Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Think Apologetics. Tabernacle of David considers this resource trustworthy and Biblically sound.
In philosophy, we pursue sound arguments: arguments that combine valid structure with true premises. A valid argument is structured in such a way that the truthfulness of the conclusion flows logically from the truthfulness of the premises; that is, if the premises are true, the conclusion would also be true. In our daily lives, we also use inferential reasoning which is drawing a conclusion or making a logical judgment based on indirect evidence rather than based on direct observation. Much of history and science is based making inductive or abductive inferences. The goal is not absolute certainty. Many things in history and science cannot be observed directly. They are in the past. Let’s look at the following points.
Design Arguments: The design argument is also known as the teleological argument. Telos is a Greek word that means “end” or “goal.” Just as we can see the ends or goals in the objects humans design and create, we can see God’s end or goal in the world he has designed and created.
Any attempt to point to God as an explanation for observable phenomena such as anticipatory, irreducible or specified complexity can invoke the atheist or naturalist to cry “foul play.” When I press them further about the origins question, I mention the following from author Bruce Sheiman in his book An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity Is Better Off With Religion Than Without. He says the general atheist scenario is the following:
Human Life = Laws of physics X chance + randomness+ accidents+luck X 3.5 billion yrs. In other words, the laws of physics for our present universe arose by chance (from a multitude of possible universes); the first forms of life developed by chance (arising by primordial soup combinations that resulted from the laws of physics plus accidents); the first concept of life developed purely by chance (genetic mutations and environmental occurrences).
There are really two general kinds of explanations for events: intentional accounts (which demonstrate signs of value, design, and purpose) and non-intentional accounts (which lack values, design, and purpose). Naturalists generally only punt to one kind of explanation- non-intentional accounts. Anyways, the following points point to intentional accounts.
1.Argument from Design/Fine Tuning of the Universe
Fine-tuning” refers to the fact that constants and quantities in those formulas or laws of nature must fit an extraordinarily narrow range to sustain life. “Life” refers to anything that can take in food, extract energy from it, grow, adapt to its environment and reproduce. Scientists (including non-theists) who accept the claim that our universe is fine-tuned for life (or at least, life “as we know it”) include John Barrow, Bernard Carr, Brandon Carter, Paul Davies, George Ellis, Brian Greene, Alan Guth, Edward Harrison, Stephen Hawking, Andrei Linde, Don Page, Roger Penrose, John Polkinghorne, Martin Rees, Lee Smolin, Leonard Susskind, Max Tegmark, Frank Tipler, Alexander Vilenkin, Steven Weinberg, John Wheeler and Frank Wilczek,- See Michael Rota, Taking Pascal’s Wager: Faith, Evidence and the Abundant Life (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016), 104-105. Thus:
- The fine-tuning of the universe to support an advanced civilization is due either to necessity (physical law), chance, or design.
- It is not due to physical law
- It is not due to chance.
- Therefore, it is due to design.
1. Advanced planning is a sign of an intelligent cause.
2. The whole universe shows evidence of advanced planning.
3. Hence the whole universe was planned by an Intelligent Cause (God). Note: biological evolution doesn’t even happen without a universe and a planet that allows for sentient, self-aware creatures.- See A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos by Luke Barnes and Geraint Lewis.
2.Argument from Terrestrial fine-tuning of the earth for life
- The terrestrial fine-tuning of planet earth is due either to necessity (physical law), chance, or design.
- It is not due to physical law
- It is not due to chance.
- Therefore, it is due to design.
There is also fine-tuning on the microscopic scale, which makes human life on earth possible. The photosynthetic habitable zone refers to the range of distances from a host star within which a planet could possibly possess the necessary conditions for photosynthesis to occur. For the scope of photosynthetic activity advanced life requires to endure and thrive, these seven factors must fall within highly specific ranges: 1. Light intensity 2. Ambient temperature 3. Carbon dioxide concentration 4. Seasonal variation and stability 5. Mineral availability 6. Liquid water quantity 7. Atmospheric humidity (for land-based life)-See Hugh Ross, Improbable Planet, How Earth Became Humanity’s Home.
3.Argument from Design of Information
1. DNA requires information (to place amino acids in the proper order to make functional proteins).
2. Information requires intelligence.
3. Intelligence requires mind.
4. Therefore, the informational code produced by DNA requires an Intelligent Mind.
Just as a programmer writes instructions for a computer, DNA are the instructions, or blueprints for the human cell. Note that before the instructions were written for the computer, the information first originated in the mind of the programmer. The same analogy can be used for DNA, which has a mere, four letters: A, C, G, and T. A living cell needs not just any DNA, but DNA that encodes functional proteins. To be functional, a protein must have a very specific sequence. Note: mutation and natural selection can happen only to organisms that already have genetic information. If there is nothing to mutate, there is no mutation and natural selection occurring. So, information is required for life to begin. See: Thomas E. Woodward and James P. Gills, The Mysterious Epigenome: What Lies Beyond DNA (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012).
