Is God A Brute Fact Or Does God Not Exist?

If God exists, why is there some Being rather than no Being?

Put another way, with regard to the existence of contingent beings (“Why is there something rather than nothing?”), God presumably functions as the necessary and sufficient cause for those contingent beings. But on the principle of sufficient reason, God has no reason for being Herself.

So the answer to the question, “Why is there some Being rather than no Being?” has no answer. If God exists, God is a brute fact.

Thus wherever there are contingent beings, THEN it would appear that a singular, unified, necessary Being must exist to end the infinite regress of causes. There must be a necessary cause of some sort. But that necessary Being itself has no reason to exist prior to the creation of those contingent beings. There could have been no Being rather than that one Being.

Therefore, the existence of God does not square with the principle of sufficient reason. God is either a brute fact without a sufficient cause Herself, or She simply does not exist.

But then what is the necessary cause for contingent beings?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Is God A Brute Fact Or Does God Not Exist?

  1. These arguments are fun. Philosophers have done the most damage with their work in this area. They examine only infinite regress and a single regress beyond our current knowledge. They do not discuss a regression that goes maybe 4 steps beyond our current knowledge and stops with a brute fact.

    Let’s say that we discover something wonderful and our knowledge grows (perhaps multiverse) so that we can regress back before the big bang a couple of steps. We are still left with questions about origin. Theists simply move the goal post and put god where our knowledge stops – until we learn more, again, and again.

    The idea of infinite regress never goes away and god never stops it nor explains origin. I recently posted that even god can’t know why he exists, if he exists (http://myatheistlife.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/god-is-like-me-well-he-wants-to-be/) so it is impossible for even god to explain origin. It just is – seeking to understand origin to the final degree is the true infinite regress. In the end, the actual instant of origin does not matter for we are powerless to change it and it likely will not explain anything more to us than telling a cocker spaniel that his origin from a wolfe was an accident of man’s desire to survive, that human’s are evolved apes, and we were once all fish. None of this means anything to the happiness or survival of a spaniel. Should we learn that there are infinite universes that we cannot visit it would do us little good.

    It does not matter if the regress of origin is 1 step, 5 steps, or infinite steps beyond our current knowledge.

  2. Roger says:

    Hi. I saw your blog in a google search and find it very interesting. The question of “something” and “nothing” and the related idea of “infinite regress” have interested me my whole life. To avoid an infinite regress, I think there must be something that exists for reasons solely intrinsic to itself and not for some outside reason. My proposed suggestion for what this thing is and possible solution to the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” are related to a solution to the question “Why do things exist?” In brief, I propose that “something” and “nothing” are just two different words, derived from two different ways of thinking, for describing the same underlying thing: what we’ve traditionally, and, as I’ll try to show, incorrectly, thought of as the “absolute lack-of-all” or “non-existence”. I put these phrases in quotes because I try to show by my argument that when we’ve gotten rid of everything that is traditionally thought to exist, the supposed “absolute lack-of-all” or “non-existence” that’s left actually meets the definition I propose of an existent entity. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but a summary of my reasoning is as follows:

    
A. To start, I think the reason that something exists is that it’s a grouping defining what is contained within. A grouping defining what is contained within is similar to a surface. For example, a book is composed of tons of individual atoms, but when they’re grouped together (via their chemical bonds), a new and unique existent entity called the book is formed. The book is a different entity than the individual atoms that compose it. Other examples are the outlines of a cloud, and the curly braces around a set. These define what is contained within and give existence to the thing as a separate existent entity from the contents of the thing. Even for an abstract concept in our mind, we have a list of the things that we think are included within that concept. Without a grouping defining what is contained within, a thing doesn’t exist.

    

B. Now, getting back to “nothing”, we’ve always thought that when you get rid of all matter, energy, space/volume, time, thoughts and concepts as well as all minds to consider this, then what’s left is the complete lack-of-all, “non-existence”, or “nothing”. But, I think once we’ve gotten rid of all that stuff, there’s one existent thing we can’t get rid of, which is the existent entity that is the supposed “absolute lack-of-all” itself.  How can this be?  Consider the supposed “absolute lack-of-all”.  That lack of volume, matter, energy, concepts, minds, time, etc. would be the entirety of all that is present.  It would be the all.   Entirety and all are groupings defining what is present and contained within. Therefore, what we’ve previously thought of as the “absolute lack-of-all” is, when thought of a little differently, an existent state. So, really, what we’ve called “the absolute lack-of-all” in the past is, when thought about differently, not really the lack of all existent entities; it is itself an existent entity. In fact, I think it’s the most fundamental of existent entities.  This means that the problem in answering the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” is because of our incorrect distinction between “something” and “nothing”.  As described above, even the supposed “absolute lack-of-all” is an existent entity, or “something”.

    
If you’re interested, there’s a better explanation including more on the infinite regress idea (about 3 pages) at:

    sites.google.com/site/whydoesanythingexist

    Thanks!

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