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How Do We Know That God Exists

? Essay, Research Paper

Throughout history there have always been questions that we as humans are just unable to answer. The questions surrounding the topic of God seem to be ever elusive, just beyond our reach. The human race has made strides to answer these difficult questions. Unfortunately, as with all knowledge we find ourselves asking more difficult questions. The question of God’s existence can be considered one of the most difficult questions ever ask by a human being. Attempts have been made on both sides of the argument, but holes in everyone analyzation of this question has left us at a stalemate of sorts. Therefore, we have reached the point of trying more to disprove an argument rather than finding new proof of our own. While disproving an argument is a good thing, it has gotten us nowhere and we have been left without a positive answer to the question. In a sense, all someone does about the existence of God is split hairs and cause more frustration in their thinking.

But what are the arguments that have been presented? For without these, we are unable to draw conclusions ourselves. Maybe these argument provide adequate proof for some people. As such, we will take a look at some of the more noteworthy argument, on both sides, and briefly analyze them.

First off is the ontological argument. An ontological argument for the existence of God attempts to include the definition of the concept of God the fact that he exists. An example of this would be Anselm’s argument. Saint Anselm(1033-1109) was a Benedictine monk in Bec. At that time, Bec was one of the Great centers of learning in Europe. His book Proslogion contains his famous ontological argument. This argument was the first formal proof for the existence of God. His ideas state that God, by definition, is absolutely prefect. It is also more perfect to exist than to not exist. Therefore, to envision God is to envision God existing(this is because to conceive of God not existing is self-canceling). Thus, if one would say “God does not exist” one would be contradicting oneself. Because of this, Anselm believed, the Existence of God must be true. On the other side of this argument, it is widely believed that definitions do not necessarily mean that that something exists. For example, According to the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 1999 edition, the definition of a unicorn is “A fabled creature usually represented as a horse with a single spiraled horn on its forehead.” Judging by the statement made by Anselm it could be inferred that unicorns also exist simply because they can be defined even though no positive evidence supports the existence of unicorns. Surely this can be true, can it? As a result God does not exist in the actual world.

Thomas Aquinas offers more proof for the existence of God. Aquinas is generally regarded as the greatest scholastic philosopher and also the greatest Christian theologian. His most famous work, Five Ways, offers more than a simple definition of God and therefore makes a stronger argument for the existence of God. Obviously this work offers five different arguments for proof. These arguments are: by motion, cosmological, from necessity, by degree and by design. The argument by motion states that objects are in motion. If an object is in motion, then its motion must have been caused by something outside itself. Since there can be no infinite movers/movees chains, there must be a first unmoved mover. The second argument, the cosmological argument, implies that some events cause other events. If an event happens, then it must have been cause by an outside event. And again, because there are no infinite cause/effect chains there must be a first uncaused cause. The necessity argument points out that accidental things exist. Each accidental thing has a time at which it fails to exist(this is because accidental things are not omnipresent or “always present”). So lets assume that if everything was accidental there would be a time when nothing exists(”empty time”). That empty time would be the past. If the universe were empty at one time, it would be empty forever afterwards(one can not make something out of nothing i.e. conservation of matter). So, if everything were accidental, nothing would exist right now. However, the universe is not empty because accidental things do exist. Thus, there exists a being that is not accidental. The Fourth argument, by degree asserts that objects have properties to greater and lesser extents. If something has a property to a lesser extent, then something else exist with that property to the maximum possible degree. Because of this there must be an entity that has all properties to the maximum possible degree. Finally Aquinas offers the argument by design. It asseverates that objects that act for an end. Some of these objects have minds(humans) while others do not(animals, but this can not be proven and is not relevant at this time). An object that acts for an end, but does not have a mind, must have been designed by a being with a mind. Naturally then we can assume that there exist a being with a mind who designed all mindless objects that act for an end.

Thought provoking is it not? While Aquinas offers five very convincing arguments for the existence of God, holes can still be found within them. Often these holes lead to other deeper questions. For instance, how are we aware that nothing is infinite? While we may be able to prove this on earth, we have no real idea of what possibilities lie waiting for us within reality itself. Also if something exist and the complete maximum of essentially everything, it can not be perfect because it can not go beyond what is considered maximum. This coincides with the question “Can God make a rock he/she can not lift?” Either way you look at it God will not win this situation. By making a rock heavier than God’s strength he would not be all powerful, second by not making the rock prove that he is not all powerful by way of God’s inability to create such a rock.

Imagine however if these argument actually proved true. Other, perhaps more dangerous, questions would naturally arise. What is God like? How do we tell which God is the correct God? What happens to all the people that worshiped the wrong God? Is God good or evil? If God is considered good, why is there still evil in the world? Does God directly interact with our lives? These are questions that I do not want to know the answers to or should know the answers to. I believe this for the rest of society. Consider the turmoil created because Jesus wasn’t actually the Son of God.

While I feel that I’ve only explored the tip of the iceberg on this subject I do feel that I have covered enough for an average person to justify their beliefs or to give an idea of what kind of problem one runs into when answering this question.

In conclusion I will leave you with a quote from Walter Kaufmann. “Those asserting God’s existence have therefore often maintained that there are different modes of existence. This is a doubtful doctrine. [...] Even if it was legitimate to speak of different modes of existence, what could be meant by asking whether God “exists”? Saying that God exists in the same sense in which mathematical points exist would be hardly less atheistic than saying that his existence is comparable to that of unicorns. Those asserting the existence of God have sometimes recognize this difficulty and contended that God’s mode of existence is unique, that he does not exist in the same sense in which anything else exists but in a sense peculiar to himself. Logically, however, this is no different from saying that God does not exist.”

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