Can We Prove the Existence of God?

| April 16, 2012

Can we prove the existence of God? What exactly does it mean to prove something? What would count as a proof of God's existence? To explore these questions, let's consider one popular argument for God's existence and test it against some different criteria for proofs. Here's the argument:

1. If God does not exist, there are no objective, culture-transcending moral duties.

2. There are objective, culture-transcending moral duties.

3. Therefore, God exists.

Is this a proof of God's existence? One suggestion is that any sound argument constitutes a proof. An argument is sound if and only if (a) all its premises are true and (b) it is deductively valid, in the sense that its conclusion follows necessarily from its premises (i.e., it's logically impossible for the premises to be true but the conclusion to be false).

Is our argument sound? It's certainly deductively valid: it has the valid argument form of modus tollens (if P then Q; not Q; therefore, not P). Moreover, both of its premises are true. There are indeed objective, culture-transcending moral duties, such as the duty to care for one's children, and it's very hard to see what would ground such moral obligations if there were…

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