“Possessed, owned, controlled, by the common sense infected rational gaze. Onward, forever, we walk amongst the ignorant...” – Meshuggah, Rational Gaze
In this chapter, we shall consider a variety of arguments for the existence of God. These arguments are often misunderstood or misrepresented, so it is important to pay close attention. Whilst it would take a book each to fully explain and cover every detail and counter-argument, I shall just be covering the basics here. It is also important to note that these arguments are philosophical arguments, and have actually been in use for thousands of years. Note that these arguments do not argue in favour of the Judeo-Christian God or any God in particular, but rather a general concept of God. In other words, if these are sound and valid, they at least prove a Deistic God. To argue in favour of the Judeo-Christian God, we need to build on these arguments slightly. Also, note that an argument cannot be true or false, but are judged by their soundness and validity. In order to be sound, an argument must be valid and all of its premises must be true. In order for an argument to be valid, the truth of its premises must establish the conclusion.
The Cosmological Argument For The Existence of God
There are different formulations of this argument with the most common formulation of this argument as follows:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The Universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the Universe has a cause.
Let us explore these concepts in a little more depth shall we? Things that begin to exist are contingent and finite by their very nature. What do we mean by contingent and finite?
contingent adj 1 dependent on events, conditions, etc. not yet known; conditional 2 logic true under certain conditions, false under others; not necessary
finite adj 1 bounded in magnitude or spatial or temporal extent
So, in other words, things that have a definite beginning and/or a definite end.
Let us conduct a thought experiment. Think about yourself, have you always existed? No, you have not. There was a point in time where you were conceived in your mother’s womb, before which you did not exist. Will you carry on existing? No, there will be a point in where your body will cease functioning after which you will cease to exist. So, what caused you to come into existence? You came into existence when your father’s sperm made contact with your mother’s egg and started a chain of events that led to the development of your body inside your mother’s womb, eventually resulting in your birth. You have now managed to explain your own existence, but what of your parent’s existence? Well, surprise, surprise, they were born once upon a time as well, and will eventually pop their clogs too. They each came from your grandparents, your grandparents from your great-grandparents and so on, but can this chain of causality go back into infinity? No, as there was a time when humans as a species, as a whole, did not exist. What caused the first humans to exist? The human species Homo Sapiens Sapiens, which is the species all humans today belong to, evolved from earlier variations of humans. All of these species belonged to the genus Homo, however, there was a time where there were no members of the Homo genus. Now, humans are the only member of the genus homo that is not extinct, and it is certainly possible that one day we may join them some day.
We can keep going back into our evolutionary past until we reach the first living things, bacteria et al., but what caused these bacteria to exist? Whilst scientists have not been able to iron everything out in that regard, we know that bacteria formed from primordial chemicals extant on the early Earth. In turn, the planet Earth itself, our solar system, our galaxy, our local group, our cluster, and even our super-cluster as a whole all began to exist and even our super-cluster is only one of many that make up even larger cosmological bodies known as filaments. Eventually, we trace everything in existence back to one moment in time, the big bang and the creation of our universe. Wow, all that just from thinking about little old you! I shall now explain in as easy to understand terms possible the big bang model and the initial conditions of the universe. The ‘big bang’ is the name given to the now widely accepted model of the early development of the universe. This model was first proposed as a hypothesis by scientist George Lemaitre (who was also a Roman Catholic priest) in 1927, and as data began to accumulate, became a viable theory in explaining the development of the universe. This model is now the most widely accepted model for the development of the universe. It basically states that our universe is expanding and cooling down from a hot dense state, and that space itself is expanding. The question now is, what caused the big bang, how do we explain the origin of the universe?
The hypothesis to explain the origin of the universe is the ‘multi-verse’. This is perhaps a bit of a misrepresentation, as there are in fact different kinds of multi-verse hypotheses. Cosmologist Max Tegmark has identified four different types of multi-verses. The first type of multi-verse is a collection of ‘universes’ in the same space-time that are all outside of each other’s Hubble volumes. A Hubble volume is a region of space surrounding an observer beyond which objects recede faster than the speed of light. In other words, these multi-verses are simply regions of space that we cannot see yet, as light has yet to reach them. Following on from Tegmark, parallel universes in this model simply exist beyond our ‘cosmic horizon’. The second type of multi-verse is similar to the type one multi-verse. Our “type one multi-verse” is our universe plus other contiguous regions of space. In the type two multi-verse, our “type one multi-verse” is a bubble in an even vaster volume, or ‘omniverse’, that contains other type one multi-verses. The third type of multi-verse is markedly different. In the type one universe, our Hubble volume is separated from other Hubble volumes, in the type two multi-verse our multi-verse consists of many type one multi-verses separated from other type one multi-verses. In both of these types, the parallel worlds exist very far away, whereas in the type three multi-verse, the parallel worlds exist elsewhere, not in ordinary space, but in an abstract realm.
The type three multi-verse is based upon Hugh Everett’s Many-Worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. This is a much more interesting, albeit much more abstract kind of multi-verse hypothesis. In the type three multi-verse, every single possible state exists simultaneously as parallel worlds. The passage of time from our perspective is simply moving from one configuration of matter to another in a frame-like sequence. In each of these three types of multi-verse, whilst the initial conditions and physical constants may vary, the fundamental laws that govern nature remain the same. The final type of multi-verse, the type four multi-verse, the laws themselves vary. In other words, there exist parallel worlds where the laws of physics are different, some even where they are non-existent. These parallel worlds exist outside of space and time and differ in cosmological properties and physical laws. There are various ways in which the multi-verse hypothesis can explain our universe. One such explanation is the Cyclic Model. The Cyclic model basically states that there is a cycle of Big Bangs and Big Crunches. The big bang did not create space-time, but merely marks the transition of the universe from one state to another. In that sense, our universe is one of many in a long cycle of birth and creation. In other multi-verse scenarios, our universe was created when two older universes collided with each other, forming our universe. In most, the multi-verse is simply used to explain away the “fine-tuning” of our universe. If there exists an ensemble of universes with different values, then our universe having the right values for life to form etc. is more likely. Sort of like how if you were to buy multiple lottery tickets, it would improve your odds of winning the lottery.
All of these attempt to address current issues in physics, based on the latest theories, however, regardless of whether or not any of these types of multi-verse hypotheses are true or not, there are certain problems. Firstly, certain multi-verse models propose an infinite set of universes. This raises the question on whether or not realised infinities can actually exist. Secondly, we are unable to objectively describe these possible universes, as we do not know every possibility. Thirdly, multi-verses are completely un-testable, with few exceptions. For example, certain multi-verse hypotheses are based upon the chaotic inflation scenario, which is potentially disprovable. Lastly, it leads to a regress of causation. Whilst these hypotheses may or may not be true, whilst they could potentially explain the origins of our universe, the origins of the multi-verse would then need to be explained. In order to provide an ultimate explanation for why we are here, we need an explanation that is exempt from the cause and effect to which the universe and everything in it is bound. This leads us to the idea of the uncaused cause. Now one objection here is, would not invoking God just one-up the problem? The answer is no. Assuming God is the uncaused cause, something that is uncaused did not begin to exist and will invariable carry on existing, by its very nature. The uncaused cause is the terminator of the regression of causation because it is non-contingent and non-finite. The multi-verse is both contingent and, finite in some regards, and so does not solve the ultimate problem: why are we here?
Defining the Uncaused Cause
Let us think about the concept of the uncaused cause in a little more depth. Afterall, the initial premises of the argument only establish the existence of an uncaused first cause, but not what, or who, this uncaused cause is. We must now try to identify the uncaused cause, as simply positing an uncaused cause does not automatically establish Christian Theism. What criteria can we establish that an uncaused cause must fulfil? We have already established that the uncaused cause is necessary.
necessary adj 1 needed to achieve a certain desired effect or result; required 2 resulting from necessity; inevitable 3 logic a (of a statement, formula, etc) true under all interpretations or in all possible circumstances b (of a proposition) determined to be true by its meaning, so that its denial would be self-contradictory c (of a property) essential, so that without it its subject would not be the entity that it is d (of an inference) always yielding a true conclusion when its premises are true; valid e (of a condition) entailed by the truth of some statement or the obtaining of some state of affairs
In other words, the uncaused cause is something that MUST exist in order for everything else to exist. That would make the uncaused cause non-contingent. In other words, its existence is not dependant on anything else. What other clues can we find about the nature of the uncaused cause? Well, since space-time itself is expanding along with the universe, whatever caused the universe to come into existence exists outside of our universe’s space-time. That would make the uncaused cause transcendent of our space-time. In other words, it exists outside of the universe/multi-verse. This would also mean that the uncaused cause is independent of the laws and constants of our universe, or “supernatural” for lack of a better word.
What other criteria can we name? Well, our sun is incredibly powerful, yet this is one out of many billions of stars, and is actually among the smallest! The largest known star, VY Canis Majoris, is so big that it would take a jet airliner 1100 years to circle around it once. Our universe is also colossal to an extent beyond comprehension. The size difference between our solar system and our galaxy is roughly approximate to the size difference between a quarter and the North American continent. The singularity, the original state of the universe from which it is expanding, was when all space-time, matter and energy, more or less the entirety of our universe compressed to an infinitely small size. It took a tremendous force to create our universe, therefore, whatever/whoever the uncaused cause is, it must be incredibly powerful. So, in summary, the uncaused cause is: -
Mind Over Matter: The Case For Substance Dualism
I could leave the argument here, but I shall continue just a bit more before continuing to the Teleological Argument for the existence of God. This could just describe an impersonal force, rather than an intelligent creator, and whilst the case for the uncaused cause being an intelligent creator is best made by the Teleological argument, I shall briefly discuss this aspect of the uncaused cause here also. Running on from the theme of cause and effect, our minds have a cause. The question here is, what our are minds dependant on? I suspect that some people would argue that our minds are dependent on the precise configuration of atoms, neurons etc. that make up our biological brains, etc. In other words, our minds are dependent on matter. This is otherwise known as substance monism. My argument is that our minds are not dependant on matter, but rather are non-physical in nature. This is substance dualism. The most devastating rebuttal of substance monism is that, if substance monism were true, then we would not be conscious free agents, but mindless automatons a la determinism and reductionism. This argument can be formulated as follows:
1. If substance monism is true, then we would be mindless automatons
2. We are not mindless automatons.
3. Therefore, substance monism is not true.
I shall now make my argument for why premise 1 is true. Determinism is a philosophical view of causality that states that every single event, including human cognition, behaviour, thought and action, are causally determined by preceding events and causes. We are not free agents, but automatons caught in the cycle of causality. Reductionism is the philosophical view that complex systems are the sum of their parts, and that the complex system’s behaviour is the result of its individual parts. My argument is, if substance monism is true, then reductionism and determinism logically follow. This can be formulated as:
1. If substance monism is true, then all that exists is made up of physical matter (substance monism)
2. Therefore, the human body is nothing more than a specific configuration of atoms (reductionism)
3. Therefore, we are not free-agents but mindless automatons (determinism)
Let us conduct a thought experiment. Imagine if we got together a vast group of people. Each person fulfilled the function of one of the cells in the human body. One person for each cell, more or less a super-sized human being. Would this human being comprised of billions of several smaller human beings have its own consciousness? Is it a free agent? The very existence of consciousness and free will are what I consider to be the greatest disproof of substance monism ever. Furthermore, we are fully able to defy the electrical signals received and sent by the brain. When we feel pain, our nerve endings are telling our brain that we are being harmed by something and in what region of the body this is happening. Whilst our ‘natural reaction’ is to move away from the source of pain, if we wanted to do, we could instead stay close to the source of pain.
The second most devastating rebuttal of substance monism is that, if substance monism were true, we would not be able to trust our cognitive faculties in determining truth-values. Evolutionary theory states that living things are randomly varying replicators, whose survival depends upon their ability to adapt to change in their environment. New traits are acquired through random mutation, and if these mutations are beneficial for the organism, then their ability to survive and reproduce increases. In other words, the only genetic traits within an organism that are kept are those that are conducive for its survival. Therefore, if both substance monism and evolution are true at the same time, then there is no reason to trust our brains ability in determining truth-values, as our brains evolved not to determine truth-values but to further our survival. Many atheists consider theism a false belief that has survived due its usefulness to humans. However, if both evolution and substance monism are true at the same time, then how can be sure if a belief we have is true or not? If substance dualism is true, then no such problem arises. Our bodies and brains may have evolved, but our minds, being non-physical, can still be trustworthy as they are not beholden to natural selection. If substance dualism and the cosmological argument are both true, then it implies that the uncaused cause is a personal creator and not an impersonal force. I shall now move onto the Teleological Argument for the Existence of God.
The Teleological Argument For The Existence of God
This argument is perhaps the most misunderstood argument for God of all, and is frequently caricatured. The basic premises of this argument are as follows:
1. There is order in the Universe.
2. Such order cannot be explained by randomness or by a series of accidents.
3. Therefore, the universe was given order by an intelligent creator.
This is often misunderstood to mean: “we were poofed into existence by God” or “natural order cannot account for complexity” yet neither of these are implied or claimed by the argument whatsoever. Let us conduct another thought experiment. Think about yourself again, how complex are you? The human body is an incredibly complex thing, composed of billions of microscopic cells, each cell being rather complex in their own right. As I explained in the cosmological argument, modern life forms evolved from earlier forms that ultimately can be traced back to a universal common ancestor, or bacteria, which in turn came into being from simpler chemical compounds that formed from basic elements. Every element that currently exists is composed of precise configurations of sub-atomic particles. How is all of this possible? Well, the physical universe is bound by certain physical constants, interactions and laws that allow for the formation of elements, chemicals, planets, stars and so on. Note that these laws do not actually cause the universe to behave in a certain way, they only describe how the universe behaves. The real reason what causes such behaviour is a still a mystery.
Now, if these laws and constants had been any different, even by a tiny fraction, then our universe would be very different. So much so, that life would unable to form, even planets and stars would be unable to form and the universe would have quickly imploded in on itself. A famous creationist complaint against evolution is: “How can such complexity arise by random chance?” The answer is, it did not. The whole reason there is life, the reason why evolution is possible at all is that there is order in the universe. Imagine if the universe did not behave in such an ordered way, imagine if there was no order at all. If the constants and laws had been different, or did not exist at all, then, quite simply, we would not be here. Ironically, in his book, God: The Failed Hypothesis, physicist Victor J. Stenger unwittingly demonstrates the truth of premises one and two of the teleological argument, in an attempt to knock down a straw-man version of the teleological argument.
