Religious Belief And Skeptical Responses Essay

2186 words - 9 pages

Although dismissed by many philosophers as nonsensical and irrelevant, religious beliefs are still held by over half of the world's population and therefore the subject must be valid as an area of intellectual discussion. This particular area of thought gives rise to much skeptical debate as the logical fallacies offered by believers seem flawed when held to close scrutiny. It is particularly interesting in that the skeptical problems also go further than merely questioning the validity of the proofs but in fact can be taken so far as to actually question the validity of the original presupposition; that is, that we can even sensibly ask the question, "Does God exist," in the first ...view middle of the document...

This idea is explained metaphorically by Descartes when he claims that "there is no less contradiction in conceiving a God, that is to say, who lacks some particular perfection, than in conceiving a mountain without a valley (144)."The fallacy of this argument, it would be argued by a skeptic, lies in the logic and the incorrect predicate that existence is necessarily a form of perfection (Sawyer, 193). For example, it is possible to imagine a perfect rose that is immaculate in shape, color and scent, and to claim to understand the essence of this rose in a theoretical sense. However, the question of whether this rose actually exists in the material world still remains, which shows that existence is not a predicate of perfection. An apologist's final remark on this subject would be to claim that the definition of existence is wrong and that God's existence would be a necessary existence, which can be thought of as eternity. The skeptic would point out that no object can exist out of necessity as any object that exists may or may not exist and to apply the necessity rule would mean this cannot be so. To argue that that eternity solves these problems is also wrong as it is possible that God could be eternal if he existed, but then we are by default considering the idea that he may not exist and therefore we have a conflict with the original supposition that he must exist out of necessity.The second argument that a skeptic would find criticisms with is that known as the cosmological argument. This argument maintains that everything in the universe has a cause. These causes in turn have causes and so on (Sawyer, 52). It seems that we can always regress the question why for the creation of finite matter and yet there must be a point, maintain the apologists, where we arrive at an uncaused origin of these regressions, and this point it is argued is God.The skeptical challenge to this argument focuses on the claim that every series must have an origin. This is simply untrue. For example, the series of proper fractions has no first term. It is also possible to criticize the way the argument assumes that to explain something fully, a full regression of causation must take place, as this again is just not true. Take for example any form of plant life. It is possible to explain the origin of a weed by explaining how the combination of a seed, the earth, the sun and the rain all combined to produce it. A perfectly adequate answer to explain the origin of the weed can be arrived at without need to explain also the origins of the components that created the weed. The argument also becomes illogical once the final uncaused origin is cited as God, for why can it not simply be called the universe? There are no adequate grounds to assume that the origin must be God.The third argument for God is that of the argument of design (Mcinerny, 90). When we survey the world and universe around us, the apologists say, we must surely not fail to be impressed by the...

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