Hinman’s Two Ways – Part 1: Outline of Argument #1

Joe Hinman wants me to set aside Mr. Geisler’s pathetic case for God, and to give serious consideration to his case for God, which includes at least two arguments:

Argument 1: an Aspect of Being is Eternal And Necessary (ABEAN),

and

Argument 2: Religious Experience Meets Epistemic Criteria (REMEC).

In this first post, I will only get started with Hinman’s first argument, attempting to clarify the basic structure of that argument.

Here is an excerpt from Hinman’s initial post on this subject:

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Rather than proving the existence of God I argue for the goal of providing a warrant for belief. A popular saying is often heard on the net: proof is for mathematics and whisky,

GOB = Ground of Being

SON – Sense of numinous [I corrected the spelling of this phrase]

[…]

Argument I: from Eternal Necessary aspect of being

1.All naturalistic phenomena is contingent and temporal

2. Some aspect of being must be eternal and necessary unless we are willing to accept existence ex nihilo

3. In contrast to Human infinitude the GOB evokes sense of the numinous

4. whatever evokes the SON is a valid object of worship, thus we are warranted in equating Gob with God

5, Belief is warranted from 2 and 4.

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MY INITIAL RESTATEMENT OF THE FIRST ARGUMENT

Hinman follows Tillich in objecting to the statement that “God exists”  or that “God is a being”.  Nevertheless, Hinman insists that the claim “There is no God” is false or mistaken, and he affirms that “God is real”.  I’m skeptical about whether this position is logically coherent, but for now I will not put words into Hinman’s mouth; I will NOT re-state his argument as having the traditional conclusion that “God exists”.

I will, however, restate his argument, in an attempt to make it a bit more clear:

Hinman’s ABEAN Argument

1. All natural phenomena are contingent and temporal.

2. IF all natural phenomena are contingent and temporal, THEN some aspect of being is eternal and necessary.

THEREFORE:

3. Some aspect of being is eternal and necessary.

4. IF some aspect of being is eternal and necessary, THEN there is good reason to believe that the Ground of Being is real.

5. IF there is good reason to believe that the Ground of Being is real, THEN there is good reason to believe that God is real.

THEREFORE:

6. There is good reason to believe that God is real.

Note that the IF/THEN statements in premises (4) and (5) might not be intended as logical implications, since they represent the epistemic notion of warrant or “a good reason to believe” a claim.

It MIGHT be the case that Hinman views “an eternal and necessary aspect of being” as logically or conceptually equivalent to “the Ground of Being”, in which case we could drop the phrase “there is good reason to believe that…” and treat (4) as a straightforward logical implication.  It MIGHT be the case that Hinman views “the Ground of Being” as logically or conceptually equivalent to “God”, in which case we could take the IF/THEN statement in premise (5) to be a logical implication.  [JOE: Please comment on the nature of the logical or epistemic relationships between antecedents and consequents in these two premises.  I need you to clearly distinguish the claims that have a “warrant” relationship from the claims that have a straightforward logical implication relationship.]

I believe, however, that the IF/THEN statement in premise (2) is intended as a logical implication, as indicated by the word “must” in Hinman’s original wording of that premise.

I have simplified and generalized Hinman’s argument a bit, by making the connection between GOB and GOD more direct with premise (5). Hinman is free, of course, to use his idea about “the Sense of the Numinous” as a primary justification for premise (5), but this also gives him some wiggle room, in case that justification fails or is insufficient by itself.  He might be able to come up with other ways of justifying premise (5).

I dropped the qualification “unless we are willing to accept existence ex nihilo” from premise (2), because I assume that Hinman has some sort of reason or argument for rejecting that option, and that reason or argument could then be understood as part of the justification for the unqualified version of premise (2).

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JOE:  Is my re-statement of your first argument OK, or would you like to make some changes to it?

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UPDATED again on 6/1/17 (change is in blue font)

UPDATE on 5/30/17

Based on feedback from Joe Hinman, I’m revising my statement of his argument:

Hinman’s ABEAN Argument – Rev.A

1. All natural phenomena are contingent and temporal.

2. IF all natural phenomena are contingent and temporal, THEN some aspect of being is eternal and necessary.

THEREFORE:

3. Some aspect of being is eternal and necessary.

4A. IF some aspect of being is eternal and necessary, THEN the Ground of Being is real.

5A. IF the Ground of Being is real, THEN God is real.

THEREFORE:

6A. God is real.

Hinman’s Sub-Argument for Premise (2):

7. IF all natural phenomena are contingent and temporal, THEN either (a) some aspect of being is eternal and necessary or (b) there is an infinite regress of contingent and temporal causes or (c) natural phenomena came into existence ex nihilo (apart from divine causation or activity).

8. It is not the case that there is an infinite regress of contingent and temporal causes.

9. It is not the case that natural phenomena came into existence ex nihilo (apart from divine causation or activity).

THEREFORE:

2. IF all natural phenomena are contingent and temporal, THEN some aspect of being is eternal and necessary.

JOE:  Is this good enough for me to get started with my analysis and evaluation? or do you want to make further changes?

I take it that this is a cosmological argument with some connection to arguments by Aristotle and Aquinas, but with some modifications inspired by Tillich’s theology or philosophy.

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