Wednesday, December 3, 2014

On the Nature of God

According to every theist apologist I have listened to, in order for God to have created the universe "he" must be immaterial and exist outside of space and time (since matter, space and time are all components of the universe which didn't exist until it was created). Logically, God must also not be made of energy, since matter and energy are equivalent and energy also didn't exist before the universe was created.

The problem for theist apologists is two-fold. First of all, an entity that is not made of matter or energy and that exists outside of space and time is, pretty much by definition, something that has no existence whatsoever. Second of all, even if such an entity could somehow be said to exist, there is no proposed mechanism for how such an entity could ever interact with space, time, matter or energy. Which means that, even if God did exist, there would be no way of knowing it and certainly no validity to any religious systems that claim to know the will of God.

Theist apologists go to great lengths to attempt to prove the logical necessity of some sort of creative force of the universe, despite the fact that the only such force they can logically "prove" is one that is completely unknowable and self-contradictory. After they've tied logic into complete knots to get that far, however, they then just throw logic out the window and end with, "Therefore, the God of [my favorite holy book] must be real!"

I recently watched a debate between an atheist and a Christian apologist regarding the existence of God.  In his opening statement, the Christian apologist claimed that he would prove two things: first, that God must logically exist, and second, that this God was the Christian God described in the Bible.  During the debate proper, the Christian apologist attempted to logically prove the existence of God (all the while calling atheists stupid for not agreeing with his logic).  Basically, his “proof” came down to arguing that since certain fundamental logical concepts such as “the law of identity” (i.e., a thing is equivalent to itself) must exist independent of human minds, since not all humans know about these laws and they would exist even if there were no humans, they must have been created by some being who exists wholly outside of the universe of space and time.  Aside from the fact that this argument is a load of hooey to begin with, however, the apologist never bothered to mention how this abstract notion of God had anything to do with the Christian God of the Bible.  After the formal part of the debate was over, an audience member asked him how he got from one to the other,  Despite his initial claim that he would prove it, his reply was that he knew the Christian God of the Bible was real because “He came to me in my heart.”  Oh, really?

In general, I find it hilarious to watch both Christian and Muslim apologists go through the same tortuous logic to "prove" that something must have created the universe, and then come to completely different conclusions as to what that creative force actually is. And each side is absolutely convinced because it's just obvious that their religion is true and therefore their description of God must be true as well.

Do I know exactly how the universe came into being? Nope. Do I think that it's possible that some "force" (whether the universe itself or something outside the universe, including a multiverse) was somehow responsible for the universe coming into being? I honestly don't know, which I suppose would make me an agnostic. But that would only make me an agnostic as to whether or not some "force" (whether the universe itself or something outside the universe) was somehow responsible for the universe coming into being. Do I believe that a personal God as described in the holy books of any religion or as worshiped by any religion was the force that was responsible for the universe coming into being? Absolutely not, and in that regard I remain firmly an atheist.

To sum up:

  • The whole concept of a "supernatural" being is nonsensical, since anything outside of nature would, by definition, be unable to interact with nature. Either God can interact with it (speaking to our minds, performing miracles, healing the sick, answering prayers, etc.) and is therefore part of the natural world or he is "supernatural," in which case he would not be able to do all those things. You can't have it both ways.
  • Calling something an "uncaused cause" is pure sophistry. It's a contradiction in terms and exists solely as a way of getting yourself out of a corner that you have painted yourself into. If everything must have a cause, what caused God? You've basically said that God must be "supernatural" because everything natural must have a cause, and since you don't want to admit that God himself must therefore have a cause, you will arbitrarily define God as "supernatural" with no justification other than it provides you with a loophole.
  • Even if God were somehow necessary to explain the origin of the universe, even if it actually made sense to say that some being who exists outside of space and time could actually create space and time, what rationale is there to accept that that being is the Christian God? I have listened to Muslims make the exact same arguments for the necessity of God, but strangely they are absolutely convinced that their arguments prove the necessity of the God of the Koran and not that of the Bible.
  • Since theist apologists love to twist logic in order to "prove" the existence of their personal concept of God, I think it is only fair to disprove the existence of God in the same manner (it's amazing how you can logically prove or disprove anything at all if you define your terms correctly) :
  1. In order for God to have created the universe, He must exist outside the universe.
  2. Anything that exists outside the universe cannot be said to exist within the universe.
  3. The universe is defined as the totality of all existence, meaning that nothing can be said to exist if it is not inside the universe.
  4. Therefore, God does not exist.  QED.