Sunday, October 14, 2007

god is impossible

This summation is taken from Harry Nads' blog Does the Christian God Exist? In his comments section for his first post he has a marvelous summation of the case AGAINST god. It appears to be a paraphrase from Positive Atheism, a site I will be checking out more thoroughly, from an article entitled Why the Christian God is Impossible by Chad Docterman.

I would love to hear any and all thoughts on this as I found it quite fascinating.


What did God do during that eternity before he created everything? If God was all that existed back then, what disturbed the eternal equilibrium and compelled him to create? Was he bored? Was he lonely? God is supposed to be perfect. If something is perfect, it is complete--it needs nothing else. We humans engage in activities because we are pursuing that elusive perfection, because there is disequilibrium caused by a difference between what we are and what we want to be. If God is perfect, there can be no disequilibrium. There is nothing he needs, nothing he desires, and nothing he must or will do. A God who is perfect does nothing except exist. A perfect creator God is impossible.

But, for the sake of argument, let's continue. Let us suppose that this perfect God did create the universe. Humans were the crown of his creation, since they were created in God's image and have the ability to make decisions. However, these humans spoiled the original perfection by choosing to disobey God.

What!? If something is perfect, nothing imperfect can come from it. Someone once said that bad fruit cannot come from a good tree, and yet this "perfect" God created a "perfect" universe which was rendered imperfect by the "perfect" humans. The ultimate source of imperfection is God. What is perfect cannot become imperfect, so humans must have been created imperfect. What is perfect cannot create anything imperfect, so God must be imperfect to have created these imperfect humans. A perfect God who creates imperfect humans is impossible.

The Christians' objection to this argument involves freewill. They say that a being must have freewill to be happy. The omnibenevolent God did not wish to create robots, so he gave humans freewill to enable them to experience love and happiness. But the humans used this freewill to choose evil, and introduced imperfection into God's originally perfect universe. God had no control over this decision, so the blame for our imperfect universe is on the humans, not God.

Here is why the argument is weak. First, if God is omnipotent, then the assumption that freewill is necessary for happiness is false. If God could make it a rule that only beings with freewill may experience happiness, then he could just as easily have made it a rule that only robots may experience happiness. The latter option is clearly superior, since perfect robots will never make decisions which could render them or their creator unhappy, whereas beings with freewill could. A perfect and omnipotent God who creates beings capable of ruining their own happiness is impossible.

Second, even if we were to allow the necessity of freewill for happiness, God could have created humans with freewill who did not have the ability to choose evil, but to choose between several good options.

Third, God supposedly has freewill, and yet he does not make imperfect decisions. If humans are miniature images of God, our decisions should likewise be perfect. Also, the occupants of heaven, who presumably must have freewill to be happy, will never use that freewill to make imperfect decisions. Why would the originally perfect humans do differently?

The point remains: the presence of imperfections in the universe disproves the supposed perfection of its creator.

God is omniscient. When he created the universe, he saw the sufferings which humans would endure as a result of the sin of those original humans. He heard the screams of the damned. Surely he would have known that it would have been better for those humans to never have been born (in fact, the Bible says this very thing), and surely this all-compassionate deity would have foregone the creation of a universe destined to imperfection in which many of the humans were doomed to eternal suffering. A perfectly compassionate being who creates beings which he knows are doomed to suffer is impossible.

God is perfectly just, and yet he sentences the imperfect humans he created to infinite suffering in hell for finite sins. Clearly, a limited offense does not warrant unlimited punishment. God's sentencing of the imperfect humans to an eternity in hell for a mere mortal lifetime of sin is infinitely more unjust than this punishment. The absurd injustice of this infinite punishment is even greater when we consider that the ultimate source of human imperfection is the God who created them. A perfectly just God who sentences his imperfect creation to infinite punishment for finite sins is impossible.

