God, "God", god?

Jonathan Borst, Sam Martin, Meiko Flynn-Do


  • Ontological —  They begin with a definition of God and then deduce the existence of God solely from an examination of the concept of God’s being.
    Ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped.
  • Cosmological —  These are a posteriori arguments, and begin with observation of the world. In order to explain observed facts about its existence, they move inductively from the world to the existence of God as the best explanation for these facts.
  • Teleological — The teleological argument is an attempt to prove the existence of God that begins with the observation of the purposiveness of nature. The teleological argument moves to the conclusion that there must exist a designer. The inference from design to designer is why the teleological argument is also known as the design argument. (http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/SocialSciences/ppecorino/INTRO_TEXT/Chapter%203%20Religion/Teleological.htm)
  • Contingency — The heart of the argument is the denial of true contingency. Everything must have an explanation - that some fact holds means that it holds because of its own nature (necessarily) or because it was brought about by some external cause (it is contingent on that cause). It is the belief that "everything happens for a reason", that there is actually sufficient (and, indeed, good!) reason why this or that has happened. (http://atheism.wikia.com/wiki/Argument_from_Contingency)


St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033—1109):


  • He is most famous in philosophy for having discovered and articulated the so-called “ontological argument,” or the existence of God
  • Topics he considered:
  • the natures of truth and justice
  • the natures and origins of virtues and vices
  • the nature of evil as negation or privation
  • the condition and implications of original sin
  • His tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury was marked by nearly uninterrupted conflict over numerous issues with King William Rufus, who attempted not only to appropriate church lands, offices, and incomes, but even to have Anselm deposed
  • He sought to become a monk when he was young, but was refused by the abbot of the local monastery

Rene Descartes (1596–1650): Father of Modern Philosophy


  • René Descartes was born in La Haye, France
  • Attended Jesuit college and earned a law degree
  • Descartes believed that all truths were ultimately linked, and he sought to uncover the meaning of the natural world with a rational approach, through science and mathematics
  • Quote: “I think; therefore I am.”
  • Pope Alexander VII later added Descartes’ works to the Index of Prohibited Books

St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–1274): Stolen Scholar

  • St. Thomas Aquinas was born in Roccasecca, Italy
  • Combining the theological principles of faith with the philosophical principles of reason, he ranked among the most influential thinkers of medieval Scholasticism
  • Thomas’ family kidnapped him when they found out he secretly joined an order of Dominican monks in an effort to change his beliefs

Richard Taylor (1919–2003): Busy Beekeeper from Brown


  • Proponent of virtue ethics (Aristotelian)
  • Professor of philosophy at Brown and Columbia.
  • He owned three hundred hives of bees and produced mostly comb honey

William Paley (1743-1805): Watch Designer


  • English clergyman, Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian
  • Known for his natural theology exposition of the teleological argument for the existence of God in his work Natural Theology, which made use of the watchmaker analogy
  • He is buried in Carlisle Cathedral with his two wives

Questions for God's Existance

Why were philosophical arguments for the existence of God NOT used by the Biblical authors?

  • Because they assumed that God has an irrefutable existence and therefore did not doubt what they were writing; they completely believed in what they wrote.

Why were philosophical arguments for the existence of God eventually developed by theologians and philosophers?

  • In order to have an assertion, there must be an explanation.
  • A reaction against against blind faith.

Why did ontological arguments arise?

  • Presumably, people needed an explanation to prove or disprove the existence of God
  • Anselm and Descartes believed in God as a perfect being, but philosophers like Kant attempted to refute the existence of God
  • They begin with a definition of God and then deduce the existence of God solely from an examination of the concept of God’s being
  • Ontological arguments were created to prove gods existence without having tangible evidence.

What does Descartes add to Anselm’s argument?

  • Descartes argues that our observation of the concept of God reveals that it is as absurd to think of God as non-existent as it is to think of a triangle without three sides
  • Third Premise of Anselm’s argument makes a questionable presupposition, so the argument fails to prove God’s existence
    • 3rd Premise: It is more perfect to exist than not to exist
  • Descartes tries to remedy this by defending the as presuppositions based on the observation that unlike most things, our concept of God does not make sense if God’s existence is contingent

Why did cosmological arguments arise?

  • Looking at the world around us
  • Finding truth and explanation as a need for an answer

What are Aquinas’ Five Proofs? Strengths and weaknesses?

  • The First Mover
    • We can observe that all things are in motion and that this motion must have a cause. However, There must be an original source of motion and that is God.
  • The First Cause
    • We can observe that there are causes and effects in the universe and there must be an original cause of all of these effects. This original cause is God.
  • Possibility and Necessity
    • In order to create the "something" that exists around us, it must be brought into existence. Thus, the thing that originally brought the first "something" into existence is God.
  • Gradation
    • In order to use the terms good and bad, there must be a best and worst. This "best" is God.
  • Design
    • Objects without minds or consciousness act in the same way according to the laws of science. Thus, there must be some being that directs these objects.

What is the argument from contingency according to Taylor?

  • There is some sort of explanation—although it may not be known at this moment—for everything.
  • Contingent truths are based on other truths, while necessary truths are true in and of themselves.
  • Creation means dependence (contingency). Humans and the world are contingent upon God.
  • Gives evidence that the world does not exist on its own. "For in the first place, anything that exists by
  • its very nature must necessarily be eternal and indestructible"
  • The sun is not eternal nor is it indestructible.
  • Primary argument is that things cannot be self-caused.
  • Account for an objects purpose

Why did teleological arguments arise?

Teleological arguments attempt to prove the existence of God based on the idea of a designer for the universe

What is Paley’s main argument for the existence of God? Strengths and weaknesses?

  • Discovery of a watch in the forest
    • Questioning the reasoning and existence for God
  • The must be a creator of this intricately created device

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