Modern scientists and philosophers alike often use popular arguments filled with new and hypothetical subject ideas and terms, whose meanings are rarely defined.
In addition to this potentially dangerous practice associated with the reasoning process, the accidental oversight or ‘deliberate tactic’ of omitting definitions is often the major cause for serious misunderstanding and confusion about the true intent and meaning of an argument.
On the other hand, Leonhard Euler, the Swiss Mathematician and Physicist commented about the potential danger in the various argument types primarily in the hands of an ignorant or unscrupulous user.
The simple reason is that a skilfully manipulated use of a complex argument, (principally referring to Syllogisms), could prove for or against anything.
The casual observation is that faith-related matters do not appear vitally important to modern-day Christians nor to the educated youth in particular. At the same time, compare this malaise with the well-organised adversarial forces of materialism and scientism with their fanatical opposition to anything vaguely relating to religion and faith.
A desperate fight is going on by the adversarial forces of ‘enlightenment’ and its offshoot the ‘post-modernism’ for dominating the minds of the youth.
The post-modernists’ materialistic ideology based on the following two age-old concepts:-
a) Scepticism that claims erroneously, (presumably with ‘certitude’), that one never can have knowledge with ‘certitude’. Hence, a sceptic can never express an idea without simultaneously denying it. This did not deter A. C. Grayling, the prolific, humanist Philosopher from using the concepts of scepticism in his recently published argument to ‘prove ‘ the non-existence of God.
b) Relativism that promotes the false knowledge that there is nothing ‘absolute’; and in asserting that relativism is true only for the relativist, the same assertion implies that it is true for the relativist absolutely.
The philosophical indoctrination employs in general, the romantic notion to oppose all ‘old’ values of the society and claim every possible Rights, without paying the price for it. However, apart from this unreasonable claim, their ultimate aim is the cynical disregard for all Natural Laws of the Creator. Hence, these adversaries gaining the upper hand with the promulgation of these ideas primarily among the youth.
This same duplicitous affair of indoctrinating the youth could equally apply to modern scientists, who beside their laboratory work sacrifice an exorbitant amount of time to promulgate their instantly acquired expertise in matters of theology. Based on hypothetical and quasi-scientific theories, they declare triumphantly that there is no need for a Creator anymore. (Among them, Dr. R. Dawkins, S. Hawking, C. Sagan, D. Attenborough, Sir M. Rees, P. Higgs, V. J. Stenger, and L. Krauss are only some of the known scientists.)
Owing to a spurious reason, many scientists chose to compromise their whole professional expertise to the propagation of the Soviet-style atheistic materialism, following blindly the symbolic ‘Four Horses of the Apocalypse’, rather than following the clear principle of science that demands them to search for the evidence of objective truth in everything.
Furthermore, these adversarial theories aimed again mostly at the academic places , where the combined effects of pseudo-philosophy and hypothetical-science are observable among the youths, who literally fall over one another laughing at the mere sound of the word ‘God’.
PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE
Oddly enough, and as mentioned above, while these modern scientists and cosmologists are the most enthusiastic promulgators of the ideology of atheism, there are in opposition to them only a handful of scientifically qualified Christian apologetics, who could successfully oppose those un-scientific arguments.
It is therefore up to all willing agencies and members of our faith-related organisations to equip ourselves through learning, the elementary cosmological ideas and the rules of logical reasoning with correct arguments, which would hopefully enable us to promulgate not only a ‘reasonable’ Faith, but also a ‘knowable’ Faith.
PROOF WITH ARGUMENTS IS A SUSPECT
There is no ‘Proof‘ for the existence of God, in the sense of an indisputably conclusive, rational, or philosophical argument, such as the two most popular forms of ‘proofs’, the Cosmological and Ontological Arguments.
There are three major reasons against ‘proving’ the existence (or non-existence) of God; these arephilosophical, scientific and theological.
The philosophical reason is based in the ‘definition‘ of the concept of God; i.e. any argument must have clearly defined terms. On one hand, the definition of someone or something requires the description of the essence by which that someone or something is either recognisable or understandable. On the other hand, one of the principal rules of definition is that it has to be as limitingin its description or explanation as possible, by producing as many factual, i.e. observable or known characteristics as possible; it must exclude subjective interpretation or hidden variables.
