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Monday, November 5, 2012

Theism on Secular Grounds

William Vallicella: Theism on Secular Grounds
A reader inquires:
Can one reason from secular premises to a theistic conclusion? Or is any argument that concludes to God's existence non-secular by nature?
To answer the reader's question, yes, one can reason from secular premises to a theistic conclusion. Indeed, the traditional arguments do precisely that. For example, cosmological arguments proceed a contingentia mundi, from the contingency of the world, and they attempt to show that there must be a necessary being responsible for the world's existence. That the universe exists and that it exists contingently are secular starting points -- in one of its meanings saecula just means 'world' -- and not deliverances of revelation or churchly doctrines to be taken on faith.

Now the same goes for the rest of the theistic arguments, the ontological, the teleological, the moral, and indeed for all of the twenty or so arguments that Plantinga lists.
The problem with arguments for the reality the Biblical conception of God isn't that we Jews and Christians are arguing in a circle. The problem is that the pretend atheists who deny the validity and truth of these arguments are "listening in a circle".

Consider the reader's second quoted question: "Or is any argument that concludes to God's existence non-secular by nature?" Almost every so-called 'free-thinker' whom one encounters believes, at least implicitly, the falsehood that any argument which concludes to God's existence is, by its very nature, non-secular ... and non-logical. Mind you, they cannot demonstrate that the argument is either non-logical or non-secular, yet they will continuously assert that it is, and assert that they are rejecting it for that reason.