On the existence of God

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Many religious scholars and scientists have argued over the years on the existence of God. Many of the debates have been sparked by the desire to determine if religion and science are related or distinct entities. Most people who believe in God rely largely on faith as their primary source of information, whilst others who choose to ignore or dispute God's existence do so due to a lack of actual evidence. As a result, the topic of whether God exists has sparked heated debate. This essay will seek to answer the thesis question on whether the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other with reference from the works of Richard Dawkins. Dawkins developed a scale which mainly categorizes the theists, agnostics, and the atheists. The essay will analyze each of these concepts as advanced by Richard Dawkins and their application to modern day theories and beliefs on the existence of God. The analysis will provide a basis for the conclusion to the question of whether the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other.

The Concept of Theism

The strong theist has the score of one in Richard Dawkins' Belief Scale Scoring Rubric (Dawkins, 2006). Theism means believing in the existence of a God nothing more nothing less. Theism is derived from the Greek word which means god. As a result, the uniting factor between theists is that there is the existence of at least one god. Consequently, theism is not a factor of how many gods one believes in. Also, it does not rely wholly on the definition of God. Theism also does not explain the contributing factors that lead to one having a belief in God (Armstrong, 2009). Therefore, theism connects profoundly towards religion. Theism and religion have a high correlation that at times some of the people have difficulty in distinguishing the two. In context, theism also does not rely on how one can defend their belief. It is merely the belief that one strongly holds that God exists.

The analysis of the concept of theism reveals that there are different forms. Monotheism believes in the existence of only one God; they subscribe to it. Examples of monotheistic religions in the modern day include Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, together with Hinduism just to mention but a few. Alternatively, Polytheism is the belief that there are multiple gods. Soft polytheism is the belief that gods can be summed into a more significant whole while hard polytheism operates on the assumption that God works as separate beings. Pantheists equate the existence of god to the universe. The universe evidences Their belief in the presence of God. As a result, they cannot distinguish between the world and god. Panentheists believe that the expanse of the universe is joined to the existence of god. On the other side, the belief that at least one God exists is Deism (Klostermaier, 2008).

The de facto theist firmly believes in the existence of God based on the assumption that god exists. Hence, they can also fall in any of the categories discussed above. It is worth noting that the difference between the de facto theist and the theist is in the strength of the belief. According to Dawkins (2006), the vast difference is in their probability of the view. The theist is one hundred percent sure about the existence of god while the de facto theist is not sure. Certain limitations have been drawn towards theism. Critics of high theists claim that the concept of theism is not meaningful. However, the defense to this criticism is the aspect that theism does not inculcate any ideas, attitudes, and beliefs beyond the proposition that at least one exists (Dawkins, 2006). Therefore, the concept of theism thrives on knowledge which has been criticized not to be factual by most scholars and scientists.

The Concept of Agnosticism

Agnosticism operates on the premise that the belief in God is probably unknowable. As a result, the agnostic mainly refuses to claim whether God exists or not, they live in between. Philosophers argue and believe that it is a convenient way of not being either a theist or an atheist (Klostermaier, 2008). Three concepts have been advanced towards the development of agnosticism. The first premise of its advancement is to think about it as the lack of knowledge. As a result, one decides to be an agnostic because they do not know the subject matter of deity or God. Therefore, they defend their position by claiming that they are not aware of convincing arguments towards the existence of God neither are they aware of any compelling arguments towards the non-existence of God.

Agnosticism can also be characterized as the absence of belief. Believing is a mental state of the acceptance of the existence of something (Klostermaier, 2008). Therefore, the second type of agnostics chose to acknowledge the belief that God exists. Hence, agnosticism derives from not believing and not accepting the existence of God. Consequently, these types of agnostics have a stand that the evidence against God and for God is counterbalanced. The third category of unbelievers decides not to claim or accept that God exists or does not exist. According to the scale developed by Richard Dawkins, this is the category where technical agnostics fall (Dawkins, 2006).

An analysis of Dawkins's theory of agnosticism reveals that three types of unbelievers exist. In his own opinion, Dawkins is not against this concept but is particularly skeptical towards agnosticism towards God. He categorizes agnosticism into two which is Temporary Agnosticism in Practice (TAP) and Permanent Agnosticism in Principle (PAP) (Dawkins, 2006). TAP operates on the premise that it would be possible for an individual to answer the question about the existence of God if there was evidence. Alternatively, PAP demands that questions regarding the existence of God cannot be answered due to lack of the supporting evidence. Through this distinction, the claim made by Dawkins (2006) with regards to agnosticism lies on the belief that the position of PAP relies on scientific hypothesis supporting the God hypothesis. The theory of TAP applies that there is sufficient evidence that does not support the God hypothesis.

An individual who continuously practices temporary agnosticism can easily be swayed to develop a strong atheist belief (Klostermaier, 2008). Those leading towards theism are not sure about the actual position of the existence of God, but they believe that if sufficient evidence is provided, then they can prove the existence of God. Alternatively, those leaning towards atheism are equally not sure about the existence of God but believe that in the event of searching for evidence, there is a possibility that God does not exist. The completely impartial agnostic thinks that they cannot prove conclusively whether God exists or not. Also, they are entirely agnostic because the hypothesis supporting the existence and non-existence of God are roughly equiprobable.

