2

If God exists, it is rational for people to believe he exists without relying on facts:

  1. If God exists and he wanted to be known by people he would provide a means of knowing him.
  2. If God wanted as many people to know him as possible, he would provide a means for as many people to know him as possible. People, through all time, with access to varying levels of education and evidence and people with varying levels of intellectual ability.
  3. If God was all powerful, he would have access to the most effective means of people knowing him.
  4. Facts require interpretation which may be influenced by our biased self agenda.
  5. A method of knowing God without interpretation would be more effective than facts.

Therefore if God exists, wanted as many people to know him has possible and was all powerful, he would have access to a method of helping people believe he exists without the requirement of facts.

It has been suggested that it is begging the question, containing the conclusion in the premises, the conclusion is the 'reason' for belief that he exists, while the premise is that the object of said belief provides a reason for belief. Reduced to its constituents, the argument is 'I believe he exists because he exists'.

I don't agree with the 'reduced to it's constituents' is accurate, but I am interested if the argument is logically valid and if not, the technical reasons for why it is not valid so I can deepen my understanding of valid argument formation. If a premise includes a conditional and the conclusion contains the same conditional...isn't that accepting both conditions of either God existing or not..thereby the logic of the argument is not dependent on God's existence being true. In other words, if the argument is successful, it just shows it is rational for people to believe God exists...only if God exists.

  • 2
    For an argument to be valid, it is not required that the premises are true, but only that they entail the conclusion, i.e. if all premises are true, so is the conclusion. But due to premises 4 and 5, you cannot "model" it only with propositional logic, because from that point of view premises 4 and 5 have no "structure": they are simple sentences. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA May 23 '16 at 9:26
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    So no syllogism here, so no logic. XD just creative writing – GameDeveloper May 23 '16 at 17:22
  • This isn't really an argument and it's crap in so many ways but I have to point out that whoever is making this argument should forget #3 since there are clearly better ways for an all-powerful god to be known than whatever he's supposedly doing. Something like flying around like a superhero and creating amazing light shows in the sky is going to convince more people than the current method, which, by the way is getting less effective over time. – JimmyJames May 23 '16 at 18:56
  • As much as folks hate this argument, it is very traditional, and is the 'Lutheran' side of the Works vs Faith debate throughout the history of Christianity. But it does not lead where you claim. It proves that no proof of God's existence is meaningful, as a meaningful proof of God's existence would not be necessary, and nothing important is pointless. Luther deduces 'By Faith alone can one surely know God'. But that is not proof God exists in any way. If Martians are real, it is logical to believe in them... So what? – user9166 May 23 '16 at 20:01
  • @JimmyJames, the idea I had for the argument came from the idea of what would be the optimal solution if God were to created it? Eg what would an optimal solution a website login page look like if God did it? Well, you wouldn't have a log in page because he would already know who you are! So what would be the optimal solution for people to believe in God? God would just create a way for people to believe in him...skipping all the unnecessary steps in between. Yes, that then raises the objection why doesn't everyone believe? I have countered this objection, but not here. – ptutt May 23 '16 at 23:19
8

This argument could hardly be rendered into a valid form without all kinds of additional assumptions and clarifications. For example,

  1. Assumes we know what God wants and what he/she might or might not do to satisfy those wants. It is difficult enough to speculate about what other people might want or might do about their wants, without trying to speculate about a deity.

  2. Assumes we know how God relates to people: theologians sometimes say that God does not compel love, respect or obedience from people because he/she desires it to be freely given, but this raises problems about the nature of free will.

  3. Assumes we understand what God's being all-powerful entails, which raises problems in understanding the meaning and limitations of power and potentiality.

  4. and 5 contrast facts with other things by saying facts require interpretation, but this is tendentious: what other things are there that don't require interpretation? The objects of perception? Rational intuitions? Religious experiences? Sacred texts? All of these have been claimed to be sources of knowledge, but none hold up without interpretation and critical examination, and perhaps some don't hold up at all.

I wouldn't say the argument is question-begging, but it depends on so many additional assumptions, and would require so much clarification and analysis, that there is no straightforward way to evaluate it.

  • I agree with you the argument needs a lot of work... clarification, additional premises as you suggest. It's was the assertion that the argument was question begging and/or circular that threw me. Thanks. – ptutt May 23 '16 at 9:19
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    The first premise is a conditional. It does not assume that we know what God wants or how he would satisfy it. – Lukas May 23 '16 at 9:56
  • The validity of the form does not depend on the validity of the premises. – Taemyr May 23 '16 at 10:17
5

The argument is not logically valid.

You need a sixth step, along the line of

  1. A method of knowing God without interpretation exists.

As to the point about the circularity; It's incorrect to reduce the argument to 'I believe he exists because he exists'

The correct reduction is 'It's impossible for God to exist without faith in his existence also existing'. And the argument(amended to insure the existence of faith as a way to know God) is not circular.

