Arguments for the existence of God

(Ontological argument, Cosmological argument, Teleological argument)

      The Palmist wrote that “The fool (Hebrew nā·āl) says in his heart, "There is no God" (Psalms 14 and 53:1a). The Hebrew nā·āl simple means to be foolish.  A basic meaning of the English word “foolish” is to be lacking in good sense or judgement.

       There are a sizable number of people in the world who do not believe there to be a God or Gods. The most recent research reveals that there are between 450 and 500 million (7% of the global adult population) people who do not believe there is a God or Gods. These who take this position are usually referred to as atheists or non-theists. Are such folks, as the Palmist says, lacking in good sense or judgement in believing that no God or Gods exist? It will be the goal of this essay to answer that question.

       The word “God” is generally defined as a being that has cognitive capacity and innate power far greater than is present in a physical being or material entity. Sometimes the terms omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable and eternal are used to define a God.  Omnipotent means “all powerful,” Omniscient means “all knowing,” omnipresent means “everywhere present,” immutable means "unchanging" and eternal means "having no beginning or end." God/Gods are seen as supernatural in that they are far greater than anything in the natural world. Because of their supernaturalism, they are seen as worthy of being obeyed and worshiped.

       Belief in there being only one God is called monotheism while belief in there being multiple Gods is called polytheism.  There is also what is called henotheism. The term henotheism refers to belief in the supremacy of a single God without denying the existence of other Gods.

        Monotheism is the cornerstone of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Judaism and Islam believe this God to be Unitarian, a single undifferentiated entity.  Much of Christianity is Trinitarian and teaches God is a single entity differentiated into Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  They see the Father, Son and Spirit indwelling each other and thus being a single entity called God. Therefore, while Trinitarians see plurality in the one God, they still see God as a single entity and are thus monotheistic. Other extant monotheistic religions include Baha'i (6 million adherents), Sikh (26 million adherents) and Zoroastrianism (120,000 adherents). It must be noted, however, that in Zoroastrianism, two Gods are identified having equal status. One God is seen as good and the other as evil. 

       Polytheism has been the major approach to belief in the supernatural throughout much of human history. However, with the advance of Christianity (2.6 billion adherents) and Islam (1.8 billion adherents) joining Judaism (13 million adherents) as major monotheistic religions, the number of polytheistic religions extant in the world has dwindled and are small in number. Hinduism is the only major world religion (1.5 billion adherents) that is polytheistic although a number of Hindus are henotheistic.  One other extant polytheistic religion of reasonable size is Japanese Shintoism (3.0 million adherents).  

       Some believe the Christian sect of Mormonism (16.8 million adherents) is henotheistic/polytheistic. Mormons believe the Father, Son and Spirit are separate God beings but that they form a “Godhead” that is one in purpose. They see the Father as the chief God (Doctrines and Covenants 130:22). They also believe Gods exist on other planets and that we humans can become Gods in the afterlife. On the basis of these beliefs, Mormons could be considered polytheistic. 

       Buddhism is a major religion in the world (535 million adherents) but it is neither monotheistic nor polytheistic. There is no God figure in Buddhism.  In Buddhism, everyone is responsible for embarking on their own spiritual journey which involves meditation, moral/ethical living, and the attainment of wisdom. The goal is to reach the level of spiritual enlightenment called “nirvana” which ends the cycle of birth and death (cycle of reincarnation).

      When Buddhists pray, some pray to various of the Buddha's (enlightened ones) that have attained to “nirvana” throughout the ages but don't consider them to be Gods as that term is defined above. Other Buddhists do prayer in a meditative sense.  Some see Buddhism as atheistic or as non-theistic and therefore a secular religious system. Jainism (around 4 million adherents) and Confucianism (6 million adherents) are similar to Buddhism in that they don't have a God figure and neither does the Chinese religion Taoism (also known as Daoism) (8.7 million adherents). China has the highest number of atheists (around 235 million).  

       There is also what is called pantheism and panentheism. Under pantheism, God is seen as in everything. God is seen as identical with the universe. God is the universe and the universe is God.  Panentheism differs in that it sees God as a specific being but inter-related with the world.  God is seen as being in the world and the world is seen as being in God. Both these views differ from classical theism where God is seen as a separate entity from the world and universe. Both these views have had adherents throughout history and to this very day.