The key limitation towards the concept of agnosticism is the fact that an individual cannot prove conclusively that something does not exist. Consequently, because it is impossible to prove the non-existence of a concept or belief, then the theory of agnosticism is neither here nor there. Agnostics, in their defense, claim that they do not rely on the belief that God exists or not, they simply ignore it. Hence, the main foundation for the existence of this theory is that the evidence for the existence or non-existence of God is inconclusive.

The Concept of Atheism

Atheism is a simple concept that involves the lack of conviction of the existence of gods. It rejects the affirmation that gods exist hence it is not a system of belief. In essence, atheism is not a religion, therefore, does not answer queries regarding an individual's belief system. Even though atheism is far from being a religion, it is still safeguarded by equal Constitutional rights protecting religion (Dawkins, 2006). Atheists come about due to various personal reasons influenced by an individual's attitude, experiences, and life. Atheism exists in two forms, that is, weak and strong atheism. Weak atheism involves the denial or disbelief in the presence of gods or God while strong atheism is the precept that there are no gods or a God. However, according to Richard Dawkins seven-point scale, there are different types of beliefs in the existence of God around the globe (Dawkins, 2006). These include active theist, de facto theist, weak theist, pure agnostic, weak atheist, de facto atheist, and strong atheist (Dawkins, 2006).

At level one is the strong theist who does not question God's existence since his existence is known, that is, the probability of the existence of God is one hundred percent. At level two is the de facto theist who lives on the assumption that God exists and strongly believes in him but is not a hundred percent certain. Alternatively, a weak theist is quite uncertain yet admits that God indeed exists. They have a probability of approximately fifty percent. At level four with a probability of exactly fifty percent is the pure agnostic. This is an individual who believes that the existence and non-existence of God are equally possible, that is, he or she is completely impartial. A weak atheist is one who leans towards atheism and lies at the fifth level. Such a person is not sure of the existence of God hence is predisposed to be doubtful. The de facto atheist live life under the assumption that God does not exist since he or she is uncertain about God's probability. Lastly, under level seven is the strong atheist. This is a person has a strong conviction that God does not exist. He or she is one hundred percent sure that God is not there (Dawkins, 2006).

There are various arguments put across by atheists concerning their view on the existence of God. This section will focus on the strengths and limitations of these cases in detail. The atheists believe that one does not need to be religious to have morals, miracles are merely extraordinary events, and it is only scripture that proves God's existence (Dawkins, 2006). Religion and morality do not have any form of association in that such moral behavior is not necessarily innately human. Different species of animals have been seen to display virtue even in their natural habitat. Dawkins (2006) claims that cultural conditioning affects how humans behave morally and such acts are passed down from one generation to the other. As a result, God is not the originator of morality as one can determine what's right from what's wrong. Atheists are not in any way less moral when compared to other individuals or groupings.

Secondly, miracles' existence has not yet been proven hence any form of the event viewed as a miracle is because of the unlikelihood of its occurrence. In addition, the exact cause of an event is not instantly obvious, but it is later determined. In other cases, the reason for the occurrence of an event is intrinsically senseless and cannot be determined. Hence, atheists claim that when people are saved from a tragic experience, it is attributed to the power of God while when others perish, it is attributed to human wickedness. Lastly, scripture proves that God exists, however, those who value such words already ascribed to the teachings and principles of the Bible or Quran. Humans wrote such religious texts over a significant period hence were prone to mistakes and exaggerations which would otherwise be misleading.

The limitations of the atheists' arguments against the existence of God include the following reasons. One, everything has an underlying cause. This means that the possibility of continuing backward to eternity with roots is nil hence an original object that could not be influenced by another reason must have existed. Secondly, an original designer must have lived (Armstrong, 2009). This is because the planets, plants as well as animals exhibit tendencies of acting in a specific way towards a particular goal. As a result, no matter the differences present across the globe, the mode of operation or behavior is somewhat similar. Finally, ethics is necessary for the survival of any human society. Hence, by instilling the fear of God among people, they will be inclined to act ethically as a way of showing their reverence to God. This will eventually lead to a humane and caring community.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the essay has explored the different types of people about the existence of God. The theist firmly believes in God mainly due to the inspiration of faith and believes that a supreme authority exists. Most of them, if given a chance, are unable to provide scientific evidence of the existence of God and will only be able to prove based on the doctrines that the religion subscribes to. The agnostics operate from the point of uncertainty and denial. In their view, the fact that they are not sure about the existence of God makes them neither confirm nor deny the existence of God. As a result, they operate in between. The atheists are firm believers that God does not exist. In their opinion, no scientific evidence proves the existence of God, and they believe that morality is a function of humanity and it's not inspired by religion. Consequently, for them, it is not scientific to believe that God exists. An analysis of the three views by Richard Dawkins reveals that the existence of God is not a scientific hypothesis. Science operates on evidence while religion operates on faith and belief. The evidence is tangible while faith is the intangible belief. As a result, the existence of God cannot be proved scientifically, but it is a function of the faith and trust that one has on whether God exists or not.

References

Armstrong, K. (2009). The case for God. New York: Alfred. A Knopf.

Dawkins, R. (2006). The God delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Klostermaier, K. K. (2008). Reflection prompted by Richard Dawkins’s: The God delusion. Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 43(4), 607-615.

April 06, 2023
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Philosophy Religion

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Existence of God Theology God

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