PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST G-d
Many modern philosophers and psychologists are atheists because they believe they can prove by mere logic that the G-d of the Bible cannot exist. Christian philosophers have also made philosophical arguments for G-d that have not always been logically sound. This lesson evaluates philosophical arguments both for and against G-d and finds that most of these arguments are filled with inherently illogical fallacies, or only possible, rather than necessary, inferences. However, man’s religious capacity and sensitivity and his moral conscience of right and wrong are all found to be totally consistent with G-d’s creation of man in His own image.
To enable the students to analyze and refute logically the philosophical arguments against G-d and to perceive the weaknesses and strengths in the philosophical arguments for G-d.
LESSON OBJECTIVES: You will….
- Evaluate and refute Freud’s psychological argument against G-d.
- Analyze and refute atheist’ philosophical argument that the existence of evil and the Christian G-d cannot be logically reconciled.
- Learn how to answer the atheists’ claim that G-d is unjust to condemn impenitent sinners to an eternal hell.
- Recognize the inherent weaknesses in Anselm’s ontological argument for G-d.
- Perceive the weaknesses and strengths of Augustine’s argument for G-d on the basis of man’s religious “instinct.”
- Consider the evidence from the moral law and the human conscience as consistent with a moral governor of conscience (G-d).
FREUD: “MAN CREATED G-D”
- Sigmund Freud Argued that G-d is an Illusion Created by Helpless Humanity[i]
- Man’s fear of nature (Storms, etc.) Prompted him to imagine a G-d who could control nature.
- Man, interpreted disasters as sent by an angry G-d who needed to be appeased.
- Man, suffered under the oppression and brutality of his fellow man and thus wished for a G-d who would punish evil doers and save the sufferer.
- Man, conscious of his mortality, wished for a G-d to give him eternal life.
- Freud thus concluded, “Man created G-d; G-d did not create man.
- Objections to Freud’s Thinking[ii]
- Freud’s argument does not disprove G-d’s existence.
- Man’s need for G-d confirms the Biblical teaching that G-d created man.
- Batsell Barrett Baxter suggests that men like Freud possess great pride in their achievements and come to believe they are the most intelligent people in the universe and thus worship themselves instead of G-d.[iii]
- Men like Freud want total freedom to live as they desire and refuse to subject themselves to God’s moral restrictions.[iv]
DOES THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL DISPROVE THE EXISTENCE OF G-d?
- Atheistic Philosophers Claim That the Following Four Statements Cannot Be Harmonized Consistently, Proving That the God Defined in the Bible Cannot Logically Exist.
- G-d is Omnibenevolent and thus desires only good.
- G-d is Omniscient and thus knows how to eliminate evil.
- G-d is Omnipotent and thus has the power to eliminate evil.
- Evil exists.
- From These Four Statements, Atheistic Philosophers Reason as Follows
- Either G-d does not desire to eliminate evil and is not omnibenevolent.
- G-d does not know how to eliminate evil and is not omniscient.
- He does not have power to eliminate evil and is therefore not omnipotent.
- An omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent G-d does not exist.
- Philo Claimed That Epicurus’ Questions Have Never Been Answered
- Is He willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is impotent
- Is He able but not willing? Then He is malevolent.
- Is He both able and willing? Whence then is evil?
REFUTATION OF THE ATHEIST’S ARGUMENT ON G-d AND EVIL
- Man’s Inability to Harmonize the Coexistence of G-d and Evil Does Not Necessarily Disprove G-d, but May Prove Man’s Inferiority in Intelligence to God
- The fact most men cannot explain the process of nuclear fission or nuclear fusion does not mean that these processes do not exist.
- The fact that I cannot understand how a brown cow can eat green grass and produce white milk does not prove that the brown cow does not exist or that white milk does not exist.
- Atheists’ Argument on Evil is Wrong Because They Have Not Properly Defined Evil
atheists define evil as including all pain and suffering
- The Cause and Results of Suffering
- Much of the pain and suffering of the world is good rather than evil.
- Much pain occurs because of natural law made to help man
- Law of gravity can prevent injury or cause injury.
- The fire that warms and cooks can burn and destroy.
- Suffering produces spiritual strength.
