Proofs for the Existence of God
Existence of God: Philosophical Arguments
Almost all of the arguments ever developed for the existence of God fall into one of the following categories. Chances are, if you come across anybody proposing an argument for God, on Hub Pages, on a blog, or anywhere, it will fall under one of the following types. The details of the argument may change, but if you can understand the essential type, you will be able to understand how it works, and how the logic fails.
1. Cosmological argument
The claim: Everything has a cause, and therefore reality must have a cause. That cause is named God. God was the uncaused cause of everything, the uncreated creator.
The flaw: If everything has a cause, then God also has a cause, because God is part of everything. Therefore God cannot have been uncreated. Separately, if God is indeed uncreated, then not everything has a cause. Therefore perhaps reality itself has no cause. In other words, reality is uncreated and eternal--if it can work for God, then it can work for reality.
2. Design argument
The claim: The universe exhibits design and complexity. Things which show design must have had a designer who is even more complex. That designer is named God.
The flaw: If the universe is complex, then surely God himself is even more complex. Therefore, since everything that is complex requires a designer, God himself requires a designer, who must be even more complex than he is. However, if God was not designed, then not every complex thing requires a designer. In which case the universe does not require a designer. Once again, if it works for God, it works for the universe. In addition, the argument's second premise is incorrect: things which "show design" do not necessarily need a designer.
3. Argument from life
The claim: Life cannot arise randomly or spontaneously from inanimate matter, and yet life exists. Therefore a God was necessary to create life.
The flaw: In fact, it is possible to explain the origin of life without God, and without any supernatural force.
4. Argument from revelation
The claim: The Bible says that God exists. The Bible is the inspired word of God, therefore whatever it says must be true.
The flaw: Circularity. God exists because the Bible says so, and we should trust the Bible because it is the word of God. This argument assumes the very thing (God) we are trying to prove. The same argument and logic can be used for any text that is considered revelatory--the Quran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, or anything else.
5. Argument from miracles
The claim: The presence of miracles points to a supernatural force or god; miracles do occur, therefore there is a supernatural force or god
The flaw: The fact that miracles exist does not prove that they were caused by God (they could have been caused by an ancestor spirit). Thus this argument commits the fallacy of begging the question--it assumes that which is to be proven.
Separately, it is impossible to prove that miracles occur because in order to prove that an event occurs, you must use the laws of nature, but miracles by definition are violations of the laws of nature.
6. Ontological argument
The claim: God, by definition, is perfect. A perfect thing, by definition, exists. Thus a nonexistent God is absurd because God, by definition as a perfect being, must exist. Logically, referring to a "nonexistent God" is analogous to referring to a "four-sided triangle." A triangle logically cannot be four-sided, and God logically cannot be nonexistent.
The flaw: Yet again, this argument assumes the very thing it seeks to prove. It first assumes that God exists, and then designates him as "perfect." The argument has the relationship between existence and perfection backwards. Perfection is a quality enjoyed only by things that exist. If God exists, then he is certainly perfect. But the argument has not demonstrated that God exists. In essence, it claims "if God exists, then God exists."
The argument treats existence as a quality of an object. According to Kant, "existence" is not a quality that a thing can either have or lack. A thing must first exist, and then, as a condition of its existence, have X or Y quality. To speak of a thing having the quality of "existing" is absurd, as only existing things can have qualities in the first place.
7. Moral argument
The claim: Morality exists. Morality's existence cannot be explained in the absence of God. Therefore God exists.
The flaw: In fact God is not needed to explain the existence of moral sentiments in people. Evolutionary, psychological, anthropological, sociological, cultural and historical explanations can be made for the existence of morality.
8. Purpose argument
The claim: Without the existence of God, people would have no reason to live or be good. Therefore there must be a God.
The flaw: This is not a proof of anything, only a wish or desire. The fact that people have no reason to live in the absence of God does not mean that God exists. Moreover, people do have many reasons to live and be good in the absence of God, as countless atheists, agnostics and secularists demonstrate.
9. Argument from faith
The claim: The existence of God cannot be proven through reason, but only through faith. The use of faith shows that there is a God, therefore God exists.
The flaw: Faith is not a reliable means for "proving" anything. The fact that the theist chooses faith as the means for proving God indicates that they are assuming (on faith) the very thing they are trying to prove. Faith, by definition, is nothing more than saying "I believe in God" which does not prove anything. The theist's faith shows there is a God, but perhaps someone else's faith shows there is not a God.
10. Argument from experience
The claim: Many people claim to have a personal experience with God, therefore God exists.
The flaw: The fact that someone claims to experience God, or feels a feeling that they call "God" does not mean that it actually was God. Feelings are frequently unreliable.
11. Pascal's wager
The claim: We have nothing to lose by believing in God, but everything to lose by not believing in God. If I believe in God but am wrong, I am not harmed. But if I do not believe in God and am wrong, I am harmed. Therefore the prudent thing to do is to believe in God.
The flaw: This is not a proof for God, but rather an encouragement for believing in God, which has nothing to do with God's actual existence.
Separately, it is prudent to believe in God only if you define God in the correct way, and pick the correct religion. Moreover, this argument assumes that God is not omniscient, because God does not know one's heart, and one's true cynical calculus.
12. Transcendental argument
The claim: Laws of logic, morality and knowledge cannot exist without God. God is the necessary, prior condition for the existence of logical, moral and natural laws, as well as the basic objective intelligibility of the universe. Such laws exist, and the universe is intelligible, therefore God exists.
The flaw: This argument is subject to a logical bind of the same structure as the cosmological and design arguments. If logic requires a designer, that designer by definition must be logical. But if the designer is logical, then who designed his logic? If, on the other hand, the designer’s logic does not require a designer, then logic does not always require a designer, and therefore the logic of the universe may have been undesigned.
Separately, this argument puts the cart before the horse. The "laws" of nature and of logic are simply human interpretations of how the world works. There is nothing in the universe written "this is the law." The conception of a "law" is entirely within our own minds.
The real question, then, is not "why does the universe operate precisely to these laws." The real question is "why are we able to measure the universe and its behavior this precisely." And the answer to that should be obvious. The fact that we are able to imagine a universe with slightly different laws is irrelevant. Nobody argues that "the fact that we are able to imagine a unicorn existing requires us to explain why no unicorns exist in this universe."
These are extremely brief summaries of each of the main arguments for God. Again, almost all arguments for God fall under one of these categories. There has never been a reliable, logically coherent argument presented for the existence of God, in all of human history.
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