- Everything which exists has a sufficient explanation of its existence (Principle of Sufficient Reason)
- If the universe had an explanation of its existence, then the explanation must be God
- The universe exists
- The universe has an explanation of its existence
- Therefore, God exists
To be dependent is to be contingent. You exist if something else right now exists. In contrast, something is necessary when it is not contingent and so could not be different. We all intuitively know that whatever exists has some sort of explanation as to why it exists. There are two types of explanations for why something exists. X was either caused to exist by something that exists outside of and prior to X or X exists out of a necessity of its own nature (i.e., its non-existence is impossible, and it depends on nothing outside of itself to bring it into or keep it in existence). Something was either caused to exist by something else or it exists out of logical necessity.- See Joshua Rasmussen, How Reason Can Lead to God: A Philosopher’s Bridge to Faith.
5.Moral Law Argument: Our own experience shows that we agree that it is objectively, morally wrong what the Nazis did to the Jewish people, or what happened to George Floyd in 2020. This is not based on our subjective opinion. Did an impersonal and nonmoral process lead to humans to create their own morality? Does biology, society, and people’s personal preferences determine what is morally right and wrong? We see the following:
- Objective values and duties are valid and binding, independent of human opinion.
- If a personal God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
- Objective moral values and duties do exist.
- Therefore, a personal God exists.
Also, 1) We would not know there was injustice unless there were an objective standard of justice. 2) True progress is not possible unless we know an objective standard by which we measure that things are getting better or worse. We can’t know better unless we know what is best. 3) Real moral disagreements are not possible without an objective moral standard. But there are real moral disagreements – for example, those about injustice, intolerance, and cruelty. 4) The same basic moral codes are found in most cultures. 5) Guilt from breaking a moral law would not be universal if there were no objective moral law. 6) Even those who deny moral absolutes have moral principles they believe are universal, such as tolerance, freedom of expression, and the wrongness of bigotry and genocide.- See David Baggett, The Morals of the Story: Good News About a Good God.
6.People Matter: If God does not exist, it makes it more challenging to hold to a high moral view of human beings. If humans do not bear the divine image, their worth can only be determined on the basis of their differing abilities and empirical qualities. Humans could not have “unalienable rights,” as the Declaration of Independence states, if they have no objective value simply by being human. We see the following:
- People spend their entire lives fighting for what they consider to be inequality, justice, and human rights. Thus, they really believe humans have great value.
- If God does not exist, all reality is reducible to matter and chance. Human worth emerges from valueless matter. Humans can assign people value by choice. It is purely subjective.
- Humans do have a right to human dignity, i.e., the right to receive respect irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity, rank, or any other way.
- Therefore, God exists.-See John F. Kilner, Why People Matter: A Christian Engagement with Rival Views of Human Significance
7.Human Reasoning: All possible knowledge depends on the validity of reasoning. But in a materialistic worldview, we see the following:
- If materialism is true, we cannot trust our cognitive faculties because (a) they are not designed to know the world and (b) they are merely material organs with no ability to experience rational insight.
- Our cognitive capacities are basically trustworthy.
- Therefore, materialism is false (by modus tollens).
According to materialism, humans are the result of impersonal, nonrational and nonpurposive forces operating in a closed system of cause and effect. Consider Nietzsche’s statement: “How did rationality arrive in the world? Irrationally, as might be expected: by a chance accident. If we want to know what that chance accident was, we shall have to guess it, as one guesses the answer to a riddle.”- Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality, translated by R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 125.
Further Reading, see Thomas Nagel, Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False
8.The Historical Argument: God desires to communicate with humans. So, if a written revelation is a possibility, perhaps the most reasonable expectation is to ask when and where God has broken through into human history. We see the following: 1. The New Testament documents are historically reliable evidence. 2. The historical evidence of the New Testament shows that Jesus is God incarnate/the Jewish Messiah. 3.God authenticated Jesus’ teaching/ claim to divinity by His miracles/His messianic speaking authority, His messianic actions, and His resurrection. 4. Hence, Jesus is God incarnate. 5. Jesus (i.e., God incarnate) taught that the Old Testament is divinely inspired, and he promised the inspiration of the New Testament through his apostles. – see The Case for the Resurrection, by Michael Licona and Gray Habermas.