Can you refute a recent argument against the existence of God based on contingency?
I stumbled upon an unpublished blog and I was wondering if you could help me respond to it. The title of the blog post and the argument are below. I find this article to be quite fishy and it really bothers me because I don’t know how to answer it.
A Short Proof that the existence of god is self-contradictory
The rational metaphysical tradition of theism is to assume that the universe is contingent, meaning that it may not have existed, and depends on something else for its existence. It also assumes that God is an omnipotent being, who can do anything that is logically possible. If God wills a logically possible event to happen at time t, then it is logically necessary by God’s omnipotence that this event at time t takes place. It will be shown that that an omnipotent being could not have caused this contingent universe.
Short Indirect Proof
Given that 1) the universe is contingent, and 2) any logically possible thing God wills to happen at time t must happen by logical necessity, it is the case that 3) an omnipotent being could not have caused the contingent universe. Temporarily assume that an omnipotent being caused the contingent universe to come into being. God wills the universe to come into being at time t, a logically possible event, so it is logically necessary that the universe began to exist at time t. This entails that the beginning of the universe is a logically necessary event. This contradicts the known fact that the universe is contingent. Therefore, an omnipotent being did not cause the universe to come into being. It therefore follows that an omnipotent being did not cause the universe to come into being.
The reliability of any deductive proof is completely dependent on the correctness of its premises. If the premises are true, then the conclusion is also true, unless one can show that there is a logical fallacy in the argument itself. In this case, the problem is not with the argument, but with the premises.
One premise of this argument is that God can do anything which is logically possible. This is a false premise. It is true that God is omnipotent, but we must define his omnipotence carefully. His omnipotence is “limited” by his qualities. For example, let us consider two of God’s qualities. One of them is that God is love. Another is that God is just. Because of these two qualities, both of which God has to the fullest conceivable extent, God is not able to do anything which is inconsistent with love and he is not able to do anything which is inconsistent with justice.
So, it is “logically possible” for God to do an unjust act, but his omnipotence is “limited” in the sense that any act which is not just. God is not able to act unjustly. He is also unable to perform an act which is unloving. One possibility is to conclude that God is not omnipotent. There is a sense in which God is not omnipotent. However, I would personally not put it that way. The use of the word omnipotent is very useful to explain God’s nature, but we should define God’s omnipotence something like this: God is omnipotent in that he is able to do anything which is not inconsistent with his nature (which includes his love, his justice and his holiness). God is omnipotent, but his omnipotence is qualified in that it does not include the ability to do anything unholy.
The argument against the existence of God offered by this gentleman is not a valid one. It is based on a false premise. Here is the false premise: “God is an omnipotent being, who can do anything that is logically possible.” The reliance of the argument on this false premise makes the argument itself invalid. It is logically “possible” for God to commit a hateful act, but his nature means that God cannot do a hateful thing.
There is another reason this argument is false. It has to do with this assumption/statement: “Assume that an omnipotent being caused the contingent universe to come into being. God wills the universe to come into being at time t….” One thing we know about the nature of a theistic God (assuming the Christian definition for the moment), is that he exists outside of time. Like Jesus said in John 8, “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” God gave his name to Moses in Exodus 3 to be “I AM.” God created time and he is not affected in any way by time. God simply is. Therefore the assumption that God chose to create the universe at time t is a nonsense assumption. There is not a “time” at which God chose to create the universe. God spoke the universe into existence and time began at that point. Big bang theorists will agree that there was no point along a linear time scale when the universe we live in was created. Before the creation event there was no universe and there was not even time itself. So, this argument falls of its own weight for two reasons:
It is based on a false premise (that God can do anything “logically possible”)
It is based on a nonsense proposal, which is that God chose at some particular time t to create the universe.
I hope this helps.