Does God exist?

“Yes, after all…
  • The Universe(s) began to exist

      universe-beginning Our best evidence and reasoning, from several fronts, suggests that the whole of physical reality (all contiguous space, time, and matter) truly began to exist, whether it was at the Big Bang or not. This article analyzes six evidences.
      • First, gravity equations yield a past-bound singularity, which represents the introduction of space, time, and matter itself.
      • Second, General Relativity's singularity model is true, which is a particular kind of singularity model, and it too would constitute a true begging to space and time and matter.
      • Third, past eternal expansion ends up requiring faster-than-light speeds (for particles), according to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, and quickly represents a violation of the causality principle in Einstein’s special relativity.
      • Fourth, total entropic decay has not arrived yet, but it is ostensibly easy to show that, given the 2nd law of thermodynamics, a past-eternal universe/multiverse would require that it has arrived.
      • Fifth, total generalized entropy is not maxed, and this likewise demands there be a thermodynamic beginning (applicable to virtually all quantum cosmological models), and which seems coterminous with a cosmic beginning.
      • Fifth, it is logically/metaphysically impossible for prior events to number to infinity, and yet if the physical world were past eternal, it would require an infinite regress of events.
      The Universe's having a beginning would support God's existence, because if space, time, and matter began to exist, then the required cause of those three things obviously couldn't depend on those three things. (That would require self-causation.) So the cause would need to be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial. Moreover, it would have needed both the ability and disposition to cause space, time, and matter to exist. This sounds very suspiciously like God, and functions as a powerfully fulfilled theistic prediction.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,…
      • …a beginningless-cosmos model is true (e.g. emergent, pre-BigBang, cyclic).
      • …the Schrödinger equation implies the past is eternal. [Forthcoming]
      • …time does not truly exist. [Forthcoming]
      • …there is no first point in time. [Forthcoming]
      • …the singularity isn’t a first event (it is not in time). [Forthcoming]

      But so what? Plausibly,…
      • …the Universe began to exist without a cause?
      • …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

      Of all the known ways the Universe's physical laws, constants, and initial conditions could have been, few ways would ever allow any life to exist.1 This article analyzes three evidences.
      • First, various constants of physics are fine-tuned, like the cosmological constant, the strength of gravity, the balance of the strong and electromagentic force, the weak force, and the proton-neutron mass difference.
      • Second, various initial conditions are fine-tuned, including its initial mass-density, its initial distribution of energy, the Big Bang's “explosion” strength, the character of the density perterbations yielding start formation, and the density-ratio of radiation to normal matter.
      • Third, various laws of physics are fine-tuned, including the notion of gravity itself, and the strong nuclear force itself, as well as the electromagetic force, Bohr's quantization rule, the Pauli exclusion principle, and more.
      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 A life-permitting universe is the kind of thing God would plausibly choose to create.4

      But against the truth of that first claim, plausibly…
      Changes just yield different life forms
      Constants can't be different (T.O.E.)
      Life-friendly Universes are rare but probable
      One can't do probabilities with an infinite range
      New knowledge will eliminate fine-tuning
      Over 99.9% of the universe is hostile to life.

      And against the relevance of that first claim, plausibly…
      • Many universes exist or existed, and we won the universe lottery.5
      • The Universe is equally fine-tuned to permit rocks, etc.6
      God would need a fine-tuner, too.
      “God did it” is not an explanation.
      We wouldn't be here otherwise (Anthropic Principle).

      1. Specialist Luke Barnes recently co-authored A Fortunate Universe (Cambridge University Press, 2016). 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.” See here for non-theist specialists confessing that the fact of fine-tuning is not in dispute.
      2. See confessions from Lemley, Deutsch, 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 choice 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
      6. The short answer to this is that the fine-tuning argument does not just say something is improbable, it rather says x is improbable on atheism, but not improbable on theism. This formate cannot be simulated with rocks easily. One could perhaps posit a rock-loving alien or deity, and say the mass presence of rocks is evidence for that deity. They would be right; it would be strong evidence. The problem is that the rock-loving deity is “ad hoc” (contrived) for no independent reason, quite unlike the God hypothesis. Probabilistically, what this means is that, yes, there is evidence, but all the improbability of the hypothesis shifted onto the prior probability of the rock-loving deity itself (like the proverbial ruck in the carpet). Highly implausible ad hoc hypotheses need particularly extraordinary evidence to overcome their initial improbability. The God hypothesis faces no such problem. For details, see red's objection below titled “”God is complex (intrinsically improbable).”
  • The Universe is fine-tuned for discoverability

      universe-discoverable Of all the known ways that a life-permitting universe could have been, few have initial conditions, laws, and physical constants which would ever allow its potential lifeforms to learn about it. (See paper cited here.) This is a uniquely awkward and shocking development for atheists 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. Such a universe is the kind of thing God would plausibly choose to create.[Note: these three links will lead to some quotes from experts and a paper, but the arguments are not developed on BeliefMap yet.]

  • Cells, brains, eyes “look” intelligently designed

      Features of living organisms resemble the products of an intelligent mind intentionally arranging parts for a purpose.
      This article analyzes one evidence.
      The cell and its inner-workings seem to be.
      This is relevant because if God did not exist, then the likelihood of this superficial appearance is very low. However, if God does exist, then life's existing and resembling intelligently designed objects is not nearly so unexpected—it was designed.

