Where’s your god now? A logic-based journey to atheism
Most atheists you will encounter will assert their atheism on the basis that after hearing unfalsifiable assertions about God and religion and the sola fide approach believers take in their faith, the truth value of the existence of this so-called god came increasingly into question. That is to say, atheists became atheists after seeing a lack of falsifiable evidence for any particular religious system. But it’s a bit troubling to take this sort of leap of faith (or perhaps non-faith), isn’t it? After all, the lack of falsifiability of a given religious faith conversely creates a scenario in which a case for atheism can’t solidly be made.
Or can it?
I came across a fantastic video that explores some of these subjects in great detail (and I admit I’m pretty much ripping the ideas of this video off and TheraminTrees does a better job of it than I do) and my troubles were largely eased by presenting some pieces of logic that give atheism a lot more credibility and can indubitablly cause a person of faith to reevaluate their decisions.
When you think of a god, you are probably associating some omnis with that being. Omnisience, omnipotence, perhaps also omnibenevolence (unless you’re the Westboro Baptist Church). However, these concepts are nothing more than abstract and cannot possibly exist as properties of an entity. Let’s take omnipotence, for starters. Stoners the world over have surely pondered whether an omnipotent god could microwave a burrito so hot that even he couldn’t touch it. And pondering a situation like this immediately strikes a sizable hole in one’s perception of God. If we alter the meaning of omnipotence to mean “able to do anything that doesn’t interfere with its other properties” in an effort to shut up those smart asses who ask those strange questions, then I’m omnipotent because I can do anything that doesn’t interfere with my other properties. Creating a recursive definition of “able to do anything that doesn’t interfere with a being’s omnipotence” becomes meaningless because there doesn’t exist a base case and we end up with infinite recursion. So we are left with a god that, at pest, isn’t omnipotent, because it’s not possible to be omnipotent.
Exploring the concept of omniscience, we are similarly left with conflicts, especially when you take biblical stories into account. If a god is to be all-knowing, then the consequences of any actions the god takes are necessarily known beforehand. Thus, it is grossly unjust and illogical for a god to have made the design decisions that he did when creating the universe, especially if he was to also create conditions as to how his creations should behave. If we had an omniscient god, it wouldn’t have been necessary for him to make a bet with Satan in the book of Job about how he’d behave when God screwed him over; he would have known. God should have likewise known when creating the universe that it would lead to his dissatisfaction with creatures that would piss him off and cause him to willfully flood the earth (related note: how did Noah build an ark that could house animals living in all of the different biomes? Climate control back then seemed nonexistent. Oh, and did we lose a lot of species on the ark from carnivorous creatures?). We are left with either a god that is definitely not omnicient, or he is criminally insane and a danger to all of humankind. And these punishments certainly put a strike in God’s omnibenevolence.
And is God immortal? If so, is he capable of killing himself? If so, he’s not immortal. If not, we’ve got another strike against omnipotence.
This brings me to the virtue of faith. God would presumably know what it takes to communicate with the humans he is responsible for creating. Humans who believe in him seek a relationship with him, and God would presumably likewise want this relationship. Yet, God refuses to communicate with some humans in ways that make them sure and fully aware that God is communicating with them. Some may argue that if God were to show himself and it was perfectly obvious that he exists, then that would interfere with our own free will and we’d be unable to sin because it just wouldn’t make sense. Yet Cain directly communicated with Jahweh and sinned nonetheless, so that argument holds less water. But ultimately here, in what way would God benefit from his subjects communicating with him in what is really a monologue because God is either unwilling or unable to make himself unambiguously known to humankind? It just doesn’t make sense.
Most devout believers will fire right back at me after my last sentence, proclaiming that God doesn’t have to operate within the confines of logic because that is a system he created himself and we are unable to comprehend it, because we’re imperfect (which also debunks the notion that God is perfect; how can imperfection stem from perfection?). If your mind lets itself wander there, we are left with gods that cannot exist. Even if you are convinced that a god or gods exist(s), you can surely see here that it is necessarily true that this(ese) god(s) is/are not perfect, are not necessarily immortal, are not omnipotent, are certainly not omnibenevolent, and are not omniscient. And when these properties of your god(s) are dissolved, what rationale remains for you to worship him? Fear of punishment? Perhaps a Stockholm Syndrome of sorts?
I choose here to look at reality and reach the conclusion that there probably are no gods. Because any would-be gods are no longer communicating in direct ways with people, I have received no retribution and have not been smited in any disproportionately large way. I make moral decisions for myself, and my moral compass is in constant calibration, but I feel liberated in that I don’t feel I must be obeying a pre-made set of rules. If misfortune falls upon me, I see it as the result of a complex series of interactions between everything that makes up the earth including my own actions and decisions, not as part of some other being’s plan for me. When good fortune falls upon me, I credit my own hard work as is due and being lucky. I work to be a good person to others and I seek to understand the world’s issues and how best to solve them. It works for me. It’d probably work for others too.