Evidence, & Rational Belief in God

I believe that evidence is a good ground for why a person can rationally believe in the existence of a god. Note that when I say evidence, I am not saying that it must be a proof. Many times, when an Atheist asks me for the evidence for the existence of God, what they are asking me for is not in fact evidence, but rather, what they are demanding is that I show them proof that God exists. I do not claim to have a proof of God’s existence, in the sense that it would be impossible to refute. I claim to have evidence for the existence of God, which another person may or may not contend and try to explain the evidence away through some other means.

If there is sufficient evidence pointing to the existence of a god, then it is rational for a person to believe in that god, even if that particular god doesn’t happen to exist. (more on the second half of this claim later) This may seem counter-intuitive, but stay with me for a moment.

If I place a $100 dollar bill in my dresser drawer before I leave to go to class, and when I come home several hours later, I check that same dresser drawer and now instead of the one $100 dollar bill, there are four $100 dollar bills in there, neatly stacked together in the exact spot I left them, then it would be perfectly rational for me to believe that someone had entered my room and placed three more $100 dollar bills in the same drawer along with the one I had already placed there. Even if there were no forensic evidence that another person had been there, and even if I never come to understand why some person (or possibly persons) did this, and even if I never meet this person, I am still perfectly rational in my belief that a person had gone into my room and placed the three extra $100 dollar bills there. I am justified in believing that another person did this, even if they never reveal to me why they did so. I may also never be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to anyone else that a person went into my room and did this, but even so, I am still rational to hold to this belief based on my understanding of how the world works, and because I know money does not reproduce itself. The same is true for belief in a god. If when I look out into the world, when I examine the evidence for a gods existence utilizing science, reason, logic, and everything I know about the world, I come to the conclusion that there must be a god, I am perfectly rational for believing that someone or something outside of the universe created it, based on what I know about science, about cause and effect, and the apparent fine-tuning of the initial conditions for the possibility that life could exist in this universe. Based on everything else I know about the physical world, I am perfectly rational for my belief in a god, even though others can look at the same evidence(s) and come to different conclusions, and despite the fact that we could argue ad nauseum (or even ad infinitum) about the validity of these different conclusions.

Now, about the second half of the previous statement, a person can still be rational for believing that a god exists, based on the evidence he sees in science and the natural world, even if the particular god he believes in does not, in fact, exist. What is meant by this is that a person can have a rational belief that a god exists, and could take this belief further than the evidence warrants, into believing in a particular god. That person would be taking the belief that the specific, particular god on faith (or possibly on different evidence than the evidence that lead him to believe that a god exists in the first place. This parenthetical is added to note that I do not think that such arguments as the Kalam Cosmological argument, the Fine-tuning or Anthropic principle argument, the moral argument etc. etc. necessarily point to any one specific god, but they can be and are useful in understanding and comprehending some of the necessary qualities of God.).

Just because a person takes a step of faith into believing that a particular god exists (Say YHWH, or Allah, or Zeus) doesn’t mean that that person is irrational for believing that a god exists. It just means that he or she attempted to extrapolate more from the previously examined (usually scientific and/or philosophical) evidence for the existence of a god than was warranted by that evidence. This does not negate the validity or rationality of that person’s belief in a god, it just means they would need other, different reasons (or evidence) for justifying their belief that a particular god exists.

To go back to the previous analogy, if I were to believe (as was shown to be rationally justified previously) that a person went into my room and added three extra $100 dollar bills, I could take some time, think about it, and come to the conclusion that my wife Sarah had done this. I may or may not be justified in believing that Sarah did this, but even if she didn’t place the money there, I am still rational for believing that some person had done this. Let us further suppose that I ask Sarah and she (truthfully) tells me that she did not place the money there. I could continue to believe that she had (possibly thinking she was lying or had forgot or something), even in the face of evidence (her honest statement that she hadn’t) to the contrary. Am I justified or rational for believing that she placed the extra money there, even in the face of substantive evidence that she did not, (or possibly in the face of evidence that she could not) have done so? No, I am not rational for believing that Sarah placed the money there in the face of evidence to the contrary. This, however, does not negate the rational nature of my belief that some person did it! I would still be justified for believing that a person placed the extra money there, even if the particular person whom I believe did it is not in fact the person who did it.

