Monday, August 06, 2007

My Outline - Why It Is Rational To Believe God Exists

Last night I gave a seminar at my church called “Why It Is Rational to Believe There Is a God.” Here’s a summary of my notes for all who came and any others who might be interested. And, we made a tape of my presentation. If you are interested call our church office and we’ll give you one for free – 734-242-5277.
There’s currently, in Europe and America, an attack against persons who believe in God. There are “evangelistic atheists” who are working to convert God-believers into one of them. They are: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. Dawkins and Hitchens are especially irrational in their presentations, so much so that the atheist Michael Ruse said, in response to Dawkins’s book The God Delusion, “it makes me embarrassed to be an atheist.”
By saying that a belief is “rational” we mean one of two things.
A. It is “logical.” There are two kinds of logical arguments: i. Deductive; ii. Inductive
B. It is “foundational” - i. E.g., “I think, therefore I am.” (Descartes); ii. E.g., “1+1=2”
I presented a Moral Argument for the Existence of God, that goes like this:
Premise 1 - If there is no God, then objective moral values do not exist.
Premise 2 - Objective moral values do exist
Conclusion - Therefore, God exists
For a scholarly presentation of this argument go here.
I presented the Kalam Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God:
Premise 1 - Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
Premise 2 - The universe began to exist. (i.Physicists tday affirm that our universe began to exist; ii. There can be no such thing as an actual infinite, therefore the universe cannot have always existed.)
Conclusion - Therefore the universe had a cause
But why should we call this cause “God?” The reasoning goes as follows: i. The Principle of Sufficient reason says that, for every effect, there must be a sufficient reason for its coming into existence. ii. Since with the origin of the universe we have the origin of time, space, and matter, the cause of the universe must be non-temporal, non-spatial, and immaterial. iii. Whatever caused the universe to be must have been very powerful. iv. And, the cause of the universe must be personal (some sort of being; a personal causal agent). Why? Because if the cause of the universe were impersonal and timeless, then the existence of the universe would be eternal; the effect would be coexistence with the cause.
For a scholarly presentation of this argument go here.
I presented what is called the Argument from Reason. See Victor Reppert’s book C.S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea for a representative of this argument.
- Reason exists.
- If there is no God, then the origins of human reason are fundamentally non-rational.
- Therefore there is no reason to trust our reason.
- Only a theistic worldview makes sense of the existence of reason.
I presented Alvin Plantinga’s defense of belief in God on the basis of properly basic beliefs.
There are things we believe are true, not on the basis of logical arguments, such as “I exist,” “1+1=2,” or “I ate breakfast this morning.”
If the Christian worldview is true (and Plantinga believes it is) and we have been created in the image of God, then it is rational to believe that God has placed within us an awareness of his existence. Like these flowers on my deck stretch towards the sun, we find within ourselves a longing and desire to know God, our Creator.
But If naturalism is true, then it is not likely that our belief-forming mechanisms are reliable, since they are not aimed at truth but are merely selected for survival. (“Naturalism” is the belief that “nature” is all there is, and nothing more exists.)
Next Sunday night I’ll give a seminar on this subject: “How Can God Be All-Loving and All-Powerful Yet Evil Exists?”