A more important concern than the question of validity is the fact that our confidence in the thruth of the conclusion of a valid argument depends on the thruth of the premises. Premise 1 & 2 is problematic because it's vacuous if God does not want to be known, it's also problematic because it dictates how a potential all-knowing God should act.

Premise 5 is problematic because it states that any way to know God that does not depend on interpretation is better than facts. This is dubious since false faiths exists. - My suggested premise 6 has similar problems.

  • The logically validity (which is explicitly what is meant here) of an argument does not depend on the validity of the premises. – reinierpost May 23 '16 at 12:50
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    @reinierpost agreed. However Op asks about spesific objections to the argument. And so I feel that no answer is complete without noting that the relevance of valitity depends on your confidence in your premises. – Taemyr May 23 '16 at 16:40
  • I agree with the missing premise. However, regarding your false faiths contention, I would say, if the faith is false, then they don't know God. The belief would be false and therefore not knowledge. – ptutt May 24 '16 at 23:36
  • @ptutt Sure; if you want to go into the definition of knowledge false beliefs are not knowledge. Neither are true beliefs that are not grounded in facts. For this to work for you you will have to define knowledge in a way that supports your argument. See no true Scotsman. – Taemyr May 25 '16 at 8:16
3

You need a sixth point as said by Taemyr, that "A method of knowing God without interpretation exists". Without this point, it doesn't make sense to abandon the facts. Because if there is no such method, then by abandoning the facts, there might not be any other method, completely failing God's goal as asserted by point 2.

The 3rd point ... we could argue a bit about definitions, but "all powerful" doesn't have to mean "all knowable". Although I'm not sure if there is no knowledge that can not be gathered given infinite time and energy... depending on what interpretation of causality you hold to be true, there might be a point in time at which your God does not know of such a method yet. At that point in time, facts would be preferred. ... Maybe circumvent this by making God all knowing? Although then the standard "all knowing vs all powerful - if you know how to create a rock that you cannot lift... are you really all powerful? If you don't, are you really all knowing?" -type arguments might pop up and invalidate the argument by contradiction.

The 4th point is also flawed; usually facts are things which are true in and of themselves, so for them to require interpretation, you'd have to be playing fast and loose with the definition of a fact.

The 5th point also has a flaw: You do not need "the most effective method". You only need a method that attains the best result. ... And these could very well be facts.


The entirety of the argument seems a bit weird from my perspective, however - the end goal seems to be "If God exists (and wants to be known etc etc etc), then rational people should hold the existence of God as a self-evident truth (i.e. a fact?), rather than relying on deriving God's existence from facts". I guess it's about holding the belief as a fact rather than a derived fact... perhaps the argument could be clearer by not referring to facts in the conclusion.

This seems to assume that there is only one way to rationalize a belief. You'd do well to have multiple paths that explain and support a belief - that way, should you forget a node or should a node be proven false, the belief still stands, and so do the beliefs built on top of it. If you only kept the shortest "path" of belief, and something low-level got disproven, you could find yourself in a problematic situation as you can no longer tell what is real and what is not.


Lastly, for maximum pedantry, "rational" is possibly also misused - you could come up with a perverse enough scenario in which it would be rational to not believe in God EVEN although he exists.

Consider a version of Pascal's Wager(place a bet on whether god exists; if you say yes and he does, heaven, if he doesn't, lose a coin; if you say no and he does, hell, if he doesn't, gain a coin) - except this time, there is a second God who will kill you iff (if and only if) you believe that this first God exists. My wording isn't perfect either, but there should be an imaginable scenario (perhaps you get a day to change your mind and think things over, and if after this day you still think the first God exists with more than X probability you will be killed) in which it is perfectly rational to make sure you don't know that the first God exists, even although he wants you to.

  • Hi there - this is my first post, and I'm not sure how much pedantry and arguing about word definitions is allowed here. I tried to keep most of it out of the post, but some of it still got in - I think it's constructive, albeit tangential. A good argument limits its scope, however, and the one posed in the question is huge - it's on the scope of "across all of time and space", so I don't think it strange that you'd need to look deeper into things like time travel and what not. – Pimgd May 23 '16 at 15:16
  • I didn't read it super carefully but it seems moderately lucid if a little wordy (i.e., unless I missed something this seems decent though perhaps able to be improved up on with edits and sourcing). I think the last point about "rational" is one that many people tend to miss. – virmaior May 23 '16 at 15:21
  • @virmaior I was mostly worried that it is easy to slip into pedantry and go into the territory of "but what is truth?" - you could write pages about this stuff and then some and still not be done. As for the sourcing part... I don't really know where to start adding sources - most of my learning of philosophy has been through a select few sites and if I added links for every "leap" of reasoning I'd look like a spambot advertising philosophy sites (specifically, lesswrong). – Pimgd May 23 '16 at 15:31
  • Best place for stuff: Stanford Enyclopedia of Philosophy. Behind that, primary sources and Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. – virmaior May 23 '16 at 15:58
  • While facts are facts- the knowledge we gain from the facts depend on our interpretation of those facts. – Taemyr May 23 '16 at 16:51
1

As Taemyr wrote, you need a sixth premise to get to the conclusion. Unfortunately, it'll need to be something like

Belief is a method of knowing God without interpretation that is more effective than facts

or it'd need to be a set of premises that leads to this.

