Proof of God

Ever heard somebody say, “You can’t prove God?” Turns out, that’s not true. You can. Here’s how.

Note that the argument presented here comes from a recent lecture from Norman Geisler, PhD. Dr. Geisler is a prolific author, professor, speaker, lecturer, traveler, philosopher, apologist, evangelist, and theologian who has written over 86 books. His proof is the culmination of thousands of years of critical analysis by the sharpest minds in philosophy and its premises are corroborated by science.

This proof is not for the faint of heart. It’s a logical argument which must be digested slowly. As with all arguments, each point builds on the next. Ready, here we go.

Proof of God

(1) Being is. That is, something exists. This is called The Principle of Existence. This is undeniable since the one who denies it by saying, “I don’t exist,” must exist in order to deny it.

(2) Being is being. This is known as The Principle of Identity. Being is identical to being. A thing is identical to itself. Again, this is undeniable since it cannot be denied unless it is implied. For asserting that “A is not identical to A“ assumes that each A is identical to itself. Otherwise, one could not know the other is not identical to it.

(3) Being is not non-being. This is called The Principle on Non-Contradiction. Opposites cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. This too is undeniable since the claim that “Opposites can both be true” assumes that the opposite of this claim cannot be true.

(4) Either being or non-being. This is The Principle of Excluded Middle. There is nothing between being and non-being. Hence, something must either be or not be. It can’t actually both be and not be at the same time and sense. So, this principle is undeniable since the denial of it is a contradiction.

Cause: The term “cause” in this next point and the remainder of the argument means efficient cause, viz., that which brings something into being or causes it to be in some way. An efficient cause is that by which something comes to be, as opposed to an instrumental cause which is that through which something comes to be.

(5) Non-being cannot cause being. This is The Principle of Causality. Nothing cannot cause something since nothing does not even exist, and what does not exit cannot cause anything. Only something can produce something.

(6) A being that is caused to be is similar in its being to the Being that caused it to be. This is The Principle of Analogy. An effect resembles its efficient cause. Like produces like. Being shares being for this is all that it has to share. Being cannot give what it has not got. For it must have it (being) before it can give it.

Undeniable conclusions

From these principles, the following undeniable conclusions can be drawn:

(7) A being is either necessary or contingent but not both. This is based on the Principle of Excluded Middle (#3).

Contingent: When something is contingent it means that the possibility of an event or situation depends on another happening or being true first. Since a contingent being has the potential to change, a contingent being is a potential being–it may or may not exist, come into existence, or change while in existence.

Necessary being: A being whose existence is no mere accident or contingent result but whose very nature is to exist necessarily. A necessary being is one that is not contingent on another for its existence. It has no potentiality, meaning it has always existed in with its unchanging state of attributes, and never has, nor never will change.

(8) A necessary being cannot cause another necessary being to come to be. For if it could, then a contradiction (#3) would result because : (a) by its nature a necessary being cannot come to be or cease to be, and (b) a being that is caused to exist by a necessary being comes to be (which is contradictory).

(9) A contingent being cannot be the efficient cause of another contingent being (#3). Only a necessary being can be the cause of a contingent being. This is because a contingent being is one that could not be (viz., it could be nothing), and if it could cause another being, then non-being could produce being which is contradictory (#5). Only actuality can cause actuality (# 5). Potentiality cannot cause actuality. A possible being cannot be the ground for an actual being. What might not be can’t be the ground of what is.

(10) A necessary being is a being of Pure Actuality with no potentiality. This is so since a necessary being has no potentiality to not exist. If a necessary being exists, then it must exist necessarily with no possibility (potentiality) to not exist.

(11) A Being of Pure Actuality cannot cause another being with Pure Actuality. For whatever being comes to be must have potentiality to be, and Pure Actuality has no potentiality.

(12) The being that is caused by a Being of Pure Actuality must have both actuality and potentiality. For this created being has the potentiality not to be which Pure Actuality does not have.

(13) Every being that is caused by a being of Pure Actuality must be both like and dislike its Cause (#6). It must be like its Cause in its actuality, and it must be dislike its cause in its potentiality. And what is both like and dislike its cause is similar (or analogous) to it.

