Does God exist?

Reasons given for answering "Yes"
  • Physical reality (all spacetime) began to exist

      Physical reality (all spacetime) began to exist. Five evidences:

      • …[Big Bang] Gravity equations yield a past-bound singularity.
      • …[BGV theorem] Any average-exanding space has a beginning.
      • …[2nd Law] Total entropic decay has not arrived yet.
      • …[General 2nd Law] Total generalized entropy is not maxed.
      • …[Philosophy] Logically, prior events cannot number to infinity.
      This is relevant because if physical reality began to exist then its cause provably has several properties, including: being able to exist independently of space, time, and matter, with both the ability and disposition to cause the universe to exist. This sounds very suspiciously like God.1 By contrast, it is a uniquely awkward and surprising development for atheist thinkers; it “was not even remotely expected”2. (In fact, atheists largely hated it and labeled the idea unscientific.)3

      But no, [All forthcoming]
      •…a beginningless-cosmos model is true (e.g. emergent, pre-BigBang, cyclic).
      •…the Schrödinger equation implies the past is eternal.
      •…time does not truly exist.
      •…there is no first point in time.
      •…the singularity isn’t a first event (its not in time).

      But so what? Couldn’t it simply be that…
      •…it wasn’t caused to exist?
      •…the cause isn’t God

      1. Quentin Smith (Atheist professor of philosophy at Western Michigan): “The central idea of this cosmology, that the universe exploded into existence in a 'big bang' about 15 billion years ago or so, seemed tailor made to a theistic viewpoint. Big bang cosmology seemed to offer empirical evidence for the religious doctrine of creation ex nihilo.” [“A Big Bang Cosmological Argument For God's Nonexistence” in Faith and Philosophy Vol. 9. No. 2 (1992): 217]
      2. Lawrence Krauss & Robert Scherrer: “In 1908 the scientific consensus was that the universe was static and eternal. The beginning of the universe in a fiery big bang was not even remotely suspected.” [“The End of Cosmology?” Scientific American (March 2008)]
      3. Robert Jastrow (Agnostic cosmologist, director of NASA): “…the essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same; ...” [14.] “For the [non-believing] scientist... the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” [God and the Astronomers, 2nd ed. (W.W. Norton & Company, 1992), 116.]
  • The Universe is fine-tuned to permit life

      The Universe/physics is fine-tuned for permitting life.1 That is to say, of all the known ways the universe could have been, few ways would ever allow any life to exist. Consider…

      • …the constants of physics are fine-tuned.
      • …the initial conditions of the universe are fine-tuned.
      • …the laws of physics are fine-tuned.

      This is a very awkward and shocking development for atheist cosmologists2 because it means for them that we got really lucky for no reason. If God exists, however, then the Universe’s ability to permit life is not nearly so surprising or improbable.3 Such a universe is the kind of thing God would plausibly choose to create.4

      But no, …
      • …changes just yield different life forms
      • …constant's can't be different (T.O.E.)
      • …life-friendly Universes are rare but probable[Forthcoming]
      • …one can't do probabilities with an infinite range[Forthcoming]
      • …new knowledge will eliminate fine-tuning
      • …over 99.9% of the universe is hostile to life.[Forthcoming]

      But so what if the Universe is fine-tuned (or life-permitting)? Plausibly…
      • …many universes exist or existed, and we won the universe lottery.4

      Remember…
      • …we would not be here unless the unlikely did occur.
      • …the Universe is equally fine-tuned to permit rocks, etc.[Forthcoming]
      • …it is only fine-tuned to life as we know it.
      • …God would need a fine-tuner, too.
      • …“God did it” is not an explanation.[Forthcoming]

      1. Specialist Luke Barnes recently co-authored A Fortunate Universe (Cambridge University Press, 2006). He also published a review of the scientific literature, 200+ papers, and confesses he can only think of “a handful of physicists that oppose this conclusion, and piles and piles that support it.”
        Geoff Brumfiel (Nature Magazine's Washington Correspondent): “If you believe the equations of the world’s leading cosmologists, the probability that the Universe would turn out this way [life-permitting] by chance are infinitesimal — one in a very large number.” [“Our Universe: Outrageous Fortune,” Nature, Vol 439:10-12 (Jan. 5, 2006)]
        Paul Davies ([Agnostic-turned-Deist] Physicist; Professor at 6 Universities [Cambridge, London etc.]): “There is now broad agreement among physicists and cosmologists that the universe is in several respects ‘fine-tuned' for life.” [“How bio-friendly is the universe?” International Journal of Astrobiology, vol. 2, no. 2 (2003): 115.]
      2. See confessions from Lemley, Deutch, Weinberg, Davies, Townes here. One example:
        Philip Ball (Physicist, 10+ years editor for Nature): “Our universe is so unlikely that we must be missing something… the incomprehensibility of our situation even drives Susskind's team to ponder whether an ‘unknown agent intervened in the evolution [of the Universe] for reasons of its own’…” [“Is Physics Watching Over Us?” Nature, Science Update, 2002.]
      3. See comments from Vilenkin, Davies, Dyson, Polkinghorn, Tipler, Hoyle, Penzias, Greenstein here. One example:
        Fred Hoyle (Former atheist “greatly shaken” by fine-tuning; influential astrophysicist): “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” [“The Universe: Past and Present Reflections” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics (1982): 20:16.]
      4. Why would God create a life-permitting universe? See the moral arena section.
      5. [Forthcoming]. For now, to see a compelling and novel critique of the multiverse's utility as an explanation for fine-tuning, consider reading Collins's “The Fine-tuning of the Cosmos: A Fresh Look at its Implications”, available online.
  • The Universe is fine-tuned for discoverability

