The most fundamental philosophical question that one can ask is “Why is there something rather than nothing?” But the question “What is the most foundational reality?” comes as a close second. It is this latter question that I want to focus on. While both of these two questions are directly tied to the issue of God’s existence, it seems to me that the question this latter question provides somewhat easier avenues toward an answer.
I will be arguing for a view that I will call metaphysical personalism . This is the view that the most fundamental or foundational reality that exists is a personal, unembodied mind, rather than, for example, impersonal matter and/or energy. As most of the contemporary western atheists are naturalists or materialists of some sort, the arguments presented in this essay are very relevant to the current atheism vs. theism debate. However, the full-blown concept of a theistic (or even more specifically, Christian) God will require certain additional steps that can supplement the arguments that I will be focusing on here. While I believe that these steps can be rationally made, it is beyond the scope of this essay to argue for this view in any great length. I can only point out some considerations that tend to make theism the best foundation for a personalistic worldview.
One view that I will not take into account in this essay is a type of platonism that postulates impersonal but eternal, unchanging and immaterial forms as the most foundational reality. Another view that could be advanced as a rival to theism would be some kind of non-theistic idealism. However, I believe that the most plausible versions of both platonism and idealism are those that incorporate their key tenets as part of theism, and therefore, in the final analysis, they are not very serious rivals to theism. But again, considerations of space prevent me from arguing for these conclusions in this essay. In order to avoid making this essay too long, will need to focus my discussion more explicitly to the context of the debate between materialism and personalism.
The Main Premises of the Argument
In order to make the structure of the argument of this essay somewhat more explicit, I will present the main argument with the following five steps:
1. There are two categories of phenomena and explanation that we regularly observe and use: the material and the personal.
2. Due to considerations of simplicity, it is rationally preferable to postulate an explanatory reduction between these two categories (either materialistic or personalistic reduction).
3. The materialistic reduction (explaining personal mind in terms of matter) fails.
4. The personalistic reduction (explaining matter in terms of personal mind) has potential for success.
5. Therefore, personalistic reduction is the rationally preferable view.