Uncommon Sense

August 27, 2019

The Cosmological and Ontological Arguments Unleashed

Let us start slowly, first with the Cosmological Argument. For those unfamiliar with this argument, here is a common version of it:

The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God

  1. Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
    2. The universe has a beginning of its existence.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
    4. Therefore, if the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.
    5. Therefore, God exists.

So as to not run afoul of what we know about cosmology, let us say that this “creator god” created the universe in the form of its incredibly dense form prior to the “Big Bang” event (the sudden expansion of the universe). So, this “universe seed” was created and it was unstable and will fly apart shortly . . . Bang! There it goes! A wait of only 14 or so billions years gives us the universe as we perceive it now. There, science and religion are compatible . . . uh, er . . . um . . . not really. The long wait is not an objection in this scenario as a being that can exist outside of space and time, could step outside of time at the Big Bang event and then step back in “now” and voila . . . no wait. There are, however, many actual objections to the injection of a “creator god” into this scenario, the simplest being “none is needed.” The only reason for injecting a creator god into this scenario is to establish that god’s bona fides as the creator of the universe. The physical situation does not need or even allow for such an injection.

In any case, some theistic apologists now claim the Big Bang event as their creator god’s creation of this universe. But, wait . . . there is more!

As is typical in apologetics, the left hand doesn’t tell the right hand what it is doing and thus creates problems . . . over there.

Now we switch over to the Ontological Argument. Again, for those who need a reminder, here is one version of it:

The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God

  1. By definition, God is a being than which none greater can be imagined.
    2. A being that necessarily exists in reality is greater than a being that does not necessarily exist.
    3. Thus, by definition, if God exists as an idea in the mind but does not necessarily exist in reality, then we can imagine something that is greater than God.
    4. But we cannot imagine something that is greater than God.
    5. Thus, if God exists in the mind as an idea, then God necessarily exists in reality.
    6. God exists in the mind as an idea.
    7. Therefore, God necessarily exists in reality.

Now by the logic of the Ontological Argument we can find that the Ontological Argument is bankrupt, basically beginning with “By definition, God is a being than which none greater can be imagined.” That this is a false premise has been pointed out by many. In essence, if you accept this premise as a basic fact, you have just defined a god into existence. (Does that make you a god, if you create one?) But the “god” being discussed isn’t just any old god, it is the Creator God™ whose name has changed a number of times since this argument was first made but is considered to be the god of the Abrahamic religions (if all of those might be lumped together). This is the One True God™ who did indeed create this universe. So, this is the one god who must be considered as “a being than which none greater can be imagined.” Think about this. If this god could create the universe seed which expanded and became “our universe,” He must be very powerful indeed. But if creating a universe seed is a sign of power, I can imagine a god that can create two such seeds at the same time. And if I can imagine that god, it must be greater than a god which can create only one at a time, no? So, that god must exist also, according to the logic of the Ontological Argument. There is no argument that the god who created the one universe seed, ours, is the same god as the one that can create two simultaneously, so a claim that it is the Abrahamic religion’s god that can create two simultaneously is pure speculation. The Abrahamic god may be just a baby god, playing in a creation sand box until he has honed his skills and can be taught by the greater gods how to create two universe seeds at the same time.

And, if there is a god that can create two such seeds, and there must be . . . according to the logic of this argument . . . then I can imagine a god that can create three such universe seeds simultaneously and that god has to be greater than the god who can create two universes and the kid god in the sandbox who can create only one. And can there be a limit here? If I can imagine that a god could create hundreds of universes simultaneously, why not thousands, billions, trillions, etc.? Soon we will be up to our asses in multiverses!

So, the “premise” that “by definition, God is a being than which none greater can be imagined” means, in all likelihood, that the deity that created this universe is not that god. This also means there is not just one god because there is no support of that idea either and we are now all polytheists. We certainly cannot take the word of the deity that created this universe that there is but one True God™, because it is clearly not that “god” by this definition. (His other comments seem more than a little boastful and one would expect a being of that power would show a little humility.)

So, clearly, monotheism is also bankrupt as are all of the religions worshiping a clearly inferior deity.

And, hey, I didn’t make the arguments. Blame the apologists.


December 1, 2017

The Argument from Design Started the Whole Thing (Wrongly)!

