A Postulation On God’s Existence

Okay, so I’m currently reading through Sam Harris’ “Letter To A Christian Nation” and a thought occurred to me, along the lines of the Epicurean Problem of Evil:

Consider an amputee, praying to God to regrow his lost arm.

If God does not hear the prayer, he must not hear prayers in general, but then why is he God?
If he hears the prayer, and ignores it, then why is he God?
If he hears the prayer, but cannot act on it, then why is he God?

If he cannot hear prayers, ignores prayers, or does not act then he is not God.
Therefore, if he is not God, and the prayers were directed towards such a God, God does not exist.

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21 thoughts on “A Postulation On God’s Existence

  1. j2nice78 says:

    Consider the ones that lost their homes because of the government’s failure to secure the levy in New Orleans, appealing to the government to rebuild their homes.

    If they don’t hear those pleas, they must not hear pleas in general, but then why are they the government?

    If the government hears the pleas, and ignores them, then why are they the government?

    If they hear the pleas, but cannot act on them, then why are they the government?

    If the government cannot hear pleas, ignores, pleas, or does not act on them, then they are not the government.

    Therefore, if they are not the government, and the pleas were directed towards the government, the government does not exist.

    Sounds silly doesn’t it?

  2. dj357 says:

    of course that sounds silly, no-one in their right mind would ascribe perfection to the Government, but God is supposed to be a perfect being, so while your example has merit, it ultimately fails because a God does not equal a Government in terms of perfection and attributes

  3. j2nice78 says:

    we’re not talking about perfection, we’re talking about your reasoning. How exactly does the perfection of the subject in question give any more merit to your logic than it does mine?

    What we are talking about here is qualification to be in authority.

  4. actually what I, not you, am talking about is NOT qualification in authority, I am talking about a supposedly perfect being who is supposed to have the power to answer prayers, who is perfect in every way shape or form, and even in way we apparently aren’t supposed to be able to understand, so THAT is why my logic has more merit than yours, because I actually know what I’m talking about. I’m NOT talking about appeals to a higher authority, I talking about appeals to a supposedly perfect benevolent being who is supposed to hear and answer prayers. Perfection has everything to do with it, so it’s not about my reasoning.

    If there existed somewhere the Perfect Toaster that made toast JUST right, EVERY time, and you found this legendary Perfect Toaster, put toast in it, and nothing came out, you would wonder just why it was soooo perfect, when it didn’t work for you, wouldn’t you?

  5. j2nice78 says:

    well, if you would like to go that direction, the toaster has no choice. God does. For us to understand his choices would be like an earthworm understanding our choices.

  6. wow, what a lucid argument, and one I’ve never heard before “god is outside our comprehension”….what a solid argument, EXCEPT for the fact that the earthworm didn’t dream us up as a way to explain it’s existence, and we are not just a part of the earthworm’s imagination, so NO. God is not outside our comprehension, or understanding, because we created God, we gave him his attributes and his apparent “incomprehensibility”, so saying that God is beyond our comprehension only tells me that you believe as such, and because of this, you are believing in a pre-supposed God who has a specific set of attributes and traits based on the specific dogma that you subscribe to, so in essence, understanding God’s choices, is merely an exercise in creativity, since God is just a part of our imagination anyway.

    BUT, even if God was beyond our comprehension, saying “oh well, gee, God made me lose my leg because he has some big plan for me, and I just need to have faith in his plan” is merely a DELUSION, and severely psychologically damaging.

  7. j2nice78 says:

    I thought you might say something like that, as if calling him imaginary and our comprehension of a delusion is any more creative and original.

    So both of our opinions are interpretations of what we see, hear, think, feel, read, etc. If that is the case, given the law of non-contradiction, we can’t both be correct. If you think my interpretation is objectively wrong, you must know what is objectively right. So what is the right interpretation?

  8. well based on the scientific principle of Occams’ Razor, in any given situation the simplest explanation is always the most likely, so in this case, a universe that has NO creator (who himself NEEDS to be explained as to how he came about, which just leads to infinite regression) is INFINITELY simpler than one with a creator, and so that is the more likely.