“Nevertheless, there may indeed be more to the mechanism of evolution than random mutation and natural selection. It simply isn't intelligent design. Complex material systems exhibit a purely natural process called self-organization and this appears to occur in both living and nonliving systems.” (emphasis mine)
Stenger is arguing here against the position of special creation and Intelligent Design. Special creation is the belief that humans did not evolve but were instantaneously ‘poofed’ into being by God, and Intelligent Design is the belief that the complexity in living organisms cannot have arisen through random processes. Stenger is arguing here that natural processes are not random but are ordered, and such order can account for the complexity in living organisms and other complex systems. He gives examples of such order being found in nature, such as the occurrence of the double-spiral pattern in nature, all the while failing to see the irony in his doing the Theist’s job for them.
However, in disproving these particularly narrow views he actually ends up supporting the teleological argument. It is this order that gives rise to complexity, this order that permits stars, planets and life to form and it is this order that requires an explanation. For our bodies to function, for life to appear and evolve, for planets, stars and galaxies to form, even for chemical compounds to form at all, there must be order present. In other words, the universe must behave in a certain way. Stenger comments:
“In recent years, with the aid of computer simulations, we have begun to understand how simple systems can self-organize themselves into highly complex patterns that, at least superficially, resemble those seen in the world around us. Usually these demonstrations start by assuming a few simple rules and then programming a computer to follow those rules.” (emphasis mine)
This may refute the version of the teleological argument but forward by certain ignorant theists, but this does not refute the teleological argument put forward by the philosophers of today. Let us look at the part I have bolded. The question is not how does complexity arise, but where do the rules that allow for complexity come from?
I shall cite a few examples of self-organisation Stenger cites:
1. The occurrence in nature of Fibonacci sequences. The number of petals on many flowers is a Fibonacci number.
2. In 80% of plant species, leaves spiral up the stem producing a double-spiral pattern when viewed from above.
3. Double spiral patterns are also found in the florets of flower heads such as in Sunflowers and leaflets in pinecones.
4. Stenger demonstrates how even electrically charged particles fall into the double-spiral pattern by themselves.
Perhaps his book should have been named: Victor Stenger: The Failed Philosopher. These examples are just a few out of many. If an uncaused cause exists, then, given that there is order in nature, it logically follows that this uncased cause is an intelligent designer.
The Axiological Argument For The Existence of God
This argument is probably the second most misunderstood argument after the teleological argument. The basic premises for this argument are as follows:
1. A moral order requires an objective moral lawgiver.
2. There are objective moral laws.
3. Therefore, there exists an objective moral lawgiver.
This is often misunderstood to mean either “an act is moral or immoral regardless of the circumstances” or that “believers are more moral than non-believers” yet neither of these claims are implied nor made in the argument whatsoever. Often you will hear the terms objective morality and moral absolutism thrown around as if they both meant the same thing, yet they both refer to different things. Moral Absolutism is the belief that certain acts and deeds are moral or immoral, and are always moral or immoral and cannot be different. Objective morality is the philosophical view that there are such a thing as moral truths and that these truths are true regardless of what we believe. Moral absolutism assumes objective morality, but objective morality does not assume moral absolutism. For example, in moral absolutism, an act, such as lying, is immoral and is always immoral no matter what. Whereas, this is not necessarily the case in objective morality. For example, in an another objective moral system, lying is immoral, but there could be situations where it is moral to lie, for instance, concealing Jews from Nazis in WWII. Ignorant people assume this to mean that objective morality is not true, but that is not the case. Objective morality says that moral values exist and exist independent of individuals and societies. The question is: where do moral values come from?
Now, most people, whether they aware of it or not, assume a position known as moral subjectivism. This is the belief that either “moral values are dependent on individuals” or “moral values are dependent on societies”. The problems with this view should be apparent. I shall first refute the idea that morals are dependent on individuals then refute the idea that morals are dependent on societies. We have two people. Person A believes that it is okay to take things from weaker people. Person B is weaker than Person A is, so Person A takes some of their property. Person C, however, believes it is wrong to steal things from weaker people and so intervenes. Which person is right? Person B or Person C? If individualistic moral subjectivism is true, then Person B is as equally in the right to waltz around stealing resources for themselves from weaker people as Person C is to stop this behaviour. Individualistic moral subjectivism is obviously false, as, if it were true, then there would be no real right or wrong, as people could do whatever they believed to be right. Hardly anybody defends this point of view, other than people who have not put much thought into it.
Most atheists tend to hold to societal moral subjectivism, which is infinitely more reasonable, yet still has problems of its own. In societal moral subjectivism, morals are based not on individuals but societies. In other words, whilst in individualistic moral subjectivism, moral values are based on what is beneficial to the individual, in societal moral subjectivism moral values are based upon what it is beneficial for the whole of society. However, there are a few problems with this view, which I shall now demonstrate. For example, when something that is detrimental to one or a select group within the society that is deemed beneficial for the whole. Some disabilities are so inhibiting that those who suffer from them are incapable of working and just serve to deplete resources. Would it be right to kill these people? If societal moral subjectivism were true, then it would be. If, however, it were wrong to kill those people, then that would mean societal moral subjectivism is not true. The second problem with societal moral subjectivism is when it comes to the interaction between different societies. Let us say that there are two different societies that live in an certain area. They live apart from one another, quite some distance, yet resources are scarce so they must share the natural resources between them. However, there are only enough resources to fully support one, therefore, if societal moral subjectivism is true, it would be in each societies best interests to wipe out the other. Would it be right for these societies to go to war over these resources? Let us say that society A has some resources that society B needs. Society B is a warrior society, and society A is peaceful. Society B believe it is right for them to steal from the weaker Society A. Would it be right for society B to steal society A’s resources? If not, why not, as it would be beneficial to Society B.
Whilst societal moral subjectivism is inherently less flawed than individualistic moral subjectivism, it is still problematic. The problem with moral subjectivism is that by claiming morality is dependent on individuals or societies, it means that we have no right to criticise individuals or societies whose moralities differ from our own. There is no right and wrong, only differences in opinion. When it comes to morality there are only two logical choices, either moral objectivism or moralistic nihilism. Moralistic nihilism is the belief that moral truths do not exist and that there is no such thing as right and wrong. The problem with moralistic nihilism is that, if it is true, it means we are completely unable to make moral judgements. In other words, we are unable to call anything right or wrong as, under moralistic nihilism, there is no right and wrong. Either there are objective moral values or there are no moral values. In objective morality, something is right or wrong regardless of what we believe. For example, Person B takes things from Person A because they believe it is right for stronger people to prey on the weak. However, despite this, it is still wrong for them to do this, and they are imprisoned. Another example would be, society B believes it is right for stronger nations to prey off of weaker nations and so steal resources belonging to society B. However, it is still wrong for them to do this, and so other societies join forces to stop society B attacking society A.
Human beings are moral creatures, furthermore we have moral senses seemingly hardwired into us. Whilst it is not always easy determining right from wrong in some scenarios, certain moral truths are self-evident. From the examples above, it is wrong to steal things from those weaker than you are. Perhaps the most obvious at all is, it is wrong to commit murder. If you were to see an adult browbeating a child or an elderly person, then no doubt you would realise that that is wrong, and perhaps you would even intervene. The only way morality makes sense is in an objective moral framework, and an objective moral order requires an objective moral lawgiver. This does not just apply to moral values, but other values too. If an intelligent designer exists, then, given that there are objective moral truths, it logically follows that this intelligent designer is the objective moral lawgiver. The same applies to other transcendental values, such as logical truths. These are things that are true no matter what we believe. As with morals, some logical truths are much easier to determine, some being self-evident, such as the law of identity and the law of non-contradiction, which state that something is equal to itself and something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time respectively. There is an objective basis for these values, and that is an objective lawgiver.
Pascal’s Wager: Why The Question of God’s Existence is Important
Lastly, we come to an argument that, whilst an argument for the existence of God, is more an argument for God searching. In other words, why the existence of God deserves serious consideration. Basically, there are four possibilities.
1. God exists and you believe in God.
2. God exists and you don’t believe in God.
3. God does not exist and you believe in God.
4. God does not exist and you do not believe in God.
If the first statement is true, then your belief in God will be well placed, as you will go to heaven. If the second is true, then your belief that God does not exist will be poorly placed, as you will go to hell. If the third is true, then you will be wrong, but it will not matter and if the last is true then you will be right, but that will not matter either. In short then, you have substantially less to lose by believing in God. Obviously, this is assuming that if there is God then He/She/It rewards and punishes based on belief in them, but this is only a very simplistic representation. The key argument here is, you have less to lose by believing in God than not believing in God. As an argument for the existence of God, I do not feel it to be very convincing, but it is a good argument for why the question of God’s existence is important and why we should at least bother to evaluate the truth claims of various religions. It also means that, contrary to some claims made by atheists, atheism is most certainly not the default position.
Objections to the Arguments
“I float through physical thoughts, I stare down the abyss of organic dreams. All bets off I plunge, only to find that self is shed.” – Meshuggah, Shed.
Let us first take a look at some common objections to the arguments for the existence of God. As aforementioned, the arguments for the existence of God is frequently misunderstood or misrepresented, and the objections to them demonstrate this.
Something From Nothing: The Case For Spontaneous Generation
There are those who, oddly enough, claim that something can come from nothing.
“In fact, physical events at the atomic and subatomic level are observed to have no evident cause. For example, when an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event. Similarly, no cause is evident in the decay of a radioactive nucleus.”
However, Stenger contradicts himself in the same paragraph. First, he states that physical events at the atomic and sub-atomic level have no cause and then provides us with an example of a photon emission being caused an atom dropping from a high energy level to a lower level. Despite this, Stenger then tells us that no cause is evident. I suppose we are just to take his word for it on blind faith? Stenger later performs a semantic switcheroo by changing the terms.
“The photons emitted in atomic transitions come into existence spontaneously, as do the particles emitted in nuclear radiation. By so appearing, without predetermination, they contradict the first premise.”
Notice how Stenger has changed his statement from: “They have no cause” to “They have no pre-determination.” Stenger is actually being incredibly dishonest here as he is suggesting that because events on the sub-atomic level can occur spontaneously, they therefore have no cause. He comments that because they occur in a non-predetermined fashion, it means the cause of the universe could be random and thus demolishes the case for a pre-determined causation of the universe. However, this is absurd because any act by a personal agent is non-predetermined.
Stenger could retort that because God planned to create the universe then the causation of the universe is pre-determined, however, that would simply be an argument from equivocation. In referring to the above examples, Stenger means non-predetermined in the sense that that they behave in non-predictable ways that is, there are no physical laws to accurately describe their behaviour. This is exemplified by Steven Weinberg’s Uncertainty principle, which demonstrates that one cannot know more than one aspect of a particle, such as position or velocity, with any degree of certainty at the same time. Because we cannot know everything about a particle at the same time, we cannot formulate models that accurately describe their behaviour we can only determine probabilities. However, when referring to personal agents, such as humans, their planning something is not synonymous with the kind of predetermination as described by Stenger, as human behaviour is just as spontaneous as these particles. Quite simply, there are no laws that accurately describe how personal agents act, as different people can act differently in different scenarios.
Stenger also appeals to quantum fluctuations as offering a means by which the universe could have emerged from nothing. Here he is referencing the quantum vacuum state, where particles have been observed to “pop in and out of existence”. However, there are several problems with this. The most obvious and easy rebuttal is that the quantum vacuum state is not nothing but something. It is the quantum state with the lowest possible energy. Quite simply, it is a region of empty space devoid of matter, lowered to a temperature of absolute zero (-275.25 degrees Celsius, or -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit). This is simply a redefinition of the word nothing, as in the quantum vacuum state, there still exists electromagnetic waves and virtual particles as well as the fact that quantum vacuum states exist within space-time. As for quantum fluctuations, they are simply changes in the amount of energy in a point of space that leads to the creation of virtual particles that pop into and out of existence. The vacuum is actually a sea of energy, and we already know that energy can convert into matter and vice versa. This is hardly something from nothing. Once again, this relies on changing what the word ‘nothing’ means.
No Need For Causes: The Ultimate Self Boot Strapping
Atheist author David Mills contends that the argument for a first cause is logically fallacious and self-contradictory:
“Historically, secular-minded philosophers countered the First Cause argument by asking, "What caused God?" When churchmen responded that "God always existed," secularists usually offered two points of rebuttal: 1) If we can suppose that God always existed, then why not suppose instead that physical matter always existed? After all, this non-supernatural assumption is far simpler than presupposing a highly complex series of Divine Creation miracles; 2) The ecclesiastical argument—that God always existed—contradicts the original premise of the First Cause argument—that the "Law of Cause-Effect" can be consistently applied. If everything except God is governed by the "Law of Cause-Effect," then the First Cause argument becomes ad hoc and therefore logically impermissible. In other words, we're right back where we started, having advanced neither our logical arguments nor our understanding of universal causation.”
His first contention, why cannot matter always have existed, is the easiest to refute. Mills spends several pages trying to refute the “law of cause and effect” by appealing to the conservation of mass-energy, which is the fact that mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed as well as appealing to quantum fluctuations in a quantum vacuum state. He contends that because the universe is made up of mass-energy and mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed the universe always existed. However, this is clearly absurd and false as the universe as a whole began to exist. Since all matter-energy is contained within space-time, and both are expanding from a point before which neither existed, then to say that the universe always existed is patently false. This is also a fallacy of composition, which is a logical fallacy, which aims to prove something about the whole based on some part of the whole. Even in cases where something is true of every part, it does not necessarily apply to the whole. Mills’ argument therefore is:
1. Mass-Energy cannot be created or destroyed.
2. The universe is made of Mass-Energy.
3. Therefore, the universe cannot be created or destroyed.
To demonstrate how this is fallacious, let us look at this example:
1. Atoms are invisible to the naked eye.
2. Human beings are made of atoms.
3. Therefore, humans are invisible to the naked eye.
Furthermore, his claim that the universe always existing is more likely than “a complex series of divine miracles”, yet this is not so. The Theist must ask Mills, what complex series of divine miracles? As far as the Theist is concerned, there are only three divine miracles concerning the creation of the universe, the creation of space-time and mass-energy, the fundamental forces and constants being set to the values that they have, and the order in the universe.
