“Does God Exist?” August 2, 2007Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, Christianity, evidence, fallacy, freethought, god, logic, morality, religion, skepticism, theism.
Here are notes I made while reading William Lane Craig’s “Does God Exist?”
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Atheism does not imply meaninglessness.
Atheism does not imply lack of hope for a better future. (It does put the onus of making the future better on us.)
Even if there is a god there is no “deliverance from aging, disease, and death”. Even if there is an eternal afterlife in paradise we still age, disease, and die.
“1. God makes sense of the origin of the universe.”
This god of the gaps argument is entirely unconvincing. A god is not necessary to explain the existence or origin of the universe. Anywhere that god is posited an equaly (or maybe more) plausible natural process would do. This is only convincing if you already believe in a god.
If it is impossible for the universe to have lasted forever, it is impossible for god to have lasted forever. If god can operate outside time and space, natural processes can operate outside time and space. If god can have no cause and no beginning than natural processes can have no cause and no beginning. Any argument to the contrary amounts to special pleading.
The big bang did not necessarily come from nothing. We have no idea what may have existed “before” or “outside of” the big bang. To declare that it only could have been god is an appeal to knowledge that we just do not have; knowledge that we may never have.
Further more considering our complete ignorance of how things work outside the universe it is impossible to know whether or not the universe could have come from nothing, if indeed that happened to be the case.
“Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” If this is true, than it must also be true of god. What was god’s cause? What was the cause of god’s cause? etc…
“It must be uncaused because we’ve seen that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes.” This violates the notion that everything must have a cause. If god can be causeless than the universe could be causeless, or something else that caused the universe could be causeless. Anything else is special pleading.
“The only way for the cause to be timeless and the effect to begin in time is for the cause to be a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time without any prior determining conditions. For example, a man sitting from eternity could freely will to stand up.” Positing a personal agent does not magically make it possible for you to break all the rules you set at the beginning of this argument. If nothing can be eternal than god cannot be eternal; if god can be eternal than so could comething else!
“2. God makes sense of the the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life.”
This entire aregument can be answered in a single sentence. If the universe was not suited for life than none would be here to marvel at its suitability. The very existence of life is sufficient evidence to explain the universes suitability.
“But we now know that our existence is balanced on a knife’s edge.” No we don’t know this. We know that some numbers have to be very specific values to get the universe that we have, but we do not know the process that those values were determined so we cannot proclaim them to be “balanced on a knife’s edge” since we don’t know what the initial probablilities or, nor even if there were other possibilities.
Douglas Adams really responded to this one best:
“. . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”
Eventually Dr. Craig “multiverse” explanation which is much better than the god hypothesis, becuase it has just as much explanatory power as a god and is more plausible.
“There are, however, at least two major failings of the World Ensemble hypothesis: First, there’no evidence that such a World Ensemble exists.” As there is no evidence that a supernatural intelligence exists. Yet both explain the “fine-tuning”.
“Moreover, recall that Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin proved that any universe in a state of continuous cosmic expansion cannot be infinite in the past. Their theorem applies to the multiverse, too.” I don’t believe we know enough about a possible “multiverse” to assert that it could not exist infinitely, nor must it for the multiverse explanation to work. It could have had a no-fine-tuning-necessary beginning itself.
“Second, if our universe is just a random member of an infinite World Ensemble, then it is overwhelmingly more probable that we should be observing a much different universe than what we in fact observe.” Except that those more probable universes may be vastly more unlikely to harbor life. We do not know enough to assert such things.
“Or again, if our universe were just a random member of a World Ensemble, then we ought to be observing highly extraordinary events, like horses’ popping into and out of existence by random collisions, or perpetual motion machines” Unless such universes are not possible or such universes vastly reduce the probablity that life will arise in them.
“3. God makes sense of objective moral values in the world.”
There are no objective moral values in the world.
“Friedrich Nietzsche, the great 19th century atheist who proclaimed the death of God, understood that the death of God meant the destruction of all meaning and value in life.”
No, it is not the destruction of ALL meaning and value. Only objective meaning and value. My life as an atheist is full of meaning and value.
“But the problem is that objective values do exist, and deep down we all know it.”
Um… no. “deep down we all know it” is not a reasonable argument for anything. Especially since “deep down” or in any other place many of us don’t “know” it.
“4. God makes sense of the historical facts concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.”
There is no evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. I will not accept the facts presented on the supposed authority of biblical scholars. What is the compelling evidence to believe that such a fantastic event occured? How does that evidence compell us not to accept the explanation that the story is a fabrication? Or that Jesus wasn’t actually dead? Or that it was a hoax? These explanations are so much more probable and the evidence to the contrary so weak as to make the conclusion that such a fantastic event occurred ludicrous.
Especially when there exist biblical scholars that are not convinced that a single identifiable historical Jesus existed, let alone did all the things atributed to him.
“We mustn’t so concentrate on the proofs that we fail to hear the inner voice of God speaking to our heart.” Ah yes. In the end he resorts to the old cannard, you have to believe in order to believe. No one hears the voice of god (or even thinks that they do) that doesn’t already believe in one.