About the Cosmological argument for proving that there is a Creative Deity

In “Existence and difficult recognition of the Supreme Deity Being” I looked as a third argument at the Cosmological argument for proving that there is a Creative Deity Who was there before everything existed.

The professional theologist and author Allan Gotthelf in On Ayn Rand (Wadsworth 2000) considers that argument the “first cause” (or “cosmological”) argument which maintains that God is needed as the Creator and sustainer of the material universe. He writes

“But that is to say that existence needs consciousness to create or sustain it.  It makes a consciousness — God’s consciousness — metaphysically prior to existence.  But existence exists.  It can have no beginning, no end, no cause.  It just is.  And consciousness is a faculty of awareness, not of creation.  The first cause argument violates both the axiom of existence and the axiom of consciousness. {Allan Gotthelf’s On Ayn Rand p. 48 }

I argued already that according to the Holy Scriptures God is the Being Itself, being the Eh-heh-yeh ashair Ehheh- yeh (I Am Who I Am). His Name comprehends that He is the Being itself that causes the being.

The philosopher Bill Vallicella looks at Gotthelf’s writing and reacts

According to the axiom of existence, “Existence exists.”  Gotthelf takes this to mean that Something exists. (37)  If that is what it means, then it is indeed a self-evident truth.  For example, it is self-evident (to me) that I exist, which of course entails that something exists.  But it is equally self-evident (to me) that I am conscious.  For if I were not conscious then I would not be able to know that I exist and that something exists.  “That one exists possessing consciousness is the axiom of consciousness, the second philosophic axiom.” (38) {Allan Gotthelf on Ayn Rand on the Existence of God}

In case Vallicella or Gotthelf could not say “I am” in consciousness they either would be in a vegetative state or even would not know they existed. First they have to exist, than they have to be conscious and then they still need to be able to use that consciousness. It would be wrong and limiting to think that something which has no beginning and no end would not have a consciousness or an awareness of existence. The Elohim Himself being the Existence Himself or Itself has everything of existence and has all full consciousness of existence.

The “Maverick Philosopher” questions

Now how does the cosmological argument (CA) violate these axioms?  Gotthelf tells us that the argument makes God’s consciousness metaphysically prior to existence, and therefore violates the axiom of consciousness.  But it does no such thing.

‘Existence’ just means all existing things taken collectively, as Gotthelf points out. (p. 48, n. 6)  So if the CA makes God’s consciousness metaphysically prior to existence, then the CA makes God’s consciousness metaphysically prior to all existing things.  But this is just false: the CA does not make God’s consciousness metaphysically prior to God’s existence, nor does it make God’s consciousness metaphysically prior to the existence of abstract objects.  {Allan Gotthelf on Ayn Rand on the Existence of God}

As such I would also agree with Bill Vallicella  that the cosmological argument does not make the divine consciousness metaphysically prior to all existing things.  For us it might be very difficult to cope with the idea that there be a Spirit Being that had a relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between possibility and actuality even before there was a sense of time or some beings with brains.

Man’s problem is that he wants to explain his everyday and scientific perception of the world and wants to have control of everything he is able to create himself, often putting himself above all other creative forms that may exist.

A cosmological arguer could cheerfully grant that the following are self-evident truths:

Things exist; consciousness exists;

the existence of conscious beings is metaphysically prior to their being conscious.

The existence of God is logically consistent with each of these truths and with the three of them taken in conjunction.

One of the problems with Rand is that she smuggles substantive, controversial content into what she calls her axioms.  I grant that it is axiomatic that “existence exists” if that means that something exists.  But how is it supposed to follow from this that the things that exist “have no beginning, no end, no cause”?  My desk exists, but it obviously had a beginning, will have an end, and had a cause.

Or does she and Gotthelf mean that what has no beginning, end, or cause is that something or other exists?   That is rather more plausible, but obviously doesn’t following from the trivial truth that something exists. {Allan Gotthelf on Ayn Rand on the Existence of God}

The difference between The God above all gods and greater than all gods, is that the Elohim Hashem Jehovah does not need any material to create something. We as human beings need materials. Without the basic tools and necessary raw materials we can not create anything without using our brains. He on the other hand is a supernatural Being.

“Supernatural,” etymologically, means that which is above or beyond nature.  “Nature,” in turn denotes existence viewed friom a certain perspective. Nature is existence regarded as a system of interconnected entities governed by law; it is the universe of entities acting and interacting in accordance with their identities. {Peikoff on the Supernatural}

The God of gods, being the Being itself can originate from nothing and out of there where nothing could be seen, because from the choshech, or better “out of the emptiness” He created.

