Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Ontological Argument

This is the third in a short series of posts on the arguments commonly used by classical Apologists to prove the existence of a deity. The first post addressed the Cosmological Argument, while the second post focused on the Teleological Argument. This post is about the Ontological Argument, which argues for God’s existence based on the assertion that God is the Greatest Conceivable Being.

The 12th-century philosopher and theologian Anselm originally formulated the Ontological Argument. Anselm’s logic is a bit complicated, although a good explanation of each step in his progression can be found here. Although the ontological argument can be a bit confusing, the basic idea is that God is the Greatest Conceivable Being. That is, whatever being is the greatest one we can possibly think of is the being that we call God. Anselm then argues that to exist is greater than not to exist. Therefore, the Greatest Conceivable Being must possess the quality of existence.

According to this reasoning, if the Greatest Conceivable Being does not exist, then that being is really not the greatest at all. This is because we would be able to conceive of a being that does exist, and thus is greater than our Greatest Conceivable Being wannabe.

Because the Greatest Conceivable Being must exist in order to be the greatest, therefore–to avoid logical contradictions and general absurdity–this Greatest Conceivable Being must, and does, exist. In conclusion, this Greatest Conceivable Being is the being we call God, and thus God’s existence has been demonstrated.

Next post we will look at the fourth and final argument: the Moral Argument.

The Teleological Argument

This is the second in a series of posts addressing the four common arguments used by classical Apologists to establish the existence of God. The last post looked at the Cosmological Argument, or the Uncaused Cause Argument. In this post, we move on to the Teleological Argument–the argument from design.

This version of the teleological argument is known as the Watchmaker Argument, and the English clergyman and apologist William Paley first formulated it.

1. Human artifacts are products of intelligent design.
2. The universe resembles human artifacts.
3. Therefore the universe is a product of intelligent design.
4. But the universe is complex and gigantic, in comparison to human artifacts.
5. Therefore, there probably is a powerful and vastly intelligent designer who created the universe (“The Teleological Argument”).

This argument is also known as the argument from design. Basically, things that appear to be designed have a designer. A wristwatch has the appearance of design because a watchmaker designed it. In the same way, the universe shows evidence of being designed by a grand Designer–a “Divine Watchmaker,” if you will.

Scripture confirms the argument that God’s existence is evident from the natural universe. Psalm 19:1-2 (ESV) states, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” Romans 1:18-20 (ESV) provides further support: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

The universe proclaims that God created it. The amazing examples of design in the world around us are evidences for the existence of God.

In the next post, we’ll move on to see the Ontological Argument: God is the Greatest Conceivable Being.

The Cosmological Argument

As I said last time, these next few posts will look at the four common theistic arguments used by classical Apologists.

The first argument that classical Apologists commonly use to establish the existence of a deity is the Cosmological Argument, also known as the Uncaused Cause Argument. The cosmological argument states that there must be a first cause that brought everything else into existence. That first cause is God. The argument can be formulated this way:

1. Everything that began to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.

This formulation avoids the “Then who caused God to exist?” question by specifying that only those things which begin to exist must have a separate cause. God never began to exist, and thus is the Uncaused Cause.

Next time, we will examine the Teleological Argument–the argument from design.

Evidential Apologetics

Two posts ago, I introduced this short series of blog posts on the various types of Apologetics. I also discussed the first kind of Apologetics, presuppositional Apologetics. In my last post, I moved on to examine classical Apologetics. Today we reach the third form of Apologetics: evidential Apologetics.

In their book Faith Has Its Reasons, Kenneth Boa and Robert Bowman describe the beliefs of evidential Apologists this way: “Evidentialists believe that ‘the facts speak for themselves’—that the best approach to defending the Christian faith is simply to present the factual evidence for the crucial claims of Christ.”

Last post, I noted that classical Apologetics is distinguished by its two-step approach to Apologetics. First, the classical Apologist uses various theistic arguments to establish the existence of God. Then, the classical Apologist moves on to present evidence for Christianity to separate it from other forms of theism. In contrast, evidential Apologetics has a one-step approach, skipping the first step of classical Apologetics. Michael Houdmann, the CEO of GotQuestions.org, explains why: “the evidential apologist is not opposed to the use of natural theology to help to confirm God’s existence. These arguments are an important weapon in the arsenal of the evidentialist as they help to undergird the case for Christianity by giving further confirmation that God exists and has created and designed our universe. Evidentialists simply do not believe such arguments must be presented prior to moving on to evidence from miracles” (emphasis mine).

Evidential Apologists are not opposed to the use of theistic arguments to establish the existence of God. However, they believe that evidence such as miracles and fulfilled prophecy in and of itself demonstrates the existence of God. Thus, unlike classical Apologists they do not include the step of theistic arguments. (I mentioned four common theistic arguments used by classical Apologists in my previous post.) Matt Slick of CARM.org says, “Generally, evidential apologetics stresses data that supports the miraculous evidences of the biblical accounts, thereby authenticating the Bible and the claims and deeds of Jesus.”

There is a summary of evidential apologetics. I hope that this short series of posts has been helpful. Over the next few posts, we will look at the four common theistic arguments that I mentioned my previous post.