Successful evangelism involves not only harvesting, but sowing and watering, too. We must never think that because a nonbeliever remained unconvinced by our case that our apologetic has failed, for one encounter is not the end of the story.
Once we realize that evangelism occurs in the realm of the miraculous, we start praying more faithfully, trusting more wholeheartedly, and proclaiming more gently. When we relinquish trust in our ability to persuade and latch onto God’s power to save, we find hope beyond explanation.
—Bringing the Gospel Home - Randy Newman (via cmmorrell)
There are hundreds of arguments for the existence of and/or reasons for belief in God. Some may be invalid or just plain fail. Others may address particular issues regarding belief or have a very narrow appeal. Some necessitate a lot of background information. Others may be vague but still at times effective. We have looked at 5 on this page. Three, I am convinced, are very strong arguments.
The last, the Ontological Argument, comes from Anselm in two forms (there are, in fact, a number of variations on this argument). I believe the first form fails and, for me, the jury is still out on the second form. Still, as was seen in Faith|Reasons2G, it still has value for natural theology. In this post I want to list (with little to no extended discussion) some other arguments that do have a place in the apologist’s toolbox. I will limit my offerings here to 25.
1. The Cosmological Argument from Motion. For things to move there has to be a source of motion, an unmoved mover. (Aquinas)
2. The Cosmological Argument from Cause. Effects have causes. Still, there needs to be an uncaused cause that is the source of all effects. (Aquinas)
3. The Cosmological Argument from Degrees of Perfection in Things. We see degrees of better and worse. There must be some source or standard of perfection, a perfect being. (Aquinas)
4. The Design Argument from Order in Nature. From here we see the need for a source of order or source for the rules that order nature. This implies a designer/orderer. (Aquinas/Paley)
5. The Metaphysical/Design Argument for the Legitimacy of Reason. Why do we trust reason/the brain. There has to be some reason to see it as a trustworthy source of interpreting the world. This gives reason to infer a trustworthy source for the reason/brain we use, a reasonable source of reason. (Plantinga)
6. The Metaphysical Argument for Consciousness. Consciousness does not seem to have a neurological explanation (not just not yet, but not at all). This human quality appears to require a source outside nature to explain it. From this we can infer a source of consciousness, an immaterial consciousness/soul maker.
7. The Metaphysical Argument for Essence in Existing Things. The idea of a universal or essence that distinguishes kinds from each other does appear to be real. This requires a source for essence that finds its origin outside of matter, a pure essence. (Aquinas)
8. The Ontological Argument from the Idea of Perfect Being. Where do ideas come from other than a source or combining of sources. An idea that defies mere combining of ideas evidences a source for the idea, a perfect being. (Descartes)
9. The Ontological/Metaphysical Argument for Mathematics. Mathematical concepts defy mere experiential origin (we have perfect definitions for things we have never experienced; definition of a perfect triangle or existence of a number). These definition need a source, a reasonable source for rational concepts. (Newton)
10. The Aesthetic/ Metaphysical Argument for Beauty. That we find beauty all around us requires a source for the idea of beauty. We infer from this a cause of beauty, the beautiful personified.
11. The Moral Argument from Conscience. What is the source of our concepts of right and wrong. We need a reason to have confidence in the consciousness we have. This gives reason to infer a source of law, an eternal lawgiver.
12. The Moral argument from Source of Moral Standards. From this we infer a perfect lawgiver. (Lewis/Kant)
13. The Moral reductio ad absurdum Argument to Permissibility. If there is no perfect lawgiver, than what is the basis for any standards at all. (note this is not claiming that one can not have morals without God. The claim is that it is impossible to ground morals without an objective source for distinguishing moral action.) (this is an extension of the Nietzschian discussion of morals and Dostoyevsky)
14. The existential argument from having meaning in life. This leads one to identifying a source for that meaning. (Kierkegaard)
- The Existential/Metaphysical Argument from Desire. Desires only exist if there is a source for satisfying that desire:
- (15) We have a desire for God.(Lewis/Pascal)
- (16) We have a desire for life beyond this world.
- (17) We have a desire for ultimate justice. (Lewis)
- (18) We have a desire for meaning/ultimate purpose.
- (19) We have a desire for ultimate truth.
- (20) We have a desire for spiritual significance.
- All these require satisfaction in a metaphysical source to satisfy the desire (not all humans necessarily have these desires but the great majority of humans do desire one of or some combination of these things/objects of desire).
21. The Historical/legal Argument for the Historical Resurrection. If the resurrection can be proven, theism and particularly Christianity is strongly advocated. (currently Wright and Habermas, among many others, are making this case)
22. The Argument from Religious Experience. Generally, people are happier, more satisfied, and flourish more in the context of religious commitments. Again this is not a proof but more a reason to seriously consider the claims of religion (James)
23. The Argument from Miracles and Sacred Literature. The claims of religious people seeing God work in their lives and the positive impact of sacred texts on their lives can be a strong testimony not as proof but more as seeing what religious life offers as a worldview.
24. The Argument from Collective Consent. This is a weak argument as proofs go but it is a form of support for theism insofar as the overwhelming majority of people throughout history and most of the greatest minds in history have been convinced theists. This does not prove theism but it does give one reason to consider it as a credible and serious option.
25. The Argument from Probability. The likelihood of personal satisfaction and reward in the afterlife is increased with belief (with little negative alternative) and decreased or destroyed with unbelief (with little net gain if correct). Again this is not proof but it can show the value of actually coming to a decision regarding the question. (Pascal)
Concluding thoughts: There are many other arguments that could be offered. Also, many of the above have nuanced variations on the argument that would end up offering a modified or new argument. All of these arguments and supports need development to see the full case for the claim(s) made (the philosophers mentioned have often offered some or much of that work). Still, they all have been effective tools when used carefully and wisely. The conclusions all leave one at a place of advocacy for a being that theists recognize as God.