This book provides a detailed, updated exposition and defense of five of the historically most important (but in recent years largely neglected) philosophical proofs of God’s existence: the Aristotelian, the Neo-Platonic, the Augustinian, the Thomistic, and the Rationalist. -/- It also offers a thorough treatment of each of the key divine attributes—unity, simplicity, eternity, omnipotence, omniscience, perfect goodness, and so forth—showing that they must be possessed by the God whose existence is demonstrated by the proofs. Finally, it answers at length (...) all of the objections that have been leveled against these proofs. -/- This work provides as ambitious and complete a defense of traditional natural theology as is currently in print. Its aim is to vindicate the view of the greatest philosophers of the past— thinkers like Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas, Leibniz, and many others— that the existence of God can be established with certainty by way of purely rational arguments. It thereby serves as a refutation both of atheism and of the fideism that gives aid and comfort to atheism. (shrink)
The central debate of natural theology among medieval Muslims and Jews concerned whether or not the world was eternal. Opinions divided sharply on this issue because the outcome bore directly on God's relationship with the world: eternity implies a deity bereft of will, while a world with a beginning leads to the contrasting picture of a deity possessed of will. In this exhaustive study of medieval Islamic and Jewish arguments for eternity, creation, and the existence of God, Herbert Davidson provides (...) a systematic classification of the proofs, analyzes and explains them, and traces their sources in Greek philosophy. Throughout the study, Davidson tries to take into account every argument of a philosophical character, disregarding only those arguments that rest entirely on religious faith or which fall below a minimal level of plausibility. (shrink)
We argue that Descartes’s theistic proofs in the ’Meditations’ are much simpler and straightforward than they are traditionally taken to be. In particular, we show how the causal argument of the "Third Meditation" depends on the intuitively innocent principle that nothing comes from nothing, and not on the more controversial principle that the objective reality of an idea must have a cause with at least as much formal reality. We also demonstrate that the so-called ontological "argument" of the "Fifth Meditation" (...) is best understood not as a formal proof but as an axiom, revealed as self-evident by analytic meditation. (shrink)
The Hegel Lectures Series Series Editor: Peter C. Hodgson Hegel's lectures have had as great a historical impact as the works he himself published. Important elements of his system are elaborated only in the lectures, especially those given in Berlin during the last decade of his life. The original editors conflated materials from different sources and dates, obscuring the development and logic of Hegel's thought. The Hegel Lectures series is based on a selection of extant and recently discovered transcripts and (...) manuscripts. Lectures from specific years are reconstructed so that the structure of Hegel's argument can be followed. Each volume presents an accurate new translation accompanied by an editorial introduction and annotations on the text, which make possible the identification of Hegel's many allusions and sources. Lectures on the Proofs of the Existence of God Hegel lectured on the proofs of the existence of God as a separate topic in 1829. He also discussed the proofs in the context of his lectures on the philosophy of religion (1821-31), where the different types of proofs were considered mostly in relation to specific religions. The text that he prepared for his lectures in 1829 was a fully formulated manuscript and appears to have been the first draft of a work that he intended to publish and for which he signed a contract shortly before his death in 1831. The 16 lectures include an introduction to the problem of the proofs and a detailed discussion of the cosmological proof. Philipp Marheineke published these lectures in 1832 as an appendix to the lectures on the philosophy of religion, together with an earlier manuscript fragment on the cosmological proof and the treatment of the teleological and ontological proofs as found in the 1831 philosophy of religion lectures. Hegel's 1829 lectures on the proofs are of particular importance because they represent what he actually wrote as distinct from auditors' transcriptions of oral lectures. Moreover, they come late in his career and offer his final and most seasoned thinking on a topic of obvious significance to him, that of the reality status of God and ways of knowing God. These materials show how Hegel conceived the connection between the cosmological, teleological, and ontological proofs. All of this material has been newly translated by Peter C. Hodgson from the German critical editions by Walter Jaeschke. This edition includes an editorial introduction, annotations on the text, and a glossary and bibliography. (shrink)
The possibility of proving the existence of God has fascinated thinkers and believers throughout the centuries. This book critically analyzes both sides of the contemporary debate between the two most important living philosophers of religion--Richard Swinburne and D.Z. Phillips--and constructs an alternative solution. Instead of taking sides on the issue of God's existence, Messer argues that behind each thinkers' work, and their attitudes toward proving the existence of God, lies fundamental trust. A positive discussion of relativism leads to a fresh (...) analysis of the arguments for God's existence, particularly the ontological argument. In this way, Messer concludes that they are indeed worthwhile, although not for the traditional reasons. (shrink)
How do we prove the existence of God? This book tackles head-on this fundamental question. It examines a cross-section of theistic proofs, explaining in clear terms what they are and what they try to accomplish.
