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Monday, June 9, 2014

Why Does God Exist?

Why Does God Exist?

By Jim J. McCrea

If it is given that God's existence can be demonstrated, what accounts for His existence.

Philosophers and theologians have said that God is self-existent, for the First Cause of all cannot Himself have a cause. This property of self-existence is known as aseity.

But on a more fundamental level, what would account for aseity?

I believe that the answer to this is found in the law of identity.

The law of identity is the most fundamental law of thought and reality, and thought and reality simply cannot operate without it. It states that a thing is what it is - A=A. This is not a triviality, but is a profound law when properly understood.

One consequence of this is that if a thing is what it is, it is not necessarily what you think it to be or want it to be. It has a determinant nature independent of the mind. The mind does not create reality but merely recognizes it. Because this truth is not properly acknowledged today, moral relativism is rampant. Wishing that something is right or doing something merely because it feels good is insufficient. For if certain immoral actions are harmful in themselves because they are contrary to human nature, reality will still assert itself and evil consequences will follow (because of the law of identity it is false to say that something is true for me and a different thing is true for you. A thing is either true or it isn't)

Another consequence is that a given thing is the same thing no matter what perspective you view it from or at what time you experience it. The ancient philosopher Heraclitus denied this principle in saying that everything was flux and change. His famous saying is: "you cannot step into the same river twice." However, with that human reasoning would become impossible.

Human reasoning requires the law of identity. Let us look at a classical syllogism:

P1: All men are mortal
P2: Socrates is a man
C: Socrates is mortal

We can see that the conclusion follows necessarily from the two premises.

That works because "man" in P1 and P2 have an identity between them (they are exactly the same thing), and "Socrates" in P2 and C have an identity.

Let us see what happens when identity breaks down. Consider:

P1: All intelligent beings can do mathematics
P2: My dog is intelligent
C: My dog can do mathematics

The syllogism here is not valid because there is an equivocation between "intelligent" in P1 and P2.

In P1, "intelligent" means the ability to think abstract concepts (such as the abstract concept of number); in P2 intelligent means the ability to cleverly respond to cues. The meaning of the same word is different in the two cases, so the principle of identity does not hold.

It is important that in order to reason correctly, we delve deeper than the words used in order to reach the underlying identity. Often debates cannot be resolved because the parties involved employ different definitions for the same word. For example, in arguing about freedom, one could define "freedom," on one hand, as the ability to do what one pleases, and on the other (what the I deem to be the correct definition of freedom), the non-hindrance in the pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful.

Now how does this relate to God?

What I say is that God is Pure and Absolute Identity - that He is the complete identity of all possible good things and existence itself - that the absolute playing out of A=A=A=A=A ... explains His existence and nature.

Here we have God's existence explained in terms of what we can fundamentally intuit as true - the law of identity.

With the understanding of God's existence as a fundamental expression of identity, God's classical attributes and effects can be deduced.

If He is Pure and Absolute Identity, He is absolutely simple - for everything in Him is absolutely identical. There is no distinction in Him, so that it is not true that one part of Him is not another part of Him (God being a Trinity does not mean that He has parts, as explained here).

Containing all that is good, God is the absolute fulfillment of the inhabitants of heaven. He brings supreme and complete happiness. All good things on this earth are but tiny reflections of God.

Containing all good, He contains all that is true, therefore, He is Pure and Absolute Intelligibility.

He is strictly infinite because He is Unrestricted Identity or Identity Itself.

We see that the law of identity is an ultimate law of thought and reality (if we are thinking correctly). As it is necessary, it is not a creation of God (as is a physical thing), but it does have its origin in God. God is Being Itself (His name is "I Am" - Exodus 3:14) and all other things are beings in finite modes. When God created, those things have a similarity to His nature, for He can only give what He has. Part of this similarity, necessarily conferred upon created beings, is the principle of identity. That is necessarily conferred because of the nature of being, and does not depend upon God's free choice.

If God contains "all," why God does not contain evil is explained here.