Geisler’s Five Ways – Part 11: The Structure of Geisler’s Case
I’m going to take a step back in this post and look at the overall structure of Geisler’s case for the existence of God, a presented in When Skeptics Ask (hereafter: WSA).
PHASE 1: GEISLER’s FIVE WAYS
On pages 15 through 26, Geisler presents five arguments for five conclusions. I call this Phase 1 of this case. Here are the five conclusions of the five initial arguments:
- Something other than the universe caused the universe to begin to exist.
- Something is a first uncaused cause of the present existence of the universe.
- There is a Great Designer of the universe.
- There is a supreme moral Lawgiver.
- If God exists, then God exists and God is a necessary being.
Note that the word “God” is being misused by Geisler in the statement of the fifth conclusion. The purpose of his case is to prove that “God exists”, so a premise that begins, “If God exists, then…” is of no use in his case.
As with many of the arguments that I have examined in Geisler’s case, he is using the word “God” in an idiosyncratic sense, which he does not bother to clarify or define. So, we have to examine the context of each such claim in his case to figure out what the hell he means each time he misuses the word “God”. (This is part of why I say that this case is a steaming pile of dog shit; Geisler does not bother to clarify or define the meaning of the most important word in his argument.)
PHASE 2: THE CREATOR’S PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES
On pages 26 and 27, Geisler presents Phase 2 of his case. He argues for three claims related to personal attributes of “God”:
- God is very powerful.
- God is very intelligent.
- God is [morally] good.
Once again, Geisler misuses the word “God” here. But he gives us a good clue as to what he means by “God” in his Phase 2 arguments:
The argument from design shows us that whatever caused the universe not only had great power, but also great intelligence. (WSA, p.26, emphasis added)
Geisler had argued in the previous paragraph that based on his two cosmological arguments “God” had great power. Then Geisler uses his argument from design to try to show that “God” had great intelligence. The above quoted statement implies that the word “God” is being used in the narrow sense of “whatever caused the universe”. Roughly speaking, the conclusions that Geisler argues for in Phase 2 are more clearly stated as follows:
- Whatever caused the universe is very powerful.
- Whatever caused the universe is very intelligent.
- Whatever caused the universe is [morally] good.
So, Geisler is arguing that there exists a cause of the universe, and that this cause has various personal attributes that are part of the ordinary meaning of the word “God”.
PHASE 3: THE EXISTENCE OF A NECESSARY BEING
Yet again, Geisler abuses the word “God” in Phase 3 of his case for the existence of God. The argument in Phase 3 is on page 27. It makes use of the conclusion from “The Argument from Being” in Phase 1 (pages 24-26). Here is how Geisler states the conclusion of this part of his case:
- God is a necessary being.
Clearly, he is NOT using the word “God” in its ordinary sense here. Presumably, he actually means something like this:
- Whatever caused the universe is a necessary being.
Since I have not yet closely examined the argument in Phase 3, I’m not sure that this is the best interpretation of this key conclusion, so an important part of analyzing and evaluating the argument in Phase 3 will be to figure out what the hell Geisler means by the word “God” when he asserts that “God is a necessary being.”
PHASE 4: THE IMPLICATIONS OF “A NECESSARY BEING”
On pages 27-28, Geisler presents Phase 4 of his case. There are two different sets of alleged implications that Geisler argues follow from the existence of a necessary being. First there are implications related to God’s “metaphysical” attributes (as contrasted with God’s personal attributes above):
- A necessary being is unchanging.
- A necessary being is infinite.
- A necessary being is eternal.
- A necessary being is omnipresent.
Second, there are alleged conditional implications of the concept of a necessary being:
- If a necessary being is powerful, then it is all-powerful.
- If a necessary being is intelligent, then it is all-knowing.
- If a necessary being is [morally] good, then it is perfectly [morally] good.
Geisler then uses the conclusions from Phase 2 and Phase 3 in order to argue for this conclusion:
- Whatever caused the universe is an unchanging, infinite, eternal, and omnipresent necessary being, that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and pefectly morally good.
PHASE 5: ONLY ONE INFINITE BEING
In a short paragraph on page 28, Geisler argues that there cannot be multiple beings of the sort that he thinks he has shown to exist:
- There can be only one infinite Being.
PHASE 6: GOD EXISTS
Although Geisler never provides a definition of the word “God”, it is fairly clear that he assumes a meaning of the word “God” that is something like this:
X is God IF AND ONLY IF:
- X caused the universe to begin to exist, and
- X causes the universe to continue to exist, and
- X is the great designer of the universe, and
- X is the supreme moral lawgiver, and
- X is a necessary being, and
- X is the only unchanging, infinite, eternal, and omnipresent being, and
- X is the only all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly morally good being.
So, the ultimate conclusion of Geisler’s case is this:
- God exists.
Here, finally, the word “God” is being used in something like it’s ordinary sense.