Proofs of God in Early Modern Europe offers a fascinating window into early modern efforts to prove God’s existence. Assembled here are twenty-two key texts, many translated into English for the first time, which illustrate the variety of arguments that philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries offered for God. These selections feature traditional proofs—such as various ontological, cosmological, and design arguments—but also introduce more exotic proofs, such as the argument from eternal truths, the argument from universal aseity, and the (...) argument ex consensu gentium. Drawn from the work of eighteen philosophers, this book includes both canonical figures (such as Descartes, Spinoza, Newton, Leibniz, Locke, and Berkeley) and noncanonical thinkers (such as Norris, Fontenelle, Voltaire, Wolff, Du Châtelet, and Maupertuis). -/- Lloyd Strickland provides fresh translations of all selections not originally written in English and updates the spelling and grammar of those that were. Each selection is prefaced by a lengthy headnote, giving a biographical account of its author, an analysis of the main argument(s), and important details about the historical context. Strickland’s introductory essay provides further context, focusing on the various reasons that led so many thinkers of early modernity to develop proofs of God’s existence. -/- Proofs of God is perfect for both students and scholars of early modern philosophy and philosophy of religion. (shrink)
Edward Feser defends the ‘Neo-Platonic proof ’ for the existence of the God of classical theism. After articulating the argument and a number of preliminaries, I first argue that premise three of Feser’s argument—the causal principle that every composite object requires a sustaining efficient cause to combine its parts—is both unjustified and dialectically ill-situated. I then argue that the Neo-Platonic proof fails to deliver the mindedness of the absolutely simple being and instead militates against its mindedness. Finally, I (...) uncover two tensions between Trinitarianism and the Neo-Platonic proof. (shrink)
I do not think that the existence of God can be proved or even that the main justification for the belief can be found in argument in the ordinary sense of that term, but I think two of the three which have, since Kant at least, been classified as the traditional arguments of natural theology have some force and are worthy of serious consideration. This consideration I shall now proceed to give. I cannot say this of the remaining one of (...) the arguments, the ‘ontological proof’, which I shall therefore not discuss here. (shrink)
Zeno's so-called proofs of divine existence -- Zeno and the traditional gods: a serious problem -- Cleanthes' proofs -- Cleanthes and the traditional gods -- Chrysippus' contribution -- Chrysippus and the traditional gods -- Other Stoic proofs -- Other (Stoic?) arguments in Sextus -- Polemics against the arguments pro the existence of God(s) -- Abolishing the gods leads to odd consequence: the atopical arguments pro the existence of the gods -- The counter-arguments -- Carneades and the data of Sextus and (...) Cicero -- The sorites arguments as a weapon against the traditional gods -- Epilogue -- Appendix I. Cleanthes' humn on Zeus: a running commentary -- Appendix II. Where is God? -- Appendix III. Alexinus' Parabolai. (shrink)
The purpose of this study is to investigate the legitimacy of the principle, "The per accidens necessarily implies the per se," as it is found in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. Special emphasis will be placed upon the function of this principle in the proofs for God's existence. The relevance of the principle in this latter context can be seen at once when it is observed that it is the key to the solution of the well known "prob lem (...) of infinite regress. " The investigation of the principle in question will be divided into two Parts. A preliminary examination of the function of the principle will be made in Part I: Domains Other Than That of Creature-God. The domains to be considered in this Part are those of accident-substance, change, and knowledge. Employing what is learned of the function of the principle in these areas of application, Part II: The Domain of Creature-God will analyze the role of the principle in the proofs for God's existence. This latter Part will constitute the greater portion of the book, since the domain of creatures in their relation to God is the most significant application of the principle in the writings of St. Thomas. In the course of this investigation, relevant analyses by St. Thomas' commentators - both classical and contemporary - will be considered. Finally, in light of the insights offered by St. (shrink)
Hegel believes that the immanent ascent of finite spirit and its immersion in its uncreated foundation-in absolute spirit-is a true transition and he cannot use the so-called proofs of the existence of God. Besides, he sees an advantage here in that this transition results in the ascent of the human spirit to the most concrete and true, to God in His absolute truth-to Absolute Spirit. In connection with this, Hegel emphasizes in the manuscript of his lectures on the philosophy of (...) religion that the speculative meaning of the religious idea of the immortality of the soul lies in attaining the absoluteness and infinity of self-consciousness, the fact that "the self-consciousness of the spiritual is itself an eternal, absolute factor.". (shrink)
In this article I consider whether Aquinas’ arguments for the claim that God is His essence are conclusive, and what was his purpose of upholding this thesis. I show his proofs from Summa Theologiae and Summa Contra Gentiles to be problematic and argue that the defense of Aquinas’ views on that matter suggested by certain remarks of P. T. Geach is flawed.