       Different religions have different perspectives as to the nature of God/Gods. The three major monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, while having differing theological/doctrinal belief systems, are basically unified in believing God to be a single being who is the creator and sustainer of all things. The God of these three religions is identified as being the one and only God. We see this in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures of the Judeo/Christian Bible and in the Islamic Scriptures called the Quran.     

Hebrew Scriptures:

       Deuteronomy 4:35: ... the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.  

       Deuteronomy 4:39:   Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

       Deuteronomy 10:17a: For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome,

       Deuteronomy 32:39a:  "See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me.

       Nehemiah 9:6: You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

       1 Kings 8:60: So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other

       Psalm 83:18: Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD-- that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. 

       Psalm 115:15: May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.                 

       Isaiah 44:24: This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.       

       Isaiah 45:5a: I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.

      Jeremiah 10:10a: But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.

Greek Scriptures:       

       John 5:44:. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?

       John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 

       Acts 17:24: The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.

       1 Corinthians 8:4:  So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.

Quran Scriptures:

       Quran: Chapter 2 Verse 255: Allah—there is no god except Him— is the Living One, the All-sustainer. Neither drowsiness befalls Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that may intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows that which is before them and that which is behind them, and they do not comprehend anything of His knowledge except what He wishes. His seat embraces the heavens and the earth, and He is not wearied by their preservation, and He is the All-exalted, the All-supreme.

      Quran: Chapter 59: Verses 23-25: He is Allah, and there is no God besides Him, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Gracious, the Merciful. He is Allah, and there is no God besides Him, the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace, the Bestower of Security, the Protector, the Mighty, the Subduer, the Exalted. Holy is Allah far above that which they associate with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.

       Atheists will argue that all such rhetoric as seen in the Bible and Quran, as well as in polytheistic religion, is nothing more than man attempting to identify something outside of himself as the reason for existence. Atheists maintain that there is no hard evidence that proves there is a supernatural being or beings that are responsible for what is. Therefore, the atheist will reverse the words of the psalmist to say that “the fool has said in his heart there is a God” rather than “the fool says in his heart there is no God.” So who here is the fool and how can we know?

       While most religions have writings that purport to identify the existence of God, various philosophers and theologians have attempted to look beyond such writings and use reason alone to argue for the existence of God. This is sometimes referred to as natural theology. Natural theology is generally defined as inquiry into the existence and attributes of God without appealing to divine revelation.

       Some who take this approach are called deists. Deists believe in a higher power being responsible for the creation but do not believe such power is involved in the creation. Deists do not believe in divine revelation but in human reason as the pathway to understanding the creation and the universe.  It is interesting that some of America's founding fathers were deists (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and others).    

       Of the various attempts at trying to identify and define the supernatural through reason alone, there are three primary arguments that you will find presented in any book dealing with arguments for the existence of God. These three arguments are called the ontological argument, the cosmological argument and the teleological argument.

The Ontological Argument:

       St Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (AD 1033-1109), is the first to present the ontological argument. It was later expanded upon by the French philosopher René Descartes. The argument is that God is a being than which none greater can be conceived. But a being which existed in fact would be greater than a being which existed only in the mind. Therefore, God exists.

       When Anselm speaks of conceiving in his mind, he is not speaking of such conception being only in his mind. He is thinking of something which has its being independent of his mind or anyone else’s mind. To conceive of God in this manner is not to produce a concept of God in the mind but to simply be aware of that which is.

        Anselm’s argument appears to be associated with the Platonic concept of universals. Plato taught that there are universal entities that exist independent of the mind but can be comprehended by the mind.  Universals exist as non-material entities outside of space and time.  The fact that a mind can conceive of universals points to their existence. It is believed that if they did not exist we couldn’t think of them. Since the mind can conceive of a being than which none greater can be conceived, such being must exist and to Anselm such being is God.

       Volumes of narrative have been written in analysis of this argument. In reality, this argument does not prove God’s existence. The premise that because we can conceive of a being than which none greater can be conceived doesn’t prove such being exists in reality.  This is a virtual attempt to define God into existence through thought. While Anselm’s appears to believe his identification of God is beyond thought and is simply a coming to be aware of what objectively exists, in reality his argument is based on thought and nothing more.  His argument does not produce evidence of his thought existing in objective reality.  