Hence, owing to a lack of our philosophical understanding of the very concept of God,we could not provide an adequate definition for a philosophy-based ‘proof’ for the existence of God in any argument.
The scientific reason points to the numerous past and present pseudo-scientific publications, which are based on pure assumptions and ‘clarified’ by further assumptions. These so called arguments, labelled often as not good enough even for science-fiction, are produced by ideologically biased cosmologists, arrived principally from the ‘atheistic materialism’ of the former Soviet education system; hence, they are untrained in any theology or even the basics of Western philosophy; and yet, their primary aim is to promulgate adversarial ideas, with the sole purpose to openly deride all religious beliefs.
Hans Kung, in his book: ‘The Beginning of All Things’ refers to our general limitations in science: ‘…And before physicists or chemists can perceive the colourless electromagnetic waves of varying length and frequency, they also see- with all the emotions bound up with the situation-red, yellow, blue and grey in their thousands of variations…. Even science, which is so rational, often functions in a quite irrational way and sometimes leads to irrational results.’
On the other hand, science is still looking for basic answers, such as: What was the cause of the Big Bang beginning of the Universe, and what causes the cosmic expansion upon whose basis the Big Bang theory was assumed? The cause of microwave background radiation that supposed to follow the B.B.theory is also found questionable. Although the theory of galaxy formation remains obscure, it is not surprising, as S. Weinberg points out in his book of ‘The first 3 minutes’, because we still do not know what the galaxies are made of.
He points out several scientific problems from the past half a century, and to one of those (the vacuum mass density) he comments:’…If we were to take this calculation seriously it would undoubtedly be the most impressive quantitative disagreement between theory and experiment in the history of science’. Furthermore, we still do not know where the fundamental universal laws and forces and the constants come from, for the delicately balanced cosmic symmetry of power and energy? People asked the Physicist, Paul Davies, what science knows about the ‘origin’ of life; his simple answer was: ‘Science hasn’t a clue’.
Weinberg, (an unbeliever in a Creator), concludes his question of where the Universe ultimately comes from: ‘The effort to understand the universe is one of the few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy’. On the other hand,Hans Kung, refers us to the enigmatic ‘Riddle of the World’ by quoting Emil Du Bois-Reymond, which highlights the seven last questions about the World, but he concludes: ‘Ignoramus et ignorabimus’- (We do not know and we shall not know).
Hence, physical cosmologists, and astrophysicists are not the best qualified for proving the existence, (or non- existence) of God in any of their arguments.
The theological reason (i.e. the rational study of the concept of God), remains apparently the most substantial and promising basis for any ‘proof’ of the existence of God. However, since in essence, the basic requirement for such a ‘proof’ is similar to the philosophical and scientific bases, i.e. any ‘argument‘ for the existence of God presupposes first and foremost that either through a prior definition, knowledge of the terms be provided, or the understanding of the metaphysical characteristics of a personal God be made evidently clear; both of which conditions are beyond our human limitations. The following section will demonstrate further why any theology-based ‘ proof’ is equally difficult to achieve.
In introduction, we meet in this discipline of theology a multitude of earnest seekers and doubters, who find impossible to comprehend the very concept of an infinite and yet, a personal divine Creator, who is maintaining His creatures in this complex physical Universe. Our spiritual insight into such a paradoxical mystery may only come through a genuine religious faith, intuition and vision, all of which can only come from the grace of God. This may be the main reason why we are inadequate to provide a substantial, theology-based ‘proof’ for the existence of God.
Naturally, there are also other, numerous reasons for our inadequacy, such as e.g. pointed out by Dr. Craig in his ‘Reasonable Faith’: ‘….the various ‘incoherence’ arguments against God’s existence…’
The Tubingen theologian, Jurgen Moltmann has this to say about faith itself: ‘…Every reason, in its enlightening victory over what it called faith, could not hold out alone, but developed highly unreasonable forms of naive credibility…’
Kung hypothesises about the very name of God, and he suggest that atheist scientists ‘should at least consider God as a hypothesis’. The obstacles in understanding the real nature of God brings with it new paradoxes, such as the infinity; i.e. He is unbounded and unlimited, unmeasurable and havingpersonal nature. ‘Dr. Craig has maintained in both his writing and debates that a personal God is the best explanation for the existence of the Universe and objective moral values’; and he adds: ‘…By “personal” I mean endowed with rationality, self-consciousness, and volition—the usual sort of qualities associated with being a person’.