- “Consider it pure joy, by brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:3)
- The strongest steel passes through the hottest flame (1 Peter 1: 6 – 7)
- Fish that struggle in the running water of a river or stream have firmer flesh than lake fish who live in calm water. “And the G-d of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5: 10 – 11).
- Suffering teaches us humility and to trust in G-d’s power (2 Corinthians 12:7).
- Suffering is G-d’s discipline to train His children (Hebrews 12:10 – 11)
- By contrast, atheists’ concept of suffering offers hopeless despair.
- Accept evil, suffering and death as an evolutionary accident.
- Depend on your own intellect and strength rather than G-d’s superior wisdom and power.
- Accept with courage the fate of eternal extinction instead of hope in eternal life.
- Why Atheists Cannot Adequately Define Evil
- If man is only matter in motion, then there is no objective good or evil.
- An atheist becomes a god to himself, determining what is right and what is wrong.
- Atheists Think Believers Are Inconsistent in Harmonizing G-d and Evil, but They Cannot Themselves Consistently Harmonize Evil and Evolution.
- If man is only an accidental development from mindless matter, then there is no objective good or evil.
- Evolution teaches that “good” is what each man has evolved in his own mind.
- Atheists Have Trouble Condemning Hitler for Having Committed “Moral” Evil since They Do Not Believe There Is an Absolute Standard for Good or Evil
- The Nuremberg Trials condemned Hitler because he violated a “higher law” than Hitler’s national law of his own making.
- That “higher law” is G-d’s law revealed in nature (Romans 2:14 – 15).
- Most atheists condemn Hitler because it offends their own sense of morality.
- If moral evil is merely an evolution of thoughtless chance, who is to say that some atheists’ morality is superior to Hitler’s morality.
- In atheistic philosophy, each man decides his own morality according to his own wishes and desires.
IS G-D UNJUST IN SENDING IMPENITENT SINNERS TO HELL?
- How Can Atheists Argue That G-d is Unjust When They Refuse to Include His Justice in Their Argument Related to the Existence of Evil?
- The principal philosophical argument against G-d on the basis of the existence of evil leaves out G-d’s justice.
- Atheists’ argument states that G-d is Omnibenevolent, Omniscient, Omnipotent, but does not state He is just.
- However, the Bible frequently describes G-d as just.
“Will not the Judge of all the earth do, right?”(Genesis 18:25)
“He will judge the world I righteousness; He will govern the peoples with justice” (Psalm 9:8).
- Justice demands that sin be punished. “The LORD will judge His people and have compassion on His servants… (Deuteronomy 32:35 – 36).
- A totally just G-d provides suffering as a means of enforcing justice and punishing sin.
- Atheists will not talk of G-d’s justice, because it contradicts their liberal ideas of “goodness”
- Atheists’ Idea That A Good God Should Eliminate Evil from the Earth Would Result in the Annihilation of All Men, Because All Men Have Sinned (Romans 3:23)
- Atheists Ignore G-d’s Choice to Create Man with A Free Will That Can Choose Good or Evil.
- The only way G-d could satisfy the atheist is to make man a robot without free choice so that he could not sin.
- G-d chose to give His creatures freedom of choice to love Him or hate Him, to follow Him or reject Him.
- God chose to tolerate evil men temporarily when He created man with free will.
- Atheists Do Not Understand G-d’s Eternal Plan to Create Man, Knowing That Man Would Sin.
- Before G-d created the universe, He planned to create a special people to live with Him for eternity, not in the present earth, which will be destroyed (in agreement with the 2nd law of Thermo-dynamics), but in a new heavens and new earth that will not be subject to the law of decay and destruction (Romans 8:17 – 25; Titus 1: 1 – 2; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21).
- G-d created the present universe and earth as the testing ground to prove man’s trust and love for G-d in a world of temptation and suffering (1 Peter 5:10).
- Those who persevere to the end in loving trust and obedience are thus prepared and qualified to live with G-d forever in the new heavens and new earth prepared for them (2 Peter 3:11 – 13; Revelation 2:10).
- Since G-d made all men so that they could choose to sin, He knew that one day all men would choose to sin and would thus die as a consequence.
- The Bible defines death not merely as physical, but also as spiritual separation form G-d. “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear, but your iniquities have separated you from your G-d” (Isaiah 59: 1 – 2). “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world” (Ephesians 2: 1 – 2).
