I figured that no collection of essays would be complete without an argument for the existence of God. Now in the scriptures, the Hebrew name for God, the most sacred one, is Yahweh. In Hebrew, that word means, “he/it causes to be”. The word “causes” in this definition of this name tells me that the idea of causation is important to the biblical understanding of God. As it so happens to be the case, Aristotle argued from causation that there must be a limited number of first principles (49 or 55 was his conclusion), that is, immutable things that make everything happen, with one of those first principles, or the governor thereof, being a single Prime Mover, that ultimate being from which all things come. Aristotle’s arguments were found and synthesized by Thomas Aquinas, and a great number of philosophers in Christian Europe continued to work with that idea, to the effect that Aristotle’s Prime Mover was equated to one degree or another with God in Christianity. This family of arguments have come to be called the cosmological argument. Again, since God’s very name references causing things, I would be very surprised if they were completely off track.
In fact, my readings on this argument truly impress me as being more or less irrefutable. In my dialogues with people who do not accept the argument do so in three simple ways. One is that they simply deny causation. If things don’t cause things, the argument doesn’t hold. I think it’s safe to simply discount those people. The second ascertainment of the cosmological argument’s detractors is that differentiation simply doesn’t exist or is inapplicable. That is, they state that the notion that there is more than one thing is simply not true or inapplicable. These are the “I am you, you are me” people, and their thinking is steeped in eastern religion and quantum mechanics, making use of both of those to ludicrous effect. Again, I think it’s a good idea to simply discount those people. Finally, there are those who pass judgments on the terms and propositions of the argument without understanding them. The cosmological argument is frequently falsely assumed to maintain that everything has a cause, and when God is invoked as something that doesn’t have a cause, the argument is accused of special pleading or moving the goal posts. Yet the argument makes no such statement in the first place.
Because of the category of the third type of person, I have included below an outline of the cosmological argument as I present it. It’s an amalgam of things that I have read and come up with on my own. It’s extremely brief, but future expansions may change that. It’s also incomplete as arguments for God tend to go. God in monotheism speaks of a single, living, self-existing, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being. Some would add omnipresent in order to get God’s six or seven fundamental attributes. My outline stops with single, living, self-existing, omniscient being. For the other two or three attributes the argument must expand beyond a singular, linear outline. However, single, living, self-existing, and omniscient do serve to distinguish God for the other candidates for the source of all things that people tend to proffer (Chaos, Nature, etc.).
So therefore, my outline sits below. It is not a formal syllogism. Not every proposition obviously entails every preceding proposition. The various supporting statements do point to other propositions, and in some cases, propositions reference others. As the outline expands, references between propositions can certainly be increased, but the outline has already been called ungainly. So for now, I just leave it where it stands, though anyone who wished to discuss it may contact me. I am interested in refining and expanding the outline.
- A being must be caused or uncaused.
a. Required by the law of the excluded middle.
- Every being we see is contingent upon a cause (contingent beings).
a. Empirically true.
b. Every being we see could potentially have not existed.
c. Every being that exists, but potentially could not have existed, exists because something caused it to exist rather than not exist.
- There must be an uncaused being (an uncaused being is necessary).
a. An infinite regress cannot exist because no causal process can traverse an infinite number of events.
b. A being cannot cause itself because it cannot exist prior to itself.
- Every contingent being must be directly or indirectly contingent upon a necessary being.
a. Every contingent being must be contingent upon a necessary being or another contingent being.
b. A causal chain consisting of only contingent beings with no necessary being constitutes infinite regress.
c. An infinite regress cannot exist because no causal process can traverse an infinite number of events.
- A necessary being must be simple.
a. Any parts of a being must be regarded as material causes of that being.
b. A necessary being is by definition uncaused.
- A necessary being must be immutable.
a. A mutable being is affected by what changes it.
b. That which affects a mutable being becomes a cause of that being.
- There can be only one necessary being per set of all things.
a. The necessary being cannot be affected by anything (proposition 6), or it would be contingent upon what affects it, and would not meet the requirement for an uncaused/necessary being.
b. Two necessary beings could not have a relationship with each other because that relationship would involve the two beings affecting each other.
- The necessary being must be alive.
a. The necessary being must be immutable and simple. (5 and 6)
b. Therefore, the necessary being cannot be forced to cause any contingent being.
c. Therefore, the necessary being must WANT to cause what it causes.
d. Desire (wanting) cannot exist without will.
e. Will cannot exist without consciousness.
- The necessary being must be impassible.
a. A surprised being is affected by what surprises him.
b. An affected being is mutable. (6)
c. The necessary being is immutable, therefore impassible.
- The necessary being must be omniscient.
a. Nothing can surprise the impassible being (9), even and especially his own effects.
b. All effects originate with the necessary being. (4)
c. The impassible being must have knowledge of everything distinct from himself.
- Being: some thing possessing the quality of actuality. Something that exists.
- Simple: not composed of parts.
- Immutable: not changed by anything exterior to self.
- Set of all things: the maximally great state of affairs in which we exist. The world, the universe, or reality as we know it. The set of all things which can be grouped into a set for meaningful purposes, that is, excluding anything that does not and cannot have any connection to our world or reality at all.
- Alive: possessing will within the framework of consciousness.
- Impassible: does not experience surprise.