Skip to main content

Toward a Leibnizian Cosmological Argument Against Theism

So here's a sketch of an argument I'm toying with that's in the same vein as several others I've discussed here recently:

Suppose you think, along with a number of proponents of the Leibnizian cosmological argument, that at least the following version of PSR is true: every object has a sufficient reason or explanation for existence, either in terms of (a) something else or (b) its own nature. Call beings of the former sort 'contingent beings', and call beings of the latter sort 'necessary beings'. Suppose further that you think (again, along with proponents of the Leibnizian cosmological argument) that contingent beings can't be fully explained merely in terms of just other contingent beings, no matter how many (and for the usual reasons offered). If you grant all of this, then it looks like you have good grounds for thinking that at least one necessary being exists that explains the existence of contingent beings.

However, I worry that the train of reasoning the theist has invited you to follow will take her where she doesn't want to go. For it seems to me that there are good grounds -- grounds at least as good as those in support of PSR -- for thinking that all concrete stuff that has an originating cause or a sustaining cause must have a material cause. But if so, then if classical theism entails that contingent beings require an originating cause or a sustaining cause without a material cause -- i.e., if classical theism entails that God creates or sustains the universe ex nihilo -- then the God of classical theism cannot provide a sufficient reason or explanation for the existence of contingent beings. Rather, it looks like matter -- or whatever matter is ultimately made of -- is the only kind thing or stuff around that can suitably occupy the role of necessary being.

In short, PSR seems to entail the falsity of classical theism. Indeed, it looks like the prospects don't look too shabby for an argument that PSR entails naturalism (or at least something close enough to naturalism for classical theists to find unpalatable).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Epicurean Cosmological Arguments for Matter's Necessity

One can find, through the writings of Lucretius, a powerful yet simple Epicurean argument for matter's (factual or metaphysical) necessity. In simplest terms, the argument is that since matter exists, and since nothing can come from nothing, matter is eternal and uncreated, and is therefore at least a factually necessary being. 
A stronger version of Epicurus' core argument can be developed by adding an appeal to something in the neighborhood of origin essentialism. The basic line of reasoning here is that being uncreated is an essential property of matter, and thus that the matter at the actual world is essentially uncreated.
Yet stronger versions of the argument could go on from there by appealing to the principle of sufficient reason to argue that whatever plays the role of being eternal and essentially uncreated does not vary from world to world, and thus that matter is a metaphysically necessary being.
It seems to me that this broadly Epicurean line of reasoning is a co…

CfP: Inquiry: New Work on the Existence of God

NEW WORK ON THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
In recent years, methods and concepts in logic, metaphysics and epistemology have become more and more sophisticated. For example, much new, subtle and interesting work has been done on modality, grounding, explanation and infinity, in both logic, metaphysics as well as epistemology. The three classical arguments for the existence of God – ontological arguments, cosmological arguments and fine-tuning arguments – all turn on issues of modality, grounding, explanation and infinity. In light of recent work, these arguments can - and to some extent have - become more sophisticated as well. Inquiry hereby calls for new and original papers in the intersection of recent work in logic, metaphysics and epistemology and the three main types of arguments for the existence of God. 


The deadline is 31 January 2017. Direct queries to einar.d.bohn at uia.no.

Notes on Mackie's "Evil and Omnipotence"

0. Introduction
0.1 Mackie argues that the problem of evil proves that either no god exists, or at least that the god of Orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, does not exist. His argument is roughly the same version of the problem of evil that we’ve been considering.
0.2 Mackie thinks that one can avoid the conclusion that God does not exist only if one admits that either God is not omnipotent (i.e., not all-powerful), or that God is not perfectly good. 0.3 However, he thinks that hardly anyone will be willing to take this route. For doing so leaves one with a conception of a god that isn’t worthy of worship, and therefore not religiously significant.
0.4 After his brief discussion of his version of the problem of evil, he considers most of the main responses to the problem of evil, and concludes that none of them work.

1. First Response and Mackie's Reply
1.1 Response: Good can’t exist without evil; evil is a necessary counterpart to good.
1.2 Mackie’s reply:
1.2.1 this see…