If I asked you today what your reasons to have faith in religion are, what would You tell me? I know that if you asked me, I certainly would elaborate about Pascal’s Wager, the choice I make to have faith, and the logic of, essentially, betting on the winning team in respect to life after death. There’s also a fair, non-random chance that I could talk about the essential need for something along history’s timeline to have come from what previously could only be labelled as nothing. From my own conscience, additionally, I could go on about the fact that our focus as believers should not be so heavily focused on how we are able to have faith, but rather, that we do, when arguing for reasons to believe. While Peter Kreeft does make a myriad of arguments for everything from the immortality of the soul to other pressing matters of religion and philosophy, I’d like to expand on a few of them, as well as some of my own takes on these discussions and commentaries.
Perhaps one of the strongest reasons for why we should believe is entrenched in the causes of how we are able to in the first place. This is the argument from conscience, as exemplified by Kreeft in the reading. A number of viable reasons to believe can be found, if one just looks for them. To any human equipped with a soul and conscience, the experience of life will often reveal truths to us just because we’re there. What’s better, though, is using our conscience to search in the universe for truths, known to be out there, which are revealed as the truth because of our honest choice to seek after it. These truths are revealed to us because we want to find them. In this, then, it is the responsibility of human beings to seek the truth for themselves in everyday life. This sort of mindset is what would have been adopted by figures like Aristotle, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton (ironically going against the teachings of the church at the time; and here we are talking about them in a religion essay today). This ability of honest truth-seeking is a product of our conscience. And, with our conscience, comes the specifically human ability to shy away from our animal instincts, in favour of this newfound conscience. It is within humans only that we favour a mystical consciousness over doing what our animalistic desires point at us to do. Additionally, from a Christian perspective, this honest ability to seek truth away from our instincts is tied to our ability to seek God; to seek higher degrees of perfection. An ability thus also granted to us by our conscience is to differentiate between varying degrees of aforementioned perfection, to know that we need to seek further, because our good degree is just starting to get better. This transitions then into making our degree we see as better, into the degree fit to be described as best; as St. Jerome or Tim Duncan would have it. Aquinas’ argument from causation and his from degree are very similar, which both insist that if X or Y exist, then therefore there must be a Z in place to serve at the apex of these arguments forefront. X and Y interchangeably being degrees of perfection or anything with a cause, and Y being perfect perfection, or the first cause*. However, the argument from conscience can be best summed up drawing similarities from a popular quote from modern philosopher Ludwig Littgenstein; not how we believe that is mystical; but that we do.
*Terms like perfect and first cause are creative and fun nicknames for God.
When answering the primary question of if something is able to come from nothing, we often trace this sequential continuity of cause and effect back to the beginning of time. What there, in the universal void of emptiness, triggered the beginning of all things? As Christians, we associate this first movement with God. Which, then, paradoxically, would make God an uncaused cause; the unoriginate origin of the universe, or, by Aquinas, the First Mover. Additionally, the laws of the universe; the likes of gravity and thermodynamics; are signs that would insist on the existence of a universal law-maker. All of these patterns we find in natural existence that permit us to exist imply the existence of a pattern-maker. Aquinas’ argument from causation is thus revealed to us; if anything exists, it has a cause. Okay, so the universe exists, knock on wood. Who’s the big designer? Naturally occurring mathematical phenomena like perfect squares of numbers in relation to Pythagoras’ Theorem, and the laws of entropy, I infer do not occur by pure chance, due to how predictable they are for something so naturally occurring. From this, any natural event that occurs predictably cannot occur by pure chance from a universe of randomness. The universe’s existence is not by random chance. The fact that we all sit here and interact with each other; in a universe sprung from what seems like random chaos sometimes; insists that more than random chance or dumb luck is afoot. Believing in God and living a life that reflects this belief is not something that just happens. We have to want it, and bad. This idea of something coming from nothing is also supportive of the existence of the human soul; something within all of us that truly can’t be pinned to a source*. So although the belief of something being able to come from nothing is, in the end, paradoxical, it is a necessity for it to be true when seeking the truth from a Christian perspective.
*Look up, ‘stuff not made of stuff.’ The first sites that will come up in Google are ones that guide buyers towards products not manufactured in China. I thought this was pretty humorous. Souls didn’t make the list.
A strong reason for our faith is grounded in logic, with Pascal’s Wager. The logic really is simple; if there is any sort of primordial, perfect, eternal, and omnipotent figure we meet after death, it should be our intent in life to bet on the chance, no matter how small, of eternal life. It should be our intent in life to do that which would at least give us a chance at having a good life after death. After all, as discussed earlier, it is absurd to insist that existence comes about by random chance. Knowing this, how bad do we want an eternal life to live in God at the end of our physical existence? How significantly do we want to revamp our life to one that reflects our faith in eternity? Pascal’s wager also can be tied into practical life; why play the game if you won’t bother to win? Something I get asked a lot by skeptics about my faith is why I believe in God. My answer is always because I choose to; I want to. My response to the challenge of proving God’s existence usually ends with the skeptic in ignorant frustration upon being challenged to prove He does not exist. Not to say I’ve done a perfect job at converting the world to Christianity, but I’ve yet to admit defeat against a skeptic. My reason, of course, for answering the way I do to the demands of the skeptics is simply because I take Pascal’s Wager. I bet on winning. I may be wrong, but I have not met anyone yet that can prove it.
A compelling idea for the validity of these arguments is in that Christ is in himself infallible. Supportive evidence in overwhelming favour for the existence of something beyond our mortal lives is the existence of our conscience, and in thus our means by which we seek God. Kreeft’s argument from design insists that so much as the existence of the universe as we know it is evidence that points towards the existence of God. By my own choice in faith, I take Pascal’s Wager because I care to bet on what I believe is the most favourable possible outcome for my life post-morality wise. When one really examines their faith, and the reasons for being faithful, these reasons are often observable truths that reveal, or at least insist the existence of God.