Arguments for the Existence of God
by Metacrock - edited by JMT
Used with Permission
Arguments XXIII, XXIV, XV:
The Berkeley Argument, Temporal Beginning, and Parsimony.
This version of the Berkeley argument has been moved to its own page. Consult the main list for location.
Argument from Temporal Beginning
A. logic of the argument.
1) Time has a beginning.
2) There is no causality or sequential order beyond time.
3) Therefore, no change beyond time is possible.
4) The putative state of affairs beyond time is one of timelessness.
5) Therefore, time should never have come to be.
6) We know that time did come to be, therefore, it must have been created by something capable of writing and circumventing the rules.
7) Only God would be capable of writing and circumventing the rules of time and eternity, therefore, God must exit.
B Version of argument
We need a B version because beginning of time is assumed with singularity models of Big Bang, and those are out of fashion now (at least with atheists on Message boards):
Advanced physics theory posits "beyond time" in which super symmetry theory is applied to grand unified theory, but "beyond" still posits a timeless state of nothingness in which nothing can happen and no change can take place.
God must exist in order to rewrite the rules or to circumvent the rules of temporality. Now some argue that from a timeless perspective the space/time bubble in which our universe exists would also be. That may be true, and the beginning and the end of our universe would always be as well. Causality, or source may be hierarchical as well as linear
1) Time is an illusion.
Some atheists have tried to answer this by using Relativity theory to argue that time is an illusion, its relative, get it? But Relativity doesn't say there is no time. It merely says that the observation of time is relative.
2) Some other freaky theory of time.
Answer: Some have tried to argue that t=0 (time has a beginning) is wrong. It could be t=>0. This is similar to Zeno's paradox, in that it segments time into infinitesimals so that it gives the illusion of no time, no motion, or perhaps infinite time. But that "infinity" of time could be hiding in a Planck interval, so and that would not do anything to the basic hypothesis. From the Cosmological argument (no. II) I quote physicists saying that t=0 is still the best way to think about it. Three major sources document this. Treasure in Time the Familiar Stranger (one of the major authorities on Time research), Paul Davies in God and The New Physics and in the Book Time's Arrow All agree that beyond time there is no motion, causality,
More documentation time begins with Big Bang:
No time "before" BB.
In the quantum world...the world that the universe inhabited when it was less than a second old...many things work very differently. One of these is that time itself does not mean quite the same thing as it does to us in the world- at-large. Although we have no complete theory of the relevant physics, there are many indications from the mathematics that yield sound experimental results, that time itself may have ceased to have much meaning near the Big Bang event. This means that there was no 'time' as we know this concept 'before' the Big Bang. That being the case, the question of what happened before the Big Bang is now a question without any possible physical answer. The evolution of the universe has always been a process of transformation from one state to the next as the universe has expanded. At some point in this process, looking back at the Big Bang, we enter a state so removed from any that we now know, than even the laws that govern it become totally obscure to science itself. In the quantum world, we see things 'appearing' out of nothing all the time. The universe may have done the same thing. What this means to us may never be fully understood.
Was there really no time at all before the Big Bang?
As I have mentioned in a previous question, we do not know what the state of the universe was like at the Big Bang and beyond.
Our best guess at this time suggest that time and space as we know these concepts will become rather meaningless as the universe enters a purely quantum mechanical state of indeterminacy. Cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking suggest that the dimension of time is transformed via quantum fluctuations in the so-called "signature of the space-time metric", into a space-like coordinate so that instead of 3-space and 1-time dimension, space-time becomes a 4-dimensional space devoid of any time-like features. What this state is imagined to be is anyone's guess because as humans trained to think in terms of processes evolving in time, our next question would then be, What came before the Hawking space-like state? There is no possible answer to this question because there is no time in which the concept of 'before' can be said to have a meaning. The question itself becomes the wrong question to ask.
Physical law operates in time
Cambridge Relativity and Quantum Gravity.
1996, University of Cambridge
The physical laws that govern the universe prescribe how an initial state evolves with time. In classical physics, if the initial state of a system is specified exactly then the subsequent motion will be completely predictable.
Even assuming no beginning of Time, Susy Gut theory still postulates a "beyond time" as a putative state of affairs. This description confirms my argument since it describes a state in which no change can ever come to be. That leaves the scientific solution still seeking some higher set of coordinates upon which the universe must be contingent:
Sten OdenwaldBeyond the Big Bang.