If we take this even further, is a person justified for believing in the existence of a god, based on the sufficient evidence that some god exists, even if NO god exists? Surprisingly, the answer is still yes. As we look back on the analogy, it is reasonable for me to believe that a person came into my room and added three extra $100 dollar bills to my dresser drawer precisely because of my knowledge of the world and of science etc. I know that that money does not reproduce itself (nor does any other inanimate, nonliving object), and I know that money does not normally (if ever) just pop into existence, un-caused, out of nothing (nor anything else for that matter). Because of my knowledge of science and the physical world, I have every right to believe that there had to have been some sort of cause that opened up my dresser drawer, placed three extra $100 dollar bills along with the one I myself had put there, and closed the dresser drawer again.

It is possible that an astronomically unlikely series of coincidental events led to the three extra $100 dollar bills being neatly placed with the one I had already placed there without leaving any evidence what so ever of the events that caused this to happen. Even though this is possible (though astronomically unlikely) I am still justified and rational for believing that a person did it, because that is the most likely explanation, and because there is an utter lack of any evidence what so ever that would lead me to believe it was not a person who did it.

Even if these three $100 dollar bills actually came into existence in the drawer alongside the $100 dollar bill that I placed there because of some sort of weird quantum flux thingy, or some other crazy, outlandish reason that is utterly counter-intuitive to anything we know about science, cause and effect, and the world, I would still be rationally justified for believing what the evidence seems to clearly be telling me, namely that a person came into my room and placed the three extra bills there.

This holds true even if some super brilliant genius of science can conceive of a way to theorize that this could happen, (even though the odds against it ever happening are so astronomical as to be so incomprehensibly large [as in 1 in ten to the 40,000th power] that even if you wrote a zero on every single particle of the known universe, there would not be enough particles to write all of the zeros of this number!). Even then, if someone claims (rightly, though how would they actually know this, unless they were actually there?) that this is the cause of the three extra $100 dollar bills being there alongside the one I placed there, I am still rationally justified in believing that a person placed the money there. I may be wrong, but I am still rational and justified in my belief that a person placed the extra money there. Obviously this and the other aspects of the analogy that I have painstakingly pointed out can be transferred to a person’s belief in the existence of a god. If the evidence very convincingly points to the existence of a god, then I am perfectly justified in and rational for believing that a god exists.

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3 responses to “Evidence, & Rational Belief in God”

  1. Mr L Narwhal. says :

    Narwhal here.

    Firstly, thanks for taking the time to write this. I’m going to ramble a bit and probably avoid some of the things you say, bu not entirely, and talk about things i’ve been thinking about. As I understand it the thrust of your argument is anything can be taken for god’s existence if interpreted in the right (wrong 😉 way by an individual?

    You’re right to point out the difference between evidence and proof. Can you imagine a consensus of what proof might be? First we’d have to define “god” and at least agree on that. My definition of a god is a supernatural being, what’s yours?

    If indeed there are supernatural beings we will never be able to identify them. And if they do interact with the natural world and do become measurable then they aren’t supernatural anymore, by definition. And we have to think again about that definition.

    As such the concept, and the actuality, of gods is utterly irrelevant to me. If they don’t, and by my definition anyway can’t, intervene in my life, what’s the point? They become a nice fantasy to some extent, but absolutely no reason to restrict freedoms, start wars, or divide communities. Mentally i’d bunch them together with unicorns, dragons, nessies, gnomes, mynaeds, nymphs, and all manner of other mythical beasts. Fun, but no reason to oppress the freedoms of others. I also don’t need words to describe my unbelief in a unicorn. I’m not an Aunicornist for example. And trust me I would love for unicorns to exist! But anyway.

    Let’s go back to the problem of evidence. Some creationists I talk to seem to suggest that because the universe exists then there must be a creator god (i’m not going to get into existentialism as it’s too easy an excuse to dodge questions about the real world that they live in. If they don’t live in the real physical world bound by laws then by all means chop off your imaginary penis, fly with your arms, eat fire etc). You’re largely suggesting the same thing: you’re saying individuals can think about a piece of evidence and come up with the conclusion god. Or god did it. Or god knows.

