining a state of alertness. Operations to remove various parts of the brain have demonstrated that the functionality does indeed exist in the brain. For instance, the removal of part of the brain may remove the ability to speak, see, remember, think logically, remember who we are, or even to stay conscious. If all the brain was removed, what would be left? What would we be like if we could not remember anything or stay conscious? Materialists would argue that indeed there would be nothing left. Theists have pointed to operations where large parts of the brain have been removed through accident or operation and the individual's intellect has remained unaffected. In response, the materialist could point to very recent findings that the brain does not store absolutely everything in precisely defined areas of the brain. It seems that much of our memory and ability is fragmented, with some areas duplicated in other parts of the brain. When there is a relatively minor loss of brain tissue, the brain can begin to create new linkages between duplicated memory and fragments located elsewhere and reestablish much of what was lost. Evidence of this is seen in the ability of many stroke victims to recover over time. Of course, where major loss occurs, this may not be possible. However, this, if anything, strengthens the materialist's argument.
Lastly, theists often distinguish computers from human beings by saying that computers cannot have a consciousness but humans obviously do. But how can this be known? How can it be determined whether another person has a consciousness? The only thing that is verifiable is that "I" have consciousness- I am thinking. But what is "thinking"? Thinking is "having one's mind at work", "having an idea", "holding an opinion", "considering", "determining", "taking into consideration", etc. (ref: The Australian Oxford Dictionary, Oxford University Press 1976). A computer can do all these things and more. Many robots gather information, perform logical calculations, learn, consider, determine answers, have intentions, respond to feed-back from previous actions and the environment. Though computers are significantly inferior to humans in all these capacities, it is nevertheless impossible to know to what extent this differs from the awareness found in human beings (ignoring complexity). Are human brains just millions of times more complex? Theists may argue that we know everything about what happens inside a computer and therefore we know that it cannot have a consciousness. The materialist may respond by asking whether understanding everything inside the human brain would also mean that humans have no consciousness. One must conclude that it is not possible to ascertain without doubt whether anyone other than ourselves has a consciousness. Further, it is not possible to determine whether the consciousness we "know" we have is not, in fact, an illusion. Taken to the extreme, David Hume suggests that matter is just many separate causes and events. Consequently, we are not the same person we were a moment ago. Because we are so similar to what we were a moment ago, we assume that we have continued from one moment to the next, however, this is simply an illusion.
1.6.4 Analysis and Ramifications of The Argument from Consciousness
The materialist's argument appears to be very strong. Medical research strongly backs up the notion that all memory, thought and reasoning occurs in the brain, explaining the whole gamut of human behaviour. Not only is a nonmaterial mind logically unnecessary, but its nature, when separated from the brain, is difficult to imagine. Once establishing that only a material brain is required, the materialist then argues that consciousness is an illusion and cannot be verified to be anything else.
Therefore, this argument cannot be used as evidence for the existence of God. Worse still for the theist, the materialist's counter-argument is so strong and the ramifications so great, that the theist must now come up with an explanation as to why it is wrong. One of the greatest ramifications is the issue of free will which is discussed in the next section.
Free will in a Material Universe?
In a purely materialist world, everything is deterministic - the result of causation (See Cosmological Argument). The universe is one mass of caused causes and effects. In such a world, there is no room for free will. If we and our consciousness are part of this material world, then we do not have free will. It is simply an illusion. If we do not have free will, then we cannot be responsible for our actions for we are the product of our environment. Morals then, as argued previously, are an illusion. Continuing the argument, one cannot be blamed for sinning or held accountable for any action.
Kant held a predominantly materialistic view, but had a problem with the fact that he observed free will and "moral law" in action. Consequently, he formulated the dualist argument that man must be both spirit and matter, for if man's mind did not exist outside the material world, free will could not be possible. However, as previously argued in Section 1.5, morals are an illusion and hence this renders Kant's initial premise invalid.
Nevertheless, Kant is right that there is no place for real free will in a material universe and we have covered strong arguments to support the fact that it is such a universe. Therefore, if man does have free will, then part of his mind must reside outside this material universe in the form of a "soul" or "spirit".
Free will in an Immaterial Universe?
Even if the theist manages to argue that man does have a spirit, there is the final obstacle, an explanation of which follows:
When a person makes a decision, that decision, by definition, is always the decision that the person wanted to make. The decision, in the context of the person making it, is always a good decision ("The will must choose the greater good", Jean Buridan 1300-1358). That does not mean that it is the best decision in terms of the person's well-being, their health, their family, etc. It does not mean that it was a good or the best decision from other's perspectives. It does, however, mean that it was considered to be good and the right decision to take at the time, based on all available internal and external inputs. A person, therefore, can only ever make a good decision (in reference to themselves).
