A Journal for Western Man




Atheism: The Rational Alternative

Don Watkins III

Issue V- September 18, 2002


The goal of this paper is to decide whether or not we can logically assert that a god exists.

In doing this let me first clear up what I mean by exists. If something exists that means it is part of reality. Reality is that which is directly perceivable through our natural senses, or indirectly ascertained through the proper use of reason.

Reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses thereby limiting the validity of a proposition by the tests of verification (what evidence or repeatable observations confirm it?) falsifiability (what, in theory would disprove it, and have all such attempts failed?) and logic (is it free of contradictions and non sequiturs?).

So, how do we prove something exists?
1) It must be properly defined.
2) It must be show to be directly perceivable through the natural senses.
3) It must be indirectly perceivable through the proper use of reason. This means;
It must have evidence which confirms it
One must define what exactly would prove it does not exist and be sure that all such attempts have not failed;
It must be free of contradictions and non sequiturs. (i.e. it must correspond to the laws of logic.)
Note that the onus of proof is one he who asserts the positive. No one is ever called upon to prove a negative. That which has no evidence is arbitrary and has no cognitive status.

Now, step by step we will decide if the concept 'god' meets the above criteria. If it does, a god exists - if it does not, no god exists.

1) Definition- Can we define God? Do we know what we are talking about when we say "God exists"? Well, there is no primary definition of God from which to work, and the Christian conception is logically impossible, (as will be shown later). But, for our purposes, we will accept the basic Judeo-Christian traits which they say God possess; omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, and he is considered the creator of the universe.

Most overlook the importance of definition so I will invoke this passage from George H. Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God:

"Knowing what one is talking about is of inestimable value in any dialogue, so the theist, before he sets out to explain why we should believe in god, must first explain what he means by the word "god." What is the theist attempting to establish the existence of? What is the nature of god? How are we to identify him (or it)? At least some of the attributes of this supposed creature must be known before anything can be considered relevant to establishing his existence.

2) Is God directly perceivable through our natural senses? - Being that God cannot be seen, smelt, physically felt, tasted, or physically heard we come to the conclusion that no god is perceivable through our natural senses.
Some may claim to have physically heard or even to have seen God but, being that these claims are not repeatable, testable or provable in the least we must discredit them until more evidence is available. Just as you wouldn't believe in the tooth fairy just because I said I had a physical experience with her so it too must be in the case of God.

The guiding principle, here, can best be summed up by Thomas Huxley: "Trust a witness in all matters in which neither his self-interest, his passions, his prejudices, nor the love of the marvelous is strongly concerned. When they are involved, require corroborative evidence in exact proportion to the contravention of probability by the thing testified."

Another defense is when people say they have experienced God by virtue of some special feeling or internal voice. I in no way would deny this experience. It is probably very powerful but emotions are automatic responses to value judgments one has implanted in their subconscious; as such they are not tools of cognition. Reason is man's only means of knowledge. Another problem with personal experience is that, unless directly experienced all experiences are hearsay and cannot be referred to as evidence.

3) Is God indirectly perceivable through the proper use of reason? -

Is there evidence which confirms God's existence? -No. Though it is true some things have not been explained and that we do not understand everything, this is not evidence that a supernatural being exists. It is a complete non sequitur to argue that, "since we cannot explain everything there exists a god who explains it." That explains nothing. A lack of knowledge should merely persuade a person to keep looking.

Is there a way to prove a god does not exist God? - No. The God 'hypothesis' is not testable and therefore lies outside the realm of science.

Is God free of contradictions and non sequiturs? No. Any description of God fails the test of non-contradictory identification (i.e. logic.) Nothing can be infinite. It is what it is due to the law of identity. Nothing can be all-powerful. There are a great number of other logical inconsistencies examined in my paper, 'God: Examining the Evidence.'

Conclusion: God is not perceivable through the use of reason.

In recapping, does God meet the criteria something must meet in order to say it exits? Is God:
1) Is the term 'God' properly defined? No.
2) Is God directly perceivable through our natural senses? No.
3) Is God indirectly perceivable through the proper use of reason? No.

Having reached our conclusion it is now apparent that as of now, no one can logically assert that a god exists.

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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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.