Archive for ‘Existence of God’

March 12th, 2014

The Winner of the Problem of Existence Amazon Gift Card

by Max Andrews

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.34.02 PMAs promised with the sales of the The Problem of Existence the first fifty sold and to send me their receipt were entered to win a $25 gift card. The winner is Austin McNair! (Keep reading, even if you didn’t win or didn’t enter…)

You can view the drawing from [Seattle!] hat: http://instagram.com/p/ldXxIyFi9y/

I was very encouraged by so many people sharing the book and purchasing the book. I know some people may have needed it for themselves and I know some people are reading it to help others, which is so important. It shows that there are people who want to learn about these problems that others are facing in life. It’s not all about the sales. It’s about sharing the knowledge and loving others. I was particularly encouraged by one of the submissions by Michael Chardavoyne:

“The Problem of Existence” A book that reaches the mind and the heart at the same time. I find myself pulled in page by page as if it was meant for me to digest in the core of who I am and my perspective of those around me. If we are intrinsically valuable and there is a Creator life has meaning. If not where does meaning and purpose come from?

February 5th, 2013

A Theological Argument for an Everett Multiverse

by Max Andrews
Max Tegmark, "Parallel Universes," Scientific American 2003.

Max Tegmark, “Parallel Universes,” Scientific American 2003.

The following is the abstract to Don Page’s paper, “A Theological Argument for an Everett Multiverse.”

Science looks for the simplest hypotheses to explain observations. Starting with the simple assumption that {\em the actual world is the best possible world}, I sketch an {\it Optimal Argument for the Existence of God}, that the sufferings in our universe would not be consistent with its being alone the best possible world, but the total world could be the best possible if it includes an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God who experiences great value in creating and knowing a universe with great mathematical elegance, even though such a universe has suffering.

God seems loathe to violate elegant laws of physics that He has chosen to use in His creation, such as Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism or Einstein’s equations of general relativity for gravity within their classical domains of applicability, even if their violation could greatly reduce human suffering (e.g., from falls). If indeed God is similarly loathe to violate quantum unitarity (though such violations by judicious collapses of the wavefunction could greatly reduce human suffering by always choosing only favorable outcomes), the resulting unitary evolution would lead to an Everett multiverse of `many worlds’, meaning many different quasiclassical histories beyond the quasiclassical history that each of us can observe over his or her lifetime. This is a theological argument for one reason why God might prefer to create a multiverse much broader than what one normally thinks of for a history of the universe.

December 14th, 2012

Ratio Christi Event – How to Argue for the Existence of God (Audio & PPT)

by Max Andrews

How to Argue for the Existence of GodOn 8 November 2012 I did a presentation to the Ratio Christi club at Liberty University on how to argue for the existence of God. It was designed to be a smaller training session for the Ratio Christi members. I discussed the importance of apologetics and the difference between knowing your faith to be true and showing your faith to be true. That was the followed by methodological differences and my use of the classical approach.

I then gave three arguments: 1) Thomas’ cosmological argument from contingency, 2) the abductive fine-tuning argument, and 3) the abductive moral argument (or as I like to say, the new moral argument).

November 28th, 2012

The New Moral Argument

by Max Andrews

The following is an argument David Baggett developed, which argues for the existence of a perfectly moral person. I used this in the VT debate on the existence of God. (I highly recommend Baggett’s book co-authored with Jerry Walls Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality.) This version of the moral argument is an abductive version. I believe this argument, when used in an abductive form, is the strongest form of the argument. You’ll usually see it in a deductive form, a la William Lane Craig. I believe this argument is better and I’d like to see it used more often. (See below for my method behind abduction.)

The advantage of this argument is that nature is included in the argument for the morally perfect person. Usually it is depicted as nature vs. God (or a morally perfect person). That argument, I believe, gives too much to the naturalist. Here’s the argument:

  1. There are objective axiological/moral facts that obtain.
  2. Either the world alone or the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
  3. It is the case that the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
  4. Therefore, the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
    read more »

October 18th, 2012

The Fine-Tuning of the Multiverse Audio Lecture

by Max Andrews

In honor of today’s lecture on fine-tuning and the multiverse I recorded the lecture and I’m posting it online here. I hope you enjoy it and make good use of it.

Audio lecture from 18 October 2012.

The fine-tuning argument argues that when the physics and the laws of nature are expressed mathematically their values are ever so balanced in a way that permits the existence of life.  This claim is made on the basis that existence of vital substances such as carbon, and the properties of objects such as stable long-lived stars, depend rather sensitively on the values of certain physical parameters, and on the cosmological initial conditions.[1]  I’m merely arguing that the universe/multiverse is fine-tuned for the essential building blocks and environments that life requires for cosmic and biological evolution to even occur.

