Monday, 18 January 2016

Proving the Existence of God

by Gabriella Watson

The existence of God is one of the most controversial debates since the creation of the universe.  There have been many philosophers who have constructed theories to support God’s existence such as Saint Thomas Aquinas and William Paley. Not only that but religious experiences help to contribute towards God’s existence because they are evidence that God is communicating to humanity.

St Thomas Aquinas was a medieval Christian who recognized that many people doubted the existence of God because, to them, logic could not explain His presence. Aquinas wanted to prove God’s existence to those who could not accept it on faith alone. As a result, he created the First Cause argument, also known as the cosmological argument, based on empiricism and the observations of nature. Aquinas’ theory states that everything that exists is caused to exist and because the universe exists, it must have a cause. It also declares that there has to be something eternal that was not caused by anything and the eternal first cause is God therefore He must exist.

The First Cause argument is not only grounded in empiricism but also is a priori. It can prove the existence of God by showing that the Big Bang theory supports the Cosmological argument because the universe must have had a cause. Furthermore, it fits in with the God of classical theism who is described as omnipotent and omniscient. Finally, not only does it give human life a meaningful purpose but many philosophers such as J. L. Mackie supported Aquinas’ theory as they believed modern science could defend the idea that infinite regress is illogical. 'A train cannot consist of infinite amount of carriages, it must at some point have a driver and engine' this is so with the universe and life.

Another philosopher who created a theory which proves God’s existence is William Paley. Paley developed the teleological argument which explains that a designer must exist since the universe and living things exhibit marks of design in their order, consistency, unity, and pattern. A typical analogy of this is the Watchmaker Argument, which states that if you found a watch in an empty field, you would logically conclude that it was designed and not the product of random formation. Likewise, when we look at life and the universe, it is natural to conclude there is a designer since we see how perfectly the universe and life forms operate. The teleological argument can prove Gods existence because it supports the theory that everything has a purpose for example the eye which is made up of many intricate parts. Moreover, it is an a posteriori and inductive argument, so it is a scientific theory which can actually be assessed and Paley’s observations of regularity are supported by science. Pale’s analogy is an easily understandable and logical type of argument which could be supported by evolution and the Big Bang theory as both of these processes could be part of the design of the universe. The design argument is supported by Isaac Newton who used the fact that we all have different thumbprints to show God has planned each of us separately. He also used the fact that humans have opposable thumbs as evidence of design and purpose because the way in which they can be used to grasp things is a movement only found in humans and primates. Finally, the Anthropic Principle reinforces the teleological argument because it suggests physical properties or parameters seem to be “just right” to allow for life there is evidence which shows that life on earth did not happen by accident-it was planned.

Another aspect which contributes to proving Gods existence is the argument from religious experience. A religious experience is an event which people feel brings them closer to God. They can include communicating with God through prayer and meditation where believers feel they are not only speaking to God but waiting for His reply. They may also include stigmata, charismatic worship, glossolalia and being slain in the spirit. All these religious experiences can prove the existence of God because they could reveal that God is communicating to us though selected people. Furthermore, religious experiences are relatively common and have occurred throughout history. They also show God does not communicate with everyone because if God revealed himself to everyone then idea of faith would be irrelevant as everyone knew he existed.

In conclusion, the existence of God can be proven by the cosmological and teleological argument as they have not only been supported by famous scientists and philosophers but can both be linked to the creation story. The design argument coincides with the creation story showing that God designed us, planned the development of the world and created humanity in order to maintain His earth and repair relations with Him so that we can reach salvation. The First Cause argument is associated with the creation story because both theories imply that the universe was created gradually and both show that God omnipotent and the creator and source of everything. Religious experiences also prove Gods existence because they have recurred throughout many eras and there is no evidence to suggest that they can be disproved.  

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