The Illogic OF God
Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change form
—The First Law of Thermodymics
Reason is a powerful thinking tool that cannot be reconciled with faith because they are polar opposites. Reason is a skill that requires conscious effort to acquire knowledge of reality. Its power comes by developing a hierarchal knowledge base with complex concepts resting on simpler concepts. The total has to be integrated into a non-contradictory whole if it is to represent reality accurately. We could think of this knowledge base as a mental map of reality to guide us through our thought process.
Where reason is structured, faith is amorphous. Where reason doesn’t allow for contradictions, faith does. Where reason serves as a objective guide to feelings, faith serves as a subjective guide towards feelings. Where reason follows a concept through to all of its logical conclusions, faith allows for stopping at a satisfactory answer. Through reason we develop a mental map of the external world. Through faith we block out the external world and let words guide our feelings.
On this page we apply reason to the many arguments for the existence and attributes of God. Theists maintain that God cannot be disproved because they know that a negative cannot be disproved. A negative cannot prove the existence of God either, but they rest content that God cannot be disproved. The problem with basing an assertion on a negative, is that all the attributes assigned to that negative are equally negative. Without a means of identification, God can be whatever theists want it to be. The theist lives in two worlds hopelessly in conflict. One is the real world limited by the forces of nature. And the imaginary world of God, where anything is possible.
Reason and Logic
Reality exists as an integrated whole; it is an objective absolute; it is independent of human thought. There is nothing outside reality. A thing either exists or it doesn’t. If it exists, it is real. If it doesn’t exist, it is not real. The universe encompasses all that exists. The universe has no beginning and no end in either time or space. Reality has a dynamic aspect to it too, in that it is in constant change, but that is outside the scope of this article.
Reason directs our attention towards the evidence of reality provided by our senses. Reason is our means of perceiving reality, or in a sense, the means of creating a mental map of reality. The map serves as a guide towards our ends. Reason is our guide to rational thought.
Reality is the arbiter of our fate. There is no escape from the facts of reality. There is no escape from our nature or the manner of survival that our nature requires. Errors result when something happens we don’t want or expect. The facts of reality account for every error man has made since he existed.
For this exercise, we will apply three laws of existence that lie at the basis of what is possible.
- The Law of Identity: It is what it is and nothing else. That is to say A is A, man is man, truth is truth, etc.
- The Law of Non-contradiction: Something cannot be both a particular thing and also not that particular thing. That is to say something cannot be both A and non-A, cannot be both a man and not a man, both true and not true, etc.
- The Law of Causality: Every effect has a prior cause. Events that correlate by chance or coincidence do not prove causality. Whenever we say A is a cause or causal factor of B, we mean that A is either a necessary condition, a sufficient condition, or both a necessary and sufficient condition. To test for causality, we would want to know if the effect would have happened without the suspected cause. Additionally, an effect may have several causes, providing they are of sufficient influence.
Faith is acceptance of an idea without sensory evidence or logical demonstration. When a theist declares proudly that she has faith, it is a declaration of a refusal to attempt to think coherently. An idea that not derived from reality is not subject to rational examination. There is no logical structure, just a scattered set of beliefs. The thinking process is paralyzed with irreconcilable conflicts, leaving one to hold feelings and feelings alone as a standard of acceptance. Such a mind is cluttered with unresolved contradictions. The downside is multiplied many times when we consider that this habit of non-thinking distorts a theists world view.
The acquisition of knowledge requires conscious effort. To know everything, instantly, without effort is a theists dream. The shortcut is to follow the lead of others who give an appearance of knowing. He does not have to assume responsibility for judgment; instead, he can look at people, watch what they do, guess at what they see, and mimic them. In this way he develops insight to the world as perceived by others. His lack of effort manifests itself by his outpouring of irrational logic.
Arguably, more than any other reason for the popularity of theism has to do with its long popular tradition. Believers take that as evidence of truth.
