I have been listening to podcasts lately of Theism vs Atheism debates from EWTN, mostly of William Lane Craig (see Reasonable Faith link on the side pane for his website), and figured a few of the strongest arguments were were posting on here. Just for fun…
A. Teleological Argument of Fine Tuning (not easy to post in a short form…)
According to recent ﬁndings, the values of physical constants should have been ﬁne-tuned to make the emergence of life in the universe possible . . . There are many physical constants such as the speed of light c, the gravitational constant G, Planck’s constant h, and Boltzmann’s constant k. The electron mass, proton mass, and constants determining the magnitudes of electromagnetic interaction, strong interaction, and weak interaction are also regarded as fundamental constants. We do not know why these fundamental constants have the actual values they do. We simply measure them to ﬁnd their values. For example, we know that the speed of light, which is the maximum speed in the universe, is 300,000 kilometers per second (about 186,000 miles per second). But we do not know why the speed of light should have this particular value . . . .
Some examples of how little those values would have to change in order to ensure that life never existed:
|Ratio of Electrons:Protons||1:1037|
|Ratio of Electromagnetic Force:Gravity||1:1040|
|Expansion Rate of Universe||1:1055|
|Mass of Universe1||1:1059|
|These numbers represent the maximum deviation from the accepted values, that would either prevent the universe from existing now, not having matter, or be unsuitable for any form of life.|
B. Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (posited by Alvin Plaintinga; difficult to list as series of logical steps, so bear with me…)
Plantinga’s argument began with the observation that our beliefs can only have evolutionary consequences if they affect behaviour. To put this another way, natural selection does not directly select for true beliefs, but rather for advantageous behaviours. Plantinga distinguished the various theories of mind-body interaction into four jointly exhaustive categories:
- epiphenomenalism, where behaviour is not caused by beliefs. “if this way of thinking is right, beliefs would be invisible to evolution” so P(R/N&E) would be low or inscrutable.
- Semantic epiphenomenalism, where beliefs have a causative link to behaviour but not by virtue of their semantic content. Under this theory, a belief would be some form of long-term neuronal event. However, on this view P(R|N&E) would be low because the semantic content of beliefs would be invisible to natural selection, and it is semantic content that determines truth-value.
- Beliefs are causally efficacious with respect to behaviour, but maladaptive, in which case P(R|N&E) would be low, as R would be selected against.
- Beliefs are causally efficacious with respect to behaviour and also adaptive, but they may still be false. Since behaviour is caused by both belief and desire, and desire can lead to false belief, natural selection would have no reason for selecting true but non-adaptive beliefs over false but adaptive beliefs. Thus P(R|N&E) in this case would also be low. Plantinga pointed out that innumerable belief-desire pairs could account for a given behaviour; for example, that of a prehistoric hominid fleeing a tiger:
Perhaps Paul very much likes the idea of being eaten, but when he sees a tiger, always runs off looking for a better prospect, because he thinks it unlikely the tiger he sees will eat him. This will get his body parts in the right place so far as survival is concerned, without involving much by way of true belief. … Or perhaps he thinks the tiger is a large, friendly, cuddly pussycat and wants to pet it; but he also believes that the best way to pet it is to run away from it. … Clearly there are any number of belief-cum-desire systems that equally fit a given bit of behaviour.
Thus, Plantinga argued, the probability that our minds are reliable under a conjunction of philosophical naturalism and evolution is low or inscrutable. Therefore, to assert that naturalistic evolution is true also asserts that one has a low or unknown probability of being right. This, Plantinga argued, epistemically defeats the belief that naturalistic evolution is true and that ascribing truth to naturalism and evolution is internally dubious or inconsistent.
C. The Ontological Argument (as posited most effectively by Alvin Plaintiga)
1. It is proposed that a being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and
2. It is proposed that a being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.
3. Maximal greatness is possibly exemplified. That is, it is possible that there be a being that has maximal greatness.
4. Therefore, possibly it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
5. Therefore, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
Alternatively, St. Anselm’s classical phrasing:
1. God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived
2. God may exist in the understanding.
3. To exist in reality and in the understanding is greater than to exist in the understanding alone.
4. Therefore, God exists in reality.