The Possibility Of God
Debate Rounds (4)
The Argument from Religious Experience
Some sort of experience lies at the very core of most people's religious faith. If so, you realize, in a way no one else can, its central importance in your life. That realization is not itself an argument for God's existence; in fact, in the light of it you would probably say that there is no need for arguments. But there is in fact an argument for God's existence constructed from the data of such experiences. It is not an argument which moves from your own personal experience to your own affirmation that God exists. As we said, you most probably have no need for such an argument. Instead, this argument moves in another direction: from the widespread fact of religious experience to the affirmation that only a divine reality can adequately explain it.
It is difficult to state this argument deductively. But it might fairly be put as follows.
1.Many people of different eras and of widely different cultures claim to have had an experience of the "divine."
2.It is inconceivable that so many people could have been so utterly wrong about the nature and content of their own experience.
3.Therefore, there exists a "divine" reality which many people of different eras and of widely different cultures have experienced.
Does such experience prove that an intelligent Creator-God exists? On the face of it this seems unlikely. For such a God does not seem to be the object of all experiences called "religious." But still, he is the object of many. That is, many people understand their experience that way; they are "united with" or "taken up into" a boundless and overwhelming Knowledge and Love, a Love that fills them with itself but infinitely exceeds their capacity to receive. Or so they claim. The question is: Are we to believe them?
There is an enormous number of such claims. Either they are true or not. In evaluating them, we should take into account:
1.the consistency of these claims (are they self-consistent as well as consistent with what we know otherwise to be true?);
2.the character of those who make these claims (do these persons seem honest, decent, trustworthy?); and
3.the effects these experiences have had in their own lives and the lives of others (have these persons become more loving as a result of what they experienced? More genuinely edifying? Or, alternatively, have they become vain and self-absorbed?).
Suppose someone says to you: "All these experiences are either the result of lesions in the temporal lobe or of neurotic repression. In no way do they verify the truth of some divine reality." What might your reaction be? You might think back over that enormous documentation of accounts and ask yourself if that can be right. And you might conclude: "No. Given this vast number of claims, and the quality of life of those who made them, it seems incredible that those who made the claims could have been so wrong about them, or that insanity or brain disease could cause such profound goodness and beauty."
The Kalam Argument
The Arabic word kalam literally means "speech," but came to denote a certain type of philosophical theology"a type containing demonstrations that the world could not be infinitely old and must therefore have been created by God. This sort of demonstration has had a long and wide appeal among both Christians and Muslims. Its form is simple and straightforward.
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.
Grant the first premise. (Most people"outside of asylums and graduate schools would consider it not only true, but certainly and obviously true.)
Is the second premise true? Did the universe"the collection of all things bounded by space and time"begin to exist? This premise has recently received powerful support from natural science"from so-called Big Bang Cosmology. But there are philosophical arguments in its favor as well. Can an infinite task ever be done or completed? If, in order to reach a certain end, infinitely many steps had to precede it, could the end ever be reached? Of course not"not even in an infinite time. For an infinite time would be unending, just as the steps would be. In other words, no end would ever be reached. The task would"could"never be completed.
But what about the step just before the end? Could that point ever be reached? Well, if the task is really infinite, then an infinity of steps must also have preceded it. And therefore the step just before the end could also never be reached. But then neither could the step just before that one. In fact, no step in the sequence could be reached, because an infinity of steps must always have preceded any step; must always have been gone through one by one before it. The problem comes from supposing that an infinite sequence could ever reach, by temporal succession, any point at all.
Now if the universe never began, then it always was. If it always was, then it is infinitely old. If it is infinitely old, then an infinite amount of time would have to have elapsed before (say) today. And so an infinite number of days must have been completed"one day succeeding another, one bit of time being added to what went before"in order for the present day to arrive. But this exactly parallels the problem of an infinite task. If the present day has been reached, then the actually infinite sequence of history has reached this present point: in fact, has been completed up to this point"for at any present point the whole past must already have happened. But an infinite sequence of steps could never have reached this present point"or any point before it.
So, either the present day has not been reached, or the process of reaching it was not infinite. But obviously the present day has been reached. So the process of reaching it was not infinite. In other words, the universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being, a Creator.
Question 1: Christians believe they are going to live forever with God. So they believe the future will be endless. How come the past cannot also be endless?
