Seven Refutations

Seven-Dwarfs

Insomuch as is possible I will limit myself to simple atheism, that is ‘I do not believe in god/s’ without involving naturalism, science etc. This is a basic, sceptical stance wherein we require evidence for a god before we believe in one (or indeed anything else). William Lane Craig’s ‘Seven arguments for god‘ keep getting brought up as ‘evidence’ when they’re not evidence and they’re barely even arguments. I will now show why:

1. Why is there something instead of nothing?

Leaving aside the science for a moment, ‘I don’t know’ is a perfectly acceptable answer. Is there a reason? There may or may not be. Is it even possible for there to be ‘nothing’? There’s some suggestion otherwise. Whatever the case, whether there a reason, an actor, a natural force at play or otherwise if you’re going to say ‘god did it’ you need evidence that god did it. WLC only has an assertion which, without evidence to back it up, is useless.

One down.

2. Cause and Effect

Again, leaving aside the scientific examples of exceptions to this this is a poor argument and not evidence. IF everything requires a cause then this must also apply to god itself, leading to an infinite regression of gods each creating the next one. Clearly this is not a logical or rational position. Craig takes up the ‘Kalam’ argument, which I have covered before. This one says ‘everything needs a cause, except god’. Well then, if there can be exceptions then not everything requires a cause.

Even if everything does require a cause that could be natural, one of any number of gods or something else entirely. Asserting it is god doesn’t make it so. You would need evidence to prove that assertion. Again, this is just an assertion and again, without evidence to back it up, it is useless. This is without even getting into issues like the impossibility of cause and effect before time and context.

Two down.

3. Argument from Design & Complexity

Again, ignoring the fact that science can account for the appearance of design and for natural complexity we still find this to be a poor argument. Things certainly might appear designed or special but that’s just our perspective on them. If they were different, they’d be different. If you shuffle a deck of cards the odds of them coming out in any particular order are around 1 in 10 to the power of 68 (I think, the point is that they’re long odds). Yet every time we shuffle a pack those incredibly long odds are made manifest in that particular order. We just happen to observe them in the order they have happened into.

Even then, much of the natural world is interdependent and deterministic, shortening the odds and moves in building cycles.

So, we can certainly say things ‘appear designed’ but there are a multitude of possibilities for this. Again, natural laws and interactions, again, any number of possible gods and again, other things we maybe haven’t thought of. WLC presumes god and wedges it in there because that’s all he can think of. Yet again, this is an assertion. Yet again, this assertion requires evidence to back it up. Yet again, he has none.

Three down.

4. Objective Morality

There have been innumerable moral systems over time. Morality is subjective, conditional and contextual. We really cannot point to anything at all that would universally be bad or wrong (or the worst option) in any and every circumstance. Ignoring the science, again, all we have here is an assertion and yet again, one without evidence. Craig specifically believes the Abrahamic god to be true, and that god has tremendous problems when you look at its morality. It breaks virtually every one of its own commandments, it kills, it lies, it even rapes children (Mary being adjudged to be a child by modern standards). The very split between the OT and the NT undermines this suggestion of objective morality.

Even if there were an objective moral system there are many possible explanations, natural ones, theistic ones and others. Craig fails to provide evidence that there is an objective moral system or that his god is the one behind it.

Four down.

5. Ontological Argument

This one is really rather crazy so why anyone takes it seriously I don’t know. The basic idea runs something like this:

  • We can conceive of an all powerful, perfect being.
  • Existence is a prerequisite of being all powerful and perfect.
  • We can conceive of god.
  • Therefore god exists.

I call this the ‘if wishes were horses’ argument.

Here’s my formulation.

  • I can conceive of the perfect roast beef sandwich.
  • Existence is a prerequisite of being the perfect roast beef sandwich and it is MY perfect roast beef sandwich so it would have to be here right now for me to eat.
  • Where the fuck is my sandwich?

That we can conceive of a thing doesn’t, apparently, mean that thing actually exists outside of the conceptual space of our mind. Physical reality certainly appears to be much more limited. This conceptual being could also be anything from god to Allah to The Great Green Arkleseizure. We can also constantly improve on our concepts over time.

Yet again, no evidence here, just a theological/philosophical mind game that, in the end, provides no evidence.

Five down.

6. Resurrection

Here’s where Craig gets specifically into the Christian god. In brief there is:

  1. No historical evidence for the existence of Jesus, even as a mortal man.
  2. No historical evidence for the resurrection.

In short, again, these are claims which require evidence, not evidence themselves.

Six down.

7. Experiential

Subjective, personal experience is not evidence. Yes, people inculcated into a particular religion may claim to have a particular experience but this varies from person to person and culture to culture. The ‘spiritual experience’ of a Hindu is no more or less convincing than that of a Christian. While we give certain things a pass on the need for evidence (mundane, everyday experiences and so forth) really, we need evidence to rationally believe anything.

Your ‘encounter’ with god is no more convincing than my ‘encounter’ with an Aztec god after having taken mushrooms.

Seven down.

