Does God exist? This is a very difficult question. Sometimes the assumption is that the question explains itself when it’s asked but it doesn’t. What do you mean God? What makes you think that the question I am answering is the question you’re asking.
I think this is not a question you can say yes or no to in any straightforward manner. To answer it properly requires books and lectures…and more. So, for all intents and purposes, I’ll keep my arguments for and against God brief and leave you with some food for thought.
So, in this two-part series, I’ll make a case for and against the existence of God. In this article, I’ll begin with a case for the existence of God and here are my 2 main reasons as to why I think God exists.
1. The problem of evil and suffering. This is the thorniest argument against the existence of God at the same time making a case for the existence of God. The question is often asked, “How can a God of all power and all love allow for evil in this world, especially if He knew in advance that the world would fall apart after He created it, and we would have atrocities and sicknesses and the suffering we have in this world?”
Pain is a real thing. It’s not an imaginary thing. There are many ways one can approach an answer but I’ll try to approach from C.S Lewis thinking, when he said, “It is critically important to examine the assumptions within a question“.
I was talking to a dear colleague about the problem of evil the other day and she said to me, “There’s too much evil in this world there can’t be a God!”
Borrowing from C.S Lewis, I said to her when you say there’s evil, you’re assuming there’s such a thing as good. She paused and said, “Yes”. I went on and asked when you say there’s such a thing as good, aren’t you assuming there such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil.
She struggled with this and we ended up agreeing that there has to be an objective moral standard from which to distinguish between good and evil. I then went on to say, ‘if one claims that there’s a moral law, then one must posit a moral law giver? But that’s whom you’re trying to disprove’.
If there’s no moral lawgiver, then there’s no moral law. If there’s no moral law, there’s no good, if there’s no good, there’s no…you get the picture. I then asked her what really was her question. She looked at me, with her beautiful, piercing blue eyes and said, “What then am I asking you?” Ironic. I know.
The problem of evil is an existentially felt question that often doesn’t examine its logical presuppositions. God has to remain in the paradigm for the question to be real and meaningful.
The problem of evil is also posed as a trilemma:
- God is all powerful.
- God is all loving.
- Evil exists.
These are the 3 realities that J. L. Mackie, an Australian philosopher, says are incoherent. My question, in this case, would be, why is it a trilemma and not a quadrilemma?
We can introduce another dilemma and say, God, by definition, is all knowing and eternal. So that means, God’s not judging everything in time. There’s an eternity. If God is also all knowing and eternal, maybe those explanations for evil and suffering will come in eternity.
One day I was watching a popular television show and there was a mother discussing a strange problem that her daughter had. The daughter had a condition called CIPA – Congenital Insensitivity to Pain and Anhidrosis – she couldn’t feel pain and her sweat glads didn’t work.
The problem may sound good because you don’t feel any pain, but the reality is she can step on a nail while playing with her friends and not feel anything. The nail can go on and puncture her skin, create an infection and kill her without anyone noticing or her feeling it.
On the television show, the mother explained how much of a problem the condition had created in her life and she also said, “I recite one prayer every night. God, please help my daughter feel pain.”
So, my question to you is this, if in our finite existence and knowledge can see the role of pain to warn us that something is wrong. Is it impossible for God, by definition, in His infinite wisdom to allow pain in our lives to help us know that something is wrong?
I think the question assumes moral reasoning that may be very difficult to explain if God is not in that moral paradigm.
2. The fine-tuning of the Universe. This in an interesting one and I am reminded of a particular debate between two great thinkers, Bertrand Russell and Frederic Copleston. They were arguing about the existence of God and almost argued each other to a standstill.
Copleston argued that the universe had a creator and Bertrand Russell argued, no – we can justify that the universe has been there forever.
And of course what happened was 20 or so years later, the idea of the Big Bang theory and some kind of origins of the universe became accepted scientific norms. And in that particular debate, that knowledge would have swung the pendulum away from Russell towards Copleston.
But hey, you never know what’s going to be around the corner if you bank all of your arguments on the latest scientific or indeed sort of historical wisdom. You’ve to do it so cautiously.
So, my argument is a cautious one. The universe has a beginning and it also appears to be fine-tuned for the existence of life. This has been an issue for atheists for many years. As a matter of fact, Antony Flew, a great English philosopher belonging to the analytic and evidentialist schools of thought, became a Deist, because of evidence for the fine-tuning of the universe.
We are in a universe that appears to be tampered with.
Let me tell you a story; I am a big fan of CI channel and one day I watched an episode called Most Evil. In this episode, a lady died in the upper storey bedroom of her house. The investigators investigated the background story to this thing.
She and her husband had been fighting for years and they’d turned off the gas in the house years before her death. The husband, who didn’t live at the house anymore, had turned the gas on a week prior to the wife’s death.
The mother in law confessed that when she got to the house, she noticed that several things around the house had been changed; doors that were not usually open were now open; windows that were frozen in one position has been moved. She had never seen that before. It looked like someone had tampered with the house.
So, on the back of this kind of tampering, the police had a suspect in mind because they thought the tampareing wasn’t just a bad coincidence.
It turns out that this kind of tampering is also seen in the universe at 3 levels, namely foundational, regional and locational.
At the foundational level, you see fine-tuning even at the laws of weak and strong foundational forces at the centre of the atom. These two have to be so finely tuned within a razor’s edge that the smallest variation would create a universe in which no life could emerge.
At the regional level, a galaxy has to be shaped in a certain way, have a certain mass, in a certain location in the universe in order for life to emerge. We happen to have one of those and we’re in it.
As a matter of fact, at that same regional level, the star-system we happen to be in has to be arranged a certain way, with a certain shape and a certain number of planets and in a certain location within the spiral arm to allow for life.
Then we get to our locational level (planet level); the idea of a planet that supports life is crazy given what’s required in terms of simple things like the positioning of the sun, the tilting of the actual planet in relation to the sun. The list goes on and on.
These things are absolutely necessary for there to be life on earth. So, at the foundational, regional and locational level, everything has to be precise like in Goldilocks.
Is it by chance and necessity that we find ourselves in this universe that’s fine-tuned for the existence of life? Seems far-fetched to me.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. In the meantime, I’ll get on with part 2 of this interesting debate, if I may call it that.
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Segun is a budding, freelance writer for Newslibre. He loves football, basketball, books, music (all things Birdie and flirts with a bit of Jazz), Philosophy and is an ultra-marathon runner.