Regarding the “law of Cause-Effect”, Mills complains that:
“The so-called "Law of Cause-Effect," often employed by creationist writers and speakers, is a philosophical and theological plaything, rather than an established law of the physical sciences. Likewise, the "Law of Cause-Effect" provides no explanation to any scientific problem or question.”
Aside from committing the poisoning the well fallacy in associating all those who argue the cosmological argument with “creationists”, Mills shows that he completely misunderstands the argument. The “Law of Cause and Effect” is not bought up to explain certain phenomena but to show that phenomena require explanation. In denying the “Law of Cause and Effect”, Mills is more or less undermining the scientific method, as the whole purpose of science is to understand how the universe works. If things did not require explanations and just happened magically and spontaneously, then there would be no point in trying to find out how they came to be or how they work. His second contention that the uncaused cause being exempt from the “Law of Cause and Effect” is self-contradictory is so patently false and absurd that it is hardly worth bothering to answer. Does Mills not understand what the term uncaused cause means? The whole reason an uncaused cause is sought is in order to provide an adequate explanation for existence. To say that this uncaused cause requires a cause is simply a category error. In other words, a property ascribed to something that could not possibly have that thing. Saying that the uncaused cause has a cause would be like saying that a square is circle. Lastly, Mills appeals to the cyclic model and suggests that our universe is simply one out of many in a long period of expansion. However, Mills fails to realise that, even if this model were true (which Mills himself admits is not yet proven) then it would still require an absolute beginning.
George Smith provides a similar series of complaints:
“Even if valid, the first-cause argument is capable only of demonstrating the existence of a mysterious first cause in the distant past. It does not establish the present existence of the first cause. On the basis of this argument, there is no reason to assume that the first cause still exists—which cuts the ground from any attempt to demonstrate the truth of theism by this approach.”
This of course ignores the qualifier: “Everything that begins to exist.” Since the uncaused cause is neither contingent nor finite, there is no reason to assume that the uncaused cause does not still exist. In fact, this is another category error, as something that is neither contingent nor finite cannot cease to exist as equally as it cannot begin to exist. Smith’s second complaint:
“Even if a supernatural being did exist, the “problem” of existence would be as puzzling as before. After all, how did it create existence from non-existence? “Somehow” is not an explanation, and “through some incomprehensible means” is a poorer explanation still. The theist is trapped in a dilemma of his own making—the “mystery” of existence—and he must confront an unintelligible universe.”
How this provides a rational objection to the concept of an uncaused cause is not clear. Essentially, what Smith is arguing here is that because we do not know how the uncased cause caused the universe to be, then the cosmological argument fails. This is simply an argument from personal incredulity. Because Smith cannot imagine how the uncaused cause could cause the universe to exist ex nihilo, then the cosmological argument is false. However, let us think on this for a bit. The uncaused cause, being the thing/being that caused/created the universe, it logically follows that the uncaused cause is independent of our universe’s space-time. In other words, the uncaused cause dwells in a realm outside of physical reality. This is more or less analogous to a computer programmer and the realm of cyberspace. Cyberspace, or the realm where computer data exists, exists within our physical universe, much like how our physical universe exists within the realm where the uncaused cause exists. Computer data is created out of nothing and, once created, depending on what filing system your computer uses, cannot be deleted but merely overwritten. Whilst this analogy is crude, is does at least demonstrate how something in one reality can cause something to exist ex nihilo in another.
Smith’s third complaint:
“In considering the causal argument as a whole, one contradiction immediately stands out. The first premise of this argument states that everything must have a cause, and the conclusion asserts the existence of an uncaused supernatural being. But if everything must have a cause, how did god become exempt?”
This totally misrepresents the first premise “Everything that begins to exist has a cause” and, once again, is the same category mistake that David Mils makes. Until atheists realise the absurdity of asking what caused the uncaused cause, they will be unable to escape the self-contradictory nature of such an argument. Last, Smith makes the following absurd remark:
“As long as we remember that existence had no beginning in time, there is no problem in grasping that change, a natural corollary of existence, had no beginning as well.”
This statement is so vague that it is hardly worth responding to, but I shall anyway. Firstly, if by existence, Smith means everything that exist, then, given that there exists an uncaused cause, this would be true. However, not everything that exists has always existed, there just always have been things that existed. However, if, by existence, Smith means the universe, then this claim is patently false.
The last kind of retort bought up against the cosmological argument is that the universe caused itself.
“But why is there something rather than nothing? The whole of parts is something. The reason it exists is that every one of its parts has been caused to exist by earlier parts and the whole’s existence is logically required by the existence of the parts. The reason there is not nothing is that a universe caused itself to begin to exist and the basic laws governing this universe instantiated themselves. But why is there such a thing as a universe that causes itself to begin to exist? The reason is that this universe’s existence is logically required by the existence of its parts and its parts exist because each of them is caused to exist by an earlier part.”
This is so patently absurd and false that it strains credulity that this is put forward as a serious argument. Something that does not exist cannot affect any change whatsoever, for the simple fact that it does not exist. This is a logical impossibility and a category error. Something that does not exist, cannot cause anything to happen, much less itself. None of these objections provide any sort of rational challenge to the cosmological argument, and simply rely on logical fallacies and misrepresentations and thus can be dismissed as such.
Argument From Poor Design: The Case For Unintelligent Design
The overwhelming majority of criticisms directed at the teleological argument do not even touch the premises whatsoever, but nearly always tend to focus on the narrow view of design and teleology put forward by Creationists. There seems to be much confusion in the public sphere about what the term creationism actually means, so perhaps I should clarify the current positions on intelligent design. I should probably start off by clearing up the difference between intelligent design and Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design (capitals) is a name of a movement that claims to be able to demonstrate scientifically the evidence of a designer and that complexity cannot arise through simplicity via natural processes. Whereas, intelligent design (non-capitals) is a term that basically refers to the belief in an intelligent designer. When debating these issues you should always ask who you are debating what they mean when using terms that carry more than one meaning as it is not always obvious what one means when using the term ‘creationism’ or ‘Intelligent Design’. The term Creationism is equally as misleading as well, as, whilst creationist can simply refer to someone who believes in a creator, it can also refer to specific beliefs such as special creation, which includes a belief in specific method of creation (namely, everything being poofed into existence). There are actually different forms of creationism that I shall now explain. Young Earth Creationism (abbreviated to YEC) is the belief that the earth is less than 10,000 years old (usually between 4-6,000 or some other arbitrary number). Old Earth Creationism (abbreviated to OEC) is the belief that the earth is the age that scientists estimate it is (approximately 4.54 billion years). Special Creationism is the belief that God poofed everything into existence instantaneously and is typically largely held by YECs. Progressive Creationism is the belief in many acts of Special Creation spread over the time frame of millions of years and so on.
However, oft left out of discussion is the view that the teleological argument actually presents and that is that God created the universe via natural processes. In other words, God created space, time, energy and matter, and then the natural constants and laws that govern them in order to create everything in an ordered and natural way. Most atheists who argue against the teleological argument seem to be under the delusion that evolution disproves the notion of an intelligent designer all the whilst failing to realise that evolution is dependent on a natural order. Evolution may disprove special creation, but belief in a creator does not hinge on how they created. For evolution to even be possible, it is required that there be a planet that can give rise to life, and for planets, stars etc. to form it is necessary that the four fundamental constants be of a certain value. The few atheists who aware of this position, and even those just arguing against the notion of an intelligent designer as a whole, have put forward the argument that an intelligent designer would not have used evolution or would have done a ‘better job’. Victor Stenger lists the following ‘faults’ in the human body:
“Let me list some of the flaws the Scientific American authors detect in the human machine that point away from any kind of near-perfection in design. Our bones lose minerals after age thirty, making them susceptible to fracture and osteoporosis. Our rib cage does not fully enclose and protect most internal organs. Our muscles atrophy. Our leg veins become enlarged and twisted, leading to varicose veins. Our joints wear out as their lubricants thin. Our retinas are prone to detachment. The male prostate enlarges, squeezing and obstructing urine flow.”
However, this is simply an argument from personal incredulity. Not only does belief in a designer not hinge on how they created, but also thinking that what human beings consider ‘better’ would have been employed by an intelligent creator is simply a naive and absurd assumption. In other words, because atheists cannot understand why an intelligent designer would design us this way, therefore an intelligent designer does not exist. This might raise theological issues against the intelligent designer, but it by no means shows that an intelligent designer does not exist. If we assume Christian Theism, we read in The Bible that God chose to limit how long humans can live, due to our sinful nature. Whether or not this is true or valid is another matter entirely, but it at least shows that there possible reasons why we would be designed as such and that the contention: ‘God would have done it better’ is not a valid objection to the existence of an intelligent designer.
The second objection is that evolution and other natural processes are ‘wasteful’. Stenger writes:
“The large number of species results from the many, largely random attempts that evolution makes to produce a solution to the survival problem; many failures are to be expected as the bulk of these solutions fail. Many successes are marginal, leaving the species open to eventual extinction. We also now know that mass extinctions have occurred several times as the result of natural catastrophes, such as meteorite strikes or geologic disruptions.”
This is more or less logically identical to the above complaint. Here Stenger expresses incredulity that an intelligent designer would allow such extinctions, however, he is discounting the possibility that the intelligent designer has the ability to bring the dead back to life into some form of afterlife. Of course, what Stenger completely fails to mention is that the ‘extinction’ of the majority of species were not catastrophic events such as meteor strikes, but simply when members of one species had completely evolved into others, leaving no members of the previous species left to propagate. Let us consider species A. Members of species A, live, reproduce and die. However, certain members of species A acquire new characteristic Y, and thus start to reproduce and survive better than species A. Another group within species A acquires characteristic X, and they start reproducing more than original species A. Eventually the succeeding generations of these two groups within species A acquire more and more different genetic traits until they are no longer able to breed with other members of species A. In fact, species A no longer exists as species A has split into two new species, species B and species C. In evolution, as species acquire new traits, they become less and less like the species from which they came until eventually the original species is superseded by new species. Furthermore, even when certain species die out, others like them take their place. For example, whilst the apes that evolved into humans are long since extinct, there exists modern apes today.
The Argument From Parsimony: Science Can Explain Everything
One “rebuttal” is the argument that the universe can be understood purely in terms of natural processes, so therefore there is no need for God, however, these kinds of argument completely miss the point of the teleological argument. David Mills offers the following non-sequitur:
“Magic tricks, when skilfully performed, do appear to be miraculous, supernatural acts. The child believes these "miracles" because he doesn't see and understand all that is actually occurring on stage (and back stage). He doesn't notice the hidden door, the trick prop, or the two-way mirror. The "miracle" is created within the child's mind by his own failure to comprehend how the trick is performed. There are gaps in his understanding of the illusion's cause-effect. When the miracle-believing child learns the mechanical nuts-and-bolts of how a magic trick is performed, the miracle dies instantly in his mind. He is disappointed by the simple mechanics of the illusion. The magic is gone. He preferred the previous gaps in his cause-effect understanding, because those gaps created the "miracles" he enjoyed so much.”
This statement reveals a complete and monumental ignorance of everything the teleological argument represents. It is also loaded with so many logical fallacies that I find it hard to believe that such a statement could be made honestly or without ignorance. The first and most obvious to spot logical fallacy is the genetic fallacy. This logical fallacy occurs whenever someone tried to falsify a belief or claim by explaining how the belief was formed. Here Mills is arguing that the reason people believe in an intelligent designer because they prefer ‘magical explanations’. The problem is, even if this were true, it would not falsify the claims made by theism. For example, person A believes X, person B attempts to falsify X by pointing out that person A came to believe in X through method Y and method Y is invalid. However, all this demonstrates is that person A’s reasons for believing X are inadequate, not that the belief is false.
This is also a case of poisoning the well. This is a logical fallacy where irrelevant adverse information about a target is pre-emptively shown to an audience in an attempt to present the target in a negative way for the purpose of ridicule. What Mills is saying is “before we continue, I want you to know that theists believe in magic!”. The problem is, not only is this untrue, but even if it were, it would have no bearing on the truth of the claims of theism. For example, let us say person A believes in a flat earth and person B believes it is not. Person B agrees to debate person A, but before the debate person A says to everyone: “Just to let you know, person B used to do drugs.” This is a form of the fallacy argumentum ad hominem, which is an attempt to disprove an argument by attacking the person making the argument. This statement also commits the appeal to ridicule fallacy. Mills is trying to paint theists as ignorant backward thinking cave dwellers who would prefer to remain in ignorance and believe magical fairy tales rather than learn how they actually work. This is so patently false and intellectually dishonest that it isn’t worth bothering to answer.
However, the main reason this statement fails is that it argues because we understand how the universe works, it means that it was not designed. This is a non-sequitur, or, in other words, an argument where the conclusion does not follow from the premises. For example:
Men are human, Mary is a human therefore Mary is a man. If I am a human, then I am a mammal, I am a mammal therefore, I am a human. If I am in Tokyo, then I am in Japan, I am not in Tokyo therefore I am not in Japan. It is not the case that both I am at home and I am in the city, I am not at home, therefore I am in the city. Whilst these examples all represent formal forms of the logical fallacy, it can apply informally to any argument where the truth of the premises do not establish the conclusion. Mills is arguing because we understand how various phenomenon works, there is no need to invoke a designer, however this does not logically follow. We can understand how a combustion engine works and even how it was made, but it does not follow that there is no engine designer. He also claims that understanding how a magician performs magic tricks causes the ‘miracle’ to die, yet this does not logically follow either. I find that understanding how the universe is much more interesting than not understanding. This is also an ignoratio elenchi fallacy, which is an argument that may be valid but does not address the argument being presented. Mills argues that understanding how various things work falsifies the claim that ‘Goddidit magically’, however, this does not address the argument that the order in nature is a result of intelligent design.
