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A DEFENCE OF THEISM

Daniel Broadstock Let me first outline some common questions which I do not intend to address. I do not propose to consider the truth claims of any one religion, or defend the coherency of particular sacred texts and traditions, or address the desirability of religious belief for individuals or society. Indeed, it is my hope that the arguments I present here would remain equally plausible were I to come to the conclusion that every sacred text of religion were an outright fiction, and that theistic belief were the predominant cause of evil and suffering in the world. 1) The Kalam Cosmological Argument The Cosmological Argument is a logical and scientific argument concerning the origins of the universe. It is commonly expressed something like this: 1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause. 2) The universe began to exist. 3) Therefore, the universe has a cause. I will take it that the first premise is relatively uncontroversial. We have no intuitive or evidential evidence to contrary. Indeed, an atheist who is committed to a closed causal system must assent to this premise. After all, if something can come into existence out of nothing, why dont things pop into existence all the time? No, it seems straightforward that everything we perceive is caused. The second premise seems also to be well attested by popular scientific understanding. Indeed, we regularly speak of the big bang (a point of singularity at which time, space and matter came into being) in virtually certain terms. No concept of an eternal universe could satisfy either scientific or philosophical considerations. So, it seems to me to follow quite plainly that the universe must have a cause, and that cause must be both timeless and without physical form (if it preceded the singularity). This I call God. 2) The Moral Argument The moral argument relies on two premises which most people consider to be true: 1) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist. 2) Objective moral values and duties do exist. 3) Therefore, God exists.

Whenever we express offence, moral outrage, or call another person to account for their actions, we confirm the second premise of this argument. The first premise, however, is rather more controversial. Here it is important to understand the distinction between moral ontology (why we should think that objective morality exists) and moral epistemology (how we come to know moral duties and values). Note, I am not saying that in order to be moral, you must be religious. I am arguing that God provides the only conceivable transcendental foundation for objective morality. If naturalism is true, then what we describe as morality is merely the chaotic by-product of the evolutionary system. Humans have no inherent value, and we have no objective moral duties to each other. Morality is simply illusory. Of course, in order to evade the argument an atheist could simply deny objective morality. But then dont come complaining to me about the evils of religion! While I consider paedophile priests to be morally repugnant, you would be in no position to concur. Finally, while many atheists profess to put their faith in reason, it is not clear to me how the reliability of reason could be confirmed under a naturalistic worldview. Under naturalism, reason is simply the product of causally deterministic physical outcomes in the brain. How could you vouch for the conclusions of your reason, if what you think is determined? Why should your thoughts have any truth value? There certainly seems to be no room in naturalism for a soul, or even a mind. We are simply a machine, fashioned by natural selection, and operated by causal relationships over which we have no control. Certainly we can keep ourselves alive, but could we ever reliably know what was true? The space available to me is woefully inadequate, and these arguments are by no means a comprehensive or exhaustive justification of Theism. Above all, I encourage readers to consider these matters with an open mind, and protagonists to pursue the debate with civility, and charity of spirit. Else, our society will be all the poorer for it.