A few months ago in a Facebook group (I think it was either Molinist - Official Page or The Christian Apologetics Support Group), someone made a poll asking what everyone's favorite argument for God's existence was. The poll creator exempted the historical case for the resurrection of Jesus from being among the options because, let's face it, we all would put that one in our number 1 spot as the resurrection of Jesus is where the rubber hits the road. If it's a historical event, the entire Christian worldview is indicated. So the poll creator forced the partakers to stay in the realm of Natural Theology.
Fortunately, it was a multiple option poll, so I selected The Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Fine-Tuning Argument, The Local Fine-Tuning Argument, The Moral Argument, and The Ontological Argument. These are among my favorite arguments for the existence of God.
I do like The Argument From Beauty, The Argument From Science's Doability, The Transcendental Argument a.k.a The Argument From Reason, and The Argument From The Unreasonable Effectiveness Of Mathematics, but the Kalam, Fine-Tuning, Moral, and Ontological Arguments make top tier. This is basically because of two reasons (1) I find them the most persuasive (I would say overwhelmingly so), and (2) I've done the most study of these, and therefore am better equipped to defend them.
In this blog post, let's do a brief survey of these arguments.
Argument 1: The Kalam Cosmological Argument
I think a good place to start this overview would be at the beginning. By the beginning, I mean the beginning of the universe. The Kalam Cosmological Argument was formulated in its most sophisticated form by the 12th century Muslim philosopher Al Ghazali, and has been popularized by contemporary Christian philosopher William Lane Craig. In fact, when I heard the words "Kalam Cosmological Argument", Craig immediately comes to mind.
The argument goes like this
1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2: The universe began to exist.
3: Therefore, the universe has a cause.
For an argument to be sound it must meet three criteria (1) the logic must be valid, (2) the premises must be true, and (3) we must have good reasons to believe the premises are true. This argument follows valid logic since it takes the form Modus Ponens. The only debate is whether the premises are true and can be verified. Are they true and can they be verified? Let's examine these premises.
1: Whatever Begins To Exist Has A Cause
*Nothingness has no properties and therefore no causal ability.
To deny premise 1 of this argument is to assert that things can pop into being from nothing. This is impossible because nothingness has no properties. Nothingness is not a thing, but the complete absence of being. Given that nothingness has no properties whatsoever, it follows that it has no causal properties either. If it has no causal properties, then it follows that it cannot bring anything into existence.
*If something could come into being from nothing, we’d expect to see it more often.
No one has ever seen things come into being from nothing before. If it could happen, we ought to be seeing it happen all the time. For example, we should hear news reports of things like a woman who was jogging in a park being mauled to death because a tiger popped into being out of nothing and mauled her. Why don’t we see things popping into being more often? Maybe we don’t see it happening more often because it never happens. Maybe it never happens because it cannot happen.
*Common experience and scientific evidence constantly confirms this premise and never falsifies it.
Not only do we not have any examples of things coming into being without a cause, we have an ocean of examples of things coming into being via a cause. Whenever we see something coming into existence, be it a sandwich, a house, a skyscraper, a baby, a car, a computer, or whatever, we see always see causes at work. No one’s ever seen a sandwich, house, car, etc. simply poof into existence.
2: The Universe Began To Exist
*Scientific Confirmation 1: The Big Bang Theory
In 1915, the German scientist Albert Einstein formulated his theory of general relativity. This theory predicted that the universe should be in a state of either constant expansion or contraction, rather than being static. Einstein didn’t like that implication of his theory, so he added a “fudge factor” to keep the universe walking a tightrope between expansion and contraction. Later, George Lemaitre and Alexander Friedman independently formulated math models that predicted the universe’s expansion. The expansion of the universe was empirically verified by the American astronomer Edwin Hubble in 1929 when he noticed the red shift of the light coming from distant galaxies. Hubble concluded that the red shift is best explained by the light from the distant galaxies being stretched as they move away from us. This meant that the universe is expanding. The expansion entails the beginning of the universe because if the universe is getting bigger and bigger as it gets older and older, then if you rewind the clock, the universe gets smaller and smaller until the universe becomes smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. Rewind it farther still, and the universe shrinks down to nothing. The universe began to exist in a rapid explosion-like expansion. This explosion has been dubbed by Fred Hoyle “The Big Bang.”
*Scientific Confirmation 2: The Second Law Of Thermodynamics
The second law of thermodynamics is the law of physics which is responsible for the transfer of heat from hot bodies to cold bodies, and it’s also responsible for things decaying over time. The second law of thermodynamics is the reason my bedroom stays warm in the winter. When I turn the ceramic heater on in my bedroom, the heat doesn’t stay confined to a small corner. The heat spreads all throughout the room. This is because the second law causes the heat to move from the hot body (i.e the ceramic heater) to the colder body (my bedroom). The second law is responsible for why your food cools a certain amount of time after you get it out of the oven. The heat travels from the hot body (i.e the food) to the cooler body (the room). This is why I sometimes smile when people say things like “Close the door! You’re letting the cold in!” I’m like “Dude, do you even science? The second law of thermodynamics causes heat to travel from hot bodies to cold bodies, not the other way around!” When you leave the door open in the winter, the heat escapes, the cold doesn’t get in.