Mills then proceeds to produce a variety of straw-men caricatures of theist claims, all the whilst poisoning the well by throwing around the term creationist and claiming that those who put forward the teleological argument are creationists. Mills claims that because we understand how planets formed, etc. then it discounts the notion of God, yet this is invalid for reasons already discussed. The only serous rebuttal Mills attempts is by claiming that because sub-atomic particles behave randomly and unpredictably, it is evidence for a lack of order. Yet this claim is moot, as it does not explain away the order in the universe. One particular rebuttal to this “problem” is that the unpredictability seen in sub-atomic particles is from the perspective of the viewer, as the act of observing them causes them to change. For example, in order to observe an electron, a photon must interact with it, but this interaction will invariably cause the electron to change its behaviour. The uncertainty arises because we cannot determine multiple aspects about a sub-atomic particle due to the Observer Effect. Sub-atomic particles could very well act in an ordered way, we just would not be able to see it. When Mills finally gets round to addressing the question: couldn’t God have used natural processes to create everything, he presents this absurd non-sequitur:
“On the surface, this question appears to be quite reasonable, suggesting a possible reconciliation between science and creationism. Yet the very posing of the question itself is a concession of absolute defeat for creationism. Why? Because if one concedes that the universe shows no evidence of the miraculous, then one has conceded that no evidence supports creationism.”
Aside from his frequent misleading use of the term ‘creationism’, Mills is essentially re-iterating the argument that because we understand how the universe works, there is no need to invoke a creator. In what way does this address the existence of order that allows for these natural processes occur? In what way does this address the fact that in the earliest moments of the universe, there were no physical constants or laws? This is just an argumentum ad nauseum, a logical fallacy where arguers constantly repeat themselves instead of addressing the arguments they oppose. Mills’ next chapter is simply just arguing against the position of special creation and repeating the same arguments made in the preceding two without addressing the teleological argument whatsoever. The problem is that science cannot account for such order, as science pre-supposes order.
Who Made God: The Ultimate Boeing 747 Gambit
This kind of argument asserts that an intelligent designer would be more complex than its design and thus would require an explanation, however this argument rests solely on a misunderstanding of the nature of the designer and ignoring the cosmological argument. George Smith argues:
“Let us grant the premises of this argument and see where it leads. Order is exhibited in nature; order requires a designer; therefore, god exists. Surely, the wondrous regularity of nature—where acorns grow into trees and planets revolve around the sun—cannot be the result of mere chance. There must be a master planner at work. It is now up to the theist to answer the question: Who designed god? Surely, nothing as complex and intricate as a supernatural intelligence can be the result of mere “chance.”
This is parroted by contemporary populariser Richard Dawkins:
“However statistically improbable the entity you seek to explain by invoking a designer, the designer himself has got to be at least as improbable. God is the Ultimate Boeing 747.”
This argument assumes that God is complex in the same way the universe is complex. The universe is complex because it is composed of a multitude of parts, but God, being non-physical in nature, is not composed of any parts. Of course, this argument simply forgets the cosmological argument. Since it is the case that there exists an uncaused cause that caused the universe and there is order in the universe, it logical follows that the uncaused cause is an intelligent designer. In other words, the intelligent designer and the uncaused cause are synonymous with each other and so to ask who designed the designer is to commit a category error.
Smith then continues to make the following two blunders:
“It is true that order exists in the universe, that there is regularity in nature, that entities will behave in the same way under the same circumstances—but it is not valid to infer from this the existence of any master designer. On the contrary, order is simply the manifestation of causality, and causality is a derivative, a logical corollary, of the Law of Identity.”
Here Smith is arguing that order is a necessary facet of existence, yet even if this were the case, this undermines his case for an uncaused universe. The obvious and easy rebuttal is, if things that exist must be ordered, then it is logically impossible for an unordered universe to exist. Therefore, if there were no intelligent designer, there would be no order, and if there were no order, then no universe. His claim that order does not imply an order giver is simply a bare assertion and can thus be dismissed as such.
“Exactly what does the theist imagine the universe would be like if it was not guided by a master planner? What would a disordered universe be like? What would an acorn do?—grow into a stone, perhaps, and then into a theologian? If an acorn did grow into a stone, it would have to possess qualities radically different from what we now designate by the term “acorn,” in which case it would cease to be an “acorn” in any meaningful sense.”
This is simply an argument from personal incredulity. Because Smith cannot imagine a universe with no order, he claims a disordered universe cannot exist. Yet this further destroys his own case against an intelligent designer.
Moving back to Richard Dawkins, his argument that God is complex is even more problematic than already discussed. Let us first look at his premises:
“1 One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect, over the centuries, has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.
2 The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself. In the case of a man-made artefact such as a watch, the designer really was an intelligent engineer. It is tempting to apply the same logic to an eye or a wing, a spider or a person.
3 The temptation is a false one, because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer. The whole problem we started out with was the problem of explaining statistical improbability. It is obviously no solution to postulate something even more improbable. We need a 'crane', not a 'skyhook', for only a crane can do the business of working up gradually and plausibly from simplicity to otherwise improbable complexity.
4 The most ingenious and powerful crane so far discovered is Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Darwin and his successors have shown how living creatures, with their spectacular statistical improbability and appearance of design, have evolved by slow, gradual degrees from simple beginnings. We can now safely say that the illusion of design in living creatures is just that - an illusion.
5 We don't yet have an equivalent crane for physics. Some kind of multiverse theory could in principle do for physics the same explanatory work as Darwinism does for biology. This kind of explanation is superficially less satisfying than the biological version of Darwinism, because it makes heavier demands on luck. But the anthropic principle entitles us to postulate far more luck than our limited human intuition is comfortable with.
6 We should not give up hope of a better crane arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology. But even in the absence of a strongly satisfying crane to match the biological one, the relatively weak cranes we have at present are, when abetted by the anthropic principle, self-evidently better than the self-defeating skyhook hypothesis of an intelligent designer.”
In his first point, Dawkins already commits the red-herring fallacy by not addressing the teleological argument. We are well aware how complexity can develop, but what we are curious about are the laws that allow for such complexity to arise from simplicity to arise naturally. In his second point, he again makes the same mistake by saying that it is tempting to attribute complex biological systems to design. This again fails to address the argument: where does the order that allows for such complexity to arise come from? However, in his third point, Dawkins makes a complete non-sequitur. He is saying that the designer is an insufficient explanation because it would require an explanation too. The problems with this should be evident. Firstly, even if this were true, it would by no means falsify the designer hypothesis. To suggest that something is an invalid explanation because it would require an explanation for itself falsifies the entire scientific method, as we would be unable to provide an adequate explanation for anything. Secondly, this again fails to take into account the uncaused cause and the simplicity of God.
His fourth point is another complete non-sequitur and a red herring. It fails completely to address the teleological argument and, furthermore, evolution does not explain away the order in the universe, but how complex biological systems can emerge from simpler biological systems. Evolution presupposes order. Dawkins fifth and sixth points are simply pure wishful thinking, question begging and bare assertions. To simply say, “one day physics may come up with an answer” is not a valid argument, and neither is saying: “whatever explanation we can come up with, it would evidently be better than the designer hypothesis”. I suppose we are to take his word for it on blind faith? His argument also begs the question, in that his conclusion “God does not exist” is assumed in his premises, which is circular reasoning. He also evidently has not looked up anything regarding the multi-verse if he thinks it explains away the order in the universe, as the multi-verse simply ‘one-ups’ the problem as the multi-verse, invariably being constructed of parts and following its own set of rules, and also being finite and non-contingent would require an explanation.
Matter Over Mind: The Case Against Substance Dualism
This is invariably similar to Smith’s complaint, how can something non-physical affect the physical? Furthermore, it is bought up how brain damage causes adverse affects on the mind and so thus the mind is purely physical. Let us take the aforementioned programmer-program relation. The computer software, whilst existing in ‘Cyberspace’ invariably has a physical component. Perhaps a more pertinent example would be a computer simulated virtual reality, vis a vis The Matrix. Our physical bodies exist outside of the computer simulation, yet we are able to change various aspects within the computer simulation. The question of how our minds interact with our physical bodies is, therefore, not a satisfying rebuttal of substance dualism, and, furthermore, is another argument from personal incredulity. Because people do not understand or know how something non-physical can interact with something physical, they claim substance dualism is false. The second complaint is, I believe, a better argument, that is, that because our mental state deteriorates when our brains are damaged, our minds are therefore physical in nature. This is a reasonable counter-claim, and so I shall consider it as such.
This is, in fact, true to some extent. When the brain is damaged, functionality is inhibited. Certain chemicals and substance can affect how we behave.
There is one particular rebuttal than can be used here. In substance dualism, the brain still controls the body. The mind’s desires can affect change in the brain, but the brain is very much in control over our physical bodies. Consider a robot that, essentially, is an exact replica of the human body. This robot is being controlled by a single person inside of room completely cut off from the robot’s surroundings. The only information they have about the robot’s surroundings come from the robot’s sensory apparatus. The person then types in commands into a console that transmits these commands to the computer that controls the robot, its brain if you like. However, when the computer is damaged, then the sensory information sent back and the commands sent to the computer are garbled. Of course, a more accurate analogy would be a person controlling an artificial body vis a vis the movie Avatar, but the principle is the same. A cruder example would be the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. When your character is flash-banged, the whole screen turns white, when stun grenaded, your vision becomes blurred and movement slows down. These effects on the virtual character invariably affect how you the player control the character. Imagine a game such as COD: MW2, but with an interface as sophisticated as the Na’vi Avatars from Avatar. That would be, I believe, a very accurate analogy of the relationship between our non-physical minds and physical bodies.
Natural Morality: The Evolutionary Argument For The Existence of Moral Values
One argument against the idea of a transcendent moral lawgiver is that our moral senses evolved naturally. Morals evolved because they were beneficial to organisms on both the individual scale and societal scale. Richard Dawkins writes:
“There are circumstances - not particularly rare - in which genes ensure their own selfish survival by influencing organisms to behave altruistically. Those circumstances are now fairly well understood and they fall into two main categories. A gene that programs individual organisms to favour their genetic kin is statistically likely to benefit copies of itself. Such a gene's frequency can increase in the gene pool to the point where kin altruism becomes the norm.”
And also: -
“The other main type of altruism for which we have a well worked-out Darwinian rationale is reciprocal altruism ('You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours'). This theory, first introduced to evolutionary biology by Robert Trivers and often expressed in the mathematical language of game theory, does not depend upon shared genes. Indeed, it works just as well, probably even better, between members of widely different species, when it is often called symbiosis.”
There are a number of problems with this theory. The first is that it does not account for moral practices and behaviours that provide no benefit to the individual or to society. For example, why do we facilitate people with severe disabilities, such as Down’s Syndrome, when they provide nothing back to society? If anything, in the Darwinian view, they are a drain on resources. Why do we facilitate insane people, or the elderly? Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule: not all disabled and elderly people are ‘useless’, and insane people can be ‘cured’ (for lack of a better word), but it does not explain why we carry on caring for people who clearly serve no purpose, or provide any kind of service to society. Afterall, today we see people advocating euthanasia, forced sterilisation and other way to neutralise these drains on society. However, the one moral behaviour this theory fails to account for more than any other is humbleness. That is, people who are generous and altruistic, but deliberately try to keep it quiet, and do not make their moral accomplishments known to anyone. People can perform acts of kindness that are only known to them, but not to the people they associate with. What is the evolutionary benefit from being moral, and then keeping shtum? Afterall, if the evolutionary benefit from morals is so you, and your society, can flourish, then secret moral acts are a no-brainer. You could be the most generous person in the neighbourhood, and nobody would even know, in fact, people might think the opposite about you!
The second problem is, if moral values are only what are of use to us evolutionally, then that would make these moral values subjective. In other words, not moral values at all. In this view, we are not moral because we ought to, but moral because it is conducive to our survival. Never mind that humans are free agents who regular choose to do things that are non-conducive to our survival, such as smoking tobacco, taking narcotic substances, binge drinking, un-protected sex with a multiple sexual partners, and so on. We live not only in a day and age where such practices are non-taboo, but rampant and widespread across many layers of society. This theory can explain our moral senses, but not are actual moral beliefs and practices. The third problem is that, if our moral senses are hardwired into us, which I concede they are, then the theist can simply argue our moral senses were hardwired into us by God. Afterall, if the order in the universe is the result of an intelligent designer, then it logically follows that our morals senses where given to use by that intelligent designer. Being free agents, we can choose to ignore our moral senses or heed them.
This argument attempts to address the existence of moral senses within human beings, but does not address the question of how can we determine moral truths. Sam Harris attempts to address this question in his book, The End of Faith:
“A rational approach to ethics becomes possible once we realize that questions of right and wrong are really questions about the happiness and suffering of sentient creatures. If we are in a position to affect the happiness or suffering of others, we have ethical responsibilities toward them—and many of these responsibilities are so grave as to become matters of civil and criminal law.”
Harris is advocating Utilitarianism, the viewpoint that the moral worth of an action is determined by its utility in providing happiness and pleasure to all sentient beings. There are a number of problems with this view. This is merely another form of moral subjectivism, except it has been extended from the individual and societal scales to the entirety of sentient life. The first problem is that different people have different concepts of happiness. What makes some happy may have adverse affects on another, so how do we chose which gets moral precedent over others? Harris’ qualifier is whatever causes the maximum amount of happiness for the maximum amount of sentient beings, but this invariably leaves out minorities. If there is a situation where an action will benefit one group, but not another, which group gets precedent? In Harris’ view, we are simply to assume the larger group, afterall, maximal amount of happiness to the maximal amount of sentient beings. Or how about, when an action serves to cause happiness and suffering in equal measure to two different groups? Then there is the problem of including non-human animals into the mix.
George Smith offers an infinitely clearer and more coherent version of this view:
“The concept of value expresses the beneficial or harmful relationship of some aspect of reality to a living organism, and to say that something is of value to an organism is to say that it is conducive to the life of that organism. When we say that water is of value to a plant, for example, we mean that water is conducive to the life of that plant. The concept of value, in this instance, signifies the life-serving function of water in relation to the plant, and this relationship is objectively demonstrable. The value judgment involved here is true; i.e., it describes an actual relationship. The water will, in fact, further the life of the plant, so to say that water is of value to the plant is to describe a fact of reality.”
