15 Arguments for the Existence of God

by Steven Dunn

Why should one make an argument for the existence of God? Why, moreover, provide fifteen of them? Is it that the evidence for God is so weak, that believers need multiple arguments, working together in their persuasive power, to change the minds of unbelievers? Questions of whether or not these arguments are useful, or if they can actually coerce religious belief has been an area of interesting debate between philosophers for sometime now.

In philosopher Alvin Plantinga’s essay “Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments” (1986), he firsts asks this question: “What are these arguments like, and what role do they play?” [1] Plantinga answers this question by saying that these arguments  are probabilistic either with respect to (1) the premises, (2) the connection of the premises with the conclusion, or (3) both. Furthermore, “[t]hey can serve to bolster and confirm. . . perhaps to convince” [2]. Of course, Plantinga is careful with what it means  for these arguments to be coercive. As he writes, “These arguments are not coercive in the sense that every person is obliged to accept their premises on the pain of irrationality. Maybe just that some or many sensible people do accept their premises (oneself)” [3]. And so, the discussion could go on.

However, I present 15 arguments for the existence of God so that I might establish a strong cumulative case for his existence. This is because some arguments are more so about strong probability (i.e.,the argument religious experience, argument from miracles, etc.) while others can have a demonstrative element to them (i.e., Aquinas’ Third Way). The combination of these given characteristics can (in my opinion) be very effective in a case for theism – particularly, that of Christian theism. These arguments are as follows:

  • (I) The Kalam Cosmological Argument

This argument draws from several lines of evidences (mathematics, science, philosophy) that try to connect the premises with its conclusion – namely, that the universe has a cause of its existence. The argument can be summarized as such: The universe cannot have existed forever in the

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past. In other words, the universe cannot be past-eternal. Why not? We have reached the present moment. If the universe were past-eternal, we would never reach “the present moment”; an infinite amount of “moments” would have to be realized before we reached the “present moment” (which is absurd). Therefore, the universe must be finite. If the universe is finite (i.e., began to exist), then the universe requires a cause (totally separate from it) to bring it into existence.

This cause must transcend space and time – because it created space and time – and therefore must be timeless and immaterial. But, we ask, what sorts of things that are immaterial and timeless, cause things to exist? We only have two options: (1) Abstract objects or (2) a transcendent Mind. By (1) I simply mean something like a number, but of course abstract objects can’t cause anything to exist (the number 7 has no causal power). Therefore, this cause must be a Mind – which is what believers understand to be God.

  • (II) Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

Whatever exists has an explanation of its existence. In other words, nothing exists without a reason accounting for that things existence. However, there are two kinds of existence that we have to be clear about: (1) necessary existence and (2) contingent existence. If something necessarily exists, then the explanation of its existence is within itself, not outside of itself.

Philosophers have argued that numbers, properties, and even the laws of logic are all necessarily existent – in the sense that none of these came into existence by some other thing, but rather that they exist by the necessity of their own nature. However, if something is contingently existent, then the reason for its existence is external to it – you and me are contingent, and so is the computer that you are using. The shortcut understanding is this: contingent things have the possibility of existing or not existing, necessary things either must or must not exist. With that understood, the argument is as follows…

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