Someone recently requested that they’d like to read my thesis on God that won a philosophy debate several years back. I’m afraid that I can’t post the original complete article on this website (or share it with any of you through email) simply because I’d like to keep my professional writing separate from this website as a privacy measure.
However, I can give you the basic premises of the argument (without all the written explanation). It would probably make more sense with the actual essay, but unfortunately this is as much as I can give you.
By way of introduction, it’s an ontological argument that follows a similar vein as Descartes’ “Meditations.” As part of the essay, I also included a detailed case against my own argument, followed by a response as to why the case against doesn’t actually dispute the argument, but I’ve spared you the pain of reading that bit here and just left you with the bare skeleton of the main argument.
Summary of Arguments
- If all ideas come as a response to external sources, then the idea of God must have come to man as a response to an external source.
- All ideas come as a response to external sources.
Therefore, the idea of God must have come to man as a response to an external source.
- All ideas must display a degree of perfection equal to that of their corresponding cause or inspiration.
- The idea of God is perfect
Ergo, the idea of God must have come from a perfect source.
- If the cause of any idea must show the same degree of perfection as the idea itself, then God must exist as the only plausible cause perfect enough to have initiated this idea.
- It is impossible that any currently living person (other than God) is perfect enough to have been the cause of this idea (although they may have passed it on to me).
Hence, God exists as the only plausible cause perfect enough to have initiated this idea.
P.S. For this particular post, I’m not welcoming debate in the comments. I did this debate years ago and I don’t have time to be doing it online right now. Comments are welcome, just don’t get carried away because if you remember right, the full argument isn’t even here.
28 thoughts on “The Thesis on God”
Interesting argument. The first part I understand, and I guess by external sources you can also mean a combination of different factors. (Which then can get really complicated; in the case of an idea for a story, for example, one can’t really pin down one single external factor causing it, it would be a combination of the author’s brain, experiences, events they hear about, things they read, etc.)
But for the second part, “all ideas must display a degree of perfection equal to that of their corresponding cause or inspiration”, I don’t really see how it makes sense. Most ideas usually are embellishments of their cause, which would make the idea more perfect. i.e. one can see a car and have the idea of a better, more perfect one.
And then this becomes more complicated if an idea comes from the combination of several sources, like in novels and such. A story idea would be a combination of life experiences, brain structure, events triggering the idea – none of which can really be said to be more or less perfect than the story that is then written. (And how does one defines perfection is already a question…)
Anyhow, I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts.
Embellishment does not necessarily make anything more perfect. Too much embellishment and you can very easily make something much less perfect than it was previously.
Perfection is defined in my actual paper, which, for the sake of not turning this into a philosophy blog, I have not and will not not post here.
I find your argument to be extremely interesting. Although I don’t have the full argument, I can see why you won a debate. My philosophy class in high school debated the existence of God at some point and watching the arguments on both sides of the aisle was amusing. Especially the atheists. It seemed their arguments boiled down to one of two things: 1) lack of evidence (which is ridiculous because lack of empirical evidence does not negate the existence of something) or 2) religion is bad for society (which is not topical).
Anyway, I’m skeptical about many things, which is why I find Hindu philosophy to be particularly interesting. It basically operates under the assumption that the physical world is all an illusion (or maya in Sanskrit).
If that’s your main draw on Hindu philosophy, you might also find Plato’s Metaphysics and Epistemology interesting as well (particularly his theory of forms).
I agree, requiring evidence or not requiring any seems to be the main disagreement. How does not requiring evidence work though? How can one prove or disprove /anything/ without evidence, not just the existence of God?
I was wondering is the “external source” reliable? My external source is people who were born before me, and I assume that’s the same for most humans. If we trace back to the very beginning when the concept of God first became known to human, it can still be a combination of two exisiting elements, for example nature and human. As nature is much greater than humans, humans may have naturally develop a sense of fear/sublime to it, they may consider it perfect and intellegent. The whole idea of pantheism is about that anyways. And if they think there is someone who is controlling nature, they may become monotheists or polytheists. Many concept of God are very “human-like”, meaning the God has a certain personality. I find the main problem about God is the definition of God is so unclear, does God had a physical form / completely power over the universe / moral judgement / personality etc? If we can’t solve this problem we really can’t say much about the existence of God, as we can assign characteristic to “God” to fit our argument.
An external source could be pretty much anything that did not originate in your own mind, and no, I don’t believe that all external sources are reliable. I tend to reject empiricism as a school.
Under the premises of my argument,the idea of God could not have come from our concept of man and nature combined. The sublime is an enlightenment ideal that has nothing to do with the particular definition that I assigned to “God” in my argument, but you could definitely use that idea to combat arguments where God is not defined as “unchanging” and “omniscient.”