Here Smith is saying that something holds value depending on whether or not it is beneficial or harmful to a living organism. Ethics, Smith argues, deals with the facts of values that apply to human action and the achievement of human goals. In other words, what is of objective value to humans and how this relates to human choice and behaviour. If x is of value to man, then man ought to value and pursue x if he further his life and well-being. Smith concludes:
“There is widespread disagreement in philosophy over whether there exists for man an “ultimate value,” a supremely important value for which other, lesser values serve as means. An examination of this complex issue would lead us far astray, so, for the purpose of this discussion, I shall posit “happiness” as man’s ultimate value. I will not argue that all men actually pursue happiness, nor that all men “ought” to pursue happiness (whatever such an assertion might mean); rather, I shall offer happiness as a hypothetical goal. In other words, if a man desires happiness, then he ought to be concerned with those conditions, those values, that are conducive to man’s happiness.”
Back again to the Utilitarianism. The problem with this is that this is again subjective, as it is another reward-based system of morality. What is of value to man? Whilst I do agree that some things are valuable because of the benefits they provide to us, this does not accurately describe every facet of worth. Something that is completely worthless, such as a tatty and mangled doll, may be held in the highest realms of worth by someone, such as a child. Furthermore, the correlation between happiness and the type of worth described by Smith is not obvious at all. Considering people do things that make them happy that are harmful to themselves.
Good Without God: Why The Pie In The Sky Is Irrelevant to Morality
The problem with constructing a reward-based moral system is that it does not automatically guarantee moral behaviour, as people can feign morality purely in order to reap the rewards. Unfortunately, many Christian fall into the same trap, not realising that their particular ethical views of Christianity are incorrect. As Daniel C. Dennett succinctly puts it:
“Religion plays its most important role in supporting morality, many think, by giving people an unbeatable reason to do good: the promise of an infinite reward in heaven, and (depending on tastes) the threat of an infinite punishment in hell if they don't. Without the divine carrot and stick, goes this reasoning, people would loll about aimlessly or indulge their basest desires, break their promises, cheat on their spouses, neglect their duties, and so on. There are two well-known problems with this reasoning: (1) it doesn't seem to be true, which is good news, since (2) it is such a demeaning view of human nature.”
Whilst this is an obvious straw man of Christian ethics, it has unfortunately become a popular view, if you are good you go to Heaven, if you are bad you go to Hell. In that sense, this is a good critique of the misguided techniques of otherwise well-intending Evangelisers. However, I cannot help but feel that Dennett has only got it half-right. He says that without the divine order, most people are moral, which is true, but he has not taken into account why some people are moral. Some can be ‘moral’ out of fear of other authorities, namely, the law. Humans regularly commit immoral acts on a daily basis that are not condemned by their society’s legal codes, such as adultery and lying. Victor Stenger, however, seems to think otherwise:
“While we live in a society of law, much of what we do is not constrained by law but performed voluntarily. For example, we have many opportunities to cheat and steal in situations where the chance of being caught is negligible, yet most of us do not cheat and steal. While the Golden Rule is not usually obeyed to the letter, we generally do not try to harm others. Indeed, we are sympathetic when we see a person or animal in distress and take action to provide relief. We stop at auto accidents and render aid. We call the police when we witness a crime. We take care of children, aged parents, and others less fortunate than us. We willingly take on risky jobs, such as in the military or public safety, for the protection of the community.”
I have to wonder what delusional fantasy bubble Stenger lives in that allows him to make such an obviously false sweeping generalisation. It is true that a lot of people do these things, but a large number do not. I guess Stenger is unaware of the existence of sociopaths, who function in society solely by feigning charm and lying through their teeth. 
In Christian Theism, in order to receive eternal life, we are instructed to become disciples of Christ. This is more than simply “accepting Jesus into your heart” but actually following the teachings of Christ. This is not to be confused with works based salvation. In Christianity, you do not perform works to receive salvation, rather, you perform works because you are saved. This is the core of the Semitic Totality Concept, American apologist J.P. Holding explains:
“Applied to the role of works following faith, this means that there can be no decision without corresponding action, for the total person will inevitably reflect a choice that is made.”
Furthermore, in Christianity we are told by The Bible that God knows the hearts of men, so if we feign belief, then God will know and so those who only pretend to believe in God and follow His commands will not be allowed into heaven. This obviously does not jibe too well with some, who would prefer not to do the hard work of actually changing their lives and there are those who reject morality altogether, but this is the true nature of morality: be good for goodness’ sake. Therefore, the whole argument about reward-based morality is moot when used against Christian Theism.
Dennett, makes the following observation:
“I have uncovered no evidence to support the claim that people, religious or not, who don't believe in reward in heaven and/or punishment in hell are more likely to kill, rape, rob, or break their promises than people who do. The prison population in the United States shows Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and others—including those with no religious affiliation—represented about as they are in the general population.”
Whilst true, I think the perhaps misses the point that believers are not supposed to be more moral than non-believers. In Christian Theism, we are told all have fallen short of the glory of God. More succinctly, the Apostle Paul wrote:
“People who do not have the law and who are sinners will be lost, although they do not have the law. And, in the same way, those who have the law and are sinners will be judged by the law. Hearing the law does not make people right with God. It is those who obey the law who will be right with him. Those who are not Jews do not have the law, but when they freely do what the law commands, they are the law for themselves. This is true even though they do not have the law. They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands. And they show this by their consciences. Sometimes their thoughts tell them they did wrong, and sometimes their thoughts tell them they did right.”
Of course, Victor Stenger is apparently at odds with all this:
“However common may be the view that religion is the source of moral behavior, what do the data say? I have seen no evidence that nonbelievers commit crimes or other antisocial acts in greater proportion than believers. Indeed, some studies indicate the opposite. According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Christians make up almost 80 percent of the prison population. Atheists make up about 0.2 percent.”
This is so patently false and absurd that it is hardly worth bothering to answer. Having reviewed the statistics myself, I can tell you that Stenger either has not looked at them himself or is being wilfully dishonest as his stats are way off. Actual statistics for the US Prison System indicate that approximately 19.908% of prisoners are atheists. Furthermore, a disproportionately high number of prisoners were not in any way practicing religionists prior to incarceration. That is, they exhibited none of the standard sociological measures of religiosity, such as regular prayer, scripture study, and attendance at worship services. This kind of statistical abuse is becoming more and more common. Atheists who claim atheism is simply a lack of belief in God frequently neglect to include prisoners who state they have no religion in addition to those who label themselves as atheists all the while defining the term Christian so broad as to include those who merely use the title without practicing the tenets of religion in question, as noted by Vox Day, in his book The Irrational Atheist. These kinds of statistical appeals are misleading, and, ultimately, are meaningless in questions of morality.
I tend to agree with Dennett, non-believers and believers tend to be as moral as each other. However, whilst non-believers are, as a rule, no more or less moral then their religious counter-parts, there have been instance where they have exceeded their capacity to do evil. Let us consider Marxist Communism. Marxist Communism is a political ideology that purportedly aims to arrive at a classless government-less society via Socialism. The economic failings of this political theories aside, this was a political theory that avowedly atheist in its underpinnings. Yet, this political ideology has caused more deaths than any other. Discounting those killed in war, the number of citizens killed by their own governments during peacetime exceeds 100,000,000 in a time period of roughly a century. This is not an argument against atheism, or an argument that believers are more moral than non-believers, but it is a good indicator that freedom of religion is inherently more important than freedom from religion. Whilst separation of Church and state is the best stance for any government to take, the forced banishment of religion from the public sphere has historically resulted in only one thing, mass-murder on a scale that dwarfens even the worst crimes of religion. So, if you are an atheist who is desperate for a second Enlightenment, who wants to see prayer and religious symbols, etc. banished from the public sphere, you should probably be aware that the first one was a bloody stain on world history that we are still recovering from.
The Euthyphro Dilemma: The Case Against Divine Moral Order
As can be expected, atheists take offence to being told they cannot have an objective moral framework without assuming Theism. They, being atheists, claim that an objective moral framework can exist apart from a divine order. Speaking on the view of Theism based objective morality, David O’ Brink writes:
“This view assumes that morality requires a religious foundation. As such, it denies the autonomy of morality. If an objective ethics presupposes divine command, then an objective ethics stands or falls with religious belief. On the one hand, ethics will be objective if God exists and issues divine commands, and we can acquire moral knowledge insofar as we can know what God has commanded. On the other hand, if theism is false, then the presupposition of an objective ethics fails, and we must embrace moral nihilism (the thesis that there are no facts or truths about ethics) or relativism (the thesis that moral facts and truths are relative to the moral attitudes or beliefs of appraisers).”
O’ Brink comments, further:
“We might formulate this metaphysical claim as the doctrine that things are morally good or right just in case God approves of them. In assessing this claim, we would do well to consider Socrates’ discussion of a related issue. In Plato’s Euthyphro Socrates considers Euthyphro’s definition of piety as what (all) the gods love (10a–11b). He does not dispute the truth of this claim; instead, he distinguishes two different ways it might be true.
(a) Something is pious, because the gods love it.
(b) Something is loved by the gods, because it is pious.”
This is the famous Euthyphro dilemma. This is a challenge against Theism based objective morality which argues if (a) is true, then moral values are arbitrary values assigned at God’s whim, whereas if (b) is true, then that means moral values exist apart from God, and so God is no longer needed.
However, this dilemma poses no challenge to Christian Theism whatsoever. It is important to note the crux of Christian morality prior to continuing. As Vox Day notes:
“Here the Christian must immediately disagree, at least within the context of the modern meaning of the term piety... In this context, the Bible is clear on OBEDIENCE being God’s priority, not piety, as there are several examples of pious sacrifices to God being rejected due to their being rooted in disobedience one way or another, beginning with the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis. And Jesus Christ’s low opinion of the pious Pharisees is proverbial.” (emphasis in original)
Therefore, the ‘dilemma’ should be posed to Christian Theism as: “Is obedience loved by God because it is obedience, or is it obedient because it is loved by God?” In Christianity, to be moral is to be obedient to God, which, as aforementioned, requires genuine commitment, as the Christian God knows men’s hearts. Ravi Zacharias comments:
“In the statement “I am the Lord your God, who bought you out of Egypt,” two precepts are being taught: (1) all moral reasoning is based on the actuality of God, and (2) “righteousness” or “morality” cannot be attained without redemption.”
In order to be moral, we must be true disciples earnestly, not out of desire for rewards, but of desire to be good. But are the moral values we must follow arbitrary?
Zacharias succinctly notes the following:
“The person who moralizes assumes intrinsic worth in himself or herself and transfers intrinsic worth to the life of another, and thus he or she considers that life worthy of protection (as in the illustrations [Sam] Harris gives, namely, rape, torture, murder, and natural catastrophes). Transcending value must come from a person of transcending worth. But in a world in which matter alone exists there can be no intrinsic worth.”
“The Mosaic precepts had 613 commandments. David reduced the core commandments to fifteen, Isaiah to six, Micah to three. I would have thought Jesus would reduce them to one, but he didn't. He reduced them to two: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' ... And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as you love yourself'" (Matthew 22:37, 39).”
To be moral is to be obedient to God, and, given that, (a) God is morally perfect and (b) our lives are given transcendent value by God, to say that the morality of Christian Theism is therefore arbitrary because of this is patently false. Of course, this is assuming that a fixed standard cannot be arbitrary. For example, the fundamental forces and constants of the universe were “assigned” arbitrarily, yet if they were different, life would not exist. As Vox Day concludes:
“At this point we can reach three conclusions:
1. The Euthyphro "dilemma" is defeated by shifting the focus from "the pious" to "obedience", therefore it is an inappropriate criticism of Christian morality that it is founded on obedience to God's Will.
2. The dilemma relies upon the false assumption that a fixed variable cannot be arbitrarily fixed.
3. The sections about disagreement between gods regarding the pious and impious does not apply to a monotheistic God or a Supreme God who rules over other, lesser gods and defines their morality.”
This so-called dilemma has been officially demolished.
The Argument From Inconsistent Revelations: Rejecting Pascal’s Wager
If there is one objection that is stupider than all the others, then it is definitely this one. It represents the hallmark benchmark set by modern atheism in its whole-hearted rape of logic and reason and complete misrepresentation of Theistic claims. If anybody is going to take offence at Pascal’s Wager, it’s going to be Richard Dawkins:
“But why, in any case, do we so readily accept the idea that the one thing you must do if you want to please God is believe in him? What's so special about believing? Isn't it just as likely that God would reward kindness, or generosity, or humility? Or sincerity? What if God is a scientist who regards honest seeking after truth as the supreme virtue? Indeed, wouldn't the designer of the universe have to be a scientist?”
Dawkins seems to take issue that the entry requirements for heaven is simply belief. He complains that people can merely feign belief, and so on. Of course, as previously noted, in Christian Theism, belief necessarily entails action, via the Semitic Totality Concept. Salvation is not a single event, but a lifelong process, and, furthermore, the Christian God ‘knows the hearts of men’, which Dawkins’ even notes, so feigning belief, death bed conversions and the like simply won’t work.
However, the main complaint, often used as an argument against God, is the existence of multiple religions. Dawkins’ complains:
“Then again, suppose the god who confronts you when you die turns out to be Baal, and suppose Baal is just as jealous as his old rival Yahweh was said to be. Mightn't Pascal have been better off wagering on no god at all rather than on the wrong god? Indeed, doesn't the sheer number of potential gods and goddesses on whom one might bet vitiate Pascal's whole logic? Pascal was probably joking when he promoted his wager, just as I am joking in my dismissal of it.”
It is intellectual suicide like this that leads me to conclude that Dawkins’ is simply a moron, dealing with subjects far beyond his comprehension. I guess Dawkins is simply unaware that Pascal’s Wager is an argument for ‘God Searching’, not actually the existence of God (although some people have erroneously used it as such, although technically it could be used as an argument for a God). Indeed, some atheists try to use the existence of multiple religions as some sort of argument that God does not exist. Essentially, these arguments follow the following pattern:
1. Religion x claims to be true.
2. There are many other religions (y, z and so on)
3. Most of these other religions have turned out to be false.
4. Therefore, religion x is probably false too.
This is simply a fallacy of composition and to declare that it is not worth examining each religion due to the number of religions in existence is simply laziness. The fact that Dawkins claims he thinks that Pascal was joking only goes to show Dawkins’ ignorance in the field of philosophy.