  9. j2nice78 says:

    that’s not a scientific principle, that’s a heuristic maxim based on a dated 14th century theory

    consider that the laws of physics lead back to a definite beginning for everything (i.e. time, matter, and space) as well as the fact that nothing yields nothing. Also, consider that the law of causality reminds us that everything that comes to be needs a cause. Now, since nothing yields nothing, are you saying that it seems more likely that nothing caused the something we have now?

    You really need to have a better argument than that. You want to deal with infinity, then consider this, either the universe is infinite, or something outside the universe is infinite. It seems much easier to give that to God than it does to give it to … um nothing.

    It’s always easier to believe in something rather than nothing. The very fact that you have to rationalize it away with outdated rules of thumb tell me that deep down you are still struggling to cope with that fact. Believe me, I’ve heard MUCH better arguments than Occam’s Razor.

  10. so you’re going to tell me the “heuristic maxim” I’m using there is less viable than the 1st century patriarchal crap most religions spew? Seriously?

    I’m not dealing with infinity, and I don’t want to deal with it, I’m dealing with the world we have in front of us, because it IS the only world we have right now, and I’m not going to let some 1st century dogma rule my life or waste my time and energy depending on the whims of some imaginary sky-daddy when I can be more than that, simply by believing in myself and getting on with my life.

    And what kind of weight do you think it gives YOUR argument by saying “it’s always easier to believe something than nothing”, well: a) While true in most cases, NOT ALWAYS, some believers find it a daily struggle to hold on to their ludicrous beliefs simply because they go against what they feel inside to be true, and b) Just because it’s easier to believe does NOT make it correct, or even good to believe for that matter.

    To be frank, I don’t care what arguments you’ve heard, and I don’t care whether you think mine weak or not. There may well be a cause for existence, I do not know enough about physics to work with the beginnings of our universe, but what I do NOT believe is that this “beginning” is a supposedly malevolent “god” creature/being/presence that controls or has ANY control whatsoever over our lives, and I refuse to live my life in the hopes that such a being exists only for me to lavish it with praise for bringing me into the world only to be of servitude to it or suffer the consequences of disbelief.

    Also, applying the law of causality to a system we do not fully understand does NOT, and I repeat, DOES NOT lend any weight to the God hypothesis. It merely says “look, here’s a possible gap that our wonderful god can fill, let’s put him right in there…wow, that just looks beautiful, doesn’t it?” Wow, that just explains ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

    And you ALSO forget that the law of causality requires that this “divine cause” of our existence, BASED ON YOUR OWN ARGUMENT, requires a cause also, or are you going to trot out the “oh well, god is beyond our universe and therefore not subject to our laws” argument?

    And finally, either the universe is infinite, or it is not. Why do you need to posit some kind of force outside the universe? Why do you ignore all the scientific evidence for our existence that we have gathered and theorised and studied meticulously, from INSIDE OUR UNIVERSE, and, based on NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER for something existing outside our universe, you posit a magical infinite being, who itself does not need a cause, because it’s magical, and who, in it’s supreme benevolence, brought us into being.

    Again, bringing Occam’s Razor into the fold, which is a potent argument when dealing with clearly ludicrous statements, it is FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR more likely that there is nothing outside of our universe, than your supposed sky-daddy, because we can go back to the first 2 seconds of this universe, to the beginning of space-time itself, and we can see NOTHING outside this universe, whether causative of our existence or not, yet you deem it okay to ignore these scientific discoveries and proclaim your love for a fictional being of which there is absolutely no proof whatsoever?

    I have heard much better arguments that THAT.

  11. j2nice78 says:

    1) I’m not using the “1st century patriarchal crap most religions spew”

    2) Unless you deal with infinity you’re wasting your time.

    3) Based on my argument? Nope, I don’t think you really read it. I said and IT says that “everything that came to be needs a cause”. If God IS infinite, then he didn’t come to be now did he?

    4) I’m not ignoring science as you seem to suggest. In fact, I am basing my beliefs on science. What do you know about the application of the laws of thermodynamics? Apparently nothing. Einstein’s theory of relativity? The radioactive decay detected by at&t employees in the 60’s? The ripples detected by the COBE satellite in the 90’s? I can go on and on. It’s not me ignoring science it’s you. It’s not me buying into dogma, it’s you.

