So a Twitter friend of mine sent me this recently:
Which of course consisted in a large blank space.
Cute, but a non sequitur, and for fairly straightforward reasons:
1. Science studies nature. God, by definition, is beyond nature (φύσις): τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικὰ (meta ta phusika) to put it in Greek. That is to say, any reasoning which provides a demonstration of the existence of God will properly belong to the domain of metaphysics, not to the domain of physics or science.
2. Logic, taken by itself, is a purely formal discipline and cannot provide reason to believe in the existence of anything. The most logic can do is prove a negative existential by proving a concept to be self-contradictory—and even here this is possible only because the law of noncontradiction is a metaphysical truth. That is, it is an axiom of logic that ~(A & ~A) because the nature of reality is such that a thing cannot both be the same and not the same at the same time in the same respect.
So this silly meme is covertly appealing to a kind of scientism, the position that the only valid kind of knowledge is the kind produced by modern natural science. But scientism is both a silly claim (“no one knew anything before around 1600 A.D.”) and an untenable, self-refuting one: “The only valid kind of knowledge is scientific knowledge (assisted by logic)” can be demonstrated neither by science nor by logic. It is an epistemological claim about the status of knowledge, and of course, more basically, a metaphysical claim about what knowledge is and how it relates to reality.
As the great 20th century Thomist philosopher Etienne Gilson noted, “Metaphysics always buries its undertakers.” You cannot set out to proclaim a view of reality—unless you rely on sheer dogmatic assertion—without engaging in metaphysical argument nolens volens. This principle of course applies especially to “anti-metaphysical” metaphysical positions: one and all, they are ways of trying to claim “The nature of reality is such that nothing can be claimed/said/known about the nature of reality,” a statement which is obviously, hilariously, self-refuting.
Need I point out, readers, that this silliness is also still confusing God with a god?
So, in honor of this silly meme, I thought I would give a
LIST OF REASONS TO BELIEVE IN GOD*
*This is a list of reasons to believe, not arguments. I am not attempting to make arguments here, so don’t start pointing out how the “arguments” are inadequate. Each of these reasons can be supported by argumentation, as appropriate.
- The existence of change. If anything changes, God exists. Thomas Aquinas proves this in the First Way in the Summa Theologiae.
- The existence of efficient causation. If anything comes into being, it requires a cause. Things can neither cause their own coming into being nor simply “pop” into being for literally no reason at all. But if cause and effect exist, God exists. Thomas shows this in the Second Way.
- The existence of contingent beings. If any non-necessary beings exist, then God exists. This is the most powerful argument, but few are capable of really understanding it, unfortunately.
- The existence of degrees of perfection. If there exist traits which can be more or less perfect, there is a standard of perfection which must be exemplified, which is God. E.g. knowledge is more or less perfect; for this to be the case, there must be a being which is omniscient. Thomas proves this in the Fourth Way.
- The existence of ends or τῆλε in nature. If nature is ordered towards intrinsic ends, there must be an intelligence that has so ordered them, since only intelligence acts towards ordered ends. Science has attempted for a long time, unsuccessfully, to make nature intelligible without appeal to τῆλε. It doesn’t work.
- The fine-tuning of the universe. One thing science is able to tell us about our universe is that it involves a large number of natural constants, such as Plancks’ constant and the gravitational constant—a fairly large number of such numbers that, as far as physics goes, could just as well be other than they are, but which just happen to be exactly the number that allows for the only sort of universe that permits life and thus human beings to exist. It is as if we won the lottery millions of times in a row to have a universe in which we are capable of existing. Of course, the move is always open to put down a series of astronomically improbable wins to pure chance.
- The wholeness of the universe. The universe is not just a collection of discrete parts. Physics is capable of telling us that also. It acts, somehow, as a whole. Bell’s Theorem, which is as well established as anything in physics, proves this. But what accounts for the very wholeness or unity of the universe? It cannot be something in the universe, because that would be another item within the universe which would require an infinite number of relations relating relations, etc. Only something outside the whole can provide unity for the whole, with generating a vicious infinite regress.
- The existence of miracles.
- The existence of consciousness.
- The existence of objective truth.
- The existence of objective good and evil, i.e. of objective moral or ethical standards.
- The experience of God. Atheists may never have had such or may have managed in the grip of their ideology to talk themselves into thinking the experience was non-veridical, but very obviously an experience of God is an entirely sufficient reason to believe in God, regardless of arguments. Saul did not become Paul on the road to Damascus because of a philosophical argument. It was because he met and experienced the risen Christ.
- The consensus of humanity. Almost all human beings at all times and all places have believed in what is recognizably God in one form or another (although details differ). Either the vast, vast, vast, VAST majority of all human beings in all times and all places have been wrong about this, or they have not. It is prima facie implausible they have been wrong. Thus the common consent of the human race is an argument for the plausibility of God as the best explanation of the near universal belief in God across all times, places, and cultures. I’m perfectly well aware that this is not a proof with deductive certainty, but an argument to the best explanation is not invalid. To reject it, atheists have to make the case that at least some things commonly believed by almost all human beings are mistaken beliefs, systemic cognitive delusions. And I’m aware they do make such arguments in the case of God, starting with Feuerbach, through Freud, to Dawkins. But these arguments that just God is a delusion, and not, e.g. the existence of an external world, the existence of other minds, etc., smack of special pleading. In fact, this is an argument that common human reason is highly fallible. And so this is also an argument that itself provides a powerful reason to doubt all human reasoning, including the reasoning involved in this argument.
- The desire for complete happiness. C. S. Lewis gives one version of the argument from desire, which is something like this: for every natural desire human beings possess, there is something answering to it: for thirst, there is drink, for hunger, food, for sexual desire, other humans with sexual desire, and so on. (We are not considering learned desires, which are a different matter. No one, by nature, desires e.g. a Rolls Royce.) Now, all human beings desire happiness, and not simply in a momentary or transitory way. Human beings desire happiness in way that surpasses any possible natural fulfillment, since at the very least our happiness will be cut off by death—and yet we have naturally, or intrinsically, a desire for a complete perfection of happiness. So, argues Lewis, it is likely that this desire has a real object, capable of fulfilling this desire for perfect happiness, and this would be God. “Our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee.”
- Everything. Literally everything is evidence of the existence of God. It is, only because He Is, or in His words,