Dawkins’ however, believe that you have more to lose if you wager on God existing. His last complaint:
“Suppose we grant that there is indeed some small chance that God exists. Nevertheless, it could be said that you will lead a better, fuller life if you bet on his not existing, than if you bet on his existing and therefore squander your precious time on worshipping him, sacrificing to him, fighting and dying for him, etc. I won't pursue the question here, but readers might like to bear it in mind when we come to later chapters on the evil consequences that can flow from religious belief and observance.”
Ah, you can always rely on Dicky D to say something so superlatively and monumentally stupid without realising it. In Christian Theism God, if you truly believe in God, then you will necessarily do good things. Whilst this is not true for everyone who calls themselves a Christian, this is certainly true of a large percentage of Christians worldwide. It is no coincidence that Christians are the biggest givers on the planet and that believers tend to be happier than non-believers. Dawkins says that bad things have been done in the name religion, yet this is an obvious non-sequitur as far as Christian Theism is concerned, as all the bad things carried out ‘in the name of Christ’ were: a) actually largely geo-political in nature and b) violated the tenets of Christianity. But let us give Dawkins the benefit of the doubt here, is living your life as a Christian meaningless if the Christian God does not exist? Dawkins complains that you will have wasted precious time worshipping and sacrificing to the Christian God, yet this is a non-sequitur. Firstly, worship is only one of a Christian’s duties, and can be realised in many ways, for example: singing, dancing, music, poetry and many more different and exciting ways. Secondly, what is inherently bad about making sacrifices to God, and what sacrifices does Dawkins mean? Not getting drunk off of our faces? Not having sex with as many sexual partners as possible? Not murdering innocent and helpless babies before they are born? Not lying to or cheating one another? Not having affairs and not betraying our family and friends? I fail to see how living a good and moral life is a waste of time.
Arguments For The Non-Existence of God
“These pages have become a mass grave for thought and reason. This hellish maze inside my mind, a vortex for the diseased and the poisoned. Now I find myself staring at two empty hands and I'll give everything I have. But it's nothing. I'll give you everything, but it's nothing. Progression though depression. Passion through deception.” – Carnifex, The Diseased and Poisoned.
Whilst some atheists are under the delusion that you cannot prove a negative and that it is impossible to make a positive case for atheism, others have been infinitely more forthcoming in their attempts to disprove theism. However, none of these arguments make a very good case and I shall now demonstrate this.
The Problem of Evil
This is perhaps the most oft-cited argument against the existence of God. This very fact should speak volumes, given how terrible it is. It nothing but a huge appeal to outrage coupled with an equally large argument from personal incredulity. The basic outline of the argument is as follows:
1. If an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God exists, then evil does not.
2. There is evil in the world.
3. Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God does not exist.
Being one of the leading exponents of particularly stupid arguments, Victor Stenger writes:
“Nevertheless, the traditional God of the great monotheisms is assumed to have the 3O attributes [omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence], which leads to an enormous logical difficulty that theologians have wrestled with over centuries without success. How can the 3O God be reconciled with the existence of evil?”
This argument has been completely and utterly obliterated, blown right out of the water, so many times, that it strains credulity to imagine how Stenger could not be aware of it. The first problem with this argument is that it assumes that a God with the attributes of omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence is incompatible with the existence of evil. This is a complete non-sequitur. Of course, when an atheist speaks of a God with these attributes, they are not actually talking about a God with these attributes. They actually mean something entirely different, a God with another attribute, omniderigence. Vox Day writes:
“The belief in an all-acting God, who not only guides the grand course of events but actually micromanages them, is a result of the same confusion between capacity and action we saw in the Contradiction of Divine Characteristics. When God asserts that He cares about the sparrows and knows when one falls from its branch, this is very different from an assertion that He only happens to know about it because He personally struck the sparrow down. An omniscient God knows the number of hairs on your head and an omnipotent God is capable of changing their colour, but it requires an active Master Puppeteer to personally pluck them, one by one, from your balding head, in the desired order. Sadly, the English language appears to lack a word describing such a god, even though this is the way that many individuals, even those who do not believe in Him, believe God behaves... Hence the term omniderigence, which I define as: the infinite use of unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; all-controlling; all-dictating. Less formally, one can think of it as an uber control-freakdom or ultimate puppet-mastery.”
Neither omnipotence nor omniscience implies omniderigence, but what of omnibenevolence? Surely, an all-powerful, and all-knowing God would intervene to prevent evil from occurring if he were all-loving? I seriously believe that those who contend this do not quite realise the implications of what they are asking. They are asking, why does not God personally intervene to prevent every instance of evil, yet they fail to take into account the divine justness of God. The Christian God is morally perfect, and is also a just God. What this means is that, being morally perfect, holy and all that, He cannot stop some evil, while permitting other. The proponents of the argument against evil are probably agreeing as they read this, what is the problem with that, they may be asking? The problem is that, in asking God to stop evil, you are asking God to stop ALL evil, and that includes the evil that YOU commit personally. Maybe the penny has now dropped. Since morality is defined as obedience to God, every time we disobey God, even in just a small way, we are committing evil against God. God would then have to punish every single one of us right on the spot, effectively turning the world into hell on earth. This is all well if you happen to be a true follower of Christ, but not so well for those who are not.
Why does God permit evil at all, then, is the reply? Why could God not have made us good? Well, as aforementioned, in order to be a true Christian, you need to willingly choose to be obedient to God. Yet, in order for this choice to be meaningful at all, we need to have the free-will to choose to follow God. We cannot exactly choose to obey God if being obedient to God is the only choice! If God made us so that we were automatically obedient to God, we would not be free-agents, but mindless automatons. Again, I honestly believe that the proponents of this argument have not sat down and thought about the implications of their charge in much depth. Of course, some take issue to the Free-Will defence, as you’ve probably guessed, Victor Stenger writes:
“Yet another common theistic defense for the problem of evil is that God has given us the freedom to choose to commit evil. This may apply to the suffering that results from human acts; but, great as that may be, much unnecessary suffering is of natural rather than human origin.”
As previously noted: (a) this falsely assumes omniderigence and (b) God is just, and so would have to put a stop to all evil. This also conveniently forgets that a lot of natural evil is significantly worsened by human evil. There are other problems too, for example, if God micromanages every event, why does He need to personally intervene in the course of history as described in the Bible? Why would God bother sending prophets et al. if He were controlling the choices of the people? This is a logical inconsistency that those who hold to a concept of an omniderigent God fail to take into account. As already mentioned, people complain: why does God not intervene and put an end to evil?, whilst failing to take into account that God IS going to put an end to all evil... at Judgement Day.
One last nail in the coffin of the so-called problem of evil, are the following two rebuttals. The first is that, in order to condemn something as evil, you must have an objective basis for morality and, as aforementioned, this is only possible under Theism. Moral order requires a moral law giver, yet this is precisely who atheists are trying to disprove! As Ravi Zacharias has summarised:
“Popularly stated, I would put it this way:
When you assert that there is such a thing as evil, you must assume there is such a thing as good.
When you say that there is such a thing as good, you must assume there is a moral law by which to distinguish between good and evil. There must be some standard by which to determine good and what is evil.
When you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral lawgiver - the source of the moral law.”
As noted, objective moral values cannot exist apart from a moral lawgiver. We can only moralise meaningfully, if we have transcendent worth, and our transcendent worth is based upon a purely religious concept, the sanctity of human life. In a purely material world, we have no meaning and if we have no meaning then we have no worth, and if we have no worth then moral values are meaningless. Lastly, the existence of pain is often taken by emotive people as disproof of God, or at the least God is not the omnibenevolent God of The Bible, yet pleasure, not pain, is the death knell of meaning.
Atheists often complain when Theists say that pain serves a purpose, demanding to know why it is necessary, or why God does not reduce the amount of suffering in the world. How could pain possibly be a good thing or serve any purpose? Ravi Zacharias writes:
“Pleasure, not pain, is the death knell of meaning. This is the lonely planet problem of Sam Harris’ worldview – the belief that because each of us is alone in the universe our personal joys and sorrows have no effect or impact on anyone else. In other words, it’s all about me. We have all come to know that our problem is not that pain has produced emptiness in our lives; the real problem is that even pleasure ultimately leaves us empty and unfulfilled. When the pleasure button is pressed incessantly, we are left feeling bewilderingly empty and betrayed.”
“The greatest disappointment (and resulting pain) you can feel is when you have just experienced something that which you thought would bring you the ultimate pleasure - and it has let you down. Pleasure without boundaries produced a life without purpose. That is real pain. No death, no tragedy, no atrocity - nothing really matters. Life is sheer hollowness, with no purpose.”
I am sure that some of you are aware of George Orwell’s novel 1984?For those of you who aren’t, Orwell feared that eventually the world would be run by a dystopian authoritarian government, vis a vis the movie Equilibrium and V For Vendetta. Yet, even fewer are aware of Aldous Huxley, and his novel, Brave New World, where instead of a dystopia, there was a utopia. What is the problem, you may be asking? The following is taken from a cartoon summarisation of Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death:
“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who would want to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in "Brave New World Revisited" the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In "Nineteen Eighty-Four", people are controlled by inflicting pain. In "Brave New World by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.”
Whilst I could leave this here, I shall continue a bit more just to drive the point home. I have so far demonstrated that the existence of evil serves a purpose, yet people still might not be truly convinced. Let us conduct a thought experiment. Would what happen if you were to deliberately punch yourself in the face? Stupid question I know, but the implications of the answer to this question are important. The answer, is that it would hurt! The pacinian corpuscle mechanoreceptors, which are the sensory receptors in your skin responsible for sensitivity and to pain and pressure, detect the pressure of your fist impacting your face, and then send data back to your brain. What is the main purpose of pain sensory receptors? I believe the following quote answers this question quite nicely: “I sense injuries. The data could be called ‘pain’.” There are probably those who wonder what use our pain receptors serve us, but the answer is: to detect injury.
I am sure that a lot of people are aware of the disease Leprosy (not to be confused with the Biblical disease, which is actually is a number of different skin diseases). Leprosy is a disease that, amongst other things, destroys the peripheral nerves if left untreated. This can lead to people severely injuring themselves through accident or being seriously hurt by other means without their realising, which is extremely dangerous for their health. However, there is another, less common, less well known affliction that is even worse. Ravi Zacharias relates the following unfortunate tale:
“Some time ago, I read an article about a three-year-old girl from Elk River, Minnesota, who suffers from a rare malady that involves insensitivity to pain. It is called CIPA - Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis. People with this disease do not feel pain, nor do they sweat or shed tears. There are approximately one hundred known cases in the world. Little Gabby Gingras has to be watched over constantly. At four months of age, her parents would notice that she would bite her own fingers till they bled... The parents of children with CIPA have one prayer - that their children would feel pain.”
The only people who seriously contend that the “problem of evil” is actually a problem are therefore one of two things: (a) people who have not put much thought into their argument past the emotional outrage they feel or (b) people who are simply morons. This is probably why Victor Stenger writes:
“The attempt to defend the notion of a God of infinite goodness, power, and wisdom in light of the undeniable existence of pain and suffering in the world is called theodicy. So far, this attempt has proven unsatisfactory in the judgment of the majority of philosophers and other scholars who have not already committed themselves to God as an act of faith. The problem of evil remains the most powerful argument against God.”
I suppose for people like Stenger, there is also a third option: (c) people who know their argument is bunk but push the argument forward anyway. The argument from evil is a non-starter, as, in order to be valid, it needs to affirm that which it seeks to deny. The only reason this argument is successful at all is because of the emotive pull it has on people’s heart strings, rather than their reasoning synapses. Only someone who is monumentally stupid, monumentally ignorant or monumentally dishonest can claim that the problem of evil is still valid, as, quite simply, it never was valid to begin with. I shall simply conclude this with a quote:
“From the moment the invaders arrived, breathed our air, ate and drank, they were doomed. They were undone, destroyed, after all man's weapons and devices had failed, by the tiniest creatures that God in His wisdom put upon this earth. By the toll of a billion deaths, man had earned his immunity, his right to survive among this planet's infinite organisms. And that right is ours against all challengers, for neither do men live nor die in vain.”
The Contradiction of Divine Attributes
Whilst the problem of evil is a terrible argument because it is emotive rather than logical, the following arguments are so devoid of logic and reason that reading them may cause adverse affects on your health. People have reported the following symptoms: constant face palming, huddling up in the foetal position under their desks and rocking back and forth whilst weeping, clawing at their faces screaming “It can’t be unseen!”. I am not exaggerating, these arguments are so cripplingly stupid that the stupid temporarily rubs off on you and you are left in a short state of stupor and disbelief literally fearing for the future of the human race. These are a loose collection of arguments claiming to be able to disprove God by showing that His characteristics are contradictory. Of course, the amount of egregious logical errors committed in the attempt render them meaningless, yet some of these are actually offered by philosophers. Richard Dawkins’ matter-of-factly tells us:
“Incidentally, it has not escaped the notice of logicians that omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible. If God is omniscient, he must already know how he is going to intervene to change the course of history using his omnipotence. But that means he can't change his mind about his intervention, which means he is not omnipotent.”
Oh really? And the evidence for this is...? Oh, right, we are supposed to take his word for it on blind faith again. Then again, when one actually looks at the facts, it is obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence who has the desire to think how ridiculously absurd this is. As Keith Ward remarks:
“He [Dawkins] makes it sound as though all logicians are agreed on this point. I have asked all the logicians I know (once upon a time, I taught logic myself, but I may have forgotten what I thought before I went to seed and became a theologian), and they do not think that what Dawkins says is true. There are difficulties in framing definitions of 'omniscience' and 'omnipotence' that are compatible with one another, but most logicians can manage it well enough. It is in fact a good introductory exercise in systematic theology. But since Dawkins remarks, 'I have yet to see any good reason to suppose that theology is a subject at all,' it would hardly be surprising if he had not noticed that any such exercises exist.”
This argument relies on absurd definition of omniscience and omnipotence. Whilst traditionally, omniscience and omnipotence have been taken to mean the capacity to know everything it is logically possibly to know and the capacity to perform everything it is logically possibly to perform, the semantically and linguistically handicapped Dawkins somehow takes them to mean the capacity to literally know everything and do literally anything, including logically impossible things. Vox Day comments:
“While the argument appears to make sense at first glance, it's merely a version of the deeply philosophical question that troubles so many children and atheists, of whether God can create a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it.”