The Cosmological Argument by St. Thomas Aquinas: For the sole purpose of demonstrating for seminarians, and not for scholars or atheists, the harmony between faith and reason, St. Thomas Aquinas described in his Summa Theologiae, through Cosmological Arguments, (an Aristotelian origin), and in only slightly more than one page, the ‘Five Ways’ of how to define the ‘word‘ itself of the monotheistic God, (and not His existence), as described by Timothy J. Pawl in ‘Just the Arguments’: ‘One should note that while all Five Ways conclude with some variation of “And this we call God”, Aquinas did not intend the Five Ways to be demonstrations of a uniquely Christian God. In fact, he warns against attempts to prove, for instance, that God is triune, (Trinity….), since such arguments, he explains,will fall short and lead unbelievers to scoff….In fact, he does not argue that the Five Ways conclude to the same thing – rather than five different things – until later in the Summa….’ Aquinas bases his arguments on the following five philosophical axioms:-
- The unmoved Mover.
- The First Cause.
- The non-contingent Being.
- The perfect Being.
- The intelligent Designer of a purposeful creation.
St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument for the existence of God; described later.
The Islamic ‘Kalām’ of Cosmological Argument, for the existence of God: The ‘contemporary’ version of ‘Kalām’ proves the existence of God from the ‘First Cause,’ by denying an infinite regress in the causal chain of ‘temporal‘ entities and/0r events, (an Aristotelian concept); proposed by Dr. William Lane Craig. This argument is particularly concise, and it is as described by Harry Lesser in ‘Just the Arguments’: Whatever begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist, Therefore, the universe has a cause. The major premise seems unproven….Second, even if every individual entity in the Universe that began to exist has a cause of its existence, it does not follow that this is true of the Universe as a whole….’ (This writer has some difficulty accepting the latter comment on the basis of the Principle of Proportionality.) The full text is interestingly ends in a conciliatory way, and may be viewed in the book: ‘Just the Arguments’. 100 of the Most Important Arguments in the Western Philosophy. Edited By: Michael Bruce and Steven Barbone. Wiley-Blackwell Publication.
Leibniz’s Cosmological Argument for the existence of God from the ‘Principle of Sufficient Reason’, (an Aristotelian concept). This Principle positing that every contingent being must have a cause for its existence.
Applying this reasoning by Leibniz to the movement of celestial bodies, he demonstrated the cause for the harmony in their equilibrium. Furthermore, the profound feature of physical reality is that owing to its sublime laws and order, it is intelligible to us. Hence, it appears that everything has a sufficient explanation for itself, from one thing through others, all the way to the existence of a ‘First Cause’.
The modern philosophical objection to the ‘validity’ of the Aristotelian concept of ‘causality‘, which used in many logical reasoning, summarised neatly as there is no proof for the real existence of either the cause or the effect from the assumption of one or the other. Aristotle’s answer to this objection is in his laws of ‘causality’ that posits: ‘If causation interrupted or either the cause or effect is missing, then there is no talk of causation’.
All arguments for the existence of God, (with a few exception), fall into the same category of beingmistaken concepts; the reason being varied and technical, but primarily because ‘God’ is ultimately anEnigma, and Mystery that is inconceivable by the human mind; hence, we only can prove His existence by a living faith in Him, which faith paradoxically comes only through His grace.
Generally speaking, of the various arguments (but not ‘proofs’) for God’s existence, one is not necessarily better than another, although some people may find certain arguments more convincing, while other people prefer different arguments.
RULES OF A GOOD DEFINITION
Aristotle was the first to introduce the concept and importance of ‘definition’ for clarifying ideas and terms through their factual and concise description. There are two basic types of definitions :-
a) Physical, when describing the physical properties, (i.e. its physical essence), by which a thing isrecognisable.
b) Metaphysical, when describing the abstract points of reality, (i.e. its metaphysical essence), by which a being is understandable.