    5) It’s not nice to make accusations without proof. How did my last 2 lines in number 4 make you feel?

    6) Again, with the worn out rule of thumb? Are you lost in thought or can you not think of anything better? See, I can be belligerent too.

    7) If you can’t have a civil debate without anger, you probably should close the comments on your posts.

    8) I can’t end this comment without apologizing for any belligerent comments, but I feel I need to leave them in there to make a point. I am sorry if I offend you though. I haven’t been trying to be belligerent. I hope I am leaving you with some food for thought.

  12. j2nice78 says:

    That’s weird, I didn’t put a smiley in that comment. Oh I bet when I did the number 8 thats what did it. Sorry about that.

  13. j2nice78 says:

    Last one, sorry. I just re-read and realized I put at&t when I meant bell labs. I had just been talking to someone about my frustration with at&t (but that’s for another blog). I guess that’s why I put that.

  14. Ok well first off, a little beligerence is okay.

    So, firstly (or secondly for those counting), I’m not buying into any dogma, I’m looking at all the evidence I see, and I don’t see a god anywhere. You look at the world, and postulate an “infinite” being outside of our universe, which is an infintely more complex system than a universe which is and of itself infinite without anything external to it.

    Do you seriously believe ripples detected by a satellite is more than enough evidence to justify a belief in an infinitely more complex system than the one that surrounds you and that you inhabit?

    And again, based on your argument, you say “everything that came to be needs a cause”, but you bypass this by saying god always has been i.e. is infinite, but why can’t the universe be infinite, instead of postulating a pointlessly complex being outside of an already established and partly understood system? And also by your logic, if the universe IS, in fact, infinite then IT has always been, no? And since we don’t know (YET) what there was before the first second of the universe that we currently know as the first second, we cannot rule out the possibility that the universe itself is an infinite system that we simply just do not understand yet. You are making things infinitely more complex for no good reason. At least no reason that I could reconcile with.

  15. j2nice78 says:

    That’s a very good observation. In fact, it’s one of only two possibilities:

    Either a) the universe is infinite, or b) something outside the universe is infinite

    The ripples, and the radioactive decay are evidence to the fact that the universe exploded suddenly, and violently into existence. Add to that the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics.

    The first law of thermodynamics states, among other things, that the amount of energy in our universe is constant. No more can be created, what we have is it.

    The second law states, among other things, that we are running out of energy.

    How do these apply? I like the example given in a book I recently read. Think of the universe like you would your car (though it is very much more complex), you if all the gas available to you is what’s in your tank, and you started it an infinitely long time ago, would it still be running? Of course not.

    The universe is like that. It is definitely finite. Since time, space, and matter are intertwined and they all exploded onto the scene at the same time, something had to cause it. The problem is, that if you look back beyond the beginning, there is literally nothing. Since nothing yields nothing, what he have now (which is, in fact, something) have to have some other cause.

    This first cause had to be something that 1) transcends time, space, and matter (which makes this an infinite force)
    2) could choose of it’s own volition to cause what we have now, (which makes this first cause personal because an impersonal force has no ability to make choices)
    3) inconceivably powerful to create the universe out of nothing
    4) inconceivably intelligent to create the universe with such precision

    Who does that sound like to you?

    Unfortunately for the complexity issue, if you are to make any truth claims, you must first know the truth. To know the truth you must do the research. In doing the research, you’ll find that the complexity goes far beyond your wildest imagination. I don’t like it either, because I would like to know everything there is to know about this thing, and that is just impossible to do. The truth is often an uncomfortable thing.

  16. No offence, but your comments show that you clearly don’t understand the laws you’re dealing with.
    The first law of thermodynamics does indeed tell us that the energy in a closed system is constant, leading to the Law of Conservation Of Energy, meaning energy can neither be created or destroyed but merely changed from one form to another.
    However, the Second Law of Thermodynamics merely relates to an increase in entropy of a system over long periods of time when not prevented from doing so, and this is NO WAY results in a loss of the amount of total energy contained within the system.

    I suggest you study these concepts a little more throughly because your comments show a lack of understanding of the basic principles behind them. I mean you say that the energy is our universe is constant, yet you say we’re running out of it? How can you run out of something that is, as you say yourself, constant?

