A 30 Second Argument for God
By Robin Schumacher
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You'd likely agree with me that the co-discoverer of Calculus was a smart guy.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was a German mathematician, logician, and philosopher. Leibniz is well known for his mathematical discoveries, but he's also recognized as the person who popularized what many say is the single most important question ever asked: Why do we have something rather than nothing at all?
In his short work, Principles of Nature and Grace Based on Reason, Leibniz presents and answers the question in the following way:
Now I must move up to the metaphysical level, by making use of a great though not very widely used principle, which says that nothing comes about without a sufficient reason; i.e. that for any true proposition P, it is possible for someone who understands things well enough to give a sufficient reason why it the case that P rather than not-P. Given that principle, the first question we can fairly ask is: Why is there something rather than nothing? After all, nothing is simpler and easier than something. Also, given that things have to exist, we must be able to give a reason why they have to exist as they are and not otherwise. Now, this sufficient reason for the existence can't be found in the series of contingent things…it must be something that exists necessarily, carrying the reason for its existence within itself; only that can give us a sufficient reason at which we can stop. And that ultimate reason for things is what we call 'God'." Leibniz believed that God was the best explanation for why everything exists. From his writings, many philosophers and theologians have created their own way of stating his conclusion. For example, William Lane Craig presents his case in the following way:
1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3. The universe exists.
4. The universe has an explanation of its own existence [and that explanation is not found in the necessity of its own nature].
5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe's existence is God.
My way of stating the position is a little more personal / informal, and is something I call my '30 second argument for God':
1. I exist.
2. If I exist, something must have always existed because you don't get something from nothing.
3. There are only two choices for an eternal 'something': (a) The universe; (b) God.
4. The universe is not eternal.
5. Therefore, God exists.
Let me quickly walk you through the individual points and demonstrate why I think this argument is reasonable and sound.
Yes, You Exist
A student in a philosophy class once asked his professor, "How can I know that I really exist?" The professor looked down the glasses that were on his nose at the student and responded, "And who may I say is asking?"
It's simply self-defeating to contend you don't exist because you have to exist to ask the question. As the mathematician Descartes (also a believer in God) famously said, "I think, therefore I am."
Nothing is Really Nothing
No matter how hard atheistic scientists such as Lawrence Krauss try to argue in books like A Universe From Nothing that you can get something from nothing, you really can't. Krauss redefines 'nothing' to be physical systems such as the quantum vacuum, so his widely panned book both fails to answer Leibniz's question and embarrasses the physicist in the process.
'Nothing', as Aristotle said, "is what rocks dream about". As an example, if you ask me what I had for breakfast today and I say 'nothing', you likely won't ask me how my 'nothing' tasted.
The reason everything is here — including you and me — is because something has always been here. In the end, the believer in God and the atheist are really just arguing over what that 'something' is.
Continue to Page two
1. G. W. Leibniz, Principles of Nature and Grace Based on Reason, 1714. http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdf/leibprin.pdf
2. William Lane Craig, On Guard (Colorado Springs: David Cook, 2010), pp. 53-65.
Image Credit: Johann Friedrich Wentzel; "Cestello Annunciation"; Public Domain
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