       For example, when a painter first conceives in his mind of what he will afterwards paint, the reality of the painting is a reality in his thoughts but he does not yet understand it to exist outside of his thoughts as he has not yet turned his thoughts into an actual painting. But after he has produced the actual painting he now has the painting in his thoughts and he understands that the painting exists external to his thoughts as well. The ontological argument does not show God to exist independent of the thought that he exists.

       Many philosophers and theologians have shown this argument to be without merit as to proving the existence of God.  As one philosopher I read stated, “It is doubtful that any person was ever brought to a belief in God by this argument.”   

 The Cosmological Argument:

       The cosmological argument is a first cause or prime mover argument. It goes back to the time of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. It was expanded upon by the Catholic theologian St Thomas Aquinas.   This argument says that all things in the human experience depend on something else for their existence.  Whatever entity can come into existence is contingent upon some other entity coming into existence.  There is nothing within the nature of entities which allows for their perpetual existence. Entities are not self explanatory. To provide a reason for their existence we must refer to something else through which they came into existence.

       This argument assumes that we cannot go on indefinitely explaining everything in terms of something else.  We cannot conceive of an infinite process of causation without there being a beginning. Sooner or later we must come to that which is self-explanatory, that which is not contingent on something else. There must be a causeless cause that can neither arise nor pass away. This causeless cause must be infinite having always been. This cause must be a necessary entity having infinite knowledge, understanding and power to facilitate causation. This entity is identified as God.

Criticisms of the Cosmological Argument:

       One criticism of the cosmological argument is that the idea of causation not being an infinite process is seen as a given without any reason provided to prove this is indeed the case. It is assuming the thing to be proved. It is further pointed out that if it is impossible to conceive of an infinite process of causation without there being a beginning, why is it possible to conceive of an infinite causeless cause?  It is questioned why postulating an infinite progression of causation is any less plausible than postulating an infinite causeless cause? It is suggested that postulating the existence of an infinite causeless cause is actually less persuasive seeing that the human experience only sees a seemingly endless progression of causation. In other words, a causeless cause is beyond human observation and only theoretical.  

       It is pointed out that the cosmological argument tends to point to a single entity as the causeless cause. Again, this is assuming the thing to be proved. Why couldn’t there be more that one entity that is without cause and eternally existent?  Those who embrace the cosmological argument as a proof for the existence of God generally define this God in terms of having the attributes of God as defined in their particular theological system. However, the cosmological argument in and of itself doesn’t identify any attributes of the causeless cause other than it being causeless (infinite). This being the case, it is asked why energy rather than a being called God could not be the causeless cause that manifests itself in countless ways throughout the universe?  Buddhists actually embrace this perspective.

       While a believer in God can use the cosmological argument to establish the logical possibility that it is a supernatural deity who is the beginning cause of all that exists, the cosmological argument does not establish this as definitive as there are other equally logical ways in which the cosmological argument can be viewed. As discussed above, one alternative way of viewing the cosmological argument is that an infinite energy is the cause of what is as opposed to a supernatural deity being such cause. This infinite energy view is seen in how some scientists view the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Laws of Thermodynamics:

       The Laws of Thermodynamics have been tested many times and found to be universally valid.  The First Law of Thermodynamics is a statement of the conservation of energy. It postulates that the amount of energy in the universe is constant. Einstein showed that matter is energy in his famous equation. So when we speak of matter we speak of energy as well. While energy can change forms, it is not being created or destroyed.

       Some scientists see this as evidence for energy having always existed and possessing constituents that express themselves in predictable ways. They see this energy as not dependent on a supernatural being but in and of itself being the cause of the material universe. Others see this energy as resident in a supernatural deity who through cognitive function facilitates its use.   

       The Second Law of Thermodynamics is a statement of entropy.  Entropy (or more specifically, increase in entropy) is defined as heat (in calories or Btu's) absorbed by a system, divided by the absolute temperature of the system at the time the heat is absorbed. Entropy refers to the amount of energy that dissipates from any given system into its surroundings.  A system is anything from a machine to a living organism.  The earth along with all bodies that make up the universe, are considered systems. In all systems, there is a certain amount of energy constantly dissipating into random, disordered activity which the system cannot use to its benefit.  This results in all systems degrading over time.