      Actually it is not relevant. Plausibly…
      • [Life evolved in an unguided way that mimics the pattern of intelligent design].[Forthcoming]

  • We have mostly reliable cognitive faculties

      Our perception, memory, reason and so forth can justify beliefs, and have a propensity to recommend to us true beliefs rather than false ones.1 See this article for examples regarding the faculty of philosophical intuition (the most controversial): it justifies beliefs like…
      • …x law of physics is constant.
      • …x happened in the past.
      • …x exists outside my mind.
      • …x is conscious.
      • …x is objectively morally wrong.
      • …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.

      Actually it's not relevant. Plausibly…
      • Reliable faculties were selected for by an unguided evolutionary process.[Forthcoming]

  • God-belief is instinctive for humans

  • Objective morality exists

      Some actions are morally 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 (e.g. just 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”.

  • A “necessary being” exists

      Some thing exists which is such that it could not have failed to exist; it could not be missing from any truly possible reality.
      See this article to analyze seven evidences.
      Turri's Argument from Beginnings
      A “Sum-styled” Leibnizian Cosmological Argument
      A “Start-styled” Leibnizian Cosmological Argument
      Pruss's Leibnizian Cosmological Argument
      A Big Bang Argument from Beginnings
      Rasmussen's Modal Argument from Beginnings
      Weaver's Argument from Beginnings
      That is to say, there is an entity/thing which, by its own nature, could not fail to exist. This is relevant because the entity in question will, by necessity, have a series of properties which strikingly resemble those of God.1

      1. [Forthcoming] There are several arguments to discuss here, but for a quicker starter consider Joshua Rasmussen’s “Argument from Limits.” He writes, “Just as the bridge of reason took us to a foundation of all things, the Argument from Limits will take us to a foundation of all properties. Reason will be our light. I start with definitions that lay a foundation for clarity:
        D1: A property P is instantiated = P characterizes something. (Example: the property blue characterizes my shirt, and so blue is instantiated.)
        D2: A property P is explicable = There could be—without contra­dicting any principle of reason—an explanation of P’s instantiation that does not appeal to P itself. (Example: a factory could have produced the first blue shirts, which explains how the property being a blue shirt came to characterize anything.)
        D3: A property P is a limit = Necessarily, whatever has P is limited in some positive respect. (Example: being incapable of thinking coherently is a limit.) …
        1. Every limit is explicable. [My insert: “For example, the limited size of the earth has a consistent (and actual) explanation in terms of the forces that produced the earth.“]
        2. The property, having limits, is itself a limit.
        3. Therefore, having limits is explicable. (1, 2)
        4. If having limits is explicable, something could lack limits.
        5. Therefore, something could lack limits. (3, 4)
        6. If something could lack limits, then something must be perfect.
        7. Therefore, something must be perfect (i.e., God). (5, 6) [How Reason Can Lead to God (IVP Academic, 2019), 182-3.]
        Rasmussen dedicates pages to defending these premises, but the reader will have to consult the book. As an additional quick point consider that the Universe (space, time, matter) exists merely contingently, and akin to the causal argument, its explanation by necessity must involve an entity which is able to exist independently of time, space, and matter (i.e., be immaterial, non-spatial, and atemporal). And of course it must have the ability to bring about the Universe. This all sounds very suspiciously like God.
  • Miracles have occurred

  • [Many more arguments]


  • “No, after all…
  • God is an incoherent notion

      God's properties are incoherent or yield contradictions. After all, it is incoherent to be…
      • …all-powerful (e.g. able to lift unliftable rocks)!
      • …all-knowing
      • …all-good
      • …timeless
      • …spaceless
      • …immaterial
      • …free (will)
      • …perfectly rational
      • …both timeless and personal
      • …both timeless and a creator
      • …both omniscient and libertarianly free
      • …both omnipotent and omnibenevolent
      • …both all-just and all-loving
      This is relevant because if God's properties are incoherent or impossible, then God is incoherent or impossible.

      By way of response, however...
      • …it is rather bearing the “maximally consistent set of knowledge, power, and benevolence” that must be incoherent.1

      1. God is generally defined as the greatest, most worship-worthy possible being. This is fundamentally what theists have always wanted, insofar as they think humans were designed to recognize God as such. This notion of God in turn is best understood as follows: the being which bears the maximally consistent set of set of knowledge, power, and benevolence (see Yujin Nagasawa, Maximal God (Oxford, 2017).). While the alleged individual incoherences listed above have a complexity of responses and counter-responses, at the end of the day, most any proven incoherence in the concept of omni-properties will simply force the theist into a logically possible analogue nearby, the very analogue that presumably fits the most worship-worthy possible being.
  • God is complex (intrinsically improbable)

      The idea of a God existing is extravagant and intrinsically improbable; the so-called prior probability of God’s existence—prior to looking at evidence for or against—seems very low. This is relevant because a low prior probability is functionally similar to having evidence against it. More complex and bold hypotheses 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 its the simplest possible soul: it only has three fundamental properties (those necessary for being a soul), and in their simplest form—without limits.2
      • Reason alone confirms theism (or something close). [Forthcoming]

      1. Stewart Goetz: “Thus a table, unlike a soul, is a complex entity or thing 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

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

      No, [All Forthcoming]
      • Abstract objects exist (numbers, shapes, propositions, etc.).
      • Mentalia exist (ideas, beliefs, desires, willings, etc.).
      • Moral facts exist (e.g. torturing a child for fun is wrong).
      • Souls exist.
      • An afterlife/heaven exists.
      • The cause of physical/natural reality exists (since matter and natural laws etc. are contingent).

  • God would opt for less suffering than we see

  • He'd opt for more to believe, for relationship sake

  • “God did-it” is not an explanation