Copyright (C) 1987, Kalmbach Publishing
"Theories like those of SUSY GUTS (Super-symmetry Grand Unified Theory) and Superstrings seem to suggest that just a few moments after Creation, the laws of physics and the content of the world were in a highly symmetric state; one superforce and perhaps one kind of superparticle. The only thing breaking the perfect symmetry of this era was the definite direction and character of the dimension called Time. Before Creation, the primordial symmetry may have been so perfect that, as Vilenkin proposed, the dimensionality of space was itself undefined. To describe this state is a daunting challenge in semantics and mathematics because the mathematical act of specifying its dimensionality would have implied the selection of one possibility from all others and thereby breaking the perfect symmetry of this state. There were, presumably, no particles of matter or even photons of light then, because these particles were born from the vacuum fluctuations in the fabric of space-time that attended the creation of the universe. In such a world, nothing happens because all 'happenings' take place within the reference frame of time and space. The presence of a single particle in this nothingness would have instantaneously broken the perfect symmetry of this era because there would then have been a favored point in space different from all others; the point occupied by the particle. This nothingness didn't evolve either, because evolution is a time-ordered process. The introduction of time as a favored coordinate would have broken the symmetry too. It would seem that the 'Trans-Creation' state is beyond conventional description because any words we may choose to describe it are inherently laced with the conceptual baggage of time and space. Heinz Pagels reflects on this 'earliest' stage by saying, "The nothingness 'before' the creation of the universe is the most complete void we can imagine. No space, time or matter existed. It is a world without place, without duration or eternity..."
3)How could God create beyond time?
Answer(s) William Lane Craig's answer is that God creates everything in one throw, so time is created at exactly the same time that God desires to create. That might be worked out as an answer, but it strikes me as still requiring a sequential order. My own personal answer is that I accept Bishop Berkeley's notion that we are thoughts in the mind of God. Thus, while the naturalistic assumption is that there is a "beyond time" and this is conceived as a giant room filled with non-time (and the space/time bubble like a beach ball floating around in that room--or say a beach ball in the ocean of non-time) that is purely a naturalistic assumption. We have no idea what is beyond the BB. Thus, I posit the notion that physical reality is in the mind of God. God is like the Platonic forms in that he is in an abstract reality which has no physical locus, and thus is "everywhere and nowhere." So in that case there is no "beyond time" there is only the mind of God. That is a world of the mind, thus it does contain causality, but no temporal progress, it is controlled by the "thoughts" of God. Thus the problem of causality beyond time is solved, but this only works if one believes in God.
XXV. Parsimony: the Elegance of the God Hypothesis.
A. The Principle of parsimony.
This scientific principle is derived from Ockham's Razor, but it is not Ockham's Razor. The Razor is always misquoted. The popular notion is that it says "take the simplest solution." Actually it doesn't. Ockham never said that. He said do not multiply entities beyond necessity. But it is, nevertheless understood that the simplest and most elegant solution is to be preferred.
Alvin Plantinga (Lecture Notes--26 Theistic arguments)
"According to Swinburne, simplicity is a prime determinant of intrinsic probability. That seems to me doubtful, mainly because there is probably no such thing in general as intrinsic (logical) probability. Still we certainly do favor simplicity; and we are inclined to think that simple explanations and hypotheses are more likely to be true than complicated epicyclic ones. So suppose you think that simplicity is a mark of truth (for hypotheses). If theism is true, then some reason to think the more simple has a better chance of being true than the less simple; for God has created both us and our theoretical preferences and the world; and it is reasonable to think that he would adapt the one to the other. (If he himself favored anti-simplicity, then no doubt he would have created us in such a way that we would too.) If theism is not true, however, there would seem to be no reason to think that the simple is more likely to be true than the complex."
B. God is the simplest Solution.
Atheists often think that God is the more complicated solution. ON discussion boards they will often argue that the BB is much simpler than God because it comes from a singularity. So they are confusing size with simplicity. Apparently they think that an infinitesimally small thing is simple and an infinite thing is complex. But this is not at all true, which one can see with proper reflection. God is actually much simpler. The singularity has to be explained itself, it offers no real explanation but invites a cause for itself. And if it did contain matter and energy, which many skeptics seem to think but the real scientific theory doesn't say that, it would be even more complex because that would require an explanation as to how infinitely dense matter got in there in the first place.
1) The concept of God is elegant.
God is simpler by far, especially Tillich's notion of God as the ground of being or the Thomistic concept of a God whose existence is his essence. This is the most elegant solution in the world. God is on a par with Being itself and his essence is to be. That is elegant because it means just this: Being has to be, and what being does is merely exist, thus if God's existence (the fact that he is) is his essence (the thing that he is) than it means that Being itself is merely doing what it is supposed to do, merely being and through its own being allowing the beings to come into existence.
