Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ohhh! The Humanity (Part 2)

The Biology of Conception

What does it mean to be a 'human'? In this series we are examining our definitions of being human from several viewpoints. In Part I of this series we explored the idea that we each have our definition of humanness and that this view changes with time and culture.

Moment of conception.
This entry focuses on the biology of human conception. We will survey the basic biology of what happens in conception. Using this information we will have a reference point to discuss the moral issues of what a human is resulting from religion, science, and philosophy.

We all think we understand what sex is and how babies are formed. Most of us however learned what we know from our high school classes or perhaps doctors when we were expecting children.

 The details of the biology are important if we want to understand what humans are.  Biology is the mechanics of our starting point to come into existence.


'Conception' is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “The action of conceiving a child or of a child being conceived.”  Since this is a bit  of a circular definition, we can dig deeper into the dictionary to find that 'Conceiving' is the “creation of an embryo by fertilizing an egg.

To understand conception as a process, we first need to inspect what happens before it. We will probe sperm, eggs, and the different ways they can start the process to become human.  As we will see, even the dictionary definitions used here are not accurate to the possibilities of conception.


Almost all eggs are produced inside human female fetus while she is still in the womb. Only about a dozen new eggs are built in the female body after this initial stage of development. Unlike men who produce sperm cells through their lifetime, women are born with almost all their potential children.

Egg cell.
A female baby's ovaries contain about 1,000,000 (one million) eggs at birth. About two/thirds of the eggs die before menstruation begins. This leaves about 350,000 eggs in each mature woman.

During her life time, the average woman will release about 400 eggs though ovulation. During each month of menstruation about 1,000 (one thousand) of the eggs die.

Eggs contain a unique half of the DNA strands from the woman. Every egg is unique copy of part of the woman's parents. Most eggs are generally better formed than sperm and therefore more viable for reproduction.

Eggs by themselves can very, very rarely conceive. More on this later.

Sperm cell.


Male human's have 'sperm factories'. Sperm are generated starting with puberty. Thousands of sperm cells are built with each breath taken. Barring accidents, this process continues until the man dies.

 The average man produces upwards of a 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) sperm in their lifetime. The majority of sperm die by being broken down by the man's body into component parts.  Sometimes sperm will automatically released as nocturnal ejections during sleep.

Sperm contain a unique half of the DNA strands from the man. Each sperm is a unique mixture of genetic material from the father and mother. Like snowflakes, no two sperm are alike.

Sperm, by itself, cannot conceive.  There are some medical speculations that this is possible, but no concrete evidence of it exists yet.


There are several different ways currently to have conception to occur:

  • Sexual - by sperm and egg uniting during intercourse.
  • In Vitro - where egg and sperm are united in a lab.
  • Asexual - where a single egg splits to form a virgin birth.
  • Cloning - inducing a stem cell to grow into a new exact copy human.

Sexual reproduction.
Sexual reproduction has the union of a single sperm with a single egg creating (or conceiving) a new, unique combination of genetic material.

Half of the man's genetic material from the sperm combine with and half of the woman's genetic material in the egg to start a process that leads to a new human.

Sexual reproduction is what we most often think of as conception.  Sexual reproduction involves sexual intercourse.

In Vitro reproduction.
In Vitro reproduction happens when eggs and sperm are taken from humans.

This process involves taking the genetic material from the sperm and placing it into the egg in a laboratory. The egg is then allowed to divide until it becomes an ovum with eight (8) cells. The ovum is then implanted into the woman's fallopian tube. 

Many eggs and sperm are united at once in the laboratory then placed into the woman often leading twins and triplet births.

8 celled ovum.
Most In Vitro procedures have left over ovum which are placed in storage for future potential use.

Many people have sperm or eggs extracted from their bodies for future use by In Vitro procedures allow reproduction in case of death or other personal reasons.

Ova, sperm, and eggs can be deep frozen for many years and still remain potential humans.

Asexual reproduction is when eggs can be coaxed by nature or science into creating a human embryo without sperm. This process is known as 'parthenogenesis' in science and as 'virgin birth' in religion.
Asexual reproduction.
Asexual reproduction is when one half of the genetic material of the egg makes a mirror copy of itself to combine with. It is almost as if the egg uses its reflection in a mirror to mate with. Eggs can be coaxed into creating a human embryo without sperm. This means it is possible to create a human without conception.