This being so, if a person is both spirit and body (see diagram above), then the intellect (body - brain) would feed information from the environment (sight, sound, feeling, taste, smell) and memory to the mind (essence, spirit, will). This information would form the criteria on which the mind would make a decision. Since the mind can only ever make a decision based on the materialist, deterministic world, and since the mind can only ever make a good decision (relative to itself), then the mind also becomes necessarily deterministic. Therefore, despite having a spirit or soul, where is there room for free will?
One can only conclude from this that free will is impossible. The theist might argue that God can do anything He likes, and if He wants to give us free will, He can. However, this would not only be contrary to what has already been explained, but would be contradictory by definition. For instance, a completely free will act is itself a cause and not an effect (ref: "Free Will", Microsoft Encarta 1993, Microsoft Corporation. 1993 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation). That is, a free willed person initiates a cause which itself was not caused. When we discussed the Cosmological Argument, about the only thing that was in any way supported was the notion of there being a First Cause (the only uncaused cause). But if we were all created by God and therefore are a caused cause, we cannot by definition be free willed. To say we are free willed is to say we are uncaused and uncreated which to a theist would be blasphemy.
Therefore, on two counts we are not free willed. Firstly because everything we are and know is a product of a deterministic world and secondly, because we are caused causes.
As mentioned before, taken at face value, the ramification of this is that we cannot be held accountable for anything we do as it has been dictated by the First Cause (God), and if there is no free will, the foundation of Christianity - the need for the forgiveness of sin - is rendered invalid.
1.6.5 Conclusion - The Argument from Consciousness
The Argument from Consciousness has very little logical foundation. Theists argue that people must have a consciousness because it seems "impossible" or "ridiculous" that they should not or put forward invalid moral arguments or the like as evidence that consciousness must exist. However, these arguments are without logical foundation. More to the point, determinism, which is the necessary result of a materialistic world, hits at the core of most religious demands for personal adherence to statutes and moral behaviour.
The evidence is strong that a materialistic, deterministic world can account for consciousness and human behaviour. The logical outcome of this is that free will can not exist. This does not mean that free will does not exist in reality. It only means that it can not be logically argued for.
1.7.1 Common Consent Argument
(This section contains various references to The encyclopedia of Philosophy, by Paul Edwards, Editor in Chief. The Macmillan Company and the Free Press.)
All over the world, across all nations and time, one can witness billions of people worshipping God in one way or another. This is because a belief in God is engrafted in the human mind. As Plato argued, not all knowledge is learned, but rather is instinctive, is already in the mind.
Can all these people be misguided? Can they all be wrong in something so fundamental, so universal? After all, if such a large proportion of the human race had defective intellect, this would raise questions about the reliability of human reason which would be intolerable (ref: "Joyces' Argument" By G.H.Joyce in "The Principles of Natural Theology"). Therefore, the fact that we see in the vast majority of people a consensus in the belief in God, adds significant weight to the argument for the existence of God.
Locke argued that the universality of an idea does not establish its innateness or truth. Furthermore, a belief may be innate and instinctive without being regarded as true. For instance, the vast majority (if not all) of the human race thought the world was flat and that the sun moved around the earth. Just because there was consensus about this did not establish its truth as we now know. Therefore, there can be "universal" error.
Mill said, "It is difficult to see how the version of the biological argument can bridge the transition from the instinctiveness of belief to its truth without introducing God as guarantor of the instinct's trustworthiness."
The argument also assumes that most believers in God arrive at their belief by means of reason or intellect. It seems, however, that many people believe for other reasons. For example, upbringing, culture, emotional security, politics, etc.
Finally, Kant argues that if belief in God is based on the testimony of people, then the testimonies of a number of people from different religions cancel each other out. That is, if twenty people from different religions were in a court of law, the nineteen would testify against the one.
In conclusion, it is not possible to determine the truth of something by the fact that one person, or even the entire human race, believes it to be true.
1.7.2 Innate Yearning for God Argument
Hodge argues, "All the faculties and feelings of our minds and bodies have their appropriate objects; and the possession of the faculties supposes the existence of those objects. Thus the eye in its very structure supposes that there is light to be seen, and the ear would be unaccountable and inconceivable without the existence of sound. In like manner, our religious feelings and aspirations necessitate the existence of God."
