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“The Case against God” or: Modern Atheist Quixotes just can’t resist the challenge of the windmill March 12, 2007

Posted by Administrator in atheism, philosophy.
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Fellow named Victor Stenger wrote a book recently entitled “God: The Failed Hypothesis.”

Having Googled the title, I came across a CU website that lists some of the proofs showing that God cannot exist. Let’s examine them one by one.

An All-Virtuous Being Cannot Exist

  1. God is (by definition) a being than which no greater being can be thought.
  2. Greatness includes the greatness of virtue.
  3. Therefore, God is a being than which no being could be more virtuous.
  4. But virtue involves overcoming pains and danger.
  5. Indeed, a being, can only be properly said to be virtuous if it can suffer pain or be destroyed.
  6. A God that can suffer pain or is destructible is not one than which no greater being can be thought.
  7. For you can think of a greater being, one that is nonsuffering and indestructible.

Therefore, God does not exist.[2]

This proof may be making an incorrect assumption in Premise 2; but assuming it is correct, it then has a terminal flaw in Premise 6; that God can not both feel pain at once and then not have a greater being than Him. The Incarnation, and all the attendant suffering of Christ, shows that God CAN both be omnipotent and open to suffering.

Worship and Moral Agency

  1. If any being is God, he must be a fitting object of worship.
  2. No being could possibly be a fitting object of worship, since worship requires the abandonment of one’s role as an autonomous moral agent.

Therefore, there cannot be any being who is God.[3]

This proof says much more about man’s inability to adequately worship God than it does refute God’s existence. The entire argument if flawed.

The Problem of Evil

  1. If God exists, then the attributes of God are consistent with the existence of evil.
  2. The attributes of God are not consistent with the existence of evil.

Therefore, God does not and cannot exist.[4]

This one actually has some meat to it; the only one that does. To adequately address it, see Kreeft and Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics, p120-145 for a refutation of this proof.

A Perfect Creator Cannot Exist

  1. If God exists, then he is perfect.
  2. If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
  3. If a being is perfect, then whatever he creates must be perfect.
  4. But the universe is not perfect.
  5. Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe.

Hence, it is impossible for God to exist.[5]

If true, then we have no free will. We MUST be perfect or all forced to believe in God in this proof. THe notion of free will, and choosing to love refutes this argument rather simply. Ourde facto presence renders this argument invalid. Our presence does not demand the presence of God, just ruins this proof.

A Transcendent Being Cannot Be Omnipresent

  1. If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e., outside space and time).
  2. If God exists, he is omnipresent.
  3. To be transcendent, a being cannot exist anywhere in space.
  4. To be omnipresent, a being must exist everywhere in space
  5. Hence it is impossible for a transcendent being to be omnipresence.

Therefore it is impossible for God to exist.[6]

Premise 3 is flawed in juxtapostion with Premise 4, and vice versa. An omnipresent being is de facto transcendant, and vice versa.

A Personal Being Cannot be Nonphysical

  1. If God exists, then he is nonphysical.
  2. If God exists, then he is a person (or a personal being).
  3. A person (or personal being) needs to be physical.

Hence, it is impossible for God to exist.[7

Premise 1 is flawed. Why might an omnipotent God not take on physical attributes?

The Paradox of Omnipotence

  1. Either God can create a stone that he cannot lift, or he cannot create a stone that he cannot lift.
  2. If God can create a stone that he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent.
  3. If God cannot create a stone that he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent.

Therefore god is not omnipotent. [8]

Premise 1 is once again flawed. How can omnipotent (and omnipresent) Being not manage Premise 1?

If this is the best Stenger can do. . .then it appears we once again are presented with a hard scientist in the vein of Myers, Dawkins and Dennet attempting philosophical assaults on God and not making convincing arguments.

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Comments»

1. Peter Sean Bradley - March 18, 2007

The “whatever a perfect creator creates must be perfect” argument was answered by Aquinas.

Basically, if God was to create something perfect, He would end up creating another God, which is impossible because by definition there can only be one God,ie., one omnipotent and infinite being. Two “infinite”, i.e., unlimited, beings cannot exist since each would limit the other.

What’s interesting is how many of these classic atheist arguments are answered by Aquinas.

2. aaron - December 11, 2007

Hey Peter,
You said;
“…by definition there can only be one God,ie., one omnipotent and infinite being…”
What about Greek Gods or Roman Gods? Why is does the word God even have a plural?
What about the “holy trinity” how can there be one when there is three? If they are all the same one being, why describe them as a trinity?
You can’t use Religious doctrine to prove religious doctrine. That is like using the word you are trying to define in the definition.

god by (the actual and full) definition:
1. the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.
2. the Supreme Being considered with reference to a particular attribute: the God of Islam.
3. (lowercase) one of several deities, esp. a male deity, presiding over some portion of worldly affairs.
4. (often lowercase) a supreme being according to some particular conception: the god of mercy.
5. Christian Science. the Supreme Being, understood as Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Principle.
6. (lowercase) an image of a deity; an idol.
7. (lowercase) any deified person or object.
8. (often lowercase) Gods, Theater.
a. the upper balcony in a theater.
b. the spectators in this part of the balcony.
–verb (used with object)
9. (lowercase) to regard or treat as a god; deify; idolize.
–interjection
10. (used to express disappointment, disbelief, weariness, frustration, annoyance, or the like): God, do we have to listen to this nonsense?

As for “the paradox of omnipotence”
it is stated by demolition65 “Premise 1 is once again flawed. How can omnipotent (and omnipresent) Being not manage Premise 1?”
This is exactly the paradox. Indeed, how can this be? It cannot be, and hence there is/are no Omnipotent being(s)

3. demolition65 - December 11, 2007

God, as in capital G, requires that It be a single being.

As for Trinity, Aaron, are you only a son? Or are you perhaps a student as well? Are you married? Then perhaps a husband, or even maybe a father? Wow. Even you as a lowly human can fill two or more roles at once. This is not difficult, you simply refuse to consider it.

And you have not answered the issue of omnipotence. You have simply made an ad hominem assertion. “I am right, because I am right.”

As for your multiple “definitions” of God, why are you bringing this up again?

4. Tom - December 12, 2007

The above are philosophical arguments:

“They are independent of the scientific arguments that form my main thesis;” Victor J. Stenger.

“If this is the best Stenger can do. . .then it appears we once again are presented with a hard scientist in the vein of Myers, Dawkins and Dennet attempting philosophical assaults on God and not making convincing arguments.” — you

Read the book. 🙂

5. demolition65 - December 12, 2007

My error.

We are then presented with a . . .whatever. . .that is making poor philosophical arguments.


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