A Philosophical Argument for the Christian God

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A deductive argument is one in which the conclusion follows inescapably from the premises, if the premises are true. The classic example of a deductive argument is this:

1. All men are mortal.
2. Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

A basic deductive argument for God looks something like this:

1. Things that exist require a cause.
2. Things exist.
Therefore a cause exists.

A more sophisticated deductive argument based upon design:

1. If design is apparent in the universe, a cause for design exists.
2. Design is apparent in the universe.
Therefore a cause for design exists.

Does this mean everyone is forced to believe this argument against their will? No. One may willfully choose to believe (against reason and logic) that something comes from nothing. Does this eliminate or reduce the need for faith? No. In fact, it strengthens the foundation upon which faith stands, thus increasing faith.

But how do we get from a “cause” to God??? We’re glad you asked!

In philosophy, there is a concept known as “sufficient cause” which essentially means that “something can’t give what it does not have.” If you think about it, all causes must be sufficient to produce their relevant effects. For example, a block of ice melting might be a sufficient cause of a growing pool of water surrounding it, but a block of solid granite would not.

Applying this concept, it is appropriate to postulate that the cause of the universe must be sufficient to explain every unique thing in the universe. Let’s take a look at four unique things that we find in the universe:

1. Physics
2. Life
3. Communication
4. Love
5. Morality

A sufficient cause for these things would need to be able to cause physics, life, communication, love, and morality. It is therefore reasonable and necessary to expect that this cause would have a reservoir of these things, i.e., physics, life, communication, love, and morality, and/or the knowledge and power to cause these things.

Such an entity might reasonably be described as living, communicative, loving and moral, powerful, and knowledgeable.

Theists use the term “God” to describe such an entity.

But wait! How do we get from this “God” to the Christian God?

The concept is quite simple. If the entity that caused the universe and every thing in it is communicative, then it is possible that it has communicated with us. The Christian Bible may reasonably be considered such a communication. (See “Did the Creator of Communication Communicate“.)

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Posted in apologetics
8 comments on “A Philosophical Argument for the Christian God
  1. agnophilo says:

    If nothing can exist without a creator then nothing can exist, because the creator cannot exist to create anything. If nothing can be complex without being designed then a designer cannot be complex because it was not designed. Your premises conflict with your conclusions and your logic is completely invalid.

    As for “sufficient cause” you are using inductive reasoning, ie “if x were true it would explain y therefore y is true”. This is a form of logical fallacy because x’s ability to explain y does not mean it is necessarily the only possible explanation or the best one, inductive reasoning is only useful for generating hypotheses which must then be supported by evidence. An all-powerful genie would “explain” the universe too, does the existence of the universe prove the existence of an all-powerful genie? And your empty assertion that you can “reasonably” leap the gigantic, enormous chasm from deism to christian theism is just laughable. No offense but seriously? Would you take my word for it if I said it was “reasonable” to be muslim? Would you run out and convert tomorrow?

    • doug217 says:

      Hello agnophilo,

      Good to hear from you again. Sorry for the abbreviated responses below. I tried to give my best answer, although very abbreviated. Your comments are worthy of greater attention, but having Parkinson’s Disease seriously limits my typing ability and my endurance.

      Doug

      “If nothing can exist without a creator then nothing can exist, because the creator cannot exist to create anything. If nothing can be complex without being designed then a designer cannot be complex because it was not designed. Your premises conflict with your conclusions and your logic is completely invalid.”

      Reply:

      A creator is not a thing.
      A designer is not a thing.

      **********************************************************************************************************************

      “As for ‘sufficient cause’ you are using inductive reasoning, ie ‘if x were true it would explain y therefore [x] is true’. This is a form of logical fallacy because x’s ability to explain y does not mean it is necessarily the only possible explanation or the best one, inductive reasoning is only useful for generating hypotheses which must then be supported by evidence. ”

      Reply:

      In the order of being (ontology) essence precedes existence.
      In the order of knowing (epistemology) existence precedes essence.

      **********************************************************************************************************************

      “An all-powerful genie would ‘explain’ the universe too, does the existence of the universe prove the existence of an all-powerful genie?”

