h1

Six Arguments for the Existence of God

7 July, 2009

I jumped over to LoLGod for some religiously-based humour.  Oddly, advertisements are mixed in.  Included in that was a link to a web site which answers the question, “Does God exist?” via “six straight-forward reasons to believe that God is really there.”  Now I am not a logician, I am not a lawyer, I am not a philosopher;  I am a rank amateur when it comes to arguments.  I am also not a biologist, a potted plant, or a seminarian.  I am, however, a reasonably well-read historian with a fairly good understanding of the natural world.  So I clicked over and realized, very quickly, that the arguments are rather amateurish.

1. Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.

-snip-

The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible.

And if the earth was colder, life would either be different (adapted to the colder temperatures) or life would not exist (and the same for a warmer earth).  The earth has a slightly eccentric orbit;  if it were more eccentric, life would either be adapted for the wider temperature swings or would not exist.  This argument (the Teleological Argument for God (TAG)) is nonsense.  All life is selected for the environment in which they live.  If they are not, they will not live long enough to reproduce.

And, of course, he throws in the argument from incredulity about the eye:

The eye…can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and handles an astounding 1.5 million messages — simultaneously. Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.

Actually, evolution does explain the eye quite well.  And the start of living organisms is abiogenesis, not evolution.

That’s a rather mediocre and half-assed attempt to ‘prove’ the existence of God.  The TAG, an argument from incredulity, and an unsurprising  abiogenesis mislabelling.  I expected better.

2. Does God exist? The universe had a start – what caused it?

Scientists are convinced that our universe began with one enormous explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang. This was the singular start to everything that exists: the beginning of the universe, the start of space, and even the initial start of time itself.

Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated, “The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion…The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen.”

The universe has not always existed. It had a start…what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.

Ah, the ever popular Cosmological Argument for God.   There are a couple of things wrong with this argument (from Louis W. Cable):

First, by exempting God this argument is rendered self-contradictory because everything does not have a cause. So, if the premise is true, the conclusion cannot be true, and if the conclusion is true, the premise cannot be true. However, the major fallacy of the first cause argument is its assumption that the universe requires a causal explanation. In that regard, it must be pointed out that by definition the universe is the totality of all that exists. Therefore, one cannot go outside existence in search of a cause for existence simply because there isn’t anywhere to go.The argument from first cause fails because it is self contradictory and complex beyond necessity.

Additionally, as presented above, it is just a non-sequitur.  Astrophysicists admit that they cannot know what happened before the singularity became the universe.  And why don’t we know what existed before?  Well, here’s one good explanation  (from Wikipedia  (I freely admit that I am not an astrophysicist and I’m gonna use an already written explanation)):

One possible answer to this quandary can be found by examining Gödel’s incompleteness theorems which posit that no system can fully describe itself or comprehend itself using only examination from within the system; such a system might be able to understand the apparent operation of aspects of the system, but it cannot understand everything that composes it.

Thus, it follows that since people are within the universe, and cannot see outside of it due to the operation of the Laws of Nature itself, or see beyond the instantiation of the Universe at the moment of the First Cause, then science and reason in and of themselves cannot be assumed to function outside of the known universe, as science, logic, and reason are only within scope within the known Universe, and outside of it, different laws may apply, if any. Thus, to assume that any existence outside of the known universe can be necessarily comprehended by science and reason could be considered illogical.

I freely admit that I have no grasp on the mathematics which have helped us to unravel the birth of the universe.  But to imply that since there is a beginning, it must have a creator is one hell of a leap.  And not very convincing, either.

3. Does God exist? The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?

Much of life may seem uncertain, but look at what we can count on day after day: gravity remains consistent, a hot cup of coffee left on a counter will get cold, the earth rotates in the same 24 hours, and the speed of light doesn’t change — on earth or in galaxies far from us.

How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?

This is a deliberate misunderstanding of the term law within science.  The state legislature can certainly pass a law making it illegal to drown a person.  That law is a criminal law.  It does not stop anyone from actually doing it, merely provides for specific penalties for disobeying the law.  The law is prescriptive.  All natural laws are descriptive.  They describe what is observed.  And (again from Cable),

laws, such as the laws of causality, must exist before any cause can operate. The existence of laws implies order. Therefore order had to exist before laws could exist. So the laws of causality cannot be the result of any cause. These are laws which cannot be caused even by god.