Surprisingly, even the word of Definition has its own requirements, of which one principal rule stands out, namely: The idea that requires definition, must never be repeated in its description.In addition, these are the major rules of a good Definition:-
It describes the appropriate essence of a thing or being (i.e.: by which it can be recognised or understood), factually, with simplicity and clarity, positively and completely; in proper order, without repetition; adjectives not used alone; adverbs never used (such as: who/what/where/when/why/how); and verb used only in ‘indicative-active’ (e.g. she lives).
DEFINITION OF TERMS USED IN THIS ARTICLE
The following ideas and terms comprise the logical bases of a reasoning process:-
Faith is the free and voluntary acceptance with metaphysical certitude of an intrinsically compelling evidence, that which is based solely on the essence of things.
Idea: It is the representation of the essence of a thing in the mind. By the idea we have intellectual knowledge of the essence of a thing, as perceived by our senses and abstracted by our mind from the reality. An idea is expressed outwardly by a term, which is a word or a group of words.
Reasoning is a major operation of the mind, in which the relation of two ideas (as agreeing or disagreeing) inferred from their respective relation to a common third idea.
Reasoning is deductive, from more general to the less general; and inductive, from the less general to the more general. Pure reasoning can be deductive, as in mathematical sciences, and inductive, as in experimental and observational data.
Evidence is the understandable object or thing as clearly known as truth in reality, and it is an essential requirement for the basis of making judgement with ‘certitude’ in a reasoning process.
The primary source of evidence is through knowledge acquired through the senses, which can be the five physical, or mental, such as sense-memory, and reasoning.
Erroneous judgement comes not from evidence, but from the lack of it or the failure to accept it.
Authority is accepted for reliable ‘testimony’ as a source of evidence with ‘certitude’, when produced by speakers and writers of facts and doctrines that are verifiable in the physical reality.
Existence is a necessarily substantial property of a being or thing, whose essence is recognisable by its identity. (There is no entity without identity).
Essence of a being or thing is that which constitutes it and expressed by its true definition. Since there are two types of definitions, there are also two types of essences, namely:-
- Physical Essence described by the physical properties of a thing that is recognisable through its physical definition.
- Metaphysical Essence described by the abstract points of a being that is understandable through its metaphysical definition.
Contingent (or temporal) being is produced by an other contingent being; (i.e. the cause for its existence is outside itself). A contingent being has a beginning and an end in the physical reality, hence, such a being is a non-necessary being, i.e. besides its coming into being by others, it depends in its physical existence also on other contingent beings.
Non-contingent Being is an uncaused ‘First Cause’, who is a ‘necessary’ and an Absolute spiritual Being, (i.e. without a beginning and end); depending on no one for maintaining its existence (self-Subsistent); whom the Abrahamic religions call the Creator.
EXPRESSION OF REASONING
Apprehending through the senses from the reality results in forming the idea, which is expressed in theterm; in turn judging (by comparing two ideas), and expressed in the proposition.
Finally, reasoning expressed in argument, which is a formula of terms and propositions, and gives an outer expression to the reasoning process. The most perfect form of argument is the syllogism.
This form of argument consists of three propositions so connected when the first two (Premises) are given as true, the third (Conclusion) will necessarily follow as also being true. The meaning of the word syllogism comes from the Greek ‘sullogismos’ (with reasoning).
There are three main types of syllogisms, Categorical, Hypothetical and Irregular types.
THE LAWS AND RULES OF SYLLOGISTIC ARGUMENTS
The following information is included only for demonstrating the complexities of arguments and for cautioning about their proper use.
A good syllogism not only satisfies the rules of accuracy, but also all the criteria of truth. (Note that accuracy by itself, like logic, does not necessarily equate with truth; they can only lead to truth.)
As there are three main types of Syllogisms, there are also three sets of Laws.
- The Categorical syllogism has eight Laws, four of which apply to the Terms of the syllogism, andfour to the Propositions of the syllogism.
- The Hypothetical syllogism has three types of hypothetical propositions, the Conditional, the Conjunctive and the Disjunctive syllogism.
- The Irregular types of syllogisms have five types of Laws.
