A Journal for Western Man

 

 

 

Five Arguments for the

Non-Existence of God

G. Stolyarov II

Issue LIX- May 22, 2006

 

 
As an atheist, I have often been asked to give my reasons for my fundamental disbelief in God. This is an opportunity to present the essence of some of my ideas on this subject. The reasons I personally reject religion are extremely specific and manifold, and the following list is by no means exhaustive.  I have recently published an 81-page treatise, A Rational Cosmology, where the fundamentals of my ideas about the universe are thoroughly elaborated on. This essay is an adaptation of some of these ideas to the question of God in particular-- along with some elaborations not present in A Rational Cosmology.

1) The Universe Creation Argument

God is said to be the Creator of the universe and all that exists. There I have my first issue. In A Rational Cosmology, Chapter II, subtitled, "The Universe," I write:

The universe cannot be created.

If the universe is “everything that exists,” and it could be created, then, whatever entity could create the universe, would be outside that universe. It follows, then, that such an entity would be outside “everything that exists.” An entity “outside” existence does not exist! A non-existent entity cannot do anything. Creation is an action that an entity must perform; it cannot be performed if the entity that would perform it does not exist!

It is instructive to note that this principle automatically refutes both the theory that “God created the universe” and that “the Big Bang created the universe.” Even if it were possible that all currently known entities were intelligently designed, they could not have been designed by a being that is somehow “beyond existence.” Rather, this being would need to be a delimited entity in its own right, with its own peculiar attributes (qualities) and capacities for action (relationships with other entities). Let the reader recall that everything which is or happens must in some manner involve some entity or entities. There are no such things as “pure” qualities, “pure” relationships, or “pure” creation, apart from the entities that exhibit, relate, and create.

Any Creator of other entities would thus need to exist and be a part of the universe (and it would need to relate to other entities in some manner, as a human creator relates to the entity, “brick,” when he constructs the new entity, “building”). The Creator would not be able to create the universe, the latter being a contradiction in terms. But God is not defined as an entity. As a matter of fact, God is defined precisely as a non-entity, something which does not only lack any set qualities, but which cannot possibly be understood or perceived by anyone anywhere in the universe. God clearly fails the third corollary of identity, which states that any entity must have some relationship to everything else that exists. (God also fails the first and second tests, as it is not defined what qualities God has; if God created the universe, He cannot have any qualities whatsoever, because the universe encompasses every entity that exists and thus every entity that can have qualities.)


2) The Infinity Argument

There are many corollary reasons to the above argument as to why I reject the existence of God. God is typically defined as “infinite” in his capacities: omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, etc. Infinities (or, more properly, simultaneous infinities) are not logically admissible, as I demonstrate in A Rational Cosmology, Chapter IX, subtitled, “Mistakes Concerning Infinity.”

The true infinity, or a simultaneous infinity, concerns either coexistence of infinite and finite measurements or the presence of all infinite measurements within an entity. God has been defined by the religious as an object of allegedly infinite quantities of everything, i.e. omnipotence and omniscience. However, the rational man would need to reject God by this definition, because it implies a simultaneous infinity: the technique of measurement-omission cannot be applied to the formation of the concept, “God,” and, thus, “God” cannot be a legitimate concept unless it is a hypothetical God that does have a finite age, and exhibits delimited qualities and abilities. (And, simply because something is conceivable, does not guarantee that it exists; the existence of such a conceptually legitimate God would still need to be proven to be within the realm of reason.)

3) The Infinite Regress Argument

This is the argument: Assuming God created everything that exists, then what created God? What created the thing that created God, and so forth? We can ask this question an infinite number of times and still have the question remain valid (and parts of it unanswered), assuming that we grant the existence of God. This is also logically impermissible, as the rationalist school of thought holds that anything can be understood in a finite series of observations and logical deductions.

