The Elusive Verdict on God

The Elusive Verdict on God

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B: It should be obvious to just about everybody by now that it is impossible to prove, to the point of a general consensus, the existence or nonexistence of a Supreme Being, or Power, or some Universally-Ruling Sense of Good – that is, a “God.”  Innumerable claims of evidence for God have been made, but none of them have been generally accepted by our secular society.  At the very least, they’ve all been ignored by science, perhaps simply because of science’s assumption that there is no supernatural power.  And short of God revealing Himself in indisputable power and glory – which He doesn’t appear willing to do – not much, if anything, could ever be done to convince the general public that there is no doubt of His existence.

A: In fact, we’ve pretty much proven the opposite – that there is no God.  Before advances of science in the past few hundred years, people had to rely on the idea of God to explain the Universe; now, however, God is unnecessary.  There are only a few details that need to be ironed out, sure, but we’ll get to them evench.

B: Not quite, son; inadequate explanations for the Universe have never been enough for people to believe in God.  Atheists have been around for thousands of years.  Consider the following statement, made over two thousand years ago in holy writ, to a man who didn’t believe in God:

Now what evidence have ye that there is no God…?  I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only…

But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them?…

All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.

A: Two thousand years ago?  That was long before anybody knew about the Big Bang.  See, now we have a better explanation, and that argument wouldn’t apply.

B: Actually, I think it does apply, even today – that is, I would claim that all things still “denote there is a God.”  I know it isn’t a proof, but it seems to me that the order and complexity of the Universe suggest “that there is a Supreme Creator” sooner than that everything came about by some chaotic explosion.

Furthermore, there really is no more evidence against the existence of God than there was when this statement was made, beyond “(one’s) word only.”  Just because you have a way to explain the Universe without God, doesn’t mean that there is no God.  In fact, it’s virtually impossible to prove that He doesn’t exist: even if one were to scour the entire Universe and come up empty, there’s no reason that God couldn’t have been one step ahead of us the entire time, constantly changing His location.  Or what if He’s made Himself invisible or undetectable to us?  This is God we’re talking about, after all – why couldn’t He?  And yet, despite these obstacles to proving His non-existence, there’s no shortage of people claiming it, behaving thus somewhat like Lucy in the following cartoon, which makes such an assertion look fairly silly:

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Absence of evidence cannot be taken to be evidence of absence.

Details

A: But isn’t there an inherent difficulty with explaining the Universe as having come about by God?  Namely, the problem of how He Himself came about?

B: The problem that this question poses lies in the difficulty the human mind has with finite or infinite beginnings.  It’s an issue that every proposal for the origin of things has.  You say the Universe started with an incomprehensibly powerful explosion of an enormously dense mass compressed into a single point?  I ask, how did that mass come about, or get to that point?  Was it created?  Where did it come from?

A: It was there already, just floating in space, I suppose.

B: That doesn’t answer the question of how it got there.  Why wasn’t just nothing, or emptiness, there before?  Didn’t the mass have to have been assembled in some way?  You’re claiming that it had always been just sitting there and one day it suddenly exploded?

A: Why not?  It seems plausible to me.

B: Perhaps it is plausible, but that doesn’t mean that’s how things actually were, or came about, or even that there could not be a God.  As I said, this question is native to all theories of the origin of the Universe, and there aren’t any certain answers to it.  Heck: it may even have to do instead with how we view time, to which we are bound – but must a Supreme Being also be?  Why couldn’t He be on some plane of understanding higher than ours, wherein there are no constraints of time?

A: I can’t wrap my head around that.

B: Who can?  Or maybe we’re all part of something we would best understand as an amazingly complex computer program, which is what we know as reality, but in the which we are agents ourselves (as opposed to elements in the computer programs we know, which are entirely dependent on the programmer’s commands).

A: Buddy, these ideas are ridiculous.  There’s no way you could possibly know that.

B: And yet why couldn’t the explanation to how the Universe came about be some incomprehensible concept?  In which case, I suppose that God, assuming He exists, would deem it unnecessary for us to know during this life.  Of course there are plenty of unanswered questions like these when one postulates the existence of God, some of them more important than others.  Fortunately, the question of God’s role in the origin of the Universe is not vital to the point I’m trying to make.  Whether or not the Universe came about by Divine Intervention, my future arguments still hold.

2 Comments

  1. Profet

    What do you think about the logical fallacy of proving negative?

    Reply
    • Blog Author

      That depends on what you mean, exactly, by “proving negative.” Or are you saying it’s a logical fallacy that should be included in my list?

      “Proving negative,” in my mind, is impossible in the case of the existence of God, basically for the reasons given in this post. The concept of proving something negative in general, I think, depends on what things one is willing to assume in the first place. For example: “I can prove the negative that an elephant is in the room simply by looking in the room and seeing that there isn’t one there.” However, how do I know that my eyes haven’t somehow betrayed me? Even if I went into the room and felt around, examining it thoroughly, how do I know that in that particular instance, my senses haven’t all simultaneously failed to report to my brain the information that there is indeed no elephant there? Or how do I know that the elephant hasn’t been shredded to pieces and its parts have all been packed into the room, and yet somehow are still in the room, so that an elephant is, perhaps technically, “in the room?” But if I’m willing to assume that my senses act as they typically do, and that, say, the existence of an elephant requires that it be alive, then a glance into the room does indeed prove the negative.

      Reply

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