Virgin birth means it is possible to create a human without a human sperm. Plants and other animals have been documented to have virgin births. Natural virgin births have been claimed but there are no concrete evidence of it yet in humans Its occurrence in humans is so rare that it is viewed by most as miraculous.

Cloning reproduction is a procedure where a single cell is used to create a genetic duplicate of the organism. The cloning to-date has used the process of transferring a nucleus from a donor adult cell to an egg that has no nucleus. If the egg begins to divide normally it is transferred into the uterus of a surrogate mother. There are other ways of cloning being developed that use stem cells and do not involve an egg.

Dolly the cloned sheep.
The cloning process always involves using an exact copy of the DNA in the single 'parent' to start the process of creating a new organism. 

Cloning is basically a method of making a copy of an existing life form.

Famously, Dolly is a sheep that was cloned in 1996 using early technology. Dolly's conception required 277 eggs that developed into 29 embryos of which only one survived to become an adult sheep.

As we have observed, there are many ways for conception to happen. Our standard view of conception has been challenged in the last few decades as we learn more and more about how the process works.

In practical terms we think in terms of sexual reproduction being how humans are made. This view has been useful in helping us to understand how we came to be. With recent learning and new technologies it does not seem rational to define a human by how it is conceived. Each of the methods used ends in building a human creature.

In our next entry, we will look at the morality of these methods and their implications on how humans are started.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog in order to follow the explorations.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ohhh! The Humanity! (Part 1)

What does it mean to be a 'human'? When do we become humans? How can we tell if something is a human or not?  Are all persons humans?  When do we cease to be human? What are the elements that make up a human?  Part 2 is here.

One human or two?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the human person, made in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual.” More simply, a human has two parts: a body and a soul. The soul exists before and after the body. When a soul is attached to the body, it is a human. This view of two parts to being human is sometimes called “dualism”.

Biology science tells us that humans are “primates of the family Hominidae with a well-developed brain making them capable of reason.” A mind emerges from how the body is put together. Science's concept is that body and the mind are not two things, but one. This one thing view of what makes a human is technically called “monism”.

From some philosophical views we are told that we think therefore we are. Thinking is what makes a person different from all other matter. These ideas can be expanded to include aliens as a part of person-hood. A human then becomes just a specific type of person, in the class of thinkers.

The human within.
This small sample of the debate about the definition of 'human' is at the heart of many struggles in our society today. Abortion, the death penalty, cloning, stem cell research, and even basic freedoms are all subject to arguments raging across the planet. At the root of them is a disagreement about what it is to be human.

We develop our opinions of humanness from our own experiences. Our lives, as lived, give us a sense of being human. We examine ourselves then thrust the result upon others. From religion, science and philosophy we are given ideas about what we are. We are left to determine, each for ourselves, what we are.

Assumptions about what we are, define who we are. When we threaten those assumptions, we lose our own context. Our self knowledge allows us to interact with the world in known ways. Redefining ourselves is a a most basic threat to our self identity. Changing our definitions of what we are scares us.

Humans: all are different, all are the same.

The journey between what we think and what we will come to know requires traveling through a valley of doubt. This journey is one worth taking as it leads us to a better of understanding of who we are. In this and in several of the next posts, we will be exploring the different views of what it means to be 'human'.

Less Than Human

There is no common definition of what it means to be human. A standard meaning of human that all can agree to for all time may not be possible.  The definition of 'human' changes by time and culture. There are many ways that humans are divided into classes that are perceived superior and inferior. Sub-humans, slaves, and not-yet-humans are just some of the ideas used to define what is human and what is not.

In ancient Sparta, if a baby was considered puny or deformed it was thrown away.  Until a council of elders examined the baby, it was not a human.  Once the baby past the test it became a human.

Dividing human-ness.
The traditional Indian caste system divided the labor and power of individuals according to strict lines. Person-hood was defined people as more human or less human depending upon their origin and birth.  The rights, responsibilities and potential types of careers were determined by caste.

In the original U.S. Constitution, humanity was segregated by a value system that designated persons who were not free as being only counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of representation and taxation.  This multi-class system determined humans in gradations between human and property.

Nazi's described Jews, gypsies and others as Untermenschen or sub-humans.  Sub-humans did not need to be considered as having rights and were seen as a drag on society's progress.  Killing a sub-human was not murder, but rather eugenics to protect the gene pool.

