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Anonymous wrote:

Dear Sir/Madam,

These are my thoughts:

Claiming that God is outside time and space does not excuse Him from the rule. I find it much more believable that there is a source of energy, with no personality or self-awareness, that creates universes. Such a non-intelligent creator could just as easily exist. Creationism's own arguments work against the likelihood that there was an intelligent creator. Creationists claim that because humans are intelligent, a greater intelligence must have been responsible for designing us.

  • So then, what designed the intelligence of God?

It makes no sense for an intelligent God to just exist without a cause.

  • Why would such a being have a personality?
  • Why would such a being prefer one thing over another?

Humans are that way because of a mix of biological and environmental influences.

  • So then what determined that God would care about human lives?
  • What prevented Him from being an evil tyrant, entertaining Himself by torturing His creation?

Unless you can give a solid reason why an all powerful being must be the way you believe him to be, I have no more reason to believe in him than in the infinite other concepts of gods who are just as likely to exist.

  • Why do you focus so hard on the past when trying to prove God exists?
  • Why not look to the one short time frame you actually have experience with: the Present?

This is why I no longer believe in God. Imagine your life being exactly the same except for one thing: God doesn't exist.

  • What else would change?

If you're honest with yourself, you will know the answer. It's nothing. God or no God, His existence has no impact on my life at all. His answered prayers were random chance, just as His unanswered prayers were random chance. If you talk to God, God does not talk back. If an omnipotent, omniscient, intelligent creator exists, he has purposefully hid himself so well as to cause some to doubt He even exists. And those who do believe he exists have formed countless religions trying in vain to discover His Nature. An active God would have no doubters, and religion wouldn't exist because His Nature would be clear.

I would like to know what your thoughts are on this.

Please respond to every point if you can.

Thank You

Anonymous

  { If possible, can you please respond to every atheistic point of view I have made? }

Paul replied:

Dear Anonymous,

You ask many important questions. Let me direct you to a great source to get a handle on the nature of God, and that is Thomas Aquinas. When you get a chance, slowly read and ponder his answers and responses to common challenges relating to the existence, essence, and operations of God:

There are a couple of problems with your presumptions, which I'll just mention quickly.

Reason and science tell us two things:

  1. Everything in the realm of space, time, and matter has a cause outside itself;
  2. And, in order for anything to exist now (which it does) causes could not have gone back infinitely.

This points to a transcendent first Uncaused Cause. You can call this whatever you want, but for anything to currently exist this is necessary.

  1. we know things in the realm of space, time, and matter exist (we are a part of it)
  2. we know it was all caused by something outside itself since finite causes cannot go back infinitely, therefore . . .
  3. understanding this necessary Uncaused Cause is the challenge.
  • Deists call this God (such as Aristotle)
  • Jews and Christians also call this God; but if you want to call it something else, feel free.

Unlike Deists, Jews and Christians supplement this gift of natural reason with the supernatural gift of faith, and know God as, not only the infinite and eternal creator of the universe but also, a personal God who loves His creation. It makes sense that a God of Love would have an overflow of goodness to share with creatures of His making.

Since God is not part of creation, He is not of the realm of space, time, and matter, and He is not a being but rather being itself. Since His Essence is existence, the rules of finite creation do not apply to Him.

Peace,

Paul

Anonymous replied:

Thank You Paul,

What you said helped my unbelief and, although I really do doubt God's existence, I still continue to practice my Catholic faith. I found this video and website helped me too.

Anonymous

Paul replied:

Thank You Anonymous,

Peter Kreeft is the best!

Paul

Anonymous replied:

Paul,

After reflecting on your reply, I realized what I was really trying to ask, wasn't:

  • How do you know God did it? but rather
  • Is the first cause a Personal (God) or Impersonal (Unconscious)?

On coldcasechristianity.com I found this useful as well.

  1. Whatever begins to exist must have a cause for its existence.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe must have a cause for its existence.
  4. So there most be a first cause.
  5. Now how do you know this first cause is Personal(God) or Impersonal(Unconscious)?

This cause must also be personal. I first realized this many years ago after reading William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland’s seminal work, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Craig and Moreland laid out a clear and concise argument for the personal nature of the Uncaused first cause.

There are two kinds of forces in the universe: personal forces and impersonal forces.

Impersonal forces, like the force of gravity, have no choice about how they affect their environment. They enter, their effect is realized. Imagine a gravity free room in which everything is simply floating in midair. Now introduce the impersonal force of gravity.

  • What happens?

We would expect the effect of gravity to be felt immediately. The instant gravity enters this room every object will be drawn to the floor.

