Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Which god exists?

Robin Schumacher wrote a story for The Christian Post entitled "Answering the Question ‘Which God Exists?’"...
A favorite tactic of various atheists and skeptics who struggle to supply valid rebuttals against the arguments that a creator God exists is to ask the question, “OK, so tell me which god exists? Odin? Thor? Allah? There are countless gods to choose from so why I should I believe in the one you’re talking about?”

Putting aside the normal acerbic tone that typically accompanies the question, it’s actually a very valid matter to discuss. Is there a reasonable way to determine what kind of supernatural deity or deities really exist?
Struggle to supply valid rebuttals? Believers I debate typically struggle to present a logical argument without falling back on faith alone or one or more fallacies. That aside, I'm happy to hear that Robin
rates the question instead of just brushing it aside.
Looking at all that we know and observe, here are some characteristics of the creator / first cause that are fairly obvious:
  • The cause must be supernatural (because it created the natural).
  • The cause must be powerful (incredibly).
  • The cause must be eternal or self-existent.
  • The cause must be omnipresent (it created space and is not limited by it).
  • The cause must be timeless and changeless (because it created time).
  • The cause must be immaterial (because it transcends space/physical).
  • The cause must be purposeful/personal (defined as “having intent”).
  • The cause must be necessary (as everything else depends on it).
  • The cause must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinites.
  • The cause must be diverse yet have unity (as unity and diversity exist everywhere).
  • The cause must be intelligent (supremely).
  • The cause must be moral (no moral law can be had without a moral law giver).
  • The cause must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given).
Taking these observable and discoverable qualities and applying them to the supposed countless gods of various mythologies produces no direct match, with only the God described in the three major Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) making the grade. However, applying them to the God as described in the Bible results in the proverbial bull’s-eye.
Sure, when you stack the deck in the manner Robin has, you can make it look on the surface like the god of the Bible fits the bill best. But when you look at his list, you will find that most are not necessary at all. Instead it looks like a list that was built to fit his God first, and then claimed that these are all necessary truths. A Norse believer might as well insert "The cause must have a hammer (you use a hammer to build things, so you need one to build the cosmos) Therefor, Thor." Or what about, "The cause must have wings (how else would the creator view creation?) Therefor Isis."? I hope he was unaware of this stacking of the deck. Because if it was deliberate, that is a pretty deceptive and dishonest move.

But lets look closer at each one...

• The cause must be supernatural (because it created the natural).

Incorrect. Remember, 'supernatural' refers to things that are outside scientific understanding and/or the laws of nature. If a god was to be known and explained by science, it would then become part of the natural model.

• The cause must be powerful (incredibly).

Most likely. Unless they had some way to harness energy external to themselves somehow.

• The cause must be eternal or self-existent.

This one isn't true at all. A deistic god creates and then steps back and then only watches with no intervention. With that in mind, why couldn't a deity die or use up all their energy when creating the universe? The only thing they'd be needed for is the initial creation. After that, there's no need for them.

• The cause must be omnipresent (it created space and is not limited by it).

In what way is this trait even remotely required? Suppose a god does create the universe... They wouldn't just automatically have to then be omnipresent. This is just here to make the Christian god look more likely.

• The cause must be timeless and changeless (because it created time).

Why timeless and changeless? Perhaps this god simply has a very long, yet still finite life span. And why wouldn't it be able to change? Perhaps it ages... Perhaps it changes to fit the world it's in... Or maybe it changes just because it wants too... Hey, Robin did say this god is supposed to be incredibly powerful. Say, powerful enough to change to fit his desires?


• The cause must be immaterial (because it transcends space/physical).

Perhaps. But what is he then? If God isn't made of atoms, then how does he have a body? Or is he arguing for a disembodied 'mind', even thought there is no 'mind' without a brain, which is itself, material?

• The cause must be purposeful/personal (defined as “having intent”).

Sorry, this one is not needed either. Did this deity have to have a purpose in creating? It could have just been bored, or an accident. But when you throw 'personal' in there, this is more stacking of the deck. Remember the deistic god? That one isn't personal, yet is just as, if not more likely than the Christian god.

• The cause must be necessary (as everything else depends on it).

In the context of getting a universe, sure, whatever caused it (God, Big Bang) was necessary to get that universe. But stop and ask this... Did there have to be a universe? The answer is that no, there doesn't. But there is, so a cause is obviously needed for the reaction we find ourselves in.

• The cause must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinites.

Actually, it doesn't have to be infinite. Once creation takes place, the deity's job is done. They  could go on living forever, or the universe could be created from them. But the causal deity need not be totally infinite.

• The cause must be diverse yet have unity (as unity and diversity exist everywhere).

And why couldn't it just get the ball rolling and everything fall into place from there?

• The cause must be intelligent (supremely).

Actually, no. It could also be that a creator deity is powerful, yet not intelligent. Creation could have all been a big beautiful accident.

• The cause must be moral (no moral law can be had without a moral law giver).

Not even close. The fact that atheists are exceptionally moral is proof that a moral law giver is not needed. Furthermore, how can anyone that has honestly read the Bible consider the genocidal god within it's pages to be moral? Oh, and this is yet another attempt to unnecessarily plug God in the have to have list.

• The cause must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given).

Once more, Deism shows that a caring creator isn't needed either. This is of course, another attempt to shoehorn God in. But I really fail to see how Christians seriously consider their god to be caring...

Oh, and then Robin references Bible passages to show that God fits all her criteria. Sorry, but that doesn't float. You need actual verifiable sources and evidence. I could write a book right now about a magic eternal sock-puppet that also fits all of Robin's criteria. Would that then prove my sock-puppet to be the god that exists?
Putting agendas and worldviews aside, which truly makes more sense: (1) That an impersonal, non-conscious, meaningless, purposeless, and amoral universe that had its own beginning accidentally created personal, conscious, moral beings who are obsessed with meaning and purpose, or (2) That a personal, conscious, purposeful, intelligent, moral, eternal God created beings in His likeness and established the universe and laws to govern their existence that reflect His character?
Since you're asking, the first one. You know the less complicated (and therefore more likely) option that actually has evidence on it's side. Call me silly, but I find evidence rather persuasive. 
With the first option, you have a cause that reflects none of its effects whereas the second option’s cause reflects them all.
Oh, and considering that only 0.0000000000000000000042% of the universe contains matter (of which we are an even smaller fraction), isn't it silly to project our existence at relative to meaning of the entire universe? The fact is that the vast majority of the universe is consistent with option one, and we are but a miniscule minority. But a miniscule minority that has somehow learned to stand on the shoulders of giants and learn as much as we have. Damn it feels good to be alive!


-Brain Hulk

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