I'd just like to point out that I have not done anything to change the reputation of anyone else's posts, but my opponents keep detracting those of my own. Without providing any reasonable response. It would therefore seem that the sum total of their arguments is "bah!"
And thintoq, I will grant you the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the Jihad, provided you will give me the Nazi Death Camps, the Gulag, Yugoslavia, and North Vietnam. The Gulag alone (instituted, you will note, by a man attempting to implement a socio-economic order based directly on Darwinist Atheism) took thousands of times more lives than did every religious war in all recorded history!
Though God has given us no innate ideas of himself - has not stamped onto our minds from the
outset words in which we can read his existence - yet having equipped us with the mental faculties
that we have, he hasnâ€™t left himself without witness Â·to his existenceÂ·. We have sense, perception,
and reason, and canâ€™t be without a clear proof of him as long as we carry our selves with us. We
canâ€™t fairly complain of our ignorance about this great point, since God has so plentifully provided
us with the means to discover and know him, so far as is needed for the goal of our existence and
for the great matter of our happiness. But though this is the most obvious truth that reason
reveals, and though (I think) its evidentness is equal to mathematical certainty, Â·becoming certain
ofÂ· it still requires thought and attention: the mind must deduce Godâ€™s existence in a rule-guided
way from something that is intuitively known, for otherwise we shall be as uncertain and ignorant
of this as of other propositions that are in themselves capable of clear demonstration. To show
that we are capable of knowing - i.e. being certain - that there is a God, and to see how we can
acquire this certainty, I think we need go no further than ourselves, and the undoubted knowledge
we have of our own existence.
I think it is beyond question that man has a clear idea of his own existence; he knows certainly
he exists, and that he is something. If you can doubt whether you are anything or not, I have
nothing to say to you, any more than I would argue with pure nothing, or try to convince nonentity
that it is something. If anyone ÂŸclaims to be so sceptical as to deny his own existence (for
ÂŸreally to doubt this is manifestly impossible), I am willing to let him luxuriate in his beloved state
of being nothing, until hunger or some other pain convinces him of the contrary! This then, I think
I may take for a truth, which everyoneâ€™s certain knowledge assures him of and will not let him
doubt, namely that he is something that actually exists.
In the next place, man knows by an intuitive certainty that bare nothing can no more ÂŸproduce
any real being than it can ÂŸbe equal to two right angles. If a man doesnâ€™t know that non-entity or
the absence of all being cannot be equal to two right angles, he canâ€™t possibly know any
demonstration in Euclid. If therefore we know there is some real being, and that non-entity cannot
produce any real being, that yields an evident demonstration that from eternity there has been
something; for what didnâ€™t exist from eternity had a beginning, and what had a beginning Â·wasnâ€™t
produced by ÂŸnothing, and soÂ· must be produced by ÂŸsomething other than itself.
Next, it is evident, that if one thing received ÂŸits existence and beginning from something else,
it must also have received from something else ÂŸall that is in it and belongs to its being. All its
powers must be have come from the same source. This eternal source of all being, therefore, must
also be the source of all power; and so this eternal being must be also the most powerful.
A man finds perception and knowledge in himself, and that yields the next step in the proof: we
are certain now that there is not only some being, but some knowing thinking being, in the world.
So either ÂŸthere was a time when there was no knowing being, and when knowledge began
to be, or else ÂŸthere has been a knowing being from eternity. If you Â·take the former option, andÂ·
say that there was a time when no being had any knowledge - a time when the eternal being had
no understanding - I reply that in that case it was impossible that there should ever have come to
be any knowledge. For things wholly devoid of knowledge, and operating blindly and without any
perception, to produce a knowing being - this is no more possible than that a triangle should have
three angles bigger than two right angles. For it is as inconsistent with the idea of senseless matter
that it should put sense, perception, and knowledge into itself as it is inconsistent with the idea of
a triangle that it should put into itself greater angles than two right ones.
Thus by thinking about ourselves and what we infallibly find in our own constitutions, our
reason leads us to the knowledge of the certain and evident truth that there is an eternal, most
powerful, and most knowing being; and it doesnâ€™t matter whether we call it â€˜Godâ€™. The Â·existence
of theÂ· thing is evident, and from properly thinking through this idea we can easily deduce all the
other attributes that we ought to ascribe to this eternal being. If nevertheless anyone should be
found so senselessly arrogant as to suppose that man alone is knowing and wise, yet is also the
product of mere ignorance and chance, and that all the rest of the universe acts only by that blind
chance, I shall offer him Tullyâ€™s firm and reasonable rebuke: â€˜What can be more sillily arrogant
and unbecoming than for a man to think that he has a mind and understanding in him while all the
rest of the universe contains no such thing? Or that things he can barely comprehend with the
utmost stretch of his reason should be moved and managed without any help at all from reason?â€™
From what I have said it is plain to me that we have a more certain knowledge of the
existence of a God than of anything Â·elseÂ· that our senses havenâ€™t immediately revealed to us.