  1. Given the fine-tuning evidence, a life permitting universe/multiverse (LPM) is very, very epistemically unlikely under the non-existence of a fine-tuner (~FT): that is, P(LPM|~FT & k’) ≪ 1.
  2. Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPM is not unlikely under FT (Fine-Tuner): that is, ~P(LPM|FT & k’) ≪ 1.
  3. Therefore, LPM strongly supports FT over ~FT. [2]

*Remember, k’ represents some appropriately chosen background information that does not include other arguments for the existence of God while merely k would encompass all background information, which would include the other arguments, and ≪ represents much, much less than (thus, making P(LPM|~FT & k’) close to zero).

August 21st, 2012

The Magis Center for Reason and Faith

by Max Andrews

A reader of the blog recently contacted me about the Magis Center for Reason and Faith. I’ve since added it to the Resources page. A few years ago I was able to listen to Fr. Robert Spitzer give a presentation on the fine-tuning of physics. (I don’t remember if you can see me in the video but I’m in the house right.) There’s a wonderful resource, the Physics FAQ, which I’ve linked below.

The Magis Center of Reason and Faith is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to explaining the consistency between science and spirituality in contemporary physics. In the past ten years, implications of transcendence in physics, philosophy of mathematics, and metaphysics have become more pronounced. Indeed, no other decade in history has revealed more or better evidence for God. So what is this evidence?

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 30th, 2012

Cosmological Argument PowerPoint

by Max Andrews

I have an old PPT I’ve been using in my lectures on the cosmological arguments and I thought I’d share it here for others to use since I’ll be revamping them in the meantime.  In this PPT document I discuss the Lebnizian cosmological argument, the Thomistic cosmological argument, and the Kalam cosmological argument.  This was delivered to an introductory level philosophy course so it’s certainly not exhaustive.  Feel free to use any of the material in your teaching opportunities or for your own edification.

Leibnizian Argument:

1.Anything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2.If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3.The universe exists.
4.Therefore the universe has an explanation of its existence. (from 1, 3)
5.Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God. (from 2, 4)
read more »

May 23rd, 2012

Critiquing an Objection to the Cosmological Argument

by Max Andrews

Neill Shenton recently did a review/response to one of Doug Beaumont’s arguments for the existence of God.  Doug’s argument is the ususal Thomastic cosmological argument from contingency.  At this point I’ll assume that you’ve read the two posts so you’ve got a greater context for what follows.

Here’s Shenton:

This is an argument that keeps coming up & folk tweet responses but my thoughts don’t fit in a tweet so here’s my ramblings on the topic. 

I see this as a rather futile attempt to “prove” there is a god by a logic that depends upon definitions of the terms.  The key words here are ‘being’ and, not surprisingly, ‘god’.  If we substitute these words the futility is exposed.

  1. A widget exists
  2. Widgets cannot spontaneously come into existence, they have to be “made” by something that came beforehand.
3. If our widget was made by or evolved from another, and so on, where did the first widget come from?
4. Some none-widget-like-process made the first widget
5. I’m calling that “f’narg”
6. What do we know about F’narg? Nothing except it isn’t a widget by definition.  Is it god?  You could call it that, I’ll stick to f’narg; it has NO connotations.  So, we now know exactly what we already did, all this widgety universe started with something and now it has a name, f’narg

What Shenton is doing here is that he’s completely ignoring the modal status of the terms ‘contingent’ and ‘necessary’ in the original Thomistic argument.  This isn’t that big of a deal but for him to completely dismiss it isn’t critiquing the argument on its own grounds.  He’s changing the argument (straw man).  P3 is obviously a misunderstanding of the argument. 

April 10th, 2012

An Agnostic’s Response to My Use of the Cosmological Argument

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest blog post by Fred, an agnostic, critiquing my use of the argument from contingency I presented at the Virginia Tech debate on the existence of God.  Here’s a brief bio:

B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science, completing my formal education in 1978.  I’ve taken precisely two philosophy courses during my student days, both in Logic.  I  took a lot of math and science courses. I am now in I.T. middle management at a multinational oil company, with about 90 people reporting to me.

I’m 58 years old, grew up as a devout Catholic – attended Catholic schools in Houston for 12 years.  I credit the free thinking atmosphere at my high school with opening my mind up and allowing me to look beyond the dogma I had always been taught.  This led me to question, to become skeptical, and ultimately to develop into an agnostic.  I lack a belief that a God exists, but I have continued to explore.  I am impatient with dogmatism, from theists and atheists alike.  My engagement in discussions such as this is out of pure self-interest.  I’m not trying to prove anyone wrong, I’m just trying to see if I’m missing some truths or overlooking some credible argument. I do so by challenging the position of the person I’m engaging, which can sometimes give the appearance that my position is more extreme than it is.  In the course of my pursuits I’ve been forced to look a little into metaphysics, because it seems this is where the arguments for God’s existence reside.  I’ve also looked into historical methodology, because this pertains to the arguments for Jesus sit.