Does God Exist?

Does God exist? The Leibnizian Cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of God from the fact that contingent things exist for a reason. There’s a reason contingent beings like chairs, tables, cars, planets, galaxies, and so on, exist. Chairs exists because they were designed and created; planets exist due to accretion of solar nebula. Contingent things have explanations–or reasons–why they exist. And since the universe as a whole is contingent (it does not exist necessarily), it too must have an explanation. But the only sort of thing that could break the chain of contingency is a metaphysically necessary being, a being we all refer to as God. That is the basic idea.

A popular response to the argument is to deny the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR). There are many versions of the PSR (there’s even an argument for God from the various versions), but the one employed by the argument above can be stated below:

(1) Every contingent thing that exists has an explanation of its existence.

As I say, a good number of atheists deny the PSR. They imagine that some contingent things, perhaps just the universe, exist without explanation. However, it’s not clear why someone would be inclined to say the universe “exists without any explanation” as opposed to “we don’t know the explanation”. These are very different responses; the latter obviously more modest than the former.

Prematurely cutting off the path of inquiry seems both lazy and scientifically unjustified. Science takes pride in finding explanations. Does the fact we haven’t found a satisfactory answer to abiogenesis lead us to think life began on our planet for no reason at all? Of course not! Scientists keep searching; throwing ones hands up in defeat hardly seems appropriate. So, it seems we have reason to accept the modified principle below:

(2) We are not justified in holding a contingent thing exists without explanation.

(2) seems plausible. Denying (2) means that we have effectively cut off the path of inquiry; we’ve somehow gained the ability to determine some contingent thing exists for no reason. But, again, isn’t a more modest approach to say “we don’t know the answer yet”? This approach at least leaves scientific inquiry on the table.

Now, (2) doesn’t entail the current explanations on offer (including God) are adequate. Perhaps none of the alternatives commend themselves and the best course of action is to withhold judgement. That’s fine, I suppose, but only after a proper analysis of the alternatives has been satisfied. Otherwise withholding judgement is nothing more than a cop-out, an attempt to avoid taking God’s existence seriously.

If God is an adequate explanation, which I think He is, then we ought to seriously consider that God exists and explains the contingent universe.

About the Featured Image

This is the facade of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We didn’t see the recently exposed slab that allegedly held the body of Jesus on this day, but did eventually see it (a few nights later). Really cool experience!


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