The argument seeks to explain why organizing principals are necessary and all pervasive. It also seeks to explain how such principles can be. Where are they located? How can disembobied principals be “out there?” The transcendental signifier fits the criteria offered as “best explanation.
There are two aspects, elegance (number and concisenss of the theories basic principles.) and ontological simplicity (number of entities proposed). The TSED and God are not two entities but one and the same. That's one “entity” the TSED has ontological simplicity. I don't know if Christian theology could be said to be concise but it can't be as complex as the mathematics for the multiverse. Religious answers are not scientific. They can't be judged by the same standards. Yet, concepts can be concise and clearity often makes for simplicity. God is a concept, as is the TSED. The concept iclear and concise: God is the mind that thinks the world.
Theologically God has always been considered simple: God is not a body, not composed of form or matter, He's not a product of nature.1
Science and religion are not competitors. Belief and atheism do compete. They both seek to explain ultimate origins. The best atheism can do is use science to assert that Gravity is the ultimate. Since we don't really understand gravity well enough to say it's self creating and self sufficient that's not much of an answer. In positing a “why” they are stuck with denying that there is a why. Science does not compete with God, except as used by the new atheist. It is there use of science that speak to as a rival hypothesis.
There are no contradictions in the concept of God per se. There may be contradictions in some ideas of God but not in all of them. Of course atheists might point out that the problem of theodicy (why does God allow pain and evil?) creates a contradiction between the world as we know it and the idea of a loving God who cares for each one of us. There are various theological answers, however that mitigate the contradiction. One of them might be that God must allow the possibility of evil choices and their consequences to have moral universe. A moral universe is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the good. If its a real choice we have to be free to make the wrong choice.
That opens the door to the issue of hidden reasons in God's plan. Why, for example, is free will so important? Without free will there is no actual love. So if all if this nonsense in life is all about love why doesn't God just tell us what it's all for? So there's a level beyond which we just don't know. That does not constitute a contradiction in the concept of God, or even in that of a loving God. That kind of answer must be given carefully, however, or we charges of double standard.
Here the previous answer of hidden knowledge might be seen as a violation of this criterion. It calls for an answer to reveal more answers about the data than do its rival hypotheses. Yet now we are asking allowances for hidden answers. On the other hand, none of the other hypotheses offer complete answers with disclosure of all potential data. We don't understand everything about gravity for example, as stated above. The God hypothesis answers issues on many levels that science can't offer. This is not to say that science is no good, God and science are in different domains and they answer different kinds of questions. Belief in God enables us to posit a final cause that sits behind the chain of cause and effect as a whole. It also not only offers answers at a philosophical level but allows connections between the causal postulate of the universe and other areas of reality that impinge upon existential issues and ethics. Why are we here? Does life have a meaning? How shall I deal with others? These are questions for science has no answers. The believer is then free to use science to answer questions about the workings of the physical world. Science is not competing but in considering “competing hypotheses” I use science as a rival only to the extent that atheists turn to it as though it were a rival to religion.
Why interject extraneous matters into the issue of origins when they are not directly concerned with origins? Because they are not extraneous, they are philosophical, this is why the answer to the question of origins has to be on a philosophical level. After all not all of the data for which the argument seeks to account is data from the physical sciences. There is also the data about generative grammar, and the logic of arguments, all the myriad organizing principles that make up the metaphysical hierarchy. What's the point of caring about how the universe works if we don't have in the back of our questions issues of higher magnitude about why we are here and how we should live? Heidegger insisted that the most fundamental question of metaphysical thinking is, “why is there something rather than nothing at all.” Now he says Christians can't answer it because they have a ready made answer. He point of the question is to think, not to apply ready made answers.ii.2
To my mind that truly captures the distinction between philosophy and theology. Philosophy is asking questions which one does not expect an answer, while theology is accepting answers without knowing how they were obtained. Seriously, the insistence upon asking the question points up the fact that we want to ask such questions and real thinkers are not satisfied with ignoring them. Whether we content our selves with answers that speak to us deeply, or use the question to stimulate thought we are not satisfied with ignoring such things. I would venture to assert that most of us want answers to such questions. Scientists continue asserting answers to the ultimate origin they don't just give and stop looking. But science can't really engage the question at the metaphysical level; it can't deal with “why?” As I said before the best they can do is say there is no why. That is not satisfying.
Does belief in God offer an ultimate why? As I said above there are truths in God we are not given to know. Yet I think we can go further to answering these things than the skeptic would have us believe. We can't really know why God created or why God allows conflicts between good and evil. We can know that the answer will be bound up with the nature of being and the love of God. Here I speak from a Christian perspective. Perhaps other traditions would give other answers but I can only speak from my own tradition. From the Christian tradition there is an association between “The Ground of Being,” or “being itself,” (God) and love.
We find this association in the works of Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Von Balthasar was a major Catholic theologian who unfortunatley is not so well know to Protestant theology students. Balthasar is one of the most interesting and brilliant figures of the twentieth century, yet hardly anyone has heard of him outside the confines of academic theology. Even most theological students in the Protestant world are not very familiar with his works. He was a friend of John Paul II, called “the most cultured man of our time by Henri de Lubac. His achievements are called ‘breathtaking’ my one of the major catholic theologians of the century, Carl Rahner. He wrote over a thousand books and articles. He was born in Lucerne Switzerland, 1905, and Grew up a Catholic, son of a pious mother. He took his doctorate from the Liberal Protestant University of Zurich, having grown up educated by Benedictines and Jesuits. He became a Jesuit priest. He worked as a student Chaplin in the 30s. He became good friends with Protestant theologian Karl Barth, one of the greats of the century..3
The common human tendency is to think God created because he needed something. Balthasar is hinting, I think, that God creates because its his nature as being to foment more being, in other words, its creative and God is Creative. It is not for God’s need that he creates but for what will become our need once we are created. In other words, God created us so that we can enjoy being, not because he needed us because once a part of being we would need and would be fulfilled in the need by love.