Reply: The question really answers itself. Christians believe that their life with God will never end. That means it will never form an actually completed infinite series. In more technical language: an endless future is potentially"but never actually"infinite. This means that although the future will never cease to expand and increase, still its actual extent will always be finite. But that can only be true if all of created reality had a beginning.
Question 2: How do we know that the cause of the universe still exists? Maybe it started the universe going and then ceased to be.
Reply: Remember that we are seeking for a cause of spatio-temporal being. This cause created the entire universe of space and time. And space and time themselves must be part of that creation. So the cause cannot be another spatio-temporal being. (If it were, all the problems about infinite duration would arise once again.) It must somehow stand outside the limitations and constraints of space and time.
It is hard to understand how such a being could "cease" to be. We know how a being within the universe ceases to be: it comes in time to be fatally affected by some agency external to it. But this picture is proper to us, and to all beings limited in some way by space and time. A being not limited in these ways cannot "come" to be or "cease" to be. If it exists at all, it must exist eternally.
Question 3: But is this cause God"a he and not a mere it?
Reply: Suppose the cause of the universe has existed eternally. Suppose further that this cause is not personal: that it has given rise to the universe, not through any choice, but simply through its being. In that case it is hard to see how the universe could be anything but infinitely old, since all the conditions needed for the being of the universe would exist from all eternity. But the kalam argument has shown that the universe cannot be infinitely old. So the hypothesis of an eternal impersonal cause seems to lead to an inconsistency.
Is there a way out? Yes, if the universe is the result of a free personal choice. Then at least we have some way of seeing how an eternal cause could give rise to a temporally limited effect. Of course, the kalam argument does not prove everything Christians believe about God, but what proof does? Less than everything, however, is far from nothing. And the kalam argument proves something central to the Christian belief in God: that the universe is not eternal and without beginning; that there is a Maker of heaven and earth. And in doing so, it disproves the picture of the universe most atheists wish to maintain: self-sustaining matter, endlessly changing in endless time.
qwzx forfeited this round.
I find fault when you said propaganda, lies and scare tactics made by ALL religion. Religion is NOT about systematic control. When a religion does something wrong, you can't say that is because there is no God. Your entire argument was about the "evils" of religion and has not disproved the existence of God. ISIS kills people because of their religion does not mean that their God and other Islamic people are evil too. You are stereotyping all religions because of a couple incidents and that is not fair. YOU do not deserve God. The debate is called the existence of God and not if it is good or bad.
Christianity is not evil and has done good in our world
Christ's teachings on love and compassion and doing unto others what you would have others do unto you are central to an understanding of how his people have been such agents for change. His teachings coupled, with the Judeo-Christian belief of man created in the image of God have revolutionized thinking in the world as we know it. For example, infanticide and abortion were common in the Greco-Roman culture and many other ancient cultures. Both of these were condemned by early Christian literature and Bishop Basil of Caesarea outlawed infanticide in 374. Pedophilia was unashamedly practiced by both the Greek and Roman cultures. Today, we call that child molestation, widely due to the influence of Christ's followers. The Roman gladiatorial games were spectacles of horrible brutality. Most people, whether Christian or not, would recoil at watching them today. That is due to the idea of the sacredness of human life, which lead later emperors to ban these once popular games. Also, the concept of the eating of human flesh and human sacrifice was once widespread in many pagan cultures. Now it is almost completely a thing of the past due to the value that Christianity has placed on human beings created in Gods image. The status of women has also been elevated because of the Christian world view. In ancient times, women were little more than property. Wives were not allowed to speak in public in ancient Greece. Baby girls were expendable and often killed or left to die. The New Testament concept of all being one in Christ, as well as the concept of husband and wife being a picture of Christ and His Church have forever altered man's view of woman. Nowhere else, before the Christian Scriptures, would you find the concept of sacrificially loving your wife.
