A Journal for Western Man

 

 

 

God: Examining the Arguments

Don Watkins III

Issue V- September 18, 2002

 

 
The goal of this paper is to examine the arguments theists have presented 'for' God, and see if they stand up scrutiny.

First, I would like to define atheism. Atheism is the lack of belief in any god or deity. It does not explicitly mean the rejection of God. Anyone who can not say, "I believe in god," for whatever reason is an atheist.

Since the onus of proof is on him who asserts the positive it is obvious that is up to the theist to prove his claim that a god exists. Otherwise, the only rational conclusion is that one does not.

The first job of the theist in attempting to provide evidence for God's existence, is to define what he means by the term "God." We must ask ourselves, "what are we trying to prove exists?" For the sake of argument, I will accept the definition of God as the personal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God of the bible.

Arguments for God's existence:
1) First Cause -
"Everything must have a cause. Therefore, the universe must have a cause. This means there must be a fist cause, which is God."

This is false. Not everything has a cause. The law of causality states that entities are the cause of actions - not that every entity, of whatever sort, has a cause but that every action does; and not that the cause of action is action but that the cause of action is entities.

Second, in saying God doesn't have a cause, this argument contradicts its main premise, "everything must have a cause." If God does not have a cause why must the universe?

The people who make this argument are intelligent enough to know that there must be a starting point, but what they fail to realize is that existence has primacy over consciousness. Existence exists - and that is all that need be said.

2)Design -
"There is design in the universe, which indicates a designer; this being God."

There are two aspects of design to investigate. That of our orderly universe and that of the complexity of life.

The real question is, "is there design in the universe?" The answer is no.

As far as the universe goes, there is order. But, order is epistemological - it is a concept derived from the way we view nature. This argument makes the concept of order metaphysical. The universe has to be "orderly" in the sense that there is no such thing as a disorderly universe; A is A.

Looking at life itself, this argument assumes what it wishes to prove - namely, that there is design in the universe. The fact is, there is no design, there is only complexity. Complexity, of course, is accounted for by evolution.

Even if evolution by natural selection was not true (which it has to be), it is still a complete non sequitur to argue that since life is complex, there must be a designer.

3) Morality
- "There is a basic sense of morality in humans. Only God could have given us such a code."

There are a couple of ways to look at this. Number one, if God was the one who gave us our sense of morality, why do morals so differ around the globe? Why in some places is sexism, slavery, racism, self mutilation, polygamy, etc. accepted if we share a common morality given by God?

Number two, Ayn Rand proved that there is a different morality - a morality of reason. A morality based upon and derived from the facts of reality - not the whims of a supernatural deity.

These three arguments make up the three basic arguments for God. There are others, such as the ontological argument (which even Christians have disproved) but these can be addressed individually seeing as though they are difficult for most people to understand and would take up an infinite amount of space and time.

We will now concern ourselves with the bible, an important record which is considered by many to be the word of God and the source of all morality.

The truth is, the bible is little more than a manual for sexism, violence, and bigotry. It is also filled with gross errors and contradictions. In the allotted space I will present only three of the more than 200 biblical contradictions.

1- Who is the father of Joseph?
Matthew 1:16 - "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."
vs.
Luke 3:22 - "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli."

2 - Jesus' first sermon on a mount or plain?
Matthew 5:1,2 - "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying...."
vs.
Luke 6: 17,20 - "And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people...came to hear him...And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said..."

3 - How old was Ahaziah when he began to reign?
22 in 2 Kings 8:26
42 in Chron 22:2

The purpose of presenting these three contradictions is only to prove that the bible is either;
1) not the word of God
2) God is makes mistakes
We could suggest other choices (misinterpretation) but with over 200 contradictions this is not an acceptable argument.

I will suggest only three examples of sexism (out of about 50 to 60).

1) I Corinthians 11: 3-15; Man is head of women, only man is in God's image.

2) I Corinthians 14:34-35; Women keep silence, learn only from husbands.

3) I Timothy 2:11-14; Women learn in silence in all subjection; Eve was sinful, Adam blameless.

Women need freedom from religion if they are to be equal, as we see from this passage.

In showing Jesus' true character I will present only two instances. There are more, but these are two of the most important.