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:06 am
Tags: , , , ,

There are many “logical” arguments for the existence of a god or gods and one in common use today is the Argument from Design or more formally the Teleological Argument for God. This argument has been stated in many ways going back thousands of years. Here is one of the more famous versions:

The Teleological Argument For God (Paley)
1. Human artifacts are products of intelligent design; they have a purpose.
2. The universe resembles these human artifacts.
3. Therefore: It is probable that the universe is a product of intelligent design, and has a purpose.
4. However, the universe is vastly more complex and gigantic than a human artifact is.
5. Therefore: There is probably a powerful and vastly intelligent designer who created the universe.

I was reading a fascinating book last night, filled with historical delights (The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican by Benjamin Blech and Roy Doliner, HarperCollins) and they dropped this bombshell:

Architectural design as a metaphor is so important in classic Jewish thought— later adopted by the Neoplatonic school— that it is linked with the beginning of monotheism and Abraham’s discovery of God. How did Abraham come to the startling conclusion that there must be a single, unique Creator? The Midrash explains that Abraham, living in a pagan world, at first could not conceive of a Higher Power. One day, however, “Abraham passed a palace with beautifully constructed rooms, magnificently tended lawns and intricately planned surroundings and suddenly said to himself, ‘Is it possible that all this came into being on its own without builder or architect? Of course that is absurd. And so too must be the case with this world. Its ingenious design bespeaks a Designer’” (B’resheet Rabbah, 39: 1). It was the concept of a Divine Architect that brought the idea of One God to humanity.

The focus of my interest, Michelangelo, had secretly studied Torah, the Kabbalah, and various Midrashes. People who are focussed on the Christian tradition steadfastly ignore Jewish literature that they have not appropriated, like the Midrashes which are commentaries by scholars on their Bible. (Unlike Christianity, Judaism encourages questioning scripture and seeking answers and these commentaries are just that: questions and the answers they came up with.)

This Midrash states unequivocally that the creator of the major monotheistic religions, Abraham, was stirred to do so solely from the argument from design!

Wow, does this mean our current crop of creationists, those hewing to the concept of Intelligent Design, are right?

Allow me to re-examine the argument from design, with a slightly different focus.

The Teleological Argument Against Gods
It is claimed “This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” (Isaac Newton).
1. The statement that “This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being” is at best an opinion.
2. An all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, infallible god would never allow his believers to use opinions as proofs.
3. Therefore, if the proof is true then God does not exist.

The grand conclusion is that Abraham based his claim for there being but one god, and not many, on the argument being true, but if the argument is true, then there cannot be a god or gods, then we can conclude that there are no gods by the argument from contradiction (something cannot be both true and false, right and wrong, etc.).

Ta da!

Abraham proved himself wrong!

Postscript If you are a student of history or just like good political intrigue, this is a fabulous book. All kinds of secret messages are buried in the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, including the current Pope being given the finger! In it you will also learn that in this time period, the Blood Libel was rampant. (Jesus was killed by the Jews, get them! This of course, totally ignores basic facts, like if Jesus were not killed, Christianity wouldn’t exist, plus these people believed their God controlled all things, so how could the Jews have done otherwise than God’s desire, to have His Son sacrificed? That these same people claim to prove the existence of their god by logic stretches credulity.) One consequence of this widespread Jewish persecution was that Jewish doctors were forbidden to practice their medicine on Christians (or else!) … well, except for the Popes, all of whom had a Jewish doctor on staff. (You have to draw a line between doctrine and stupidity apparently.) Hypocrisy, thy name is religion!











August 18, 2017

Apologists: Making Stuff Up (Poorly) for a Living

I am still making my way through “Philosophers Without Gods” (Philosophers Without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life by Louise M. Antony, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition.) and last night I was struck by yet another comment in that book. The author of one particular chapter (which one isn’t relevant this time) was writing about the role Hell played in his life and shared a comment made by C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity.” Here it is:

The fear that engendered these types of thoughts was deep in my psyche. Lewis expresses it well when he talks about the idea that God is going to invade the world again: ‘Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when. But we can guess why He is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely. … God will invade …. It will be too late then to choose your side.’”