Consider all of the people who live in the remote regions of the world who have never even heard the "gospel" of Jesus Christ. Consider the people who have naturally adhered to the religion of their parents and nation as they had been taught to do since birth. If we are to believe the Christians, all of these people will perish in the eternal fire for not believing in Jesus. It does not matter how just, kind, and generous they have been with their fellow humans during their lifetime: if they do not accept the gospel of Jesus, they are condemned. No just God would ever judge a man by his beliefs rather than his actions.

The Bible is supposedly God's perfect Word. It contains instructions to humankind for avoiding the eternal fires of hell. How wonderful and kind of this God to provide us with this means of overcoming the problems for which he is ultimately responsible! The all-powerful God could have, by a mere act of will, eliminated all of the problems we humans must endure, but instead, in his infinite wisdom, he has opted to offer this indecipherable amalgam of books which is the Bible as a means for avoiding the hell which he has prepared for us. The perfect God has decided to reveal his wishes in this imperfect work, written in the imperfect language of imperfect man, translated, copied, interpreted, voted on, and related by imperfect man.

No two men will ever agree what this perfect word of God is supposed to mean, since much of it is either self- contradictory, or obscured by enigmatic symbols. And yet the perfect God expects us imperfect humans to understand this paradoxical riddle using the imperfect minds with which he has equipped us. Surely the all-wise and all-powerful God would have known that it would have been better to reveal his perfect will directly to each of us, rather than to allow it to be debased and perverted by the imperfect language and botched interpretations of man.

One need look to no source other than the Bible to discover its imperfections, for it contradicts itself and thus exposes its own imperfection. It contradicts itself on matters of justice, for the same just God who assures his people that sons shall not be punished for the sins of their fathers turns around and destroys an entire household for the sin of one man (he had stolen some of Yahweh's war loot). It was this same Yahweh who afflicted thousands of his innocent people with plague and death to punish their evil king David for taking a census (?!). It was this same Yahweh who allowed the humans to slaughter his son because the perfect Yahweh had botched his own creation. Consider how many have been stoned, burned, slaughtered, raped, and enslaved because of Yahweh's skewed sense of justice. The blood of innocent babies is on the perfect, just, compassionate hands of Yahweh.

The Bible contradicts itself on matters of history. A person who reads and compares the contents of the Bible will be confused about exactly who Esau's wives were, whether Timnah was a concubine or a son, and whether Jesus' earthly lineage is through Solomon or his brother Nathan. These are but a few of hundreds of documented historical contradictions. If the Bible cannot confirm itself in mundane earthly matters, how are we to trust it on moral and spiritual matters?

The Bible misinterprets its own prophecies. Read Isaiah 7 and compare it to Matthew 1 to find but one of many misinterpreted prophecies of which Christians are either passively or willfully ignorant. The fulfillment of prophecy in the Bible is cited as proof of its divine inspiration, and yet here is but one major example of a prophecy whose intended meaning has been and continues to be twisted to support subsequent absurd and false doctrines. There are no ends to which the credulous will not go to support their feeble beliefs in the face of compelling evidence against them.

The Bible is imperfect. It only takes one imperfection to destroy the supposed perfection of this alleged Word of God. Many have been found. A perfect God who reveals his perfect will in an imperfect book is impossible.

A God who knows the future is powerless to change it. An omniscient God who is all-powerful and freewilled is impossible.

A God who knows everything cannot have emotions. The Bible says that God experiences all of the emotions of humans, including anger, sadness, and happiness. We humans experience emotions as a result of new knowledge. A man who had formerly been ignorant of his wife's infidelity will experience the emotions of anger and sadness only after he has learned what had previously been hidden. In contrast, the omniscient God is ignorant of nothing. Nothing is hidden from him, nothing new may be revealed to him, so there is no gained knowledge to which he may emotively react.

We humans experience anger and frustration when something is wrong which we cannot fix. The perfect, omnipotent God, however, can fix anything. Humans experience longing for things we lack. The perfect God lacks nothing. An omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect God who experiences emotion is impossible.

~Chad Docterman via Harry Nads


Poodles said...

The sad part is the delusional will just state that he doesn't "know" god. If he just "knew" him all of it would make sense...

Richard said...

