Archive for ‘Arguments for the Existence of God’

April 3rd, 2013

Arguments Used in the Liberty Debate

by Max Andrews

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 9.53.05 AM

February 18th, 2013

“Does God Exist?” – Upcoming Debate at Liberty University

by Max Andrews

I can now announce that on Thursday, March 28 from 7.30-9p I will be engaging in a debate with Dan Linford from Virginia Tech on the debate topic, “Does God Exist?” Dan is in the philosophy PhD program at VT. He and I debated each other last year (in partnership with Josh Nixon and Beau Bradley). Last year we debated at VT, and this year we will be debate on the campus of Liberty University.

The precise location has yet to be determined but it’s currently scheduled to be in DeMoss 1113. That room holds about 300 but from initial surveys I suspect we may need to find a larger room. We currently plan on having the debate filmed so we should have it available online sometime afterwards. I’m hoping to find a way to stream the debate online. If anyone knows how we can do that please let me know. I’ll be using #LUGODdebate as the Twitter hashtag (@maxeoa). This will help gather interactive thoughts from attendees after the debate. More information will be shared as time gets closer.

Debate format:

  • Moderator Introductions
  • 17 minutes opening (Max—affirmative)
  • 17 minutes opening (Dan—negative)
  •  7 minutes rebuttal (Max)
  • 7 minutes rebuttal (Dan)
  • 10 minutes cross-examination (Max asks Dan questions)
  • 10 minutes cross-examination (Dan asks Max questions)
  • 5 minutes closing statement (Max)
  • 5 minutes closing statement (Dan)
  •  20 minutes of Q&A
    • Total of 78 minutes of debate and 20 minutes of Q&A

You can view our debate from last spring here.

December 17th, 2012

Q&A 2: The Ontological Argument, Logic, and… Aliens?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion 1:

I am interested in becoming a Christian apologetic but these couple questions are kind of a stumbling block for me. Do you think you could answer these questions for me so I could understand Christianity more?
1.What is the ontological argument? To mean it seems like a lot of lip service. Basically tell me if I’m wrong the ontological argument is that if you think something exists it does or if your mind can imagine something it exists? It doesn’t make sense to me.  A perfect concept does not prove a perfect being.
2. I was watching a philosophical interview with Greg Koukl who was talking about abstract uncreated beings. From what I got out of it uncreated beings do not exist and God created everything even Numbers But if that’s the case then how can God be bound by logic? Like the answer to the question can God make a rock to be he can’t lift? One would say that God can do anything LOGICALLY possible and since there are no rocks he can’t lift then the question is logically impossible. So how does this make sense? Do you know about created and uncreated abstract beings and can you explain more about the study of them and what they are?
read more »

December 10th, 2012

Q&A 1: Kalam and The Flying Spaghetti Monster

by Max Andrews

Hey Max,

I guess since I requested the Q&A section, I’ll start it off!

I recently had a conversation with an atheist in which I walked him through the Kalam Cosmological Argument. This inevitably led into a conversation about what criteria a “first cause” must meet. It was difficult for me to explain, and for him to understand how God exists as a necessary being, or out of His own nature.

The atheist resorted to a version of  “Flying Spaghetti Monster” argumentation, in which he said, “How do we know that the first cause wasn’t a giant pink unicorn, or that two universes didn’t just mate and form ours?”. For obvious reasons, his argument is absurd. But what’s the best way to explain the concept of the first cause, and why it couldn’t be a “giant pink unicorn”?

Thanks a lot,

Richie Worrell (USA)

Richie,

I’m always amazed at some of the philosophical lunacy some atheists come up with. The mockery of using phrases like “flying spaghetti monster” or a “giant pink unicorn” weren’t originally developed in response to the kalam. They were developed in response to intelligent design suggesting the designer could be a spaghetti monster. I recall Dawkins using it several times and it has gained popularity in response to the ontological argument.