If your definition of God consists perfection, then we really can’t have a concept of God at all. Human minds are not perfect, therefore we are not capable of understanding “perfection”. If we don’t have a decent concept of God, then we can’t deduce that God exists from the premise “the concept of God must be from an external source”.
I could refute using my aforementioned argument, but I don’t really have time to, so I will let you bask in glory. Enjoy :)
Okay~ I’m just looking for theists who are not religious to debate with… ><
“we are not capable of understanding ‘perfection'”
And do any of us understand God? I don’t think so.
We talk about ourselves as if we understand ourselves, but the next moment, we’ve contradicted ourselves. We talk about electricity as if we understand it, but we don’t even know what it is.
Do we understand anything?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes that’s why the argument that God exist because our perception of God exists and must have came from an external source is refutable. Our perception of God is not going to be accurate if God is perfect
If you’ve ever introspected to a very in depth level, you’ll be aware that understanding is often merely an illusion that we maintain for the sake of avoiding insanity. Man cannot long endure a state of doubt, for without some form of belief, he will necessarily go mad (don’t try this at home, kids). So, in order to alleviate the state of doubt, man develops beliefs and tricks himself into the delusion that he is capable of “knowing” things. He thinks he knows himself, but he does not, and so he will continually be surprised by his own actions, disillusioned by the fact that he cannot seem to rid himself of the fallacies that he thinks he understands.
If you think you must have a complete perception of something in order for it to exist, I could very easily argue that you do not exist. Just because man cannot comprehend a ‘perfect’ idea, does not mean that perfect ideas do not exist. It merely suggests that man is finite in his rational affinities.
This is actually very interesting.
Does this refer to the concept of gods, in general, or the Abrahamic God?
I wrote it for a debate on monotheism, so it doesn’t apply to any polytheistic views. In it I don’t define God as that belonging to a particular religion, but rather, have simply given in a definition alone the lines of: an all-perfect, unchanging, omniscient, omnipotent being.
I’m familiar with that particular logical argument, but the addition of man’s impression of ideas is what really sets it apart. It’s had me thinking about it for days. I’m not religious, nor do I have a belief in God (though I used to). All gods, mono or polytheistic, have seemed too contrived to fit specific agendas, but this argument (though stripped to its frame as it is) has been stuck in my mind. I almost can’t think of anything else. That said, I can see why you won.
Very interesting argument. Just out of curiosity, what was your definition for the word “external” in this thesis? Does the 2nd premise of the first conclusion account for ideas of self? If so, what external sources are those ideas in response to?
“External evidence” may refer to evidence outside of the human mind. This would include empirical evidence gained through the senses, or not deriving from within the individual. An example might be someone “making up” the concept of a unicorn. The idea has not originated in himself, but in the combining of elements that he has seen or heard of in life (in this case, a horse and a narwhale).
Thus being the reason that I am an epistemological skeptic –I do not believe the senses to be a trustworthy source of evidence.
[…] here is a summary of the original argument that I relayed last […]
[…] come across a lovely blog post about religion. I found it quite fascinating, and I plan to give my thoughts on it shortly. First, […]
I believe you have given me fuel for a post of my own. May I respond to this? (If there’s an official way to link to other posts I don’t know it so please tell me how if you like.)
I would love a response, just don’t count on me getting into a heavy debate right now. I don’t have an official way to link to other posts.
Oh good. Thank you. (It’s okay if you don’t debate with me; if I have the last word. dumb people will just assume I’m right no matter what. Nice.)
I suppose that’s one way to look at it, although in the realm of actual truth, it proves nothing. But then, some might argue that nothing can be proved anyway, only disproved…which is why debate happens in the first place.
I know it’s kind of lame to have to respond to an argument outline rather than the actual argument, but have fun with it :)
Have fun? That I shall!
If you really want to get argumentative about it, nothing can be disproved either. If you consider disproof to get its validity from acceptance by both parties. Yes, I’ve been in debates like that…odd…
I suppose I was running more along a scientific thread when I wrote that, basing that statement on the assumption that both parties (as they would in any philosophical debate) would have previously settled upon definitional specifications and the means by which proofs and disproofs were to be handled.
For instance, the scientific community has a rigid set of rules whereby theories and facts are to be determined as true or false. They also have guidelines for what types of evidences qualify as suitable and testable. Everyone in any given scientific debate will be aware of and familiar with such rules.
Not philosophy, but the example serves the purpose of illustrating the principle I was trying to convey.
You know what… you’re distracting me… Cut it out already!
Comments are closed.