2) Theism is arguably a simpler hypothesis- in terms of origin.
As Duns Scotus put it, there is an infinite distance between being and non-being, and theism posits the origin of being by being, whereas atheism posits the origin of being from non-being.
Edmund Whitaker, a British physicist, wrote a book entitled The Beginning and End of the World, in which he said, "There is no ground for supposing that matter and energy existed before and was suddenly galvanized into action. For what could distinguish that moment from all other moments in eternity?" Whitaker concluded, "It is simpler to postulate creation ex nihilo--Divine will constituting Nature from nothingness." [cited in Jastrow, R. 1978. God and the Astronomers. New York, W.W. Norton, p. 111-12.]
Physicist Barry Parker agrees: "We do, of course, have an alternative. We could say that there was no creation, and that the universe has always been here. But this is even more difficult to accept than creation."[Barry Parker, Creation--The Story of the Origin and Evolution of the Universe (New York & London: Plenum Press, 1988) p. 202.]
C. Through this one simple notion all problems are solved.
1) The problem of existence.
In terms of the ultimate question of origin this is solved in the God hypothesis in the logic of the final cause. The assumption of an infinite regress of causes is ultimately illogical and the chain of cause and effect must stop some place.
2) The human problematic.
All world religions seek to define a human problematic, the human condition, the central dilemma at the core of being human. They all define it in different terms but they all do recognize that there is one. Some think of it as sin, some as imbalance, some as being alienated from nature and the universe, but all have some notion of a problematic.
Atheists approach the notion of God and what God wants as though merely dealing with a big bully in the sky. God is just another guy and he has his opinion and we have ours. It doesn't matter that he' s more powerful, most bullies usually are, but that doesn't make him right. This view is so silly, shallow, and short sighted and yet it will be the basis of most responses given. They often say things like "how does having a first principle help you? " or "so what if God thinks this?" IT is not merely a matter of God' s "opinion" if God exists God is a priori the determinate of all truth and justice and all meaning and judgment simply by virtue of the fact that God not only created all that is, but that even potential existence must originate in the will of God. That means God makes things true! That being the case, all the problems involved in the human problematic are bound up in God.
a) Problem of meaning.
Without God all meaning is merely relative and subjective. Any meaning that can be had on those terms is pretend meaning. With the concept of God meaning is written into the fabric of the universe because it stems form being itself. Meaning is just a matter of interpretation, but God interprets from the ultimate universal perspective. He knows all and sees from every vantage point. Since God is eternal, true meaning is that which registers on the eternal scale of values. God's scale of values is absolute, so if God assigns meaning it is universally true and valid for all eternity. Thus, the deaths of unknown martyrs are always already more meaningful and better known where it counts than the most famous events in history, even if no one on earth knows about them. This is far more "meaningful" than what you or I can think or pretend about our lives.
b) The moral problem.
Consult the moral problem, argument no. 8 two pages back. The explanatory value of the argument shows why we have moral motions and why we are not able to live up to them. With God this problem is explained as well but with materialism it must either be ignored or reduced to something else. Now atheists have this habit of reducing God's will to mere whim. Thus they argue that God's will in terms of ethical mandates is nothing more than arbitrary. But that is foolish. If God exists than his will is paramount, it is the defining factor, not in an arbitrary way, but because God is synonymous with the good. The good is based upon God's character. This is a logical necessity based upon the fact that God is the ground of being. Thus, it is not a mere whim that creates the good, but the openness of being which creates the essence of all rational ethical choices, the will for the good of the other, giving opening up to, in short, love. This forms the essence of all valuations and makes moral that which is merely factual, or immoral that which is merely factual.
4) Epistemological problems.
God gives us epistemological assumptions which cover a wide range of topics and offers certainty as to the ultimate form of knowledge.
5) Ultimate Concerns.
Humanities ultimate concerns which are meaning and death are wrapped up in the nature of God's existence. God gives meaning and satisfies ultimate concerns through transformation.
D. The Atheist Hypothesis is comparatively contradictory.
Yes, there is no "atheist hypothesis" per se, other than that God doesn't exist. But that is just the point. To simply posit no God and life as the result of dead matter and random chance alone leaves one in a confused state of disarray, with no central over arching theme that ties together all the problems of humanity. Theism solves them all, especially does Christianity solve them all in one fell swoop. With atheism or materialism most of these problems are disconnected and require separate solutions. With God they are all resolved in the one simple answer of God's existence. This makes belief in God the simplest and most elegant solution because it resolves all of our most important questions at once. That offers a strong indication in a probabilistic manner that God does indeed exist.
By Metacrock. Used with Permission.
For more articles by the same author, see Doxa.