Complimenting this, Chad Walsh (ref: Atheism Doesn't Make Sense. Page 10) says that "Every other hunger has its normal gratification. This is true of physical hunger, of love, sex, etc. If, similarly, our religious hunger did not have its proper gratification, it would be difficult to see how it got built into our natures in the first place. What is it doing there?"
The fact is that many people, some of whom are very intelligent people, do not believe in God and do not, by their own admission, have a yearning for God. Walsh's comeback to this is that these people are defective. Though they do not believe, the yearning or wish to believe is still there.
Though this argument has some plausibility, from a logical perspective it fails to adequately link a "yearning" with a God Who is beyond the material world. Without a clearly defined link, the argument is invalid. Furthermore, there are psychological explanations for a belief in God, from a need for security, to be accepted, to have a mechanism for the removal of guilt, etc.
The argument is, therefore, logically inconclusive.
1.7.3 Henological Argument (Degrees of Perfection)
Thomas Aquinas' argument (ref: Thomas Aquinas, "Five Ways", Summa Theologiae Ia,2,3 - This is his Fourth Way) is that in everything there is gradation. Some things are more good, more true, more noble, etc. than other things. Comparative terms describe varying degrees of approximation to a superlative, indicating that there must be a pure source for all attributes. (Note: This can only be indivisible things. Indivisible things do not perish. Eg. Goodness, unity, truth, nobility, beauty and intelligence.) That is, there must be absolute and pure good, nobility, truth, etc. There must be a source and sustainer of this purity and perfection, and this we call God.
To an extent, this argument adds nothing to the Cosmological Argument. While that argument asserts there must be a First Cause of all observed causes, so the Henological Argument asserts that there must be a source of things such as goodness and beauty. However, it is somewhat less valid because there are many things which are indivisible and yet do not have perfections - gravity for instance. Gravity is indivisible and there are degrees of gravity. However, one can not and usually does not assume that there is the "perfect gravity".
Lastly, one must believe in something existing beyond the material world for one to believe in this argument. In a material world, beauty is just an assessment by a complex group of atoms that constitute our brains. Goodness is likewise a value-judgement by material brains. Unless one first believes in the immaterial world, one cannot make the connection from the material to the immaterial world and then to God.
Unfortunately, though this argument has some plausibility, it fails for the same reason as any other ontological proof does. That is, the impossibility of establishing some concrete reality on the basis of a mere definition or concept (ref: 1).
1.7.4 Practical Reason Argument
This argument is based on Pascal's Wager (ref: B.Pascal, Pensees, in Euvres, edited by L.Brunschvigg, Hachette, Paris, 1925, Section III, No. 233) which reasons that since we are unable to determine whether God exists or not, we are forced to play a game of chance. We must therefore "bet" on God existing - either accepting or rejecting the proposition, for to suspend judgement is impractical.
To bet on God existing and living a life consistent with that proposition, Pascal argues that one must live a life of denial (thereby being unhappy in this life) in order to gain the prospect of eternal happiness (an infinity of happy lives). To bet on God not existing would be to live a life of liberty (happiness in this one life), but risking eternal unhappiness (losing an infinity of happy lives). The following shows the result of each action in written and diagrammatic form:
on God existing and God does exist results in loss of one life, gaining of
Net result: Eternal happy lives.
Bet on God existing and God doesn't exist results in loss of one life and no eternal life.
Net result: Loss of one happy life.
Bet on God not existing and God does exist results in gain of one happy life but loss of eternal happy lives.
Net result: Loss of eternal life.
Bet on God not existing and God doesn't exist results in gain of one life and no eternal life.
Net result: Gain of one happy life.
God Exists God does not Exist
Bet | Gain | Lose |
God | Infinite | one |
Exists | Life | Life |
Bet God | Lose | Gain |
Does not| Infinite | one |
Exist | Life | Life |
Even if the odds of God existing are almost infinitely small, the above holds true (Only if the odds against God existing are infinite would this not hold true - and no one can say that they are).
Therefore, by betting that God exists, the most one can lose is one happy life, but has the possibility of gaining infinite happy lives. By betting that God doesn't exist, the most one can gain is one happy life, but at the same time risks not having eternal happy lives (worse still, eternal damnation). Therefore, one should bet on God existing.
One could argue that it is better to gain something than nothing. If the odds for God existing are very small, then the odds of gaining at least one "happy life" are greater if one rejects God (This of course makes the big assumption that to reject God will cause the person to have a happy life. The author of this paper rejects that assumption). This would be similar to a quiz show contestant choosing to take the car now instead of staying on to try for the house which would be uncertain. (To then lose, would be to lose everything.) It would not be unreasonable, then, to take the car.