Less than human?
Hutus involved in the Rwanda genocide thought of Tutsis as cockroaches rather than people. Similarly to the Nazis, Tutsis where defined as pests. Pests were viewed as a contamination that needed elimination.

In each of these cases, actions based on the definition of human seemed  right and just.  The definition of what is a human allowed certain behaviors.  

Even our current culture provides us with a context for defining what we are. Our definition of humanity allows us to act with each other in ways that seem fit for that moment and place.  These older and foreign definitions of humanity seem alien to our current ways of thinking.  They should however cause us to pause and reflect and ask if our definitions are correct because they are familiar.

In future posts, we will examine humans from the biological, spiritual, and philosophical perspectives to see how this can inform us on who we 'humans' are.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog in order to follow the explorations.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mundo Memoria

I was here.
Human knowledge is stored in memories. Memories in mind, memories in books, memories in little silicon chips. Memories are metaphors of knowledge. A symbolic means of storing patterns of thought inside a brain and of moving thought from one brain to another. Memories are our cultural inheritance that provides a part of nature and nurture which compose who we become.

Our brains hold complex patterns of cells (neurons) that have thousands of connections (synapses) with each other. When a new memory is formed, these cells change their chemistry and connections. The pattern of these connections is much like symbols on a page holding information, but in the brain it written in contact and chemistry rather than ink and paper.

Parts of the brain.
The very structure of our brains is a store of knowledge of universe and self. It is a mirror of reality that summarizes data into a physical form in our brains. We build models of the external world from what is fed to our brains through our senses of sight, sound, touch, and taste. We also have a model of our own bodies inside our brain. Different parts of body connect to different parts of brain giving us a feeling of ourselves.

Thinking on our toes.
Think about your left middle toe. Until this moment of reading you most probably were not conscious of your left middle toe, but your body had a sense of it even when you did not think of it. This automated, non-conscious sense of self is a symbolic representation of your body in your brain. Most parts of your body are mapped in your brain, but not all. Your hair and fingernails are only indirectly modeled, while your fingertips and eyes are highly connected to your brain.

Our understanding of others is a capability where our mind projects this sense of itself on to others. Our brain uses our own symbols of self and see others as being similar. Learning to skip rope is an example of how we watch behavior in others then internalize it into our own sense of self and try to jump rope with our own bodies.

Handy communication.
This ability to relate others to ourselves is where humans begin to think symbolically. Our gestures are symbolic communication. When someone else motions in a direction, we understand that they are giving us a model of behavior we should follow. We put ourselves in their place and understand that we are given information about our actions.

At some distant time, the first drawings of things in the world appeared as memories of the world as experienced. The first known such drawings are outlines of a persons hand on a cave wall.   A simple symbol that communicated “I was here.” Viewers of the hand understood that it was symbol for a hand of another, like themselves.

Matter and motion.
As time passed more complex forms of externalized memory were developed. Symbols of animals with symbols of humans hunting communicated shared experiences. These early communication tools are like bumper stickers share identity between minds.

Models of mothers and babies took three dimensional shape as dolls and manifestations of our desire for family. Our idealization and wonder of procreation led us to marvel at ourselves and our context. Figurines of people and things provided an new way to externalize our thoughts for others to understand and use.

Ideas of things and actions, of nouns and verbs, allowed information to be transmitted outside of one brain into another. Memories stored externally permitted communication between minds.

Speech is symbolic way of transmitting knowledge between minds. Speech is a form of memory sharing using vibrations in the air to relate models of the universe.

Speech allows communication by proximity rather than by visual means. Paintings permit those who see images to share thought with the painter, while sound enables us to share symbols spoken.

Listen and speak.
The art of speaking permits communication of ideas in real time better than painting.

Many animals use sound as a means of expressing ideas. Crows have been known to communicate complex ideas using both sounds for objects (nouns) and actions (verbs). Speech, however, only allows communication in the moment. Visual images allow spreading meaning through time.

When speech became symbolized using painting, we started to write. Writing is a means of combining speech and painting together in one form. At first simple images were given to mean simple ideas. With practice humans quickly added to their vocabulary of speech painting.

