Given below are the most common arguments in favour of a god. When talking about this, it should be assumed that I am referring to the god of the Abramic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The arguments can be applied for any religion – these are simply the most common religions within the Western world. The arguments – and counter-arguments – apply as well as for Wicca, Hinduism and so on. For simplicity’s sake, however, I’m referring the god/s of the big three.
The arguments are grouped on a family basis.
- First Cause, or Prime Mover, or Cosmological Argument – Who started the Universe?
- Argument from Design,or Intelligent Design, or the Teleological Argument, or The Cosmic Watchmaker – is the universe designed?
- The Anthropic Principle – A close relative of the Argument from Design; how is it that the universe is so hospitable to life?
- The Argument from Improbability – Is life really so unlikely that it needs a god to exist?
- Irreducible Complexity – Is life too complex to have functioned as less complicated forms?
- Physical Laws – Can there be laws without a law-giver?
- Moral Principles – Do our moral compasses point due God?
- Pascal’s Wager, or the Safe Bet – Why risk Hell?
- The Ontological Argument, or Perfect Being Argument – If we can imagine perfection, surely it exists?
- Personal Revelations – Did God just whisper in my ear?
Everything had a cause, and every cause is the effect of a previous cause. Something must have started it all. God is the first cause, the unmoved mover, the creator and sustainer of
This has been a very popular argument with religious philosophers throughout the ages; it seems to be enjoying an upsurge in popularity in recent years, as people who don’t understand the Big Bang or logical principles struggle to find something else. It’s a quick and easy argument which appeals to many who don’t bother to think it through. It seems to solve the mystery of the what caused the Big Bang and prove a God. Two arguments for the price of one.
Unfortunately, this argument shoots itself in the foot. It is internally flawed and internally inconsistent.
What caused God? What many people suggest that it is reasonable to believe in God because it solves a mystery: that of who, or what, caused the universe to come into being. However, it just replaces one mystery with another.
The usual counter to this is that God is somehow exempt from the ‘rule’ that everything has a cause; I believe the normal format is God is extratemporal, and thus exists at all times simultaneously, so he doesn’t require a cause. This is where Ockham’s Razor comes into play: Do not multiply entities unnecessarily. That is, don’t try solving mysteries by adding mystical ingredients which just cause other mysteries. We already have a mystery: the cause of the Big Bang. If you introduce a God, you’re just tipping in a bucket of soap into already murky water; sure, it says on the packet that it cleans away dirt, but how clear will the water be afterwards? You’ve probably also just killed all the fish, too.
Saying that the existence of the Universe proves the existence of God is a logical fallacy of the kind called begging the question, or more formally, petitio principii.
This fallacy occurs when the premises are at least as questionable as the conclusion reached. Typically the premises of the argument implicitly assume the result which the argument purports to prove, in a disguised form. For example:
The Bible is the word of God. The word of God cannot be doubted, and the Bible states that the Bible is true. Therefore the Bible must be true.
There’s no reason to suppose a God exists simply because the Universe does. Yes, the start of the Cosmos is a mystery. So what? Powered flight used to be a mystery – up until the Wright brothers decided Kitty Hawk would be a nice place for an airstrip. This is commonly called the God of the Gaps Syndrome: there is a mystery which is so far unexplained by science. Priests everywhere rejoice, and proclaim that said mystery proves God. It’s very strange how God keeps leaping from place to place every six months as scientists make new discoveries.
The argument that God is extratemporal is quite innovative, but it suffers a few major flaws. One is that actions require temporality: if you want to do something, you need time to do it in. The Big Bang theory posits that the Universe began with a singularity: a point of infinite mass and zero volume. Everything, ever, was crammed into it, literally: all time and all space were in it.
Now, this screws the idea of a time up a lot. Time would not exist outside the singularity, and because the singularity contained all matter and space, there was no time. Supposing you could stand on top of the singularity before it went bang, you could wait forever, and nothing would happen: events require time to happen.
The time from the universe being a singularity to the big bang would thus be infinite.
Therefore, since the big bang has happened, the singularity must have existed for an infinite time before that.
Therefore, the universe is eternal and uncaused, and we don’t need to cut anyone with Ockham’s Razor.
If you’re feeling confused about physics right now, you’d better get unconfused fast. There will be a test later.
God cannot be an uncaused cause, because a cause, even if uncaused, assumes temporality and therefore must exist inside the universe and not outside, which is where God de facto lives/exists.
Subsection: The Kalam Argument
Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause.