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In philosophy, idealism is the group of philosophies which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing (source).

In essence, I am asking for philosophical [a priori] evidence and not empirical evidence that God created the universe.

  • But from a "logical" point of view there is no proof (i.e. logical evdience) that the universe is created; thus, no proof either that God has created it. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Aug 19 '15 at 15:58
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA thanks for the thought...I edited my question. – Radz C. Brown Aug 19 '15 at 16:24
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First, one has to make clear which of the many gods is meant. Because theistic people in different religions speak about many different gods: The Olympic gods from the time of Homer, the Egyptian gods, the Vedic gods, the Hinduistic gods, the monotheistic Jewish and Christian god named Jahwe, and many more.

Secondly, in Christian theology the attempt to prove the existence of god by logical reasoning alone - withount any empirical base - uses the definition

god = a being than which nothing greater can be conceived (lat. aliquid quo maius nihil cogitari posset)

You find the attempt to prove the existence of such being in chap. II of Anselm of Canterbury: Proslogion. In short, Anselm reasons indirectly: In case such being misses existence then one can conceive a greater being, namely a being which in addition to all other properties also exists. Following the line of Anselm's argumentation one can easily derive that the being in question has also created the world, otherwise one could imagine a greater being. Anselm's argument is named the ontological argument.

The argument was already questioned by a Christian monk, Gaunilo, in a brilliant controversy with Anselm. A reference is http://www.iep.utm.edu/ont-arg/ . The main counter argument has been given by Kant: Existence is not an additional property.

Thirdly, a certain type of argument focus on proving that the universe has been created by a creator. That's the argument from cosmology. Apparently, it has an empirical premise, namely the existence of the universe taken as a fact. The argument is due to Leibniz. His reasoning in short: From his premise that all things have a sufficient reason Leibniz concludes the existence of a first reason of the universe, which he names god - see Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Ueber den letzten Ursprung der Dinge (in German).

Today, all attempts to prove the existence of a god or of any of his doings by philosophical or scientific means are considered controversial.

Note. I changed my last sentence because of the comment of @James Kingsbery

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    "all attempts to prove the existence of a god or of any of his doings by philosophical... means are considered unsatisfactory and failed." Well, that's one person's opinion. There are several examples of those who have converted to religion from reading philosophy. – James Kingsbery Aug 19 '15 at 21:56
  • @James Kinsbery I changed the my last sentence. - Can you please indicate some of your examples with reference? – Jo Wehler Aug 19 '15 at 22:21
  • One well known example is CS Lewis. One less well known example (but her conversion story is very oriented around philosophy) is Holly Ordway. I could come up with many others. In any case, I think it is fair to say that it is "controversial." – James Kingsbery Aug 19 '15 at 22:43
  • @James Kingsbery How sure are you, that the conversion of CS Lewis and Holly Ordway was caused by philosophical arguments, e.g. by one of the philosophical attempts to prove the existence of god? – Jo Wehler Aug 19 '15 at 23:01
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    They say so explicitly in their books detailing their conversion stories. – James Kingsbery Aug 19 '15 at 23:09
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EDITED AFTER COMMENT:

  1. Considering that we as human beings have free-will, then the entity or higher power or whatever that it was that had us created must have had free-will also!
    What I mean by this is that for those who say that the universe was created from a big bang thing or something like that... I can accept it to an extent only...it doesn't have an answer to creatures with free will i.e. it's like an accident( which doesn't have any free-will) has been able to create something that can have free-will, to me that's just beyond it's reach!
  2. There are many things in exist in our wisdom, our wisdom is the most beautiful creation ever, and again by accident, big bang or whatever, such a great wisdom can not be created, its beyond its reach (can a stupid monkey ever create all-wise human, no it can't, because it's just beyond it's reach) By wisdom I don't mean how to compute 2+2=0, no! I mean what tells us what is good and what is evil, to go and help people/ have humility, be thankful, have affection, have cleanliness, be honest... Or on the other hand it tells us not to lie, steal, cheat, hold grudge, be disgraceful... I could list a dozen of more traits..., you get the idea. So since our wisdom already has these, as if it was there from day 1, then its creator must have had more of that wisdom! (currently there are so many movies targeting artificial intelligence, but they are only targeting that computing ability or very very basic wisdom related traits).
  3. There is an Arabic saying:

    When you look at camel-excrement... you think of a camel. When you see footsteps ... you think of a person who has passed by in a certain direction!

    Then how is it possible that when you look at the skies with all the stars, and earth with all the valleys does't direct you to a knowledgeable creator?

If a person can conclude that for something as stupid as camel-excrement you think that it had a specific doer, or for foot-steps or at a higher level for a building how can he not then conclude that for the biggest creation the universe itself?