Because of the teachings of Christ and how he treated women with respect, he raised the dignity of women to heights previously not thought of. Christ befriended women and even talked with them in public. This was not acceptable for the Jewish man to do. The early church gave women freedoms unheard of in the Jewish and Roman cultures surrounding them. I have already mentioned the early Jerusalem Church and its giving to the poor, widows and sick. But that has continued to this day. The Romans thought that helping the sick was a sign of weakness. The early Christians saw it as doing it to Christ Himself. And they saw the saving of lives as another way to save souls as well. By the 6th century A.D. most of the larger cities of Christendom had hospitals. And they were the first known voluntary charitable institutions. Later in history, the first Protestant hospital was built at Kaiserwerth in Germany. It is at this institution that Florence Nightingale received her training. The story of Florence Nightingale is still, to this day, an inspiration to any person who would pursue the noble profession of nursing. John Henry Dunant was a Christian, who with four associates, founded the American Red Cross in 1864. Dunant also negotiated the Geneva convention for the care and treatment of wounded soldiers and was the co-winner of the first Nobel Prize for Peace in 1901. Other Bible believing Christians in the 18th and 19th centuries were responsible for much good. They tackled a wide variety of social issues such as illiteracy, the abolition of slavery, adult education, treatment of alcoholics and prison reform. It was in 1844 that the Young Men's Christian Association was formed, followed by the YWCA ten years later. And in 1865 a London minister, William Booth left his pastorate to take his message to the streets to reach the poor, the homeless , the destitute and the hungry. Today the Salvation Army is in 106 nations around the world. Jesus was not discriminatory in who he taught. Both men and women came under his instruction. And later in history it was bishops who taught things like doctrine, rhetoric, logic, math, geometry, music, grammar and astronomy. During the Reformation men like Luther and Calvin advocated, universal state sponsored education. It was Luther who told authorities that children should be compelled to attend school. Now the Western world has this concept in their laws. Benedictine monks were the people who started the universities in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. And some of the most respected universities in the world today began as Christian institutions: Harvard and Yale for example. The interesting thing is that all the way up through 1932, out of 182 colleges in the United states, 168 of them were founded by Christian denominations. It is very interesting that modern Science as we know it today would not be possible if not for the the Christian world view and yet many people who espouse atheistic evolutionary philosophy want to use Science to destroy religion. For 1500 years Aristotle's thinking was dominant among philosophers and Scientists. He believed that true knowledge was only acquired through the deductive process of the mind. He felt that the inductive method, used by Science today, required manual work in a lower realm. It was Christian philosophers that linked rationality with the empirical, inductive method. It was their belief that predictability and order could only be achieved in a universe made and ordered by a rational Being. Also, if you look at the pagan world, earlier in history, they believed that there were spirits living in and through nature, controlling it. The Christian view is that God created the universe and is separate from it. They also, took their understanding from the Genesis account of creation that man was given dominion over creation and were Gods representatives to care for the world. All of this lead to the distinctively Christian approach to reality that allowed for the Scientific community to develop Scientific laws. If the universe is governed rationally and predictably, then there must be laws man can discover. The early church in Jerusalem appointed deacons and elders to care for widows and the sick (Acts 6:1, James 5:13), and churches still do this today. In the Middle Ages, the monasteries created hospitals. Burgeoning numbers of pilgrims to the Holy Land were cared for by the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. The noble nursing reformer Florence Nightingale received her training at the first Protestant hospital " at Kaiserwerth in Germany. Swiss humanitarian and Bible-believer Henri Dunant was planning the Red Cross and negotiating the Geneva convention for the care and treatment of wounded soldiers. Dunant was co-winner of the first Nobel Prize for Peace in 1901, and his inspiring Red Cross committee later won the award three times. It was the Bible-believing Christians in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries " not the government of the day " who tackled the illiteracy problem, adult education, abolition of slavery, prison reform, and treatment for alcoholics. The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was formed in 1844, the YWCA a decade later, and the Salvation Army launched its multinational welfare organization based on Christian ethics.
Religion as a whole has contributed to mass destruction and continues even unto this day. Did you know that the most dedicated Anti-Theists (Misotheists) were once followers of a Religion? Religion destroys peoples lives and causes extensive psychological damage. I had so many fears and so many worries! My life was one big mess because religion and dogmas were apart of it. It was a Hellish Experience for me! I suffered so many things in vain!
I also have a quote to further back up my claims that all "Religions" are all about "Systematic Control": "All religions are nothing more then a systematic form of control to keep many people from coming to the knowledge of the truth." Abelardo Cabrera III 1989-Present
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tejretics 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
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