       Unless there is a purposeful source of energy operating in or on a system to limit such degradation, the system becomes less and less organized, more and more random and moves from complex to less and less complex.  A house will deteriorate and become a pile of dust if left on its own and not looked after.  Living organisms will die and disintegrate if not taken care of.  Everything in the universe is seen as gradually breaking down.  Everything in the universe is seen as moving toward an increase in entropy.

       Those who see the cosmological argument pointing to an all powerful and intelligent God say that since everything is dissipating into less and less complexity, there has to be a creator God who started it all.  While entropy of a system can be interrupted and temporarily stopped by an influx of energy from outside itself, entropy still continues its relentless degradation of all systems.  Believers in God say this process had to have a beginning.  Someone had to make and set in motion the physical universe which is slowly disintegrating. The atoms and molecules that make up the universe must have had a starting point in order to experience increasing entropy. They could not have eternally existed without contradicting the second law of thermodynamics. Thus the cosmological argument is seen as identifying a supernatural deity as the causeless cause of what exists. 

       Others argue that the earth is part of an open system of heavenly bodies where systems are constantly dissipating energy into their surroundings. Since energy is constant, neither being created nor destroyed, it is believed to have always existed. While the earth and all it contains may be experiencing entropy, it is also constantly being renewed with energy from the sun and other cosmic bodies. While energy from the sun may speed up entropy in many areas because of its oxidative effect, it also facilitates fresh systems as seen in its effects upon the growth of plants.  Energy exchange is always taking place to keep entropy in check.

      It is pointed out that the second law is all about heat exchange where energy is allowed to do work and thus create complexity. The second law states that heat always flows from hot to cold.  Therefore, the second law is seen as supporting the Big Bang Theory as an explanation of how the universe came to be. The Big Bang is seen as an explosion of energy which created tremendous heat.  As this heat energy cooled, matter was formed and the universe developed.  Entropy began at this point and continues to this very day but moves at a very slow pace due to the counter forces of renewal.  Some believe that in time everything will degrade back to its pre Big Bang state of energy equilibrium where there is no further breakdown (entropy).

       When asked what caused the Big Bang and from where did the exploding elements come from, the answer is that constituents of energy have always existed and before the Big Bang these constituents were in a state of equilibrium and were not experiencing entropy. These constituents (atoms, sub-atomic particles, etc.) became compressed, generating disequilibrium which led to the Big Bang.  Those who take this approach believe the constituents of energy have always existed and facilitate themselves through innate, resident forces.     

       This view is supported by showing how atoms incessantly move at a few hundred to thousands of miles an hour at ordinary temperatures. As temperature increases so does the speed of their movement.  Many atoms spontaneously bond when they collide, forming extremely powerful associations in very specific ways.  It is believed it is this type of spontaneous reaction of elements that created the Big Bang and the converting of energy into matter. 

       It is pointed out that millions of compounds have less energy as a compound than the energy contained in their individual atoms.  Therefore complex systems do not come into existence from less complex elements.  Systems came into existence through the diffusion of energy generated by the explosion of very complex atoms/molecules. The Big Bang is seen as producing less complex systems than the constituents that produced them. These systems may be slowly becoming less and less complex because of entropy, but they ultimately return to the very complex molecules from which they were originally made.  Therefore, the second law does not dictate the decrease of energy but only the spreading out of energy/matter. The second law quantitatively describes the energetic aspects of compounds made from very complex basic elements of energy such as atoms.

       Non theists argue that constituents of energy are eternal, having innate parameters of operation which cause such constituents to express themselves in predictable ways.  Elements perform in prescribed ways based on their makeup and have always done so. Under this perspective, energy in and of itself is the causeless cause which has and continues to generate an infinite stream of causes.

       A counter argument to this perspective is that random energy, unless directed by intelligence will never form anything.  There must be an eternal source from which all energy flows and that source must be intelligent in order for such energy to be made into useful systems. It’s pointed out that everything exists within defined parameters (law) and such law must be established by an intelligent law giver. Believers in God see the cosmological argument as validly pointing to a supernatural being who through the use of eternal innate intelligence and eternal innate power has facilitated the creation of the constituents of energy and their use in establishing the universe.      