Without this, the best you could conclude is that: if all the premises are correct and a method existed that met premise 5, then one could rely on that method in preference to facts. It is a stronger conclusion that saying it's rational to believe in God if He exists, but not much more useful IMO.

  • Even if you add the premise, the conclusion is still not that God exists, it is that you can't prove it. – user9166 May 23 '16 at 20:22
1

As much as folks hate this argument, it is very traditional, and is part of the 'Faith Alone' side of the Works vs Faith debate throughout the history of Christianity. I think the basic idea is valid, with the flaws in your presentation addressed.

But it does not lead where you claim. You have the conclusion wrong.

The deduction proves that no proof of God's existence from any set of facts is meaningful, or there would be a better one, less dependent. In fact, by iteration, there would be a perfect one, and we would all believe it. It would also be simple and obvious, so it would already have been given. But we don't all believe. So there isn't any.

And there is a much shorter version: A meaningful proof of God's existence would not be necessary, and nothing truly important is pointless. So just stop with this nonsense already.

Luther deduces 'By Faith alone can one surely know God'. But that is not proof God exists in any way.

If Martians are real, it is logical to believe in them... So what?

0

If by Logical you mean Syllogism, then your argument it is not even a Syllogism. By Syllogism something that we can merely say "false/true" based on a premise and simple deduction. You cannot do "logical" deduction, on your premises, that do not prevent however to do other kind of reasoning on your points.

Point 1

  • If God Exists => G
  • God wanted to be know by people => K
  • provide means of knowing him => M

So a premise

(G and K) implies M

The truth value of the premise depends on G,K,M. If M is true and G and K is false, then the premise is false.

The premise is true in all other cases. But we do not know about the truth values of G,K,M in example

it is acceptable that

G = false      HERE WE HAVE MEANINGS OF BELIEVE IN GOD, AND GOD DOES NOT EXIST
K = false
M = true

and it is also acceptable

G = true       HERE WE HAVE MEANINGS OF BELIEVE IN GOD, AND GOD  EXIST
K = false
M = true

A logical reasonment is not correct if you deduce true or false if start from premises that do not allow to deduce that, and there is just a premise that would fu** any logical reasonement because we cannot objectively know its truth value, so it is G. You can still prove stuff that is independent of existence of god but then you can just remove G from premises.

I do not even believe your argument is "well formed" (well- formed => you can reason on it using Syllogism), so you are just falling out of logic, but nothing prevents your from using other types of reasoning.

  • I would agree that we don't know if M is true, because as you state it's truth value is dependent on G and K. That is why the conclusion remains dependent on the truth values of G and K. The point of the argument is not to prove that the mechanism exists, but that it is possible that the mechanism exists. To rule out this possibility the truth values G or K would need to be shown to be false. – ptutt May 23 '16 at 23:09
  • Nope, the conclusion is based on other statements, wich are not "well-formed" so you can't do any kind of logical reasoning on the other statements. something is logically false or true only if it is based on Syllogism or at least that's what humans concluded after hundreds years of reasoning :), you cannot rule out that statement anyway, if we can somehow prove that G and K is false and M is true we simply show the statement is false, not that it is not valid. There is no thing like "possibility" in logical reasoning. – GameDeveloper May 24 '16 at 6:49
  • Also truth value of M is not based on G and K, we only know the truth value of the premise based on GKM wich unluckily all are unkown. (we could just say the premise is true if M is true and we don't know G and K but we don't know even M) – GameDeveloper May 24 '16 at 7:52
0

Even if the argument is valid, it doesn't do us any good. Its conclusion relies on a premise we have no way to establish, so we don't know that its conclusion holds.

All the argument buys me, again assuming that it's correct, is that I now know that if god exists, I should believe he exists without evidence. Well, great, I don't know whether or not he exists, so I don't know whether or not I should believe he exists without evidence.

So what's the point?

  • The point is that evidence-based proofs (of God) are pointless. Since this goes back at least to Luther, you would think that would put evangelists who think they are philosophers out of business. But they just won't give up. – user9166 May 23 '16 at 20:20
  • 1
    The point is epistemology based on the scientific method is unnecessarily restricted and not necessarily the best method that can be used to know if God exists. The specific question I asked was is the argument valid (if not why not). Your answer is better suited as a comment as it doesn't correspond with the question. – ptutt May 23 '16 at 22:56
  • @ptutt If you really meant "valid" in the formal logical sense, then you get a very uninteresting answer, "no, because the argument isn't a formal logical argument and only those can be 'valid' in that sense". If you mean "valid" in the more commonsense way (does it actually accomplish or prove anything), you get interesting answers like mine. – David Schwartz May 23 '16 at 23:23

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