Painting speech.
The ability to indirectly represent complex ideas in a physical medium had a startling and unexpected consequence. That which is written can last through many generations. Writing is communication from past to future. Writing allowed us to start building a storehouse of knowledge to hand down to generations unborn. Through communication from the past we have built a great storehouse of knowledge.

Our tools for communication are rapidly evolving. Our ability to access specific information has grown exponentially our past few generations.

Gutenberg provided a means to copy writing quickly and distribute it widely. Printing is a centralized system that allows one person to speak to many across time and space.

Upon discovering electricity we became able to use sound as a transmission medium that allows near instant communication across the planet. Telephones allowed people to talk through space simultaneously. Radio permitted a much faster dissemination of information allowing many people to hear one mind's thoughts across space. Television added sight to sound permitting a very dense communication from a central source to many minds.

Memories connecting the world.
The internet is quickly becoming our new way of communicating memories. It permits us to share memories in two directions with no centralized point needed.  The internet transcends  space and time. A web of memories is connecting the entire species. Shared memories of all, by all, for all.

What started with simple gestures conveying understanding of a ones self to be like another, has led to us to become something totally new and different. A type of hive mind of memory. An extended set of cells and connections that absorbs and uses knowledge far beyond the capability of any of its component people.

In this sense, our memories are becoming a new kind of mind, with a new kind of memory, with an yet not understood sense of global self. The world, is seems, is growing its' own mind.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Myth of the Makers (Part 3)

In this series we are examining the libertarian economic myth that a small number of people are makers and that the rest of the society are takers. It attempts to show that this world view is false and works against society, not for it.

In Part 3 we continue examining the list of assumptions about the superiority of the Makers showing in counter arguments how theses assumptions lead us to false ideas about how society works.

Without Makers Society Collapses

Backyard inventor.
It is true that not everyone can invent the next great thing. Not everyone is able to write new music. Most people are unable to design their own cars. But to suggest that only a select few can do these things is easily disprovable. We have an over abundance of makers.

There are many people who can and do invent. Most inventions are never monetized, made in a factory and reproduced for all. Inventions that never leave the garage, the kitchen table, the hobby room are purely for the local benefit of those who invent and there close associates. Human beings are in fact very creative in finding new ways to solve old problems. Steven Wozniak was not the only computer hobbyist who invented a personal computer.

Land of tinkering.
The number of talented garage and bar bands in my country alone is astounding. Every neighborhood has an aspiring string quartet, guitar hero, or closet rapper. So many more songs are written and performed than go public as to make us literally awash in musical talent. Madonna is not the only creative musical artist to write a catchy tune.

In garages and small commercial buildings all around the land are individuals and small groups who design their own vehicles. From three wheeled custom motorcycles to flying cars, our nations ability to develop new means of moving ourselves around boggles the imagination. To suggest that only Mr Ford, Mr. Oldsmobile, and Mr. Harley are capable of designing vehicles is obviously not so.

Robber barons showing self interest.
It is the access to resources that divides Steve Wozniak, Madonna, and Mr. Ford from the general masses. Many have tried and failed at achieving the level of success enjoyed by people like these. Some fail because of personal inabilities. Most fail for lack of access to resources.

As the Small Business Administration has documented, most business fail because of lack of experience, insufficient money, and poor location. They do not fail because of the people are incapable. Rather, they fail because they have not been given the room to gain experience, have access to resources, and being given access to the right location. Those who control the resources shut out those who do not, unfairly limiting their own competition.

Labor farmed by greed.
Makers know best how to use resources.

Makers make decisions about how to use resources for their own personal interest. Few makers choose to allocate their resources for the greater good. This self interest often leads to a depletion of a shared resources by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to the group's long-term best interests. Makers must be monitored and restrained by society in order to ensure that the Makers self interest does not damage the whole of society. Selfish makers can hurt us all.

The idea that selfishness and greed are a societal good is clearly false.  It is an argument that tries to justify immorality as a virtue.

Those who would tell us that they should get all the results of 'their labors' are actually trying to confuse us.  Ayn Rand's philosophical views has been perverted by a new generation of robber barons.

The division of society in to Makers and Takers is mythic attempt by a few to take even more from the labor of us all.

First Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Myth of the Makers (Part 2)

In this series we are examining the libertarian economic myth that a small number of people are makers and that the rest of the society are takers. It attempts to show that this world view is false and works against society, not for it.

In Part 2 we examine the first few assumptions and counter arguments in more detail.