Once you die, you see, there is no more repentance; you are screwed … for ever and ever, amen. What C.S. Lewis is addressing additionally is another common problem for apologists. In their scripture Jesus promises to return (The Second Coming) before people then alive had died. Well, so far he is late by about 2000 years. So, did Jesus lie? Was he mistaken? Why the delay? According to Lewis, “He” is waiting “to give us the chance to join His side freely.” Other Christian apologists have taken up this argument and delivered it to nodding heads in church pews, but on its merits it … makes … no … sense … whatsoever … (logically, scripturally, theologically, etc.).

Consider the simple fact that the entire Earth’s population in the first century CE was about 300 million people, so only that many people’s lives were in jeopardy of not being saved. That was also the maximum number of people who could be saved. Plus, after “The Return” the “game” is over and no more babies have to burn in Hell. Currently the Earth’s population is over 7500 million people, 25 times more people, so while we were “waiting” for Jesus to come back, for every one person in jeopardy of Hell, there are now 25. Sheesh!

But wait, there’s more!

Of the current world population, 2200 million are Christians, which means that 5300 million people of the 7500 million total Earthlings are non-Christians, all of whom have a guaranteed ticket straight to Hell. (I won’t argue at this time, which of the many thousands of versions of Christianity is indeed correct, all the rest being losers in “the game,” and so too end up in Hell.) This number alone is almost 18 times as many people as were alive in the first century! Waiting to give us time to “join His side,” my ass. The only argument one can make using this apologetic is that their god is expanding his herd to increase the slaughter come harvest time.

C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors and he came to apologetics late in his game, and he was not a man of limited intellect. But the allure of apologetics is subversive. Say anything, no matter how stupid, that reassures those sitting in pews on Sunday, and you will receive many, many (many) positive comments and thank yous for confirming their faith (and, well, there are those book sales).

This has not changed. I see many amateur apologists making the same lame, incorrect, and untrue arguments (now on YouTube, so you don’t have to go to church to be subjected to such thinking). The goal of these people is not an examination of “why” but a reassurance that Christians are on the right path. Repeating hoary old arguments, long debunked or completely contradicted by their own scripture, is still reassuring to those people needing reassurance. There is a new generation of rubes every 25 years or so. These constitute fresh audiences who haven’t heard the old arguments, or didn’t realize there were such arguments, and each generation gets larger, so the audience for such tripe gets larger, too.

The flock really needs to be concerned over the quality of its shepherds, as the wolves are real … if you believe in them.

March 18, 2013

Biblical Shuck and Jive

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:07 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Since the History Channel is airing a mini series on the Bible this week (mercifully called “The Bible” and produced by the people who brought you “Survivor”), it moves me to address some of the issues not raised in that series.

First, do you believe in the doctrine of the Trinity? According to Wikipedia: “Almost all Christian denominations and Churches hold Trinitarian beliefs.” This belief is that God “the Father,” and Jesus “the son,” and the Holy Spirit are three manifestations of one being.

So, if you are an American Protestant, odds are that either you believe this or your church wants you to.

It is also a given in theological circles is that if there were no resurrection, there would be no Christianity. Jesus would then be one of a large number of ordinary apocalyptical Jewish preachers who suffered for their faith (or big mouth or both) and there would be nothing to distinguish him from the others.

Now if you believe in the Trinity and you believe that “God sent his only begotten son to be sacrificed to save you from your sins, etc., etc.” then you have a problem. God didn’t send his “son” even though the Bible claims he can make them out of ordinary mud, without even the need of “covering” some poor woman. God came himself. (For those of you thinking that God would not do that because he couldn’t be away from his desk for that long (30+ years), try explaining how God can’t do something to these Protestant folks.)

Because God came himself, he didn’t sacrifice anything because, well, God can’t be killed (not much of a god if he can be) so he only pretended to be killed, so he must also have pretended to be resurrected. Therefore, Christianity (at least the Protestant trinitarian versions) falls on its own sword.

Hey, they aren’t my beliefs, don’t blame me.

And, if you are a Unitarian, you are kind of off the hook, and you now know the reason most other Protestants despise you: you got it more right than they did. I kind of like you Unitarians: you don’t believe the Trinity nonsense or in original sin or predestination. You seem to be fun-loving and life-affirming and on the right track. Just a little more baggage to leave behind at the station and you’ll be there.

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