The second law entails that the universe had a beginning. Why? Because the universe is continuously running out of usable energy as time goes on. The amount of usable energy is diminishing more and more as time goes on. If that’s the case, then if the universe has existed from eternity past, then the universe should have run out of usable energy from eternity past. Given that we still have usable energy (the sun being the most obvious example), that entails that the universe has not existed forever. There was a time that the universe came into being with 100% of its energy being usable.
3: Therefore, The Universe Has A Cause
Given the truth of the two premises, the conclusion logically and necessarily follows. Now, so far, we’ve concluded that the universe had a cause which brought it into existence, but just why should we conclude that the cause is God? This is where the conceptual analysis part of the argument comes into play.
The cause must be
Spaceless – Because space came into being and did not exist until this cause brought it into existence, the cause cannot be a spatial being. It must be spaceless or non-spatial. You cannot be inside of something if you are that something’s cause. You cannot be inside of something if that something did not exist until you brought it into existence.
Timeless – Since time did not exist until The Big Bang, the cause cannot be inside of time. It must be a timeless being.
Immaterial – The cause’s non-spatiality entails immateriality. How so? Because material objects cannot exist unless space exists. Material objects have mass and ergo occupy spatial dimensions. If there is no space, matter cannot exist. This means that because the cause is non-spatial, it is therefore non-material.
Unimaginably Powerful – Anything able to create all matter, energy, space, and time out of absolutely nothing must be extremely powerful, if not omnipotent.
Supernatural – “Nature” and “The universe” are synonyms. Nature did not begin to exist until The Big Bang. Therefore, a natural cause (a cause coming, by definition, from nature) cannot be responsible for the origin of nature. To say otherwise would be to spout incoherence. You’d basically be saying “Nature caused nature to come into being.”
Uncaused – Given that the cause of the universe is timeless, the cause cannot itself have a beginning. To have a beginning to one’s existence entails a before and after relationship. There’s a time before one existed and a time after one came into existence. But a before and after of anything is impossible without time. Since the cause existed sans time, the cause therefore cannot have a beginning. It’s beginningless.
Personal– This is an entailment of the cause’s immateriality. There are two types of things recognized by philosophers that are immaterial: abstract objects (such as numbers, sets, or other mathematical entities) or unembodied minds. Philosophers realize that abstract objects, if they exist, they exist as non-physical entities. However, abstract objects cannot produce any effects. That’s part of what it means to be abstract. The number 3 isn’t going to be producing any effects anytime soon. Given that abstract objects are causally impotent, it therefore follows that an unembodied mind is the cause of the universe’ beginning.
Whatever begins to exist has a cause, given that the universe began to exist, if follows that the universe has a cause of its existence. The cause of the universe must be a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, supernatural, uncaused, personal Creator.
This being that is demonstrated to exist by this argument is consistent with The Christian God. The Bible describes God as spaceless (see 1 Kings 8:27, 2 Chronicles 2:6), timeless (1 Corinthians 2:7, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2), immaterial (John 4:24, 1 Timothy 1:17, 1 Timothy 6:16), powerful (Psalm 62:11-12, Job 9:14, Matthew 19:26), uncaused (Psalm 90:2, Isaiah 57:15, 1 Timothy 1:17, Revelation 1:8), supernatural, and is a personal being (John 1:12, James 4:8). Moreover, The Bible credits him with being the Creator of all physical reality (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3).
Additionally, as I point out in my book "Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods" a study of comparative religions demonstrates that only 4 religions are consistent with the Cosmological argument's conclusion: Judaism, Christianity, Islam (that's why Ghazali defended it), and Deism. All other religions involve either an eternal cosmos that have God or gods bringing order out of the eternally existing matter, energy, space and time, or else their god is the universe itself (pantheism). Therefore, if you're picking a view about God based on the cosmological argument alone, your list of options consistent with the evidence is limited to just 4 options, Christianity being among them. Only the Abrahamic religions (and Deism) teach that a God like the one described above brought all physical reality into existence from nothing.
Argument 2: The Cosmic Fine-Tuning Argument
Over the last 50 years, scientists have discovered that the laws and the constants of physics surprisingly conspire in a shocking manner to make the universe habitable for life. If the laws of physics were to be tweaked in just the slightest marginal way, the universe would not be capable of supporting life of any kind. This is why it’s called the “fine-tuning” of the universe. Just like on a radio, if you want a certain station to come in, you must tamper with the dial and tune it until the needle on the tuner is in the just right position. In the same way, the multiple different “dials” on multiple different “tuners” must be in very precise positions in order for life to be able to come into existence.