(14) I am a contingent being. This is so because (a) I undeniably exist (#2), and because I am not a necessary being since (b) I change or come to be (which a necessary being cannot do). For example, the claim “I came to believe that I am God” (as pantheists make) is contradictory for a necessary Being cannot come to be anything. Whatever it is, that it is necessarily.

(15) But only a necessary being can cause a contingent being to exist (repeat of # 9).

(16) Therefore, a Necessary Being (of Pure Actuality) exists who caused me (and every other contingent being there may be) to exist.

What must this God be like?

(17) This Necessary Being of Pure Actuality (with no potentiality) has certain necessary attributes:

(a) It cannot change (must be immutable) since it has no potential for change. For it has no potentiality in its being, only Pure Actuality.

(b) It cannot be temporal (must be eternal) since time involves change from a before to an after, and a necessary being is changeless.

(c) It can not be material (must be immaterial) since matter has the potential to change (e.g., from usable to unusable energy), and a changeless being cannot change.

(d) It can not be finite (must be infinite) since it has no potentiality to limit it. Actuality as such has no limitations.

(e) It can not be divisible (must be simple) since it has no potential to be divided. For it has no potentiality in its being. Further, God is infinite and no amount of parts adds up to an infinite because one more part can always be added, and there cannot be more than an infinite.

(f) It must be an uncaused being since it is a necessary being, and a necessary being cannot be caused to come to be. So, it can’t be caused. Nor can it be self-caused which is a contradiction (for a cause is ontologically prior to its effect, and nothing can be actually prior to itself). Hence, it must be an uncaused being.

(g) It must be only One being since there can’t be two or more infinite Beings or two or more Beings or Pure Actuality since there is no way they could differ in their Being for they are both the same kind of Being. And beings cannot differ in the very respect they are the same.

(h) It must be infinitely knowing (omniscient) since I am a knowing being that it caused to exist, and a cause cannot give what is does not have to give (#6).

(i) It must be all-powerful (omnipotent) since it is infinite, and it has power (e.g., to cause a finite being to exist). Hence, it is infinitely powerful.

(j) It must be an absolutely morally perfect Being since it causes moral beings to exist, and it cannot share what it does not have to share (#6).

(k) It must be a Personal Being since He made personal beings, and the effect is similar to its efficient cause (#6).

Conclusion

This Being is precisely the God described in the Bible. This is strong evidence that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Moreover, the Bible indicates that this all powerful, infinite, all knowing, morally perfect Being desires to have a personal relationship with you.

History and the Bible tell us that 2,000 years ago, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to be the propitiation for your sins. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

Click here for more info on how you can have your sins forgiven and receive this free gift of everlasting life from God.

This indeed is good news!

Say thanks by liking/sharing:

RELATED STUFF

Author: Shawn Nelson

I got saved back in 1991 when I was 19. I felt called right away to go into ministry and enrolled at Christian Heritage College to become a pastor. However, after graduation I ended up getting a job in a new software startup. Since then I've worked bivocationally as a church planter and pastor. I'm currently enrolled at Veritas Evangelical Seminary pursing an M.Div. in Apologetics and am happy to share what I'm learning with you.

