Objections: We cannot assume that everything imagined in mental experiences which include dreams, hallucinations etc actually exists. Such experiences cannot be repeated, tested or publicly verified. Mystical and other personal experiences can be explained by other causes.
Pragmatic: Human societies require ethics to survive. Ethics are more effectively enforced if people fear God and Hell and hope for Heaven cf. Objections: The usefulness of a belief does not prove its truth. In any case, many societies have thrived without these beliefs, while crime has thrived in theistic societies believing in heaven and hell.
General objection against all the rational proofs for God: Each of the above arguments is independent of the others and cannot logically be used to reinforce the others. The cause argument - even if it were valid - would prove only a first cause. It would tell us nothing about the nature of that cause, nor whether the cause was mental or physical. It would not prove that the first cause was the personal, judging, forgiving God of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.
It would not prove the existence of a designer or of a perfect being. Equally, the design argument would prove only a designer, the ontological argument would prove only the existence of a perfect being, and so on. None of these arguments individually can prove that the cause, designer or perfect being were one and the same - they could be three different beings. Arguments against the existence of God The major philosophical criticisms of God as viewed by Judaism, Christianity and Islam are as follows: 1.
Evil: Because evil exists, God cannot be all-powerful. Aquinas, Luther, Augustine: none of those people saw God in such a way. My God is just sitting there, watching over us all, but only for his amusement. As Burkeman notes, Hart has removed God from the class of entities that exist and transformed Him into merely an Idea: a philosophical concept that can be subject only to philosophical arguments:.
If you think this God-as-the-condition-of-existence argument is rubbish, you need to say why. But this is all a stupendous confidence game. For the vast majority of modern history, women were viewed as intellectually inferior beings. But that is simply a culturally-conditioned belief that supports no argument for female inferiority. Why on earth does that argument have any force at all? Western monotheists usually believe in a personal and anthropomorphic God—one who has humanlike emotions, cares about us, and wants us to behave in certain ways. The arguments for evolution are based on evidence, not philosophy, and can be comprehended by the average person: one who, for example, read my book Why Evolution is True.
The difference between theologians and believers is not their differential acquaintance with the truth about God, but the greater acquaintance of theologians with the history of theology. People like Hart, despite their intelligence, have no more handle on the nature of God than do Joe and Sally in the street.
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Theologians are, as we all know, simply confecting things about God, and then selling them using fancy words and their academic credentials. If I were a religious believer, I would likely neither appreciate the concessions that Linker has made, nor go along with his account of my beliefs. Chotiner is absolutely correct. So the problem must be faced: Are practical arguments merely rationalized wish-fulfillment? The theist might respond to this kind of worry in several ways.
The first thing to be said is that the fact that a naturalistic view of the universe implies that the universe must be tragic or absurd, if correct, would itself be an important and interesting conclusion. However, apart from this, it makes a great deal of difference how one construes what we might call the background epistemic situation. If one believes that our theoretical evidence favors atheism, then it seems plausible to hold that one ought to maintain a naturalistic view, even if it is practically undesirable that the world have such a character.
In that case a practical argument for religious belief could be judged a form of wish-fulfillment. However, this does not seem to be the way those who support such a practical argument see the situation. See also — Thus, if rational grounds for belief in God come from practical reason, theoretical reason will raise no objections. Human beings are not purely theoretical spectators of the universe, but agents. It is not always rational or even possible to refrain from action, and yet action presupposes beliefs about the way things are For a good interpretation and defense of this view of Kant on the relation between action and belief, see Wood , 17— Thus, in some cases suspension of judgment is not possible.
The critic may object that a person may act as if p were true without believing p.
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However, it is not clear that this advice to distinguish action on the basis of p and belief that p can always be followed. For one thing, it seems empirically the case that one way of acquiring belief that p is simply to begin to act as if p were true. Hence, to begin to act as if p were true is at least to embark upon a course of action that makes belief in p more likely. This is obviously the case on pragmatist accounts of belief. But even those who reject a general pragmatic account of belief may well find something like this appealing with respect to religious belief.
Thus, a person who is willing to act on the basis of a religious conception, especially if those actions are risky or costly, is truly a religious believer, even if that person is filled with doubt and anxiety. Perhaps the right way to think of practical moral arguments is not to see them as justifying belief without evidence, but as shifting the amount of evidence seen as necessary. Here is an example of pragmatic encroachment:. A plausible interpretation of this scenario is that ordinarily claims such as the one I made, based on memory, are justified, and count as knowledge. Pragmatic encroachment is controversial and the idea of such encroachment is rejected by some epistemologists.