I want to first give you several examples of this fine-tuning. Then when I’m done giving you examples of fine tuning, I’ll give a syllogism arguing for design as the best explanation of that fine-tuning.
Examples Of Fine Tuning
1: The Strong Nuclear Force – This is the force which binds together protons and neutrons inside the center of every atom. If this force were any weaker, then it would not be strong enough to bind together protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus. In that case, hydrogen would be the only existing element in the universe. Why? Because the hydrogen atom has one proton and no neutrons in its nucleus. It also has only one electron orbiting its nucleus. It is the simplest atom there is. If the strong nuclear force were any weaker, the entire universe would be filled with atoms consisting of only a single proton. On the other hand, if the strong nuclear force were any stronger, protons and neutrons would stick together so efficiently that not one proton would remain by itself. They would find themselves attached to many other protons and neutrons. In this case, no hydrogen could exist at all. The universe would consist of only heavy elements. Life chemistry is impossible without hydrogen. It is also impossible if hydrogen is the only element.
2: The Weak Nuclear Force – This force is responsible for the radioactive decay of subatomic particles and it plays an essential role in nuclear fission. If this force were any stronger, matter would convert into heavy elements at a pace too rapid for life. Any weaker and matter would remain in the form of just the lightest elements. Either way, the elements crucial for life chemistry (such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorous) wouldn’t exist.
3: The Force Of Gravity -- If this force were slightly stronger, stars would burn too rapidly and too erratically for life. This is bad because a planet capable of sustaining life must orbit a star that is both stable and long burning. On the other hand, if gravity were slightly weaker, stars would never become hot enough to ignite nuclear fusion, and therefore, many of the elements required for life chemistry would never form. Since these elements are essentially “cooked” inside the cores of stars, it’s necessary that the stars be able to reach a certain temperature in order to synthesize them.
4: The Electromagnetic Force -- If it were stronger, the bonding between chemicals would be disrupted. No elements bigger than boron would be stable to fission. If electromagnetism were weaker, chemical bonding would be inadequate for life chemistry.
5: The Expansion Of The Universe – If the universe expanded too rapidly, gravity would never have the opportunity to collect gas and dust and condense them into galaxies, stars, and planets. In such a universe, life would never be possible. The universe would forever be nothing but disperse gas and dust. On the other hand, if the universe expanded too slowly, the universe would collapse in on itself. Why? Because in physics the gravitational pull of 2 massive bodies attract one another, and the larger those bodies are relative to one another and the closer they are together, the more powerfully they attract. And when the universe is young (and therefore small), all the pieces of matter in the universe will be tightly clustered together, and therefore gravity will cause the universe’s expansion to slow down. But as the universe gets older and older (and hence bigger and bigger), all of the matter will gradually grow farther and farther apart. As a result of the matter gradually growing farther apart, gravity will grow progressively insufficient in its ability to slow down the cosmic expansion, while dark energy grows progressively more efficient in its ability to expand the universe. We’ll talk about dark energy in a moment.
Anyway, if the universe expanded too quickly, no galaxies, stars, or planets would form, but if the universe expanded too slowly, the universe would collapse before galaxies, stars, and planets could form.
In either scenario, the universe would never develop galaxies, stars, and planets. This is obviously incompatible with the existence of life for if there are no galaxies, stars, or planets, then there’s no home for creatures to live on.
6: The Ratio Of Electrons To Protons – If there were either too many electrons or too many protons, electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation. Again, no galaxies, stars, and planets mean no possible home for creatures to live on. A universe devoid of galaxies, stars, and planets is a universe devoid of life.
7: The Entropy Level Of The Early Universe -- Hugh Ross explains that “If the rate of decay were any lower, galactic systems would trap radiation in such a manner that stars could not form. Starless galaxies would fill the universe. On the other hand, if the decay rate were slightly higher, no galactic systems would form at all. In either case there would be no “terrestrial ball” to serve as a home for life.”1
An Argument For Design
The Fine Tuning is in need of explanation. I strongly believe that Intelligent Design is the best explanation for why the physical constants and quantities fell within the extremely narrow life permitting range. To make my case, I’ll employ a syllogism formulated by philosopher William Lane Craig that he uses in his books Reasonable Faith2 and On Guard.3
1: The Fine-Tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
2: It is not due to physical necessity, or chance.
3: Therefore, it is due to design.
This is a logically valid syllogism. The conclusion follows from the premises by the rules of logic. I know this because the argument form is disjunctive syllogism. In order for us to reach the conclusion, we’ll have to confirm that both of the initial premises are true. So are these premises true or are they false? Well, let’s look at them.
Premise 1: The Fine-Tuning Is Due To Either Physical Necessity, Chance, Or Design
The fine tuning is in need of explanation. Of the explanations debated today in the scientific community, the three options are either physical necessity, chance, or design.
Physical Necessity = the constants and quantities mentioned above have to be the way that they are. There was no chance of a life-prohibiting universe coming into being.
