The existence of a God has for generations been the topic of fierce debate. This most usually occurring between members of the religious society and, everybody else. As a matter of fact the religious world itself has not always been able to agree on God. This has resulted in many a holy man to take up the fight for his deity through the realm of words. Many theories have been proposed and all think that theirs proves beyond a doubt on whether or not God exists. To write this paper I read four of those theories by assorted men of the cloth, who all attempt to make the argument for a God in the Christian sense.
The first of the theories I looked at was that of St. Anslem of Canterbury. He supplies the ontological argument for the existence of God. The ontological argument states that by understanding the nature of God himself, we come to realize he exists. He explains this argument by first defining what God is. Anslem says that God is a being than which nothing greater can be conceived to exist, that it cannot even be considered not to exist. In short, the fact that said being cannot be considered not to exist would thereby make it greater than any that could be considered not to exist. This would in all reality be the secret to God's omnipotence in Anlsem's eyes. Another point that he stresses is that just be understanding the concept of what a God is, you are proving his existence. This is because if you understand who God is, you can also accept his existence, and therefore cannot conceive that he does not exist. Therefore making him that which nothing greater can be conceived of and which cannot be conceived not to exist which we have already defined as God.
The second argument for a God comes from St. Tomas Aquinas who argues for the cosmological point of view. The cosmological argument states that all things in this universe have a cause and since these causes cannot go on forever there must be a first cause, i.e. God. He argues that there are five ways to argue for the existence of God, the first is the argument from motion. This states that everything in this world has certain potentials for motion. It also states that for these potentials to be met another object in motion must set off said potential. That object in turn would have to have been put in motion by something else and so on and so on. All of this ultimately culminating to one object which started all this motion, that one being God.
The second argument he makes says that there are many things that happen in this world, and they are effects derived from a cause. The effects in turn can be the cause of something else and so on and so on. Yet nothing can be the cause of itself, so therefore there must be a first efficient cause that sets off other intermediate causes, in hopes of reaching an ultimate goal. Therefore the first of all the efficient causes would be God.
The third argument Aquinas uses is that of possibility and necessity. This argues that everything in this world has possibility to be and not to be. So if there is the possibility that everything at one time or another cannot-be then at one time there was nothing, because everything that could've been wasn't. Yet if there was nothing at one time, then there was nothing that could be, and so there would still be nothing. Therefore there had to be something that existed to cause all the possibilities of everything else. But to be necessary something has to have something else cause its necessity which has something else causing it act. This as with everything else stated before cannot go on indefinitely, so there has to be a beginning which would be God.
The fourth argument says that there is a gradation of everything and that at the top of every gradation there is a maximum of the genus. He says this in turn is the cause for all others in that genus to be the way they are. Thusly this must also hold true for the goodness found in humans, of which the maximum who influences the rest would be God.
The fifth and final argument by Aquinas is that all things on this world with intelligence travel toward a means or goal. He then says that this traveling is influenced by the intelligence which in turn is bestowed by a higher intelligence and so on. The ultimate directing intelligence being God.
The next in our line of arguments for the existence of God comes from William Paley, who argues for the teleological school of thought. This mandates that God's existence is proven through the analysis of a single experience. To illustrate this he uses an analogy of finding a watch. He begins by saying if he stumbled across a watch in a field, he might tend to question how it got there. Unlike if it had been a rock on the ground, Paley says we would not think it had just always been there.
Instead we would ration that someone had made the watch, even if we had no idea of what a watch was. It could not just form itself from nothing, so it had to be made. Paley then reasons that the world is much like the watch in that everything, trees, rocks, rivers, etc. All had to be made by someone. Everything that was made was done so to a certain design and that design was thought up and created into a physical form. The one who created all this, in his mind would be God.
The final take on the existence of God that I looked at was that of a brilliant mathematician named Blaise Pascal. Pascal studied calculus and was very good at using math to figure out anything. He was asked if he believed in God, and if so could he prove it with math. His reply developed into a theory in which he states it is better to believe in a God than to deny it. He came to this conclusion by looking at the problem rationally. Pascal figured out that the way to look at the existence of God is to look at it as odds. He said that there was several ways a person's situation could turn out. One would be that a person could believe in God all their lives and be correct, therefore earning an eternity of bliss in God's kingdom. The opposite possibility is that a person could believe in God all their lives and turn out to be wrong. This would mean no reward, but he theorized that if they lived their life according to God they probably enjoyed it anyway and that was their reward. Another possibility is that someone might not believe in God and find out their wrong, thereby being doomed to an eternity of suffering and damnation. Yet again they might find out they were right, but they would be dead and the point would be moot.
So by looking at these paths Pascal decided to look at the risks of each wager. In the first you get infinite rewards from only one life of believing. Plus he felt that you also probably had a fulfilling and enjoyable life too. So the first, can be looked at as a win win situation in which you risked very little, and won much. The second and fourth possibilities did not really concern Pascal much because by thinking of it in terms of odds, neither seemed probable and again wouldn't matter anyhow because you would no longer exist. The third possibility however, in which you could end up in hell, seemed to help persuade Pascal into believing in a God. He felt that for the amount you had to lose in this situation, no intelligent human would take the risk.
So in conclusion, Pascal came to believe that believing in a God was a safe bet, in that it had the least risk with the highest returns. As for myself, after reading these papers I find myself tending to side with Pascal the most. I don't think that a little insurance could hurt, because until there is proof otherwise none of us really know.