Poodles :-) said,
"the delusional will just state that he doesn't "know" god."

Then there are the seriously delusional who think they DO know God. Not to name names, but one of those is known by many as "Dubya"

Go here for The Word according to Dubya: 50 religious insights from George Bush
"1. I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."


Pink said...

Here is a wonderful analogy from a dearly-departed blogger, Acidman.


Poodles said...

Thanks for that Richard. It was both humorous and horrifying all at once.

Richard said...

Doctorman asks... what would prompt a God in a Universe-of-Nothing to decide he was bored? ...ROTFLOL; priceless. How much of eternity did he waste while wondering about being bored?

A conscious mind by definition of the word conscious" needs something of which it can be conscious! Yahweh would have had NOTHING to be aware of, so 'stuff' could his conscious 'mind' work with to function? And, don't give me the argument that he was conscious of himself... that is only possible when a mind grasps that its consciousness is something apart from its surroundings.

God had no surroundings, before he made the Universe! Having no surroundings to begin with, he could not have made that distinction. But that should not bother true believers. They have no trouble accepting that some eternal Dude (in our image), floating in nothing and for which they have no evidence, made and controls everything there is.

What subliminally bothers true believers is that they don't trust --no rewrite that-- they fear the dangers of the reality which surrounds them. They need a better reason to live than their own frightened little selves. Feminists think the "Dude looks like lady".

It's Reality (the Universe) that is eternal. The only thing eternal about 'God' is the stupidity of the concept...

Why would He only reveal himself to a little bunch of illiterate nomadic Jews herding sheep, 2,000+ years ago?

Why would He spend the rest of that 2,000 years leaving it up to a few babbling prophets and teenage-girl-saints to spend their lives telling billions of his people of his power? Hasn't he heard of loudspeakers?

Why is he so insecure that He needs us puny humans on his side, and needs his believers to burn non-believers at the stake?

Why do his believers have to be fricken cannibals to prove their faith? They have to believe the act of swallowing makes an itty bit of wafer and a dribble of wine turn into Jesus's meat and blood, else they are unbelievers? I guess if you can 'swallow' that you'll swallow anything.

If he made lions and lambs, why is the ideal World one in which the lions lie quietly with the lambs, in complete harmony? Man those lions are going to get hungry! Didn't God make lions so they eat meat????

As a dedicated member of PETA, People Eating Tasty Animals, I find lamb quite awesome when cooked up right. I also eat plants, butchering fresh heads of lettuce and spinach and eating them alive!

Poodles said...

Richard said:
"Why do his believers have to be fricken cannibals to prove their faith? They have to believe the act of swallowing makes an itty bit of wafer and a dribble of wine turn into Jesus's meat and blood, else they are unbelievers? I guess if you can 'swallow' that you'll swallow anything."

So basically we should spit and not swallow... :D

Sean ought to enjoy that one!

Tattooed & Atheist (T&A) said...

Superb argument! Some of these were the questions that arose in my mind when I began to question faith.
Simply put, omnipotent beings should have no need for worship. Perfection deems it unnecessary.

Protium said...

Mmmmm Lamb...

Great post Fiery...

Where's the resident goose Reg?

Harry Nads said...

I haven't seen Reg at my blog since the first couple of comments in my first post. Maybe we scared him away. :)

Poodles said...

I doubt Reg is gone, kinda like a fly at a picnic.

Richard said...

Poodles you're a panic! I couldn't hold my coffee cup straight and nearly sloshed it into my keyboard..

(You are touching on an extraodinarily contextual matter, which is interesting in itself.)

Richard said...

MAYBE a better name for fundies is swallowers.

Fiery said...

Maybe reg is sad that no one responded to his "I dress up as Aragorn" comment on the boogers, seeds, and possibilities post. Maybe he was hoping we'd want pictures.


Or maybe he's harranging some other atheist's blog. I wonder if I should be jealous. ;-)

I wonder what persona he posts on fundy blogs with? Because reg golb only shows up on atheist blogs. Wouldn't it be a riot to know his altar ego? HA! ALTAR EGO!!!!