U.S. Wealth distribution.
Makers Create Wealth

There are three definitions of wealth: Things that make people better off, the value of things, and the total assets of individuals.

Not all wealth is about money. Wealth is also about life, liberty and happiness. Those who focus only on money as a definition of wealth are limiting the value that human beings have to an arbitrary counting system for their own benefit.

Billion dollar mansion
under construction.
The land a farmer hands on to his children is his wealth, not just the crops he takes from the land. The care a mother gives her children is her wealth, not just the money she spends on them. The labor we give to those challenged by natural disaster is often more about just showing up and lending a hand. Wealth is more than money.

The majority of the wealth in a society is not created by the individuals who control it.  Rather it is inherited.  Huge fortunes made in one generation are handed down from father to son creating an oligarchy of power.  The descendants of wealth benefit from the labor of others without providing in return.  Wealth is concentrated by family more than effort.

Obligation to give back.
Makers Act Alone

No maker became a maker without society. Without their parents Makers would not have been given the basic food, shelter, and clothing necessary to grow up. Without schools provided by the local society they would not have had the chance to be educated enough to become Makers. Without national society Makers would not be safe from enemies. Makers could not exist without the society they come from. Makers have an obligation to that society to return what has been given them.

Making is a team effort.
Most things that are made require many hands of effort in order for the thing to be made. No one Maker designs and builds the radio in your car. No one Maker plants, grows, transports, and sells his food unless they are in a small limited, local market. No one Maker builds their own factory by hand and runs it by themselves. Makers live in an interconnected society. To separate themselves from the society is to act against the society which created them.

Garage inventions
Few People Are Makers

Actually most people are makers to one degree or another. My mom was a maker of meals and households. My Dad made torpedo targets. My wife makes documents so people can learn to use tools made by others. My friend makes clean bathrooms and floors so we remain healthy and feel good about our environment. Each of these people make more than these things. All responsible people make things through effort of labor. Sometimes they are rewarded by money. Sometimes they are rewarded by love, or happiness, or life, or liberty. Almost everyone is a maker of some kind.

Makers Always Benefit Society.

Destruction of the commons.
Many people make things for bad ends, even on purpose. The strip club owner employees girls who may not make money otherwise, but drags down the potential of all the other daughters. The Heroin dealer makes money distributing a product that does evil. Cigarette makers do far more damage than good for society. It is difficult to find an argument why Swastika makers help people. Some makers can hinder society.

Lungs after cigarettes.
Most makers do have a positive good result in what they make. The products and services of many makers have negative side effects that can sometimes over weigh the good that they do. Even those without bad intent can do damage though. When the focus of the maker is on making money and not making good, makers can do great evil.

Next Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Myth of the Makers (Part 1)

At the heart of the conservative economic argument is the idea that a small number of people make things, while everyone else lives off their ability. These special few who are the designers, inventors and creators that provide the masses with goods and services. The libertarian view expounds that the general public should cater to the needs of these special few so that everyone else can benefit from the their genius.

The selfish man carries the
world on his shoulders?
The basic philosophy of the conservatives is based on the idea of the 'Virtue of Selfishness'.  It argues that  businessmen, innovators and builders are 'Makers'. 

Makers provide things everyone needs. Makers are superior humans due to their skill, talent, and force of will. Makers act in their own self interest using their genius,talent, and creativity to provide things for many other people. Makers add value to their community and are rewarded in return by money and power. When the society diverts resources from the makers, it is essentially an evil that will ruin all.

This view of selfishness as a 'moral good' has as one of its basic ideas that most people are not Makers, rather, most people are 'Takers'. Takers use the things and services given them by the Makers. Takers are inferior humans because they lack skill, talent and/or will. Takers act in their own self interest taking away from the makers, giving nothing in return; essentially stealing from the Makers. Takers drag down society and will ruin it all because they divert the resources of the Makers.

What selfishness means.
There are several assumptions to the Makers argument. They are:
  1. Makers create wealth.
  2. Makers act alone.
  3. Few people are Makers.
  4. Makers always benefit society.
  5. Without Makers society collapses.
  6. Makers know best how to use resources.

Every one of the assumptions about Makers can be challenged using reason. The concept of Makers and Takers can be dis-proven as rationalized myth. These stories about Makers serve only the purpose of allowing a few people with power to maintain that power. The myth of the maker is therefore propaganda.

