Religious Studies and Theology
Many philosophers and scientists have been trying to prove the existence of God and explain the reasons why evil continues to happen throughout centuries. They proposed various theories, which were based on their understanding of God’s nature. This work will discuss and compare the ontological, the cosmological, and the teleological arguments in support of the existence of God, as well as clarify the problem of evil.
The Existence of God
The ontological argument of God’s existence was formulated by Saint Anselm of Canterbury. It is considered as one of the most sophisticated. In compliance with this statement, people do not need to look for the physical proof of God’s existence but they can comprehend The Higher Mind by thinking about it. Anselm states that God exists as an idea in human brains and nothing greater can be imagined (Medieval Sourcebook: Anselm, 1998). A being that lives in reality is greater than imagined one. Therefore, if God was only in the mind, people would be able to believe in something more tremendous. The researcher argues that it is impossible because people cannot think of something that is more outstanding than the greatest possible being. Hence, God exists (Medieval Sourcebook: Anselm, 1998).
The cosmological arguments are based on the belief that the creation of the universe is the proof of God’s existence. These statements consist of several cause arguments. The main two are called the first cause argument. It was proposed by Saint Thomas Aquinas, who proves the existence of higher Self through the existence of an uncaused cause (Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologiae, 1996). The philosopher bases his proof of God’s existence on five reasons, such as motion, causation of existence, contingent and necessary objects, degrees and perfection, and intelligent design.
Clarke’s cosmological argument is grounded on two main premises that every being is dependent, or self-existent, and not every being can be a contingent being. These two assumptions are focused on independent, or ependent, self-existing beings. Despite the difference from Aquinas’ arguments, the latter expands the former.
The teleological argument, or a design argument, is based on the order in the universe. According to it, the world was created by an intelligent being in a specific order with some definite end or purpose. The main idea of the proof can be described by two premises. The first one represents the universe as a great machine consisting of different parts, which are perfectly adjusted to each other with the greatest accuracy and the ideal order. The second premise states that the structure of the world is similar to the productions of human ingenuity molded by human wisdom, intelligence, and thought. Thus, the author of nature resembles the human mind but has much larger faculties.
Comparing the three above-mentioned arguments, it is possible to say that none of them perfectly proves God’s existence. Despite the ontological argument had a significant influence upon the doctrines and was defended by some philosophers, it was criticized and objected by others. Anselm’s account is fair enough because the Bible gives a clear idea to the readers that people cannot comprehend God’s divine nature within their mind. God is greater than anything that exists or might be imagined in the material world. Nevertheless, the ontological argument does not prove God’s existence but shows His greatness.
The teleological arguments are more logical and rational than the ontological. However, they still have some weaknesses, specifically they contradict the evolution theory of natural selection. According to the design arguments, the universe, as well as each being were designed in a certain way and have their place and a purpose. It cannot be completely true because the world is changing all the time and living species have to adapt to the changing environment.
The cosmological argument, despite some criticism, can be considered the most logical and rational evidence of God’s existence. It expands the design argumeents by proving God’s existence not only from a design perspective but also from the others. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas shows the nature of motion (Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologiae, 1996). He assumes that nothing can move by itself. Therefore, each object in motion has a motive power. Motion cannot continue for infinity. Thus, it requires the first mover that is motionless. It is God (Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologiae, 1996). In other words, Aquinas demonstrates in his statements that everything has the beginning and the end, which is God. Consequently, the cosmological argument offers the most plausible justification for the existence of God.
The Problem of Evil
Another aspect of God’s divine nature that has been questioned not only by philosophers but also by many ordinary people is the problem of evil. Philosophers throughout the ages tried to explain why God, who is loving, Almighty, all-knowing, and who is the Creator of the universe, allows evil to thrive. St. Augustine states that evil is a lack of goodness. Such assertion is true; however, it does not explain why God does not stop. Another response to the problem is that evil is an instrument of good, and life has a “happy ending”. This theory is partly correct because, according to the Bible, “the happy ending” is only possible for those, who accepted Jesus as a personal Lord and Savior. St. Thomas suggests that evil is necessary for good (MacKie, 1955). In other words, God can only see the goodness by permitting evil to exist. Thus, God is not omnipotent. This theory is contrary to the Thomas Aquinas’s proofs of God’s existence. Consequently, it is wrong.
The best answer to the logical problem of evil is the point of view that it is caused by the human freedom of will. God designed people the way they can serve Him out of their decision but not because they were programmed that way. People must not be forced to serve God but do it willingly. Therefore, evil is a consequence of a wrong choice and sin, produced by the freedom of will.