ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Religion and Philosophy»
  • Exploring Religious Options

Is Belief In God Reasonable?

Updated on August 10, 2016

The Case for God

Skeptics of the Christian faith often claim belief in God is not a rational position. They argue science has provided a majority of answers to life’s most difficult questions; therefore belief in God is no longer reasonable. In fact, philosopher Graham Oppy, in a 2006 article referring to Bertrand Russell’s famous 1927 speech wrote, “Russell implicitly commits himself to the claim that if there are no good arguments for belief in God, then one not ought to believe in God.”[1]

On face value, there would be nothing to disagree with in Russell and Oppy’s view. Nonetheless, there is good reason to conclude that belief in God is a rational position. Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at Boston College, argues there is a minimum of twenty arguments for the existence of God.[2] Two of his strongest arguments are the Kalam Argument and the Design Argument. Prior to defending the above two arguments, it would be fitting to look at the definition of the proposition and what it means to be rational in one’s beliefs, more specifically belief in God.

When speaking of God, it is effective to utilize a generic or more commonly called deist perspective of God. This deist view is the God of Einstein, "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."[3] To make the move to a personal God requires a more in-depth inquiry for a later time. In deciding what would be rational to believe, it would be sensible to stick to a basic definition of reasonable, only being based on reason or logic. Thus a natural question will appear, are there reasons to believe in a “God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists?”

Kalam Cosmological Argument

Both Muslims and Christians have utilized the Kalam Cosmological Argument for the existence of God for centuries. “The Arabic word kalam means ‘speech,' but came to denote a particular type of philosophical theology—a type containing demonstrations that the world could not be infinitely old and must, therefore, have been created by God.”[4] The argument is quite ingenious and direct.

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being

A breakdown of each premise simply concludes everything we know that has existence has a cause. It would be irrational to conclude otherwise. In applying this argument to the universe correctly, it's easy to find with the help of Big Bang Cosmology our universe indeed had a beginning. Philosophers and atheists of past centuries could hide in the hypothesis of the universe remaining in a steady state or having always been in existence. Today, however, that bastion of atheistic safety has vanished. Simply put, the universe has a cause.

The central point of this argument rests on the idea of infinite regression. The laws of physics give us space-time measurements; these measurements prove the universe had a beginning. If the universe went back in time to actual infinity, it never could cross the threshold of actual time today. Philosopher J.P. Moreland adds, “The second law of thermodynamics also supports the fact that the universe is running out of its useful energy and cannot be reversed. This leads to a natural and logical conclusion that the universe has been running out of energy for a finite period of time.”[5] Therefore, the universe had a beginning and hence a cause.

Consequently, this cause must be outside of the universe and must possess attributes that the universe does not. The cause must be timeless, spaceless, and have the power to create. The above definition sounds much like the attributes of God as described by the three major monotheistic faiths of the world. At a minimum, one could reason, this perfectly defines a deistic approach to the existence of God.

Design Argument

The Design Argument to prove the existence of God is another rational position. It is rooted in the idea of finding order and design throughout the universe. Scientists have found incredibly complex organisms, chemical functions, cosmological wonders, and many other magnificent examples of design across multiple scientific disciplines. There is no escaping the fact from the smallest of molecules to the largest of galaxies, order, and design reign supreme.

The fact of complex order is rarely questioned; rather what causes design is the open debate.

There are two basic options; either random chance from chaos created design, or an intelligent designer caused it.

The materialist would argue everything we see, feel, and observe is a matter of chance over time. “And ‘chance’ is simply not credible. For we can understand chance only against a background of order.”[6] Random chance from chaos is a tough position to uphold due to the unimaginable odds that all complex and mutually interdependent systems could have popped into existence from nothing. The proposition of complexity resulting from chaos is not rational.

Conversely, the argument from design provides an answer to this obvious complexity. Not only simple complexity, but also incredible complexities to such a scale as to judge intelligent design a reasonable position. There has been prolific and scholarly writing on this argument for centuries. “Proponents of the contemporary Intelligent Design movement have developed increasingly complex arguments founded on Aquinas and Paley’s initial ideas. Scholars such as William Dembski and Michael Behe describe various biological systems and their complexity and then use this data to make a case for divine design. Others such as Stephen Meyer look at information systems and probability arguments.”[7]

On the whole, it would be rational to conclude that the incredible order we see and experience on a daily basis was indeed orderly designed by an intelligent mind. Again, at a minimum, this perfectly defines a deistic approach to the existence of God. In fact, a brilliant and early Christian philosopher concluded, “For his(God) invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”[8]

In summary, when one looks at the two primary arguments presented, it would be difficult to hold that belief in God is irrational. In fact, there is ample evidence to provide reason that belief in God is a rational position. From this foundation, one could investigate the other eighteen arguments shaped by Dr. Peter Kreeft in the anticipation of continually expanding their base of knowledge and insight in the belief of God’s existence.


[1] Graham Oppy, “Why I am Not a Christian (2006),” infidels.org (blog), 2006, accessed November 25, 2014, http://infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/whynot.html.

[2] Peter Kreeft, “Twenty Arguments For The Existence Of God,” peterkreeft.com, from the Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Fr. Ronald Tacelli, SJ (Intervarsity Press, 1994), accessed November 24, 2014, http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm.

[3] Rich Deem, “Did Albert Einstein Believe in a Personal God?,” godandscience.org (blog) May 17, 2011, accessed November 21, 2014, http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/einstein.html#n04 Cable reply to Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein's (Institutional Synagogue in New York) question to Einstein, "Do you believe in God?".

[4] Peter Kreeft, “Twenty Arguments For The Existence Of God,” peterkreeft.com, from the Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Fr. Ronald Tacelli, SJ (Intervarsity Press, 1994), accessed November 18, 2014, http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#6.

[5] J.P. Moreland, Ph.D. “Arguments for the Existence of God,” CD, Biola University. Nov. 17, 2014

[6] Peter Kreeft, “Twenty Arguments For The Existence Of God,” peterkreeft.com, from the Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Fr. Ronald Tacelli, SJ (Intervarsity Press, 1994), accessed November 23, 2014, http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#5.

[7] Krista Bontrager, “Development of Design,” reasons.org (blog) May 1, 2012, accessed November 18, 2014, http://www.reasons.org/articles/development-of-design.

[8] The ESV Bible, Romans chapter 1 verse 20 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2001), accessed November 23, 2014, http://biblehub.com/romans/1-20.htm.

Is Belief in God Reasonable?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Dr CHE Sadaphal profile image

      CH Elijah Sadaphal 14 months ago from New York, NY

      As a Christian scientist, experience and reason has led me to ascertain that belief in God is not only reasonable, but it makes so much logical sense. St. Anselm of Canterbury testified to this fact when he wrote of "faith seeking understanding" 1,000 years ago. Hence, it is through the full engagement of intellect which is what makes the meaningful answers found in God so fulfilling.

      "Skeptics of the Christian faith often claim belief in God is not a rational position."

      The narrative in modernity is that faith and science are incompatible, which is a fallacious narrative built to mischievously diminish faith. There is nothing inherently incompatible between the two and in fact, science creates two "gaps" of knowledge that guide our understanding. The first gap is closed by science and helps us to comprehend the world (e.g. knowing the constant of gravity and how to treat strep infections with antibiotics). The second gap is opened by science and reveals that, the more we "know" the less and less probable a naturalistic explanation is plausible (e.g. the origin of life and the universe). This second gap, of course, points us to The Lord.