Richard- what form of humor is that? Altar vs. alter ego?

Oh man, that one is going to have me smiling for a bit.

And as for swallowing... only if it tastes good. jeebus doesn't taste good.

Richard said...

It's a pun or play on words:

"the humorous use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or suggest its different meanings or applications, or the use of words that are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning; a play on words."

Some say the pun is the lowest form of humor, but when there is a double entendre in the pun, it generates an unexpected focus on a different aspect of reality, or unreality that does not fit with the usual manner in which ideas are connected.

Robin Williams' mind seems to make the most bizarre interconnections between the ideas he holds. Then he call upon them with stunning speed, much as you or I would recite our phone number.

Richard said...

[That was "he calls" upon them.]

I quite like spontaneous puns.

Poodles said...

Thanks Richard, you give me too much credit, I just have a dirty mind. I have totally avoided commenting on the whole "religious taint" post... *big grin*

Fiery said...

:-( *pouts* I named that post specially for you, Poodles!
Comment away! ;-)

Joe said...

When I was 6 years old riding my bicycle I wondered what the big deal was with this "god" person. I easily dismissed the whole idea at 6 and at 46 haven't found a reason to change my decision.
Its such a simple delusion to attack, but yet the sheeple continue to follow. I'll never understand.

Tommy said...

If I may chime in on this one, I've been reading and doing a running commentary on my blog a new book by Rodney Stark called "Discovering God".

He proposes something called "divine accomodation", which in a nutshell means "God reveals himself to us over time in proportion to our capacity to understand."

As an example, Stark says the the Genesis creation story is not literally true, but that it was revealed that way to the person to whom the story was revealed because at the time humanity did not have the capacity to understand everything that was involved in creating the universe.

To put it succinctly, divine accomodation is the equivalent of baby talk. The example I used in Part 1 is that we don't teach 5 year olds algebra and advanced calculus. First they have to understand numbers, how to add, subtract, multiply, divide and so forth.

My response to that is that a god powerful and intelligent enough to create our universe should be able to create humans who really would have 900 year life spans and have the capacity to understand and achieve 21st century technology in a single generation.

Furthermore, divine accomodation can also be considered to be putting a spin on scripture after the fact. It becomes an all too convenient explanation to gloss over shortcomings.

One thing that does need to be corrected, in response to some of Richar's remarks, is the belief that 2,000 or 3,000 years ago the Israelites were all a bunch of illiterate goat herders. The upper classes of Israelite society would have been literate and educated. Especially during the Babylonian Captivity, many of the elite of Israelite society would have been exposed to the religion and culture of Mesopotomia and Persia.

It's clear that Zoroastrianism had a strong influence on the evolution of Judaism and its Christian offshoot.

I agree with Tattoed. A being intelligent and powerful enough to create the universe should not require worship. I mean really, god created man so that man could worship him?

And I always find it odd that many evangelical religious types tend to be very anti-government in their rhetoric, complaining that government intrudes on their freedoms, but then their model for a god is a being that requires slavish worship and devotion.

I should think that a Deist god would be preffered by anti-government types, as a Deist god does not bother people and leaves them alone to live their lives as they see fit.

Richard said...

Nice post Tommy,

Thanks for expanding on the illiterate shepherds thing:
"One thing that does need to be corrected, in response to some of Richard's remarks, is the belief that 2,000 or 3,000 years ago the Israelites were all a bunch of illiterate goat herders. The upper classes of Israelite society would have been literate and educated."

Biblically speaking, aren't the upper class Israelites rather irrelevant, and probably pretty small in number? I was talking about the Israelites to whom God revealed himself. The individual with the highest social level I can remember, from my Sunday School days, was a Roman Centurion.

Do we really care? ;-)

Harry Nads said...

Garrett has a Christian's response to this and I posted it on my blog here

Richard said...

This is the corrected link to the Christian response.

Harry Nads said...

Thanks, Richard! I was in a hurry and didn't check double-check the link.