  • I think your point about free-will is great. Your first point (the Arabic saying), points to material evidence, and the OP specifically asked about points of view that is skeptical about mind-independent things. – James Kingsbery Aug 21 '15 at 20:20
  • @JamesKingsbery I am not sure if I understood you correctly, is it better now? I added another point and shifted point 3 to the bottom as I think based on what you are saying it's less related! – Honey Aug 22 '15 at 16:49
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Yes. A Hindu philosopher by the name of Gaudapada wrote a commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad called Gaudapada's Karika. It is a defense of the Hindu Advaita (non-dual) monistic philosophy. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 specifically are arguments for the non-dual Brahman using reasoning and logical argumentation alone, no scriptural references. In those chapters Sankara in his commentary of the Karika gives opposing arguments of nihilists and materialists and defends his arguments against those opposing views as well. He gives arguments that the only reality is the non-dualistic Brahman and that the world or reality that is perceived is an illusion. It is best read in conjunction with the Mandukya Upanishad and Shankaracharya's commentary on both (also referred to as Adi Sankara or simply Sankara).

Another good one is Plotinus's Six Enneads.

I also like Quantum Physics and Ultimate Reality: Mystical Writings of Great Physicists by Michael Green

  • You give some references with regard to Hindu literature. Could you please add some explanation with regard to content. The OP considers the term universe: What is the relation to the term brahman from your answer? Literally, the Mandukya upanishad names brahman only in verse 2. It does not mention that brahman has been created. In case the Karika or Sankaras commentary adds that brahman has been created: Has it been created by a god. If yes: Which god? And what is the evidence from philosophy that this god created brahman? – Jo Wehler Aug 20 '15 at 8:23
  • It's difficult for me to read off from your post the answer to the original question from OP. – Jo Wehler Aug 20 '15 at 8:23
  • @jowehler Based on your previous comments on Hinduism, I understand why. You need to broaden your readings in Hinduism. All of the references given answer exactly the question of Idealism as defined in the question, that the universe is a mental creation or 'Great Thought' and has no material existence. Brahman is the One Great Thought - self-existent, eternal, and unchangeable. Everything is derived from It, but in Reality, there is only the Great Thought, there is no universe. The 'gods' you refer to are part of the universe, part of the illusion. – Swami Vishwananda Aug 20 '15 at 10:43
  • @jowehler btw, the Mandukya is only 12 verses in length. After using the term Brahman, it then goes on to explain it in the remaining verses. Your comment is misleading. – Swami Vishwananda Aug 21 '15 at 4:38
  • Verse 3-7 - under the heading atman - deal with different states of consciousness and unconciousness of a person. While verse 8-12 - under the heading OM - deals with the phonemes of this syllable. Only the grand unifcation OM = brahman = atman suggests that all passages deal with the same subject. - But a concept like brahman, stretched so far that it covers nearly everything, is at risk to cover nearly nothing. Of course the latter reservation does not hold for Mandukya Upanishad alone. – Jo Wehler Aug 22 '15 at 6:07
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If we take God as the superessential essence; the purest essence which has no predicates and therefore serves as its own existence, as formally formulated. And furthermore, having no predicates is therefore without a flaw and is perfect. This perfect being can create the universe by allowing it to be. Fiat lux.

  • The PO asks for evidence from philosophical argumentation. Could you please explicate the meaning of some of your core terms like superessential, essence which has no predicates, serves as its own existence? And add some arguments to your theses? Otherwise it's hard to follow your answer. – Jo Wehler Aug 20 '15 at 7:23
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As @jo wehler put it, who said only one god made the job? Much more when it's said to be "on our image and likeness", that makes necessary at least a god-man and a god-woman, as there are in many other, less patriarchal, mythologies.

You just can't prove it. Just like you can't prove idealism, or materialism, for that matter.

That's why it's said that "proof" is an abstraction that only exists in three areas: math, law and monotheism.

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If I can add an obvious approach that has been tried: Descartes famously said "I think, therefore I am," and from that statement put forward an argument for God's existence. See specifically Meditations on the First Philosophy, Mediation 3 for the full argument. For a summary of the argument, see the Wikipedia page (reproduced below):

Argument 1

  1. Something cannot come from nothing.
  2. The cause of an idea must have at least as much formal reality as the idea has objective reality. 3.I have in me an idea of God. This idea has infinite objective reality.
  3. I cannot be the cause of this idea, since I am not an infinite and perfect being. I don't have enough formal reality. Only an infinite and perfect being could cause such an idea.
  4. So God — a being with infinite formal reality — must exist (and be the source of my idea of God).
  5. An absolutely perfect being is a good, benevolent being.
  6. So God is benevolent...
  7. So God would not deceive me, and would not permit me to err without giving me a way to correct my errors.

Argument 2

  1. I exist.
  2. My existence must have a cause.
  3. The only possible ultimate causes are (a) myself (b) my always having existed (c) my parents (d) something less perfect than God or (e) God
  4. Not a. If I had created myself, I would have made myself perfect.
  5. Not b. This does not solve the problem. If I am a dependent being, I need to be continually sustained by another.
  6. Not c. This leads to an infinite regress.
  7. Not d. The idea of perfection that exists in me cannot have originated from a non-perfect being.
  8. Therefore, e. God exists.

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