Class Warfare Blog

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.

 

June 30, 2019

Evolution of the Gods—Reason and Faith

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 7:09 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I have written about how it is relatively easy to come up with animistic religions by having a somewhat overactive agency detector, a feature that provided us an evolutionary advantage by making us less susceptible to predation. The roots of religion, therefore, are quite understandable. How we got to “now,” however requires some more consideration.

For example, over time we have reached a place in which “reason” is set in opposition to “belief” and “faith.” I don’t think this can be laid at the feet of reason for why this is so. So, was reason, ever, the enemy of faith/belief?

We only have written records going back some 5000 years or so, which defines what we mean by written history. Those records show that people had religious faith and used reason for that entire time . . . that is, some people, not all people, did this.

History is punctuated with any number of episodes in which religion ran up against faith. For example, Socrates was executed in 399 BCE (given the grace of being allowed to commit suicide) “refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state” and of “corrupting the youth” thereby. Since this sort of prosecution (by secular and/or religious elites) happened a great deal, there was a decided downside of using reason applied to the gods. The Spanish Inquisition (and many of the other inquisitions) kept meticulous records of the numbers of people they tortured, executed, and executed by torture for being “heretics.” Some of the records show ordinary people being naively quite atheistic in their “interviews” with the Inquisitors of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Apparently they had been counseled by their lying eyes and not so much by their incompetent priests.

In the Abrahamic faiths, disdain for reason was hard-wired into scripture. Numerous bits and pieces of their holy books encourage rejection of reason as a guide for one’s life. This, of course, is understandable because religion is a social control mechanism, endorsed by the elites. If a religion is not endorsed by the elites, it doesn’t last long. (Yes, yes, there were folk religions, but did many of them survived the onslaught of the well-heeled, well-organized campaigns for state religions?)

So, the curious thing, in my mind, was how vigorously religious apologists pursued “reasons” why their faith was the One True Faith™ and their god(s) were the One True God(s)™. In the western tradition, the Greek philosophers starting arguing for (and against) gods, well back before the Common Era.

Epicurus (341–270 BC) has attributed to him (it might, however, been part of a campaign to smear Epicurus as an atheist—theists apparently lie a lot) the argument: Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Plato and Aristotle, amongst others, both made arguments for the existence of gods. So reason was being applied to faith thousands of years ago if the historical record is to be trusted.

Fast forward over much of the “Dark Ages” and we reach Saint Anselm (1033-1109 CE). Anselm became a Doctor of the Church and a Saint for using reason to support the case for the existence of his god. His go to argument was the ontological argument.

So, rather than there being an antagonism between reason and faith, as it seems is almost always the case now, reason was good if it supported religious faith, bad if it did not. This is much like Republicans being in favor of smaller government, except when it comes to war making, control over women’s bodies, doing favors for businesses and rich people, etc.

Religion was always suspicious of reason because reason required no intermediaries (especially their intermediaries). Reason could go on inside someone’s head and you wouldn’t even know it! This did not contribute to the elite’s control over society, so was looked upon with suspicion . . . except where the tame reasoners could be trotted out on their leashes.

It is the same today. Christian apologists make fair incomes by going around and applying reason to their faith and coming to the conclusions that: god exists, faith is good, atheism is bad, etc. Science is declared to be atheistic because it is based solely upon reason, but the apologists are holy men for doing the same.

 

 

 

 

June 18, 2019

Prayers Are Needed

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:33 pm
Tags: , , ,

The Ontological Argument for the existence of a god has been on life support since it was first published sometime after the year 1000 by Anselm. Since then, it has be re-imagined in quite a number of forms because whenever its existence is made known to a fair number of people with more than two brain cells to rub together it has been hacked to death.

All snark aside, this logical proof was designed by believers for believers as some sort of intellectual cover. Why it is needed may be due to apologists and philosophers simply needing something to talk about.

The latest incarnation of this argument (it has a long history and I will not bore you with it) has been made by philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Here it is:

  1. A being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and (a Definition)
    2. A being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world. (a Premise)
    3. It is possible that there is a being that has maximal greatness. (a Premise)
    4. Therefore, possibly, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good being exists.
    5. Therefore, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
    6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.

Now, a common “flaw” in such arguments (Apologists think of it not as a bug but as a feature!) is to slip a premise into the argument that, if accepted, requires the conclusion desired.

In this argument the stealth premise is #3. By claiming as an unadulterated truth that such a being is possible, if you combine that with the definition of what is possible, you define a god into existence.

