Natural Theology

Last blog, I said I would introduce some of the arguments for the existence of God by natural theology, that branch of theology that seeks to provide warrant for belief in God’s existence apart from the resources of authoritative, propositional revelation (bible). Most of the material I am quoting today comes from William Lane Craig’s excellent book “Reasonable Faith”.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT: Plantinga argues that “Man” has an innate, natural capacity to apprehend God’s existence even as he has the natural capacity to accept truths of perception (like “I see a tree”). God has so constructed us that we naturally form the belief in His existence under appropriate circumstances (such as moments of guilt, gratitude, or a sense of God’s handiwork in nature), just as we do the belief in perceptual objects and for example, the reality of the past. Hence belief in God is among the deliverances of reason, not faith. Many philosophers even Plato have tried to provide a rational basis for belief in God. Plantinga is only one of many that have used the ontological argument that God exists: basically if God is conceivable, then he must exist. Check them out in Craig’s book Reasonable Faith or on their website www.reasonablefaith.org.

COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT: In contrast to the ontological argument, the cosmological argument assumes that something exists and argues from the existence of that thing to the existence of a First Cause or a Sufficient Reason of the Cosmos. It has been defended by great minds such as Plato, Aristotle, al Ghazali, Maimonides, Anselem, Aquinas, Scotus, Descartes, Spinoza, Berkeley, Locke and Leibniz. Quoting from al Ghazali (1058-1111) who argues for a FIRST CAUSE ” Every being which begins has a cause for it’s beginning; now the universe/world is a being which begins; therefore, it possesses a cause for its beginning (at a certain moment in time)”. Since the discovery by Hubble that the universe is expanding which led to the Standard “Big Bang” Model of the beginning of the universe, it is accepted that the cosmos had a beginning and “based on the second law of thermodynamics, it is stuck on a one way slide of degeneration and decay towards a final state of maximum entropy, or disorder. As this final state has not been reached it follows that the universe cannot have existed for an infinite time” quote from Paul Davies, “The Big Questions: In the Beginning”, ABC Science Online, interview with Philip Adams, http;//aca.mq.edu.au/pdavieshtml.
Since the universe had a first cause then its cause had to be outside of the Space, Matter, Time, cosmos that it brought into being. This being according to Aquinas; God is Pure Being itself subsisting and is the source of being to everything else, whose essences do not involve their existing. G. W. F. Leibniz (1646-1716) does not argue for the existence of an Uncaused Cause, but for the existence of a SUFFICIENT REASON for the Universe. Nothing happens without a sufficent reason – why is there something rather than nothing. He argues that the reason for the universe’s existence must be found outside of the universe, in a being whose sufficient reason is self contained. God is a metaphysical necessary being. These are the two most prominent Cosmological Arguments for God but there are others.

Tomorrow let’s look at the TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT and the MORAL ARGUMENT.

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