A State of Perpetual Wonder: The Debate Over God’s Existence
The Debate Over God’s Existence Leaves One in a State of Perpetual Wonder
During the most recent episode of Philosophy Now, William Lane Craig’s article examines the long-running debate over whether or not God exists, as well as the philosophical foundations for arguing against those who believe that God is either no longer imminent, or that he never existed in the first place. Craig explores the shifts that have occurred in this argument over the last few decades, beginning with the famous 1966 Time magazine article headed, ‘Is God Dead?’ Following the predominance of those philosophers who would accept nothing less than verification after World War II, he describes how agnosticism became an influential philosophy whose adherents could accept nothing more than the proposition that God’s existence can never truly be proven, and that his existence must always be questioned, if not rejected outright. In response to the return of metaphysics, which Craig thinks is better-suited to addressing recurring issues, a new school of assertive Christian philosophy has arisen, confident in its foundation in natural theology (Craig, 2014).

“Those natural/Christian philosophers who “rediscovered His vitality” have, according to Craig, been the most successful in demonstrating that God’s presence best explains a wide range of data from human experience,” as Craig puts it (2014). Throughout the book, he traces eight basic precepts, which are important concepts that serve as the foundation for powerful metaphysical arguments in favor of God’s existence. Craig makes the point that God is still the greatest explanation for why anything exists and, by extension, why the cosmos exists, and that this remains the case even today. Essentially, the premise of this argument is that the cosmos must have had a beginning, a point of origin, and a source of creation. There had to be a source that was transcendent, or something more than oneself. For his part, Craig uses the overarching metaphysical approach to argue that the existence of God provides the most compelling explanation for why physics and mathematics can be applied so readily to natural world processes and, in particular, why God provides the most compelling explanation for intelligent design and life, and why elements of the natural world are so adaptable.

After much deliberation, Craig finally comes to the conclusion that the evidence for God’s existence implies that he exists. The reason for this is simple: If a maximally magnificent creature exists in any possible world, He exists in every possible universe. To be maximally great implies to be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good in every logically feasible universe. That is part of what it means to be maximally great. The conclusion follows from this: “If God’s existence is even conceivable, then He exists in every logically feasible universe – and, consequently, in the real world” (Craig, 2014). If God lives in all worlds, then he must also exist in the temporal realm, as well. The fact that an individual can come to know God via personal experience, according to Craig, likewise proves the presence of God, he adds in his conclusion. The same way that we can have experiences with actual objects, we can have experiences with God; both experiences can be grounded in experience.

Craig’s proof is experiential in nature, and it is founded on the Christian/metaphysical statement that human beings are born with an innate sense of moral values, or, to put it another way, the ability to distinguish between good and bad. In Craig’s opinion, those who argue that these are purely subjective projections or constructs fail to demonstrate conclusively how God does not possess the distinctively human attribute of knowing the difference between what is good and wrong. Atheist philosophers’ anti-existence views, which are founded on subjectivity and nihilism, are disproved by the unavoidable truth that human beings have an intuitive understanding of good and evil. Craig mentions this, as well as the observable, experiencing nature of the phenomenon, which demonstrates overt traits of resiliency and adaptability, as evidence.

Using metaphysical presuppositions, Craig presents an enticing case for his stance. However, while these perspectives appear to hold the greatest promise for tolerating the possibility of God’s existence, there is no getting around the fundamental unanswerable question: where has the objective proof for it been discovered? The verificationists have not been able to decisively deny God’s existence, as Craig points out, but neither have the natural/metaphysical philosophers, who have re-asserted a Christian philosophy, demonstrated that God does not exist. At the end of the day, Craig may refer to Hitchens’s “new atheism” as a “pop-cultural phenomena,” but the other side of the argument will never be able to transcend religious belief (Craig, 2014).

At the end of the day, despite the finest arguments for and against the existence of God, philosophy will never be able to progress beyond the state of agnostic. God belief is always based on faith, which is an insufficient alternative for empirical evidence, even if the faith is supported by an articulate metaphysical philosophical theory. Man can argue and question, but philosophy can only speculate and extend the question to the point of presumption. In recent years, faith and science have become more inextricably linked than they have ever been. If we can find a way to accommodate scientific investigation while still embracing natural philosophy, we may be on our way to solving the greatest enigma of all: how did we come to be here?