While it is not possible to absolutely prove that God (or any other deity for that matter of which there are thousands postulated) does not exist, any more than it is possible to absolutely prove that orbiting teapots, pixies, extraterrestrials, demons and ghosts don’t exist, the actual existence of God can be shown to be so unlikely as to be ‘proof’ beyond a reasonable doubt.
Arguments For God’s Existence Debunked:
Theists claim about eight arguments showing that God exists, but each can be refuted. For the record the eight positive arguments are:
* The Kalam Cosmological Argument: This argument goes as follows. 1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause. 2) The Universe began to exist. 3) Therefore the Universe had a cause. 4) Therefore God done it! The problem here is that you can’t just leap from step three to step four. There are alternative explanations. If there weren’t, every cosmology text would have to start with “In the beginning, God… “. One could equally postulate that 1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause. 2) Lightning begins to exist. 3) Therefore lightning had a cause. 4) Therefore Thor done it! For some weird reason, theists don’t buy into that sequence. [#]
* Design and Fine-Tuning for Life: Life exists. Life is complex. Things have to be just-so in order for life to exist. God ensured that things were just-so. However, 99.9999% of the Universe isn’t designed and finely-tuned for life. 99% of all species on Earth have gone the way of the Dodo and Passenger Pidgeon. Further, given the vastness and amount of real estate in the Universe, it would be surprising if chemistry and environmental conditions were never just right in a Goldilocks sense to produce and sustain life. Further, there are transport mechanisms in place (Panspermia) that can transport the life forms that do arise around the Universe. But even with respect to design and fine-tuning, there are alternative explanations, among them chance, the Simulation Hypothesis and the Multiverse Hypothesis. So again, it’s not God done it as a default position. If God is the default position, then the obvious question is who / what designed and fine-tuned the Designer (God)? [#]
* Objective Morality: God is the author of objective morality. Without God there wouldn’t be any objective morality. However, morality isn’t objective, it’s subjective. Morality depends. Sometimes X is okay; sometimes X is not okay. Further, if you took God’s morality and followed it to the letter, you’d be arrested in every country past and present and executed in many. God is the most immoral entity ever conceived of in literature. Quite apart from the Old Testament examples, if a human walks by and sees a child lying face down in a pond, most humans will try to rescue the child. God will just sit back and do bugger-all. Humans tend to be way, way, way more moral than God, which isn’t difficult, even for humans. Further, there is no objective morality since no two people will agree on the morality issues that underlies every “what if” scenario. If morality issues were 100% objective the legal systems of this world would be clear-cut, black-and-white, yet we all know that that is not the case at all. Further again, God doesn’t explain exhibitions by non-humans of moral actions. So where did morality come from if not from God? The natural evolution of morality can be pretty well summed up by stating that I’ll watch / scratch your back if you watch and scratch my back. Cooperation is in your own best and selfish interest. [#]
* Biological Information (DNA; also consciousness, free will, intentionality, etc.): Life is complex, therefore God. Well not really. Non-life is just chemistry. Life is just chemistry. Much of life’s essential chemistry is actually represented by non-life chemistry – salt, water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, urea, various sugars, vitamins and minerals, etc. There are no elementary particles and atoms found in life’s chemistry set that aren’t also part and parcel of non-living things. Life and non-life share a commonality – chemistry. So non-life becomes incorporated into life, and life back into non-life. That’s because chemistry, chemical reactions are a two-way street. For example, hydrogen and oxygen into water; water into oxygen and hydrogen. Just because life’s chemistry tends to be more complex chemistry (DNA, RNA, proteins, amino acids, etc.) doesn’t mean it’s not chemistry. The elementary particles, atoms and molecules do NOT behave any differently just because they are part of a living organism instead of being part of a non-living structure.
Secondly, any trait associated with life can also be found in non-living things, examples from metabolism to reproduction to awareness. Can consciousness only come from consciousness? Now while you have consciousness, what created you didn’t have consciousness, that it the egg and the sperm that created you. So, consciousness develops in organisms naturally. And if one wishes to invoke Panpsychism, then everything, even fundamental particles have consciousness.
Finally, there is just such a natural mechanism within nature, within the sciences, even within human society, as emergent phenomena. Simple things that do not have a property have that property when they link together and combine. Here’s a simple example: hydrogen dioxide (a water molecule) isn’t in itself wet, isn’t a drop of water, a cube of ice, a humid day, or a cloud / fog. But a lot of water molecules collectively are wet, can form a drop of water, an ice cube, produce a humid day, and form clouds / fog. One human does not a human society make, but gather enough humans together and there you have a human society.