This makes what Victor Stenger writes here particularly hilarious:
“1. Either God can create a stone that he cannot lift, or he cannot create a stone that he cannot lift.
2. If God can create a stone that he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent.
3. If God cannot create a stone that he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent.
4. Therefore, God is not omnipotent.”
Of course, the intellectually dulled will no doubt whine that this is changing what omniscience and omnipotence mean. Even though Dawkins et al. are the ones doing the redefining, let us briefly entertain this ludicrous notion. Assuming the nuance free, colloquial, and thus meaningless, definition Dawkins et al. give, omnipotence means all-powerful and omniscience means all-knowing. Literally, the ability to know and do everything. This therefore implies that there things which (a) can be known and (b) can be done, otherwise the omni prefix becomes meaningless. Let us define what counts as a ‘thing’:
thing1 n 1 an object, fact, affair, circumstance, or concept considered as being a separate entity 2 any inanimate object 3 an object or entity that cannot or need not be precisely named 4 informal a person or animal regarded as the object of pity, contempt, etc: you poor thing 5 an event or act 6 a thought or statement 7 law any object or right that may be the subject of property (as distinguished from a person) 8 a device, means or instrument 9 (often plural) a possession, article of clothing, etc 10 informal the normal pattern of behaviour in a particular context: not interested in the marriage thing 11 informal a mental attitude, preoccupation or obsession (esp in the phrase have a thing about) 12 an activity or mode of behaviour satisfying to one's personality (esp in the phrase do one's (own) thing) 13 the done thing acceptable or normal behaviour 14 the thing the latest fashion 15 to be on a good thing to be in a profitable situation or position 16 make a thing of to make a fuss about; exaggerate the importance of [Old English thing assembly; related to Old Norse thing assembly, Old High German ding assembly]
thing2 n (often capital) a law court or public assembly in the Scandinavian countries. Also: ting [c19 from Old Norse thing assembly (the same word as THING1)
From this, we have two ways to describe how the word thing relates to omnipotence. A thing can either be created, or refer to the act of creating. Omnipotence is claimed to be the ability to do all things, that is, the ability to be able to create any ‘thing’, an object, or to perform any ‘thing’, an act. Omnipotence, then, is the ability to create any object or perform any act, literally, to do any ‘thing’.
Let us consider ‘things’. What are the properties of things? A thing is either an object that can be created, or the act of creating an object. In that regard, there are two subsets of ‘things’, noumenon and phenomenon.
noumenon n pl -na 1 (in the philosophy of Kant) a thing as it is in itself, not perceived or interpreted, incapable of being known, but only inferred from the nature of experience 2 the object of a purely intellectual intuition [c18 via German from Greek: thing being thought of, from noein to think, perceive; related to nous mind]
phenomenon n, pl -ena or -enons 1 anything that can be perceived as an occurrence or fact by the senses 2 any remarkable occurrence or person 3 philosophy a the object of perception, experience, etc, b (in the writings of Kant) a thing as it appears and is interpreted in perception and reflection, as distinguished from its real nature a thing-in-itself. Compare noumenon [c16] via Late Latin from Greek phainomenon, from phainesthai to appear, from phainein to show]
In other words, noumenon refers to an object that does not exist but can be perceived by the mind, whereas a phenomenon is an object that actually exists. Relating this to ‘things’, ‘noumena’ are acts or objects that can be imagined or perceived, and ‘phenomena’ are acts or objects that actually occur/exist.
Let us now consider logical impossibilities. There are a variety of examples we can give. For example:
• A round square.
• A square triangle.
• A married bachelor.
These are violations of the law of identity and law of non-contradiction, namely: A is A and A cannot be A and not-A at the same time respectively. Something is equal to itself and cannot both be itself and not-itself at the same time. As such, these are things that neither can exist, nor can be perceived in the mind. They are neither actual nor can be actualised, therefore they are not ‘things’. Now, let us consider the question: ‘Can God make a rock He cannot lift?’. Essentially, the question is asking if God can do something outside the bounds of his omnipotence, which is a logical impossibility. Since God making a rock He cannot lift is logically impossible, a rock that God cannot lift is not a ‘thing’. This argument can therefore be formulated as:
1. God can do all things.
2. Logical impossibilities are not things.
3. A rock God cannot lift is a logical impossibility.
4. Therefore, a rock God cannot lift is not a thing.
Damn, snap, pwned. The omniscience-omnipotence “paradox” is a similar scenario, and can be defeated in the same way. These ‘arguments’ are simply category errors.
There is a similar “paradox” that is less well-known that purports if God knows every choice He is going to make, then He is not a free-agent. The more well-known variant of this is that, if God knows what we are going to do, then we do not have a choice. Essentially, what these “paradoxes” do not take into account is: how does God come to know things? What is the nature of God’s knowledge? While God does in fact know every true proposition, there are explanatory relations that hold among the items of his knowledge. In particular, he knows certain propositions because he knows others. In other words, there are different types of knowledge. The first is knowledge of necessary truths. The second is knowledge of contingent truths. Necessary truths are truths that are always true, for example, the law of identity and law of non-contradiction are necessary truths. Contingent truths are truths that are reliant upon certain conditions, for example, the sky is blue is a contingent truth. Knowledge of contingent truths can therefore be divided into two subsets, possible contingent truths and actual contingent truths. My knowledge that I made choice X is an actual contingent truth, whereas my knowledge that I would make choice X in scenario Y is a possible contingent truth.
The choices of any free-agent are thus contingent truths, as, when a free-agent makes a choice, it is possible that they could have made another choice. The question now is, does God knowing He will make choice X, cause God to choose X, or does God making choice X cause Him to know that He will make choice X? It is important now, to consider the nature of time. We are temporal, that it is, we are bound by our universe’s space-time. We only experience one moment of time at a time, obviously, yet God, who exists outside of our universe’s space-time, is not bound by our universe’s space-time. Because of this, God is able to observe every moment in time at once. This therefore explains how God could come to know our choices, as, from God’s perspective, we have already made them. As or God knowing His own choices, God already knows all possible contingent truths, therefore, God knows what choices He will make in what scenarios. God’s knowledge of actual contingent truths is therefore also based on possible contingent truths. What is both sad and troubling is that there are actually grown adults who think that these “paradoxes” are unsolvable, when , quite clearly, there are not only solvable but easily so.
We are not done, however, as there are more “paradox” style arguments that are even more incredibly stupid than these examples. Be warned, reading these arguments may cause you to shoot yourself from despair that people are devoid of reason enough to think them valid. I guess it should come as no surprise to you now that it is Victor Stenger who relays them to us:
“1. God is (by definition) a being than which no greater being can be thought.
2. Greatness includes the greatness of virtue.
3. Therefore, God is a being than which no being could be more virtuous.
4. But virtue involves overcoming pains and danger.
5. Indeed, a being can only be properly said to be virtuous if it can suffer pain or be destroyed.
6. A God that can suffer pain or is destructible is not one than which no greater being can be thought.
7. For you can think of a greater being, one that is nonsuffering and indestructible.
8. Therefore, God does not exist.”
This so false that it strains credulity that anybody could be so out of touch with reality and still be capable of formulating an argument, let alone write a book. Virtue has absolutely nothing to do with overcoming suffering or being destroyed in any definition of the word.
“virtue n 1 the quality or practice of moral excellence or righteousness 2 a particular moral excellence: the virtue of tolerance 3 any of the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) or theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity) 4 any admirable quality 5 chastity, esp in women 6 archaic an effective, active, or inherent power or force 7 by or in virtue of on account of or by reason of 8 make a virtue of necessity to acquiesce in doing something unpleasant with a show of grace because one must do it in any case [c13 vertu, from Old French, from Latin virtus, manliness, courage from vir man]”
Even if we assume this obvious falsity, in Christian Theism, Jesus Christ was God in human form, and suffered death by crucifixion for the sins of mankind. There is also the problem that it is another category error. It is logically impossible for the most virtuous being in existence to be more virtuous than itself. I wish I could say I was simply making this up, but it gets worse, if you can imagine that.
We have the following violent and penetrative rape of logic and reason:
“1. If any being is God, he must be a fitting object of worship.
2. No being could possibly be a fitting object of worship, since worship requires the abandonment of one's role as an autonomous moral agent.
3. Therefore, there cannot be any being who is God.
1. If God exists, then he is perfect.
2. If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
3. If a being is perfect, then whatever he creates must be perfect.
4. But the universe is not perfect.
5. Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe.
6. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist.”
Shortly followed by:
“1. If God exists, then he is nonphysical.
2. If God exists, then he is a person (or a personal being).
3. A person (or personal being) needs to be physical.
4. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist.”
Is there a name for this world that these people live in? What happens when we just do not take their word for it? I seriously wonder if the people who make these arguments are brain damaged. You should probably take a moment to let any stupid that may have temporarily infected your brain leave your system. Starting with the first “argument”, this makes zero logical sense whatsoever. Worship only requires one to give up their free will, if it is forced, and since God is a fitting object of worship, you would not need to be forced to worship Him. The second one is equally absurd and false. There is nothing that suggests that the creation must take on every aspect of its creator. For example, if I exist then I am mortal, if I exist then I am the creator of this car, if I am mortal then whatever I create must be mortal, but the car is not mortal hence it is impossible for me to exist. This is obviously absurd and not true. The last one is equally false and absurd, and is perhaps the stupidest argument I have ever read in my entire life. It commits the fallacy of begging the question by assuming the truth of its conclusion in its premises. God is defined as being something non-physical, but the argument assumes that the non-physical does not exist, thus, this is circular reasoning.
This argument is probably the least stupid, but that would like being voted the most handsome man in the burns unit:
“1. If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e., outside space and time).
2. If God exists, he is omnipresent.
3. To be transcendent, a being cannot exist anywhere in space.
4. To be omnipresent, a being must exist everywhere in space.
5. Hence it is impossible for a transcendent being to be omnipresent.
6. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist.”
Like the other arguments, it involves fudging the definition of the terms beyond semantic recognition. God is transcendent, in that He exists outside of our space-time. God is omnipresent, in that, because He is timeless, He can observe every moment in time at the same time. Transcendence refers to spatial location, and omnipresence refers to temporal location. The proponents of these arguments are simply morons who believe that if they can define a term loosely enough to devoid it of its meaning, it makes their argument valid. Throwing a sausage down a corridor loose does not even begin to describe it; their definitions are about as loose as a single baked bean that has been launched into space. Rather than fitting like a glove, these definitions are amorphous burlap sacks. I do feel bad for picking on such terrible arguments, but they need to be exposed for the vacuous abject nonsense that they are.
The Problem of Hell: Argument From The Unfairness of Hell
This argument basically states that it is unfair for God to send anyone to hell for any reason. Whilst the reasons for why declaring hell is unfair differ from atheist to atheist, they are all agreed that hell is unfair, and so neither God or hell exist. The variety of reasons hell is labelled as ‘unfair’ includes: good people who do not believe in God still go to hell, people who never heard the Gospel who might have been saved would still go to hell, and there is not enough evidence to believe in God so God should be more considerate... I could probably go on:
Vox Day comments on this argument:
"This argument states that because Heaven is really good and Hell is really bad, the purported choice that God offers between the two isn’t a choice, because what sort of idiot would choose to go to Hell? Therefore, it would be unfair for God to send anyone to Hell, and therefore neither God nor Hell can possibly exist. The answer is the same sort of idiot that chooses to buy lottery tickets, smokes meth, has premarital sex, gambles in Vegas, buys technology stocks, or cheers for the Minnesota Vikings. In short, human idiots, which we all are to greater or lesser degrees. Everyone makes foolish decisions that combine short-term pleasure with long-term pain, and the fact that a correct choice should be completely obvious to any rational individual doesn't mean that the choice is not a genuine one."
The problem with all of these is that, even if valid, they do not address the question of God’s existence. Whilst the precise nature of hell and salvation are theological issues, we can at least comment on some of the issues that at least touch upon things that have already been said. The charge that good people will still go to hell anyway is false when it comes to Christian Theism. No human being is perfect, we all do things wrong, no matter how little or how much we do. To be moral is to be obedient to God, and if you truly believe in God, you will perform good works because of your belief. I am sure that most atheists would take issue with this, indeed, Richard Dawkins, being a secular humanist and all, believes in the inherent goodness of humankind. To see how false such a notion is, one need only read a newspaper, or study human history. This usually leads to a similar related argument that the God of The Bible is a moral monster. God’s morality is either evil or subordinate to the ultimate reality envisioned by the atheist, so the atheist cannot believe in Him. If God does exist, and the atheist is one day confronted by the Almighty, they will simply wag their fingers at Him, or something like that.
“It's not so much the biblical confidence that "every knee shall bow" that makes me skeptical about this theoretical atheist machismo in the face of the Almighty, it's the part about how even the demons believe... and tremble. I don't know what it takes to make a powerful fallen angel shake with terror just thinking about it, but I have a feeling that neither Richard Dawkins nor Bertrand Russell will be wagging fingers at God and criticizing Him for insufficient evidence on the day their disbelief is conclusively destroyed.”
There are the various diatribes about events in the Old Testament, yet these have been conclusively destroyed elsewhere and are beyond the bounds of this chapter to discuss.
Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence
Typically, when all else fails, some atheists put this mantra forward in lieu of substantive rebuttal. Because the claims made by religions are ‘extraordinary’, the atheist argues, they require ‘extraordinary evidence’ in order to believe them. I shall now demonstrate why this fails as a means of historic enquiry as well as how it fails as a basis for epistemology. Essentially, this is used mostly against the resurrection of Jesus, but, in principle, can be used against anything the arguer arbitrarily labels “extraordinary”. The jist of the “argument” is:
1. ‘I own a car’ is an ordinary claim.
2. ‘I came back to life from the dead’ is an extraordinary claim.
3. Therefore, the claim, ‘I came back from the dead’ requires much more evidence for someone to believe it than ‘I own a car’.
There are several problems with this that I shall now outline, starting with problem one: what criteria does a claim need to meet in order to be considered ordinary or extraordinary? Secondly, what is “extraordinary evidence”? Does this refer to extraordinary amounts of ordinary evidence, ordinary amounts of extraordinary evidence or extraordinary amounts of extraordinary evidence? Thirdly, what criteria does the evidence need to meet to be considered ordinary or extraordinary?