Unselfish acts of labor.
Here is a brief list of the reasons the assumptions of the makers are false:
  1. Wealth is more than money.
  2. Makers have an obligation to society
  3. Makers are in an interconnected society
  4. Everyone is a maker.
  5. Makers can hinder society.
  6. Makers can do great evil.
  7. We have an over abundance of makers.
  8. Those who control the resources shut out those who do not.
  9. Selfish makers can hurt us all.
Over the next two posts, I'll be examining each one of the assumptions about Makers demonstrating how the logic used in these arguments does not hold up to the facts of the reality we live in.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why God? (Part 3)

This is the last in a three part series considering the question "Why believe in God?" The earlier entries examined why we might want to consider thinking about God's existence and discussed both sides of the arguments for God's existence from the viewpoints of design and being. Here we will analyze the basics of the ideas behind the thesis of God from cause and from morality.   Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Both of these ideas about the existence of God have two counter arguments. This is what the logic of debate has discovered and not an attempt to bias the description of those arguments. Some cases are more complex than others and take longer to explain. Please do not let word count sway your mind, rather the ideas that are contained within the words.

Once more to be clear, I do not hope to change your mind, rather to help clarify why it is we believe what we believe.

From Cause

The first cause.
Pro: Everything that exists has a cause. Since causes can not go on infinitely backward, there must have been a first cause. 

The first cause is God. 

If there is a beginning, it must have begun from something, and that something is what we call God.

Creating oneself.
Con 1: Who created God? Does God require a God that created God? If God is never created then he must be infinite. If there is an infinite, then we do not need God. This argument does allow for an infinite God, but only if we are a part of him and therefore a part of God. It leads however to the paradox that if the universe is infinite, then the universe must be God. 

 This proof can only work if God is the universe and humans, snakes, trees and rocks are a part of the universe and therefore each a part of God.

Complicated, inter-connected causes.
Con 2: There are no single causes. Everything has always existed.  Everything exists all together at once. Many things must happen in order for a something to happen.

 The billiard ball only goes into the pocket if there is a billiard table, pockets, a player, a cue stick, and some action is performed. All of these are only partial list of the things necessary for the ball to go into the pocket.

Cause is an illusion of the human mind thinking it is separate from the universe. Actually human beings are a part of the universe and made of part of it that appear separate because of the configuration of our parts.

Since there is no single cause, there is no single God.

Permitted immorality?

From Morality

Pro: If there is no God, then everything is permissible. Some things are not permitted, they are immoral. 

That morality exists proves God must too. 

Morals are descriptions of what we ought to do. Morals are about commands we should follow. Commands can not exist with out a God. 

Morals come from God.

Cats eat birds too.
Con 1: It is a fact that cats eat mice. There are lots of cats that eat mice and they eat them whenever hunger or desire drives them to. There is no moral basis for cats to eat mice, they just do it because that is what cats are. 

Just because things are the way they are does not require a God. Things could be the way they are because they happened at random (see argument Con 2 for From Cause above). 

The cat's action of “eat to live” is description of what it ought to do. It is the command the cat follows. This command can exist with out the need for a God.

Lesser of two evils?
Con 2: Sometimes morality requires choice between two evils or two goods. Since not all choices are absolute no command really fits the definition of absolute morality. 

Some things work better than others sometimes but not all the time. Sometimes you have to kill other people to live. Sometimes its' wrong to kill people. 

Every command has a flaw to be found. There is no absolute morality, and therefore no absolute need for a God. Commands are morally ambivalent and require no God.

There you have the four basic arguments for and against God's existence. There are many dozens of sub-arguments extending from these basic four. I encourage you find them and read on if you would like to know more.

For those who believe you can find more arguments supporting your position here.

A good summary of arguments from the disbelievers can be found here.

I will not pretend to be an authority, rather a questioner who explores. This is merely what I have found so far. The journey of understanding will continue long after me. Oh that I could stand on the shoulders of taller giants and know more.

Why God? (Part 2)

In the previous post, we outlined the reasons we might want to question the existence of God.  The post discussed arguments from authority and then listed four fundamental methods for God's existence: from design, from being, from cause, from morality.  Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

This post will explore the arguments from design and from being.