       The cosmological argument is seen as a first cause or prime mover argument. It is seen as the postulation of a beginning.  The beginning in view is the beginning of the universe.  It is the beginning of the universe that is seen as being generated by either an eternal infinite causeless being or beings having power and intellect or an eternal infinite causeless energy having innate parameters of operation.  Which is it?  Let’s now move to the teleological argument and see if this argument can answer that question.    

 The Teleological Argument:

       The teleological argument is the third of the three primary arguments historically used to prove the existence of God.  It is an argument from design. In 1802, the English philosopher William Paley reasoned that if you were walking in the desert and came across a watch laying in the sand, you would not for a moment conclude such watch had come into existence by chance.  You would conclude that someone had designed and made the watch.  Paley argued that if a watch requires a designer, so much more would something as complex as living organisms and the physical universe. The argument from design is generally seen as the most powerful of the three extant arguments for the existence of God.

       As is true of the cosmological argument, the teleological argument does not identify the nature of God other than him being very powerful and intelligent to have created what is.  Also, like is true of the cosmological argument, the teleological argument does not identify whether it is a single being or multiple beings responsible for the creation. 

      The scientific community, by and large, dismisses the design argument as being un-testable and therefore irrelevant to the issue of origins.  While most evolutionary biologists admit to the appearance of design in living organisms, it is concluded that such appearance of design is illusionary.  It is believed that random variations caused by genetic mutations combined with natural selection can produce the same result as that of an intelligent designer.  Darwin wrote that "there seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course in which the wind blows."

       A common criticism of the design argument is that it is a "God of the gaps" argument.  For example, when an observation is made of the appearance or function of a body part that can't readily be explained by any natural process, it is concluded that God must have made the part. This conclusion is seen as inserting God into the process when it simply may be that we haven't yet discovered a natural explanation for the body part.  The gap is seen in our present level of understanding and not in a gap that needs to be filled by the insertion of a supernatural Being. All gaps are seen as gaps in our understanding of natural processes.      

       A corollary criticism of the design argument is that proponents of this argument generally see an intelligent designer making some things but not other things. Those that advance the design argument as proof of the existence God will generally admit that natural selection working on random variations does create evolutionary change in living organisms. It is questioned that if evolution is believed to be responsible for the existence of some organisms why can’t it be seen as being responsible for all organisms? 

       Some have limited their use of the design argument as a proof for God’s existence by concluding that God designed the elements that make up the universe and then allowed such elements to operate according to established laws to bring about the physical universe and life forms (The Big Bang and organic evolution). Sometimes these who take this approach are called theistic evolutionists.

       As stated above, the scientific community, by and large, dismisses the design argument as being un-testable and therefore cannot be used as a proof of the existence of God.  In recent years the argument from design has begun to simply be called the “intelligent design argument.” Much of the scientific community sees the intelligent design argument as contrary to the scientific method and therefore should be discarded as an explanation of origins.  Let’s examine the scientific method and see if the concept of intelligent design is as disconnected from this method as claimed.

   The scientific method:

      The scientific method involves a basic approach to determining the truth of something.  It begins by making an observation of some phenomenon and, based on the dynamics associated with such phenomenon, proceeds to draw tentative conclusions about the cause of that phenomenon.  This is usually called a hypothesis.  This hypothesis is then used to make certain predictions as to how the phenomenon functions or comes to be.  These predictions are then tested through experiment or observation and the hypothesis is modified or left as is based on the results of the experiments or observation.  Experiments and observation are often repeated many times to insure the results are the same.  When such experimentation and/or observation consistently produce the same result, the hypothesis becomes a theory and provides a coherent set of propositions which explain the particular phenomena being investigated. If repeated testing and observation continues to support the theory, it is accepted as being valid beyond reasonable doubt and is used as a framework whereby other observations are explained and predictions are made.

      Here is a simple example of applying the scientific method:  Say you have an electric toaster. You place a slice of bread into the toaster and drop the bread down into the toaster basket and nothing happens.  You then notice the toaster isn’t plugged into an electrical outlet. You proceed to plug the toaster into an electrical outlet and in a minute or so you observe that the slice of bread pops up toasted.  You have made the observation that placing a slice of bread in a toaster connected to an electrical outlet results in that slice of bread being toasted. 