However, a problem with this argument is that it makes the big, unfounded assumption that to reject God will cause a person to have a happy life in this world. It may very well be that to reject God will cause greater unhappiness than to believe in Him.
The argument also assumes that God is the Christian God. However, one could equally hold that there is a probability that God is the Jewish God or Muslim God. One should then believe in these and all other gods in order to be absolutely sure. However, one can not believe in all these gods simultaneously due to mutually exclusive doctrines.
Possibly the greatest problem with this argument is the question of whether a person can choose to believe something is true based on such a proposition. To have a genuine belief in the truth of something, a person must be convinced of its validity. It can be argued that one cannot truly believe that God exists on the basis that by doing so, one may possibly gain future prosperity. The uncertainty of God's existence will remain in the person's mind.
If one holds the view that belief is really the adherence of religious practices (obedience to God's statutes) rather than cognitive recognition, then it would be appropriate for that person to live such a life in the hope of future reward. However, in the context of this paper and the search for the determinability of God's existence, the Practical Reason Argument is of no use.
The arguments discussed in this section failed to provide valid, logical reasoning for the existence of God. In summary:
The Cosmological Argument failed because:
The Ontological Argument failed because:
The Moral Argument failed because:
The Argument from Consciousness failed because:
The Common Consent Argument failed because:
The Innate Yearning Argument failed because:
The Henological Argument failed because:
The Practical Reason Argument failed because:
This situation is not good for the theist. Not one of these arguments provides conclusive logical reasoning for the existence of God. The theist has the major problem, so evident in most of the arguments, in that he cannot link the logically derived, vague concept of God with the personal God he so wishes to prove. The rational atheist says, "show me the God you wish me to believe in", but the theist can only provide concepts.
Section 2 discusses why the foundation of the logical atheist's arguments is invalid, while Section 3 discusses the one and only way a person can have proof of God's existence.
The rational arguments outlined in Section 1 have one thing in common, and that is the use of logic as a determinant of their validity. The proponents of these theories began with a premise and then built a logical construct from which a conclusion could be formulated. Any proposition that could not be logically linked to this framework was immediately dismissed as illogical and therefore invalid. Other philosophers who put forward conclusions based on propositions that failed the tests of logic were generally ridiculed. Hume would frequently refer to "illogical" conclusions as "a mystery". To dismiss rationality and logic in favour of faith or unfounded belief, they declared, is to do violence to one's reason and understanding (ref: 1).
Can something be true only when it can be backed up by rational, logical argument? Can anything be known to be true by any other means?
This section demonstrates that many things exist that cannot be verified by logical argument. This in turn raises serious doubts as to the adequacy of rationality's scope for answering the question of God's existence.
Logic is a methodology employed to prove a proposition as being either true or false. Logicians hold that propositions labelled as true can be accepted as truth and reality while those labelled as false can be discarded as fallacy and not reflecting reality. But what happens when a paradox is encountered?
In the 1800's, Georg Cantor developed the "theory of sets" in which it was possible to devise all kinds of self-referencing propositions. Very soon, all kinds of paradoxes were unearthed, a few of which are listed below.
1. Epimenides' paradox: "The following sentence is false. The preceding sentence is true." (ref: Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Bwiasic Books Inc, 1979, Page 21.)
2. Russell's paradox (1902): "R is the set of all sets which are not members of themselves." For example: Imagine a library in which there are two catalogues (which are themselves books), one of which lists only the books in the library which somewhere refer to themselves and the other, only the books which make no mention of themselves. In which catalogue is the second catalogue itself to be listed? (ref: Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind, Oxford University Press, 1989, Page 132.)
3. "This statement is false."
These propositions cannot be declared true or false by logical deduction.
Not even mathematics, the great bastion of logic, is immune to such paradoxes. Throughout history, mathematicians worked towards formalising mathematics with the goal of explaining the universe in terms of mathematical proofs. Great progress was being made by people such as David Hilbert who dedicated his life's work to a programme of placing mathematics on an unassailably secure foundation.b Unfortunately for him, his hopes were dashed in 1931 by Kurt Gödel who developed his now famous theorem, Proposition VI: (ref: Kurt Gödel, Proposition VI, On Formally Undecidable Propositions in Principia Mathematica and Related Systems I, 1931.)"All consistent axiomatic formulations of number theory include undecidable propositions." (This is paraphrased by Hofstadter (See reference C). The original is: "To every w-consistent recursive class k of formulae there correspond recursive class-signs r, such that neither v Gen r nor Neg (v Gen r) belongs to Flg (k (where v is the free variable of r).".)
