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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Philosophy of Religion and God - Part 1

Today I will try to explain what philosopher over the years have said on the existence of God and how other philosophers have refuted that with counter arguments.

Image Courtesy: www.archbishopcranmer.com

Ontological Arguments:

St. Anslem, archbishop of Cantebury came up with ontological arguments to support the existence of God. The Ontological argument is as follows:

1. It is a conceptual truth that God is the greatest possible being and no one can be greater than God.
2. God exists as an idea in the mind.
3.Anything which has all the same properties as conceived and does exist in reality will be greater than what exists just as an idea.
4. Since there can't be anything greater than God, thus God must exist in reality.

These arguments sound convincing if we think of God as greatest possible being. But there were many who didn't agree with these arguments and when philosophers don't agree with an argument, they present counter arguments. Guanilo of Marmoutier, believed that one could use Anslem's arguments to prove all sorts of non-existent things.

He presented a counterexample to prove the existence of a non-existent island:

1.It is a conceptual truth that piland is the greatest island that can be conceived.
2. A piland exists as an idea in the mind.
3.Any island that exists both as an idea in the mind and reality will be greater than the piland.
4. but as we can't imagine anything greater than piland, thus piland must exist in reality.

Image Courtesy: commons.wikimedia.org

Cosmological Arguments:

St. Thomas Aquinas tried to prove the existence of the God through what he observed in the cosmos(universe). Cosmological arguments can be divided into 3 parts:
1. Arguments from motion
2.Arguments from causation
3.Arguments from contingency
His logic is based on the idea that an infinite regress is absurd and logically impossible as infinite regress would suggest that any series of events began with nothing or it never really began but was there always.

A. Arguments of motion:

1. We see the world around us is in motion .
2. This movement is caused by movers.
3. Everything that's moving must have been set into motion by something else that was moving.
4. Something must have started this motion and there can't be an infinite regress of movers
5. So there must be a first mover, itself unmoved,and that is God.

B. Arguments from Causation:

Here he explores the relationship between cause and event. Everything you are doing now, even reading this article can be traced back to some cause which led you to study this article. There must be a beginning.

1. Some things are caused.
2.Anything that is caused has to be caused by something else as nothing causes itself.
3. There can't be an infinite regress of causes.
4. So there must be something which started this cause and effect and that is God.

C. Arguments from contingency:

Everyone's existence is contingent upon other's existence. We wouldn't have existed if a certain sperm wouldn't have met an egg and exchanged DNA information and still the world would have existed without us. Aquinas believed that there must be something that prevented infinite regress of contingency. So argument of contingency is as follows:

1. There are contingent things.
2. Contingent things cause other contingent things.
3. There can't be only contingent things because that would mean there is infinite regress of contingency and a  possibility that nothing might have existed 
4. So there must be at least one necessary thing and that thing is God.

But many of his contemporary philosophers were unimpressed by his arguments and the most significant charge made against Aquinas was that his arguments were self-defeating. Accepting the premise that everything must have been put in motion by something else and everything must have been caused by something else, shouldn't God also adhere to the same stipulation and if God is somehow exempt from these rules. Why can't other things be exempt from those rules too? And if these things could have been established without God, we wouldn't need God to establish these things in the first place.



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