Altruism, teleology and God

Alexander R. Pruss
Baylor University
There is a long tradition of arguments for the existence of God. Early examples include Aristotle’s cosmological argument in Book Lambda of the Metaphysics, arguing that if there is change, there must be at least one unchanging and perfect being that originates all change, while the first chapter of Romans and chapter 13 of the Book of Wisdom insist that “from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen” (Wis. 13:5, NAB). This tradition continues, and indeed starting in the 1950s, analytic philosophy has seen an impressive resurgence of more and more careful formulations and criticisms of arguments for the existence of God. I shall show how the phenomenon of altruism yields a theistic argument. Some arguments for the existence of God proceed by pure reasoning alone and yield ontological arguments like Anselm’s, while others depend in part either on particular empirical claims (e.g., the argument from miracles or the argument from religious experience), or on general empirical claims, such as that there is motion, consciousness or life. The pattern of the arguments based on general claims is usually simple: (A) There is a general fact about reality, say that there is change or that there are complex organisms. (B) One argues that either the best or the only explanation is to be found in some state of affairs that includes the existence of a God-like being. And so (C) one concludes that a God-like being..
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