The answer to this dilemma is to employ the technique of Occam’s Razor. (William of Occam himself was a theologian, it is true, but, in his studies, he inadvertently developed a method which, when taken to the extreme, challenges the very foundations of religion.) Occam’s Razor says that we must always take the simplest working explanation for anything, within the context of the evidence that we have available. If the simplest explanation for why letters are appearing on my computer screen right now is that my hand is typing them into the keyboard, it is logically impermissible to then have a theory which is more elaborate. An example of such a theory might be that there is an invisible green hippopotamus somewhere in the Alpha Centauri star system which is telekinetically manipulating the keyboard of my computer, while I have in reality been knocked out by the hippopotamus’s minions here on earth, bound, gagged, and given a hallucinogenic drug to make me think as if it is my hand which is typing this right now. There is no evidence to contradict the above theory directly, but there is also no evidence to support it. In the absence of evidence to support anything, we always presume its absence and embrace, as per Occam’s Razor, the simplest working explanation for anything whatsoever-- provided that the explanation is consistent with the rest of reality.

Here is what Occam’s Razor tells us on the question of what created the universe: The simplest working explanation is that the universe did not need to be created. The universe just is, always was, and always will be. Granted, particular entities in the universe changed. Star systems formed and disintegrated. The Earth was once a cloud of dust particles, and our distant ancestors were once single-celled organisms. But existence itself (i.e., the universe) always existed. We do need to undertake infinite regress to speculate as to what created the Creator, because even the very question is not a logical one to raise. The universe can be explained just fine without God, or without the Big Bang, or without any theories whatsoever about universal creation and/or destruction. (I demonstrate both the idea that the universe can be created and the idea that it can be destroyed to be a logical fallacy in A Rational Cosmology, Chapter II.)

4) The Omnibenevolence Argument

If God is both all-powerful and all-good, why did he permit for so many of his loyal followers to endure unspeakable suffering, or to inflict unspeakable horrors, often in the name of God? Why did he permit the Catholic Church to establish the Holy Inquisition in the Middle Ages, or to embark on Crusades, or to burn heretics at the stake? Why did he permit the armies of Islam to ravage the Mediterranean world and their successors today-- the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists-- to attack Western civilization, including many sincerely religious individuals? Why did he allow millions of Jews to perish during the Holocaust? The standard response is that God gives people free will to act as they please. But is it just on God’s part to allow some people to use free will to violate his strongest moral commandments? Can such a God exist and be called just?

By the way, religious texts say that divine intervention on the behalf of victims is quite within God’s capacity. For some reason, he was partial to Moses and the Jews when he allowed the Red Sea to part before them in their exodus from Egypt. He was partial to Joshua when he allowed the walls of Jericho to crumble. Yet he was unable to save far greater amounts of his followers at later dates from perishing due to greater crimes and dangers. What explains the contradictions, or the pickiness, on his part?

I get, from this, the following ideas about God. Either 1) he is all-benevolent, but not all-powerful, and sincerely wishes for his followers to endure only good, but is not able to intervene at all times due to limits on his capacity, in which case this is not the picture of God advanced by any major religion. As a matter of fact, one could say that any charitable businessman, like Bill Gates, is God under this model. He is benevolent, he helps people a lot of the time, but he cannot help everybody or save everybody. Option 2 is that God is all-powerful, but not all-benevolent, in which case there is no reason to worship such a creature. (The Vikings had a religion of malevolent gods who would eventually destroy themselves and the world in a massive last battle, but I do not think anyone wants to emulate the Vikings.)

There is a third option here, and it is the one I embrace. God is neither all-powerful, nor all-benevolent, because he does not exist. This is the model that logically reconciles the fact that religious people are not protected from harm by divine intervention with the fact that these people are often moral and worthy of such protection. It is unfortunate, yes, but true.

5) The Free Will/Omniscience Argument

God is said to be all-knowing. This means that God knows everything that will happen at any time, including the future. But that implies that God knows what we will choose in the future. If God knows what we will choose in the future, how can we have free will, since our choices are already determined by what God knows them to be? But then, it is also said that God gave people free will, so how can this contradiction be reconciled?

My answer is that free will undeniably exists. It is what is called an epistemological axiom; we cannot even attempt to refute it without implicitly confirming it in the process. In the attempt to deny free will, we are exercising our free will. But, to consistently embrace the existence of free will, one must reject the possibility of anybody being omniscient about the decisions anybody else will make in the future. Thus, God, by the standard definition, is ruled out.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent filosofical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

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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.