Posts Tagged ‘creator’

My favourite philosophical disproofs of God’s existence

11/09/2013

SquareCircleMany atheist philosophers have taken an “armchair approach” to disproving God’s existence by arguing that his traditional core attributes are self contradictory: they are like a square circle.

Omnipotence –v- omniscience

One of the key disproofs is the apparent contradiction between God being omnipotent and omniscient.  If God is omniscient (everywhere in space and time) then he knows the future down to the last micro-detail.  But if he is omnipotent (all powerful) as well, then he can interfere with events in space and time in the form of miracles, which make his initial choices fallacious.  Mathematician John Allen Paulo’s gem of a book, Irreligion, summarises the contradiction very well:

If one assumes that God is both omnipotent and omniscient, an obvious contradiction arises.  Being omniscient, God knows how everything will happen; He can predict the future trajectory of every snow flake, the spouting of every blade of grass, and the deeds of every human being, as well as all of His own actions.  But being omnipotent, He can act in any way and do any thing He wants, including behaving in ways different from those he predicted, making his expectations uncertain and fallible.  He thus cannot be both omnipotent and omniscient.

As does Karen Owens’ limerick:

Can the omniscient God, who
Knows the future, find
The omnipotence to
Change His future mind?

Perfect being –v- Creator of the Universe

However, my all time favourite disproof was aired by physicist Victor Stenger at the start of his first debate against Christian apologist William Lane Craig at the University of Hawaii in 2003:

Perfect –v- Creator

If God is perfect, then he has no needs or wants.  This is incompatible with the notion that God created the Universe for some divine purpose.  Divine purpose implies that God wants something he doesn’t already have, which makes him imperfect.

In his rebuttal, Craig moaned that Stenger had not stated the philosophical premises for this argument, however, atheist philosopher Theodore M Drange states them rather well:

  1. If God exists, then he is perfect.
  2. If God exists, then he is the creator of the Universe.
  3. A perfect being can have no needs or wants.
  4. If any being created the universe, then he must have had some need or want.
  5. Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe (from 3 and 4).
  6. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5)

To borrow Douglas Adams’ words in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (albeit in relation to the amazing properties of the Babel Fish, but no less relevant to the matters presently at hand), “‘Oh dear,’ says God, ‘I hadn’t thought of that,’ and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.”

During his rebuttal in the Stenger debate and in this article on his website, Craig has argued that God did not created the Universe to satisfy any needs or wants of his own, but to benefit the objects of his creations so that they can enjoy a personal relationship with him.

To which Sam Harris has replied (sarcastically), “Lucky us…”

All Things Dull and Ugly

20/09/2009

 

dawkins-greatest-show

manicstreetpreacher wonders why theists don’t praise their creator for everything

I am halfway through Richard Dawkins’ latest book, The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.  I won’t lie; biologists all over the world think that it’s “Darwin for Dummies”, but for a non-scientist it is quite a struggle!  There are, however, some great images and lively analogies and many things have stuck in my mind.

One of these is the lyrics to Monty Python’s version of All Things Bright and Beautiful by Mrs C F Alexander (1848).  I was forced to sing the original version at my primary schools and remember thinking why Almighty God is not praised for the darker side to his creation even then.  Reading Python’s reworking in Dawkins’ book left me with a sense of overdue satisfaction.

I present the lyrics and a YouTube video of both versions:

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Mrs C F Alexander

Refrain

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

Refrain

[Most hymnals omit the following verse]

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

Refrain

The purple headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.

Refrain

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

Refrain

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.

Refrain

 

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

All Things Dull and Ugly by Monty Python

All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat.
All things rude and nasty,
The Lord God made the lot.

Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings.
He made their brutish venom,
He made their horrid wings.

All things sick and cancerous
All evil great and small.
All things foul and dangerous,
The Lord God made them all.

Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid,
Who made the spiny urchin?
Who made the sharks? He did!!

All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox both great and small.
Putrid foul and gangrenous,
The Lord God made them all.

Amen

 

Amen indeed!