God, Not a Rational Necessity

So yeah, social media arguments don’t really go anywhere and usually just ends up with people posting links to interminable Youtube videos that fire off fallacies at a rate like a machine gun. Still, this chap actually linked to something he wrote, so given the effort it’s only fair to reply to it properly and Twitter etc aren’t really the best venues. So this’ll do.

The link’s here if you’re interested, but I’ll quote the necessary.

“…Let them reflect on the camels, and how they were created; and the heaven, how it’s raised aloft; and the mountains, how they are hoisted…”

For the people of thinking, reflection and introspection, these aspects of creation are signposts to the Divine Reality.

Problem number one.

‘How they were created’ is a presumption. ‘How it’s raised aloft’ is a presumption. ‘How they are hoisted’ is a presumption.

What you have here are questions. Not evidence. Even if we had no answers ‘God did it’ is an answer that would need evidence in support of it. As it happens we know how camels came about naturally, we know how space came to be as it is and we know how mountains come about and there’s no indication of any design or divine interference at any stage.

In all my discussions with atheists, whether online or in person, I’ve identified a recurring trend: they attempting to refute theists, but can’t, and don’t, present their own reasons for the rejection of God’s existence. For instance, some say:

(1) Why’s there so much evil in the world?
(2) Why’s Hell promised?
(3) Everything originated from evolution.
(4) Religion causes war.

There’s no need to refute theists. The burden of proof is on them to provide evidence that their god exists. Without evidence for a god one is forced, logically, to hold the negative position on the proposition. While everything you list is also true and likely to also come up these are more attempts to show to the stubborn believer the problems internal to their belief system even if you accept it at face value.

The incoherence of some atheists extends from one nonsensical idea to another: if we, the theists, say that there’s a God, they immediately ask, “Well, who created your God?” If we say He’s eternal, they say that such a statement is illogical. However, when they’re asked regarding the life of the universe, they’re prepared to say that it’s eternal. Atheism is self-contradictory.

The point seems to have been missed here as well. If you think the universe – in all its complexity and wonder – demands a creator, and that’s the basis of your argument (argument from design) then god, more complex and more wonderful would demand the same. This would go on forever. If you make an exception for god then you’re leaving the door open to other exceptions. That’s why you run into the counter that the universe could be (or maybe is) eternal. Again it’s a way to illustrate the weakness of your argument.

Some atheists, such as Betrand Russell, state that the universe eternal, it’s just there.

Bertrand Russell was a man from another age when the universe was considered most likely to be static. Observations that confirmed an expanding universe would come late in his life. So this is a bit unfair to Mr Russell.

From the outset, it should be noted that mathematical infinites exist in what philosophers call “a mathematical realm of discourse”, but this infinite exists as an assumption or axiom; it exists conceptually, but not in actuality. If we scratch the surface on this Betrand Russell’s statement, we find that it’s archaic and absurd. The infinite can’t exist in the real world; that is, an infinite number of elements or discrete parts can’t exist.

There are infinites that are present in the world but let’s not get sidetracked into that. Another meaning of ‘eternal’ would be that something exists ‘forever’. Given time doesn’t exist until the universe does (space and time being one) we can say the universe has existed forever, without running into this problem. It’s also possible that the universe will continue to exist for an infinite time, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a ‘starting point’ (scare quotes because this isn’t an accurate description).

This also creates a problem for the idea that the universe was ‘created’, since you cannot have a ‘before time’ or an ‘outside space’ there is no context in which a cause can occur.

This is a strange position, as things can’t come into existence via nothing; the idea is mentally incomprehensible, let alone illogical. Professor Lawrence Krauss, in his book attempts to redefine the word ‘nothing’, so as to fool the untrained reader. His use of linguistic gymnastics to try and convince the reader surely hasn’t worked. Even a cursory reading of his book reveals that his attempted redefinition of ‘nothing’ to means the quantum vacuum. In short, the quantum vacuum is a sea of fluctuating energy. Many physicists have adopted a deterministic approach in that these events do have causes.

As vacuum fluctuations and virtual particles show you can have effect without cause, radioactive decay demonstrates this as well. It also shows you can get something from nothing. This is not a redefinition and as Krauss points out, philosophers etc seem unable to meaningfully define nothing. He uses the term as a physicist and has demonstrated amply in the book that modern understanding demonstrates that you can work up to the whole universe from nothing. A philosophical ‘nothing’ (whatever that might be) may not even be possible.

In asserting that it ‘must be a god’ you still have the problem of no evidence. If your premises are invalid your conclusions are also going to be invalid and an assertion is no use without evidence.

Kalam, which is the argument that you’re trying to put forward, doesn’t dodge the inherent self contradiction present in the original cosmological argument. I go into this more here.

The rational position is the one based on the evidence and the evidence is not there in support of a god at any step of the path. Everywhere we look we see naturalism, undirected natural laws unfolding over time without any divine interference. The last bastion of any sort of remotely credible theism is a weak deism, that some sort of deity started off the universe and hasn’t been seen or heard of since. Even this has no evidence and so, without evidence, must be considered false. This last bastion of theistic belief is also under assault from science, as Krauss has demonstrated, even if you don’t/can’t agree with him on every point he – and Hawking – have taken us back further.

What you have here is a long – and relatively eloquent – argument from ignorance and personal incredulity. You still lack evidence for a god and until you have it, all you have is unsupported assertion based on weak logic spun from false premises.

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