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Introduction to Philosophy, Week 3: Evidential Arguments for God

by: Andres Calvo

Introduction to Philosophy, Week 3: Evidential Arguments for God Phi 2010

Marketplace > Florida International University > Phi 2010 > Introduction to Philosophy Week 3 Evidential Arguments for God
Andres Calvo

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PHI 2010 9/5/16-9/9/16 Week 3's notes primarily cover the cosmological argument for the existence of God, as well as the "Ways" of St. Thomas Aquinas and the difference between vertical and hori...
Intro Into Philosophy
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Andres Calvo on Wednesday September 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Phi 2010 at Florida International University taught by Kenton Harris in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 7 views.


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Date Created: 09/14/16
● Overview of the Cosmological Argument:  ○ While the ontological argument is a ​  p​riori (independent of experience), the  cosmological argument is ​a poste​ riori (takes personal experience into  account). It claims that the observable world is ultimately explained by  something transcendent: God.  ○ Modal Terms:  ■ Necessary thing: one whose nonexistence is impossible  ■ Contingent thing: one whose exist​ence a ​ nd nonexistence are  possible/impossible.  ■ Possible thing: one whose existence is either certain or possible.  ■ Impossible thing: one whose existence is impossible ­­ the opposite  of a necessary thing.  ■ Philosophers do not agree on which modal term is applied for each  thing in the world because there is no agreed­upon criteria for what  is “possible” and what is “impossible.”  ○ The cosmological argument asserts ​ that there m ​ ust be one necessary  thing or being, and that would be God. However, this is a two­step  process: one must prove t​hat 1) there​ must be one necessary being and  2) that necessary being is God.  ■ Saint Thomas of Aquinas reaches this conclusion without  addressing these two issues. However, this criticism of Aquinas is  unfounded because he is simply stating a historical fact: men  before, such as Aristotle, have reached the conclusion that the  “unmoved mover” is God.  ■ Once the two criteria are addressed, it is another issue to prove  that this God is fit to worship, or whether the argument refers to the  God in the Bible.  ○ Similarities between the subgroups of cosmological arguments:  ■ A cosmological argument begins with an obvious, absolutely true  fact or observation about the world (making it an empirical  argument).  ■ To explain that which we observe in the first phase of the argument,  one tries to reach a supernatural or God­like conclusion.  ■ Since Plato, both philosophers and theologians have used  cosmological arguments to explain the existence of a transcendent  force.  ○ Differences between the subgroups of cosmological arguments:  ■ Horizontal cosmological argument: all things are arranged  chronologically and ​caused by previous things​ (think of a timeline).  ● Syllogism: All things that have beginnings had to have  causes.​  The universe had a beginning. T ​ herefore, the  universe has a cause.  ● However, if everything has a cause, then all “caused things”  have a cause, creating an “infinite regress.” This would fail to  explain anything. Thus, there must be some higher force that  can stop the infinite regress of causes, and that is God.  ​ ● The K ​ alam Cosmological Argument: a horizontal argument  saying that the universe is not infinitely old, so it must have a  first cause, and that first cause is God.  ● The problem with infinite regress: a thing cannot support  another thing if that first thing itself is not supported by a  third thing. There must be an end with an unsupported  supporter: something which can support everything else  without itself being supported. This is the metaphysical  explanation.  ○ Ethical explanation: not everything can have  instrumental value all the time. There must be an  underlying intrinsic value to support the things with  instrumental value.  ■ Instrumental value: thing A leads to thing B (i.e  going to college because you want a good job).  ■ Intrinsic value: thing B leads to a final thing  such as happiness or pleasure (i.e getting a  good job brings you pleasure or comfort in life).  ​ ■ Vertical cosmological argument: things are l​ ogically caused by a  first cause ​at this point in time​ rather than a cause previously.  ● This is almost equivalent to an infinite regress because one  ​ must value something r ​ ight now in order to find instrumental  value in everything else (i.e I would value having a meal ​right  ​ ​ now because I am hungry ​right now and satisfying my  hunger would bring me pleasure and satisfy my physical  ​ needs r ​ ight now).  ○ St. Thomas of Aquinas’ argument is a vertical cosmological argument  which attempts to combine the philosophy of Christian Neoplatonism and  Pagan Aristotleism, faith and reason, and theology and philosophy.  ■ His argument is vertical because he says that something must be  causing the universe to exist right at this moment, and not just  something that happened chronologically before.  ■ He distinguishes between the preamble of faith and the articles of  faith: the preamble of faith contains those faith­based things which  ​ can be proved philosophically, and the articles contain those  faith­based things that are contingent upon Revelation and not  philosophically provable.  ■ Aquinas’ Five Ways:  ● The First Way: Argument for Motion ­ through our  observation of the world around us, we conclude that for an  object to be moved, it must be moved by another. He  ​ concedes that this ​may be an infinite system if the universe  is infinite in time, but we already know he personally  believed there was a first cause, which was God.  ○ While all the moved objects are being moved by  something part, there is no explanation for the  movement of the whole unless one introduces the  concept of an unmoved mover existing at the same  time as the moved movers. Aquinas refers to this as  the “p​ rime mover​.”  ● The Second Way: Argument for Causality ­ the atheist’s  notion of causality is not self­explanatory because there  must be an uncaused cause at the end of a string of caused  causes in order to avoid infinite regress. This uncaused  cause is God.  ​ ● The Third Way: Aquinas uses r ​ eductio ad absurdum ­­  assumes his opponent’s argument ­­ and logically disproves  it to show that his opponent’s false conclusion is caused by  one or more false premises.  ○ Aquinas assumes his opponent’s position that  everything is contingent, which leads to the  conclusion that everything could go out of existence.  He then concludes that if all real possibilities occur in  an infinite amount of time, and if an infinite amount of  time has passed (this is his opponent’s argument),  then all real possibilities have occurred. He combines  this with the conclusion that everything could go out of  existence and finally concludes that everything has  gone out of existence. This, he concludes, is absurd  ​ because the world currently d ● The Third Way is based on the Principle of Sufficient  Reason, which claims that 1) there is an explanation for  every object and 2) there is an explanation for why an object  is the way it is and why it is not another way.  ● The Fourth Way: if comparative judgments are completely  objective, then it must be that there is a “best” object, which  must be God.  ● The Fifth Way: Argument from Design ­ there must be some  intelligent designer that can precisely and artfully create the  world around us, including engineering feats and natural  wonders. Mankind has derived intelligence, which is to say  that man’s intelligence came from another source of  underived intelligence which gave this knowledge to man,  and this underived intelligence is God.  ● Problems with Aquinas’ argument:  ○ The Prime Mover or Necessary Object that Aquinas  calls God is not the same God as the O­God of  religion, or a Supreme Being.  ​ ○ Although Aquinas shows that it is r believe in a divine, transcendent force, his  conclusions from his Five Ways do not necessarily  show that the Prime Mover or Necessary Object is  divine.  ○ The Principle of Sufficient Reason would show that  the question “why is there something rather than  nothing?” is a category mistake, because to deny  PSR is to say the existence of the Universe is  accepted as a brute fact, which is simply true without  any explanation.  ○ One cannot apply the concepts of movement, time,  existence, and causality to the natural world, because  these are manmade constructs and mechanisms.    ● Argument from Design continued:  ○ Also called a Teleological argument, the argument from design deals with  explaining the purpose, goal, or function of reality or God.  ■ Teleology: the perspective that the universe or the world has a  purpose or function.  ○ The argument from design observes features of the world around us and  finds a way to conclude that God is responsible for it. It posits that rather  than God being an external presence that is not involved in space and  time, He works within space and time and actively intervenes in it.  ○ Arguments from Design typically point out that some items in the world  obviously exhibit a deliberate order or purpose, which must mean that  there was an intelligent designer, who we call God.  ○ William Paley’s teleological argument from design says that one does not  have to observe the Maker, God, to know that the Maker exists. Chance is  not a reasonable explanation for things with such complex order and  function.  ■ While God, or the intelligent designer, may not be the direct cause  of things, but he indirectly is the maker of everything.  ● Example: God did not create a kitten, but he must have  created the intelligent and complex biological systems that  make up the cat that births the kitten. Such a complex living  system or organism could not be the result of pure chance.  ■ Mechanical Order: a complex arrangement of systems and parts  that serves a purpose and has a goal, but is rendered useless with  any major change or alteration.  ○ Summary of argument from design:  ■ The Universe exhibits an intelligent order of systems.  ■ Unintelligent forces cannot account for the creation of such  intelligent systems.  ■ Therefore, an intelligent force or designer must be responsible for  the creation of the intelligent systems of the world.  ○ Problems with argument from design:  ■ Although the argument may support the theory that God created  reality, it does not explain why God has seemingly become  uninterested in the affairs of mankind. This is also the main belief of  Deism​.  ■ The Intelligent Designer which some call God does not need to be  all good, all powerful, all knowing, immaterial, singular, or even  alive.  ● If the Intelligent Designer does not necessarily possess  these qualities, then the Intelligent Designer is not God  according to the religious description of God.  ■ David Hume argues that if a god could create such a primitive  design of the world, then He is not much of an intelligent designer.  ​


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