Gödel went on to prove this by using long and very complex algorithms which are beyond the scope of this paper to explain. It is sufficient to say that his theorem shocked the world of mathematics and logic because it effectively meant that there were propositions that were undecidable - could not be proved to be true or false. Some propositions known to be true or false could not be proved within the mathematical system. "Since mathematics has often been regarded as the standard of rational knowledge that other sciences should strive to attain, Gödel's theorems seem to acquire significance for the whole body of human knowledge; they certainly establish that the old ideal of a deductive system cannot be maintained." (ref: The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, by Paul Edwards, Editor in Chief. The Macmillan Company and the Free Press.)
Gödel's theorems were supported by Alan Turing who developed a purely logical methodology in the form of a "machine" which used only paper tape with ones and zeros on it. Using this machine, Turing showed how almost every mathematical problem could be reduced to ones and zeros on a tape which could then be used by the machine to determine the solution. However, Turing also showed that there were some mathematical problems in which the machine would run for ever and never come up with an answer. This he called the "Halting Problem". One of the most interesting aspects of this idea was that in some cases, it was not possible for the machine to "know" whether it was ever going to stop and come up with an answer. Yet a mathematician could look at the same problem and know (by intuition) whether the machine would stop or not. Some have concluded from this that the mind may be beyond logic.
What ever the case, it is clear that logic is incomplete as a methodology and is therefore unreliable in determining answers to important questions such as those concerning God's existence. It just might be that this question cannot be decided by logic.
There are many concepts that are known by us to exist, yet cannot be verified by logical argument. The limitations of logic are made evident by the examples listed below.
A circle cannot be logically argued for. Why does a circle exist? Why is a circle round? Nevertheless, a circle does exist. Some might put forward a mathematical algorithm as the explanation, such as 2¹r, but why is ¹ the value that it is? Why can the value of ¹ not even be written using any numbering system, let alone logically argued for? (The number represented by the symbol ¹ cannot be calculated or written because it contains an infinite number of decimal places. There are other examples like it.)
The existence of free will, if it exists, can never be validated by logical argument. Assume that a person has free will and they are about to make a decision. No matter how much one knows about the circumstance surrounding that decision, the complex interactions of the environment and the complete history of the universe, there would be no logical argument that could deduce what decision would be made by that person. This is because logical argument depends on being able to trace a series of causes and reactions to their conclusion. Since free will is an uncaused cause, there is nothing to include in the argument. Is it any surprise then, that rational philosophers such as Hume conclude that free will cannot exist? If it did exist, they could not find it - they would have to conclude that it is "a mystery".
Another concept that lies beyond logic is pain. Neurons can transmit electrical charge through various electro-chemical transformations, but who or what experiences pain?
If these concepts fall outside logic's grasp, there is a distinct possibility that there may be large areas of the universe that are unavailable for discovery by logic. Is logic, then, an appropriate tool for answering such questions?
The issue that most severely weakens rationality's ability to answer questions concerning God's existence is its dependence on things that are already known. As mentioned, a rational argument must begin with a premise and then build a chain of logical links which eventually results in a conclusion. All links must be verified.
The first weakness is in the validity of the premise. Generally, the premise is based on something observed or a so-called understood concept. However, this, in itself, invalidates any logical argument because a premise (a "given") is therefore simply an unsubstantiated, arbitrary start to the chain of logical links. In order for a logical argument to be truly valid, it must begin from a substantiated premise or at the very beginning (the First Cause) and this is something logicians are unable to do.
Secondly, most "logical arguments" contain only the major intermediate links in the chain. However, without the minor links (that is, all the links), the chain is incomplete and invalid. Therefore, an argument containing only major links is making assumptions as to how those links are joined. It is most unlikely, then, that any logical argument could be complete and, in consequence, valid. This weakness was well recognised by Hume and Kant, but did not stop them using logic to destroy and render irrational arguments invalid.
If logical argument requires all aspects of its premise and subsequent links to be known in advance, then what good is logical argument in attempting to discover the unknown? The conclusion can be no broader than the premises. If one begins with God as a premise, one has already begged the question. And if one does not begin with God as a premise, there is no logically valid way to come up with God in the conclusion (ref: Walter Kaufmann paraphrased in Philosophy of Religion, 2nd Ed.,Norman Geisler & Winfried Corduan. P81). Therefore, logical argument is incapable of ever discovering a God that is not already known by some other means.
An argument may be logically valid, yet not be true. An argument may be logically invalid, yet be true.