    The thing is evidence has to be connected to a thing. I could look at a lump of cheese and think, “this cheese exists, there has to have been a cow or a goat that uddered it out.” There are other more spurious things I could use the cheese as evidence of; a factory, a farmer, grass perhaps, and so on. The cheese isn’t enough on its own but it’s a clue. Jumping straight to the supernatural by looking at the cheese and thanking god for its existence is irrational. Now i know this has been repeated a lot but the claim of a supernatural omniscient, omnipotent being that cares about who we have sex with, or whether you chop off your foreskin, or whether you say prayers before school is SO important that there must be some kind of consensus. That does not exist. As it is the religiosts that want those things based on an old book(s) they must prove beyond the confines of their own mind that that is correct. They don’t.

    So, back to universe (or your 3 extra 100 dollar bills) existing = god. That’s not evidence – that’s supposition. I’ll give you a clue though, it was likely to have been Sarah, but you can ask her so you don’t need to guess (she’ll either tell you truth or not, but it’s more evidence to add to the party.)

    I think I need to know examples of evidence beyond the fact that things exist or things happened. We measure everything else that makes up the fabric of our lives (except emotions perhaps, but most people can weight those internally it seems), so if the god concept is purely emotional than that’s fine and it’s unlikely we can measure that kind of stuff beyond looking at brain activities. If however, as we have been led to believe, god has physical interactions with the Earth (not forgetting the creation), I’d want to know why these physical interventions have dried up and have therefore non-measurable?

    Once we’d defined god, we’d need to agree how much evidence there was to get to proof. If there is any ambiguity (and from a scientific point of view there is no proof of god, I don’t think philosophical proof can be used as evidence) then countries must behave as secular places and allow freedom of religion, and freedom of everything else, for the people who live there.

    You write (and by the way, you’re very clear, so thanks)

    —————

    Just because a person takes a step of faith into believing that a particular god exists (Say YHWH, or Allah, or Zeus) doesn’t mean that that person is irrational for believing that a god exists. It just means that he or she attempted to extrapolate more from the previously examined (usually scientific and/or philosophical) evidence for the existence of a god than was warranted by that evidence. This does not negate the validity or rationality of that person’s belief in a god, it just means they would need other, different reasons (or evidence) for justifying their belief that a particular god exists.

    _________

    No it does not negate their rationality per se. I think it questions it though. Let’s take a rainbow. Beautiful. Almost too perfect to our eyes. Now a christian may take this is as evidence of god. I see it in just the same way except i know it’s a product of light, moisture, refraction, reflection and so on. I know this because I have relied on the weight of scientific study – i’ve never studied a rainbow personally. God doesn’t need to be in this equation – nothing about the rainbow changes without god or without me thinking about god, it seems to me to be purely a superflouos human addition, and more importantly unnecessary. Back to being irrelevant.

    But i don’t look at a rainbow and think about refraction, I think about how beautiful it is. I can rationalise it later, but I don’t think I do i’d rather enjoy the rainbow for what it is. I think it’s unfair that “some” christians suggest that atheists look at the world in terms of science. They don’t. Well I don’t. I look at the world in awe, but again I don’t need gaps in my awe filled by god. I don’t need, or think it’s right, that gaps in anyone’s knowledge are filled by god, but I have no problem if that’s what you want to plug the gaps with. Most atheists are largely apathetic to science I’d suggest. But it’s natural the science literate get involved in public debates about this kind of stuff…

    And by the way: The earth isn’t fine tuned for life, life is fine tuned (for just a few kilometres of the crust) for Earth. As Rosa Rubicondior beautifully puts it – “and evolution is how it stays in tune.”

    • Derek J. Brent says :

      I have quickly read over this and there is much here with which we could carry on a conversation. Unfortunately, this is the last week before spring break, which means it is mid-term cram week. I have several papers & assignments due and at least two exams to study for. Not sure when i will have time to respond this week, but for sure I will have time to think over this next week on spring break.

      Also, I enjoyed the unique perspective on fine-tuning, though it seems intuitively wrong. I wish i had time to think about and dive into this now, but several books are calling my name.

      Here’s to another day when we can dig through all the interesting bits. *holds up cup of coffee* cheers!

  2. Derek J. Brent says :

    “As I understand it the thrust of your argument is anything can be taken [as evidence] for god’s existence if interpreted in the right (wrong 😉 way by an individual?”

