Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

God Doesn’t Exist: The Proof

with 11 comments

First off, don’t anyone get their knickers in a twist, this post is an exercise in logic and debate, not theology or metaphysics. I’m not attacking anyone’s faith, just discussing something that came up in an atheist/theist debate group I am in. A theist pointed out that when an atheist claims “There is no God,” why shouldn’t they have to prove their statement? Atheists are always shifting the burden of proof to the theists, why shouldn’t they have to prove their assertions?

It was an interesting argument, and whenever it’s raised, atheists generally explain seven ways from Sunday why the burden of proof is on the person claiming that their invisible supernatural friend is real. And then they fall back on the “you can’t prove a negative” canard. OK, true enough, I do actually think that the burden of proof is on theists, but just for the purposes of debate, let’s grant the point and see where it goes. First we run right into our familiar “can’t prove a negative” canard. I say canard because there are a vast array of circumstances where it is most definitely possible to prove something isn’t possible, in some ways math and science is based on proving negatives. Can one divide 13 by 2 and get an even number? No, and vastly more complex negatives than that can be proven.

So I’m up to the challenge, can I prove that God doesn’t exist? And here we come to the first problem, what, exactly, do we mean by God? And to avoid a lot of discussion and codicils, I’m going to cut right to the chase. Who is usually the one asking atheists to prove there is no God? Evangelical Christians primarily, but fundamentalists in all the Abrahamaaic faiths have been known to raise the question. So for purposes of our discussion, I am going to try and disprove the literal existence of the Old Testament Biblical God. We’ll call him God for simplicity’s sake. I am going with three lines of argument. Lack of evidence, similarity to other supernatural mythical figures, and psychological/cultural need for.

The first thing  is that there is no empirical evidence for him. Science had shown by the late 18th century that the events described in Genesis didn’t happen. The Earth is billions of years old, and there was never any global flood, certainly not in human times. And none of God’s appearances in the Bible are documented by anything even remotely resembling historically trustworthy standards. At best the evidence for God is anecdotal, often FOAF (friend of a friend) anecdotal, including evidence for his supernatural powers.  And not only is there no evidence for God, there are no gaps in our scientific understanding of the Universe that require a God to fill. There are those that would dispute all these points, but the vast majority of modern educated people, including huge numbers of theists, would grant them. (I didn’t say I would convince anyone, I’m just making my case for the premise God doesn’t exist.)

Secondly, the Old Testament is not the only ancient text that references supernatural beings. Humans have worshipped thousands of Gods, some very similar to the God of Abraham, most very very different. And humans have recognized thousands of prophets, Jesus was by no means a one shot deal. And prophets have followed him, some with large numbers of followers who claim Jesus foreshadowed their real prophet. Like Joseph Smith for example. And innumerable sacred texts like the Bible. Hell, even what is exactly meant by the Old Testament varies depending on whom one asks. My point here is that there is a vast canon of literature about Gods and prophets, the old testament god is nothing special. Again, I suspect that most educated people, including many theists, would agree with this. Some wouldn’t.

Lastly, I think there are powerful reasons why the idea of God would naturally appeal to people, and powerful reasons why some people would encourage the idea. I will go into more detail, but this quote sums it up

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful”.Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

A lot of people very much want an authority figure to explain a confusing and sometimes painful world to them. Religion fits the bill nicely. And there’s plenty of people perfectly happy to use religion to enhance their social status and manipulate the common people. This is probably the least debatable of my three points, which may explain why Evangelicals avoid it like the plague. There are powerful social and psychological reasons why faith and religion exist and prosper, the fact that we find variations of it in all human cultures testifies to that.

Add these three points together, and I think this is a powerful argument that the God of the Old Testament is no more real than Thor or Santa Claus. The arguments I have heard claiming otherwise have been weak at best, but if anyone has a new angle I would be glad to hear the argument as to why your particular God is the God and the rest are all imaginary. I think it’s interesting that a number of faiths, even ones with Abrahamaaic roots, have adopted to the arguments above and have adopted their beliefs to be in line with modern scientific thinking.

