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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does the God of the Bible Exist?

Don Stewart :: What Is the Anthropological Argument for God's Existence?

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What Is the Anthropological Argument for God’s Existence? (The Argument from the Need to Worship Something)

Does the God of the Bible Exist? – Question 7

The anthropological argument is the argument from humanity. We learn something about God and His existence from the way in which we are made. Human beings are rational, intelligent beings. We reflect our Creator in a number of ways.

However, humans also have certain needs. These needs must be explained.

We Are Created with the Need to Worship Something

One of the needs found in every human society, both past and present, is the need to worship. No matter the background, culture or the particular time in history, we find human beings worshipping some type of God. There is something within all of us which has the need to worship someone something greater than ourselves. This fact points to the existence of God.

Indeed, the cry of the psalmist is the cry of all humanity.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:2 NKJV)

Humanity is looking for something to satisfy that thirst. Saint Augustine, the great scholar of the ancient church said it well.

You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until we find our rest in you.

This religious sense is not found in any creatures except human beings. It would be in vain to attempt to teach any religious sense to the highest type of ape but every human may be taught about God. This need for worship has been used as an argument for the necessity of a Supreme Being to be the object of our worship.

There Is Widespread Belief

There is not only the universal need to worship something or someone, belief in the existence of some type of Supreme Being is widespread throughout the world. It seems that all societies have some sort of higher power that they acknowledge. No matter how crude, or how sophisticated, the society may be, human beings have the need to believe in some greater power.

Even if some society were discovered that had no religious beliefs this would not disprove the rule. That would be like arguing the presence of blind people in the world proves that human beings are creatures who cannot see. The universal testimony is that human beings are incurable religious.

Since we find the universal need to acknowledge something greater than ourselves, it is fair to ask the question as to how this need originated. Certainly, it is now through human reason. Indeed, there are many reasoning humans who deny the existence of God. The anthropological argument says that this need for worship was placed into us by God Himself.

The Weaknesses of the Anthropological Argument

As is true with the other arguments for God’s existence, there are a number of limitations in this argument. The weaknesses are as follows.

1. The Need for God Does Not Mean He Exists

The universal need for God does not mean that such a being exists. The need may have been created by the desire for humanity to have some type of purpose, or meaning in life. The need for God does not prove His reality.

2. The Creator May Have Not Created All Things, Only Human Beings

If there is a Creator, we do not know whether this being is the Creator of all things or merely the Creator of humankind alone. It is possible that the Creator was limited in his ability to create. From observing the universe we cannot determine this.

3. The Creator May Have Been Created

We do not know whether this Creator was Himself created. It is possible that there is someone greater than the Creator who made him. Looking at the universe does not give us an answer to this question.

4. The Creator May Be Finite or Limited, Not Infinite

We do not know whether this Creator is infinite or finite. He may be limited in what he is able to do. Our knowledge from his creation is not sufficient to make a final determination.

Therefore, it is necessary to understand the limitations of the anthropological argument. The value of this argument is that it gives evidence of a personal being who exists, and who is the proper object of the love of humankind. It shows the universal acceptance and need for the idea of God. Again, we have a helpful argument for God’s existence, but certainly it is not decisive by itself.

Summary – Question 7
What Is the Anthropological Argument for God’s Existence? (The Argument from the Need to Worship Something)

The anthropological argument says that we can know something about God from the way we human beings are made. Indeed, humans are creatures which have the need to worship something. In fact there seems to be a universal need on the part of humans to worship something.

Furthermore, there is widespread belief in a supreme being to worship. This gives further evidence of a God who exists. Why is there such a need if a supreme being does not exist?

The anthropological argument, while recognizing our need for worship, does have its weaknesses. For one thing, the mere need to worship something does not make that something which we worship actually exist. It may be just wishful thinking that some sort of a God or gods in reality exists.

Furthermore, we do not know the extent of the creative ability of this being or these beings. His creative ability may be limited. He may have only created limited things, not everything.

In addition, for all we know the creator himself may have been created by some other greater being. If this is the case, then do we worship his creator? It is impossible to know the answer to this question by merely observing the universe as it now stands.

Finally, we cannot know whether this creator is an all-powerful being or a being who is limited in his power. Indeed, we have no way of knowing.

Therefore, while the need for worship is something that seems universal in all human beings, it does not, by itself, prove that some sort of God exists.

What Is the Teleological Argument for God's Existence? ← Prior Section
What Is the Moral Argument for God's Existence? Next Section →
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