    No. the point of this post was to clarify what is meant by evidence for the existence of God, and to show that the theist can be considered rational for their belief in God’s existence, when it is based on the evidence, even though God may not exist. The rationality of the belief lies in the fact that the evidence, when carefully and unbiasedly examined, points to the need for a Creator who is timeless, spaceless, immaterial, immensely powerful, intelligent and personal.

    This creator must be both timeless and spaceless because this creator created both space and time. This creator must be immaterial because matter only exists in the physical universe and that universe was created at the Big Band. Most people would attribute God with omnipotence, but from an examination of the evidence, this Being does not need to be actually omnipotent, but would be required to have an immense, almost incomprehensible power, because this Being created space and time ex nihilo (that is out of nothing). I want to point out that just because no one can explain how God did it (that is create all of space and time ex nihilo) does not in any way provide a negation of this fact. We don’t need to know how He did it in order to affirm the truth that He did it. This Creator must be intelligent in order to have created such a magnificently harmonious universe, one that once set into motion, has produced stars, galaxies, planets, and finally life, on this planet. the last point, the fact that in the initial conditions of the universe (which are do not necessarily have to be the ratios and constants that they are) were finely-tuned in such a way as to allow for the existence of life is an argument known as the fine-tuning or anthropic principle argument, and it points to the need for this Creator to be intelligent. More will be said on this at the end of this when we discuss fine-tuning. Finally, this Creator, this cause of the universe (and all of space and time) must be personal. This part can be tricky to comprehend, but I will do my best to explain what it is that I mean.

    When the Big Bang happened, all of space and time came into existence. This fact is confirmed and reaffirmed time (punny, I know) and again by Cosmologists, and so we know that this implies that there was no space or time before the Big Bang. If there was no time before the Big Bang, then the cause of the Big Bang must be necessarily timeless. For the effect, which began to exist in time, to follow from a timeless (some use the term eternal) cause, then it must be a personal agent, who can freely choose to create. In order to attempt to avoid a Creator, some have asked why can’t this cause be a set of necessary and sufficient conditions under which the universe would naturally arise without a Creator. Besides the fact that we do not know what these necessary and sufficient conditions could be, the fact that they are impersonal doesn’t work. This is because if the cause of the universe were a timeless set of necessary and sufficient conditions, then as long as these timeless conditions are present (which they would have to be eternally, since no time was present before the Big Bang), then the effect that follows from them would be timelessly present as well. This contradicts all the evidence of cosmology that points to the Big Bang. For the cause to be timeless, and the effect to begin to exist in time, the cause must be a personal agent, capable of freely choosing to create all of Space and Time. There is plenty of deep philosophical undertones and underpinnings that are present here, and we could talk for months about this because there have been plenty of books and papers written on this topic, but I hope and believe I have sufficiently explained the reason why the cause of the Universe must be a personal agent.

    “You’re right to point out the difference between evidence and proof.”

    Thank you. There are plenty of Atheists who demand a mathematical/scientific proof for the existence of God, and it is simply not possible. Besides, I do not think that a proof is necessary, not because we simply have to take it on faith that God exists, but because there is plenty of philosophical reasons to believe that there must be a creator, and once one accepts this, there is plenty of historical evidence for the life and death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and after examining the evidence for the resurrection, the fact that Jesus was raised physically from the dead by God is the best explanation for the evidence of the events surrounding this crucifixion. I do not think it necessary to get into these evidences here, since you didn’t ask and that is not the point of the post. I just point this out because it really is quite rational to believe in the existence of God, and that He is the God revealed to us in the Bible.

    “My definition of a god is a supernatural being, what’s yours?”

    I would say that my definition of what a “god” is is complicated, but I would simply say see above for a minimalist examination of the necessary characteristics required for this Creator. There are other arguments that attempt to establish the benevolence of God, as well as other arguments meant to give reasons to believe he has other qualities not required for Him to be creator, but these are not the point of this post.

    “If indeed there are supernatural beings we will never be able to identify them.”

