Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Most Compelling Argument for God's Existence

(Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio)

I taught philosophy of religion for eighteen years at Monroe County Community College (Monroe, Michigan). I taught the class in three sections:

I. Philosophical arguments for God's existence
II. Philosophical arguments against God's existence (especially the argument from evil)
III. The logic of atheism (Nietzsche and Russell); the logic of theism (e.g., Plantinga); and the Moral Argument for God's Existence.

I opened the class by teaching them Anselm's version of the Ontological Argument for God's Existence. Which goes like this:
1. I have an idea of a being a greater than which cannot be thought.
2. Therefore, God exists.

I loved teaching this argument! And loved the look on students' faces as they tried to comprehend it.

Sometimes (but not often, since it's so abstract) I followed up with the Modal Version of the Ontological Argument, which goes like this:

1. It is possible that a necessarily existing being exists.
2. Therefore, God exists.

The most interesting argument, for me, is the Moral Argument. One version goes like this:

1. If there is no God, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

Is this a strong argument for God's existence? I think so. About this argument Alvin Plantinga says:

"I’m inclined to think the moral arguments the most compelling. I find it hard to see how there can be genuine moral obligation apart from a divine command. And since I think there really is genuine moral obligation— I’m wholeheartedly committed to that— that seems to me to be an argument with a very strong premise and a pretty good connection between premise and conclusion."
(L. Walls and Trent Dougherty. Two Dozen (or so) Arguments for God (Kindle Locations 11322-11324). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.)