      The Universe is fine-tuned for being discoverable[Forthcoming] (i.e., of all the known ways the universe could have been, and even among the subset which allows for lifeforms, few have initial conditions, laws, and physical constants which would ever allow those lifeforms to learn about it). This is a very awkward and shocking development for atheists 1 because it means for them* that we got really lucky for no reason. If God exists, however, then the Universe’s amenability to being discovered and known is not nearly so surprising or improbable.2 Such a universe is the kind of thing God would plausibly choose to create.

      1. Albert Einstein: “You may find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world to the degree that we may speak of such comprehensibility as a miracle or an eternal mystery. Well, a priori one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be in any way grasped through thought... The kind of order created, for example, by Newton's theory of gravity is of quite a different kind. Even if the axioms of the theory are posited by a human being, the success of such an enterprise presupposes an order in the objective world of a high degree, which one has no a priori right to expect. That is the miracle which grows increasingly persuasive with the increasing development of knowledge.” [1956, A Letter to Maurice Solovine]
        Eugene Wigner (Nobel Prize winner, theoretical physicist): “The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.” [The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Physical Sciences (1960), 14.]
        Paul Davies (Agnostic turned deist, physics professor at Cambridge, etc.): “A common reaction among physicists to remarkable discoveries… is a mixture of delight at the subtlety and elegance of nature, and of stupefaction: ‘I would never have thought of doing it that way.’ If nature is so ‘clever’ it can exploit mechanisms that amaze us with their ingenuity, is that not persuasive evidence for the existence of intelligent design behind the physical universe? If the world's finest minds can unravel only with difficulty the deeper workings of nature, how could it be supposed that those workings are merely a mindless accident, a product of blind chance? … Uncovering the laws of physics resembles completing a crossword in a number of ways. In the case of the crossword, it would never occur to us to suppose that the words just happen to fall into a consistent interlocking pattern by accident.” [Superforce: The Search for the Grand Unified Theory of Nature (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), 235-36)]. Also: “It is impossible to be a scientist working at the frontier without being awed by the elegance, ingenuity, and harmony of the lawlike order in nature. In my attempts to popularize science, I am driven by the desire to share my own sense of excitement and awe with the wider community; I want to tell people the good news. The fact that we are able to do science, that we can comprehend the hidden laws of nature, I regard as a gift of immense significance.” [“Physics and the Mind of God”, Templeton Prize address: Online]
      2. Paul Davies (Agnostic turned deist, physics professor at Cambridge, etc.): “People take it for granted that the physical world is both ordered and intelligible. The underlying order in nature-the laws of physics-are simply accepted as given, as brute facts. Nobody asks where they come from; at least they do not do so in polite company. However, even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith that the universe is not absurd, that there is rational basis to physical existence manifested as law-like order in nature that is at least part comprehensible to us. So science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview.” [“Physics and the Mind of God”, Templeton Prize address: Online]
        D. Halsmer, J. Asper, N. Roman, T. Todd: “Human-engineered systems are characterized by stability, predictability, reliability, transparency, controllability, efficiency, and (ideally) optimality. These features are also prevalent throughout the natural systems that make up the cosmos. However, the level of engineering appears to be far above and beyond, or transcendent of, current human capabilities. Even so, there is a curious match between the comprehensibility of the universe and the ability of mankind to comprehend it. This unexplained matching is a prerequisite for any kind of reverse engineering activity to be even remotely successful. And yet, mankind seems to be drawn onward toward a potential wisdom, almost in tutorial fashion, by the puzzles of nature that are continually available for us to unravel. Indeed, the universe is so readily and profitably reverse engineered as to make a compelling argument that it was engineered in the first place, apparently with humanity in mind.” [“The Coherence of an Engineered World”, International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(1)(2009): 47.]
        Albert Einstein: “I have found no better expression than ‘religious’ for confidence in the rational nature of reality, insofar as it is accessible to human reason.” [Letter to Maurice Solovine, (1 January 1951) [Einstein Archive 21-174]; published in Letters to Solovine (1993)]
        Robin Collins (Philosopher-physicist at Messiah College): “The heart of the theistic alternative is to explain the fact that our universe exhibits BSC by claiming that (i) a universe exhibiting BSC will realize both moral and aesthetic values to a greater degree than universes not exhibiting BSC and (ii) God would have some reason to bring about a universe structure to realize these values. … In the theistic explanation, the claim that God provides a non-ad-hoc connecting link between value and existence is based on a natural extrapolation from our own experience that once grasped, the goodness or beauty of a state of affairs gives us ― and presumably any conscious agent ― a reason to prefer that state of affairs. The idea is that part of grasping that a state of affairs has value ― whether moral or aesthetic ― is to "feel" the desirability of the state, and hence have some motivation to bring it about. … Whether one buys this sort of argument or not, I think that at minimum one has to admit that it is in no way arbitrary or ad-hoc to hold that a perfectly free, omniscient, and omnipotent being would have the desire to bring about states of goodness and beauty.” [The Fine Tuning for Discoverability DRAFT (2014), 18. Avaliable online.]
  • Cells, brains, eyes “look” intelligently designed