Well, that one was unconvincing.  What’s next?

4. Does God exist? The DNA code informs, programs a cell’s behavior.

All instruction, all teaching, all training comes with intent. Someone who writes an instruction manual does so with purpose. Did you know that in every cell of our bodies there exists a very detailed instruction code, much like a miniature computer program?

The genetic code within our cells is not an instruction manual.  It is not a training manual.  The term, ‘life’s instruction manual,’ is an explanation by analogy.  It does not mean that it is literally a manual. 

Every definition in this section presupposes a creator.  It ignores the evidence from evolutionary biologists and from geneticists which show how RNA and DNA evolved. 

Presupposition is a piss poor argument.  Sorry, not convinced yet.  What’s next?

5. Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.

I was an atheist at one time. And like most atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don’t believe even exists?! What causes us to do that? When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional people…to help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded. To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life.

The ever popular argument from personal experience.  Where to begin?

First, I doubt seriously that you were an atheist.  I am an atheist.  God (or the concept of god(s)) does not bother me.  Never did.  The actions taken by theists, their attempts to control my life based upon their beliefs, is the problem.    I do not spend a great deal of time trying to refute what does not exist.  I do shoot holes in arguments for the existence of the mythical being, but I spend much more time mocking the theistic behaviour and protesting attempts to force the Bible into the ballot box.

Second, the argument through personal existence fails because (Cable again)

Numerous individuals throughout the ages have claimed to have seen, heard or otherwise experienced god personally. If we were to assume that such experiences are indeed genuine, and not the result of some type of mental illness, we still run into serious difficulties. Was it the same god who allegedly talked to the ancient Hebrew prophets, spoke from the heavens to Jesus, revealed the Koran to Mohammed, and directed Joseph Smith to the tablets of the Book of Mormon? When nations go to war, devout believers on both sides have been known to receive revelations assuring them that god was on their side. Three possibilities exist here neither of which is friendly to theism. They are: 1) god is a malicious fiend who enjoys inspiring contradictory doctrines and provoking war; 2) These visionaries were only hallucinating, or 3) They are perpetrating a deliberate hoax. With no reliable methods of testing, claims of godly communications cannot be accepted as valid.The argument from personal experience fails due to contradictory accounts and an inability to supply empirical verification.

Sorry, buddy.  Just because you found a reason to believe in a Bronze-age myth doesn’e make it real. 

And, finally,

6. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.

Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you’ll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you’re looking at him. Though he talked about his Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in him, believed in the Father.

He said, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”15 He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, “follow my words and you will find truth.” He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”

An argument from scripture?  A completely circular argument.  God exists because the Bible says God exists.  Jesus is God because Jesus said He is God in the Bible. 

First, there is no independent confirmation that Jesus even lived.  The earliest non-Biblical references to Christians (not Jesus, but the pesky Christians themselves) show up around 100AD.  Even the Gospels were oral histories not  even put to paper until 20 to 60 years after the death of the purported existence and death of Jesus. 

Second, for an argument from scripture to be valid, the Bible would have to be shown accurate and consistent in all things.  Since Pi does not equal 3 and bats are not birds, that could be a problem.  Even the canonical Gospels do not agree on Jesus’  last words.  They don’t agree on why Jesus’ life or teachings would be important.

This site claims to show the evidence for God’s existence.  I took a look at it.  We have arguments from ignorance, teleological and cosmological arguments, arguments from personal experience and scripture, arguments from presupposition and from incredulity (and I know that I missed some of the logical errors committed in the arguments but, as I said before, I’m not a logician, just an historian).  I am not convinced.  And Marilyn Adamson, the writer of this brilliant set of fallacies, has an answer to explain why I am not convinced:

But first consider this. If a person opposes even the possibility of there being a God, then any evidence can be rationalized or explained away. It is like if someone refuses to believe that people have walked on the moon, then no amount of information is going to change their thinking. Photographs of astronauts walking on the moon, interviews with the astronauts, moon rocks…all the evidence would be worthless, because the person has already concluded that people cannot go to the moon.

