Belief in A Higher Power :
We do not have good reasons to believe in something transcendental. Most of the arguments in favor of God or a so-called higher power are based on faith and emotion, and not a clear logical argument. In fact, these arguments are often in favor of throwing logic out the window. In many ways, this question is similar to someone attempting to prove the existence of an invisible elephant. It is far easier to prove that the elephant does not exist than it is to prove that it does.
Socrates' principle of examination states that we must carefully examine all things. The tools we humans use to do this are logic and the scientific method. In order to believe in something transcendental, you cannot examine your beliefs using logic and science. If you do, there is no way to prove the existence of a higher power.
The primary argument against the existence of a Judeo-Christian all-knowing, all-powerful, righteous God is the argument from evil. This argument argues against the presence of a higher power using facts of ordinary life. This argument states that most would agree that some of the pain and suffering (evil) in this world is unnecessary. To be considered a necessary evil, the occurrence must be the only way to produce something good which outweighs the evil. Many events, such as infant deaths would not be classified in this category.
If such an all-knowing deity existed, it states, He would know that this evil was occurring. If He was all-powerful, He would have the power to stop this evil. If He was righteous, He would stop the evil from occurring Therefore, the existence of evil cannot be compatible with the existence of this type of God.
The primary response to the argument from evil is the appeal to human freedom. This argument states that God sees evil as necessary so that we humans may be free to choose our own path. The fatal flaw in this argument is that there are evils that exist not as a direct result of human choice. Natural evils such as floods, earthquakes and tornadoes serve no purpose according to this definition, and are therefore unnecessary evils.
A theist might respond to this with another weak rebuttal, stating that every evil produces compassion and understanding in others and creates good in that regard. This is an overly positive, almost delusional view of evil. Almost everyone will be able to come up with at least one example of someone who has suffered an evil that has not directly or indirectly led to anything good.
The other argument for something transcendental is the argument from faith. It is, however, also a weak argument. It states that we will never be able to find direct evidence of God's existence through logic or natural science, so we must find an alternate method. This argument requires us to suspend Socrates' basic philosophical principle of examination. The argument from faith asks us to leave this idea alone, and simply believe that it works. This basic lack of logic and reasoning makes this a weak argument.
Another of the arguments is the design argument. This states that the universe is far too structured and complex to be derived from a big bang or another random sequence of events. A transcendental watchmaker is the only explanation for the complexities of the universe, say proponents of this argument.
The weak link in this argument is that for the many structured things that exist, there are just as many chaotic things. Not everything in the universe serves a purpose, or has an efficient design. Again, this is connected back to the argument from evil. Some evils are unnecessary flaws in the watch's design. Thomas Paley, a critic of the argument, asked why a higher being design a flawed watch with so many pointless features. There is no good counter to that argument.
Another argument is the First Cause argument. This argument states that everything that exists had a separate cause of its coming into existence. This creates a causal chain, extending backward in time, which cannot be infinite. If it is not infinite, then there must be a first cause, which must be God. This seems like a reasonable argument, but one of its premises is shaky. There is no good reason to state that there cannot be an infinite series of causes. Scientists might argue for the Big Bang theory as a beginning to our universe, but it also could have had a cause.
Another shaky premise of the argument is the last one. Why does the end of the chain have to be the Judeo-Christian god? It could also be a transcendental force, without the many traits associated to a god. It is also remarkably self-centered for one religion to believe it has the monopoly on God. Why could the first cause not be Allah, Buddha or the like?
Two other minor arguments try to connect physical reality to the existence of God. The first is the argument from miracles. This argument states that many people have a legitimate belief that they have experienced miracles. With so many unexplained phenomena in this world, they argue, it is probable that God must be causing these remarkable events.
The next argument is the argument from religious experience. Proponents argue that many people claim to have been touched by a higher power. Because of this direct contact, we must believe in the existence of a transcendental being. Many people have very similar stories of walking into a bright light in near-death experiences.
With all of these occurrences, supporters argue, we must be able to see the existence of a god. The response to both of these arguments is that there is not one bit of concrete evidence to support either claim. Every time we have tested so-called articles of religious miracle, such as the Shroud of Turin, they have not lived up to their claim. We also cannot prove through any scientific method that anyone has ever been touched by a transcendental force. These near-death experiences are probably a simple lack of blood to the brain.
The only tools that we have to prove or disprove the existence of a transcendental power are our senses, the scientific method and logic. With all of our technological advances, we have never been able to find substantial evidence that this power exists or ever did exist. We also have not found a logical argument to prove its existence. Without this substantive proof, we cannot say that we have logical or reasonable reasons to believe in something transcendental. We humans have not found the invisible elephant, but have already created the circus for it.
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