How much would you pay for this? 19 thousand dollars? 30 thousand dollars? For just 3 easy payments of 19.99 you too can own the video in which I prove the existence of God!
Well I have been posting on some atheists websites. And a very common response to just about anything I comment on is “prove God exists!” I almost feel like I should be able to say “Ok open up Skype and watch me prove it!” I don’t fault them. I’m sure we all would have liked more certainty at one point or other. But proving things isn’t so easy.
When I was a freshman in college I took my first philosophy course, which happened to cover Plato, and I was completely enthralled with logic. Logic came easy to me and I really loved it. I can still remember making a sincere mental oath that I would follow logical principles no matter where they led! In fact, I never abandoned that oath and I still love logic.
As an undergraduate one of my majors was philosophy. So my oath to sincerely follow logic lead me down many different paths. But one day I read a chapter out of a book by a philosopher named George I. Mavrodes. He really burst my bubble. You see I used to think to prove anything I just needed to come up with a sound argument. A “sound” argument is one where all the premises are true and the truth of the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises. (A “valid” argument is one where the premises are not necessarily true but *if* they are true the truth of the conclusion necessarily follows) Unfortunately I had to concede Professor Mavrodes demonstrated that logical proofs were subjective. Blasphemy!
How awful. Logical proofs subjective? Well yeah he gave a proof of Gods existence which I had to agree was likely sound but nevertheless would clearly not be a “proof” to anyone. Perhaps you are as crestfallen as I was, so let me let you down nice and easy and explain the problem.
One of the beautiful things about a sound argument is the premises just have to be true. It doesn’t matter if anyone believes them; they just have to be true. Well that beauty is sort of the problem as well. I can offer lots of sound arguments that prove God exists but if you don’t actually believe the premises (even though they are in fact true) it will not “prove” anything to you.
This works both ways I might add. Let’s consider an atheist “proof” that the Christian God does not exist:
Premise1) “If the Christian God (one that was all knowing all powerful creator of everything and thoroughly good etc.) existed then there would be no evil in the world.”
Premise 2) “There Is evil in the world.”
Conclusion: “Therefore, the Christian God does not exist.”
Now we should be able to agree on whether this argument is “valid.” I think it is. Some atheists would likely view this as a sound argument. That is they think the premises are in fact true and the conclusion necessarily follows. Now for some Christians this, or something similar, did act as a proof that the Christian God does not exist and they may have abandoned their faith. This has no doubt caused many thoughtful Christians to think long and hard. Others would say they don’t believe the first premise. If, in fact, they do not believe that premise then this argument (even if it were sound) will not be a proof of anything.
Now when I hear atheist ask for a proof of God I picture someone waiting for me to serve the tennis ball so they could smack it back saying that they do not believe one or more premises. It really doesn’t matter that the premises are true. I can of course then try to “prove” those premises by presenting other premises which yield the first premises as a conclusion. But of course they can say they don’t believe those either. Well this could go on infinitely, and these busy days, who has time for that? So what use is Logical argument?
I think it’s of great value. But it’s really of value mainly when people are open minded and intellectually honest about what they think. They need to be open to discuss the matter so acceptable premises can be found. The idea that someone will come up with a logical proof that will convince everyone God exists is extremely unlikely. But I think using logic can convince some people that believing in God is the rational way to go. Putting ideas in logical format with premises and a conclusion is also a great way to help identify where disagreements are. Is there a disagreement about one or more premises or is the disagreement about the validity of the argument ?(that is the logical connections between the premises and conclusion).
Well anyway I said I would give a proof of God so here is one:
P1) If anything is sacred then God exists.
P2) Human life is sacred.
Conclusion: therefore God exists.
Now I think this is a sound argument. Will it prove anything to anyone? That depends on whether persons thinks human life is sacred to begin with.
That said I will post more in depth logical arguments that it is rational to believe in God. I will also often break up arguments into premises and conclusion format when I think it is helpful. Sorry if this is not what you were hoping for. I do offer a 30 day money back guarantee.