Arguing for God

God3It’s a funny thing, but there aren’t hundreds of sites on the internet arguing for Barrack Obama’s existence. Nor the Eiffel Tower’s. Nor Australia’s. Nor the moon’s, nor the universe’s.

Why not? Because we have an abundance of empirical evidence that all of these things are real. People have experienced them first hand, can observe them and interact directly with them. There is no need to ‘prove’ or argue for their existence.

There are, however, hundreds of sites – plus books and broadcasts – that argue for the existence of God. This is telling. It is, whether those offering such arguments realise it or not, a blatant admission that there is no empirical evidence for him. If there were, there would be no need for argument and ‘proofs’; no need for apologists to resort to persuasion that is ultimately self-refuting to ‘demonstrate’ his existence. No need for apologists. Their problem is, of course, no-one has ever met God nor observed or interacted directly with him. Not in the same way people have met President Obama, seen him on the television, heard him speak or interacted with him in person. No-one has done anything of the kind with God, not even those who claim they have and feel compelled to tell us all about it. Every encounter with the Almighty has taken place in the mind of the individual experiencing it, just as St Paul admitted. God himself has never made an appearance.

So, yes, it’s very telling, this having to argue for God. If there was clear evidence of him there wouldn’t be any need to devise arguments for his existence; he’s not, or shouldn’t be, a philosophical proposition. An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, creative being would, by dint of his immanence (presence in this world), be somewhat obvious and there would be incontrovertible evidence of his existence. Christians and other god-botherers say there is such proof, citing Nature, Goldilocks universes, Holy Books and personal experience. But these are far from incontrovertible, being much better explained by other means, none of which involve God. His very superfluousness demands that, through the application of Occam’s razor, he be discarded; not, as apologists would have it, rebranded as ‘transcendent’, a sleight of hand allowing them to proffer unreality as the ultimate reality.

The desperation to convince others there’s a God with an existence outside the human imagination is, then, more than adequate demonstration that there isn’t. Christians and others who want us to believe their God is real, protest much too much and in so doing, demonstrate precisely the opposite.

Christians’ Favourite Delusions 14: You can’t prove God doesn’t exist

Santa-JehovahThere’s a difference between ‘proving’ something – technically this can only be done in mathematics and, arguably, the law – and ‘demonstrating’ it. Atheists can’t ‘prove’ God doesn’t exist, any more than believers can prove he does. But it is relatively easy to demonstrate how unlikely it is that there’s a God. We can apply the scientific method. Science doesn’t ‘prove’ either – it demonstrates the likelihood of something being the case by looking at the evidence and determining from it whether a phenomenon is probable or improbable.

This is in fact what Christians (and Muslims and Hindus and Jews) do when they decide whether the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and Zeus exist; from the evidence they conclude, quite rightly, that it’s highly improbable.

What believers don’t do, though atheists do, is apply the same test to their own god. They say, ‘well of course these other supernatural beings don’t exist. There’s no evidence for them whatsoever. But as for my God, well, I’m not going to apply the same rigour. I know he exists because, erm, I believe in him, I have faith.’

But faith and belief are not evidence. Warm fuzzy feelings are not evidence of God. Books written by ancient tribesmen and other superstitious people aren’t either. Even the universe itself is not evidence, when its existence can be explained without recourse to him. Similarly the development of life on Earth and human beings themselves; all are better explained by other means, none of which require God.

It is fairly safe to conclude as a result that the reason they don’t require him is because he wasn’t involved. And he wasn’t involved because he doesn’t exist, in just the same way Santa Claus wasn’t involved when you received your Christmas presents this week. This may not be the ‘proof’ Christians and others would like, but it does demonstrate, more than adequately, the improbability of God’s existence.