As God-botherers everywhere are fond of telling us, we can’t prove that God doesn’t exist. Of course, no negative can ever be proven. My own conviction that there isn’t a God does not rely on ‘proof’, but on the probability that he doesn’t. Perhaps this is the same as Christians’ own dismissal of Zeus and Krishna as real beings; if they think about such things, that is. So what is the probability that God does not exist? My next couple of posts will look at my reasons for concluding that the likelihood of the Christian God existing is ridiculously low. Some of these reasons have developed from my reading of the last thirty odd years, others from my own thinking about the subject. Both are now so intertwined I don’t know exactly which is which. You’ll have encountered some of what I’ve got to say in other posts on this blog but it seems worthwhile put all my arguments in one place.
So, reason one: God explains nothing. He isn’t required to explain the Big Bang, evolution, human psychology, germ theory, viral pandemics or anything else that science explains with far greater proficiency and conviction. At best, the god concept has atrophied into a god-of-the-gaps desperation. Science doesn’t know how life began, goes the ‘reasoning’, therefore it can only have been God. This explains nothing, merely adding an unnecessary element into the equation; Occam’s Razor demands we remove any such elements from our arguments and attributing life to an unknown supernatural agent is just such a redundancy. I’m confident that science will one day answer the question of how life started, but even if it that were never to happen, the answer would not be, as if by magical default, God.
Two: the more characteristics we attribute to God, the less likely it is that he exists. Let’s say, by way of analogy, that I’ve put myself on a dating app to look for a new partner. To start with I specify that all this partner needs is a good sense of humour. Then I wonder if this is enough. Wouldn’t they also have to be within my preferred age group? Of course. I’ve already narrowed my chances of finding my ideal person. So I think I may as well go for it: I want some who’s good looking too, with a place of their own, within travelling distance of where I live and with interests similar to my own, including a passion for the ukulele. The likelihood of my finding this person is pretty remote. The probability they actually exist, with all the attributes I want, is equally unlikely.
So it is with God. If he were only the creator of the universe he would be unlikely enough (because of reason 1 above) but that’s not all that is required of him. He has to be also a God that is interested in his creation, and not only interested but intimately involved with certain aspects of it, humans particularly. He is now beginning to recede from the possible into the margins of the improbable. But then it’s claimed that in addition to being the creator of everything and a micromanager to boot, he’s also ephemeral and unknowable. He’s simultaneously loving and a severe judge. He’s both omniscient and omnipotent (this last doesn’t follow from his being the creator; it’s a separate attribute). He’s a god of reason and yet only satisfied by blood sacrifice. And on and on, well beyond the bounds of probability and into the realms of the impossible, like my hypothetical ideal mate. God as envisaged by Christians (and others) is an impossibility.
To be continued.
I am curious (and this is an honest question) – who have been some of the most influential people you’ve read?
Bart Ehrman is probably the biggest influence, also Dawkins (his books on evolution more than his forays into religion), Sam Harris, Chris Hitchens, Barrie Wilson and many former Christians turned atheist. I used to read C. S. Lewis avidly but as attractive as he made Christianity sound he was doing nothing more than giving it a gloss it didn’t deserve.
One of the most influential individuals I met in life was a Christian leader who said that all that matters is the truth, and it should be pursued wherever it leads. He was right.
For my blogs I try to look at what the Bible says rather than what it’s made to say. I can’t see how believers fail to notice the gaping inconsistencies between what they are told and what the bible actually propounds. The brand has taken over and like all brands exists only to sustain itself. The real message of the bible – chiefly that Jesus thought he was ushering in God’s Kingdom on Earth – is conveniently ignored, side-lined or explained away.
Thank you. That was a better answer than I was hoping for. Do you have your story posted on your blog? I’d be very interested in reading it.
Actually, I think that God explains everything, the universe, the complexity and design we see in the universe, not to speak of in this planet and in ourselves. Even evolution has no explanation apart from a mind that created the conditions that evolution requires.
The same is true of your second objection. If God is personal and real he would be just as well rounded as any person. Your idea that God must be one dimensional doesn’t make sense.