Does God Exist?
This statement may be a Q1 violation if you are convinced that God exists by evidence that you would not allow in a discussion of something other than God.
This is not a Q2 violation so long as you would allow someone else to conclude that a deity exists using the same reasoning you use.
There are a number of reasons you might conclude God exists, and those reasons might be logical, philosophical, linguistic, scientific, social, historical, or faith-based.
Logical reasons include things like the "first cause" argument — everything that comes into being has a cause; therefore there must be a first cause, that cause must be something uncaused; only God can be uncaused, therefore God exists. If you use a logical argument, would you allow someone else to use the same argument to reach a different conclusion? In the case of the first-cause argument, would you allow someone to argue that the universe itself has the property of being uncaused?
Philosophical reasons include things like the argument that moral laws require a lawgiver or that there can be no justice without divine justice. Most arguments of this type rely on very specific definitions of terms and one or more philosophical assumptions. If you use a philosophical argument, have you defined your terms rigorously? And how would you answer those who have different philosophical assumptions than you do (such as those who, for example, do not believe justice must exist)?
Linguistic reasons to believe that God exist include statements like, "nature is God." If you say that God exists but have a different definition of "God" than most other people, aren’t you deceiving those who don’t know your definition?
Scientific reasons include things like concluding that God must exist because the odds of the universe existing as we observe it without divine planning are vanishingly small, or that God must exist because there is no possible scientific explanation for existence. If you use a scientific argument, are you taking care to avoid invoking a "god of the gaps"?*
Social reasons include beliefs based on tradition or the assumption that a popular belief is likely true. But would you decide the truth of other issues (such as gender equality) with the same criteria?
Historical reasons include the belief that ancient texts contain proof that God exists. If you use this argument, how do you decide what ancient texts are correct? For example, if a Samaritan manuscript was older than the manuscript your religion relies on, how would you decide which was correct?
Faith-based reasons include belief based on a strong, personal conviction or sense that God exists. In this case, do you acknowledge that your argument cannot be compelling to anyone but you?
No matter what your reason for believing in God, would you object to someone who justifies a different concept of God using the same argument? For example, what if someone uses an argument from science to conclude that the universe itself has intelligence? Or uses a faith-based argument to justify Buddhism? Or reads the same Bible as you do, but disagreed with you about whether Jesus and God are separate individuals or two aspects of one being?
If you say that you have a compelling argument for the existence of God, what would you do if someone came up with a bulletproof refutation of the argument? Would you then change your mind about God’s existence? If not, then is your argument really your reason for belief, or is it a justification you use when in truth you would believe in God for other reasons? And if your belief is based on something other than your argument, then why use the argument in the first place?
Even if your argument is compelling and irrefutable, does it prove that God — as you describe Him — exists, or does it just prove that some kind of deity exists? In the latter case, you need additional arguments to assign attributes to God.
*Invoking a god of the gaps involves using God as an explanation because you can’t think of another explanation. For example, some ancient pagan religions thought that the sun was pushed or pulled around the sky by a deity because they could conceive of no natural explanation.
You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.