This is part of what I wrote for an assignment from my Philosophy class: The Linguistic and Logical Improprieties of the Theistic Proofs If I were to tell my friend that I owned a “gobiant,” he would reasonably ask what exactly a gobiant is. If I did not have an answer, he would have a good reason to deny that I own a gobiant, because my positive assertion that I do would be nonsensical. Prior to my proving to him that I own such a thing, I would have to establish a definition of what I own, so that proof of my ownership of the gobiant would actually be coherent. It makes no sense to speak of owning something prior to establishing what exactly that “something” is. In like fashion, the traditional arguments for the existence of God attempt to prove that God exists prior to establishing a distinctly Christian conception of God (or any other conception, for that matter). But this is a huge flaw. The Christian God, according to orthodox denominations of Christianity, is a deity who has sovereignly revealed Himself through the Bible. Therefore, if it were true that He existed, then it would follow that the entirety of the Bible must be true, and vice versa. But the very, very most that traditional arguments can possibly yield is that something supernatural might exist – far less that this being is a deity as typically conceived, that he cares about the world, that he has any infinite characteristics, and that he has revealed himself to the world. The arguments therefore are misnomers and entirely misleading. They cannot prove God’s existence and therefore they should not be called theistic proofs. Aquinas embarrassingly confirms this linguistic mistake: after attempting to prove an unmoved mover, he says, “And this is what everybody understands by God” (p.7); after attempting to prove a first cause, he says, “to which everyone gives the name God” (p.8); and after attempting to prove a causal perfection or goal-director, he says, “And this we call God” (p.8). He takes for granted that God is those things, but God is only those things if the Bible is assumed to be true! He has not proven God in the least; he has only proven an unmoved mover, a first cause, a necessary being, a causal perfection, and a goal-director, none of which even cumulatively can constitute God. For instance, one does not even need to assign a sentient being to the descriptors of “unmoved mover” and “first cause,” causal perfection can be merely conceptual and not a real existence, and a goal director could be a magic rabbit (or something else equally absurd). What is certain from Aquinas’s arguments is that the Christian God is not proven; he still has an extremely long way to go, demonstrating that the entire revelation claimed by Christians is true. (In their defense, evidentialist Christian apologists go from theistic proofs to evidence for Christ’s resurrection to the veracity of the Bible, but I still have severe disputations with their methodology.) There is a much more terrible problem with the cosmological argument: it is entirely question-begging. This is best demonstrated by formulating the argument “backwards” as a disproof of a supernatural first cause: (1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence, except the universe itself; (2) the universe began to exist; (3) therefore, the universe did not have a cause for its existence. Of course, the first premise introduces an obviously false premise – it is not established that the universe itself did not have to be caused into existence by the fact of its beginning to exist. But with this, we can see the question-begging premise in a theistic cosmological argument: it is not established that the universe itself must have been caused into existence by the fact of its beginning to exist. The reason that this premise is entirely unwarranted is because of the nature of causality and what we can induce through our perception: all causes and effects have taken place in time, and therefore it is acceptable for us to induce conclusions from these perceived causes and effects, as long as the inductions are pertaining to causality within time. The universe’s cause is emphatically “before” time began: time did not yet exist. How, then, can anyone possibly make a definite claim about causality in the absence of time itself? The truth is that one cannot, and consequently inasmuch as Aquinas or any other philosopher attempts to prove a supernatural first cause from the existence of causality in a temporal framework, he or she necessarily begs the question. Paley’s teleological argument suffers from a logical fallacy as well. He argues that just as a watch points to an obvious watchmaker, so also a well-designed or fine-tuned universe points to a divine Designer. But he equivocates here on “design.” The reason we can know that a watch is designed is because of precedent – we know that previous watches had to be constructed by watchmakers, and therefore a new watch we discovered was likely made by a watchmaker too. We have received trustworthy knowledge that a watch must be designed; hence when we see a watch we know that it is actually and not just apparently designed. But this type of design does not translate to a cosmic level, for two reasons: (1) there is no definite precedent of universe creation (indeed if there were we would already have proven what we were attempting to do!), and (2) there is no discernible way to differentiate between apparent design and actual design. The former is obvious. The latter is significant because actual designer rather than apparent design is the crux of Paley’s argument. If he has no grounds upon which he can definitively state that the universe is actually designed, then his argument fails. The required grounds cannot exist unless there is a way to demonstrate that the universe was actually designed, but the only way to do that (which we know of) is by precedent, an impossible task. Paley’s argument, like all the traditional theistic proofs, is stuck in the mud.