Furthermore, the reader ought to be aware of five tricky arguments, which appear valid, but in reality called ‘Fallacies’, of which there are five notable types in circulation.
The Professor of Philosophy called our attention on the first day, how easy it is to construct a syllogism that concludes in a nonsense, such as in the following simple and classic example: ‘Aut pluit – Aut non pluit. Quia pluit; Ergo non pluit’. (It is either raining or not raining. But it is raining; Therefore it is not raining). The confusion is caused by the omission of a need for double-negation in the Conclusion; i.e. It should read: ‘Therefore, it is not not raining’, which means correctly of course: ‘Therefore, it is raining indeed’.
Note: Owing to the obvious complexity of the above types of arguments, further details provided only to Email requests.
DESCRIPTION OF COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
The Cosmological Argument of the Aristotelian origin, in its simplest form is the argument for an uncaused ‘First Cause’; from the statement that every ‘contingent‘ (or temporal) animate and inanimate being in the physical reality must have for its existence a cause (or reason) outside itself.
It also posits that in physical reality there is no infinite regress because it only would confirm the existence of physically material infinity, which would explain nothing other than a contradiction in terms.
The Cosmological Argument is correct if God’s ‘necessary’ existence is not only assumed (as in the first premise), i. e. He exists as the uncaused ‘First Cause’ at the end of a causal chain, but also proved, that which the argument sets out in the first place to prove in its Conclusion.
In other words, one cannot call a hypothetical idea of a ‘God’ into physical existence simply bydefining it as the uncaused ‘First Cause’.
The reason for these statements lies in the Principle of Proportionality, which posits that if the constituent parts of an entity are infinite, then the entire entity must also be infinite, (and vice versa).
However, as science already proved our Universe had a beginning at the Big Bang, 13.75 billion years ago, hence, the physical Universe cannot be an infinite entity, but finite, whose constituent parts are also finite, (i.e. contingent upon other causes).
Finally, all physics-based ‘causal chains’ within this Universe must also end in their individual ‘First Cause’, which is uncaused, unique and free-standing.
Otherwise an infinite causal chain would never have an ‘effect’, negating the concept of causality itself as well as such a process would point to the existence of physical infinity, (because one could add or take away from its magnitude), which is a contradiction in terms.
DESCRIPTION of the ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
While this is in truth, the only feasible argument for the existence of God, posited by St. Anselm, and by its Aristotelian and Arabian antecedents, paradoxically, it is one of the most common fallacious thought processes among all the popular arguments.
Briefly, the argument posits that we can have in our mind a (hypothetical) idea of a ‘God’ existing as a perfect being greater than which nothing could be imagined. However, if he were to exist only in our mind, and not in the physical reality, then there would exist a Being superior to it by possessing an additional perfection that is its real existence.
Since existence belongs to the essence of the most perfect Being, it follows from his essence that he must exist necessarily.
The principal weakness in this argument is that an attempt made to prove from an abstract (and hypothetical) concept its existence in reality; at the same time omitting to connect the two realms of thoughts logically with one another.
This process is called ‘jumping’ from the logical order of ideas to the ontological order of physical reality without comparing, i.e. judging the truth value of the two orders.
This absence of verification of a true connection between the two realms of thought processes (i.e. whether they have anything to do with one another, or are truly similar or not) leads to the fallacious essence of the argument itself, and to its dangerously misleading conclusions and/or interpretations.
Note that this illogical ‘jumping’ from one order to another may apply in reverse as well; that is, move from the ontological order to the logical order.
ANALYSIS of the ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
The Logical Order deals with purely transcendental ideas, whose sole objectiveness is based in, and from, the reasoning mind. These ideas transcend reality and are irreducible to the complexities of the physical reality.
For example, these transcendental ideas usually express the intellectual faculty of an adequate mind, to reason out the logical way of knowing through perception, understanding and recollection of abstract things. This occurs in mathematics, philosophy, sciences and arts.
To these abstract ideas also belong emotions, values and the world of imagination. Ideas such as numbers, the concepts of infinity, life, time, space, goodness, etc. also belong in the same logical order.
The ontological order deals with physical entities and events, after the reasoning mind has divested them of all their properties of materiality, in order to be known as mental images of non-material real beings.