Gen 1:1-5: (1) In the beginning Elohim created hashomayim (the heavens, Himel) and haaretz (the earth). (2) And the earth was tohu vavohu (without form, and void); and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Ruach Elohim was hovering upon the face of the waters. (3) And Elohim said, Let there be light: and there was light [Tehillim (#Ps 33:6,9)]. (4) And Elohim saw the light, that it was tov (good); and Elohim divided the ohr (light) from the choshech (darkness). (5) And Elohim called the light Yom (Day), and the darkness He called Lailah (Night). And the erev (evening) and the boker (morning) were Yom Echad [(Day One, the First Day), (#Mr 16:2)].{OJB}

The Being that Is the Being made objects to be or to come into existence. Without being there, you could doubt its existence, but I agree that because we do not see something it does not have to mean it would not be there. Therefore in choshech does not mean there would not have already been something. But that something, even when not known also finds its origin in the Being, because without being it can not be. The Divine Being as Causer of the being of things is the Supreme Divine Source of everything and should also being considered as such. For our senses it may be difficult to cope with that Being being there before anything else.According to the Scriptures the Creator created us in His image and as such gave us some inner feeling. You may call it a sort of DNA or a sensible connection with our Creator that gives that most of us can at least fathom something existing that is beyond the realm of our senses or beyond what we could, even in principle, detect.  It could not be a person because there was not yet flesh or blood and no material to form the bones. It was not touchable and it could not be seen, not only not because there was only darkness but because That Causer is an Unseen Being Which also declared no man can see Him.

Exodus 33:20 And He said, Thou canst not see My face; for there shall no adam see Me, and live. {OJB}

Without the change from darkness to light nothing could be seen, but the God kept unseen. Though He is the responsible One for changes taking place. With the knowledge that change is always the effect of some cause or causes we must consider the first change ever taking place to be caused by a Causer, and that Causer of the first cause we call the Elohim Hashem Jehovah God. Each cause is itself the effect of a further cause or set of causes; this chain moves in a series that either never ends or is completed by a first cause, which must be of a radically different nature in that it is not itself caused. Such a first cause is an important aspect, though not the entirety, of what Christianity means by God.

The “Maverick Philosopher” writes

It is indeed axiomatic and self-evident that conscious beings exist.  And it too can be proven retorsively.  For if you maintain that no one is conscious, then your performance falsifies the content of your claim.  (38)  But how is it supposed to follow from conscious beings exist that every consciousness is a consciousness of something that exists independently of the consciousness?  For this is what Rand and Gotthelf need to show that

“The very concept of ‘God’ violates the axioms . . . .” (49)

They need to show that

“to postulate a God as creator of the universe is to postulate a consciousness that could exist without anything to be conscious of.” (49)  {Allan Gotthelf on Ayn Rand on the Existence of God}

They both forget that when there is nothing there can be nothing conscious of something else. When there is the Unseen Divine Creator having no “homogenous body” like metals, plants and animals and having no heterogeneous body” as organs and parts of animals or humans, that Being is not touchable, not able to be consciousness felt or seen because there is nothing having the ability to be or to think or to feel or to see.

Rand and Gotthelf are making two rather elementary mistakes.  The first is to confuse

1. Every consciousness is a consciousness of something (objective genitive)

with

2. Every consciousness is a consciousness of something that exists. (objective genitive).

(1) may well be true; (2) is obviously false.  One who consciously seeks the Fountain of Youth seeks something, but not something that exists.  There can be no consciousness without an object, but it does not follow that every intentional object exists.

The second mistake is to think that (2) follows from conscious beings exist.  One lands in performative inconsistency if one denies that conscious beings exist.  One does not if one denies (2).   {Allan Gotthelf on Ayn Rand on the Existence of God}

Though the Godhead is Himself a conscious Being. He thinks, feels and acts.

It is important not to confuse the subjective and objective genitive construals of (2).  (2) is plainly false if the genitive is objective.  (2) is trivially true if the genitive  is subjective.  For it is trivially true that every consciousness is some existing thing’s consciousness.  {Allan Gotthelf on Ayn Rand on the Existence of God}

One gets the distinct impression that Rand and Gotthelf are confusing the two construals of (2).  They think that because consciousness is always grounded in the existence of something, that every object of consiousness must be an existent object.  {Allan Gotthelf on Ayn Rand on the Existence of God}

The difficulty to proof that God exist rest always unto a form of “belief”. It is by faith people have to follow their inner feeling … their guts.

