The debate of the existence of one, or many, divine beings is one of the oldest in human history and, for many people; a definite, conclusive answer is highly sought-after. This debate is considered so important to many as it is an ultimate question which means, without intervention of an unfamiliar reality, it is considered impossible to be conclusively proved or disproved. Therefore, it is discussed at length in an attempt to provide an answer or to try explain other human experiences such as disasters. To explore this debate, I will look at a variety of different arguments.
The Problem of Evil
The argument from evil is the argument that if an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God were to exist, he would not condone the apparent suffering and evil that takes place. This argument was first proposed by the Greek philosopher Epicurus who devised:
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”
One explanation for this is that the evil and suffering is the result of our free will which many versions of God is attributed to not intervene with. A famous supporter of this argument is the author C.S. Lewis who stated:
“Humans are free to do good or bad. Even an omnipotent God could not logically create humans who are free to do only good. Therefore evil is an inevitable consequence of human freedom.”
However, this counter-argument only explains what we consider ‘moral evil’ (such as shootings, suicide attacks, etc.) and not ‘natural evil’ which consists of events such as tsunamis, cancer and hurricanes which an omnipotent God could prevent.
Sceptical theism suggests that we do not have the knowledge to why these actions we attribute as ‘evil’ take place and that, to God’s omniscience, these actions have a greater purpose.
The Paradox of the Stone
This argument addresses the logical possibility of an omnipotent being, like many described by popular monotheistic religions, with an omnipotence paradox. This version of the paradox asks “Can an omnipotent being (God) create a stone he cannot lift?” This creates an impasse as, if God could create such a stone, he would not be able to lift it and, therefore, he is not omnipotent, or, if he could not create such a stone, he is also not omnipotent. Either way, this argument suggests there is no possibility of God being truly omnipotent.
Common counter-arguments towards this problem are that it assumes the wrong meaning of omnipotence. Rene Descartes believed that God could do the logically impossible, such as being able to make square circles or, in this case, lifting the stone he created unable for himself to lift, and therefore Descartes would answer the omnipotence paradox with the answer of “yes” without compromising God’s omnipotence.
Another theory taken from the point of view of Thomas Aquinas, is that such a stone which an omnipotent being cannot lift, is an impossible object and therefore the answer can be “no” without compromising his omnipotence, as Aquinas believed that God’s omnipotence meant he could do anything logically possible, though nothing impossible.
Aquinas' Five Ways (Quinque viae)
Aquinas' Five Ways are five empirical arguments, the first three of which are versions of the cosmological argument, which have been devised by St. Thomas Aquinas in his book 'Summa Theologica'. These five arguments are that of: the unmoved mover, the first cause, contingency, degrees of perfection and teleological (design) argument.
The unmoved mover is an argument that proposes things are in motion, and are so because they have been put in to motion by something else already in motion, and therefore there must be a first mover which has not been put into motion another thing to start off the chain of motion (because an infinite regress of movers is impossible)....
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