There is no god (and why we should be happy about it).
January 20, 2016 • 499 Views • 22 Likes •121 Comments
This brief article intends to first show that god is imaginary (all gods are), and then show that life is nevertheless meaningful even (or especially) without a god. This article speaks to the brains, not to the emotions.
The first part will in fact posit anempirical (inductive) argument against god’s existence, which will show, at least, that god is highly unlikely. There will be also a second, logical (deductive) argument, to prove that god is impossible, at least the kind of god the three main religions accept (the flying spaghetti monster is still possible :)).
The second part will show, indeed, that a life without a god is actually much better and worth living. Some conclusions will then be drawn.
I am not presuming to change theminds of religious believers here, because I am not presuming that there will be many religious believers prepared to follow my reasoning with an open mind, accepting at least the possibilitythat god might, indeed, be imaginary. However, if there are, I welcome them to follow my lines and then make up their own ideas.
1 – Pars Destruens – demolition of god.
Why do many people believe in god in the first place?
Most people who claim to believe in god actually simply hope in god. Beliefs and hopes are two different things, however, and it is not always easy to tell one from the other. When we claim to believe that our favourite team is the best, we may believe that based on evidence, namely that our team always won, and so on. However, at the start of the season, it might also be that we simply hope that they will win enough and eventually show that they are actually the best. Same with god: most people hope that such a divine being exists. Why so? And how? Is it proven by some evidence, or is it sheer faith?
People believe in god usually out of family/society indoctrination, followed by blind faith; some try to find empirical evidence for god’s existence, like the supporters ofintelligent design; the most elegant ones try to outline some logicalargument to prove that god has to exist. In history all 4 options have been explored: 1. god necessarily exists; 2. god contingently exists; 3. god contingently does not exist; 4. god necessarily does not exist.
The reason why most of us (claim to) believe in some god is fear: since we know we will die, we seem to hate the idea that the world will go on without us. However, we were never sad of fearful about the fact that the world existed for billions of years before we came into being, therefore, the fear for death is, in this respect, surprising. In truth, we are afraid of death as if we, somehow, were to survive our death and the decay of our body, and sadness around, and so on, and keep suffering. But we may relax: once death comes, we won’t be there anymore, so death is nothing to worry about.
Yet, in order to overcome fear for death, mankind has tried to assign meaning to life inventing some cosmic, supernatural being, usually referred to as god.
Allegedly, god is intended as the origin of all which is the case, and, in turn, it is eternal and uncaused.
This argument never convinced me and, when I was 12 years old, I developed a reasoning which has resisted until today and no one, to my knowledge, has been able to refute it.
One usual argument in favour of god is the typical god-of-the-gaps argument: since we are ignorant as to the cause for the thunder, we claim Zeus’ wrath is causing the thunder. In modern times, since we are ignorant as to the exact origin of life, it is clear that life was created from nothing and, therefore, a creator is there. It is easy to see how this reasoning is faulty.
The same applies to the origin of the universe: since the origin of the universe is unknown, religious people conclude that some god did it. Interestingly, while until a century ago or so god was the direct cause for pretty much everything, it is important to notice how, nowadays, the only two empirical arguments religious people are clinging to, in order to prove god, are the origin of life and the origin of the universe.
However, from the fact that today we are ignorant of the cause for x, does not follow that there is a divinity that caused x. Appeal to a magical cause, in the attempt to explain a natural fact, is simply a way to cover up our ignorance.
Actually, induction (the logical move from the particular to the general), tells us that most likely there is no god. In fact, ALL of the currentlyexplained natural phenomena have been explained thanks to equallynatural explanations. Therefore, per induction, it is pretty safe to assume that also the origin of life and the universe is a natural cause.
Incidentally, it is not clear why, from the fact that x’s cause is ignored, a god should be the cause and, in turn, such god should be uncaused. This is also why there have never been logically convincing arguments in favour of god, from Aristotle to Alvin Plantinga. They all failed, and for a reason: god is imaginary. Intuitively we are deceived into thinking that a supreme being has to exist, for else how can we account for the beginning of the universe or the beginning of everything? But this reasoning is also fallacious.
The deception stems from the confusion between the notion ofcause with the notion of creation ex-nihilo (from nothing). Most people feel it is logical to claim that the universe was created from nothing. However, we well know from physics classes that, in nature, nothing is created nor destroyed from nothing or into nothing, but everything is transformed. I was not created from nothing, but I wascaused by my parents. However, the matter and energy to make me into being was and is already in the universe. The big bang does not prove the universe was created from nothing. There are indeed many theories, and none of them entails a divinity. Or else, at what point should a biologist or an astro-physicist pack up his things, go home and claim: god did it? At what point should doctors have stopped researching pathogens and accepted that diseases are caused by god? The answer is: never.
The problem for the believer is to somehow accept that we are finitebut reality, including the particles composing our bodies, is eternal, without beginning nor end, just undergoing transformation.
Nature and the supernatural.
Finally: how can a non physicalbeing create, from nothing, all that is physical? We are talking magichere. Same applies to the soul: how can something supernatural, the soul, animate something which is tied to the laws of physics? And what does it mean to claim that god, or anything, can exist out of space and time? To me, something out of space and time is simply something imaginary or purely conceptual.
(My argument is, in fact, that only 2 kinds of realms can exist: 1. natural objects (chairs, dogs, etc) and 2.concepts (numbers, ideas, indeed, concepts) I call the former the PSON(physical space of nature), the latter the LSOR (logical space of reason)).
To conclude about causality, logic tells us that:
a) all has a cause, or
b) it is false that all has a cause
If a) is true, then, if there is a god, then such god also must have a cause;
if b) is true, then the universe can well be uncaused, eternal and/or have a perfectly natural cause andgod is not needed.
If b) is true, and we still want to support the god hypothesis, we would need to prove that 1) the universe has a cause, 2) such cause is god, 3) it could not have been anything else, and 4) god, in turn, has no cause.
Good luck proving all that.
Let us now take the reverse path: from the general to the particular. In order to discuss god, or the concept of god, we need to agree as to hat god is. We stipulate god is theall knowing, all powerful and all loving supreme being.
The suffering problem.
Given the suffering in the world, then it is hard to maintain that a supreme being can exist such to hold all three those properties, namelyomnipotence, omniscience andinfinite love. At least one of those should be dropped, you choose which one. In fact, a supreme all powerful being who also knows the future and loves in a supreme manner would never allow suffering in the universe. The reply that god gave us free will, and we are the cause for our own suffering, does not quite hold water: in fact, god must have known from day one that we would suffer; then, as he did not give us the option to breath underwater, likewise, he might have decided not to give us the option to suffer, to do evil, to sin, etc. If god is real and did know then he isresponsible, since he also had and has the powers to make a perfectly happy world.
Ultimately, if such an all knowing, all powerful god exists, he cannot be all good. If he is all good, he is clearly either not all powerful, or not all knowing.
The knowledge paradox corollary.
Moreover, if god really is all knowing then he could not also be all powerful, because, if he was, he would be able to change things he knows to happen, then no longer being all knowing, since one cannot know what is not happening. If what he knows, conversely, is bound to happen, this means not even god can change it, and, therefore, he is not all powerful.
2 – Pars Construens – the rebuilding & conclusion.
Empirical evidence (induction) shows god is unlikely, and logic (deduction) shows god, as usually conceived, is impossible.
Is life still worth without god?
Yes of course it is. We would have more reasons to be good people in this life, since it is the only one we have got. We would wonder in amazement at the beauty of achaotic universe, dominated byentropy, where neutron stars and pulsars define the “heartbeat” of the universe and galaxies crash into one another and, when some special conditions are met, life springsfrom chemistry. We would admire the intellectual honesty of accepting reality for what is true, and not believing a lie just because it is useful.
We would not stick to any ready made absolute morality, but we would adopt an historically determined, rational morality, which does not depend on some books written by primitive people 2000 years ago, but it is agreed upon, according to the common good.
By giving up the god delusion, we would value each other more, our families, children, for they are our true legacy, and there is no divine prize nor punishment in this life nor after death. All we did will only matter to some limited number of people, before they will also be gone and all will disappear into oblivion. We would learn to value the here and now, hic et nunc, and no longerwaste precious hours praying to some imaginary being, hoping in a miracle. We would face death and reality for what they are, cultivating our dignity as human beings, always choosing what is true above what is useful.
We would live this very life at our best, taking full responsibility for our actions, knowing that there is no god to reward nor punish us. We would detach ourselves from silly, primitive superstitions, loving people over idols and respecting reality as a whole, for what it is, hopefully reconnecting to each other as members of one universe, rather than scared children of many, imaginary gods.
And sure we would still kill each other but, perhaps, for real reasons, such as the land, resources, sheer power, and not in the name of animaginary being.