* Jesus: The prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus; the virgin birth of Jesus; the miracles attributed to Jesus; the death and resurrection of Jesus; the empty tomb; all of the witnesses to a resurrected Jesus; the rise of Christianity in the wake of all of that all proves that Jesus was a actual Son of God and therefore God must exist. Alas, not one supernatural thing attributed to Jesus can be independently verified outside of the Biblical sources. Religions (and numerous religiously-themed cults) can arise out of virtually nothing – Scientology and Mormonism for example. Finally, the arguments for Jesus can’t be all that compelling if Judaism and Islam don’t accept the evidence for Jesus, and that equally applies to the major Eastern / Asian religions. Further, it has been noted that ‘modern’ humans (Homo sapiens) existed for a minimum of about 100,000 years (give-or-take) or thereabouts before God started strutting His stuff down on Terra Firma (I’m totally ignoring the Adam and Eve tall tale here). So, humans existed for a very, very, very long time in the total absence of God and that’s even more the case when it comes to knowledge of Jesus. So why the gap of a hundred thousand years before Jesus appears on the scene? Well the nonsense argument that theists offer up is that that gap between the first ‘modern’ human and Jesus didn’t amount to a hill of beans in terms of the overall human population. Most humans who have ever lived and will live will have heard about Jesus. Still, it makes little sense why God couldn’t have ensured that those unfortunate humans who lived before Jesus were somehow enlightened. I mean, according to theists, with God, all things are possible. [#]
* Personal Experience of God: Personal spiritual experiences of God are not evidence for the existence of God. Firstly, personal experiences are just that – personal. Your personal experiences aren’t experienced by anyone else. Further, there are numerous physiological and psychological causes behind why people experience all manner of imaginary things. Some people hallucinate; some people are delusional. The people concerned aren’t even aware of the illusions they experience which are way, way, way more wide-ranging than just experiencing God. Intense personal even spiritual experiences include alien abductions, witnessing ghosts, talking with Apollo or dozens of other deities or entities, or even in like my case a one-off close encounters experience with telepathic birds. But just having a very personal and spiritually moving hallucination doesn’t of necessity make you mentally ill. [#]
* Something Rather Than Nothing: Ah, the eternal question, why is there something rather than nothing? God done it – created something out of nothing. Okay, why is there a God instead of nothing? Where did God come from? [#]
* If God is Possible Then God Exists: There has to exist the most perfect being possible. There is no being more perfect than God. Therefore God must exist not only in this world but in all possible worlds. Of course the fallacy here is that applies to anything. There has to exist the most perfect possible dragon or unicorn or pixie or island or hurricane or teapot. Alas, just because you can imagine something doesn’t make it so. Mental reality doesn’t of necessity mean a physical reality equivalent. [#]
However, in addition to the above, there is one argument for the existence of God that I’m really getting more than just a bit tired of hearing and that is that the proof of God’s existence is just because of life, the Universe and absolutely everything. I mean, according to this argument, just look at the moon and the stars and sunsets and the sky and the rainbow and the trees and the flowers and the birds (and no doubt the poison ivy; the smallpox virus; the bubonic plague (Black Death); the flu; flesh-eating bacteria; malaria; sexually transmitted diseases (AIDS); rabies; Ebola; parasitic worms; poisonous snakes, spiders, jellyfish and scorpions; man-eating sharks; radioactivity; lightning strikes, landslides; earthquakes; tsunamis; volcanoes; blizzards; hurricanes; tornadoes; and even the odd supernova as well), etc. Doesn’t all of that prove God exists? No, it doesn’t. Further, it doesn’t prove that Odin exists or that Isis exists or that Apollo and Aphrodite exists either. For that matter, that’s not proof of the existence of Pixies or even of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Hundreds of religions have come up with hundreds of creator deities who – according to those True Believers – equally explains life, the Universe and absolutely everything. If you want the best explanation for whodunit, try Mother Nature!
What Do Atheists Believe According to Theists?
Theists assert that atheists claim instead that nothing produces everything; non-life produces life; randomness produces fine-tuning / design; chaos produces information; unconsciousness produces consciousness; and non-reason produces reason. Since these are all impossible claims, that proves that God done it. It’s time for a closer look.
