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A 30 Second Argument for God
by Robin Schumacher
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was a German mathematician, logician, and philosopher. Leibniz is well known for his mathematical discoveries, but he’s also recognized as the person who popularized what many say is the single most important question ever asked: Why do we have something rather than nothing at all?
In his short work, Principles of Nature and Grace Based on Reason, Leibniz presents and answers the question in the following way:
“Now I must move up to the metaphysical level, by making use of a great though not very widely used principle, which says that nothing comes about without a sufficient reason; i.e. that for any true proposition P, it is possible for someone who understands things well enough to give a sufficient reason why it the case that P rather than not-P. Given that principle, the first question we can fairly ask is: Why is there something rather than nothing? After all, nothing is simpler and easier than something. Also, given that things have to exist, we must be able to give a reason why they have to exist as they are and not otherwise. Now, this sufficient reason for the existence can’t be found in the series of contingent things…it must be something that exists necessarily, carrying the reason for its existence within itself; only that can give us a sufficient reason at which we can stop. And that ultimate reason for things is what we call ‘God’.”
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Leibniz believed that God was the best explanation for why everything exists. From his writings, many philosophers and theologians have created their own way of stating his conclusion. For example, William Lane Craig presents his case in the following way:
- Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
- If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
- The universe exists.
- The universe has an explanation of its own existence [and that explanation is not found in the necessity of its own nature].
- Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.
My way of stating the position is a little more personal / informal, and is something I call my ’30 second argument for God’:
- I exist.
- If I exist, something must have always existed because you don’t get something from nothing.
- There are only two choices for an eternal ‘something’: (a) The universe; (b) God.
- The universe is not eternal.
- Therefore, God exists.
Let me quickly walk you through the individual points and demonstrate why I think this argument is reasonable and sound…