For example (ref: Walter Kaufmann paraphrased in Philosophy of Religion, 2nd Ed.,Norman Geisler & Winfried Corduan. P88), the statement: "All three-sided figures are triangles; this is a triangle; therefore, this is a three-sided figure" is formally invalid because it affirms the consequent. Yet it is true.
Likewise, the statement: "Unicorns are invisible; therefore, some unicorns are invisible" is logically valid, but not true as unicorns do not exist.
Clearly, the truth of a logical argument rests upon the truth of the original premises. This being so, the validity of a logical argument gives no assurance that its conclusion is true and reflects reality.
Logical argument is the manipulation of known precepts in order to "prove" the validity of linkages between causes and effects and therefore the conclusion (final effect). Its use in establishing the answer of God's existence is inappropriate because:
Logical, rational argument is useful, but it cannot be used exclusively in the quest for determining the truth of God's existence. It can never go beyond that which is already known.
Additionally, a number of the criticisms levelled at the Cosmological, Teleological and other rational arguments by the atheist are equally unfounded.
Where to now for the theist? How can he prove God's existence if rational argument is ruled out? Does not the notion of proof imply rational argument? This being so, is proof of God's existence without rational argument unobtainable?
Not at all. The next section explains how it is indeed possible to obtain proof of God's existence.
The obstacles in determining the truth of God's existence are many. As already outlined in this paper, rational argument based on concepts or observations is of limited use in that it cannot discover anything not already known - only vague concepts can be inferred.
Empirical observation and other data gained through the senses is prone to error both by the receptors and by the intellect. Kant is correct in claiming that we cannot know what anything really is, but can only obtain a hint through our observations. If we don't see things as they really are and probably don't have an intellect able to fully comprehend them anyway, then empirical observation is of little use in determining comprehensive questions, such as the question of God's existence.
Though these methods on their own are incapable of being used to determine God's existence, when combined with the missing ingredient, the answer can be obtained in the affirmative. This missing ingredient is divine revelation.
It is not at all surprising that this aspect is usually ignored in philosophy because it is the one thing that philosophers cannot gain access to when they want. It is not logical and it is not generally observable through the senses. It is also not transportable from one individual to another.
The next section explains how divine revelation can lead to certainty of God's existence.
Every philosophical model covered so far begins with an arbitrary premise and ends with God. The Teleological and Cosmological models began with our experience; the Ontological and Henological models began with concepts; the Consciousness and Innate Yearning models began with our own thinking; and the Common Consent model began with the people of the world.
In contrast, the CTR (Certainty Through Revelation) Model begins with the premise that communication takes place between God and man. This communication is the starting point and, as with all models, the premise is not required to be logically proved. This God-man communication is fundamental to the CTR Model because it is this aspect that gives it authenticity.
3.2.2 The CTR (Certainty Through Revelation) Model
One of the only positive outcomes of the Cosmological Argument was the conclusion that the First Cause exists and can rightly be called God. An aspect of the First Cause argument is that God necessarily must not only exist outside the material world, but must also not be of the material world. This being so, God must, at least in part, be something else and this will be referred to as Spirit.
Likewise, one of the major problems with the objections to the Argument from Consciousness was the logical inexplicability of the concept of pain. That is, why electro-chemical reactions in the brain should not simply be that. There must be someone to feel the pain. It is therefore appropriate that the CTR Model divides a person into three areas - senses, intellect and essence - as shown below:
Essence <----> Intellect <----> Senses <----> World
The diagram above, from right to left, shows the outside world being perceived by our five senses (seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting). Our senses are connected to our brain - our intellect - which logically processes the information in its neural network. "Behind" the intellect resides man's essence. This essence is not of this material world but is, by nature, spirit. Though not of this world, it is nevertheless intrinsically bound to the physical intellect. Man is both physical and spiritual in nature. The Model also indicates that communication is fundamentally taking place between God and man at a spiritual level. This communication will be referred to from here on as Revelation.
3.2.3 The Nature of Revelation
Personal, Spirit-to-spirit revelation from God may take on many forms. Generally, it is a sense of God's presence from time to time. This may take the form of an inward prompting, a deep conviction as to the goodness or evil of a certain situation, a knowing that one is accepted by God, forgiven by God, supported by God or protected by God. Occasionally, it may be more spectacular. It frequently reveals something of God's nature or highlights something about the person's nature. Perhaps the major outcome of this two-way revelation is the ability to maintain a relationship with God in a similar way one may have a friendship with one's spouse. However, the relationship with God is different in that it is not only very close, very deep, continual and completely open, but one of the partners is omnipotent.
