Sunday, June 26, 2005

Okay, I'm gonna do it.

Does God exist?

Many of my friends say we should just agree to disagree about this and get on with all the good stuff we believe in together. I'm willing to do that, but I feel my cards should be on the table.

Before we can talk intelligently about the question, we need a definition of God. I just want to let you know, between friends, that realists often feel that theists keep moving the goalposts. We falsify some conception of God, and they come back with a different one. So we can move the goalposts later, if you like, but for now, I'm going to take on the God of the Bible -- granted that there are differences among various parts of the good book, but there are certain basic attributes that theists generally ascribe to God.

So here are some premises about God. If you want to say that God exists but lacks one or more of these properties, you are not a Christian, or a Moslem, or Jew. You can call yourself any of the above if you like, but your minister, priest, imam or rabbi will not agree with you.

  1. God is all powerful, omnipotent. God can do anything he wants. (Yes, he's generally considered male but I won't belabor that point.)
  2. God created the universe and everything in it.
  3. God is benevolent, God is good. Nothing God does can be evil.
  4. God is all knowing, omniscient. God knows all of the past, and the future.
  5. God wishes that we worship him, and obey him, and do his will. If we do anything contrary to the will of God, we are evil. We will presumably suffer in some way for it, but again I won't belabor the specifics.

It certainly is not original with me, but the above propositions are logically contradictory. For example, if God knows all of the future, then God cannot possibly be all powerful, because he does not have the power to change the future. If he did, he couldn't know it, because it might change. Also, obviously, God cannot commit evil.

But God created the universe, and everything in it, yet the universe contains evil. I mean, hell, if you worship God, you think I'm evil for not worshipping him. If you're a Christian, you either believe that Bishop Robinson is evil for divorcing his wife and having sex with a man, or you think that other Christians are evil for not granting him dignity and respect. Either way, it has to be God's fault, because God created Bishop Robinson and the people who despise him, God knew that a gay man would be consecrated as a Bishop, God knew that other Christians would condemn him, and God caused all of this to happen by creating the universe in the first place, which he knew would inevitably lead to these events. As a matter of fact, God created Satan, knowing full well that Satan would do evil. Everything Satan has ever done must have been the will of God, and part of his plan.

As a matter of fact, God cannot possibly have any free will. If he ordained the future at the moment of creation (and we'll leave aside the question of what he was doing before he created the universe), then he made sure that he could never make another decision for all of eternity. Neither can you. Or I. And if I don't believe in God, or worship God, that must be what God wants. Otherwise he would have made me differently in the first place.

Now, this is all completely obvious. "Theologians" have spent the past couple of thousand years spouting oceans of bullshit to try to cover up and obscure these completely obvious, inescapable logical contradictions. The only reason they get away with it is because faith, by definition, demands that we abandon reason.

Next: God vs. observable reality.