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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

God is Not a 'Necessary Being'

It is my contention that a Creator God is not a necessary being; in fact a Creator God would in some sense (or at least some attributes of God) be contingent. I’ll try to explain. Note, I am not addressing the ontological argument here, as I think that would be a facile victory. As far as I'm aware Anselm's ontological argument and its variants are generally ignored these days.

In the general logical form:
1.If P then Q
2.P
Therefore,
C.Q

the argument has it that P is sufficient for Q to be true, and Q is necessary for P to be true. I’ll give an example argument

Example 1:
1.If Bob drinks Beer, then he becomes drunk.
2. Bob drank Beer,
Therefore,
C. Bob became drunk

In the first premise, becoming drunk is the necessary effect of Bob drinking beer. This is a valid logical structure, and given that the premises are true, the conclusion is entailed. However it is not the case that if Bob is drunk, then he must have consumed some beer, he could have consumed rum. In this case, we can say that drinking beer is a sufficient cause for Bob being drunk, but it not a necessary cause.

If we inverted the argument's structure so as to try and work backwards from the drunken state to draw the conclusion that Bob drank beer, it would be an invalid argument. It would fail logically.

Example 2:
1. If Bob drinks Beer, then he becomes drunk.
2. Bob is drunk
Therefore,
C. Bob drank beer

This is a bad argument, so let's apply this to gods.

Example 3:
1. If a creator god exists, then a universe exists.
2. A creator god exists
Therefore,
C. A universe exists

In the first premise, the creation is the necessary effect of a creator god existing. The creator god is merely a sufficient cause of the universe existing, but not a necessary one. This means that at least in some sense, that the creator god is contingent on the existence of the universe. In order for it to be a creator god, it must have engaged in an act of creation, which means that before this 'time' it was not a creator god. A possible contradiction between theistic belief and the bible amigo? That can be a discussion for another time though.

Like in the first example, it is a valid logical structure, and given the truth of the premises, the conclusion must be true. Similarly, if we try to invert the argument to work backwards from the existence of the creation/universe to prove the existence of the creator god, we encounter logical failure.

Example 4:
1. If a creator god exists, then a universe exists.
2. The universe exists
Therefore,
C. A creator god exists.

This is a bad argument, and it is very similar to arguments that try to establish a god as a 'necessary being'. These arguments are deceptive and should be exposed whenever used.

People like William Lane Craig know this, which is why he opts to use the Kalam Cosmological argument, which does have a valid logical structure, but rests on deceptive or demonstrably false premises. It is my contention that what theists actually engage in is closer to Example 4. They work from the existence of the universe, and under their belief system, their god would have created this universe, and arrive at their predetermined conclusion.

3 comments:

  1. God is not dependent or contingent on the universe, rather, vice versa. The "God" you conceive of is not God. If there was no universe, God would still be.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think you got the point of the post Pierre.

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