Religion’s Primitive Origins
The earliest evidence of religious thinking dates well into prehistory. Try to imagine what it was like then. Like babies coming into an unfamiliar world, prehistoric man struggled to make sense of it all. By associating nature with what he knew—himself—he came to the conclusion that nature is controlled by anthropomorphic beings. This is what classic myths and legends were made of.
Modern theists can look back at those pagan myths and legends and realize them for what they are without making a connection to their own beliefs. But, alas, there is a connection. The connection is to posit anthropomorphic beings or being who has power to control Nature. Modern religions have not altered that one basic premise. It takes as much faith to believe in the unseen today as it did then. All that has changed is that the arguments have gotten more sophisticated. Still, no matter how appealing those arguments may seem, they all try to prove through words alone that nothing is something.
Religion is Divided
Broadly speaking, religious sects are cultural. Christianity dominates the west. Islam dominates the Middle East. Hinduism dominates India, etc. This is remindful of the Genesis 11 story of the Tower of Babel, where God confused the language so the builders do not understand each other, then scattered them all over earth. No sect can prove demonstrably that it has correctly defined the essence of God. There is a simple explanation.
God is Unintelligible
Those who profess to believe in God are unable to identify what it is they believe in. They might say, “God is everywhere.” But that would be equivalent to saying God is real. Then on other occasions, they say God is supernatural, meaning un-natural, not real; he exists outside the real world. According to the Law of Non-Contradiction, God cannot be real and not-real. A real god is identifiable. An unreal god is an unintelligible god.
God is all-Powerful
One hallmark of religious thinking is to make an assertion that appears on the surface to be a positive statement, but on reflection, results in a negative. The arguments below are intended to convey the impression that God is all-powerful, but they reduce to saying God does not exist.
God is Infinite
To be infinite means to possess no limit, no finite number of attributes, no specific identifiable qualities, everything, nothing in particular. If you try with all your might to imagine what infinity looks like, you can’t. Infinity has no identity.
God is Pure Spirit, Pure Consciousness
In rational terms, the concept of spirit is intelligible; it means consciousness. For there to be consciousness, there has to be something to be conscious of. Consciousness is a product of sensory input to our brain. By definition, when someone loses consciousness, he either blacks out or dies.
But that is not what theists mean. By pure spirit, they mean a non-material entity. And by pure consciousness, they mean an ability without a material operator. A non-material entity has no identification and no definition. It is just a word applied in direct contradiction to the context from which it is understood. It can only be grasped by rote – memorized without understanding context.
Similar to pure consciousness, the idea of super-intelligence destroys the context from which we understand intelligence. Intelligence requires the presence of a brain and a living body to support a brain. Intelligence is a material attribute. Intelligence requires consciousness and existence to be conscious of. A theist can argue non-material intelligence with prose that captures the attention of reader, but that doesn’t change the impossibility of non-material intelligence.
Intelligence implies knowledge. Intelligent beings are prone to error because the complexities (not disorder) of reality make it impossible to have perfect knowledge, forcing action according to expected probabilities. Probabilities within the Law of Causality, are always finite.
Since there was no existence prior to creation, God had nothing to contain knowledge of nothing. I have to bring this up again. If God had perfect knowledge, he wouldn’t have made the mistakes catalogued in the Bible. See God’s mistakes.
God Created the Universe
This fallacy is directly related to spirit, consciousness and intelligence as discussed above. If there is no universe, there is no existence. If there is no existence, there can’t be consciousness because there is nothing to be consciousness of. So we are left with non-existent consciousness conscious of nothing.
A theist cannot count on the Bible supporting the idea that God created the universe ex nihilo. Let’s parse Genesis: 1) “Earth was without form and void” means earth doesn’t exist. 2) Darkness requires space, implying existence. 3) “Face of the deep” implies existence. 4) The presence of water certainly implies existence. What Genesis is saying is that God created order out of chaos. According to the rest of Genesis 1, God worked with the materials at hand. See Elements of Creation.