Indeed, I think I can say that we more certainly know ÂŸthat there is a God than ÂŸthat there is
anything else outside us. When I say â€˜we knowâ€™, I mean that such knowledge lies within our
reach, and that we canâ€™t miss it if only we will apply our minds to it as we do to various other
Because of differences in menâ€™s characters and ways of thinking, some arguments for a given truth carry more weight with one person, some with another. But I will say this: if you want to establish this truth and silence
atheists, you are going about it in a poor way if you lay the whole stress of such an important
point as this on that one foundation, basing your only proof of the existence of a deity on some
menâ€™s having that idea of God in their minds. (Â·I speak of some menâ€™s idea of God becauseÂ·
clearly some men have no idea of God, and some worse than none, and the ideas of God that
others do have are very different from one another.) Â·It is a mistakeÂ· to let your over-fondness for
that darling invention lead you to dismiss, or at least try to invalidate, all other arguments, and
forbid us to listen to proofs (weak or fallacious, according to you) which our own existence and
the perceptible parts of the universe offer so clearly and convincingly to our thoughts that I think
it impossible for a thoughtful person to withstand them. . . . Our own existence provides us, as I
have shown, with an evident and unchallengable proof of a deity, and I believe that nobody can
avoid the force of that proof, provided he attends to it with the care he would give to any other
demonstration with so many parts, Still, this is so fundamental a truth, and of such importance
(with all religion and genuine morality depending on it), that Iâ€™m sure you will forgive me if I go
over some parts of the argument again and develop them in more detail.
There is no truth more evident than that something must be from eternity. I never yet heard of
anyone so unreasonable, or so willing to accept an obvious contradiction, as to believe there was
a time at which there was absolutely nothing. To imagine that pure nothing, the perfect negation
and absence of all beings, should ever produce any real existence - this is the greatest of all
It being then unavoidable for all rational creatures to conclude that something has existed
from eternity, let us next see what kind of thing it must be.
There are only two sorts of beings in the world that man knows or conceives.
First, such as are purely material, without sense, perception, or thought, such as the
clippings of our beards and parings of our nails.
Secondly, sensing, thinking, perceiving beings, such as we find ourselves to be. From now
on I shall refer to these two groups as incogitative and cogitative beings respectively. These are
perhaps better labels, at least for our present purpose, than â€˜materialâ€™ and â€˜immaterialâ€™.
If there must be something eternal, it is very obvious to reason that it must be a cogitative
being. For it is as impossible ÂŸto conceive that mere incogitative matter should ever produce a
thinking intelligent being as ÂŸto conceive that nothing should of itself produce matter. If we
suppose that some portion of matter, large or small, is eternal, we shall find that it in itself canâ€™t
produce anything. For example, let us suppose that the matter of the next pebble we meet with is
eternal, closely united, and the parts firmly at rest together: if there were no other being in the
world, wouldnâ€™t it eternally remain what it is, a dead inactive lump? Can we conceive it - a purely
material thing - as being able to add motion to itself, or to produce anything? Matter, then, canâ€™t
by its own powers start itself moving; the motion it has must also be from eternity, or else be
produced and added to matter by some other being that is more powerful than matter. Well, let us
suppose that motion is eternal too. Still matter - incogitative matter and motion - whatever
changes it might produce in shape and size. could never produce thought. Knowledge will still be
as far beyond the power of motion and matter to produce as matter is beyond the power of
nothing or nonentity to produce. Consult your own thoughts, and see whether I am right: you can
as easily conceive matter produced by nothing as thought to be produced by pure matter when
before there was no such thing as thought, no intelligent being in existence! Divide matter into
parts as small as you like (which we are apt to imagine is a sort of spiritualizing, or making a
thinking thing, of it), and vary the shapes and movements of its parts as much as you please; still a
globe, cube, cone, prism, cylinder, etc. whose diameters are only one billionth of an inch will
affect other bodies of similar size in exactly the same way as do those with diameters of an inch or
a foot, You may as rationally expect to produce sense, thought, and knowledge by putting
together big particles of matter in certain shapes and movements as to produce it with particles
that are the very tiniest that exist. They knock, impel, and resist one another, just as the bigger
ones do, and that is all they can do. So:
If we suppose that nothing is first or eternal, matter can never begin to be.
If we suppose motionless matter to be first or eternal, motion can never begin to be.
If we suppose matter and motion to be first or eternal, thought can never begin to be.
How about the possibility that matter has sense, perception, and knowledge Â·not put into it by
something else, butÂ· basically and inherently and from itself? This is inconceivable, because in that
case sense, perception and knowledge would have to be a property eternally inseparable from
matter and from every particle of it.
And here is a further reason. Although our general conception of matter makes us speak of
it as one thing, really all matter is not one individual thing, and there is no such thing existing as
one material being, or one single body that we know or can conceive. Therefore, if matter were
the eternal first cogitative being, instead of there being just one eternal infinite cogitative being
there would be infinitely many eternal finite cogitative beings, independent one of another, of
limited force and separate thoughts, which could never produce that order, harmony and beauty
that are to be found in nature.
Since therefore whatever is the first eternal being must be cogitative; and since whatever is
first of all things must actually have all the perfections that can ever after exist (because it can
never give to something else any perfection that it doesnâ€™t have itself, either actually or in a higher
degree), it necessarily follows that the first eternal being canâ€™t be matter.
Just as it is evident that something must exist from eternity, it is equally evident that this
â€˜somethingâ€™ must be a cogitative being. For it is as impossible that incogitative matter should
produce a cogitative being as that nothing, or the negation of all being, should produce a positive
being or matter.