And others have dug in their heels and would rather we all die than admit that Genesis was allegorical. What the hell is up with that? Tomorrow’s blog post, maybe.

(The above post is being used legally as it is a NASA image, credit and copyright: Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), C. Conselice (U. Wisconsin/STScI) et al., NASA. It’s a warped spiral galaxy. Most spiral galaxies are flat, some are deformed by near misses or collisions with other galaxies. I chose it because it shows the universe we live in is grand and amazing and awe inspiring … without any God required.)

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Written by unitedcats

March 5, 2012 at 5:50 am

11 Responses

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  1. God is a loving, forgiving, fatherly figure who will bless you if you follow his laws. God is a fierce, vengful, judgemental figure who will condemn you to Hell if you do not follow his laws. God created the Devil or, at least, did not stop his angel from becoming Satan. The God of the Christans has the morals of a spoiled child who will turn on you if you do not acced to his every demand. Not very logical but more the discription of someone with a personality disorder. The God of the Evangelical Christians will reward you with a bountiful life here on earth as well as in heaven. I don’t believe that was the promise made in the biblical version but the biblical version doesn’t fit the vast amount of money being poured into Evangelical tills. Plus the Evangelicals realized that people want the good stuff now, not just after they leave this earth. So I can’t even equate the God of the old or new testament to the Evangelical God. Consumption is the God of the Evangelicals and ignorance is there sales tool.

    Lee A Whittaker

    March 5, 2012 at 6:53 am

  2. Who would believe a text that ‘chooses’ one group of humans to be ‘chosen’ and the rest as their useful idiots?
    To rely on this ‘book’ as proof of anything, proves humans are very gullible and easy misled.

    Read Edward Bernay.. crowds are quite stupid. It takes a crowd to believe is such BS. It takes a village to raise an idiot.

    John Galt

    March 5, 2012 at 7:46 am

  3. Its all a fairytale, read the apocryphon of John, it holds about as much weight as the bible for me (all fiction that is lol) according to it, humans and the earth were all made by what most folks call the devil lol. Most of this is junk, but its an interesting twist, http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/apocjn.html

    “And they said to Yaltabaoth, ‘Blow into his face something of your spirit and his body will arise.’ And he blew into his face the spirit which is the power of his mother; he did not know (this), for he exists in ignorance. And the power of the mother went out of Yaltabaoth into the natural body, which they had fashioned after the image of the one who exists from the beginning. The body moved and gained strength, and it was luminous.
    “And in that moment the rest of the powers became jealous, because he had come into being through all of them and they had given their power to the man, and his intelligence was greater than that of those who had made him, and greater than that of the chief archon.”

    Oh man, lol, this stuff is all crazytalk to me but the more I read the more I think the bible might have got its gods and devils mixed up! I mean it fits pretty well with the bible if you look at it like i do, Yaltabaoth(satan) wants our souls because he is the one that gave life to us, he wants his mojo back, hence the flood and all….lol

    Pyrodin

    March 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    • Pyrodin, your interpretation of this early form of Gnostic Christianity is slightly at odds with my own. My understanding is that Yaltabaoth IS Jehovah. During the creation of Earth he trapped his twin Anthropos in the planet, and thus every living creature has a piece of Anthropos (essentially God) within themselves. And yes he is an angry jealous god. Satan (or the serpent) is the redeemer, for it was the serpent who prompted Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge thereby allowing them to percieve the god within themselves. Yaltabaoth in his jealousy forbade them the knowledge of their own divinity, but the serpent opened up their eyes… which in itself is consistent with “Lightbringer” or bringer of truth or (yes you guessed it) gnosis. The archons are the heavenly bodies who attempt to divert man from knowledge (gnosis) of his own divinity through their emanations (i.e. Mars will send emanations that prompt men to wage war, Venus will send emanations that prompt men to focus on lust and glutonny, etc.) Thus they are all in league with Yaltabaoth (who in some traditions is associated with Jupiter, and in others sits just outside as a sort of uber archon) in their attempts to keep mankind mired in earthly concerns/pleasures.