God is Omnipotent
Omnipotence means God can do anything. Since the actions of an entity are characteristic of the identity of the entity, God would have to be unrestricted in identity; he has no identity. If God can do anything to an entity and he can make an entity do anything regardless of the entity’s nature, then entities have no nature; anything is possible.
If miracles can happen, reality is fluid, arbitrary, unpredictable and unknowable. A miracle is the rationally impossible. This leads to questions that defy reason. Can God create a rock that he can’t pick up? The standard answer is that you must not try to understand. You must believe that what is unconceivable to you is possible. This rationale is known as the fallacy of special pleading. As an example, the theist would not want you to believe that Cinderella’s fairy god mother can turn her into a pumpkin, but he would want you to believe that God can. Thus the concept that God is omnipotent ignores the Law of Identity and the Law of Causality.
God is Omniscient
To be omniscient means to know everything, past, present and future. Notice that the attribute of omniscience is necessitated by the attribute of omnipotence. In order for God to do anything, he would have to know everything. It cannot be both. In order for God to know everything, everything would have to would have to be fated and predetermined. If so, then nothing can be changed. If nothing can be changed, then God is not omnipotent. Once again we are confronted by an undecipherable quandary. Something cannot be both A and not-A.
If God is omniscient, then he knows the course of your life before you were born. You don’t have free will.
From the biblical perspective, man does have free will and God is not omniscient. To pick a few major events: Adam ate the fruit he was told not to eat. God grew disgusted with all the sin in the world, that he flooded it, save for Noah and family, to start over again. God anointed the Israelites to be his standard bearers, only for it to turn out to be a big disappointment. Finally, Jesus died to purge man from sin only to see no change in man’s sinning ways. The dogma of sin stands in direct contradiction to the presumption of an all-benevolent God.
God is all-benevolent
To be all-benevolent means to be incapable of evil. This conflicts with earlier assertions. If God is incapable of evil, he can’t be omnipotent. Furthermore, the moral aspect of good or evil means having the power of choice. If God is incapable of choosing evil, he is as amoral as a programmed robot. If God has no power to choose evil, he is not only not omnipotent, he is outside the concept of morality. If he is incapable of seeing evil; he is not omniscient. If he sees evil and will not remove it, he is not benevolent.
The Greek philosopher Epicurus formulated the problem of evil with this syllogism.
- If a perfectly good god exists, then there is no evil in the world.
- There is evil in the world.
- Therefore a perfectly good god does not exist.
Once again, befuddled theologians are backed into a corner with the canned excuse that man’s intellect cannot grasp the mystery of God. If truth be told, earlier theologians created this mishmash of convoluted logic at a time when they could pass it off without challenge.
If that wasn’t bad enough, here is the worst of it. For there to be a God that is all-benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient, there would be no evil in the world, no devil and (roll the drums) no sin. Man cannot make immoral choices because his life is predetermined by a benevolent God. The devil could not have been a rogue angel who sneaked into the Garden of Eden. God knew about it beforehand and even planned the whole Adam and Eve guilt trip.
Second Hand God
Everything theists know about God, they learned through human sources, specifically Church Fathers and clergy. It is not the word of God that believers accept on faith; it is the word of the clergy that they accept on faith. Faith that the Bible is the word of God would be more accurately stated as, faith in clergy who say the Bible is the world of God.
Except for the authenticated writings of Paul (some are forgeries), the writers are unknown; nor are their sources known nor how many layers of sources there are. Most books in the New Testament were written decades after the alleged events took place. In the Old Testament, about half the books were written hundreds of years after the alleged events took place. This as hearsay in the extreme.
If you understand the quandaries above. And you brought those quandaries to a theologian. His answer will run along the lines like, “God works in mysterious ways.” It’s an admission of ignorance.