Impersonal forces cannot decide when to act; if they are present, their effect is felt. This truth has a great impact on the way we understand the first cause of the universe.

If the cause of the universe is an impersonal force, its effect (the appearance of everything from nothing) would be realized the instant the force was present. If that were the case, the first cause of the universe could be no older than the universe itself. The appearance of the cause (the impersonal force) and its effect (the creation of space, time, and matter) would be simultaneous events; one would be no older than the other. But if that’s the case, we would once again find ourselves looking for what caused the first cause to appear in the first place!

  • See the problem?

The first cause of the universe must itself be uncaused and eternal in order for us to avoid the illogical and endless pursuit of a prior cause. Unless we are willing to accept the irrational premise that the cause of the universe is itself only as old as the universe itself, we are going to have to admit that this cause cannot be an impersonal force. The cause of the universe had the ability to decide to bring the universe into existence, and the ability to decide is an attribute of personhood.

Now let’s review the characteristics of the cause of the universe given the reasonable evidence that confirms Big Bang cosmology:

1. The first cause of the universe must itself be uncaused.
If this were not the case, we would be forced to accept an illogical and unreasonable series of causes that regress infinitely.
2. The first cause of the universe must be non-spatial.
If this were not the case, we would be forced to accept the illogical and unreasonable premise that space could create itself.
3. The first cause of the universe must be a-temporal.
If this were not the case, we would be forced to accept the illogical and unreasonable premise that time could create itself.
4. The first cause of the universe must be immaterial.
If this were not the case, we would be forced to accept the illogical and unreasonable premise that matter could create itself.
5. The first cause of the universe must be personal.
If this were not the case, we would be forced to accept the illogical and unreasonable premise the cause of the universe is only as old as the universe itself.
6. The first cause of the universe must be incredibly powerful.
If this were not the case, we would be forced to accept the illogical and unreasonable premise that all space, time and matter could come into existence without the power necessary to accomplish the task.
 
So the cause of the universe is an uncaused, non-spatial, a-temporal, immaterial personal force of incredible power.

What does that sound like to you?

A personal god is still the best explanation for the beginning of the universe.

~ J. Warner Wallace from coldcasechristianity.com

Anonymous

Paul replied:

Hi, Anonymous —

I do see the problem, and I hesitate to embrace No. 5: that reason demands the first cause be personal. I'm not convinced a first uncaused cause would have to be co-temporal with its creation. It seems beyond our power of reason to grasp a reality outside of time.

That said, I accept by faith that the first uncaused Cause is Personal. Divine Revelation makes this clear, and also makes clear how created persons (like humans and angels) image Him in time.

That God is can be discerned through reason; Who God is, can be known through faith.

Peace,

Paul

Anonymous replied:

Dear Paul,

I just have one last question, Why doesn't this argument work?

  1. Anything that exists needs a cause. (Check, I agree!)
  2. The Universe needs a cause. (Check, we know that, because the universe is running down, and something that is running down must have started at some point. The second law of thermodynamics states that the universe is running out of usable energy and if you doubt this, look in the mirror you’re aging and running down just like everything else.
  3. So there is a first cause. (Check, I agree!)
  4. The First Cause requires a decision to initiate effect. (Check, I agree!)

    So . . . The First Cause is an impersonal unconsciousness, which has only the ability to decide whether to create the universe or not create the universe spontaneously out of itself, so a yes and no decision.
  • Now why doesn't this concluding argument work?

Thank You,

Anonymous

Paul replied:

Dear Anonymous,

First, please use the website's Question page (AskACatholic.com/AskUs) when asking questions.

Thanks.

Regarding No. #5:

Numbers 1-4 are necessary truths concluded through natural human reason.

  • Are you saying the first cause must necessarily be impersonal unconsciousness?
  • Why would you conclude this is necessary?
  • You might say it's rationally possible, but necessary?
  • Could impersonal unconsciousness decide anything?
  • Even if it could decide things (which seems impossible since it is impersonal and only persons decide things), why would it be necessary that it could decide only one thing?

If we follow reason to the conclusion that the Creator is an impersonal force that necessarily created a universe but cares nothing about it, you end up with Deism, as Aristotle did.

Aristotle and Aquinas demonstrated that through human reason alone that God is but not only who God is but who He is and what He expects of us. For that, God would have to reveal Himself to us.

I am thankful we have more than our power of human reason to figure out how to know and love the Creator, not to mention how to understand the meaning of life. If not for Divine Revelation, we would all either be continuously going in intellectual circles, or resigning ourselves to an idea that we have no access to an impersonal distant God.