Chance = The laws of physics took the values that they did by accident.
Design = An intelligent Creator willed that the laws of physics took the values that they did.
This premise is uncontroversial because it’s simply a list of possible explanations. Of the two premises of this argument, this one shouldn’t be debatable. It is simply a list of possible explanations to account for the universe’s extraordinary fine-tuning. If the skeptic can conjure up a 4th alternative, he’s more than welcome to add it to the list, and then we’ll consider it when we come to premise 2. However, in the 50 years since the fine-tuning of physics was discovered, these 3 are the only ones ever advocated. Since this premise is simply a list of possible explanations, it shouldn’t be controversial.
Premise 2: The Fine-Tuning Is Not Due To Physical Necessity Or Chance.
The Fine-Tuning is not plausibly explained by physical necessity. There’s simply no good reason to think that the constants and quantities of physics couldn’t be different than what they are. Why couldn’t gravity be more attractive or less attractive? Why couldn’t the universe have expanded faster or slower than it did? Couldn’t there have been a different ratio of electrons to protons, or matter over anti-matter? Physical necessity is just conjecture.
The Fine Tuning is not plausibly explained by chance either. The odds of each individual constant coming together is extremely improbable on their own, but when you add them all together, improbability is multiplied by improbability by improbability by improbability until the mind gets sent reeling from the ocean of unfathomable numbers.
For example, gravity is finely tuned to 1 part in 1036 (that’s a 1 followed by 36 zeroes). In the film The Case For A Creator based on the book of the same name, Lee Strobel demonstrates this improbability by saying to imagine a ruler stretching from one end of the universe to another, and the ruler is separated by one inch increments. The number of inches represents the range of possible values that gravity could have taken. The odds that gravity should take the just right value would be if it fell on one specific inch out of 14 billion light years worth of inches.
The odds of the expansion rate of the universe being just right is 1 part in 1060. According to Strobel, this would be the same odds as flying hundreds of miles into space, turning around, throwing a dart at the Earth, and nailing a target a trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter!
In his book The Creator and The Cosmos4 Astrophysicist Hugh Ross said that the odds of the just right number of electrons to protons coming about was 1 in 1037. Ross said that that would be the same odds as covering one million continents the size of North America in dimes, stacked up to the height of the moon, then painting one dime red, mixing it in with the one million North American continents worth of dimes, and having a blindfolded friend pick out one red dime. The odds that your blindfolded friend would pick out the one red dime is 1 in 1037.
Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of the Big Bang's low entropy condition existing by chance are on the order of 1 out of 10 to the power of 10123.
Such an incredibly huge number is impossible to appreciate without the aid of an analogy.
If you set a laptop computer in front of a 2-year-old toddler with Microsoft Word open and you told him to put his finger on the 0 key until he had 10123 zeroes typed after the number 1, how long would it take that child to type in 10123 zeroes? He would die as an old man before he got finished typing all the zeroes! In fact, if you replaced the old man with another 2-year-old toddler and told him to type in zeroes in order to finish the work of his predecessor, he too would die as an old man before he got finished! In fact, you could go through 10 generations of men spending their entire lives typing in zeroes and they still wouldn’t be able to type this number out in full!
This isn't even counting the number of members in a collection of items that the written number is supposed to describe. The number of members in a collection of items always outnumbers the 0s in the numeral that’s describing the number of members in the collection. For example, the number 100 only has 2 zeros but there are far more members in a collection of 100 items than there are 0s in the numerical 100! If you had a stadium of 1,000 people, there would be far more people in the stadium than 0s in the numerical 1,000. There are only 2 zeroes in the numerical 100. There are 3 zeroes in the numeral 1,000, but in both cases, the number of members in the collection of items outnumbers the number of 0s in the numerals! So if there are 10123 zeroes in the number, what would a collection of 10 to the 10123 items look like?
It would be absolute madness to believe that the fine-tuning of the laws of physics came about by sheer chance. Rationality demands that we reject the chance hypothesis.
Conclusion: Therefore, It Is Due To Design
Given the truth of the two premises, the conclusion follows logically and necessarily by the laws of logic. In this case, the law of logic that The Fine Tuning Argument goes by is known as “Disjunctive Syllogism”.
This option eliminates Deism from the list of possible religions because it demonstrates that the Creator of the universe wanted life of some kind to exist. Physicist John Kinson explains it like this: "The amount of care lavished upon creating the parameters ('knobs') and then fine tuning them with painstaking care and precision (to values that are conducive to life, and to intelligent life in particular) points to a being who cares about intelligent life, rather than a being who is indifferent to intelligent life. In other words, this clue points to a Theist God (who cares about his Creation) rather than a Deist God (who does not care about his Creation). Given this degree of care, it is not unreasonable to think that this being might choose to reveal 'Himself' to humans." 5
Argument 3: The Local Fine-Tuning Argument
In addition to the laws of physics being finely tuned for the existence of life, there are also many parameters that need to come together in a particular region of the universe in order to make that particular region life permitting. This fine-tuning differs from the fine-tuning in the previous section because the fine tuning in the previous affects the entire universe while the fine-tuning in this section affects only a particular region of the universe. This is why I use the distinction between universal fine-tuning and local fine-tuning.