This relationship with God is of indescribable depth. Because it is beyond the intellect, it cannot be explained adequately by words. Perhaps the closest analogies are the deep-seated love one may experience for a spouse, the emotion experienced when listening to passionate music, or perhaps the exhilaration of watching a spectacular sunset give an indication. When one is in such a relationship with God, doubt of His existence is absurd.
Many have tried to put into words what it is like to partake in such a relationship. One example is that given by Brother Lawrence, a monk living in Paris in the seventeenth century. "I have quit all forms of devotion and set times for prayer except those required by the religious community of which I am a part. I just make it my business to persevere in His holy presence. I stay there by a simple attention and general fond regard for God which I may call an actual presence of God. Said better, my soul has an habitual, silent, secret conversation with God. This often causes inward joys and raptures. Outwardly sometimes, too. So much so that I am forced to moderate them lest they be seen by others." (ref: The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence, 1692. Edited & paraphrased by D.E.Demaray, Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1975.) Such assurance, he said, made him incapable of doubting God's presence for any reason at all.
Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon (known as Madame Guyon), a French housewife of the seventeenth century felt the same way. When speaking of God's presence she said, "I cannot have one doubt of its reality. There is within me an inward testimony to the truth, so deep, that all the world could not shake it. It is the work of God upon my heart, and partakes of His own immutability." (ref: Spiritual Letters, Madame Guyon, 1685. Translated and edited by Gene Edwards, Christian Books Publishing House, U.S.A., 1982.)
Though this deep, inward conversation with God is frequently beyond the intellect, it sometimes is of an intellectual nature in that it confirms the truth or falsity of empirical data gathered by the senses. God can confirm the rightness or appropriateness of various aspects of religion, ethics, traditions and indeed any human action. This not only enables a person to know right from wrong without it having been learned but removes the need for a person to rely on personal value-judgement. This removes conflict and provides consistency in a person's life.
3.2.4 Revelation as a Private Experience
Revelation is necessarily a private experience. Therefore, the true nature of this experience can only be determined by the person having the communication. Though the truth of such an experience is self-evident to the person having it, there is no way the experience can be validated by any other person (for one cannot look into another's mind).
We therefore have a Model built on a premise that is not able to be validated universally by empirical, conceptual or logical means. This feature does not in any way weaken the Model's credibility because it also cannot be universally invalidated empirically, conceptually or logically. However, the CTR Model's major strength is that it can be validated at a personal level.
3.2.5 Why the CTR Model Overcomes Hume's Objections
The CTR Model overcomes the multitude of problems with logically-based models outlined in Section 2 and answers many of Hume's criticisms.
The Imperfections of Empirical Observations
The objection that empirical observation is imperfect and cannot be used in arguments is overcome because in this Model, confirmation is not coming via the route of our senses and intellect. It does not even depend on the capacity of the intellect, nor on logic, nor on concepts of any kind. Revelation from God, directly to our spirit, is not affected by the imperfections inherent in our bodily senses and intellect.
The Model has no Logical Foundation
It is true that the CTR Model has no logical foundation. However, this fact in no way diminishes or weakens the Model. All philosophical models must begin with a premise. The CTR Model's premise is God's revelation. From this foundation, the Model is built. Logic deals with universally verifiable concepts. As already mentioned, God's revelation to an individual is private and not able to be made fully universal. Additionally, logic is incapable of incorporating such concepts as "spirit" or "revelation" and is therefore rendered deficient and inappropriate for the task. The CTR Model overcomes all the imperfections of logical argument by providing certainty of God's existence to the individual. Because God is presented as fact, there is nothing left to argue logically about. It is therefore a strength, rather than a weakness, that the CTR Model does not have a logical foundation.
The CTR Model is Irrational
In the sense that the CTR Model is not based on logic, it is indeed irrational. However, this should not be taken to mean that the Model is not based on fact. The determinability of God's existence is very much based on fact gained from very real personal revelation. It is the very opposite of blind faith. It is knowing with certainty.
3.2.6 Why the CTR Model Supports Christianity
Many of the world religions and derivations of them have revelation as a central aspect of their doctrine. Some examples are listed below: (So What's the Difference, Fritz Ridenour, Regal Books, California, 1967.)
Judaism - Based on claimed revelation received by Moses and various prophets.Islam - Based on claimed revelation received by Muhammed via the angel Gabriel.Hinduism - Based on claimed revelation received by the Aryan people and the Brahmans.Buddhism - Based on claimed revelation received by Siddhartha Gautama.Jehovah's Witnesses - Based on claimed revelation received by Charles Russell.Christian Science - Based on claimed revelation received by Mary Baker Eddy.Mormonism - Based on claimed revelation received by Joseph Smith.