1) Matthew 10:34; "Think not that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I come not to bring peace, but a sword."

2) Matthew 24: 34; Jesus here is speaking of his second coming; "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." (also see Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32)

In this instance we see that Jesus is not only against making peace but is either a liar or is mistaken about his quick return. To sum up, the unknown writers of the four gospels are unreliable, the bible itself is self contradictory, and the character of Jesus is questionable.  I would also mention that it is highly questionable that Jesus ever existed at all, but this will be addressed in a later paper.

Now, in rebutting all the basic arguments for God, including the bible I will actually offer up some arguments against a god's existence.

The problem of evil.
-There is evil in the world
-If there is evil in the world we can come to only three conclusions;

1) God doesn't do anything about it
2) God can't do anything about it
3) There is no God

If 1) is true than God is evil; it is just as if you were to watch a friend hang from a bridge and not try to help, even though you could. Some will say that God gave us free will and that God must let things such as this happen if we are to have free will. But, free will is not possible if God is all knowing.

The problem of free will and an all knowing God.
-God knows everything
-Therefore, he knows the past, present, and future
-Therefore, he has known, since before creation, every choice you were to make, everything you were to think, and everything that was to happen to you.

This leads us to two possible conclusions

1) God does not know everything
2) We do not have free will

If 1) is true and God does not know everything we run into this problem, he is not a God, just a really powerful "guy."

If 2) is true, the rebuttal of the problem of evil fails and if it is true that there is a hell, God is evil for creating a person he knew would end up causing harm to others and suffering eternally.

The problem of natural evil.
There is also the problem of natural evil, in which free will is not a concern. There are natural evils, such as earth quakes, cancer, and tornadoes, which kill people and destroy lives every year. If this is so, we come to the conclusions

1) God is evil
2) God is not responsible for these evils but does nothing to stop or prevent them.
3) God can't do anything about them.
4) God does not exist.

So, it is apparent that there exists an evil god, a God who is very limited in power, or there is no God.
Now, it is important, within the scope of theism, that God be omnipotent, or, all powerful. This is not possible for this reason, omnipotence is paradoxical. Why?

Let's ask God this question:
"God, can you build a wall which, even if you wanted to, you could never destroy?"
God: "Yes, I'm God, I can do anything."
Me: "But God, that means there is a wall which you cannot destroy."
God: "Oh, well, I mean, no, there is no wall which I cannot destroy, because, being all powerful, I can destroy anything."
Me: "But God, you can't be all powerful if you can't do something (i.e. build a wall which he can not destroy.)
God: "Then I guess I'm not all powerful."

But, let's, for the sake of argument suppose God can be, and is, all powerful and all knowing. In this case we can clearly see the conflicting nature of God. If God is omniscient, that would mean he would know his own future. If God knows his own future, then that would mean that he would not have the power to change it. Being that God is considered omnipotent (all powerful) this is a serious objection to his omniscient nature. However, if God was able to change his own future, that would mean that God would not know when he would make sudden changes in his future and what changes would result, meaning he is no longer omniscient. So, as you can see, the qualities of omniscience and omnipotence cannot be simultaneously held by God.

And now, just as the theist appeals to faith, we close with a quote from Dan Barker.

"'Belief in God is not intellectual. Reason is limited. The truth of God is only known by a leap of faith, which transcends but does not contradict reason.'

This is no argument. Admitting something is nonintellectual removes it from the realm of discussion. Yes, reason is limited: it is limited to the facts. If you ignore the facts you are left with nothing but hypothesis or wishful thinking. Faith is the acceptance of the truth of a statement in spite of insufficient or contrary evidence, which has never been consistent with reason. Faith, by its very invocation, is a transparent admission that religious claims cannot stand on their own two feet. Even if theism were a consistent hypothesis (which it is not), it would still need to be proved."

The invocation of faith also begs of the response, "well, you have to have faith there is no God." I can hear you laughing right now, but again, it shows how ridiculous it is to appeal to faith.

Atheism is neither evil, nor vicious, nor (as I have shown) is it even wrong. Atheism means accepting reality as is - without spitting in its face because you don't like it.

Don Watkins III is a businessman, poet, college student, and profound Objectivist. He is the author of a site titled The Essence of Objectivism, which you can access at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/9035/essence.html.

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