Share This Post On

12 Comments

  1. Do you have a source where I can read Geisler’s full argument in his own words? It sounds similar to the Transcendental Argument for God, except that it reaches far beyond the notion simply that “a god exists” and begins to describe the “necessary” attributes for this being. I’m running into some roadblocks in accepting this as a valid argument; I’ll try to describe them here.
    Firstly, nowhere does this argument contain a proper definitions of “being” and “existence.” Without this definition, there is no way of concluding “this being exists,” because there is no standard of measurement for a being or its existence.
    My second problem is with the claim “A contingent being cannot be the efficient cause of another contingent being.” You might be able to clarify this with a proper definition of “being,” but I can see two contingent beings (a man and a woman) cause another contingent being (a child) to begin existing without any external causes. The material for that child existed beforehand, but the interactions between egg and sperm (with copious amounts of chemical signalling from the mother’s body) assembled a being with person-hood, consciousness, and character out of parts that were distinctly non-child. What support does Geisler offer when he asserts that a contingent being isn’t cannot be the sufficient cause for another contingent being?
    Thirdly, I question how most of the conclusions under point 17 were drawn, especially (j) and (k). The Principle of Analogy would demand that a being with moral characteristics would be caused by a being with moral characteristics, but why must this being be “morally perfect?” This conclusion couldn’t be reached deductively unless a contingent being was discovered who was morally perfect. Short of that, “moral perfection” is an inferred characteristic of this being because “some morality exists in contingent beings.”
    Must a trait in a contingent being come from an analogous trait in the being that caused it? Because this is certainly a problem for the concept in Christianity of “the curse.” The Christian God created beings, then shortly after created a curse that became an intrinsic quality of these beings. Humans are considered “cursed” as a result of the fall, and this trait manifests itself in a variety of ways as described in Genesis 3:16-19, including death, toil, and pain. The cause of these “cursed” beings is God, so why does God not need to have pain or death in order to cause these properties to exist?
    It seems to me that the shared traits have been chosen arbitrarily out of many possible traits. This being apparently needs to be personal and morally perfect by the Principle of Analogy, but doesn’t need to reproduce, have arms, be capable of change, be error-prone, physically exist, speak audibly, learn, or be any number of things that define the caused being “human.” Many of these traits certainly don’t define the necessary being “God”, or He would be considered unworthy of worship. How can a being with no material traits cause a being that is material? How can a being with no variable traits cause a being that is constantly varying from birth until death? In fact, how does a being that cannot change “cause” anything at all? Cause and effect only exist because things can change; an unchanging being “causing” anything is nonsensical.

    I guess my thoughts can be summarized in two questions:
    -Why is a contingent being insufficient to cause a contingent being?
    -Why must only some traits of the caused being be shared by the causal being and not all traits?

    Post a Reply
  2. Hi Michael, unfortunately, no, there is no additional information from the lecture that I can pass on. But I’ve forwarded your request for clarification on to Dr. Geisler. Let’s see if he’s willing to offer a response.

    Post a Reply
  3. Norm Geisler

    Briefly,

    -Why is a contingent being insufficient to cause a contingent being? Because its non-being is possible, and there is nothing to account for why it is actual. No mere potentiality can actualize itself, that is, account for its being actualized. Only act can produce act. So, no potency can cause its own actuality or anyone else’s. Letters (and punctuation) have the potential to a book. But they cannot actualize themselves into a book. Only an actual cause (e.g., an author) can actualize them into a book.

    -Why must only some traits of the caused being be shared by the causal being and not all traits? Because Pure Actuality (God) does not have any potentiality. He is Pure Act. So, he can only be like the actuality he produces. He cannot be like any potency or limitation in a creature because He doesn’t have any. He can only be like what he “has” (really, is), namely, Pure Actuality. He cannot give what He hasn’t got. Nor can he be like what he cannot be like, namely, potency or limitation.

    “Being” is “that which is” and non-being is that which is not. Being can be necessary or contingent. Necessary Being cannot not be. Contingent being can not be. God is being pure and simple. Everything else merely has being.

    God is Pure Actuality. Everything else merely has actuality (along with its potency). So, God is uncomposed (simple) being, and every other being is composed of actuality and potentiality.

    Norm

    Post a Reply
    • Dr. Geisler,

      This argument has been a great help to me. I have been struggling lately as a Christian with some doubt. My only question is if there is any way you can further explain why a necessary being that cannot not exist must be pure actuality. It makes sense for the most part, but for some reason it still seems to not perfectly click in my mind. The fact that something cannot not exist therefore means it has not potentiality, but what exactly does that mean. If I can understand this more fully, I would be great. Please help! Thank you.

      - David

      Post a Reply
  4. The Existence Of God Can Be Found Within Yourself,Because….Of His Love

    Post a Reply
  5. This is the philosopher Descartes’ original argument. This is not new, just circular logic to defend one’s beliefs.