For example, mental images are formed in our every-day life of all physically measurable material objects, and their physical changes. These images represent also the material objects of all physical sciences.
The thought process of proving something through an Ontological Argument, as described above, is illogical and proves nothing, because:
a) It jumps from the realm of transcendental ideas to the realm of mental images of physical reality.
b) It generally presupposes, (as in the Cosmological Argument), erroneously, in its Major Premise that which it sets out to prove in its Conclusion.
Ordinarily, a syllogism comprises a Major Premise (or Major Term) that should posit a statement of Principal quality, property or attribute of an entity, which is proved in the Conclusion. The Minor Premise (or Minor Term), is that with which the Major Premise and the Minor Premise are compared(i.e. judged) in the premises with a common, shared subject and predicate of an affirmation or denial, called the Middle Term, which does not appear in the Conclusion.
c) In other words, (apart from the fact that the existence of some physical entity or event can never be ‘proven’ by pure logic alone), the difficulty with this argument is also that it reconciles the infiniteperfection of a ‘God‘ with the imperfection of a finite, created ‘world‘, (which is a contradiction).
The subtlety of fallacy of the Ontological Argument is by far the hardest to recognise in any modern philosophical or scientific theory.
R.Scruton comments: ‘This way of argument was so popular in the earlier centuries, despite its misleading conclusions, that it has intrigued many philosophers, so much so that some falling into the trap, and in their enthusiasm they even tried to refine it; notable among those were: Hegel, Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza.’
These were some of the people using this intellectual sleight-of-hand argument:
- Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury (for the proof of the ‘existence’ of God),
- Carter (for the ‘design’ argument),
- and Leibniz (for the proof of The Principle of Sufficient Reason).
Another example, taken from the Standard Cosmological Model, is the case of an often-quoted erroneous concept of physically material ‘infinity‘; i.e. one cannot prove logically anything by transgressing from a purely hypothetical ‘idea’ of infinity to the logically unproven ‘existence’ of a physically measurable ‘material’ infinity, because there is a gap in the logical reasoning.
The reconciliation of the hypothetical concept of infinity (or space and time, etc.) with its actual existence in physical reality, makes the materialistic cosmological theories open to linguistic confusion and conflict; hence, they are treated as wholly unscientific arguments.
The Christian belief starts with the divine Creator; and is it not a paradox that in Thomas Aquinas’ age hardly anyone was known publically as an atheist, hence, any ‘proof’ for God’s existence would have served little practical purpose, as Turner has pointed out in his publication of ‘Thomas Aquinas’.
Yet, we have only a few eminent apologists capable of defending the faith in a materialistically minded age that has apparently surrendered to an ‘unreasonable unbelief’ propagated among the youth by unscrupulous physical cosmologists.
In spite of the enigmatic ‘proofs’ by arguments, there is plenty of ‘evidence‘ for the existence of God, through the ‘reasonableness’ of belief in God. (See the Website by the eminent Apologetic, Dr. William Lane Craig: Reasonable Faith.com).
‘Evidence‘ for the existence of a Creator found in cosmological, philosophical and many other realms, (such are those in life, reason, love, beauty, language, etc.)
When during a dispute the adversaries cry out, as they often do: ‘Show me the Evidence‘, we might wonder about the true intent and meaning of those magnificent, perennial Words that described thecreation in ‘The First Letter of John’:
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God. All things were made through Him, and….In Him was life, and the life was the light in men’.
We can see that the ‘Word’ refers to Jesus Christ, (the Logos), and has two definitions for God: God is ‘light’ and God is ‘love’. The first: God is Light is connected with Creation (i.e. God is the pure energy, the uncaused ‘First Cause’ of the Big Bang and all else that exists in the Universe), and with Rationality(i.e. language, logic, reasoning, ‘enlightenment’, etc.).
The second, however, God is Love, may be more convincing to anyone who has experienced true love; which is not ‘provable’ by any logical or rational human standards.
‘I do not in the least wish that this created world should fade from my view, but that it should no longer be to me personally that it shows itself. To me it cannot tell its secret, which is too high. If I go, then the Creator and the creature will exchange their secrets’. Simone Weil: ‘Gravity and Grace’.