Summary

Every single one of WLC’s arguments are arguments from ignorance (I don’t know, therefore god did it) or arguments from personal incredulity (I can’t believe this happened any other way than god). These are, needless to say, fallacious lines of reasoning. There is no evidence here, just questions into which ‘god did it’ has been crudely rammed on absolutely no basis.

And yet WLC is considered the ‘best’ apologetics has to offer.

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The Kalamatous intent of WLC

More Twitter discussions, this time with JustinRGrice.

Justin is a fan of that terrible human being, William Lane Craig who is well known for a) excusing genocide and b) continually restating the Kalam cosmological argument as though it were some trump card.

Justin’s version of the statement was this:

“The universe is all space, time and matter. So the cause is spaceless, timeless, and immaterial… …(and personal, to choose an effect in time)”

Whether you’re Justin or WLC this is all built on a huge number of assumptions which are treated as fact and then you go spinning off from these cherry picked assumptions towards the conclusion that you desire.

My Kalam link goes over the cosmological argument and Kalam cosmological argument but to restate and refute very quickly:

The cosmological argument states that everything has a cause, therefore the universe has a cause. It then goes on to say that this cause must be god, for no readily fathomable reason.

The obvious objection to this is that if everything requires a cause, then this would also apply to god. Meaning an infinite chain of gods creating the god after them. Infinite regress, no solution, clearly nonsense. Plus even if everything does require a cause that cause could be anything, including a naturalistic process. All in all, no argument for god.

The Kalam version of the argument is essentially that everything requires a cause… except god. Quite why this is considered such a ‘gotcha’ I don’t know since you’re now allowing for exceptions – things that don’t require a cause – because you’ve allowed one for god. Again, this could apply to anything, including a natural process.

Both forms of the cosmological argument are, then, self-defeating from the get-go even taken by themselves but this isn’t the end of the problems with it. Modern science is discovering that there are naturally occurring causeless effects. Vacuum fluctuations and virtual particle pairs are one example, atomic decay is another. Indeed more and more research suggests that everything, matter, energy, the universe itself is one big vacuum fluctuation with a net energy value of zero. Positive and negative energy negating one another.

Other research in dark matter/energy and in cosmic background radiation has hints that may suggest the existence of other universes. This would support the many-universe interpretation. We’re not there yet, but the information is tantalising and holds out possibilities.

Speaking to a ’cause’ of the universe does not make a great deal of sense in any case. You cannot have effect following cause without a dimension of time in which one thing can follow another or without space,a context in which it must happen. Since space and time are one and come into existence along with the universe there is no ‘before time’ or ‘outside space’ in which this could occur. Its a null question, a useless and broken concept.

As to immaterial, nobody has yet been able to demonstrate the existence of anything immaterial. Our concepts and ideas, mathematics, logic etc come from observations and extrapolations of our examination of the physical universe. Numbers do not ‘exist’ save as how we name these observations and even the numerical concept is ultimately physical, encoded in the shape and energy of our physical brain.

Mind, also, is physical. An emergent quality of the physical brain. Tamper with the physical brain, you change the expression and capability of the mind. No brain, no mind.

WLC’s arguments are gossamer thin nonsense, spun out of presumption with nothing to back them up but his whim and fancy. There is no case to answer. As Hitchens once said: “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

As a courtesy to the chap I argued with I’m including WLCs wonking on about this for a full 20 minutes. I will also include a comedy video that demonstrates the physical origin of numbers.

Bad Arguments for God: Something from Nothing

So, says the theist. You can’t get something from nothing! Everything that exists has a beginning, a cause. So the universe has to come from somewhere. That cause is god!

Wrong.

  1. You can get something from nothing, vacuum fluctuations and virtual particles demonstrate this. There are also causeless events such as atomic decay that show you can, indeed, get something from nothing and uncaused events. So the claim that you can’t is bollocks.
  2. If you can’t get something from nothing, this argument would also apply to god meaning that you’d need an infinite amount of godly regression with each god being caused by a previous god forever, which is just stupid frankly.
  3. Any such cause needn’t be a god, let alone your god, even if you were right about it needing a cause.

Some theists who think they’re wily (the intellectual midget William Lane Craig for example) change this slightly from the cosmological argument (above) to the Kalaam cosmological argument which is essentially the same thing, but changes the wording slightly to say that anything that has a BEGINNING must have a cause and then conveniently says god doesn’t have a beginning. Obviously, this is still a childish argument and still doesn’t work.

  1. There’s nothing to say this uncaused cause has to be a god, any god, let alone yours, it could be anything.
  2. The universe can’t really be said to have a beginning per se as time and space are simultaneous and connected. There’s no ‘before time’ in which for any agency to act.
  3. There’s nothing to say non-existence is the default state of things in any case.Essentially these are all fallacious arguments from ignorance, based on presuppositions about the nature and state of the universe that we’re finding to be untrue.

The flaws of these arguments are so self-apparent and have been demolished for such a long time that it’s staggering that anyone would still use them.

Summary Judgement: Total bollocks.