Let’s look at a few of the parameters needed in order for our galaxy, solar system, and Earth-Moon planetary system to be capable of harboring advanced life.
*If we had no moon, life couldn’t exist. The moon stabilizes Earth’s axial tilt, keeping it from wobbling too severely. It also slowed the Earth’s rotation down from its initial 5 hours per day to 24 hours per day, and the collision event (i.e a collision between a Mars-sized planet named Theia and Earth) that produced the moon also blasted the majority of Earth’s primordial atmosphere into outer space. So much fine-tuning went into this collision event.
1: Theia’s Speed
If faster: Earth would have either been destroyed or ejected out of the solar system.
If slower: There wouldn’t have been enough dust and rocky fragments ejected from Earth’s surface, resulting in a moon too small for life.
2: Theia’s Size
If larger: Earth would have either been destroyed, or would have become Theia’s moon (depending on how much larger).
If smaller: Not enough material would have been ejected into Earth’s orbit to make a big enough moon.
3: Theia’s Angle
If it hit Earth head on, it would have destroyed Earth.
If it barely grazed Earth, there wouldn’t have been enough material ejected from the Earth’s surface to make a moon of sufficient size.
4: Theia’s Material Constituents
Needed to ensure that the just right material melted into Earth’s core to produce a magnetic field strong enough to block solar radiation and radiation from other sources in the universe from reaching the surface.
All of these things were needed to produce a moon of the just right size and ergo an atmosphere of the just right density and a rotation rate of the just right speed.
5: Earth’s Rotation Rate
If faster: Surface wind velocities would be too severe for life to handle.
If slower: It would be far too hot in the day and far too cold at night for advanced life to exist.
6: The Moon’s Size
If larger: The Earth’s rotation rate would have slowed down too much, resulting in day to night temperature extremes too severe for advanced life to handle.
If smaller: The Earth’s rotation rate would not have slowed down enough, resulting in surface wind velocities too severe for advanced life to handle.
7: Earth’s Atmospheric Density
If too thick: The Earth would have experienced a runaway greenhouse effect, resulting in temperatures of approx. 900 degrees of just like Venus.
8: Jupiter Distance
If farther away: too many asteroid and comet collisions would occur on Earth.
If closer: Earth’s orbit would become unstable: Jupiter’s presence would too radically disturb or prevent the formation of Earth.
9: Jupiter Mass
If greater: Earth’s orbit would become unstable: Jupiter’s presence would too radically disturb or prevent the formation of Earth.
If lesser: Too many asteroid collisions would occur on Earth.
10: Saturn Distance
If farther away: too many asteroid and comet collisions would occur on Earth.
If closer: Earth’s orbit would become unstable. Saturn’s presence would too radically disturb or prevent the formation of Earth.
11: Saturn Mass
If greater: Earth’s orbit would become unstable: Saturn’s presence would disturb or prevent the formation of the Earth.
If lesser: Too many asteroid and comet collisions would occur on Earth.
12: Neptune Distance
If farther away: It would be insufficient in shielding Earth from asteroids.
If closer: Earth’s orbit would be thrown out of whack.
13: Neptune Mass
If too small: Not enough Kuiper Belt Objects (i.e asteroids beyond Neptune) would be scattered out of the solar system. Moreover, too many asteroid and comet collisions would occur on Earth.
If too large: Chaotic resonances among the gas giant planets would occur.
14: Uranus Distance (Stop laughing!)
If farther away: Too many asteroid collisions would occur on Earth.
If closer: Earth’s orbit would be thrown out of whack.
15: Uranus mass (I mean it! Stop laughing!)
If larger: Earth’s orbit would be too unstable.
If smaller: Its gravity would be insufficient to attract incoming asteroids and pull them into itself. More asteroids would strike Earth.
16: Oxygen Level Of Earth’s Atmosphere
If greater: Fires would erupt spontaneously across the planet. You could catch on fire from walking down the street due to the friction between your legs.
If lesser: People would not have enough oxygen to breathe.
17: Thickness Of Earth’s Crust
If ticker: No tectonic processes could occur. Therefore, no land masses could ever form. Landmasses and tectonic processes are important for recycling nutrients back into the ocean.
If lesser: Tectonic processes would be so severe that building a civilization would be impossible. Severe Earthquakes would be happening everywhere all the time!
18: Earth’s Distance From The Sun
If closer: Earth would become too hot for liquid water to exist on the surface (i.e it would boil away).
If farther away: Earth would become too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface (i.e it would all be frozen).
19: Just Right Star
If larger: Star would not burn long enough for advanced life to evolve.