Christianity is the only major "religion" that is ultimately based on private revelation rather than revelation exclusively received second-hand. It is true that Christianity also incorporates revelation received by others, much of which is recorded in the Bible, but only Christianity includes private revelation.
It is this private revelation that is the key to validating both the CTR Model and Christianity. Like most religions, Christianity has its books, rules and rituals, the truth of which is not generally verifiable by logical or empirical observation. However, with the aid of revelation, there is no reason why a person should not be able to validate such things. Revelation can, indeed, give the Christian religion validity.
The CTR Model raises a number of questions and presents various challenges to Christians and non-Christians alike. For instance, what are the implications for free will? How can one attain this relationship with God and hence gain knowledge of God's existence? What are the implications for other religions? These questions will now be answered.
3.3.1 Free Will and God's Sovereignty
If one holds the strictly deterministic view that a person does not have free will, then there is no way anything can be done by that person in order to enter into a relationship with God. Rather, God is the initiating party to which the person responds. If God does not make the relationship happen, then it will not happen.
As mentioned in Section 2, it was concluded that logical deduction was incapable of verifying the existence or nonexistence of free will. Therefore, it is quite possible that people do have free will. Indeed, the Christian relationship, as is the case for any personal relationship, depends upon both parties having some degree of free will. Just as a personal relationship between a human and a brick has no value, so a relationship between God and a human with no free will has no value.
People, then, have a degree of free will within the domain set by God, however, this concept does not fit well with the necessary notion of God's sovereignty. Many philosophers and theologians have attempted to explain this paradox which, in the main, has been unsuccessful. John Calvin, the famous French theologian of the sixteenth century, believed that people did not have free will but had a duty to behave as if they did. On the one hand he said that people did not have free will when it came to salvation but, on the other hand they had a duty to be obedient to God and preach that people should turn to Him. This is contradictory. Others, including Martin Luther, believed that God wants everyone to be saved and offers salvation to all. It is then the choice of the individual to either accept or reject that offer. However, this argument also conflicts with God's sovereignty.
It is not the purpose of this paper to enter into a detailed theological debate. However, it is sufficient to say that God's sovereignty and free will can co-exist without conflict. For instance, it is clear that an omnipotent God has the capacity to set the boundaries and limit a person's free will. It is also clear that an omnipotent God has the capacity to grant free will in its genuine form to an individual. Revelation to the Christian, in the context of the CTR Model, supports this view.
3.3.2 How to Attain Certainty of God's Existence
Certainty of God's existence can be attained only via direct revelation from God to the individual's essence (spirit). For this to happen, one must procure a relationship with God. This can be achieved only within the context of Christianity.
In brief, Christianity holds that such a relationship can exist only if God initiates it and the individual seeks, finds and accepts it. A requirement of accepting the relationship is the making of a decision to live one's life for God. This involves actively adhering to Jesus Christ's teaching which involves forgiving, helping, and caring for others; worshipping, praying and trusting Him for salvation, etc. More important than adhering to various statutes is the maintenance of the relationship with God. It is this relationship which can continually provide direct evidence of God's existence.
3.3.3 Why Christianity and not Other Religions?
A valid question often asked is why Christianity should be regarded as representing reality when other religions should not.
The major reason is that religions other than Christianity are founded on second-hand revelation, the authenticity of which cannot be verified either universally or privately. How can an individual of today know the truth or otherwise of such revelation, much of which is hundreds or thousands of years old? This being so, how can one have any confidence in those religions' theology?
A belief in one of these religions is necessarily blind faith. This is unacceptable because there is no more valid reason to believe in any one of these religions over another as all are equally unverifiable. Christianity, on the other hand, is authenticated by divine revelation.
In the end, no words can convince the reader of the truth of Christianity. For this reason, this section is necessarily brief. The reader would do well to learn more about what Christianity involves and find out for themselves that divine revelation reveals that God does indeed exist.
The CTR Model begins with the foundational premise that revelation, of a spiritual nature, comes from God to man. This premise is beyond logical validation - irrefutable by anyone else and unprovable to anyone else.
Revelation from God is generally, but not exclusively, in the form of a deep and inward communication of ideas which validates or invalidates logical concepts and empirical observations by man. Communication with God is a relationship available only to the Christian.
The existence and nature of God can be determined and verified only by means of this communication. With confidence and certainty, then, a Christian can know that God exists.
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This document is also available on request in MS-Word format.
Stacy Host, Simon Walmsley, Andrew McIntyre, Erica Sainsbury,
George Host, Andrew Host, Bill Bartlett.
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