Theism and its cousins, atheism and agnosticism, are seldom taken to task for logical-epistemological incoherence. This paper provides a condensed proof that not only theism, but atheism and agnosticism as well, are all of them conceptually self-undermining, and for the same reason: All attempt to make use of the concept of “transcendent reality,” which here is shown not only to lack meaning, but to preclude the very possibility of meaning. In doing this, the incoherence of theism, atheism, and agnosticism (...) is secondary to the more general incoherence of any attempts to refer to so-called “transcendent realities.” A recognition of the conceptually fundamental incoherence of theism, atheism, and agnosticism compels our rational assent to a position the author names “paratheism.”. (shrink)
The core idea of the ontological proof is to show that the concept of existence is somehow contained in the concept of God, and that therefore God’s existence can be logically derived—without any further assumptions about the external world—from the very idea, or definition, of God. Now, G.W. Leibniz has argued repeatedly that the traditional versions of the ontological proof are not fully conclusive, because they rest on the tacit assumption that the concept of God is possible, i.e. (...) free from contradiction. A complete proof will rather have to consist of two parts. First, a proof of premiseGod is possible. Second, a demonstration of the “remarkable proposition”If God is possible, then God exists. The present contribution investigates an interesting paper in which Leibniz tries to prove proposition. It will be argued that the underlying idea of God as a necessary being has to be interpreted with the help of a distinguished predicate letter ‘E’ as follows:\\). Proposition which Leibniz considered as “the best fruit of the entire logic” can then be formalized as follows:\) \rightarrow \, E)\). At first sight, Leibniz’s proof appears to be formally correct; but a closer examination reveals an ambiguity in his use of the modal notions. According to, the possibility of the necessary being has to be understood in the sense of something which possibly exists. However, in other places of his proof, Leibniz interprets the assumption that the necessary being is impossible in the diverging sense of something which involves a contradiction. Furthermore, Leibniz believes that an »impossible thing«, y, is such that contradictory propositions like \\) and \\) might both be true of y. It will be argued that the latter assumption is incompatible with Leibniz’s general views about logic and that the crucial proof is better reinterpreted as dealing with the necessity, possibility, and impossibility of concepts rather than of objects. In this case, the counterpart of turns out to be a theorem of Leibniz’s second order logic of concepts; but in order to obtain a full demonstration of the existence of God, the counterpart of, i.e. the self-consistency of the concept of a necessary being, remains to be proven. (shrink)
Two claims have been explored, the first, that fool-proof proofs of the sort that there could be if there were a God like the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not to be expected, on good religious grounds (a claim I found wanting); and second, that there cannot be philosophical proofs of God which work beyond reasonable doubt.The argument that there cannot be philosophical proofs beyond a reasonable doubt is supported by an examination of some of the fundamental (...) issues in the traditional discussions of proofs for God's existence, and by claims about the relativity of methodological rules to world-views which, I maintain, the traditional discussions indicate. I do not claim to have proved that relativity, only to have illustrated the claim that it is there.It is my further opinion, but I do not claim really to have proved it, that the failure of religious excuses for the lack of public demon strations constitutes a good reason for concluding that there is no God of the sort described as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; hence that if there is a God, it must be the God of the philosophers. However I admit that there might be sufficient hidden reasons which would offer persuasive excuses for the God of the ordinary believer.Lastly, I have made some comments about what I think is the more valuable way to view the “proofs for God.” Such an interpretation does justice to the otherwise baffling and continual philosophical disagreements better than rival theories. It is time we take these disagreements with utmost seriousness, and one can hardly do that while treating basic metaphysical arguments as fool-proof proofs. (shrink)
