So I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Some basics first. I think we all know, or should know, atheism is the rejection of theistic claims, ie:
Claim: Some deity exists.
Response: I don’t believe you. (rejection of claim)
This is very different from:
Claim: Some deity exists.
Response: No it doesn’t. (affirmative claim)
Of course, many theists want to think atheism is the second scenario, which means they can say, “see, you can’t PROVE no deity exists, I win”. Or, “see, you can’t PROVE no deity exists, atheism takes faith too”. Atheism really is, of course, the first scenario. The burden of proof is entirely on theists, which they hate. Really, its not that difficult. Its in the name: atheism. A-theism. Not theism. Of course, they usually circle back around anyway and try to get back to scenario #2 so they can act like you have some burden of proof.
I think this is very, very important in almost all contexts. I usually just keep asking, “well why?” “Why do you think that?” “What’s the evidence for that?” “Where did you get that from?” “Why why why why why??” Often leading up to, “WTF is wrong with you?” But every once in a while the point gets through and they get that they have to go dig in and figure out why they believe. It never works in the end, they get some bullshit answers from a pastor or Lee Strobel or whoever, and they get to act like they really questioned and came away with good answers. Of course, this can still plant seeds, which is ultimately what often leads people to atheism. But people usually need to come to it on their own. Arguments almost never work.
But this brings us to where I came in: disproving god. Even though we should almost always stick with the rejection of theistic claims instead of making affirmative claims of our own, disproving god can be fun. I’m not a philosopher or logician, but I play one on TV. Okay I don’t play one on TV. I’m just some guy with some random musings.
When discussing or debating, its important to define what you’re talking about. Since I think most of us generally engage with Christians, I’ll switch to a capital “G” god: God. What lazy naming, they couldn’t even come up with a cool name like Zeus or Apollo or whatever. “Hey Ford, what’s your new car’s name?” “Car.” Awesome. Okay, so we know what we’re talking about, let’s get to work on that.
First off, God’s attributes. He is:
Omnipotent (All powerful, he can do anything)
Omniscient (All knowing: he knows everything that ever was, is, or is to be),
Omnipresent (He’s everywhere, man)
Omnibenevolent (Perfectly good, perfectly holy)
That’s enough for what I’m talking about here. So those of us who used to believe, I’m sure have all heard the old question, “can God make a rock so big he can’t move it?” If God can indeed make a rock so big He can’t move it, then there is something He cannot do: move the rock. If He cannot, then there is something He cannot do. This is a question that was always kind of a funny little thing that we threw out there and had a chuckle and moved on. Like so many things, we didn’t think about it too much. Or if we did, the conclusion was something along the lines of, “well we just aren’t meant to understand God.”
I’ve recently come to see this question quite differently. I realized that the inability to reconcile this question actually means something very, very important: The very concept of omnipotence is self-refuting. It is a logical impossibility.
What about omnibenevolence? Of course God is all good right? Well, not so fast. Aside from the obvious stuff in the Bible that we know is immoral (slavery, genocide, rape, killing gays, etc) that they try to explain away (“well it was a different time” or “slavery then was different”), there’s a better argument. The universe disproves God. I came across this argument a couple weeks or so ago here, and its what really got me thinking about all this. It basically goes as follows:
God is all good. Before He created the universe, He was all that existed. All that existed was goodness and perfection. There was 0% evil. A perfect entity would not need anything else to exist because a perfect entity would lack nothing. If said entity lacked anything, it would not be perfect. To create anything other than a copy of itself would degrade the state of affairs. At some point, God intentionally acted to create the universe. The universe contains some evil. So at some point, God intentionally acted to create the universe, and while doing so increased the amount of evil in existence from 0% before creation, to whatever it is now, which is something higher than 0%. Intentionally acting to bring about suffering or evil is in direct conflict with omnibenevolence. Since the universe exists, God cannot be omnibenevolent.
Then there’s omniscience. But what if there was something that God didn’t know that He didn’t know? Mind blown man. Blown.
So where did God come from? Oh He always existed? But I thought everything had to have a creator. Oh but not God. Oh we aren’t meant to understand God. Or wait… I have a better idea. Why don’t we just skip the God part and just say the universe always existed? Well, the singularity that made the universe always existed. Er, well… okay we don’t understand that yet. We may actually never understand, because it was BEFORE THE UNIVERSE. But we’re still working on it. How are we coming on the God hypothesis?
Omnipresence? I got nothin. I’ll give ya that one.