Very rare does one get an actual answer to any of these, but I believe the most concise formulation of this “argument” is: if x has precedent, we require less evidence to prove that x is correct. We require less evidence to accept the claim ‘I own a car’ because many people own cars. Therefore, we require a lot more evidence to believe the claim ‘I own an interstellar craft’ because there is no such technology on Earth yet. To many I am sure this would sound reasonable, although it does not take much thought to realise that there are problems even with this infinitely more coherent version of ECREE. The first is that there would have been a time when x had no precedent. Would x then have had to have ‘extraordinary evidence’ to prove that x was true? If yes, then the whole concept of ECREE is made redundant and reduced to Claims Require Evidence. If not, then it means ECREE is completely arbitrary and subjective, and thus worthless as a means of determining truth values. The second problem is that this is merely an exercise in confirmation bias. If we already believe x is possible or likely, then we would naturally be inclined to believe x, even if x is false. Thirdly, the amount of evidence required to persuade somebody of a claim differs from person to person. Even when evidence for a claim a person finds extraordinary evidence is presented to them, that person can simply raise the bar by saying it is not enough evidence. Some people even will never believe certain claims, no matter the evidence.
ECREE is not a logical principal at all but a subjective shibboleth that atheists pull out of their backsides whenever they are cornered. ECREE compels one to make a snap-judgment about the veracity of a claim before looking at the evidence and introduces bias such that an objective analysis of the data becomes difficult if not impossible. All ECREE does is create a framework to hide the moving of the goalposts. It is not a means of evaluating evidence; it is a means of avoiding evidence that one does not like. It is also a means for legitimising personal incredulity as a means of truth evaluation. However, the one irony in all of this is that atheists and other sceptics assume that their personal disbelief of a claim is warrant enough to question whether or not that claim is true. The inherent but subtle implication being, they can trust their own intuition when it comes to rejecting things they find unbelievable. Of course, whenever it comes to disputing things they accept as a matter of absolute facts, the human mind is unreliable and all of a sudden, human intuition is no longer valid in evaluating truth claims.
The Dawkins Delusion: A Parable Within A Parody
I thought I would end this chapter with some humour that should also serve to show the absurdity of typical atheistic objections against the existence of God.
I declare in no uncertain terms, that I am not a believer in Richard Dawkins. I don't think he really exists. It's quite simple really, you shouldn't ask sensible people to believe in something unless you've got evidence for it. If there is a Dawkins, why hasn't he shown himself to me? Are people who believe in Richard Dawkins just a little bit dim? In a way, I can understand the mistake. Simple people, pick up a handful of books, claiming to be written by Dawkins, and since a Dawkins seems to be a sufficient account for how they got to be there, from the similarities in all the texts and so on, they stick with common sense and fallaciously conclude that this Dawkins, which they have never seen with their own eyes, actually exists. Of course, some people do claim to have seen a Richard Dawkins and even shaken his hand, if you can believe them. Are they all lying? I didn't say that. Of course, there's no shortage of liars in the world, and undoubtedly, some people who claim to have had these Richard Dawkins experiences are deliberately telling fairy stories. But, the human brain is a very very complicated thing and conjuring up an imaginary Dawkins would be childsplay for it. Christopher Robin had Binker, I had the Slimy Custard Man, I suspect that something very similar is happening with people who claim to have seen a Richard Dawkins, or heard his voice or felt his touch.
The books aren't evidence for the existence of Richard Dawkins either. Of course not. As a scientist, it is no answer to the problem of: 'Where did this inane rubbish come from?', to stick a label on it that says 'Richard Dawkins'. Each book is a simple rearrangement of only 26 letters. Even a child should be able to see that, with a little random shuffling of vowels and consonants on a computer, one can arrive at all sorts of patterns like that. Working out how each letter got in to the place that it did is the business of Science. Claiming that Dawkins did it puts an end to an inquiry that promises to give us a full and satisfying explanation of how these books came to be, without the need for invoking a discredited, superstitious 'Dawkins-of-the-Gap' type hypothesis. Some people might point to the fact that the letters are arranged in definite patterns, spelling out sophisticated chains of arguments, and that this is the clear mark of intelligence, not random accident. If there were some kind of intelligence behind these books, then, judging by their content, it is obviously a pretty poor one. We would have hardly lost much worth having by not believing in Richard Dawkins, or in what his books have to say. The scientific view of the matter is beautifully simple and invigorating. The works of Richard Dawkins are nothing but a collection of fortuitously ordered As, Bs and Cs, recombined from previous patterns. There is the Latin alphabet, there are the nonsense poems of Edward Lear, and there are the works of Richard Dawkins, and the one developed from the other through a series of random typing errors. Though, admittedly, we haven't got all the details just now. I haven't got all the answers, but Science is working on it, and if Science doesn't have the answers to where they came from, then sure as hell, Richard Dawkins' religion doesn't. If a Dawkins designed the books, then who designed the Dawkins, just tell me that.
Moving on, the Richard Dawkins revealed in the literature is a sententious, acrimonious, supercilious, pusillanimous, calumnious, censorious, vituperative, querulous, embittered, obsessive and bombastic bully. That seems fair enough to me, but some people might say that that is just a bit over the top. Read your Richard Dawkins if you think that, just read it. Read A Devil's Chaplain. Apart from finding no evidence whatsoever for an intelligence hiding somewhere beneath the paragraphs in the mystical realm of blind faith, you will discover, on the other hand, plenty of intolerance and bigotry in every chapter. All of these very good reasons to have nothing whatsoever to do with this Richard Dawkins' religion. This widespread belief in Richard Dawkins is a dangerous delusion, but what is especially dangerous about people believing in the existence of Richard Dawkins, if it makes them happy? Well, for one fairly obvious reason, these people believe any book that has Richard Dawkins' name on the cover, and these books say a lot of very silly things. Belief in Dawkins has been responsible for filling the internet with non-sequiturs, caricatures, straw men and vitriol. Dawkins' disciples are militant, they are organised, and they are out to convert you and me. Yes, I would certainly call this a dangerous delusion. If there is a Richard Dawkins, he has a lot to answer for. In summary then, my main objection to the Richard Dawkins belief is simply this, people are following a delusional Dawkins who is telling them what to think and believe, when they should be following me.
I originally lost my faith as teenager because I understood nothing about the religion I thought I believed in. After spending several years in doubt and later disbelief, I was exposed to two types of literature. The Theistic literature and the Atheistic literature both expounding on these issues and both seemingly locked in an eternal battle, both at each other’s throats. Whilst I neither cared nor particularly was bothered by the love-hate relationship some Theists and Atheists seem to have with each other at the time, I did care about the arguments being presented. Needless to say, it seemed obvious to me then and obvious to me now that the arguments in favour of God are much more stronger than the objections and arguments against God. The reason for my rejection of Atheism and the start of my quest of analysing the truth claims of religions was because of the type of vacuous and abject nonsense that was being offered up in objection to Theism in lieu of substantive arguments and rebuttals. I do not expect to change any minds, indeed, it is a given that there are those who would rather remain intoxicated in their myths rather than attempt an objective analysis of the data. I expect what I have always expected, and that is for people to make up their own damned minds. All I ask is that the reader keeps an open mind in considering what I have written here; although not so open that their brains fall out. In this day and age, critical thinking is important more than ever, and the question of the existence of God is not exempt from this. However, if there is anything that I hope to have convinced you of, it is that Theism is not and cannot be ruled out a priori and that you will at least bother trying to analyse the truth claims of religion. Thank you, much love, and goodnight.
 Collins English Dictionary, Harper Collins (Eight Edition: 2006), p365
 Collins English Dictionary, Harper Collins (Eight Edition: 2006), p610
 For a brief history of human evolution, see: Hominid Species, Talk Origins (Accessed 27/07/10) http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/species.html
For an easy to understand explanation of evolutionary theory, see: Theobald, Douglas L. "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent." Talk Origins, 2004 (Accessed 27/07/10)
 For an easy to understand explanation of Abiogenesis, see: Jelle Kastelein, Abiogenesis Explained, 2010 (Accessed 27/07/10)
 A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries: Big Bang theory is introduced (Accessed 27/07/10) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dp27bi.html
 For more information on the Big Bang model see: Edward L. Wright, Frequently Asked Questions in Cosmology, 2009 (Accessed 27/07/10)
Also: Bjorn Feuerbach and Ryan Scranton, Evidence For The Big Bang, Talk Origins, 2006 (Accessed 27/07/10) http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astronomy/bigbang.html
 Max Tegmark, Parallel Universes, Scientific American, 2003
http://cosmos.phy.tufts.edu/~zirbel/ast21/sciam/ParalellUniverse.pdf (Accessed 31/07/10)
 Edward Robert Harrison, Masks of the Universe: Changing Ideas on the Nature of the Cosmos, Cambridge University Press (2003), p206
 Paul J. Steinhardt and Neil Turok, The Cyclic Model Simplified, 2004, p2
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/0404/0404480v1.pdf (Accessed 03/08/10)
 G.F.R. Ellis, U. Kirchner and W.R. Stoeger, Multi-verses and physical cosmology, 2003, p28-30
http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0305292 (Accessed 03/08/10)
 P.C.W. Davies, Multi-verse Cosmological Models, 2004, p9-14
http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0403047 (Accessed 03/08/10)
 G.F.R. Ellis, U. Kirchner and W.R. Stoeger, Multi-verses and physical cosmology, 2003, p28
 Collins English Dictionary, Harper Collins (Eight Edition: 2006), p1088
 For more information on these constants see here: John Baez, How Many Fundamental Constants Are There?, 2002 http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/constants.html Also: http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Constants/index.html (Accessed 10/08/10)
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p61
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p65
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p124
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p124-125
 Astrid Lambrecht, Observing Mechanical Dissipation in the Quantum Vacuum: An Experimental Challenge, from Hartmut Figger, Dieter Meschede and Claus Zimmerman, eds., Laser Physics at the Limits, Springer-Verlag: Berlin Heidelberg (2002), p197
See also: Johann Rafelski and Berndt Muller, The Structured Vacuum: Thinking About Nothing, H. Deutsche Publishers (1985) http://www.physics.arizona.edu/~rafelski/Books/StructVacuumE.pdf (Accessed 12/08/10)
 David Mills, Atheist Universe, Ulysses Press (2004), p68-69
 David Mills, Atheist Universe, Ulysses Press (2004), p74
 David Mills, Atheist Universe, Ulysses Press (2004), p71
 David Mills, Atheist Universe, Ulysses Press (2004), p80-81
 George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, Prometheus Books (1979), p137
 George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, Prometheus Books (1979), p138
 George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, Prometheus Books (1979), p139
 Quentin Smith, Kalam Cosmological Arguments For Atheism, from Michael Martin, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, Cambridge University Press (2007), p193
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p69
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p70
 David Mills, Atheist Universe, Ulysses Press (2004), p82-83
 David Mills, Atheist Universe, Ulysses Press (2004), p100
 David Mills, Atheist Universe, Ulysses Press (2004), p103
 George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, Prometheus Books (1979), p150
 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Press, 2006, p114
 George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, Prometheus Books (1979), p150
 George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, Prometheus Books (1979), p151
 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Press, 2006, p157-158
 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Press, 2006, p216
 Sam Harris, The End of Faith, W.W. Norton, 2005, p170-171
 George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, Prometheus Books (1979), p163
 George Smith: Atheism: The Case Against God, Prometheus Books (1979), p164-165
 George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, Prometheus Books (1979), p165
 Daniel C. Dennett, Breaking The Spell: Religion As A Natural Phenomenon, Viking, 2006, p279
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p196
 Brian Martin, Introduction to Sociopathy, University of Wollongong Australia, 2001 (Accessed 15/08/10) http://www.uow.edu.au/~bmartin/dissent/documents/health/sociopathy.html
 James Patrick Holding, Is Baptism Required For Salvation?, Tekton Education And Apologetics Ministry, (Accessed 15/08/10) http://www.tektonics.org/af/baptismneed.html
 Daniel C. Dennett, Breaking The Spell: Religion As A Natural Phenomenon, Viking, 2006, p279
 Romans 2: 12-15, New Century Version, (Accessed 15/08/10) http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%202:12-15&version=NCV
Victor Stenger: God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p194
 Prison Incarceration and Religious Preference, Adherents.com, 2007 (Accessed 15/08/10) http://www.adherents.com/misc/adh_prison.html
 Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist, BenBella Books, 2008, p19-20
 David O’ Brink, The Autonomy of Ethics, from Michael Martin, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, Cambridge University Press (2007), p150
 David O’ Brink, The Autonomy of Ethics, from Michael Martin, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, Cambridge University Press (2007), p151
 Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist, BenBella Books, 2008, p292
 Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, Zondervan, 2008, p94
 Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, Zondervan, 2008, p55-56
 Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, Zondervan, 2008, p96
 Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist, BenBella Books, 2008, p295
 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Press, 2006, p104
 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Press, 2006, p104-105
 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Press, 2006, p105
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p216
 Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist, BenBella Books, 2008, p276
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p219
 Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, Zondervan, 2008, p55
 Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, Zondervan, 2008, p40
 Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, Zondervan, 2008, p41
 Stuart McMillen, Amusing Ourselves to Death, quoted in Huxley, Orwell, Postman, Microlesia.com, 2009 (Accessed 17/08/10) http://www.microclesia.com/?p=1664&cpage=1
 CyberDyne Systems Series 800 Model 101 ‘Uncle Bob’ portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, from James Cameron, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 1991
 Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, Zondervan, 2008, p66
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p216
 The Narrator voiced by Morgan Freeman, from Steven Spielberg, War of the Worlds, 2005
 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Press, 2006, p78
 Keith Ward, Why There Almost Certainly Is A God, Lion, 2008, p111
 Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist, BenBella Books, 2008, p271
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p33
 Collins English Dictionary, Harper-Collins (Eighth Edition, 2006), p1674
 Collins English Dictionary, Harper-Collins (Eighth Edition, 2006), p1116
 Collins English Dictionary, Harper-Collins (Eighth Edition, 2006), p1219
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p31
 Collins English Dictionary, Harper-Collins (Eighth Edition, 2006), p1793
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p32
 Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Prometheus Books, 2007, p33
 Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist, BenBella Books, 2008, p257
 Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist, BenBella Books, 2008, p258