In another post I shared “My Most Fundamental Beliefs.”

(https://truthandlifeseeker.wordpress.com/2020/01/04/my-most-fundamental-beliefs/ )

Much of that post is about what I take to be “the ultimate reality”—commonly known as ‘God.’ Here I will explain very briefly why I believe those things:

I believe there are two basic explanations for why I believe what I believe:

  1. God has enabled me to have glimpses of these truths through various means, including, but not at all only, by reasoning and evidence. There is good evidence that God has revealed Godself to, and communicated with, people, in various ways.
  2. There is very good historical and philosophical reasoning and evidence supporting these beliefs.

To explain the second, I repeat those fundamental beliefs below, insert brief explanations of reasoning and evidence supporting them.

(My thinking on these things has been influence by many philosophers including, in particular, Oxford philosophy Richard Swinburne. See his, Is There a God? and, much more difficult, The Existence of God, as well as The Resurrection of God Incarnate, all from Oxford University Press.)

At the bottom I also have a link to an unpublished manuscript of mine explaining in much more detail.

My fundamental beliefs, with brief explanation:

  1. Everything that exists shares a single ultimate cause.
    1. It is an important feature of scientific explanation and reasoning that the simpler an explanation the better it is, and the more reason we have to believe it. There is little dispute about this among scientists, philosophers of science, or logicians.
    2. It is simpler to suppose that everything shares a single ultimate cause than to suppose that there are many ultimate causes, or none.
      1. What I mean by an ‘ultimate cause’ is something that causes something else but is not itself caused by something else.
      2. The only way there could be no ultimate cause at all is if there were an ‘infinite regress’ of causes—everything is/was caused by a previous thing, which was caused by a previous thing, etc., going forever backward without end; there was no first thing.
        1. It is doubtful, and much disputed, whether that is even possible.
        2. It is more complex to imagine everything existing in an infinite regress than supposing it all originated from one ultimate cause.
  2. That ultimate cause of everything is only limited by logic in what it can do; it can do anything conceptually possible. So it is ultimately in control of everything.
    1. It is simpler to assume that there are no non-logical limits to causal powers and abilities of the ultimate cause than to assume that it has some limits to its powers.
      • Why would the ultimate cause have a particular amount of limited power? Why that amount and not more? What exactly could explain why it had that limit to its power? Etc.
    2. When I say that God is only ‘limited by logic’ I just mean that God cannot do things whose description involve contradictions or other incoherence. I.e., not even God can create round squares, create a stone God cannot lift and then lift it, etc. Such things are not real possibilities. They are self-contradictory linguistic expressions which could not accurately describe anything in reality. So it is somewhat misleading to even refer to this as a ‘limit.’
  3. One of the things it can do is know everything.
    • If God can do anything which is logically possible, God can know everything—i.e., know every truth.
  4. Since it knows the values of everything (and what is good and best is by definition better than what is bad or worse), and the ultimate cause is able to do only what is good and best, it always actually and only does what is good and best; it is absolutely good.
    1. Knowing that something is good automatically gives one a reason to try to bring it about. And knowing that something is bad automatically gives one a reason to not bring it about.
    2. Something with no limits to its power would have no reason to do what is bad, or not do what is good.
    3. So an “all-powerful,” “all-knowing” being would only do the good and best; it would be absolutely good.
  5. So it created everything else, including us—because it knows that this would be good.
    • I presume you would agree that it is good that we exist, and that this universe exists. So God would have good reason to create us.
  6. Also because it would be good, that ultimate reality put us in a world where we can make a difference—where we, and our lives, can matter—a lot.
    • If we could not “make a difference,” we and our lives would matter less. They would be of less significance and value.
  7. So we are given the ability to make things better, or worse—in fact, much better, or much worse—so that we and our lives can matter, a lot.
    1. A person who can make things better or worse can make a significant difference in the world.
    2. A person who cannot make things better or worse cannot make such a difference in the world.
    3. So a person who can make things better or worse can have a kind of significance—they and their lives can matter—in a way unavailable to a person who could not make things better or worse.
  8. We have, unfortunately and continually, made things, and even ourselves, worse than they could have been.
    1. It is hard to imagine anyone disputing this.
    2. Observe all the bad things people do—all the evil in the world as a result of our bad choices—even the ways we corrupt ourselves by our actions, our building bad habits, etc.
  9. Despite this, because it is good, the ultimate reality wants what is best for us; it loves us, more than we can imagine.
    1. Because what is good for us is good, the ultimate reality would want that.
    2. Because it is good to love, the ultimate reality would love maximally.
    3. There would be a challenge with wanting what is best for, and loving, us, who are responsible for so much evil and fail to do the good we should.
  10. To make it possible to accept us, and be for us—despite our corruption—the ultimate reality has reached out to us by becoming a human being—Jesus of Nazareth.
    1. Justice is good. But treating us as we deserve would not be good for us. So God lived a perfect human life for us, and suffered the just consequences for our evil.
    2. That Jesus was God-come-in-the-flesh is an extraordinary claim, but this is what he claimed.
    3. We know from the writings of those taught by him or instructed by those taught by him, that he claimed this, seemed to fulfill ancient prophecies, had extraordinary teachings and an extraordinary life, demonstrated control over nature, was crucified, died, buried, and came back to life, appearing physically to many.
      1. Read his teaching, and about his life, for yourself in the “New Testament” documents. Read his “Sermon on the Mount,” for example. (Matthew, chs. 5-7)
      2. This historical evidence that he rose from the dead, first presented in “The Gospels,” Matthew, Luke, and John, is summarized by a contemporary, Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, the 15th chapter.
      3. There is no plausible explanation of the origins of Christianity on which he did not do these extraordinary things. In particular, the eyewitnesses willingly suffered and died to proclaim what he did and taught. They were in the best position to know the truth of what Jesus taught and did. People don’t willingly suffer and die for things they know aren’t true.
      4. To insist that Jesus didn’t really do these amazing things, despite the historical evidence, requires an insistence that miracles are impossible or hyper-improbable, either of which are unjustified on account of the good reasons to believe in God.
  11. He taught us the truth and how to live, lived a perfect life, allowed himself to be tortured to death, and rose from the dead, for our sake.
    • See above.
  12. He promised that in the end everything that has gone wrong in this world will be righted: all evil will be put to an end, justice will be established, and everyone who has died will be brought back to life. Children who have suffered and died are not out of luck. Justice will be established for those who have suffered great injustice.
    • These are the promises Jesus made, as recorded by his followers in their (“New Testament”) writings.
  13. In the meantime, he invites us to join with him in doing the good we can in the world—alleviating suffering, working for justice, eliminating evil, helping those who need help, and sharing the good news that the complete fix is coming.
  14. We can relate properly to the ultimate reality by trust—through which we are enabled to live this ultimately-fulfilling life with confidence.
    • Jesus taught this, as written down by his followers. (See, e.g., John chs. 3 & 10.)
  15. On account of these promises, we know that whatever good we do is not for nothing; it matters, in fact, eternally.

For a much more detailed explanation see https://truthandlifeseeker.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/questions-confessions-manuscript-2-2.pdf