    Why not? I just pointed out reasons to be able to identify the need for a Creator, and established a few reasons to believe that this Creator has certain necessary (though certainly not exhaustive, and possibly not sufficient) characteristics. I guess I could agree that when referencing the entirety of the being that inhabit the supernatural realm, then yes, I agree that we are not equipped to examine or study them in detail, but as ghost stories and stories of the supernatural show, if these things, these experiences are real, we are quite capable of recognizing and identifying them a supernatural, simply because we understand and know the natural realm, and to see a being do that which is not possible for something of the natural realm to do, I would say we could in fact identify that as supernatural.

    “And if they do interact with the natural world and do become measurable then they aren’t supernatural anymore, by definition.”

    I do not think that interaction with the natural world would negate the supernatural nature of such a being. If any ghost story ever experienced were true, the fact that the ghost interacted with the natural world does not therefore make it natural. It would still retain its supernatural status, and would likely have interacted with the natural world in a supernatural way, hence our ability to identify it as a supernatural entity in the first place. I also do not think that if we can somehow measure them in some way that that would negate their supernatural nature.

    “As such the concept, and the actuality, of gods is utterly irrelevant to me. If they don’t, and by my definition anyway can’t, intervene in my life, what’s the point?”

    I would say that you are simply wrong in your assumption that even if a supernatural being exists it could not interact with you. If such a being could not interact with you and intervene in your life, I could understand why you would ask what is the point. Even still, studying and knowing such things (if that were possible) even if they do not have the capacity to intervene in your life could be of some value, just as certain other knowledge we may gain could have value, even if the study of such topics would not affect your life in any way.

    “Mentally i’d bunch them together with unicorns, dragons, nessies, gnomes, mynaeds, nymphs, and all manner of other mythical beasts. Fun, but no reason to oppress the freedoms of others. I also don’t need words to describe my unbelief in a unicorn. I’m not an Aunicornist for example. And trust me I would love for unicorns to exist! But anyway.”

    I found this to be an interesting segment for the simple fact that you seem to negate the position of many of your fellow atheists here when it comes to the definition of atheism as “a lack of belief in god(s).” I say this because of the sentence, “I also don’t need words to describe my unbelief in a unicorn.” if this is true of unicorns, which is an entity you would lump into the same category as god, and if the definition is merely “lack of belief in god(s)”, why the need for the term Atheism? I believe that the term Atheism is more them merely a “lack of belief in god(s)” (even though this may be a necessary characteristic of what it means to define oneself and others, I do not think it a sufficient description of what all an atheist believes). Actually, I am currently working on a Blog post about this very topic. I may just have to include this section if you will allow me to use it.

    What is your stance of the definition of Atheism? what do you think it means, and what do you mean when you use it to describe yourself and others?

    “Let’s go back to the problem of evidence.”

    ah, yes, the meat of what this post was about!

    “Some creationists I talk to seem to suggest that because the universe exists then there must be a creator god. You’re largely suggesting the same thing:”

    Yes, I am suggesting that when the evidence is examined, the facts point to the need for a Creator who has the necessary attributes which were described above.

    “you’re saying individuals can think about a piece of evidence and come up with the conclusion god. Or god did it. Or god knows.”

    While this statement is technically true, that a person can look at the evidence presented for the existence for God (not just any evidence, as can be implied from the way your statement “about a [key word “a”] piece of evidence,”) and come to the conclusion that there is indeed a god, what I am arguing in this post is, the fact that the evidence points in this direction makes a person rational for believing in the existence of God, even if no such being exists.

    “The thing is evidence has to be connected to a thing. I could look at a lump of cheese and think, “this cheese exists, there has to have been a cow or a goat that uddered it out.” There are other more spurious things I could use the cheese as evidence of; a factory, a farmer, grass perhaps, and so on.”

    I would agree with the first statement that the evidence must be connected to the thing it is trying to prove. I would say it is rational to believe that a cow, goat or other animal that is capable of producing the type of milk required to make the type of cheese being examined must necessarily exist in order for this cheese to exist, so long as the cheese we are examining can reasonably be believed (after examination) to have come from some natural source (that is to say we can tell that it is “natural” cheese that must have been produced from an animal and is not some artificial cheese made in a lab or a fake, etc.) Basically, the cheese examined would need to show signs of requiring an animal that produced it in order for us to reasonably infer the existence of a cow, goat, etc. based on the evidence of the cheese in question. You go on to talk about more spurious conclusions which we could attempt to infer based upon the existence of the cheese in question. you list, a factory, a farmer, grass, and so on. well, I think I would agree that to infer some of these things based on the existence of the cheese would be spurious. How do we tell whether a conclusion logically follows from the premise (here we mean the evidence in question, that is the existence of this cheese). We would not be rational to infer that a factory must exist because this cheese exists, because we know that cheese can be produced without the need for a factory, and so there would need to be other evidence presented before we could reasonably be justified in inferring the existence of a factory. What about the grass? well, we know that cows eat grass, so if it can be shown that this type of cheese is only able to come from cow’s milk, and if it is further known that the types of cows that could produce the milk required to make this specific cheese must eat grass, and could not exist without having this grass to feed on and thus be able to produce the milk which produced the cheese, then we would be rational to infer the existence of grass (or at the very least that there had to have been grass, before it was eaten). If it can be shown that the grass was not an essential staple of the diet of the cow, or that a cow was not required for the production of said cheese, then it is less reasonable, if not completely unreasonable to infer the existence of the grass. As for the Farmer, similar principles are in play. If it is possible (and not just possible but also likely) that the cheese could have come into existence without a farmer to produce it, then I would say it is spurious to infer a farmer. If however, this type of cheese requires that it was crafted and mixed by a person, then I would say it is quite reasonable to infer the existence of a person, if not exactly a farmer.

    I do not believe this to be the case with the instance of a Creator and the evidence that the universe had a beginning, at which all of space and time came into existence, as well as many others points pretty decisively towards a creator. I do not think this proves a creator must exist, and many atheists are working very hard to come up with cosmological models that work without the need for a creator in order to avoid this conclusion. this last fact, by the way, points to how strongly the evidence points towards a Creator. Think about it, if the evidence for a Creator were not very strong, there would be no need to come up with a different working cosmological model that accounts for the data as well as the Big Bang does. The fact that Scientists and specifically Cosmologists are even wrestling with this conclusion weighs in favor of the rationality a person has for believing in the existence of a Creator.

    “The cheese isn’t enough on its own but it’s a clue. Jumping straight to the supernatural by looking at the cheese and thanking god for its existence is irrational.”

    Here, you seem to jump from an analogy where you have a piece of cheese and are examining whether it is rational to infer the existence of various things based on that evidence and our knowledge, to an analogy of a person who has a piece of cheese a-nd infers the existence of a supernatural god. I think I addressed what it is you seem to be saying with this point above.

    “Now i know this has been repeated a lot but the claim of a supernatural omniscient, omnipotent being that cares about who we have sex with, or whether you chop off your foreskin, or whether you say prayers before school is SO important that there must be some kind of consensus. That does not exist. As it is the religiosts that want those things based on an old book(s) they must prove beyond the confines of their own mind that that is correct. They don’t.”

    I can understand what you are saying here, but as the point of my post was not to imply or enforce these things, I won’t spend much time here. I will say though, that I don’t think anyone should be forcing their beliefs on others, no matter which side of the god debate you fall on. All persons must come to the conclusion regarding whether or not a god exists, and there after what they base their beliefs on. I believe we should all think about and hold to a worldview that makes the most sense out of all the data and questions, but I don’t think any worldview should be forced onto any other. That being said, if one lives in a democratic society (such as America), then you are going to get persons on both sides of the two-party system fighting to have their beliefs and ideals heard and agree with by others so that the way they think the country should be run is in fact the way the country is being run, but that this is not exclusive to the Religious. Non-believers also want their voices heard and their ideals enforced. It doesn’t take a belief in a deity for people to want things done their way.

    “So, back to universe (or your 3 extra 100 dollar bills) existing = god. That’s not evidence – that’s supposition. I’ll give you a clue though, it was likely to have been Sarah, but you can ask her so you don’t need to guess (she’ll either tell you truth or not, but it’s more evidence to add to the party.) I think I need to know examples of evidence beyond the fact that things exist or things happened.”

    the evidence is the argument(s) which use the existence of the universe as a premise. If you merely take the universe’s existence on its own, then you get nothing but the fact that the universe exists. What happens in these arguments though, is that they take two or more premises, one of which is the fact that the universe does in fact exist, and based on these premises being true, the conclusion that God exists logically follows. this is known as a deductive argument, and as long as the premises are true and sound, then the conclusion must logically follow from them. Take the Kalam Cosmological argument for an example:
    Premise 1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
    Premise 2) The Universe began to exist
    Conclusion: Therefore the universe has a cause.