       You now form a tentative conclusion, called a hypothesis, that when you plug in the toaster to an electrical outlet, your slice of bread gets toasted.  You now need to test your hypothesis.  Will you get a toasted slice of bread the next time you place such bread into a plugged in toaster and every time thereafter?  If you do, you now can theorize that you will get a piece of toasted bread every time you perform this procedure.  If you see this happening on a consistent basis over a period of time, your theory is seen as valid beyond reasonable doubt and can be used as a framework whereby other observations are explained and predicted.

       The scientific method is used to establish a level of probability that something is true.  Using the scientific method as outlined above, let’s consider intelligent design at the human level.  We observe material objects and events coming into existence on a constant basis. By observing the dynamics of their existence, we see material things are designed and manufactured (created) as a result of intelligent activity performed by living, cognitive human agents. Therefore, we can develop the hypothesis that intelligent design is responsible for the existence of material objects and events.

       This hypothesis can then be tested by observing humans exercising intelligent design leading to the creation of objects and events.  Based on the observed relationship between intelligent design and the production of various objects and events, we can purpose the theory that human intelligent design is responsible for the coming into existence of material objects and events.  If repeated testing and observation continues to support the theory, it is accepted as being valid beyond reasonable doubt and can be used as a framework whereby other observations are explained and predictions are made.

       As should be obvious, our theory of human intelligent design becomes an obvious truth based on the mammoth amount of evidence available. The evidence for intelligent design at the human level is ubiquitous.  It is found everywhere in the human experience.

       Since the evidence is overwhelming as to the connection between human intelligent design and the existence of material objects and events, a prediction can be made that the agents of such intelligence, and the materials they use in design and creation, were themselves produced by intelligent design and creation. This is in keeping with the scientific method which allows for a theory accepted as being valid beyond reasonable doubt in one area being used as a framework wherein observations are explained and predictions are made about other things. In view of the evidence seen at the human level, it is reasonable to infer that intelligent design is the mechanism at work throughout the universe. 

       Therefore, it should be considered scientific to postulate that living intelligent cognitive agents called humans were designed and created by a living, intelligent cognitive source.  Humans, expressing cognitive intelligence have designed and created countless objects using materials found on and in the earth.  Why should it be considered unscientific to postulate human intelligence which produces design and creation of what is designed were not themselves designed and created by a conscious, cognitive intelligence? 

       In our technological age humans have designed information systems that are truly extraordinary. Some of these systems appear to virtually think for themselves. But we all know this isn’t the case.  Their appearing to think for themselves is illusionary. All such information systems have been designed by human intelligence to do what they do. They not only have the appearance of design but are indeed designed.

       It has been readily admitted by evolutionary biologists from Darwin to Dawkins that biological organisms have the appearance of design.  Yet these same biologists insist the appearance of design in biological organisms is illusionary because they believe natural selection acting on random mutation of chemical elements can fully account for the appearance of design without direction from an intelligent designer. Since the whole of human experience is one of intelligent design producing countless objects and events including massive and complicated information systems as seen in our generation, is it reasonable to conclude something as complicated and complex as the universe and life forms have come about devoid of a cognitive intelligent agent or agents?               

       It is sometimes argued that science must be based on the assumption there exists no powers that cannot be defined in naturalist terms.  It is believed science must be based on natural law and natural law must be defined as what can be observed and tested.  It is believed anything outside of this approach is only speculation and should not be considered scientific.

       This position is problematic in so much as it fails to recognize that, although natural law can be observed and tested, its origin cannot be identified through such observation and testing. One can observe and test the law of gravity. Such observation does not identify where the law of gravity came from or how it is sustained. While the testing of a proposition is vital to establishing its validity, test results can be used to infer the validity of additional propositions which may not be able to be tested in like manner.  If science truly seeks to understand reality, it must not set arbitrary limits on investigation.  

       Science establishes validity on the basis of demonstrating that a phenomenon can be repeated over and over again, producing the same result.  The phenomenon of human intelligence producing design is constantly being repeated and constantly producing the same result which is creation of material objects and events. The repeated occurrence of the appearance of objects and events due to the exercise of human intelligent design provides overwhelming evidence to this being a mechanism whereby things come to be. All of human experience demonstrates information is generated by conscious cognitive human agents exercising intelligence.  Therefore, it should not be considered unscientific to consider that intelligent design is necessary to produce the material universe and life?  

