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God’s Necessity and the Universe’s Contingency (Part 1)

January 19, 2010

Over at Common Sense Atheism, commenter “TaiChi” presented a case for the inconsistency of a set comprised of the following statements:

(P0) The universe is contingent.
(P1) God had sufficient reason to create the universe as we know it.
(P2) A sufficient reason is an all-things-considered reason to perform one action over any other alternative.
(P4) To have an all-things-considered reason to act and refrain from acting (or to perform some alternative action) is irrational.
(P5) God is essentially rational.
(P8) God is necessary – he exists in every possible world.

How is it that this set is inconsistent?  TaiChi presents the following argument using (P1), (P2), (P4), (P5), and (P8):

(P1) God had sufficient reason to create the universe as we know it.
(P2) A sufficient reason is an all-things-considered reason to perform one action over any other alternative.
(C3) So, when God created the universe, he had all-things considered reason to create the universe as we know it.  (From P1 and P2)
(P4) To have an all-things-considered reason to act and refrain from acting (or to perform some alternative action) is irrational.
(P5) God is essentially rational.
(C6) Then, God would not choose otherwise than to create the universe as we know it.  (From C3, P4, and P5)
(C7) So, in every possible world in which God exists, God does choose to create the universe as we know it.  (From C6)
(P8) God is necessary – he exists in every possible world.
(C9) So the universe is necessary.  (From C7 and P8)

Now clearly, on a common understanding of the terms “necessary” and “contingent”, (P0) and (C9) seem to be contradictory.  So to resolve the inconsistency of the set, one or more of the premises have to be jettisoned, or the inferences must be invalid.  This is what I’ll explore in future posts.

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3 comments

  1. In C6 you mislabel C3 as P3.

    Did TaiChi give a source for this argument, or did TaiChi come up with it? It’s a pretty interesting argument, I must say.


  2. Thanks Luke, I fixed the error.

    No, I haven’t seen this argument before.


  3. Luke: there’s no source for the argument. I’m sure I’ve read the complaint suggested somewhere, but I haven’t seen an explicit argument along these lines.



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