Nonetheless, let’s accept his flying pasta, pink unicorn, and sexual universes for the sake of discussion. Let’s recap the the kalam argument:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
    read more »

July 9th, 2012

Why Inductive Fine-Tuning Arguments are Weak

by Max Andrews

Inductive logic, generally speaking, takes elements of a set and applies this subset of elements to a broader set.  More specifically, the principle of mathematical induction states that if zero has a property, P, and if whenever a number has the property its successor also has the property, then all numbers have the property:[1]

Induction works by enumeration: as support for the conclusion that all p’s are q’s, one could list many examples of p’s that are q’s.  It also includes ampliative argument in which the premises, while not entailing the truth of the conclusion, nevertheless purports good reason for accepting it.[2]

Inductive probability in the sciences has been generally successful in the past.  It has been used by Galileo, Kepler, and has even resulted in the discovery of Neptune.  The English astronomer John Michell exemplified this discuss in a discussion of ‘probable parallax and magnitude of the fixed stars’ published by the Royal Society in 1767.[3]  Michell found that the incidence of apparently close pairings of stars was too great for them all to be effects of line of sight, and that next to a certainty such observed pairs of stars must actually be very close together, perhaps moving under mutual gravitation.  Michell’s conclusion was not corroborated for forty years until William Herschel’s confirmatory observations.[4]

July 5th, 2012

Why Deductive Fine-Tuning Arguments are Weak

by Max Andrews

In a correct deductive argument if the premises are true the conclusion is true regardless of whether or not further evidence is considered.  There must be a reasonable connection or relationship between the conditions in a deductive argument (in the instance of implication).  Consider the argument, as modus ponens, that if the moon’s core is made of cheese then my desk is made out of mahogany.  What relationship do these two conditions have?  The truth-value is valid (F-T-T).  However, I recognize that this is merely a preference, which is, at times, convenient.  When making a novel explanans and prediction the relationship between the conditions may not be epistemically evident.

There are generally three options, which are often considered as an explanation for the fine-tuning data: chance, necessity, a combination of chance and necessity,[1] or a fine-tuner.  One immediate problem in implementing explanatory options in a deductive manner is that the first premise may be false wherein it may be lacking in options and the argument still is valid.  When these options are used in a [strict] deductive argument[2] it may appear as:

  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.[3]
    read more »

June 6th, 2012

VIDEO: VA Tech Debate on the Existence of God

by Max Andrews

This was a debate on March 21, 2012 at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA.  It was sponsored by the Freethinkers at Virginia Tech, Leopard Zeus Fan Club, Ask Big Questions at Virginia Tech, and the Department of Philosophy at Liberty University.

Defending Theism

  • Max Andrews, Department of Philosophy Liberty University
  • Josh Nixon, Virginia Tech

Defending Atheism

  • Dan Linford, Virginia Tech
  • Beau Bradley, Virginia Tech

May 31st, 2012

Are There Objective Morals? Lecture PowerPoint

by Max Andrews

Alas, here is another PPT I’ve used in some of my lectures concerning axiology and the objectivity of moral values.  In this lecture I briefly discuss the deductive form of the moral argument for the existence of God, the distinctions between different ethical theories, and the Euthyphro dilemma.  I hope you find the material beneficial and edifying.  Please follow through on some of the sources cited in the pages and in the notes for further information.

Definitions and distinctions:

Objective:  To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so.
Subjective:  Personal taste or feelings [which may be of an individual, group, or society].
Good/Bad:  Correlated with moral values
Right/Wrong:  Correlated with moral duties
read more »

May 3rd, 2012

A Brief Intro to the Kalam Cosmological Argument

by Max Andrews

The Argument

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

Note that the primary argument is philosophical and mathematical.  It’s not dependent on any particular cosmology; however, the leading model of cosmology and particle physics, the standard model (big bang), simply confirms the philosophy. The argument for premise 1 is that anything that begins to exist does so temporally, at some indexical moment of time.  Because there is a difference between moments, an earlier or later than, there must be a cause to the thing which begins to exist, which determines its temporal existence.  William Lane Craig offers two arguments for premise 2

March 24th, 2012

The Fine-Tuning Argument and Random Sampling

by Max Andrews

One of the objections raised by an audience member at the VT debate on the existence of God was against the fine-tuning argument and probability (for my method of argumentation please see: VT Debate-My Method of Argumentation).  In statistics a random sample drawn must have the same chance of being sampled as all the other samples.  The objection was based on this problem.  Since we know of only one universe we don’t know what the range of values for the constants and physics could be.  This was also brought up in conversation with both atheists after the debate.  Since we don’t know how narrow or broad these ranges could be there’s no way of drawing out any probability based argument from fine-tuning.  The thing is that we can know what other universes would be like if the values were different.  If our natural laws have counterfactuals that are in any way incoherent then this is an appropriate sampling.  Also, to make this objection and advocate that we just so happen to live in a life permitting universe in the multiverse then this objection cannot be made since the claim that we happen to life in a life-permitting one amongst countless others suggest we can know what the other samplings are.  For instance, here are a few examples: