To prove, or rather disprove, the existence of mythological beings is a fairly hopeless undertaking. To produce hard evidence for fictious beings, as we all know, is impossible. This, however, hasn't discouraged believers to have a go at it up through the centuries. Since God hasn't found it interesting to show himself for his flock since antiquity, the believers have had to settle for more theoretical "evidence" in the case. Usually the "evidence" has been theological mumbo jumbo, wordplay and circular reasoning.

Logic and science are traditionally not the strongest traits of the religious flock. If you already can seriously believe in hocus-pocus and invisible spirits, your standards for what can be considered “proof”, may not be the most rigorous scientifically.

Normally, the one who claims something is also the one who has to prove the claim. If I should claim the existence of fire-breathing, flying dragons in the woods, I am the one who has to produce proof of their existence. It's of course the same when it comes to the existence of gods. It is the believers in gods who have to produce proof of their claim, not the disbelievers. Few of us feel a need to take the time to disprove all kinds of crazy, fantasy beings that creative or feverish minds can dream up in their spare time.

A common claim is that the existence of God lies beyond our mental ability and beyond the scientific realm. God's existence has however to do with reality since the believer's claim is that God really exists - thus God's existence can be examined scientifically.
Since we don't have any physical evidence of God to examine, we have to evaluate the probability of the question. The crucial point is not whether we can prove or disprove the existence of God, but if God's existence is probable at all. And just because you can't prove or disprove God's existence, this does not mean that the probability for his existence is equal to the opposite probability. (Dawkins 2006:54)

A magnificent creator God capable of creating a whole world out if thin air, even a whole enormous universe with billions of gigantic stars all powered by nuclear fission with unfathomable amounts of energy, and with a zap and a hocus pocus creating all the elements and billions of fantastically varied living species, must be so damn marvellous, advanced and intelligent that it is completely and utterly implausible. That this fantastic being would also be pathological interested in: the sexuality and boring daily lives of billions of humans;
listening to stupid prayers from stupid people; sending great floods and swarms of locusts whenever he is angry; allegedly healing dandruff and incontinence for naïve adults but don't seem to bother when it comes to children with cancer does not seem particularly probable, does it?

Theology?
When attacking the Bible's ridiculous version of God, a common response is that you do not have intimate knowledge of the latest in theological "science". That is assuming theology is a proper (scientific) field of expertise. It's not.
One can safely reject the belief in fairies without having intimate knowledge of all the fine details of what centuries of "fairyologists" have said about the exact colour and shape of the fairy wings . (after Dawkins 2006:16)

Since different believers have different opinions about God, another response is that the biblical God I am presenting is not the one they believe in. Their God is completely unlike the evil, vengeful bastard of the Old Testament. Their God is much more of a chillin', bearded, "love and peace" hippie dude. But, is there really any difference between a non-existent bad God and a non-existent good one?? A more benign personality does not make God's existence any more probable, does it?

God is not an answer to anything; "God" is no explanation. Since no one, not even the most dedicated believers, knows God in person or really knows anything about God's origin, appearance or personality, using God as the ultimate answer is meaningless. "God" is a term without meaning and substance which believers give whatever meaning and substance they choose, according to their personal preferences, even as a term.

The Evidence?
Since early Christendom several so called “proofs” of Gods existence have been presented. I will discuss some of them in the following:

The Uncaused Cause
Nothing can come from nothing, every effect has a prior cause. But in the end there has to be a first cause. This we can call God.
The Unmoved mover
Nothing moves without being set in motion by something/somebody. Since the universe is in motion, there must be a first unmovable mover, and we call him God.
The Cosmological proof
At some time there did not exist any physical things. Now, since physical things exist there must have been some non-physical entity to create it. We call this entity God.

These are three of the Church father Thomas Aquinas’ (of Aquin) five “proofs” which he presented in the thirteenth century. The problems with these proofs are that they all are based on the premise that God is a terminator of an infinite regress. And that God is immune to the same infinite regress. Who/what created then God?
This kind of “proof” is like a child’s argument, “because it just is so, period”. To argue that God is eternal or outside time is not an argument at all. It’s void and has no meaning, and is certainly no “proof” or “answer” to anything.

If we, just for the hell of it, should accept these arguments as valid, there is nothing to imply that this creator God is intelligent, omnipotent or all knowing. Neither that this God would be interested in listening to prayers, hate humans working on Sundays or despise long hair on men, or find delight in punishing non-believers with eternal torture.

Thomas fourth “proof” of God’s existence (the Argument from degree) is that all things in the world differ; they vary to degrees of a maximum and a minimum. We judge these degrees by comparing with a maximum, ex. of goodness or perfection. And since humans can be both good and evil, the maximum goodness can not rest with us. It must be some other place, and the maximum good, we can call God.

This is no argument. To quote Dawkins again: “You might as well say, people vary in smelliness but we can make the comparison only by reference to a perfect maximum of conceivable smelliness. Therefore there must exist a pre-eminently peerless stinker, and we call him God” (Dawkins 2006:79).

The Church Fathers last “proof” is the Theological Argument or the Argument from Design. This “proof” is still quite often used among amateurs and goes as follows:

The world and all living things seem so functional and well adapted to their environment that they seem to be a plan or design behind it all. Nothing that we know looks designed unless it is designed, therefore there has to exist a designer, and we call him God.

Again, this is an argument shooting itself in the foot. Of all well functioning and well adapted beings, a creator God must then be the ultimate “design”, and therefore something/someone must have designed God according to the argument’s own logic.

Besides, Evolution and life itself have shown us how organisms have evolved from simple forms to more and more advanced ones over millions of years. And if the organisms hadn’t been well adapted to their environment, they do not survive over time. So it is no wonder that the organisms that exist today are organisms which is very well adapted and functional. Besides, when we consider how suitable and functional all living thing are, we can ask: suitable compared to what? What other comparable worlds like our own do we know of?

The Norwegian writer and poet Arnulf Øverland* once received a letter from a disappointed reader who couldn’t believe that the famous poet was a hardened atheist. The reader was of the opinion that Øverland had to be acting against his real inner Christian consciousness. The reader wrote to Øverland “I presume that You have common sense and when You see a car in the street You must understand that the car hasn’t created itself.” Øverland answered politely “The idea is correct and I must accept its consequence: If I happen to see a god in the street, then I know that he has not created himself”.

* Øverland was charged for blasphemy in 1933 after one of his lectures, but acquitted after a famous trial.

The Ontological Argument
The archbishop Anselm of Canterbury came up with this “proof” for Gods’ existence in 1078 AD. The proof can in short be summarized that we can imagine the ultimate perfect superlative being in our minds. However, since this being is just imaginary and not real, it still must be less than perfect.
In other words, if this superlative creature actually existed in the real world, it would be more perfect than the imaginary version, and the perfect imaginary one would no longer be perfect. Voila! We have a paradox, a logical contradiction, and therefore God must exist.

The flaw in this argument is the postulate that “existence” is more “perfect” than non-existence. Is an existing car more “perfect” than a non-existing one? Perfect, compared to what?

We can turn the argument up side down and dream up a creator god who created the world, the most fantastic achievement imaginable. But if this God had a disability the achievement would be even greater. And the biggest handicap for at deity is of course that he does not exist. And to create a whole world when you do not even exist is an even more fantastic divine achievement. Therefore a non-existing God must be even more divine than an existing one. Ergo God do not exist. (Douglas Gasking)
This argument is naturally just as little evidence for anything as Anselms paradox is.

Personal experience
Argument of God’s existence based on people’s religious experiences and revelations, are not to be considered evidence by any standard for anything, and of course of no relevance for anyone else. People seeing gods, spirits or other ghosts or are hearing voices in their heads, are usually best directed to professional psychiatric care. If one has glorious revelations of Jesus or the Virgin Mary, or one are seeing flying pink elephants in broad daylight, is basically the same. Then you are probably not completely mentally sound.

Pascal’s wager
Then we have “Pascals wager” which is the mathematicians Blaise Pascal’s reasoning that since the consequences for not believing in God if he actually exist, is far more grave (eternal hellfire contra heavenly bliss) than believing in God and finding that he don’t exist. Therefore you’d better believe in God.

This is not actually a proof of anything other than the fact that Blaise Pascal preferred to be a hypocrite. Besides, you cannot choose to believe in a god as a political statement, and against your own conviction. Anything else is hypocrisy, and if there is room for hypocrites in heaven, there should be no reason for Pascal to fear any Hell.

And by the way, - which god? There are thousand of gods to choose from. This fact alone makes Pascals’s wager meaningless.


Respect?
Why, by trhe way, should religions be above criticism? Everything else in this world can be subjected to criticism and scrutinized scientifically, but religion. When religion enters the room one are supposed to respectfully recede and shut up. But why on earth should one at all show respect for redundant old absurd delusions? Especially religious delusions which teach that all non-believers deserve to be tortured in all eternity have no demand whatsoever of respect from anybody. That kind of perverse delusions deserves only contempt!


Back to last

R.L. Børsheim 07





Proof for God’s existence?

Further reading:
Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion". Click here

Visit richarddawkins.net

 




Thomas Aquinas


Anselm

Blaise Pascal

Arnulf Øverland

Richard Dawkins