To get to his position in life, he had to give priority to memorized script. Not only can’t he deduce any evidence to support his belief, he can’t even specify what he claims to believe. He can identify God only as a feeling; he has faith in a feeling. But since faith itself is only the worship of feelings, the man who declares he has faith in God, is declaring he has a feeling that his feelings are true. This is what sets apart the subjectivity of religious thought with the objectivity of external reality thought.
Let’s examine the facts of reality that theists use to justify their belief in God. It’s worth noting that none of the arguments below rule out the idea of a different god or gods represented by a different religion. Nor does it rule out another god or gods not represented by any religion.
First Cause Argument
The First Cause Argument states that if everything in the universe requires a cause, then the universe itself must have a cause which is God. This argument has two fallacies. The first is the assumption that if the universe requires a casual explanation, the insertion of God provides it. But that only pushes the problem one step backwards. Who created this God? This leads to infinite regress, and infinite chain of gods creating gods. It solves nothing.
Second, if the theist claims that no other god created God; God existed eternally. Well then in that case, why couldn’t the universe exist eternally? Then there is no need for a God. Equally false is the unfounded assumption is that the universe requires a casual assumption.
To add to what was discussed above about creation, there is only one alternative to existence: non-existence. There is nothing before existence. There is nothing outside of existence in any direction. Nothing is not a something. Existence is existence, nothing more, nothing less. There is nowhere else to go!
The universe is the total of all that which exists. Causality presupposes the existence of something that acts as a cause. To demand a cause for all existence is to demand a contradiction. If the cause exists, it is part of existence. If it does not exist, it cannot be a cause. Non-existence cannot cause existence. Or said another way, something cannot come from nothing. The forms of existence may change and evolve. But the fact of existence remains absolute. Causality is an attribute of all that which exists, but not to the universe as a whole.
Argument From Design
A theist observes the perfect order of the universe despite its extraordinary complexity. It is too complex to have happened by chance, he asserts. There must have been a super-intelligent being who arranged and planned it.
One version of the Argument From Design is the Argument From Irreducible Complexity with states that life forms are too complex to have happened by chance. The second is the Anthropic Principle with states that the values of physical constants must be within a very narrow range in order to enable the existence of life. If any of those constants were slightly different, life would be impossible.
Well yes, we see order in life forms. We have evidence of evolution spanning billions of years from simple to complex forms. We see order in the genetic structure of all living things according to their chemical bonds. We see life forms uniquely adapted for survival in the environment they live in, otherwise they would not exist. We observe natural forces like gravity and electro-magnetism which act on all things, living and material.
This is what the Law of Identity acknowledges: everything acts according to its nature; it is what it is. And the Law of Causality: every effect has a prior cause. The laws of identity and causality make it fully intelligible. Entities change, evolve and take form according to natural forces. To impose the idea of random chance ignores the laws of Identity and Causality. The simplest explanation is the best; there is no need to impose a supernatural entity.
A disordered universe is a universe without causality and identity. Such a universe is impossible except to a theist unable to grasp causality and identity. A disordered universe might be like the monsters created by Hollywood script writers, like giant ants too big to breathe without lungs. Or reptiles that tower over skyscrapers whose weight is too heavy for its legs. Or large flying dragons with tiny slow moving wings. Or a tree shrinking back to a seed. Or the ability to travel back in time.
If there was such thing as an omnipotent God, such disorder would have been credibly observed, but it hasn’t. The forces of reality have never been revoked.
Argument From Existence
According to Saint Anselm (1033-1109), nothing greater can be conceived than God. We can conceive of a unicorn though we know that unicorns do not exist in reality; they exist in understanding. Unlike the unicorn, God must exist in order to be the greatest. If God existed in understanding like unicorns, then God would not be as great as if he did exist, and thus would not be the greatest being conceivable.
There is not much to this argument that hasn’t been said above. Anselm was trying to define God into existence.
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