Catholicism, on the other hand, is a wonderful admixture of faith and reason. Through faith we know the first uncaused Cause is a Personal God of Love, who is both justice and mercy, who wants an everlasting relationship with his created image on earth, human persons.

Restating your previous reply:

  1. Anything that exists needs a cause. (Check, I agree!)
  2. The Universe needs a cause. (Check, we know that, because the universe is running down, and something that is running down must have started at some point. The second law of thermodynamics states that the universe is running out of usable energy and if you doubt this, look in the mirror you’re aging and running down just like everything else.
  3. So there is a first cause. (Check, I agree!)
  4. The First Cause requires a decision to initiate effect. (Check, I agree!)

  5. So . . . The First Cause is an impersonal unconsciousness, which has only the ability to decide whether to create the universe or not create the universe spontaneously out of itself, so a yes and no decision.

No 1. works if by [Any|every]thing you mean every thing, meaning all beings of the temporal created realm. God is not a being, hence not a thing, but rather Being itself, infinite and eternal.

No 5. does not follow from the first four. There's no reason why the first cause must be impersonal or unconscious. and no reason why it would have one necessary choice.

All reason can do is inform us that God is. Everything we know about Who God Is comes to us through the gift of faith.

Peace,

Paul

Anonymous replied:

Paul,

I am sorry but when you say:
Aristotle and Aquinas demonstrated that through human reason alone that God is but not who God is but who He is and what He expects of us.

It is not clear to me. I do not understand it.

You said:
(which seems impossible since it is impersonal and only persons decide things)
When I mean yes and no, I mean it is impersonal as to a frog which can only decide a limited amount of things, e.g. to eat the bug or not eat the bug.

In the same way the first cause can decide to create the universe or not create the universe and that is basically all it can do. Though I agree that Revelation can prove God, I cannot know absolutely that the Bible is true but with faith I can hope that it is true.

Anonymous

Paul replied:

Anonymous —

You said:
I am sorry but when you say:
Aristotle and Aquinas demonstrated that through human reason alone that God is but not who God is but who He is and what He expects of us.

It is not clear to me. I do not understand it.

Reason can discern that God exists; but it cannot discern the character and personality of God. In other words, relating to the only place in Scripture God names Himself (Exodus 3:14), reason can discern the AM of I AM, but Revelation is needed for us to know the I.

You said:
You said:
(which seems impossible since it is impersonal and only persons decide things)
When I mean yes and no, I mean it is impersonal as to a frog which can only decide a limited amount of things, e.g. to eat the bug or not eat the bug.

God does not act on instinct, like frogs or bugs. You need a body to act instinctively, and it is for the purpose of survival. God is infinitely beyond that. If by decide you mean to freely choose, only persons are able to do that. Persons are subjects with intellect and will, who freely decide things over and above instinct.

You said:
In the same way the first cause can decide to create the universe or not create the universe and that is basically all it can do. Though I agree that Revelation can prove God, I cannot know absolutely that the Bible is true but with faith I can hope that it is true.

I'm not talking only about the Bible. The Bible is a tool for the Church. The Word of God includes both Scripture and Tradition, and the Magisterium interprets This Word with divine authority and assistance. Christ established His Church in order that we may know God's Will and respond to His love, i.e. in order to attain salvation.

Peace,

Paul
P.S. — Remember to hit Reply All so that everyone can have a shot at your questions.

Anonymous replied:

Nice excellent response.

Now on your second point. You said:
God does not act on instinct, like frogs or bugs. You need a body to act instinctively, and it is for the purpose of survival. God is infinitely beyond that. If by decide you mean to freely choose, only persons are able to do that. Persons are subjects with intellect and will, who freely decide things over and above instinct.

  • God does not act on instincts I agree, but is it not possible for the first cause to act on instincts typically a fixed pattern of behavior?

It would be foolish to say God does not exist, however from the agnostic point of view one cannot absolutely know whether the first cause is an intelligent personal being or an unintelligent impersonal being, but if Revelation says so then one cannot know absolutely that the Bible is true or a make believe fiction.

  • This is the agnostic view now tell me why this view is wrong?
  • How do we tackle this view?

Thank You,

Anonymous

Paul replied:

Anonymous —

Your best bet might be to read Kreeft and Tacelli's, Christian Apologetics. It's a great book and it directly answers your questions.

Additionally, your continuous inquiries from an agnostic point of view can clear away intellectual stumbling blocs to the faith, but it is not all one needs to be satisfied.

To use an analogy, reason is akin to leading the horse to water, but faith is what makes him decide to drink. As we inquire knowledge intellectually we also need to pray for the supernatural gift of faith.

Peace,

Paul

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