      Features of living organisms appear as if they were intelligently designed (even if the appearance is only superficial). Consider…

      • …the cell and its inner-workings appear designed.
      This is relevant because if God did not exist, then the likelihood of this being true is very low. Simultaneously, if God does exist, then life's appearing intelligently designed is not nearly so unexpected because life actually being intelligently designed is not unexpected.

      But so what if life gives a superficial appearance of design? Plausibly…
      • … [life evolved in an unguided way that mimics the pattern of intelligent design].[Forthcoming]

  • We have mostly reliable cognitive faculties

      Our cognitive faculties (perception, memory, reason, etc.) are such that they are generally reliable.1 (That is to say, they are more inclined to recommend to us true beliefs rather than false ones.) Consider that intuitions justify beliefs;…

      • …intuition justifies belief that physical laws are constant.
      • …intuition justifies belief that x happened in the past.
      • …intuition justifies belief that x exists outside my mind.
      • …intuition justifies belief that x is conscious.
      • …intuition justifies belief that x is objectively morally wrong.
      • …intuition justifies belief that x could've occurred.

      This is relevant because it is awkward and unexplained if atheism is true, whereas if theism is true, it is not nearly so unlikely or unexpected. After all, creating moral agents with generally reliable cognitive faculties able to interact with each other is the kind of thing a good God would plausibly choose to do.2

      But so what if our cognitive faculties are generally reliable? Plausibly…
      • reliable faculties were selected for by an unguided evolutionary process.[Forthcoming]

      1. There are additional faculties that one might add:
        Alvin Plantinga: “Further, there are introspection, by which I learn such things about myself as that I am appeared to a certain way, and believe this or that; induction, whereby (in a way that defies explicit statement) we come to expect the future to be like the past in certain respects, thereby being able to learn from experience; and Thomas Reid's sympathy, whereby we come to be aware of what other people are thinking, feeling, and believing. Still further, there is testimony or credulity, whereby we learn from others, by believing what they tell us. By sympathy I learn that you are telling me that your name is Archibald; for me to believe you, however, something further is required. (Thus by perception, I see that you are in such and such a bodily state; by sympathy, I learn that you are claiming that your name is Archibald; and by testimony, I believe you.)”[Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford, 2000), 174.]
      2. [Forthcoming]
  • God-belief is instinctive for humans
  • Some actions are objectively morally wrong

      Some actions are objectively morally wrong (i.e., wrong despite what anybody believes). This is relevant because the existence of such specifically personal facts in the world is unlikely if the world is, at bottom, impersonal (particles and physics), and yet it is very much the kind of thing we would anticipate if a God exists who grounds the world and who could not fail to have been loving, honest, etc.

      But so what? Plausibly… [All Forthcoming]
      • …x's net consequences are bad.
      • …x is done for bad reasons.
      • …x wouldn't be done by an “ideal observer”.

  • Some “necessary being” exists
  • Genuine miracles have occurred

      Genuine miracles have occurred within human history. Consider…
      • …Jesus was raised from the dead (resurrected).
      • …Ezekiel accurately prophesied Tyre's destruction.1

      This is relevant because it is highly unlikely that these miracles would occur unless God exists.