If smaller: Earth would need to be closer to stay in the “Goldilocks Zone” and this would result in a tidally locked planet (i.e one side always facing toward, and one side always facing away from the sun). Remember, 24 hour rotation speed is required for advanced life.
20: Galaxy Cluster Type
If too rich: Galaxy collisions and mergers would disrupt solar orbit
If too sparse: insufficient infusion of gas to sustain star formation for a long enough time
21: Galaxy Size
If too large: infusion of gas and stars would disturb sun’s orbit and ignite too many galactic eruptions.
If too small: Insufficient infusion of gas to sustain star formation for long enough time.
These are just 21 of over 400 different characteristics that need to be just right in order for advanced life to exist. In the documentary "Journey Toward Creation", astrophysicist Hugh Ross said that the odds that they could come together by chance are on the order of 1 chance in 10^500. The most reasonable explanation is that a Creator made these parameters the way that they are. Ross kept an ongoing list of these locally fine-tuned parameters up until 2009. Click here to look at the exaustive list.
This conclusion, when combined with the conclusions drawn from the origin and cosmic fine-tuning of the universe makes the belief if a Theistic God even more tenable. When The Big Bang evidence, fine-tuning evidence, and local fine-tuning evidence is laid out in a cumulative case, we know one of the 3 Abrahamic religions must be true. Only they are consistent with this evidence as only they have a God who brought all matter, energy, space, and time into being ex nihilo, and the amount of design evidence in the universe demonstrates that this Creator actually cares about life. The local fine-tuning argument in particular, shows us that this Creator cares about life on this planet.
Argument 4: The Moral Argument
The Moral Argument argues that objective morality is evidence for the existence of God. Christian Philosopher William Lane Craig defends the argument in the form of the following syllogism:
1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3: Therefore, God exists.
Before we continue, it would be good for us to define our terms.
Moral Values = good and bad.
Moral Duties = right and wrong.
The Difference between these two: Values have to do with something’s’ worth. Duties have to do with your obligations. Just because something is good doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do it. For example, it would be good for you to be a doctor, but you’re not morally obligated to become a doctor.
Objective = it is what it is regardless of what anyone thinks. Objective is the opposite of subjective. Subjective means that something is dependent on someone’s opinion. For example, it is objectively true that chocolate ice cream is brown. It is only subjectively true that it tastes better than vanilla.
Premise 1: If God Does Not Exist, Objective Moral Values And Duties Do Not Exist
If atheism is true, then why would humans be objectively, intrinsically valuable? On atheism, man is just a biological organism. There are other biological organisms on the planet. Why would humans be of more worth than any other? How could the life of a man be more valuable than the life of a cockroach or a tree? Most people don’t believe you’re committing murder when you stomp on a cockroach or cut down a tree, but they do believe you’re committing murder when you end the life of a person. What basis is there for this on atheism? What basis is there for thinking that it’s okay to cut down a tree but evil to cut down a man?
On atheism, both man and the cockroach are made of the same material that sprang into being at The Big Bang. Both man and the cockroach evolved out of the same primordial slime billions of years ago. According to Darwinism, all life came out of the same primordial slime and is related to one another, so what makes humans more valuable than they?
Could it be that humans are more advanced? More complex? More intelligent? If you say this, then that only raises another question: why is complexity a criterion for an organism’s worth? Who or what decided that? Why is it not the simpler organisms that are of more value? I fail to see how on atheism, man’s life isn’t ontologically equal with the lowest life form alive. On the atheist’s worldview, man is just a bag of chemicals on bones thrust into existence through a blind, purposeless process on a tiny speck of a planet in a universe that cares not whether he lives or dies. Why is this bag of chemicals on bones worth loving, worth saving, worth taking care of, worth praising? Objective moral values are totally unintelligible on an atheistic worldview.
If moral values cannot exist in the absence of God, then moral duties are thrown out the window as well. The denial of moral values entails the denial of moral duties. If man’s life is as worthless as a flea’s, then the holocaust cannot be said to be truly, objectively wrong. There was no moral difference between killing 6 million Jews and terminating a hill of ants. As ghastly as it is to say such a thing, this is the logical entailment of atheism.
As Dostoevsky put it: “If God does not exist, then all things are permitted.”6
Premise 2: Objective Moral Values And Duties Do Exist
Although good and evil and right and wrong cannot exist on the atheist’s worldview, deep down, we all know that they do exist.
We can sense that some things are truly good, and that others are truly evil. We have moral intuitions that tell us that taking care of a baby is morally right and torturing a baby is morally wrong. Just as our sensory experience tells us that a world of physical objects is real, so our moral sense tells us that good and evil are real.
Moreover, just as no one can get outside of their 5 senses to see for sure whether or not they are giving them reliable information, so we cannot get outside of our moral sense to test whether it’s giving us reliable information. But that should not give us reason to doubt whether physical objects or objective morality is real.