    This is a perfect example of a logical syllogism (a deductive argument that takes the form of If A = B, And any C=A, Then C=B). if the first two premises are true, then it logically follows that the conclusion is also true. We are not taking merely the existence of the universe, but rather, are taking this as part of a larger argument, and logically showing that God must exist.

    “We measure everything else that makes up the fabric of our lives (except emotions perhaps, but most people can weight those internally it seems)”

    this right here could take us into a very different argument about naturalism/physicalism, but I will leave this argument for another day/time perhaps.

    “from a scientific point of view there is no proof of god, I don’t think philosophical proof can be used as evidence”

    Why not accept philosophical proofs as evidence? What is wrong with the field of philosophy and or the conclusions it draws that you discredit the work that it does?

    “No it does not negate their rationality per se. I think it questions it though. Let’s take a rainbow. Beautiful. Almost too perfect to our eyes. Now a christian may take this is as evidence of god. I see it in just the same way except i know it’s a product of light, moisture, refraction, reflection and so on. I know this because I have relied on the weight of scientific study – i’ve never studied a rainbow personally. God doesn’t need to be in this equation – nothing about the rainbow changes without god or without me thinking about god, it seems to me to be purely a superflouos human addition, and more importantly unnecessary. Back to being irrelevant.”

    I would agree that it is unnecessary for a person to invoke God in order to explain the existence of the rainbow. To do so would be to commit a god of the gaps argument, that is, to say that because we do not understand it, therefore God himself is the one doing it. we understand how the rainbow is formed naturally, we understand the cause of it. Just because you can explain how the rainbow forms naturally however, does not negate the need for a Creator of the entire universe. In the same way that we can understand and know that the rainbow had to have had a cause (and this is the point of the arguments in favor of God’s existence), we can examine the entire universe, and look to the cosmological evidence and we can conclude that it had a cause, and from examining the philosophical evidence, we can conclude that the cause must be God. it is not a god of the gaps to say that the universe must have a creator, because God is a necessary being, that is, God is a being that must exist in order for everything and anything else that does exist to have its existence.

    “I don’t need, or think it’s right, that gaps in anyone’s knowledge are filled by god,”

    Why is it not right to fill in a proper gap, that is, the gap of the cause of the entire universe, to be filled in with the only explanation capable of filling that gap? If the proper explanation for something is the existence of God, why not accept that answer? why should I leave gaps in my knowledge simply because I do not want to fill it in with God, especially when the case in point can only be filled by God?

    “And by the way: The earth isn’t fine tuned for life, life is fine tuned (for just a few kilometres of the crust) for Earth. As Rosa Rubicondior beautifully puts it – ‘and evolution is how it stays in tune.’

    And here we are, at the end. Because it is late, and I have not had an opportunity to read Rosa’s blog about this yet (a link to the exact post would be helpful so I can make sure I am reading the right one), because it is late, and because I have already written about 2,500 words, I will refrain from taking on the task of reading and responding to the post that makes this claim. I will say, however, that it seems the idea that earth isn’t fine tuned for life, but that life is fine tuned for earth is simply misinformed. The claim is not that just the Earth, but the entire universe was crafted and fine-tuned in a way that it allows for life to exist on the planet. The fine-tuning argument states that there are a number of ratios and constants that are what they are, but do not need to be the way they are, and if they were adjusted in very minute ways in either direction, then life would not be possible anywhere in the universe. There are at least a few different versions or definitions of the anthropic principle, but the one that makes the most sense to me is Dr. Rich Knopp’s “Working Anthropic Principle” which states: “In order for human life to exist in our universe, the universe had to possess in its initial conditions (and in conditions since) precisely the right physical constants and ratios.” simply, but makes the point beautifully. Life could not have arisen anywhere in the universe if the initial conditions were “just right” in order for life to form later.

    Well, this has been an interesting last few hours. I know this is long, but I hope it helps clarify and elaborate my position. I look forward to continuing conversations in the future, even if not on this specific topic.

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