No Philosophy could give a satisfactory response to that question [why did infinte create finite?] St Paul would say to philosophers that God created man so that he would seek the Divine, try to obtain the Divine. That is why all pre Christian philosophy is theological at its summit. But, in fact, the true response to philosophy could only be given by Being himself, revealing himself from himself. Will man be capable of understanding this revelation? The affirmative response will be given only by the God of the Bible. On the one hand this God, creator of the world and of man, knows his creature. “I who have created the eye do not see? I who have created the ear do not hear?” And we add I who have created language, could not speak and make myself heard?” This posits a counterpart: to be able to hear and understand the auto-revelation of God man must in himself be a search for God, a question posed to him. Thus there is Biblical theology without a religious philosophy. Human reason must be open to the infinite..1
Balthasar sees the understanding of the revelation of “being himself” (my phrase based upon his) to humanity as rooted in the most fundamental human relationship. He says, “the infant is brought to consciousness of “himself” only by love, by the smile of his mother. In that encounter the horizon of all unlimited opens unto him.” .5 What he means by that is it is only through being por soir, for itself, in other words, consciousness, that we are able to comprehend the infinite and that only in contrast to the finite. Before we can do that, however, we have to become aware of ourselves so we can know we are finite. I think he’s making an implication that love is a link to being itself, and that through our encounter with love, the mother, we encounter the father, so to speak—by way of encountering love. We can see this in four truths that Balthasar finds rooted in this encounter: (1) realizing that he Is other to the mother, the only way the child realizes he loves the mother; (2) love is good, therefore, being is good; (3) love is true, therefore, being is true; (4) love evokes joy therefore being is beautiful. Notice the link between being and love. He is one of the rare theologians to point out this curial link.
The one, the true, the good, the Beautiful, these are what we call the transcendental attributes of being, because they surpass all the limits of essence, and are coextensive with Being. If there is an insurmountable distance between God and his creature, but if there is also an analogy between them which cannot be resolved in any form of identity, there must also exist an analogy between the transcendentals—between those of the creature and those in God..6
Of course though the special revelation in the Bible the Christian tradition has always recognized that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8). “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). “Love is poured into our hearts though the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:1 NIV). There is also empirical evidence based upon universal aspects of religious experience that are found in all faiths and all cultures. The same experiences are described but they explained through different traditions. When researchers take the names out the answers are the same compared to those of other faiths and cultures. In other words instead of Jesus or Vishnu they said “higher power.” Th.7 ey experiences described have basically two dimensions: (1) an undifferentiated sense of the unity of all things, and (2) deep abiding universal love. This seems to reflect the two fundamental aspects of reality Undifferentiated unity mirrors being itself, love mirror's God's motivations. These ideas plus the data on experiences suggest ajn answer, a reason for creation. That reason is love. God's purposes are about love. God created humanity as an expression of his love, and to be in a love relationship with us.
Some philosophers, even Christian one's have called God an “ultimate brute fact.” A b.8 rute fact is the existence of something for which there is no purpose. It is something that just happens to be. While it is true that God is not the product of a purpose of a higher will, God can never be a brute fact. God is the final stopping point of all causal chains. God is eternal and has no beginning but this not proof that God has no purpose. God is not something that just happens to be and might as well have not been. God is the ground of being God has to be, and God posses purpose; to foment more being in love. God inaugurates the purpose of God. Just as God is self sustaining God is self purposing. It's not a gratuitous decision but the result of the nature of what it means to be being itself; being and love are linked at a fundamental level. Being gives out to the beings, the ground of being foments more being.9 Love is giving, love is the will to the good of the other. Being is of tye nature that it seeks the good.
1. Thomas Aquinas, Op. Cit.
2. Heidegger, Martin, 1959, Introduction to Metaphysics, Trans. Manheim. New Haven: Yale University Press. –––, 1962, Being and Time, trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson, New York: Harper & Row.
3. Joel Graver, “a Short Biography,” Online resource, Hans Urs Von Balthesar, An Internet Archive, URL: http://www.lasalle.edu/~garver/bio.htm (visited 12/3/10).
4. Hans Urs Von Balthasar, “A Resume of my Thought,” in David L. Schindler, Hans Urs Von Balthasar: His Life and Work. San Francisco:Ignatious Press, 1991, on like version p1-2
7. Ralph Hood Jr., “The Common Core Thesis in the Study of Mysticism.” In Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion. Patrick Mcnamara ed. West Port CT: Prager Publications, 2006, 119-235.
8. Swinburne calls God ultimate brute fact. He means by that there is no higher purpose than God, not that God has no purpose. Balthasar argues that God's purpose is love and that is self justifying self determining. my phrase, see Balthasar above. op cit.
9. John MacQuarry, Principles of Christian theology, (1965). His concept being let's be. Balthasar makes it more active, being creates beings.