Article

Arguments for the Existence of God

Graham Oppy

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0040
Arguments for the Existence of God

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Philosophical discussion of arguments for the existence of God appeared to have become extinct during the heyday of logical positivism and ordinary language philosophy. However, since the mid-1960s, there has been a resurgence of interest in these arguments. Much of the discussion has focused on Kant’s “big three” arguments: ontological arguments, cosmological arguments, and teleological arguments. Discussion of ontological arguments has been primarily concerned with (a) Anselm’s ontological argument; (b) modal ontological arguments, particularly as developed by Alvin Plantinga; and (c) higher-order ontological arguments, particularly Gödel’s ontological argument. Each of these kinds of arguments has found supporters, although few regard these as the strongest arguments that can be given for the existence of God. Discussion of cosmological arguments has been focused on (a) kalām cosmological arguments (defended, in particular, by William Lane Craig); (b) cosmological arguments from sufficient reason (defended, in particular, by Richard Gale and Alexander Pruss); and (c) cosmological arguments from contingency (defended, in particular, by Robert Koons and Timothy O’Connor). Discussion of teleological arguments has, in recent times, been partly driven by the emergence of the intelligent design movement in the United States. On the one hand, there has been a huge revival of enthusiasm for Paley’s biological argument for design. On the other hand, there has also been the development of fine-tuning teleological arguments driven primarily by results from very recent cosmological investigation of our universe. Moreover, new kinds of teleological arguments have also emerged—for example, Alvin Plantinga’s arguments for the incompatibility of metaphysical naturalism with evolutionary theory and Michael Rea’s arguments for the incompatibility of the rejection of intelligent design with materialism, realism about material objects, and realism about other minds. Other (“minor”) arguments for the existence of God that have received serious discussion in recent times include moral arguments, arguments from religious experience, arguments from miracles, arguments from consciousness, arguments from reason, and aesthetic arguments. Of course, there is also a host of “lesser” arguments that are mainly viewed as fodder for undergraduate dissection. Further topics that are germane to any discussion of arguments for the existence of God include (a) the appropriate goals at which these arguments should aim and the standards that they should meet, (b) the prospects for “cumulative” arguments (e.g., of the kind developed by Richard Swinburne), and (c) the prospects for prudential arguments that appeal to our desires rather than to our beliefs (e.g., Pascal’s wager).

Article.  11124 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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