Both in the East and in the West, there is, apart from the religious approach to God, also a purely rational one. Although in India philosophical speculation on God was mostly inextricably bound to religion, there have also been purely rational developments in Indian theodicy. This is the case above all in the Nyayavaisesika system, where we find a purely rational and logical approach to the question of the existence and nature of God. It is the specific contribution of the (...) Nyayavaisesika system to have developed a purely logical and rational argument for the existence of God. My purpose here is to take this proof in its developed form, as it is found in Gasgesa, and investigate its philosophical and logical implications. (shrink)
In this engaging introductory dialogue, Todd Moody maps the spectrum of philosophical arguments and counterarguments for the existence of God. Structuring colloquial conversations along classical lines, he presents a lively and accessible discussion of issues that are central to both theist and atheist thinking, including the burden of proof, the first cause, a necessary being, the natural order, suffering, miracles, experience as knowledge, and rationality without proof. The second edition is a significant and comprehensive revision. Moody broadens and (...) deepens the conversation by addressing additional arguments, such as the problem of animal suffering, the moral argument, intelligent design, and human exceptionalism. The discussion of the cosmological argument is updated to reflect recent work on the Kalam Cosmological Argument. A short preface explains the scope of the work and the purpose of the dialogue form. Suggested further readings of contemporary and classical sources are also included. (shrink)
I prove the nonexistence of gods. The proof is based on three axioms: Ockham’s razor (OR), religiosity is endogenous in humans, and, there are no miracles. The OR is formulated operationally, to remove improper postulates, such that it yields not only a plausible argument but truth. The validity of the second and the third axiom is established empirically by inductive reasoning relying on a thorough analysis of the psychiatric literature and skeptical publications. With these axioms I prove that gods (...) are not necessary for our universe. Applying OR yields that gods do not exist. The implications of this article are enormous. Mankind’s understanding of the world is elevated to a higher level to a unified view on the world being nature and mankind being a part of it. (shrink)
Most philosophers have given up George Berkeley’s proof for the existence of God as a lost cause, for in it, Berkeley seems to conclude more than he actually shows. I defend the proof by showing that its conclusion is not the thesis that an infinite and perfect God exists, but rather the much weaker thesis that a very powerful God exists and that this God’s agency is pervasive in nature. This interpretation, I argue, is consistent with the texts. (...) It is also an important component of Berkeley’s philosophical project, which consists of launching many small arguments against his philosophical and theological opponents. (shrink)
This work considers the question of the personhood of God in Hegel. The first part examines Hegel's critique of Kant, focusing on and replying to Kant's attack on the theological proofs. The second part then explores the issue of divine personhood.
The possibility of proving the existence of God has fascinated thinkers and believers throughout the centuries. For those like Richard Swinburne, such a project is both worthwhile and successful. For others, like D. Z. Phillips, it is wholly inappropriate. Most critics have simply taken sides at this point; but this book argues a way forward, showing that the disparity between Swinburne and Phillips goes deeper - questioning the fundamental nature of God, the meaning of religious language, and the proper task (...) of philosophy. The author argues that behind each thinker's work, and their attitudes towards proving the existence of God, lies fundamental trust. A positive discussion of relativism leads to a fresh analysis of the arguments for God's existence, particularly the ontological argument: Dr Messer shows that these are worthwhile - although not for the traditional reasons. (shrink)
First, I shall summarize a few points which have been explained and defended elsewhere. Some may find these assumptions unacceptable; but it seems otiose to repeat arguments I cannot at present improve.
Paley’s ‘proof’ of the existence of God, or some supposed version of it, is well known. In this paper I offer the real thing and two objections to it. One objection is my own, and the other is provided by Darwin.