Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Six new disproofs of God?

Unlike Luke of Commonsense Atheism, I find philosophy of religion woefully uninteresting*. Indeed studying philosophy the scholastics was easily the most boring period of philosophy ever. Nonetheless I have come across a new book by a member of the NSS, Geoffrey Berg,  called "The Six Ways of Atheism" containing six new logical disproofs of God. These disproofs are listed in his above linked site. The book develops the arguments in detail, I presume (I have not read it...yet).

I am not sure all six arguments are that original, argument #2 - comprehending god ; argument #3 - god has no explanatory value; and argument #4 - not the best of all possible worlds -  have certainly been said in many ways before, whether developed as a pure logical argument, I don't know, but then,as I said, I am no longer interested in philosophy of religion. Then again one does not need to be familiar with this  to know the problems with god, any schoolboy can come up with the main arguments against god, being entirely unfamiliar with the academic or theological literature. I am not the first and certainly not the last to have worked this out by around the age of 11 and really out of the huge volumes I have read in the past on this, very little, however well thought and and refined, has really added anything of substance to the arguments that were obvious to me at that age.

Still the other three arguments are relatively new. Argument #1, argument #5, argument #6 are worth some consideration.

Argument #1: The Aggregate of Qualities Argument
1. If God exists, God must necessarily possess all of several remarkable qualities (including supreme goodness, omnipotence, immortality, omniscience, ultimate creator, purpose giver).
2. Every one of these qualities may not exist in any one entity and if any such quality does exist it exists in few entities or in some cases (e.g. omnipotence, ultimate creator) in at most one entity.
3. Therefore it is highly unlikely any entity would possess even one of these qualities.
4. There is an infinitesimal chance that any one entity (given the almost infinite number of entities in the Universe) might possess the combination of even some two of these qualities, let alone all of them.
5. In statistical analysis a merely hypothetical infinitesimal chance can in effect be treated as the no chance to which it approximates so very closely.
6. Therefore as there is statistically such an infinitesimal chance of any entity possessing, as God would have to do, all God’s essential qualities in combination it can be said for all practical and statistical purposes that God just does not exist.
This is an implausibility argument, still if god created the universe, I am not sure how this is really meant to apply since it assumes that god is an entity within the universe so how can it have the quality of "ultimate creator"?

Argument #5: The Universal Uncertainty Argument
1. An uncertain God is a contradiction in terms.
2. Everything in the Universe must be fundamentally uncertain about its own relationship to the Universe as a whole because there is no way of attaining such certainty.
3. Therefore even an entity with all God’s other qualities cannot have the final quality of certain knowledge concerning its own relationship to the Universe as a whole.
4. Therefore God cannot exist because even any potential God cannot know for sure that it is God.

I do like this, but I have long used the old Buddhist argument that god is deluded - and how would anyone know otherwise? Add that Hum;es point which is more plausible, a deluded being claiming it was god, or that it was god? Again I have long used criticism's of Laplace's demon to come up with something similar to here. However the conciseness of it is impressive, especially when stated as a logical paradox "God cannot exist because God cannot know for sure that it is God". This is stronger than the Buddhist argument as it better indicates the self-delusion of such a being and goes further in implying that it is not logically possibly for such a being not to be deluded!
Argument 6: The ‘Some Of God’s Defining Qualities Cannot Exist’ Argument

1. God must have certain characteristic qualities (such as providing purpose to life), otherwise he would not be God.
2. But it is impossible for any entity to possess some of these qualities (such as providing purpose to life since we can find no real purpose and therefore we in practice have no ultimate purpose to our lives) that are essential to God.
3. Therefore since some of God’s essential qualities (such as being the purpose provider to life) cannot possibly exist in any entity, God cannot exist.
This is a point I made recently in my discussion on Euthyphro and, I am sure, was not the first, even Socrates implied this although did not develop it fully. An inherent property such as "goodness" is not the type of thing that could be in God's (or anyone's) nature. Berg has made this a general point. Interesting.

I will need to get the book to really check out how logically tight his arguments are and maybe they are original in being logical arguments rather than just points we have all used in reasoning against god conceptions. The response of a religious reviewer is amusing:
"the question remains: does the cumulative force of Berg’s arguments genuinely represent the decisive proof against God’s existence that he claims?

The answer is, in my view at least, yes; and I also think it matters not one whit. Quite simply because Berg, like Dawkins before him and in common with so many aggressive atheists, has fallen into the trap of regarding God as an entity within the universe. As he rightly insists, such an entity cannot and does not exist, has never existed beyond the human imagination.”
He agrees that the six arguments are logically watertight but then says this do not apply to god. However any generalised ground of being type of god is far closer to "eastern" religious (often specifically non-theistic) conceptions and creates a huge gap between such a conception and the Christian God, with all that immaculate conception, son of himself, killed and resurrected fairy tales. I think it is is illegitimate for  a Christian to switch from the personal, embodied, miraculous and resurrected God bullshit and the vague ground of being notions. It really is ridiculous and absurd to believe in them both together. I don't know how any Christian honestly does it, but then I never was one so who am I to say.

h/t Barry Duke

* Still I do thoroughly appreciate what Luke is doing on his blog and read his posts as a summary of the issues.  Highly recommend.


Luke said...

I suspect my enthusiasm for philosophy of religion will only wane with time. :)

Certainly, there are times where I feel like I'm studying the philosophy of werewolves, and arguing endlessly about the non-existence of werewolves.

faithlessgod said...

In the meantime you are providing a great service for the rest of us! Keep it up!