The reply to “It is possible that there is a being that has maximal greatness.” is simple: no it is not. Not even in your imagination can you come up with such a being. (Even Thanos has flaws.)

Any argument that says that “something is possible, therefore it exists” can define into existence anything at all: unicorns, Bigfoot (Bigfeet?), fairies, elves, etc.

So, try an experiment. (Hear Rod Serling’s voice as a voice over and it is really dramatic.) “Imagine, if you will, a being which is maximally great in any attribute you want.” What prevents you from imagining a greater being? (You say “god,” I say “god’s mother.” And if you do not think the Abrahamic god didn’t have a mother, you haven’t done your homework.) What actually prevents you is the philosopher saying “If you can imagine a greater being, then you weren’t imagining a maximally great being in the first place!” so you start over. No matter what you come up with, you will be able to imagine something greater. Think about childhood bragging (this may just apply to boys as I have no experience being a girl). If a member of your group brags that so-and-so is the greatest baseball player ever, another says “No he is not, so-and-so is.” And off we go. There was never an end to such imaginings.

Think about the largest object in nature. The Universe has to be the maximally greatest thing in existence. Then the kid says, “No, it is two universes.” And another says “Three! And a fourth says it is the Multiverse! And a fifth says “two multiverses!”

The problem here is that a maximally great anything is not definable or imaginable because we have scales of comparison. For the longest time, the fastest time any person had run a mile in was just over four minutes. That was thought to be a barrier, that no one could run that distance any faster. Then someone did, and a lot of others quickly copied that feat.

Now, you could argue that zero seconds would be the fastest possible time to run any distance. But nothing can move in zero seconds, so some time is needed, so make it 1/10 of a second. Then the Flash is born and he can do it in 1/100 of a second. And then we are back to carving time down to a smaller and smaller bit. The scales are continuous, they don’t end anywhere. (They start but they don’t end.)

By claiming that “It is possible that there is a being that has maximal greatness” they are basically saying “my god is possible.” But this is not a premise. It is not “obviously true” to anyone except believers. And starting a “proof” of the existence of your god by saying “my god is possible” is a pretty big leg up on “my god exists,” especially if you are going to define the gods unimaginable powers into existence, too.

Hopefully, this silly argument is on its last legs (although it appears as a prime example of a “zombie idea,” and idea that doesn’t die) but theists are probably forming prayer circles right now to ensure that it survives. Prayers are definitely needed as all natural cures have been exhausted.

 

 

 

November 2, 2018

#4 of the 10 Reasons to Believe God Exists

A few days back I covered #1 on this list, so if you need to see where this list was posted and by whom, please consult that post. Here is #4!

  1. Necessary Being (Ontological Argument). In the end, one only has two options. Either an eternal nothingness (meaning again, “no-thing,” not even quantum particles) brought forth something from absolute nothingness, or an eternal Being brought everything that exists into being. The latter makes far more sense and actually adheres more to the scientific method than the former.

This argument is just utter nonsense. There are almost no occasions in which there are just two possibilities, for one. There is even an old Jewish saying (or so I was told) which states: “Whenever presented with a choice of two options, always take the third.” This was presented to me with the story of an elderly woman shopping for vegetables. She asks the greengrocer “How much are the tomatoes?” He replies “Two for 79 cents.” She asks “How much for just one?” He replies “40 cents.” She says “I’ll take the other one.”

To show the utter vacuity of this argument, allow me to rephrase it slightly:

  1. Unnecessary Being (Ontological Argument). In the end, one only has two options. Either an eternal nothingness (meaning again, “no-thing,” not even quantum particles) brought forth something from absolute nothingness, or an eternal Being brought everything that exists into being. The former makes far more sense and actually adheres more to the scientific method than the latter.

Ta da. Just changes two words and now it makes far more sense.

How is the formulation of an utterly fantastic and totally unique magical entity better than “we do not know,” because in truth we do not yet know how the universe came into being? From that point of beginning onward, the universe seems to be self-organizing along the lines of a small set of simple rules, thus requiring no angels or other imaginary beings keeping it going, which was part of the total scheme along with creation by a god. Most of those original claims (pillars of the earth, animating angels, heavenly spheres, etc.) have been abandoned as science has whittled away the basis for believe such things to exist. We are down to the final surly knot that is quite resistant to whittling but will succumb eventually and then we will be free of gods and superstition, if we so choose.

 

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