An Argument for the Existence of God (P.S. Happy Valentine's Day!)

Today in my History of Theories of Psychology class I forwarded a new argument for the existence of God. Regular readers will note that this is a revised version of an argument I made here on this blog some time ago. Relevant to my last post (and the series to follow) there is some Frankfurtian stuff on volitional necessities in the argument (#5 and #6 lean on Frankfurt).

In class I called this a fingerprint argument. It doesn’t prove that God exists; it simply looks for a “fingerprint,” a “sign.” For the sake of posterity, here it is:

1. Consciousness adheres to matter.

2. When it does so it preserves structure, leading to increasing complexity of structure.

3. As structure grows more complex, consciousness grows more complex in turn.

4. When consciousness reaches a certain degree of complexity it becomes self-aware/self-reflective.

5. When consciousness becomes self-reflective it will notice that it is bound by certain volitional necessities.

6. The most pervasive and fundamental volitional necessity is love.


Conclusion: Love is built into the fabric of the cosmos. It is a latent potentiality in every speck of matter. This is the fingerprint of God.

Commentary on the points:
1. Self explanatory. You are Exhibit A. So is a dog or mouse.

2. The rudimentary expression of consciousness is pleasure and pain. Pain uniformly signals damage and/or a potential loss of organizational integrity. Pleasure is just the opposite. Thus, consciousness doesn’t adhere to matter in a willy-nilly way. It is intimately involved in preserving organizational complexity. This ability to persevere—to maintain organizational integrity—allows matter to evolve into more complex configurations. Again, you are Exhibit A. Your existence is evidence that both #1 and #2 are true.

3. Again, this is simply a statement of fact. You are both more complex—structurally and consciously—than a dog. And a dog more than a mouse. And so on.

4. Eventually, consciousness can get to the point where it can model/reflect/mirror/represent its own structure. Once this point is reached the two structures—mind and matter—can be leveraged off one other facilitating, in exponential ways, the processes of #1-#3. That is, a self-aware structure can note that it is a structure and can, therefore, become an originator of new structures (i.e., we create physical and mental structures: we build.).

5. When self-reflective consciousness emerges, the agent will become aware that she is volitionally committed to things beyond her own choosing. That is, she will notice that she is volitionally invested and committed it certain ways. These investments (volitional necessities) are what the agent notices she “cares” about. These are discovered rather than chosen.

6. As the agent sorts her experience the most fundamental investments are those she loves. These loves form the foundation of the conscious experience.

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13 thoughts on “An Argument for the Existence of God (P.S. Happy Valentine's Day!)”

  1. What you wrote is great. Now, somewhere I've heard/read that most people's conception of God is that which they learned by age 8. And, it seems to me it is that Dod that most atheists have a problem with. I have a friend of many years who, from my perspective, believes some way out things. He is a New Age type of person. But every once in a while he says something that deeply affects my life, for the better. About 25 years ago, recalling a conversaton about the existence of God, he told me that the real question is not whether God exists but rather, what are God's characteristics. That relieved an unresolved tension in me. Taken this way, the goal of understanding or knowing God is a process and it is not to prove but to discover, to journey. The story of our consciousness and its emergence and its meaning is directly on that path.

  2. "As the agent sorts her experience the most fundamental investments are those she loves. These loves form the foundation of the conscious experience."

    Ok, you're going to have to give me some help on this one. I have no idea what you're talking about. =)

  3. What I want to know is, why is your conscious agent a "she"? Is this some kind of Valentine's Day patronage to the opposite sex?

  4. So what you are saying, Richard, is that we cannot help but love others? That loving is programmed somehow into consciousness?

    I think I'm not understanding exactly what you mean by "volitional necessities". Sounds like an oxymoron, but I guess you are meaning things we can't help but choose to do, or ways we can't help but choose to act. If you have a baby, you can't help but care deeply about it, for example.

    Seems to me that there are perfectly good evolutionary reasons why love is a necessity. Why the need to invoke God?

  5. Matthew and Pecs,
    The volitional necessity stuff is from Frankfurt. It was a little early to post on it since it is part of his book I'm starting to post about. I'll give a lot more detial in that series. But, quickly, since I love you both...

    Perhaps this quote from Frankfurt gives a hint of where I'm going and what #5 and #6 are getting at:

    "Answers to the normative question are certianly up to us in the sense that they depend upon what we care about. However, what we care about is not always up to us. Our will is not invariably subject to our will. We cannot have, simply for the asking, whatever will we want. There are some things we cannot help caring about. Our caring about them consists of desires and dispositions that are not under our immediate voluntary control. We are committed in ways that we cannot directly affect. Our volitional character does not change just because we want it to change, or because we resolve that it do so. Insofar as answers to the normative question depend upon carings that we cannot alter at will, what we should care about is not up to us at all." p. 24 from Taking Ourselves Seriously & Getting it Right

    Regarding evolution, true, the source of our volitional character is a product of evolution. My only point is this: Why would evolution produce love? Why does matter/energy love at all? Why would matter/energy be invested at all, relationally speaking? Why is THIS a part of the cosmos?

  6. I'm speaking from a completely uneducated perspective on this, but I would assume that societal evolution has its roots in individual evolution. i.e. in order for society to function well, we have to have evolved social adaptations that help us out. Caring about your fellow woman (I'll follow Richard's lead in gender choice) seems an obvious adaptation for humans to live more productively in groups. Another way of saying it: A society where greed is the predominant motive for behavior is not as sustainable as one with "love".

  7. I'm having trouble with premise #1. I fail to see why it is obvious that consciousness adheres to matter. What am I missing?

    Geoff

  8. Maybe a better way of saying it is that consciousness arises from matter, and cannot be separated from it.

  9. Hmm... I guess... It seems to me that such a statement can only be made about organic matter, and even then only appears to us in certain types of organic matter.

  10. Didn't you ever see the Star Trek (Original Series) episode with the intelligent silicon based life forms?

  11. hehe... sorry to say, I'm a fan of Star Wars, not Star Trek... :-P

    And I am really intrigued about this whole notion of how/why consciousness adheres to matter... hmmm, just what I need, another deep topic to busy my mind and take me away from working on my Old Testament essays!

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