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The philosopher Immanuel Kant said that there were three types of argument for God’s existence: cosmological, ontological and teleological. Often today those taking a course in religious studies will be presented a cosmological argument, an ontological argument and a teleological argument as if those were the arguments for God – just these three.

But it's not true. Firstly, there are numerous subsets within these three categories. For example, there is the kalam cosmological argument and there is the Leibnizian cosmological argument. Secondly, and more importantly, there are numerous arguments that don't fit in these categories. And this should not surprise us. If God exists then he is the basis of all reality, the most fundamental thing there is, so the evidence for God is everything – all of reality.

And there are probably many more.

Now the point is not to just throw arguments at you till you're too weary to object any more. Every argument needs to be judged on its own merits. Sometimes people make bad arguments for the existence of God, or present arguments in a bad way. There would be no point just stacking up bad arguments. But there are also numerous good arguments and sometimes all it takes is one to change someone's perspective.

The real point of this essay is that thinking about the existence of God is thinking about reality itself. And the question is: does reality seem ordered, meaningful, purposeful, filled with depth and richness? Or does reality seem chaotic, meaningless, pointless, just an unhappy result of blind chance? If, on balance, you think the first option is more like reality as you experience then you have good reason for thinking there is a God.

And having come to the realisation that there probably is a God then you're ready to start exploring what that means for you.

Further reading – advanced

Alvin Plantinga, "Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments" (lecture notes) (PDF)

Alexander R. Pruss, "Leibnizian Cosmological Arguments" in Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (2009)

Kai-man Kwan, "The Argument from Religious Experience", Philosophy Compass (2006) (PDF)

Robert E. Maydole, "A Modal Model for Proving the Existence of God", Philosophical Quarterly (1980) (PDF)

Alvin Plantinga, "Naturalism Defeated" (1994) (PDF)

Richard Swinburne, "God as the Simplest Explanation of the Universe", European Journal of Philosophy of Religion (2010)

John M. DePoe, "The Argument from Reason" (PDF)

J. P. Moreland, "Argument from Consciousness"