    And now on to a more serious matter. There is considerable postulation in the scientific community about Crush-Bang theory which would tell us that the universe existed in a completely different form before the big bang, and continues in a crush to bang loop for inifinity. There is also considerable discussion in Quantum Theory about the possibility of a Multiverse, i.e. many different universes. The main point is we DO NOT KNOW FOR CERTAIN what existed before our universe came to be. All possibilities at this point are MERE SPECULATION. Any physicist or mathematician will tell you the same thing, we do not know for certain.

    So, what you propose, is that something not consisting of space, time or matter, which are the only concepts we are currently aware of existing in any conceivable and more importantly, in any proveable way, exists outside of our universe, which you say must contain nothing, which is a personal force with the will, intelligence and power to create this universe, and itself is infinite. First off, this is again a completely ridiculously complicated piece of thinking when they are much simpler possibilities to explore. Secondly, this entity which is supposed to be infinite cannot possibly exist if, when you look back beyond the beginning of our universe, you find NOTHING.

  17. j2nice78 says:

    Have we really gone back and forth 18 times already? Wow.

    Well, I should first apologize for my wording, because they way I worded it would make you correct. I posted in haste. It’s not that I don’t understand the laws, I just didn’t say what I meant.

    I would like to quickly address your “Crush-Bang” idea. I have more commonly seen it referred to as the “cosmic rebound theory”. Call it what you like, it’s a crazy theory with no legs. Based on the available evidence, the universe appears to have exploded into existence once, from nothing. There is no evidence supporting any previously existing material from which it could explode and contract.

    Also, would you care to argue with astronomers about the fact that the expansion speed is constantly accelerating making a collapse improbable. Or maybe you’d like to dispute the fact that there is not enough matter in the universe to pull everything back together, as observed by NASA scientists. One of these NASA scientists said “The universe will expand forever. It will not turn back on itself and collapse in a great crunch.”?

    This theory is also in conflict with the second law of thermodynamics, which as you already have discovered deals with entropy and the amount of useable energy. This theory assumes no energy would be used up, but in reality if there had been an infinite number of bangs, the universe would already have run out of useable energy to bang with.

    By the way, time, space, and matter being mixed in this universe thing, if it were infinite, today could not have arrived. Look at it this way, you cannot add to or subtract from an infinite number of days. If there were an infinite number of days, it would be endless. Yet today is the last day in history, until tomorrow when we add another day. Basically, there had to be a finite amount of days for today to arrive. I hope this isn’t too philosophically challenging, because it took me a while to wrap my head around it too when I first heard it.

    Lastly, I have already established the fact that God would have to transcend time, space, and matter, which would make him unconstrained by the nothing you are talking about. If He had those constraints then He wouldn’t be infinite now would He? Also, you say that this is a complex idea. If there are any simpler ones, I haven’t heard them.

    I guess that wasn’t QUICKLY addressing the issue huh? Sorry about that. Also, sorry for the delayed response, I haven’t been near the computer much the last few days. My wife has been running me ragged (but I still love her πŸ™‚ ).

  18. Trust me, it’s not philosophically challenging at all. Because it’s rubbish. Even if there were an infinite amount of days before today and after today, the fact that the earth still revolves around the sun and the earth still spins on its axis means that we still have our traditional methods of telling time, and your concept of today being the last day in history merely obscures the point that even in an infinite system, time can be measured based on the events within that system. And by the way, history is merely a human construct, and in an infinite system, tomorrow isn’t added to the system, tomorrow is merely added to our observation of the system.

  19. j2nice78 says:

    No? Well, since the evidence points to a definite beginning for the universe, the universe is not infinite. So what was there before?

    Also, there is a difference in infinity when dealing with the concrete and the abstract. Since, time is concrete, it is a mathematical impossibility to have an infinite number of days. We can mathematically concieve of an infinite number of days, but put into practice, it’s impossible. Think of it like this, (and this is another stolen example) we can concieve of an infinite number of mathematical points between two bookends on a shelf, but you could not fit an infinite amount of books between them.

    Rubbish? Hardly.

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