      I for one am totally down with the gnostic interpretation of creation and the bible, it certainly makes about as much sense as the “original” and is far more entertaining! Plus by it’s very nature you cannot have a church or spiritual leader, for it is incumbent on men to look within themselves to release that spark of divinity. (Any wonder they were branded as heretics? Bad for business).

      Andrew

      March 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

      • Oh wow, its really nice to see somebody out there reads the same things I do! I don’t see how we are at odds though, my understanding is also that Yaltabaoth IS Jehovah our supposed creator, but he is not the perfect god of the bible, he fits the profile of the devil very well. I think the bible seems to have mixed things up if you follow the gnostic texts, god of the bible is actually the devil. I belived any of it I’d defintely be a gnostic, but I also think its entertaining to hear alternate versions…on a side note-I can’t help but wonder if the “grand architect” of the masons is also Yaltabaoth.

        Pyrodin

        March 7, 2012 at 10:05 am

  4. Hi. I saw the opening paragraph of your disscussion, but to be honest, after reading, I am disapointed.
    You’re reasoning or “lack of evidence” isnt proof of something to be false.
    Eg: Someone is dead. No signs of reason for death. Does this mean the death didnt happen? Of course not, the lack of evidence results only in a lack of comprehension, not contradiction of the claim.
    You’re claim that the God of the old testiment being nothing special. There are many cases where God proved superior to the false Gods. Chief among which are the battles fought to protect his people. Such as the example of Gideons 300 men. He proved triumphant over the God’s the beaten warriors worshipped.
    You’re last point can be flipped around, and it can said “the evolution and big bang theory is simply convinient for people who want to contradict what the Bible says”. The claim puts your own belief as superior to this belief, and when trying to provide answers, it should never be this way.
    As for the lst statements, if people are gonne change their minds about what the bible says, thats up to them. The bible stays the same, so believers arguing that Genisis cant be taken literally is odd, to say the least.

    Jaymez

    March 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

  5. All you really prove is the God of the bible probably is not real. God as a concept cannot be disproven by some stupid essay. I always find funny how Atheist cant separate the Concept of God with the Bibles definition.

    Jack.

    June 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    • Obviously, you didn’t understand the 3rd,paragraph.

      Thats funny.

      1piece

      February 15, 2013 at 6:54 am

  6. I have enjoyed reading this post and am currently working on an essay of my own using this as a launching platform. I do have to say the biggest oversight in trying to use disprove the existence of God simply by arguing the validity of the bible is ill conceived at best. Just looking at the vast number of different translations the bible has gone through, not to mention that are published today is evidence to the fact that the bible is not perfect. We have to keep in mind that just a couple hundred years after the death of Christ christian beliefs were adopted by Constantine as a means of uniting his country. He placed himself at the head of the church as its earthly leader and managed it as a government more than a religion, thus leading to many of changes in church doctrine and the eventual formation of the of the Catholic church.
    Constantine oversaw much of what was being taught and tailored it for HIS benefit.
    The Bible has been corrupted through the years by man, and yes God would allow it, because he is all powerful and all knowing he would have a plan in mind to overcome the falsies introduced by man. He wouldn’t have to over rule the thoughts or actions of man. After all who ever limited the power of being all knowing to knowing the one way everything has to play out. Truly being all knowing means knowing every possible outcome, and knowing how to guide those who truly believe and desire to fallow him around the pits dug by others, and by knowing when and how to prompt them to act.

    Darrell

    October 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  7. god created every thing, but who created god?

    aleXD123412

    October 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm

  8. Test your faith. Read entire link. You may never believe in God again.

    dug

    May 28, 2013 at 3:42 pm


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