- The Bible speaks of “the second death” (Revelation 20: 6, 14 as being “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25: 46), That is, eternal separation from G-d.
- “He will punish those who do not know G-d and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1: 8 – 9)
- But G-d does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9) and desires that all men be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)
- G-d so loved sinful man that He sent His Own Son to save men from their sins to prepare them for eternal life in heaven (John 3:16; Ephesians 1: 4 – 7)
- G-d knew that fallen and sinful man would appreciate G-d’s love, grace, and mercy even more than those who had never sinned.
- Jesus Christ, the Son of G-d, and also the Son of Man, was the only adult person who lived on earth without sin. Because of His sinless purity, G-d accepted His sacrificial death as the penalty for the sins of all who would trust in His blood (Romans 3:22 – 26); 2 Corinthians 5:21).
- Christ’s death satisfied both the justice of G-d (Penalty for sin) and the love and mercy of G-d for sinners.
- The Bible beautifully reconciles both justice and mercy in Christ’s loving sacrifice of His own life to save a world of sinners (Romans 3:25 – 26; 5: 5 – 8).
- G-d is just and loving by sending the message of salvation to all sinful men (Mark 16: 15 – 16; Matthew 28: 18 – 20)
- Jesus established His church as the family of G-d, where saved Christians could learn to love one another, serve G-d, and carry the message of salvation to the rest of the lost world (1 Peter 1:22; 2: 9 – 10).
- G-d chose the church as the proving round for Christians to show their love and fidelity to G-d. Those who remain faithful to Christ until the end (Revelations 2:10) will receive the crown of life and live eternally in G-d’s heavenly abode (2 Peter 3:13).
- For both fallen angels and those who reject G-d’s love and G-d’s Son, G-d has prepared an eternal abode called Hell, which has far worse conditions and suffering than our present world (Matthew 25:41; Mark 9: 47-48)
- G-d does not want anyone to perish in Hell, and He has made the maximum effort to save mankind by sending His most precious gift from Heaven, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2: 4 – 5; 2 Peter 3:9).
- If men purposefully reject His son, they have no one to blame but themselves (John 3:16 – 18; Mark 16:16)
ANSELM’S ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR G-D
- The Ontological Argument For G-d by Anselm[v]
- Definition of God: “G-d is that which nothing greater can be conceived.”
- Axiom: Man, can conceive the idea of “that which nothing can be greater.”
- Axiom: The existence of “that which there is nothing greater” is even greater than the conception of the idea.
- Conclusion: “By very definition G-d must exist.”
- Holes in Anselm’s Reasoning
- Definitions do not prove reality.
- Anselm’s argumentation does not follow the logical method of syllogistic deduction.
- Anselm’s Reasoning Reduced to A Syllogism Requires This Major Premise
- Major Premise: “Everything man’s mind can conceive must exist” or “Man cannot conceive of anything that does not exist.”
- Minor Premise: “Man has conceived of the existence of G-d who is that than which nothing is greater”
- Conclusion: G-d must exist.
- Disproof of Anselm’s Major Premise
- We can conceive of an eternal Devil that is more powerful than anyone else. Does this prove he exists? NO!
- We can conceive of a seven-person eternal G-d head that together are more powerful than anyone or anything else. Our conception does not prove of his existence.
- We can conceive of a seven-headed eternal man who is 100 feet tall, who among men is that which there is no greater. Does this prove the existence of such? NO!
AUGUSTINE’S ARGUMENT ON MAN’S RELIGIOUS INSTINCT
- Augustine’s Proof for Man’s Religious Instinct
- Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “G-d has set eternity in their heart.”
- Romans 2:14 in the NASV says, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the law.”
- Most people of the world believe in the supernatural (G-d or many gods)
- Therefore, Augustine concludes that man’s built-in religious instinct proves that God exists.
- Arguments against Religious Instinct or Intuition
- If man believes in G-d instinctively, then why have most men of past history believed in many gods instead of the one true G-d, and why do many others reject belief in G-d altogether?
- Bears instinctively hibernate for the winter, and do not have the choice to stay awake. How can the religious nature of man be instinctive in the same manner, when many men are irreligious?
- If man instinctively understands eternity, why do many people reject the idea of eternal life?