* Nothing Produces Everything: Actually this is also the theist’s position or what theists claim. God, the uncreated creator created life, the Universe and everything out of absolutely nothing. Of course what theists claim that atheist’s claim is that nothing (not even a God or deity of any kind) produced something. While I can’t speak for other atheists, that’s not my position. My reasoning is based on the First Law of Thermodynamics which includes the observation that matter / energy can neither be created nor destroyed. That being the case, something (matter / energy) has always existed and so a something material morphed / created our Universe. It’s a case of something from something. Of course that produces an infinite regress but there’s nothing impossible about the concept or the reality of an infinity.
* Non-Life Produces Life: Both life and non-life are made up of the exact same fundamental particles (quarks and electrons) and elements. So there’s no theoretical or even practical reason why non-life can’t become life given enough time, proper environmental conditions and sufficient real estate. Fortunately, the Universe accommodates this trilogy / trinity of conditions. As the common saying / observation goes, and it’s a truism, is that we (life) is just derived from star-stuff. Just because we (scientists) don’t know the precise details of the ways and means this can be accomplished – and there are no doubt several plausible ways – doesn’t mean that therefore God done it. Further it was once thought that organic and bio-chemicals part and parcel of living things couldn’t be synthesized outside of the bodies of those living things. Wrong!
* Randomness Produces Fine-Tuning / Design: The quantum mantra states that anything that can happen, will happen, given enough time. Random happenings will bring oxygen and hydrogen atoms together to form water. Random weather patters will sometimes cause temperatures to fall below zero degrees (Centigrade) and the water turns into snowflakes or ice crystals that look really fine-tuned and designed. Of course not all of the laws, principles and relationships in the physical science produce randomness. You can’t have just any kind of atom or molecule or chemical reaction.
* Chaos Produces Information: That’s pretty much in the same category as randomness and design / fine-tuning.
* Unconsciousness Produces Consciousness: That’s in the same category as non-life producing life.
* Non-Reason Produces Reason: If non-reason equates to non-life / randomness / chaos and reason equates to life / design / information, then the issue has already been addressed.
In conclusion, probably the four best arguments against the existence of the Christian God is that if you had been born and raised in a different culture / society then you would have believed with equal conviction in some other deity or deities. A Christian is an atheist with respect to non-Christian religions; true believers within non-Christian religions are all atheists with respect to Christianity. Real atheists are non-believers in BOTH Christian religions and non-Christian religions. Not all religions / deities can be true but all can be false.
The second reason is that there are very, very, very good reasons why humans would create a God (or other deities) in our image. Firstly a need for agency to explain what we can’t explain. Secondly, the need for an agent to get us into an afterlife which we tend to desire. Thirdly, the need to feel special, that a deity created the Universe just for little old us and who wants a personal experience with us. Lastly, we are hardwired to tell stories – billions of billions of stories / tall tales. We are such innate storytellers that we even tell stories to ourselves when we sleep – our dreams.
Thirdly, the most central reason for the collective belief in God is a purely economic one. The entire concept of God has been and is today a multi-billion dollar enterprise. So if one eliminates God (and company) from the world scene, you’d put a rather large dent in the economic engine that drives the world. So vested interests rule, and so rule that God stays relevant – for purely economic reasons.
Fourthly, we have the hiddenness problem. It would seem that God, assuming a God of course, went to a lot of time and trouble, effort and energy, to establish His existence to a rather tiny band of quasi-illiterate goat / sheep herders in a rather restricted geographical region of the world thousands of years ago. Alas, there’s no evidence that survives all of His revelations regarding His existence. So, if God wants to obtain the faith of the multitudes in this more modern, global, and scientific age, He really needs to update His public relations and advertise His brand in such a way that there is no doubt as to His existence. Surely it is not logical to expect the multitudes thousands of years after-the-fact to have the same True Faith and Belief systems in place as did those semi-illiterate goat and sheep herders, based on evidence available to them then but which has evaporated in the fullness of time and is no longer available. So, if God exists, then yes, I’d expect Him to provide an update as to what He’s been up to for the last 3000+ years and thus instantly convert over seven billion people into accepting Him as the One True God. It shouldn’t be difficult. That God remains hidden speaks volumes IMHO.
In conclusion, while no single point proves beyond a reasonable doubt that God doesn’t exist, when taken collectively, as a package deal, then I think the Christian theists need to go back to the drawing board or perhaps consider a career change to something more productive.
[#] These seven arguments form the absolute core of William Lane Craig’s arguments as to why God exists.