Gotthelf’s claim that

 “to postulate a God as creator of the universe is to postulate a consciousness that could exist without anything to be conscious of” (49)

  is plainly false and deeply confused.  {Allan Gotthelf on Ayn Rand on the Existence of God}

Emunah or Faith: Hebrews 11:1  Now Emunah is the substance of things for which we have tikvah. Emunah is the conviction of things not seen. {OJB}

We may not overlook that the divine Creator is very conscious and has a Plan with His creation. As such the Elohim is  conscious of Himself and of all necessarily existent abstract objects.  We can see that His “function” did not end by the creation itself. Afterwards He continued to be conscious of what went on with His creation and guided people who were willing to be conscious of Him.

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Preceding articles

Existence and difficult recognition of the Supreme Deity Being

High recognitions . . . . All of the Light of the Universe

 

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Additional reading

  1. A vital question for believers Do you believe in God, or do you believe God
  2. The very very beginning 1 Creating Gods
  3. The very very beginning 2 The Word and words
  4. Scientific Evidence for God
  5. Something from nothing
  6. Why think there’s a God? (1): Something from Nothing
  7. Why think there is a God? (2) Goldilocks Effect
  8. Why Think There Is a God? (3): Why Is It Wrong?
  9. Why think there is a God (4): And the Rest …
  10. People Seeking for God 6 Strategy
  11. People Seeking for God 7 The Lord and lords
  12. “Who is The Most High” ? Who is thee Eternal? Who is Yehovah? Who is God?
  13. God of gods
  14. Sayings around God
  15. A Triple God or simply a rather simple One God
  16. Only One God
  17. God is One
  18. Attributes of God
  19. God is Spirit
  20. God Helper and Deliverer
  21. Between Alpha and Omega – The plan of creation
  22. Al-Fatiha [The Opening/De Opening] Süra 1:1-3 In the name of Allah the Merciful Lord Of The Creation
  23. Al-Fatiha [The Opening] Süra 1: 4-7 Merciful Lord of the Creation to show us the right path
  24. Genesis Among the Creation Myths
  25. Seven Scriptural reasons the Holy Spirit cannot be a person
  26. From nothingness, except an eternal Being, the Ruach brought into being
  27. An openingschapter explaining why things are like they are and why we may have hope for better things
  28. About The story of Creation 1 Existing cosmologies
  29. When believing in God’s existence and His son, possessing a divine legislation
  30. There can only be hope when there is a will to be and say “I am”
  31. The I Am to explore
  32. A Book to trust #3 Creation and Creator
  33. A Book to trust #4 Cause of Being and Truth
  34. A Book to trust #5 Words directed to create order
  35. Inner voice inside the soul of man
  36. Our Inner Voice
  37. Engagement in an actual two-way conversation with your deities
  38. Facilitations of science and loss of peace of mind
  39. Of old and new ideas to sustain power and to feel good by loving to be connected and worship something

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Related articles

  1. Does Atheism Require Blind Faith?
  2. Is Atheism Growing?
  3. Atheism is Over – Proof of The Creator!
  4. How to Handle Talking About God
  5. Stop saying that it’s ‘obvious’ that God existsAn Evidential Argument from ‘Non-God Objects’
  6. Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
  7. The existence of God
  8. Existence of God Testimony by a Western Scientist
  9. Can We Be Certain of God’s Existence?
  10. Is God, as First Cause, a Numerical First of Many Causes?
  11. How would I classify arguments for and against God’s existence?
  12. Fine-Tuning of the Universe: Pro, Con, or Neutral to the Existence of God
  13. An Evidential Argument from Non-God Objects: Part 2
  14. Summa Says – You don’t know what “God exists” means
  15. God’s existence and the problem of proof
  16. The Problem of Exclusivity
  17. The Convenient ‘Special Pleading’ of Skeptical Theists
  18. Why I Can’t Be An Atheist
  19. Is there a ‘Problem of Good’?
  20. Why do I… believe in God?
  21. Does God exist?
  22. How to Prove God Exists
  23. Alternative concepts of God
  24. Three Ontological Arguments
  25. The Axiological Argument (III)
  26. The Axiological Argument (IV)
  27. The Cosmological Argument (I)
  28. The Ontological Argument (I)
  29. Another Ontological Argument
  30. The Teleological Argument (V)
  31. The Incoherence of Theism (II)
  32. Can You Dissect God?
  33. A Response to John MacArthur’s Take on Natural Theology.
  34. The Historical Argument (VII)
  35. Clues of God
  36. Who is Your Lord?-No.8
  37. Does the Multiverse Get Rid of the Need for God?

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