However, defenders hold that it is reasonable to consider the pragmatic stakes in considering evidence for a belief that underlies significant action see Fantl and McGrath If this is correct, then it seems reasonable to consider the pragmatic situation in determining how much evidence is sufficient to justify religious beliefs. In theory the adjustment could go in either direction, depending on what costs are associated with a mistake and on which side those costs lie.
In any case it is not clear that practical moral arguments can always be clearly distinguished from theoretical moral arguments. The reason this is so is that in many cases the practical situation described seems itself to be or involve a kind of evidence for the truth of the belief being justified. In other words, the existence of human persons understood as moral beings can itself be understood as a piece of evidence about the character of the universe humans find themselves in.
However, it is not clear that only those who already believe in God will find this premise attractive. The reason for this is that humans are themselves part of the natural universe, and it seems a desirable feature of a metaphysical view that it explain rather than explain away features of human existence that seem real and important.
It seems likely therefore that any appeal to a practical argument will include some theoretical component as well, even if that component is not always made explicit. Nevertheless, this does not mean that practical arguments do not have some important and distinctive features.
For Kant it was important that religious beliefs stem from practical reason. For any practical argument makes religious belief existential; the issue is not merely what I believe to be true about the universe but how I shall live my life in that universe. Each version contains premises that many reasonable thinkers reject. However, this does not mean the arguments have no force. Some philosophers will certainly be willing to pay the cost, and indeed have independent reasons for doing so. However, it would certainly be interesting and important if one became convinced that atheism required one to reject moral realism altogether, or to embrace an implausible account of how moral knowledge is acquired.
For those who think that some version or versions of the arguments have force, the cumulative case for theistic belief may be raised by such arguments. Aquinas, Saint Thomas Darwinism Kant, Immanuel: and Hume on morality Kant, Immanuel: philosophy of religion Mackie, John Leslie metaethics Mill, John Stuart moral anti-realism moral epistemology moral non-naturalism moral realism naturalism: moral Nietzsche, Friedrich Platonism: in metaphysics pragmatic arguments and belief in God religious experience Sidgwick, Henry voluntarism, theological.
The author wishes to thank Trent Dougherty, Mark Linville, and David Baggett for reading a draft of this essay and making many useful suggestions. Matthew Wilson also deserves thanks for tracking many bibliographical references and page numbers. The Goals of Theistic Arguments 2. Arguments from Moral Knowledge or Awareness 5. Arguments from Human Dignity or Worth 6. Practical Moral Arguments for Belief in God 7. God provides the best explanation of the existence of objective moral facts. Therefore, probably God exists.
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If there are objective moral obligations, there is a God who explains these obligations. There is a God. God provides the best explanation of the existence of moral obligations.
Is There Evidence That God Exists?
Probably, God exists. Arguments from Moral Knowledge or Awareness A variety of arguments have been developed that God is necessary to explain human awareness of moral truth or moral knowledge, if one believes that this moral awareness amounts to knowledge.
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Humans possess objective moral knowledge. Probably, if God does not exist, humans would not possess objective moral knowledge. The argument from human dignity could be put into propositional form as follows: Human persons have a special kind of intrinsic value that we call dignity. Probably there is a supremely good God.
Practical Moral Arguments for Belief in God As already noted, the most famous and perhaps most influential version of a moral argument for belief in God is found in Immanuel Kant Here is an example of pragmatic encroachment: You: I am about to replace the ceiling fan in the kitchen. Spouse: Did you turn off the main electrical power to the house? You: Yes. Spouse: If you forgot you could electrocute yourself. You: I better go back and check. See McBrayer , Rizzieri Bibliography Adams, R.
Aquinas, St. Baggett, D. Byrne, P. Zalta ed. Dennett, D. Enoch, D. Evans, C. Fantl, J. Flew, A. Garcia, R.
Hare, J. James, W. Kant, I. Paton, New York: Harper and Row. Korsgaard, C.
Knowing that God Exists: The Rational and Evidentiary Support for the Existence of God
Layman, C. Lewis, C. London: Collins. Linville, M. Craig, J. Mooreland eds. Liu, X. Mackie, J.
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