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Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Philosophy Paper: The Existence of God

Almighty = Imaginary?

“God is thus a source of moral obligation- his commands create moral obligations.

God is the ultimately brute fact which explains everything else.

God is a necessary being, something which exists under its own steam, not dependent on anything else.”

Many people question the existence of God. There are two paths of inquiry about the existence of a God. One is theology which already has a foundation of the belief that this perfect entity does exists but still tries to find further truth about faith. It is questioning the claims of the people in an attempt to deepen and to find certainty in the believer’s understanding of God’s word. The other path is Philosophy. This path tries to seek the truth about the act of believing. It doesn’t focus on the things that this God has promised to his people, this path criticizes “the act of believing itself.” There are four major philosophical arguments to support or debunk the existence of God. There’s the Ontological argument, Moral argument, First cause argument, and the Argument of design. The believer claims that “God” offers us the gift of holiness and salvation. But before we indulge in all these arguments and speculations, it would be best to state our definition of God. Which is that God is a perfect entity who created the world, a puppet master who controls are lives which makes our life pre-destined, the punisher of all sinners, the creator of the 10 commandments and the bible itself etcetera. What is the primal source of all these notions? How can someone who is imperfect define such a perfect being? Where did he derive all these unbelievable qualities? Did he really create both the bible and the 10 commandments? If so, why are there speculations about the contradicting nature of the bible verses and the commandments? Why did it appear in the bible that God wasn’t as perfect, as just as he was supposed to be? Why did it appear that God is unmerciful by saying things that leads to the belief that if we do not follow him, we will be damned?

Philosophers like Descartes, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Wolf, Aquinas, Leibniz, Anselm and Kant tried to seek an answer for this age-old question. Conclusions like there should be an external creator, an over-all authority for morals, a creator with deep interest for humanity, a perfect entity and etcetera. These notions would imply that humans , regardless of their race share a common ground – that they need something to build their lives to. Like a foundation of some sort in which they can establish their beliefs.

In our present time, there are a lot of visible movements by Atheists, Christians, and Agnostics to show their firm beliefs on this matter. One of the strongest arguments I have heard in the existence of God is that if there really is a perfectly good being or entity that is so powerful, just and loving , then “why are there suffering? Why do good people die? Can God create a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it?” “If the human person could not reason to the truth of God’s existence, would faith be anything more than repeating what we’ve been told?” If yes, so it means that there is no omnipotent God and since this God lacks the qualities that defines him as perfect, could we still say that he is all powerful and perfect? And could we also derive that maybe, this God was all on our heads and that the idea of God was created by man kind?

Theism claims that God is a personal being that has powers that are infinite. God is not limited by the laws of nature; he makes them and he can change or suspend them- if he chooses.” GOD IS OMNIPOTENT which means he can do anything, OMNISCIENT that he knows everything OMNIBENEVOLENT which implies that he is infinitely good and that he is PERFECTLY FREE he can make choices without an influence from an external or internal factor.

Atheism added a lot of controversial arguments regarding God’s existence. There are two kinds of arguments for Atheism. A priori argument which claims that there is some logical contradiction in the theistic conception of God and a posteriori arguments that claims that the world will not be like this if such a God existed therefore it would be impossible for such being to exist. They then introduced the infamous “Problem of Evil” it is a posteriori argument. It has been the longest and most controversial argument that captured the attention of Christians. This is the common question that if God was this extremely powerful entity, then why is there suffering? Some Christians would answer that suffering is a necessity or suffering is man’s choice or what other may call the free-will defense. Then Atheists would counter the argument that if it really was a necessity then why are there problems about unjustified evil? Yes, it would be complicated to determine an unjustified evil and a purposeful evil. In the end, we can not use the unjustified evil problem to prove that God does not exist.

The Philosophers

Rene Descartes showed support to the claim that a God does exist. In his work, The Meditations in Philosophy, he introduced the Descartesian Method which aims to analyze all his beliefs. He tried to remove all his biased beliefs, criticize each one, and see what can he validate, put back in his mind and consider it certain and flawless. One of the key points in his analogy was the existence of God. He stated that we humans cannot come out of nothing. We are derived from a perfect entity. His words were “A perfect entity cannot come from something so imperfect”. He claimed that God was not just a product of the human mind and that it is possible that we cannot comprehend with the truth about the existence of this being simply because we are imperfect.

