Does God Exist?
It’s not clear when human beings began to give reasons for belief in God or gods — a thousand years or more before Christ according to some accounts. Throughout all that history, in the West anyway, a number of arguments have had more attention than others. In this issue’s forum, we’ve asked experts in the field not to only explain how those arguments work, but to say something about their power, and the way they’re understood today.
Graham Oppy starts us off with a remarkably deep and clear account of the ontological argument, the idea that the existence of God can be proven by reflection on an understanding of what God would be if God did exist — a journey from Anselm and Descartes right through to developments in contemporary logic. Paul Bartha examines the ultimate gambler’s argument, Pascal’s Wager, and adds to it ideas owed to new waves in decision theory. Tiddy Smith inspects arguments rooted in common consent, the thought that a 95% consensus in favour of the existence of God should count for something when it comes to reasonable belief, and brings recent anthropological research to bear. Elizabeth Burns considers cosmological arguments, ending up with reflection on God the World and God the Good. Up next is Erik J. Wielenberg, who considers the moral argument for God’s existence and invites us to stop worrying and love godless morality. We conclude with what might be the most popular contemporary argument, rooted in thoughts on fine-tuning. Neil A. Manson explains how one might make sense of the unimaginably low odds of a universe with us in it, without God’s help.