      Reply:

      “A rose by any other name is still a rose.”

      **********************************************************************************************************************

      “And your empty assertion that you can “reasonably” leap the gigantic, enormous chasm from deism to christian theism is just laughable. No offense but seriously? Would you take my word for it if I said it was “reasonable” to be muslim? Would you run out and convert tomorrow?”

      Reply:

      Have you studied the historical reliability of the Bible as compared with other religious books such as the Koran?

  2. agnophilo says:

    “Hello agnophilo, Good to hear from you again. Sorry for the abbreviated responses below. I tried to give my best answer, although very abbreviated. Your comments are worthy of greater attention, but having Parkinson’s Disease seriously limits my typing ability and my endurance.”

    You don’t have to reply at all if you don’t want to, I totally understand if you don’t. I don’t want to take up your time with an argument that will probably go nowhere anyway. I will reply if you insist, but otherwise don’t worry about it.

    • doug217 says:

      Thanks for your understanding.

      Actually this is what I live for. This “argument” will go somewhere if we can achieve mutual respect and find some common ground. I’m not saying weak arguments deserve the same respect as strong arguments, but strong convictions always deserve respect.

      One piece of common ground we might have is that we might both have strong convictions that we are willing to stand up for when we believe the truth is on our side, or when we think we see an illogical argument.

      Sometimes I need to stop and try to put myself in your shoes to understand what you are really saying instead of trying to “win” an argument. Now I think I see your first two points.

      * If I say, “Nothing exists without a creator” AND “A creator exists without a creator” I see how it appears to be clearly contradictory.

      * And, my argument below is deductive because the first premise is structured according to the “order of knowing”, the order in which we know things:

      1. Things that exist require a cause.
      2. Things exist.
      Therefore a cause exists.

      It could be structured according to the “order of being”, the order which things come to be:

      1. A cause is required for things to exist.
      2. Things exist.
      Therefore a cause exists.

      Now it is clearly fallacious as a deductive argument, in its conclusion, unless the conclusion is changed to “Therefore a cause probably exists”, making it inductive.

      I should rewrite the deductive argument above to eliminate the contradiction as follows:
      1. Temporal things that exist require a permanent cause.
      2. A permanent cause does not require a cause.
      3. Temporal things exist.
      Therefore a permanent cause exists.

      I look forward to an interesting reply.
      Doug

      • agnophilo says:

        Why not simply say that big bang type singularities don’t need a cause? Why must the cause be eternal and omniscient and intelligent and named yahweh?

        Either way I don’t see a creator as an explanation because it makes no more sense that a creator could be “un-caused” than it does that the universe could be “un-caused”. The universe is absurd, so is a creator. But I have to accept that the universe exists because it observably does. If a creator were observable, we could interact with it, see it creating things etc then similarly I would have to accept it’s existence, even if it made no sense to me.

        But until we understand how things began and how something (be it a deity or particle of physics or whatever) can simply exist without a cause, we have not answered the question of how. Attributing it to a deity simply takes a “how” question and answers it with a “who” answer, which of course is much simpler and arbitrary, “allah” fits as well as yahweh as well as an all powerful genie.

  3. doug217 says:

    Hello agnophilo,

    All of your questions and comments seem to come back to the question “how something (be it a deity or particle of physics or whatever) can simply exist without a cause…” so it is this question that I will think about how to answer.

    (to be continued)

  4. doug217 says:

    I hate to answer with a syllogism again, but it helps clarify things, at least for me. I am trying to unpack lots of concepts that I have learned to assume in the condensed forms of this argument:

    1. Temporal things are temporal because they exist in space and time.
    2. Temporal things require a permanent cause.
    3. A permanent cause is permanent because it exists outside of space and time.
    4. Temporal things exist.
    Therefore a permanent cause exists.

    When we look back in space and time, we see a singularity that appears to come out of nothing because space and time were created in the beginning along with other temporal things. But since nothing comes from nothing, a cause must exist for these things. A cause that is outside of space and time is thus considered permanent, eternal, or uncaused.

  5. […] (This continues the argument of “A Philosophical Argument for the Christian God“) […]

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