       In view of the foregoing discussion, the teleological argument for the existence of   God has considerable merit. However, as already indicated, this argument does not identify the nature of such God other than him having great power and great cognitive skills.  The teleological argument does not show whether there is just one such being or whether there are more than one such beings responsible for designing and facilitating the universe and life forms. As one author I read stated it, “Perhaps the world was designed by a committee.”


       The ontological argument is an argument based on knowledge that is acquired independent of any particular observation or experience. This argument basically says God exists because he exists. This argument has no merit as to proving the existence of God.

       The cosmological argument is an argument based on our observation and familiarity with causation occurring at every level of human experience. It is believed that such causation cannot be infinite but must have a beginning.  This beginning is seen as a causeless cause and the causeless cause is seen as God. While this argument has some merit in that it makes some sense to postulate that there must be a starting point to causation, the downside of this argument is that it assumes there must be a starting point and dismisses without evidence the possibility of there being an infinite progression of causation. This argument also fails to determine whether it is a single being called God or multiple beings that constitute the causeless cause.

       The teleological argument is based on the human observation of intelligent design being evident in all areas of human activity.  The massive amount of evidence for design in the human experience is seen as clearly predictive of an intelligent agent of great power and cognitive skill having designed the material universe and life forms. The downside of the teleological argument, as is true of the cosmological argument, is that it does not identify the nature of the designer other than it is supernaturally powerful and intelligent. It also fails to determine whether the designer is a single being or multiple beings.

       At the beginning of this essay, I quoted from Psalms 14 and 53 where the writer says, “The fool says in his heart, "There is no God” which is to say someone who does not believe in God is lacking in good sense or judgement.  I wrote that there are between 450 and 500 million people in the world who do not believe there is a God. There are millions more who are agnostic which means they aren’t sure there is a God.  I wrote that the goal of this essay was to determine whether such folks are lacking in good sense or judgement as the Psalmist claims.

       Most people who believe in God do so not because of the kinds of arguments presented in this essay but because they believe in teachings about God presented to them by people they trust and/or belief in the written teachings found in documents connected to the religious system they become associated with. Others come to belief in God through perceived supernatural involvement in their lives (religious experience).

       In recent decades, the teachings, claims and scriptures of the extant religious systems of the world have come under intense scholarly scrutiny. This has resulted in the identification of theological and doctrinal problems which has led to a number of people leaving religion and in many cases becoming agnostic or atheistic as to belief in the existence of God. Evolution, as an explanation of origins, has also played a major role in steering people away from belief in God. 

       This being the case, the arguments discussed in this essay are useful in offering  insights regarding the existence of God that are independent of the writings, teachings and claims of the world’s religious systems.  These arguments offer reasons to believe in God that are not dependent on the teachings, claims and religious writings about God seen in most of the extant religious of the world. The arguments discussed in this essay are based on reason and reason alone.  

       While the ontological argument doesn’t provide much value in arguing for the existence of God and the cosmological argument is lacking in force for the reasons given above, the teleological argument has a high level of reasonableness in that it provides a strong template upon which to predict the existence of a supernatural cognitive power and intelligent Being or Beings that has/have designed and brought into existence what was designed. 

       The whole of human experience involves cognitive human beings designing and bringing into existence that which is designed. This being the case, it appears counterintuitive to conclude that life and the physical universe came to be by something less than a cognitive Being or Beings of great intelligence and power.  Therefore, based on the logic and reasonableness of the teleological argument, it just may be that someone who says there is no God may be lacking in good sense and judgement as the Psalmist suggests.

       This being said, there is still the matter of identifying the nature of God (God's) in addition to such entity or entities having great supernatural power and supernatural intelligence.  Every religious system has it teachers and writings that purport to do this.  For those who believe in God as Christians, the Biblical Scriptures are seen as the source for information about the nature of the Christian God.  Are the Biblical Scriptures a reliable source for this information?  For answers to this question I refer you to my series entitled “Are the Biblical Scriptures Reliable” and “The Creation Versus Evolution Controversy.”