Chapter  3: Philosophy of Religion

Proofs for the Existence of God

An Overview

There are several Arguments for God's Existence

Are there any rational reasons to believe?

The question arises as to how humans can be sure that the spiritual being, the Supreme Being actually exists.   Throughout recorded history humans have thought of this.  There is ample evidence of the belief and a good deal of evidence of humans attempting to provide support for that belief.  The arguments or proofs that have been offered will be examined.  The arguments each have their critics.  None appear to be without weakness. 

The idea of god is one of the most fascinating ideas ever to be entertained by the mind of a human being.  If there is no god then the idea of god remains as perhaps the single most important and powerful idea to have been created by the mind or minds of humans.  The idea provides a foundation for an entire perspective or way to view all of reality.  The idea provides a basis for the moral foundation and the foundation for social life.  The arguments offered to prove that such a being actually does exist are thus very important. 

The arguments have different forms and are based on different foundations.  One of the most popular distinctions to make about the arguments and thus to divide them into groups is to note that there are different basis for the arguments.  There are those based upon reason and those that rest on experience.

The principle arguments based upon reason are:

  1. Ontological argument - using reason alone and examining the very concept of god as a perfect being

  2. Cosmological argument - considering the existence of the universe.

  3. Teleological argument - considering the apparent order of the universe.

Those arguments to prove the existence of God based on experience are:

4. Revelation- humans experience the deity through an act of the deity in which the deity reveals itself.  In this case the revelation is accomplished through teachings given to humans and recorded in some form of scripture or gathered into a book, a bible.  The contents of such collections are considered to contain direct instruction from the deity.

5.   Mystical Experience- an experience of union with the deity which is ineffable and noetic, a numinous experience- mystical consciousness of the "HOLY", infinite dependence , mystery, terror, bliss. The mystical experience is a particular variety of religious experience in which the subject is transformed and reports the loss of individuality, the oneness of all reality, union with the deity, the unity of the subject of the experience with the object of the experience. The commonalities in such experience around the world is termed the consensus mysticum.   It has been described by Rudolph Otto as involving an experience characterized as being tremendum et fascinans  

6.   Direct Religious Experience experience of a god or spirit or of the divine (the absolute). A Religious experience is an encounter of a human being with a supernatural being, be it a deity or an emissary or intermediary for the deity, nevertheless a spiritual entity. Religious experiences are for the most part, individual and esoteric.  

7.  Psychic Phenomena-which relates to a non-physical realm of existence and the existence of spirits or souls, of which the deity is a member, the Supreme Being, Spirit or Soul

  1. The type of psychic phenomena involved here would be those that would support the immortality of the soul and survival after death.  They are the phenomena that provide support for the post-mortem survival hypothesis

    ·       apparitions-spirits/ ghosts/ poltergeists

    ·       séances - communication with the dead

    ·       reincarnation memories

    ·       near death experiences-NDE's

    ·       death bed observations

    ·       sacred scripture

8. Miracles- experienced events that could only be caused by a divine all powerful being

9. Pragmatism faith and reason 

These are arguments that lead to belief based on practical considerations and the weighing of odds or the likelihood of certain outcomes. 

For an overview of arguments for the existence of a single deity (9 of them) read the material at wikipedia 

There are also arguments that attempt to disprove that the god of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic Traditions exists.  One of the most famous and powerful is based on the existence of evil.

The following sections shall be covering all of the approaches listed above.

For arguments for and against the existence of a deity and supernatural entities see this material.  

 Proceed to examine each of these arguments and weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Proceed to the next section.

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Introduction to Philosophy by Philip A. Pecorino is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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