      1. With respect to Ezekiel's prophecy on Tyre, some critics reflexively respond with a standard “it was not a risky prophecy,” but this is naive (see link). For example, it can be said of few other cities in history that their enemies threw all her timbers, stones, and debris into the sea, making it a “bare rock”. To preempt another objection, no scholar nor critic in my readings seems to take seriously the possibility that the prophecy was written after the fact.
  • [More arguments]

      [Brackets] mean “forthcoming.”

  • Reasons given for answering "No"
  • God's properties are incoherent or contradict

      God's properties are incoherent, contradict, or entail contradictions For example…[All forthcoming]

      • …Some properties are incoherent all by themselves, like…
         • …Omnipotence (all-powerful)
      … … (e.g., …it means unliftable rocks can be lifted)!
         • …Omniscience (all-knowing)
         • …Omnibenevolence (all-good)
         • …Timelessness
         • …Spacelessness
         • …Immateriality
         • …Free will (libertarian freedom)
         • …Perfect rationality
         • …Eternality
      • …Some properties are incoherent in relation to other properties, like… [All Forthcoming]
         • …Being timeless and personal
         • …Being omniscient and libertarianly free
         • …Being omnipotent and omnibenevolent
         • …Being all-just and all-loving
      This is relevant because if God's properties are incoherent or impossible, then God is incoherent or impossible.

  • God is extraordinary (intrinsically improbable) [Forthcoming]

      The idea of a God existing is extraordinary and extravagant.[Forthcoming] (That is to say, the prior probability of God’s existence—prior to looking at evidence—seems very low.) This is relevant because a low prior probability is functionally similar to having evidence against it. More complex and bold hypothesis have more ways/chances of being wrong. We expect them to be wrong in the absence of sufficient evidence.

      But no,
      • …the God of bare theism is more simple than a single fundamental particle. God is a unified soul (an unbreakable thing with no parts) 1, and even that is its simplest form: it fundamentally need have only the two (or three) properties necessary for being a soul, and in their simplest form.2
      • …reason alone confirms theism (or something close). [Forthcoming]

      1. Stewart Goetz: “Thus a table, unlike a soul, is a complex entity or think in virtue of the fact that it is made up of parts that are themselves substances(substantive parts). Physical scientists inform us that a table is actually a lattice structure of molecules bound together by attractive powers affecting appropriate capacities, and when this lattice structure is broken by a sufficient force, the table breaks. Unlike a table and material objects in general, a soul is not a complex entity because it has no substantive parts. Instead, it is substantively simple in nature. It is a simple thing. While a soul is complex in so far as it has a multiplicity of properties, it is simple in so far as it has no substantive parts. Thus complexity at the property level is compatible with simplicity at the level of thinghood. [“Human Persons are Material and Immaterial (Body and Soul)” in Debating Christian Theism (Oxford, 2013), 262.]
      2. Trent Doughtery: “[The Standard Model of Physics] posits 16 fundamental particles that fit into three categories....Some theists think that the simplicity of a theistic universe should be assessed similarly (See Swinburne 2004, chapter 5...) Theism postulates one brute fact and the rest flows from that in conjunction with necessary truths about value. Bare Theism's fact is the existence of a person with two properties -- knowledge and power -- held in the simplest possible way -- zero limitation. The explanation of every contingent truth (other than his own existence, if that is taken to be contingent, an issue too big for the present discussion) is a function of the goodness of the corresponding state of affairs. Since there is no best world, an arbitrary choice must be made as to which initial world segment to actualize among sufficiently good initial world segments (this wordering allows for "...the universe to unfoled in way sperhaps unforeseen to God, if it contains beings with free will or if it contains certain kinds of chance processes). If having a good deal of chance in that world is best, then that world will be expected to have a good deal of chance. So if one applies a method of assessing the ocmplexity of the phsical universe to assessing the complexity of the theistic hypothesis, Theism turns out to be a very simple hypothesis indeed. Naturalism lacks this kind of explanatory simplicty and systematicisy. there will be quite a number of brute facts: the existence of contingent being, the existence of a number of laws, the many particular parameters of those laws, and so on. Counting up the number of brute facts in Naturalism by the same method used earlier will be difficult but it seems that inevitably it postulates more than one brute existent with only two properties held in the simplest ways.” [“Reflections on Explanation and Draper's Argument” The Blackwell Companion to Evil (Blackwell, 2014), 85.]
  • Only the natural world of science exists [Forthcoming]

      Fundamental reality is mind-less (or mathematically describable). This is relevant because God is essentially a thinking-thing without limits, and God's behavior cannot be captured by mathematical equation.

      No, [All Forthcoming]
      • …Mental properties exist.
      • …Souls exist
      • …Heaven exists
      • …Moral facts exist
      • …The cause of of the natural world exists

  • God would opt for less suffering than we see
  • He'd opt for more to believe, for relationship sake
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