- Ecclesiastes 3:11 likely means “G-d set eternity in their heart” by giving man the capacity to understand eternity though nature and G-d’s Word.
- Romans 2:14 is better translated in the NIV, “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the Law, they are a law unto themselves.”
- Romans 1:20 says that G-d’s “eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”
- Based on these passages it is clear that we learn of G-d’s nature by studying nature.
- These passages do not teach that man has a built-in instinct to be religious.
EVIDENCE FOR G-D FROM THE MORAL LAW AND THE HUMAN CONSCIENCE
- The moral Law of G-d
- Paul says in Romans 2:14 – 15 – “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law unto themselves since they show the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness.
- Paul mentions two things that man has that animals do not have:
- Ability to study nature and perceive G-d’s moral law.
- A conscience that judges man’s actions and thoughts and determines guilt or innocence.
- Man, without the Bible, can study nature and know that it is wrong for someone else to steal his car, to rape his daughters, to mutilate his children, to commit adultery with his wife, and to slander him be accusing him of wrongs he did not do.
- From infancy children learn by nature that its wrong for an older brother to injure his younger brother, etc.
- Man, without the Bible, can learn G-d’s Moral Law by studying nature.
- S. Lewis the atheist/ philosopher who became a Christian believed the Moral Law seen in human nature and in the laws of most nations testifies to a Moral Law Giver who made the law, and wrote it into nature and upon men’s hearts.[vi]
- Paul equates G-d’s moral law to the moral and ethical standard of the Law of Moses.
- While Moses’ law is lower than Christ’s law, it is the moral standard by which
G-d judges the non-Christian world (Romans 2:14).
- The moral standard of Moses’ Law is the standard that is found in most of the world’s nations and cultures.
- While Moses’ law is lower than Christ’s law, it is the moral standard by which
- At the Nuremberg trials, Judges of all nations determined that Hitler’s attempt to exterminate the Jews violated not Germany’s Laws, but a higher Law that governs all nations.
- Every law necessitates a law maker; therefore, the higher moral law recognized by the judges of Nuremberg demands a superior moral governor to whom all nations must answer.
- Immanuel Kant wrote, “Two things fill the mind with…admiration and awe…the starry heavens above and the moral law within.”[vii]
- The Law of the heart in Romans 2:14 is thus confirmed by the moral law of most nations of the world, and testify to an omniscient Law Maker.
- The Conscience of Man
- Paul also said in Romans 2: 14 – 15 that man’s conscience judges his own conduct and heart as to innocence or guilt.
- The conscience acts as man’s brain as a moral regulator to judge his thoughts and actions as good or bad.
- It is inconceivable that an animal without ability to perceive G-d’s moral law in nature and without a conscience to judge its actions could have accidentally evolved this perception and conscience.
- The moral regulator (conscience) in man testifies to the existence of a moral governor (G-d) who wrote His moral law in nature.
SELF EXAM FOR LESSON SIX
- What was Freud’s psychological argument against the existence of G-d? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What are the two reasons that men like Freud try to wish or think G-d out of existence?
- What are the four statements atheistic philosophers using to claim that the G-d of the Bible cannot logically exist?
- What are the three questions that Epicurus asked that concluded that evil cannot logically co-exist with G-d?
- What is the atheist’s definition of evil? ______________________________________________
Why is this definition not correct? __________________________________________________
- What Principal quality of G-d do atheists leave out of their definition of G-d that is in the Bible? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What would G-d have to do to eliminate all evil on earth, as atheists claim a good G-d should do? ________________________________________________________________________
- Show Anselm’s four steps by which he concluded that G-d exists by definition?
- What major Premise is assumed in Anselm’s argument? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What two passages of the Bible did Augustine use to prove his argument for G-d’s existence on the basis of man’s religious instinct?
- How does man’s conscience (moral regulator), built into all men, give evidence for G-d? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
[i] Future of an Illusion, 1953, cited by Baxter, I Believe Because, p. 32-33
[ii] Baxter, op. cit., pp. 34-35 for some of the ideas in this section.
[v] Repeated by Batsell Barrett Baxter, I believe Because, pp. 41 – 42.
[vi] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 3 – 8.
[vii] Kant, Great Books of Western World, Vol. 42, p. 361.