Sunday, August 5, 2012

God and the Principle of Sufficient Reason

  1. Either the Principle of Sufficient Reason is true or not.
  2. If it is true, God exists by the Cosmological Argument.
  3. If it is not true, then it is a puzzling fact that all observed things have causes, a puzzling fact best explained in terms of God.
  4. So, at least probably, God exists.

I am told that Reichenbach (I assume Bruce) made this argument or one like it.

11 comments:

Stephen R. Diamond said...

"If it is not true, then it is a puzzling fact that all observed things have causes, a puzzling fact best explained in terms of God."

Why is the principles that everything has a reason less puzzling than the principle that all events have causes?

Moi said...

Very interesting, thanks for this.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Stephen:

Depending on how widely one understands "events", the principle that all events have causes can be used to run a Cosmological Argument, too.

Sam Calvin said...

Norman Geisler's version of the Cosmological Argument appeals to the causality of events without (so he says) granting the Principle of Sufficient Reason.

Noctambulant Joycean said...

Wouldn't this make God's existence logically necessary? If so, then can't we run the following argument inspired by Morriston's "God and the ontological foundations of morality"?:

Most (if not all) arguments for God take the form (or can be re-written in the form): "If P, then God exists. P. Therefore God exists." Most theists then try to defend premise 1 by noting the implications of it's contrapositive: "If it is not the case that God exists, then not-P." But if God's existence is logically necessary, the antecedent is contradictory and thus one can formally derive any statement from it. So if theist think they can make interesting, meaningful claims about what results from God's non-existence, God cannot be logically necessary. So Bruce's argument must be unsound.

Sam said...

If the principle of sufficient reason is true, then there can be no libertarian free will. If there is libertarian free will, then the principle of sufficient reason is not true.

Sam said...

noctambulant Joycean, consider this:

If the law of non-contradiction is not true, then square circles are possible.

The above seems to be true, but does it follow that the law of non-contradiction isn't a necessary truth?

Alexander R Pruss said...

I argue in my PSR book and elsewhere that free will, libertarianism and PSR are compatible. As they had better be given that they're all true. :-)

Houdini said...

I know this is an old blog post but, Dr. Pruss, I'm really interested in what you think about this objection. Leibniz notes that even if we had an infinite series of contingent beings--each being's particular existence explained by a being prior to it ad infinitum--there would still be the question of why this infinite series of contingent beings is a series of a particular kind, that is, a series constituted by rocks, mountains, people, trees, stars, galaxies, etc. Leibniz likens this to an infinite series of geometry books. Even if we explained the existence of each geometry book by one prior to it (each book being a copy of the one prior), we would still need an explanation for the specific content of the book. Why geometry and not history? Why a book at all? Why 500 pages instead of 400? And so on and so forth.

So when a thing is a particular kind, when it is specifically one thing and not another, there needs to be an explanation for why it is what it is. Eventually we must arrive at a First Cause--an ultimately simple and necessary being. But, and here's the objection, we still need an explanation for why God creates this specific world, this particular world, instead of an infinite number of other possible worlds. Even if we assume an infinite series of contingent beings and then posit God as its transcendent sustaining cause, we would still need an explanation for why God specifically chooses to create this infinite series of rocks, stars, galaxies, people, trees, etc., instead of any other possible infinite contingent series.

I hope you can answers this, it has been bugging me.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Leibniz's answer is that this world was created as it was the best one.
For my answer, see my Divine Creative Freedom paper (Google it).

Alexander R Pruss said...

For your convenience: http://alexanderpruss.com/papers/DivineCreativeFreedom.pdf