Aristotle, “puts the proofs of God into strictly scientific form , started out from the analysis of empirical reality and asked about the efficient and final cause: God as first unmoved mover and end, God as pure reality, unalloyed actuality; the thought of himself to all eternity and primal reason of order in the world.

For Augustine, “only the existence of a supreme, eternal, immutable primal truth can explain the unchanging truths in the human mind; only a divine artist can explain the work of art that is the world, only God as supreme good can fulfill man’s insatiable desire for beatitude.

According to Anselm’s Ontological argument, “If God is greater than you can imagine it to be, and for something to exist in reality means that it is greater than you just imagining it, then God must exist.

The next is St. Thomas Aquinas a Roman Catholic Theologian who was said to be the ideal catholic because of his unwavering faith. He said that there were 2 ways to prove the existence of God which is using logic or faith. He then formulated the five reasons to believe that God exists. His first reason was related to Isaac Newton which says “An object that is not moving will not move until a net force acts on it.” This was called the first-mover argument. Next was the First cause argument which states that something that is created must come from something else since something cannot come out of nothing just like what Descartes have said. The third one was the argument of contingency that means that God is a necessity. God must simply exist or else nothing would exist. The fourth argument claims that to find out what is good or bad something better must exist. The last argument talks about the very nature of everything in the universe is to reach a certain goal which is God and that he is the mastermind behind all things. He was also in favor of the Via Negativa that aims to eliminate all of the things that do not apply. It defines God by eliminating everything that he is not. Like being visible or having attributes of a human being.

Emmanuel Kant had a different methodology. He no longer used a theoretical proof, but “postulates” the existence of God in practice: as the condition for the possibility of reconciling morality with man’s quest for happiness. He was the proponent of the Four classical proofs of God. It follows a certain system: The cosmological , the teleological, the ontological and the moral proof of God. This was almost the same as the 5 ways made by Aquinas but his ideas can be reduced.

“If religious belief in God the creator of the world is consistent with a rational, non-religious appreciation of the cosmos, the belief can be judged to be not exactly foolish, even if not thoroughly verified.”

From this statement, could we really say that God exist based solely on our faith? No. There must be at least a common ground between all the fields of specialization. All of them must someday speak in unison of their claim for a belief to stand strong. This basically why there are no answers that can be defines as “close-to-perfect” because someone always contradicts the other. There were always loopholes where people would still doubt the answers that were given by those people who studied the progress of this most celebrated belief.

Now that the arguments of both sides have been enumerated, we can see a pattern of beliefs. One belief is a descendant of another. Or one could create it’s own trend. It is really hard to choose what to believe in. I was born a Catholic and my family raised me to be a child that has an unwavering faith in the creator. My life before revolved around the taught that there is this unseen creator who sees everything I do, who makes the rules for people to follow, who punishes those who do not follow his way, who reacts in a mystical way like in a form of thunder or flood whenever his creations commit sins and etcetera. When I started studying Philosophy, almost all of my perspectives changed. I have learned to doubt my beliefs especially the existence of an Almighty Father. The question that always pop into my head whenever I think about it is that why would this so-called Father let innocent people die? Some might say that it is a form of punishment to his people for falling into temptation but why punish them at the expense of innocent people? I cannot really see the logic behind that answer. It seems immoral and it’s contradicting the laws that this being had supposedly given us. Does that depict a benevolent God? Is this a picture of what is good? If it is , then maybe euthanasia and abortion could also be considered good then? I actually think that euthanasia is more humane than God killing innocent people. At least mercy-killing is a form of ending suffering. It is the decision of the victim to be in that situation.

The question still remains. It may be impossible to prove God’s existence. The idea of God itself is already a mistery. Where we have derived this seemingly impossible being, thinking that we are fallible humans, too imperfect to think of such a perfect vision of a creator. We choose what to believe. No one has the right to make them for us. If there really is a higher power, then he/she would be the sole judge in the end. Only then will we know the answer and finally quench our insatiable thirst for the truth about the origin of everything.

Bibliography:

Kung H. (ed.), Does God Exist?: An Answer for today.USA: Doubleday & Company Inc.

Tipler F. (1994), The Physics of Immortality.New York : Doubleday

Witham L. (2005), The Measure of God.New York : HarperCollins Publishers

Reilly F. (1984), God’s Questionnable Existence : Metro Manila : National Bookstore Inc.

Swinburne R. (1996), Is there a God?:New York : Oxford University Press

New American Bible

http://www.existence-of-god.com/

http://www.godisimaginary.com

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