Each proof will be stated from the “Pro” case and the “Con” case. The Pro case will discuss the basic idea behind the argument. The Con case will describe why some find the case for God's existence to not hold up. Some cases are more complex than others and take longer to explain. Please do not let word count sway your mind, rather consider the ideas that are contained within the words.

Again, I do not hope to change your mind, rather to help us clarify why it is we believe what we believe.

Clocks un-cared for rust.
From Design

Pro: A clock is complex. A clock has an intricate mechanism. It could not be a result of mere chance, therefore it must be designed. 
The designer of all things must be God. Everything fits together so perfectly to create us and all that is. 
That we exists and that the universe exists shows God must also exist.

Randomly possible dice.
Con: That things can be random suggests things are not designed. Rolling a half dozen dice can have more than 46000 different outcomes. The dice landed one way or another at random. Because there is randomness no designer is required to have any particular result of our dice roll.

The universe is based on randomness at the quantum level. The universe may be very large, with many 'dice' in it, but the way it came out was random. While our existence is improbable, it is not impossible without a God. We are only lucky that it came out the way that it did. Given how big the universe is, it actually becomes probable that we would be here now. God is not required to have the universe be the way it is if the universe is all randomness.

From Being

God is perfect.
Pro: This thought is based on the idea that God is the perfect being. If God lacked existence he would not be perfect.

God is perfect so he must exist. The mere idea that we can imagine God and his perfection, means he must exist and be perfect. That we can imagine perfection at all requires there be a perfect being. 

This argument is based on reason alone. It needs no facts to prove it. 
Thoughts of purity, infinity, of absolute morality make them real. If these thoughts are real, then they must be God.

Alice in Wonderland.
Con: We can imagine things that are not real. Alice in Wonderland is not real. The idea of Alice is real, but she is not. Thus some do not think God is real just because we imagine him.

Can we not imagine something greater than God? 
Does God have a God? 
Did God create himself ? 
Did we create the idea of God?

The next post will explain the ideas behind cause and morality for proofs of the existence of God.

Why God? (Part 1)

Many of us believe in God. We are taught by our parents and culture that there is a supreme being who is the cause, designer, maker, and moral force for all of us. Rarely do we stop to consider on what basis we believe this is so.  Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

To ask the question “Why do we believe in God?” and many will answer from the power of authority “Because the good book told us to.” We may use other authorities like “God told us.” or “my Sunday school teacher said so”.

As a child, my dad said “Take out the garbage.”
"Take out the Garbage!"

Being curious by nature I innocently asked “Why?”

“Because I said so.” was his initial answer.

Being unsatisfied with an argument based purely on the power of his authority, I pressed on “But why do you say so?”

The intent never was to challenge his parental prerogative, rather to come to understand. Eventually he helped me realize that living in garbage was not good for my health, so taking the garbage away was a small effort in order to help myself. Knowing why we do something helps us to be motivated to do it better.

We grow up taking arguments from authority for granted.
Is the argument from authority sufficient for a mature, thinking person? Can we really stop with the use of authority as our basis for the belief in God?

 If a person in authority has made an error, then accepting their word is not enough. If a person in authority can not explain their reasons, then perhaps they are not an authority at all.

 By not exploring further, we may too make an error.

To me a part of faith is trying to understand why I believe what I do. Wisdom can grow from questioning one's self. A deeper understanding and appreciation of my faith merits its further consideration.

Ignorance, although it can be blissful, is never a virtue. With such an important question, we are called to do better, know more, to test ourselves and become stronger.

Getting closer to heaven.
I do not hope to change your mind, rather to help clarify why it is we believe what we believe. Many people may believe that one can not even ask the question about the existence of God. That the very question itself should not be argued. You may be one of those people. If so, you probably do not want to read further.

If you do not wish to challenge your belief and wish to only consider “because you were told so”, stop now. Read no more. If, however, you wish to understand yourself and your belief better, go forward, read on with an open mind.

There appear to be four basic arguments for the existence of God, from design, from being, from cause, and from morality. There have been many attempts to prove and refute these basic approaches.

These attempts have engaged more people that we can know. Their arguments for and against often vary with their culture and wisdom.

In the next two posts, I will try to summarize each of these arguments for the existence of God in simple modern terms, giving briefly an outline of the arguments for and against. May they test your faith and move you forward renewed.

Why God? (Part 2) - Why God? (Part 3)