Existence of Supernatural Beings

Contents

Question

What supernatural beings exist? Does God exist?

Positions

  • Monotheism
    • A supreme being exists, God
  • Dualism / Polytheism
    • More than one god exists
  • Atheism
    • No supernatural beings exist
  • Agnosticism
    • It’s an open question whether supernatural beings exist

Big Picture

Explanatory Arguments for existence of God and Supernatural Beings

General Argument against Divine Explanations

  • For any fact claimed to be explicable only in terms of supernatural beings:
    • Either, there’s a more likely, natural explanation
      • For example, the origin of functional organs
    • Or the “fact” is not established
      • For example, the occurrence of miracles
    • Or the fact has no explanation
      • For example, the fundamental laws of nature

Non-explanatory Arguments for existence of God and Supernatural Beings

Argument against the existence of a Supreme Being

  • Argument from Pain and Suffering against the existence of a supreme being:
    • The existence of an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God is incompatible, or at least inexplicable, with a universe in which:
      • Natural disasters happen resulting in the pain, suffering and death of innocent children
      • Animals die in agony every day as they are hunted down, ripped apart, and eaten by predators
  • A typical reply is that “we can’t know the mind of God” or that “God works in mysterious ways”
  • But this a non-explanation. Granting for the sake of argument that God exists, there’s a alternative, real explanation of the existence of pain and suffering: that God, though all-powerful and all-knowing, is an nonmoral being indifferent to the pain and suffering of animals and human beings.

Arguments between Atheism and Agnosticism

  • Atheism is the view that there are no supernatural beings.
    • That is, it’s rational to believe supernatural beings don’t exist.
  • Agnosticism regards the existence of supernatural beings as an open question.
    • That is, it’s not rational to either believe or disbelieve that supernatural beings exist.
  • Argument against Atheism:
    • It’s rational to believe supernatural beings don’t exist only if it’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But it hasn’t been.
  • Argument for Atheism:
    • It’s reasonable to believe that mermaids don’t exist on the grounds that
      • there’s no credible arguments for their existence, and
      • how the idea of a mermaid developed is explained without postulating their existence.
    • In the same way it’s reasonable to believe that supernatural beings don’t exist on the grounds that
      • there’s no credible arguments for their existence, and
      • how the idea of supernatural beings developed is explained without postulating their existence.