In my experience, atheists who try to cast doubt on our moral intuitions (and therefore, the ability to confirm this premise) typically make arguments that, if applied to our physical senses, would remove our ability to know things about the external world. For example, some of them argue that “People disagree on whether X is right or wrong, so our moral intuitions are unreliable in determining whether right and wrong exist." But imagine this logic being applied to our physical sense of sight. You would not be able to know whether color is an objective part of the physical world. After all, some people are color blind and others aren’t! Some people can perceive color, but disagree on a particular shade of color. Don't forget that an entire internet sensation known as "The Dress" was founded on a disagreement as to whether the dress was gold and white or black and blue. The reductio ad absurdum shows that this is not a valid response.
Conclusion: Therefore, God Exists.
Given the truth of the two premises, the conclusion follows by the rule of modus tollens.
1: If P, then Q.
2: Not Q.
3: Therefore, Not P.
God is the best explanation for why objective morality exists. His moral character is the standard of good and evil, and His commandments are a reflection of His character, and these determine right and wrong.
Moreover, as I argue in chapter 4 of my book "Inference To The One True God", I think only the Christian conception of God is compatible with this argument's conclusion. This argument requires that a necessary, morally perfect, personal Being be the measuring stick of good and evil. He must be necessary because many moral truths appear to be necessarily true, and necessary truths can't be grounded in a contingent being. He must be morally perfect because an evil being can't be the standard of morality. Why? Because if that were the case, Hitler would be closer to meeting the standard of The Good than Mother Teresa. The moral perfection of this Being entails that He must be all loving and perfectly loving. He must be a Trinity in order to be a being of perfect love. If This being is not a triune being, then he cannot be a being of perfect love because love requires 3 things; (1) a lover, (2) someone to love, and (3) a relationship going on between the lover and the loved one. If God is only one person rather than three, then before He created any other persons (angels, humans), He had no one to love. Since He had no one to love, he, therefore, could not be perfectly loving. And if he wasn't perfectly loving, he was morally deficient since it seems to me at least that love is a moral virtue. Only a God who is multi-personal could be perfectly loving from eternity past. Christianity is the only religion in the world that has a multipersonal God. Therefore, only Christianity is consistent with this argument's conclusion.
Argument 5: The Ontological Argument
This argument, originally formulated by a Benedictine monk named St. Anselm and has gone through several revisions over the centuries. Anselm's version was, to be frank, a little silly. However, he laid the groundwork for future philosophers to make it into a robust argument for God's existence. The version I'll defend is called the "Modal" version. It's most famous contemporary defenders are Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig.
Now, before I go on to list and defend the premises of the argument, let me first explain some of the unique terminologies that will come into play for those without a background in philosophy. The Ontological Argument employs terms like “Possible Worlds” and “Maximally Great Being”.
Possible Worlds = A maximal description of the way the world could be. It is simply a complete list of logically possible states of affairs that could be true of reality. At least one of these lists of logically possible states of affairs will be true of reality. If you still find the term “Possible Worlds” confusing, just substitute it for the term “Possible Lists” instead. Imagine you have multiple sheets of notebook paper, and each list has a sentence describing a logically coherent state of affairs which could be true of reality, such as “Evan Minton is typing a blog post overviewing 5 arguments for the existence of God”, “Evan is wearing a yellowish green t-shirt while he types”, “Evan stopped in the middle of typing this blog post to eat some leftover fried chicken for lunch”, “Evan’s room needs cleaning up”, and so on. These statements listed one after another on your notebook paper are all states of affairs that could exist, and so, form a possible list. I’ll confess, all of the prior statements are not only true of a possible world/list, they’re true of the actual world/list. Now, if you change some statements on your sheet of paper, you arrive at a different list. This is really all a possible world is: an exhaustive list of statements that could be true of reality.
Maximally Great Being = This is a being that has all properties or attributes that go to make a person great (e.g power, knowledge, presence, moral goodness) and it has these properties to the greatest extent possible (i.e omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, morally perfect). If an attribute would make a person great if he had it, a Maximally Great Being will have that attribute, and moreover, will have it to the greatest extent possible.
Now that we’ve defined our terms, let’s look at the premises of this argument.
1: It is possible that a Maximally Great Being exists.
2: If it is possible that a Maximally Great Being exists, then a Maximally Great Being exists in some possible world.
3: If a Maximally Great Being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
4: If a Maximally Great Being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
5: If a Maximally Great Being exists in the actual world, then a Maximally Great Being exists.
6: Therefore, a Maximally Great Being exists.
This is a logically valid argument. The conclusion follows from the premises by the rules of logic.
Premise 1: It is possible that a Maximally Great Being Exists
By possible, I mean that something like a Maximally Great Being (MGB) could exist in reality. I don’t mean it like a weak agnostic that says “Well, it’s possible that a Maximally Great Being exists and it’s possible that He doesn’t.” I mean that an MGB is metaphysically or logically possible. It does seem to me that this premise is true. I don’t see any reason to think that it isn’t possible that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, morally perfect, necessarily existent being exists. Such an entity seems intuitively possible.
