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Flashcards in The Nature of Reality Deck (15):

What are the four arguments for the existence of God?

- The Cosmological argument (First Cause)
- The anthropic principle
- The teleological argument (design)
- The moral argument


What is the purpose of arguments about the existence of God?

- These arguments do not intend to prove that God exists, as Christianity requires faith
- They intend to prove that Christianity is rational


Outline the Cosmological argument.

1) If we observe the world around us, we see things being caused to exist. Nothing causes itself - everything is caused by something external to it.
2) There is a first cause, intermediary causes and ultimate causes. We observe intermediary causes and a few ultimate causes.
3) As we observe intermediary causes, logically, something started the sequence: this needs to be sufficient - the cause of x must be powerful enough to make x.
4) The first cause must be something that was not caused by something external - something that cannot not be. This means existence is different to that of everything else.
5) God is the only thing sufficient enough.


What are some criticisms of the Cosmological argument?

- Believers want to believe in a God that is more than just the thing that started the Universe
- It is not necessary to include God in the argument - it was first proposed by Aristotle and Plato
- Bertrand Russel says the Universe is just a brute fact and believers have to learn to live with it


What is the anthropic principle?

There are things in the world that can only be appreciated by humans, e.g. beauty. Therefore, they are a message from God to humans. This view is supported by Genesis, in which the world was formed for humanity.


Outline the argument from beauty.

- Everywhere we look, there are beautiful things.
- Some of these things, e.g. snowflakes, could not be appreciated before the invention of microscopes.
- This is seen as evidence that there must have been something else that could appreciate them: God.


What are some criticisms of the argument from beauty?

- We do not know that other creatures cannot appreciate beauty.
- Beauty is subjective - what humans find beautiful may not be beautiful to other creatures, and vice versa.
- Things just happen to exist, and humans find some of them beautiful.


Outline the argument from science.

- Gravity, the composition of the atmosphere, the speed of light, etc. are just right for humans to live (F.R. Tennant)
- The argument of Pierre Lecomte de Nouy:
There are 5 protein molecules, made up of atoms in a set order. The chance of them occurring randomly in nature are 1:10^243. This has to be multiplied by the probability of gravity ad everything else being the way it is - the chance of that is miniscule.


What are some criticisms of the argument from science?

- Pierre Lecomte de Nouy's view is inaccurate - we now know there is an unlimited number of protein molecules -this actually supports his argument.
- But, however small the chances of the conditions being as they are, it happened.
- The chances of conditions being any different were just as miniscule.
- The world was not made for humans - it started, certain conditions were formed, and as a result humans evolved. Life would still have existed if the conditions were different, only it would have evolved differently.
- This view assumes there are no species on other planets, when statistically this is very probable.


What is the teleological (design) argument?

The world is so complex, some philosophers believe it could only be achieved by intelligent design. They believe it was designed by an intelligent being - God, for a purpose.


Outline The Watchmaker as an example of the teleological argument.

1) If you were walking across a heath and stumbled upon a stone, you would not question where it came from, as it is simple in its makeup.
2) If however, you were to come across a watch, you would react differently. This is because it is highly complex, therefore you assume it has a purpose, even if you didn't know what the purpose is.
3) You would wonder how it got there, and you would posit to yourself, that as it has a purpose, someone must have made it - there must be a watchmaker.
4) The world is also complex - therefore it makes sense to think it has a purpose, and it was created by someone - God.


What are some criticisms of the teleological (design) argument?

- The universe is far more complicated than man-made objects (David Hume).
- The watch-maker doesn't make the parts of the watch, he just puts them together. They are designed by someone else: this suggests polytheism.


What is the moral argument?

- Humans have a sense of right and wrong, a conscience
- Cardinal John Newman linked our sense of guilt after doing something wrong with the voice of God speaking through our conscience
- God enables people to have a sense of right and wrong - if there was no God, we wouldn't have this sense


What is the soul-making argument?

- Proposed by Irenaeus of Lyons and supported by John Hick
- Humans have free will so that they can make choices based on their conscience and learn
- Through learning humans will eventually become more like God
- This process continues after death


What are some criticisms of the soul-making argument?

- Many Christians believe that after death a person's soul will be sent to heaven or to hell
- Conscience does not necessarily come from God