When it comes to the possibility of God’s existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God. On the other hand, for those who want to know God if he is there, he says, “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.”

So I will only believe if I actually believe.  What fallacy would that one be?

Just once, I would like to read an argument for God that actually holds water.  Of course, The Spanish Inquisitor asked his readers to “What evidence did you experience that convinced you that you were worshiping the right deity?” over a week ago and no one has even attempted the challenge. 

If someone with my (admittedly) limited education (BA in European History) and rather scanty training in logic can, with the help of some useful sites, so easily poke holes in the arguments for the existence of God, what does that say about the quality of the arguments?

Advertisements

13 comments

  1. Admittedly, some presentations are weak, in part or completely. I can say that I am sure that Josephus, a most respected Jewish historian, documented Jesus existence.

    If you are truly interested in reading something that might give you ‘evidence’, or at least make you think about it further, read Josh McDowell’s book “More Than A Carpenter”. Most libraries have it and it can be bought (and previewed) for a very reasonable cost online here: http://tinyurl.com/meppbw.

    Let me also ask you one question: What if you are wrong? http://www.needgod.com.


  2. These sounded really familiar and indeed, once I clicked over to the source I remember reading that very same page. Probably got there from the same advert. I even wrote about it: http://www.anatheist.net/2008/07/six-reasons-to-believe-in-god-part-1/

    Seems that neither of us were very impressed by them 🙂


  3. Greg: No, the Josephus insertions are absent from the earliest extant compies of his history. Also, the insertion calls the the possibly aprocryphal Jesus the ‘Christ’ which is not a term that a Jewish historian would have used. Many early historians refer to to Christians, but none which were written at or close to the time of his supposed ministry refer to Jesus in any way. This was a problem for Christians of the second century and later — if this was an earth-changing event, why is it not mentioned? So they inserted references in order to convince doubters.

    And Pascal’s wager has been torn to pieces too many times to count. Here’s my take on it: what if you are worshipping the wrong god, or worshipping Jesus in the wrong way? What if the Gnostics were right? Who’s screwed now?

    James: I was impressed by the typing, though. Not that many godbot blogs have complete sentences, proper grammar, and decent design.


  4. Nicely done Billy.


  5. Bruce: Thank you. Did you notice how quickly Josephus, McDowell and Pascal showed up? You can almost put money on it, neh?


  6. Actually, I think theists use Gödel to support their claim of their god being outside the universe.

    To edit Cable on #5, he left out a couple of possibilities:
    • that there’s more than one god entity
    • one side is getting a message from a god entity, and the other side is hallucinating

    Josephus’ Christ paragraph is generally regarded as a forgery, most likely by Eusebius. The 4th century was a notorious time for such things. They rationalized it by thinking that the motivation for doing it was actually the hand of god prompting them. A rationalization I think Calvin later made a virtue.

    There’s a fun podcast called the Guerilla Radio Show, recordings from a college radio show about philosophy. One show is dedicated to the arguments for the existence of god. They also have ones on the Problem of Evil, Free Will, and other fun topics.


  7. HTere are two ways to discover the reality of God. You can explore all of creation and see His Holy Hand in all that exists. Science continualy shows us that God must exist. Mr. Adamsons proofs above are logically and scientifically unasailable unless one is determinged not to see reality. This method requires an open mind. Second, you can find the love of God through acceptance of His love. This requires nothing more than an open heart. Third, you can find the love of God throught the Holy Bible, the Word of God made real. Open your mind, open your heart and open your Bible and you will find God.

    Now I did try to show you the error of your ways through proof some weeks ago. I’ll try again. These, of course, are proofs you cannot slander as you do to Mr. Adamsnon’s proof of God.

    Fact: God exists and takes a personal interest in all humans. Atheists – who are actually God haters since it is impossible to not believe in God – are humans so God loves atheists who just refuse to return the love and return it with hate instead.

    Fact: God exists and takes a personal interest in all humans. He knows every human through all eternity. Therefore God loves unborn babies even the ones who are wontonly murdered by God haters.