    Post a Reply
  6. Why must only some traits of the caused being be shared by the causal being and not all traits? Because Pure Actuality (God) does not have any potentiality. He is Pure Act. So, he can only be like the actuality he produces. He cannot be like any potency or limitation in a creature because He doesn’t have any. He can only be like what he “has” (really, is), namely, Pure Actuality. He cannot give what He hasn’t got. Nor can he be like what he cannot be like, namely, potency or limitation.

    But this argument destroys the argument for omnipotence. Omnipotence is further disproven by the simple thought experiment, “Can your god create a rock so large even he/she couldn’t lift it?”

    (6) A being that is caused to be is similar in its being to the Being that caused it to be. This is The Principle of Analogy. An effect resembles its efficient cause. Like produces like. Being shares being for this is all that it has to share. Being cannot give what it has not got. For it must have it (being) before it can give

    Wouldn’t it then follow that god is evil since there is evil in the world, god created everything, since like produces like, god is evil. At the very least, he would be immoral to demand we must repent and beg forgiveness or be punished for eternity for something he created and we have no chance to avoid or opt out of.

    Post a Reply
  7. It’s late, so I’m not thinking too hard about this RIGHT now, but doesn’t item e of point 17 tend to favor a unitarian rather than a trinitarian view?

    I’m not inimical to the argument as a whole, but that item caught my eye as potentially cutting the theological legs out from under the Trinity, which doesn’t seem like a good idea.

    Post a Reply
  8. Of course, this argument totally jumps the shark on premise #5:

    “(5) Non-being cannot cause being. This is The Principle of Causality. Nothing cannot cause something since nothing does not even exist, and what does not exit [sic.] cannot cause anything. Only something can produce something.”

    There is no proof that something can’t happen for no reason. Saying “nothing cannot cause something because nothing does not even exist” is just slippery language because it actually contradicts itself when tries to pretend that nothing is a kind of something in the first half of the sentence, and then denies that in the latter half.

    The fact is, things happen without a cause all the time. Look up “virtual particles”, for example. These are particles that pop into and out of existence all the time with no cause, and are verified to exist. Also, radioactive decay happens with a certain probability, but there is no cause that triggers the exact moment an atom decays.

    So, there are indeed appear to be things that happen with no causal agent. Even if you deny those things individually, that itself is not evidence that ALL things have causes.

    In fact, this argument merely uses special pleading to get away with claiming that God doesn’t have to have a cause. Why not simply dispense with the “middleman” and say that the universe doesn’t have to have a cause? Occam’s razor, right?

    Anyways, this supposed “proof of God” is known as the kalam cosmological argument, and it has been shown to be faulty in multiple ways. See for example:
    http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Kalam
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/William_Lane_Craig#Kalam_Cosmological_Argument

    Post a Reply
    • You actually don’t have counterexamples. You admit that your supposed examples could have a cause of which we are unaware. What you have is incomplete knowledge.

      Human experience suggests that it is, at the very least, highly unlikely that non-being can spontaneously produce being.

      Take wind, for example. Absent our knowledge about the way it works, it would appear to an uneducated man to come from nowhere. However, it demonstrably comes from the movement of gases within a complex system that is being fed energy from an external source (i.e., the sun). We discovered this general fact because a number of people operated on the assumption that things don’t just “happen”.

      The point of our quest for knowledge is to discover the reasons why things occur. Otherwise, what’s the point?

      Post a Reply
  9. And you, my friend, are making a false appeal to authority when you make general statements like, “all the science suggests”. When I talk about human experience, I mean all of it: every day life as well as rational inquiry. The fact is that when we don’t understand something, we find a way to examine it and find out why it is the way it is. Every experiment seeks to establish causality in some way, either by discovering the process by which something happens or by verifying the process by looking for it’s hypothetical result–a friend of mine, a nonbeliever with a background in physics, mentioned the Higgs boson in this context.

    You claim to be dispelling the “myths” of gods as a rationalist, but in the end, you are so devoted to the idea that there is no God that you’re willing to make an argument that is fundamentally irrational. There may be points of contention in the proof above, but causality is not one of them.

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Login quick with:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>