Premise 2: If It Is Possible That A Maximally Great Being Exists, Then A Maximally Great Being Exists In Some Possible World
This premise follows from the first. If the existence of anything is logically possible, then it exists in some possible world. The only way it would exist in no possible world would be if the thing in question were logically impossible, such as a square circle, one ended stick, a married unmarried man, or a physical object with no shape. Such things are contradictions. A shape is either a square or a circle, but not both. A man is either married or unmarried, but he can’t be both! A stick always has two ends. These things violate the laws of logic and therefore exist in no possible world. By contrast, things like a little green alien or a unicorn, while these don’t exist in the actual world, they do exist in some possible worlds because their existence is possible. If God’s existence is possible (see premise 1), then He at least exists in some possible worlds.
Premise 3: If A Maximally Great Being exists in some possible world, then He exists in every possible world.
This premise is true because of how one defines an MGB. A Maximally Great Being is, by virtue of being maximally great, necessarily existent. A Being who is necessarily existent is intuitively greater than one who is contingently existent. When something necessarily exists, this means that it could not possibly fail to exist. Its non-existence is impossible. Many mathematicians think that numbers, sets, and other mathematical entities exist in this way. If they exist, they have to exist and could not possibly fail to exist.
Now, if a necessary being exists in some possible world, it is impossible for it to not exist in all other possible worlds. 2+2=4 is a logically necessary truth. If it’s necessarily true in some possible world, it will be true in all of them. 2+2=4 is a logically necessary truth. If it’s necessarily true in some possible world, it will be true in all of them. 2+2 will not equal 4 in some possible worlds, but 5 in others. Necessary truth and necessarily existent being either exist in all possible worlds.
Premise 4: If A Maximally Great Being Exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
This premise follows from the previous one. If a Maximally Great Being exists in every possible world, then, of course, it will exist in the actual world. The actual world is a possible world. We know this precisely because it is actual. If it were an impossible world (like a world with a square circle) then it would not and could not exist. Given that it does exist, we know that it certainly is logically possible.
Premise 5: If A Maximally Great Being Exists In The Actual World, then a Maximally Great Being Exists.
Obviously, if something exists in the actual world, it actually exists.
Conclusion: Therefore, A Maximally Great Being Exists.
An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, morally perfect, necessarily existent being exists in the actual world.
The premises of both of this, so it follows that a necessarily existent, morally perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, personal being exists.
Now, like the Moral Argument, I think only the Christian God is compatible with this conclusion. Various reasons have been given in chapter 5 of my book "Inference To The One True God", but for the sake of length, I'll only go into one of them. In order to be a morally perfect being, this being would have to exist as more than one person. If God is not a trinity then God is not love. This is because love requires three things: someone to love, someone to do the loving, and a relationship going on between the lover and the Beloved. If these three things are not present then love is not present. But before any human beings were created, God was all by himself. So if God was all by himself, who was there to love? God had no one to love! Given that God had no one to love, God couldn't be love or loving until he created the first human beings or Angels or any persons other than himself. But in that case, God could not be maximally great, for in order to be maximally great, God would have to be morally perfect, which he could not be if God were only a single person. But the Ontological Argument established the existence of a being who is indeed morally perfect and ergo maximally great. So how does one resolve this dilemma? The doctrine of the Trinity provides the answer. If God is a trinity, then God can be an intrinsically loving being, because if God is a trinity then all of the necessary requirements for love are present. You have a lover, you have a beloved, and you have a relationship between them. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of love. Again, only Christianity has a God who is a Trinity. Therefore the Moral and Ontological Arguments demonstrate the truth of Christianity.
This has been a brief overview of my 5 favorite arguments for God's existence. Now, for the sake of this article's length, I wasn't able to address the various objections atheists tend to lodge at these arguments when these arguments are presented to them. If you're a skeptic, you may be thinking "Well, what about this or what about this?" I admonish you to browse Cerebral Faith to find answers to whatever objection you have in mind, and it has probably been dealt with in my book "Inference To The One True God".
1: Hugh Ross, from the online article “Why A Decaying Universe?” /September 2008/ Reasons To Believe/ -- http://www.reasons.org/articles/why-a-decaying-universe
2: “Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Third Edition”, by William Lane Craig, Crossway / 2008 /. Chapter 4 “The Existence Of God (2)”, page 161.
3: “On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason and Precision” by William Lane Craig, David C. Cook / 2010 / chapter 5 “Why is the universe finely tuned?”, page 111
4: Hugh Ross, “The Creator and The Cosmos: How The Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God”, Chapter 14, Page 115, NAVPRESS
5: John M. Kinson, "Does Mathematics Point To God? Vignettes By An Ex-Atheist Scientist", Amazon Digital Services LLC, August 1st, 2016, page 189
6: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "A Hymn and a Secret", Part 4, Book 11, Chapter 4