    Fact: God exists and takes a personal interest in all humans. This is stated clearly in the Bible the one uncoruptable Book in all of history. The Bible was written by God. Therefore, since it is impossible to not believe in reality, atheists hate God or are in rebellion against God, and know that God exists.

    Fact: God exists and takes a personal interest in all humans. He sent his only Son to die a horrible death to give all humans an opportunity to accept God and erase the sin present in every single human. Therefore, Jesus died for the sins of all humans, including atheists who can still be saved if they accept the love of God and Jesus.

    Fact: God exists and takes a personal interest in all humans. You are human. God takes an interest in you. You must find your own way through logic, or reality, or just accepting who He is.

    You ignored that just as you ignore the proof submitted by Mr. Adamson. Since logic will not work, try just accepting the love of God. He will make Himself known to you. Just accept.

    Open your mind or open your heart or open your Bible. Any way will work as God loves you.

    I dont want any human to spend eternity which is a long long time, in hell being consumed by fire, boiling blood, tortured by demons and living forever in hell. God’s love and Jesus;s sacrifice can save you but onlyif you open your heart to the actual and verfiable love of God. God loves you and if you harden your heart to Him you will suffer eternal dammation. It is free will, but Jesuses path to God is the only one that will save you from the eternal torments of hell.

    God Bless You and all who seek the love of God.


  8. You can explore all of creation and see His Holy Hand in all that exists

    You can see anything you wish if you REALLY want to

    Science continualy shows us that God must exist.

    Oh DO elaborate on this claim, please.

    Mr. Adamsons proofs above are logically and scientifically unasailable unless one is determinged not to see reality.

    It appears they’ve been assailed, and quite logically. Perhaps you are the one determined to see reality, and the need for a spellchecker.

    This method requires an open mind

    Why is it when people like this say “open mind”, they really mean “deluded mind”? Yes, you’re open minded, open to ignoring reality in favor of embracing a fantasy and yes, I’m too close minded to go there.

    Now I did try to show you the error of your ways through proof some weeks ago. I’ll try again. These, of course, are proofs you cannot slander as you do to reality.

    Fact: You are irrational. People who ignore reality in favor of fantasy are irrational.

    Fact: You are irrational. To go to an atheist blog spouting irrational religious ramblings as facts is irrational.

    Fact: You are irrational. To engage in an intellectual exercise where intellectualism is prized and not bother to spellcheck is irrational.

    Fact: You are irrational. “Rational Christian” is an oxymoron, so having that as a moniker is irrational, or a wonderfully comical name if you’re a Poe. 😉

    I bless you and all who seek the taste for fine beer, unless of course there’s only one left, in which case bugger off, it’s mine. 🙂


  9. Determined to not see reality. Damn my haste! Oh the irony. 😦


  10. What is your beer of choice? I like Anchor Steam and Coors.

    As to why I am here, just trying to bring a little civility and open-mindedness to a hate blog. And why is that your section? Shouldn’t Billy the Ignorant be policing and controllng his own blog?


  11. Philly: One of the great things about most religions is that they can use anything (or almost anything) to support one of their contradictory positions.

    RC: First of all, the essay I was critiquing was written by Marilyn Adamson. So unless you have personal knowledge about this writer, why use “Mr. Adamson”? Do you automatically assume that women cannot write effectively (or (in this case) inneffectively)?

    Second: I have concluded that you are either batshit crazy or you are a Poe. Either way, you are entertaining.

    Philly: Excellent!

    Philly: D’oh!

    RC: You? Civility? I do not ‘police or control’ my blog. It is a free speech zone. This is why people like you and Abe have free reign to show the world just how ignorant you are.

    And Anchor Steam? Good beer. Coors? No flavour, no body, no reason to drink it.

    Philly: Beer? I think RC is making a pass at you.


  12. As to why I am here, just trying to bring a little civility and open-mindedness to a hate blog.

    Please see this video regarding open-mindedness:


  13. If a person opposes even the possibility of there being a God, then any evidence can be rationalized or explained away.

    Do any of you know any atheists who “oppose even the possibility of there being a god?” I don’t. Can anyone say “straw man?”

    Nor do I believe this is a “hate” blog. Of course, I’m a godless heathen so that would be my opinion.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: