What is God?
There have been opposing views about existence of God among scholars and philosophers. Many contradicting theistic arguments have been developed to proof that God exists. This academic piece of work explores Ockham’s razor concept with respect to existence of God. In addition, the work explores other theistic arguments and attempts to show that the proposed arguments do not refute Ockham’s razor concept. Finally, the work reflects on medievals believe in God and concludes that they had their own account for God’s existence.
Ockham’s razor is a problem-solving tenet or concept that was developed by William of Ockham (1285-1345). The concept is founded on the idea that, in attempting to comprehend something, doing away with irrelevant information is the quickest way to the best explanation or to the truth (Ariew, 267). Ockham was an English philosopher and theologian who spent most of his life designing a concept that reconciled religious faith with demonstrable experienced truth particularly by distinguishing the two (Ariew, 232). Contrary to previous philosophers who used rational proof as an attempt to justify existence of God, Ockham declared religious belief a matter of faith rather than rational proof. In addition, he denounced the opinions preserved from classical times of the autonomous existence of qualities like hardness, durability and truth and stressed that these opinions had treasure only as description of specific objects were actually traits of human understanding.
He insisted on giving close attention to observation as a tool for testing reality and language as a tool for thinking. ‘’What can be done with fewer (assumptions) is done in vain with more’’ (Palmer, 76) summarizes the Ockham’s razor concept. As a matter of fact, the tenet emphasized on the idea that the most obvious or simplest description of various competing hypothesis is the one that should be favored till it is deemed unfit or wrong. The concept is considered to have established foundation for modern scientific research. Bertrand Russell supports Ockham’s razor principle by claiming that if possible, unknown entities should be substituted by known inferences while constructing inferences (Ariew, 377).
Other than Ockham’s razor concept, a variety of theistic arguments have been developed to show existence of God. Some these arguments include:
Ontological argument: This argument was first developed by St. Anselm before Descartes presenting it (Oppy, 654). The argument presents God as all-perfect being. Ontological argument defines God as,’’ the greatest possible object of thought.’’ This follows that if an object of thought does not exist, then another object which is similar to it and does exist is greater. As a result, the greatest of all imaginary objects must exist or else another still greater will exist. Actually, Anselm and Descartes attempt to proof that existence of God can be deduced from mere definition of God. Although the argument is accepted by some of theologians, it has been equally criticized by others. According to Anselm and Descartes, there exists distinction between the conceptual and real world something that makes the argument nonsensical (Oppy, 654).
Cosmological argument: This theistic argument was founded by Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) who is considered among greatest Christian philosophers to have ever existed (Reichenbach, 387). Aquinas suggested five proofs to reveal existence of God. First, he discovered that an object that is moving is set in motion by some other force or object and concluded that there exists God who puts objects in motion (Reichenbach, 389). Second, Aquinas observed that there is causation of existence since from common knowledge no object has capability to create itself. Aquinas reveals God as uncaused first cause who started the chain of existence for all objects. Third, Aquinas found that universe has two types of objects in universe (contingent and necessary things) and deduced that existence of contingent beings would eventually provoke a necessary being that must be present for all contingent beings to exist (Reichenbach, 394). Aquinas names the necessary being God. Fourth, Aquinas found that a perfect standard through which qualities are measured must be present for any given quality to exist. Consequently, he concluded that God contained all perfections (Reichenbach, 326). Lastly, from perspective of intelligent design, Aquinas argued that nature and life were ordered and designed by God.
Teleological argument: The argument was proposed by Aquinas. It is founded on ideas that all natural phenomena display evidence of design, objects that lack know-how cannot attain anything unless being guided by knowledgeable thing, there is a being that guides all objects and there is an intelligent being that guides every person towards a purpose (Riley, 189). Aquinas terms this being as God. One objection of this argument is that, the concept of displaying universe as orderly does not imply existence of one creator.
Ontological approach leans on existence of perfect God and creation of conceptual world (Oppy, 684). Existence of conceptual world makes it hard for people to clearly understand that God exists hence proving complex in comparison with concept of Ockham. Cosmological argument on the other side provides more concrete proof on God’s existence. Despite of presenting empirical evidence, it appears more complex when compared to Ockham’s razor argument.
Reflecting on Palmer’s claim, “it’s as if the medievals were giving an account to themselves of the rational status of their belief—or their knowledge—of God” (Palmer, 157), I strongly concur with the claim. In accordance to the available arguments trying to proof existence of God, it is prudent to note that none of the claims sufficiently addresses God’s existence. In fact, most of arguments which medievals heavily relied upon have been identified as having numerous flaws. In addition, most of them held divergent opinions with regard to existence of God.Faith is prerequisite requirement for accepting any belief (Riley, 197). Actually, acceptance is as a consequent of believing. Significantly, not until all people accept and believe in existence of God that arguments proposed to proof His existence will become meaningful and relevant among believers. Let’s consider this analogy; people across the globe believe that water is life. This is because they have witnessed negative devastating impacts of water shortage including loss of life. Similarly, people will only accept arguments explaining existence of God if they see uniformity in facts presented.