Wednesday, February 20, 2008

proof of god?

Actually, that's proofs of god? At this page, there's a list of alleged proofs of god's existence, titled Hundreds of Proofs of God's Existence. I haven't read all of them, yet, but the ones I have all seem to have one or more holes in the reasoning.

I thought I'd go through them and point out what I see wrong with them. Not all of them at once - there's over 500 of them. I' do ten or twenty of them at a time - should be enough here to keep me in blog posts for a while.

1. Transcendental Argument, a.k.a. Presuppositionalist (I)
(1) If reason exists then God exists.
(2) Reason exists.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

This "proof" has the same hole in it that most of the ones I've looked at so far have: there's no reason given in step one, the "if-then" statement, to show that the then follows from the if. i.e. what's the connection between reason existing and god existing?

I could just as well make this argument:
(1) If believers make illogical arguments, there is no god.
(2) Believers make illogical arguments.
(3) Therefore, there is no god.

However, the logic or illogic of an argument does not directly prove its truth or falsity.

Here is an illogical argument that is still true:
(1) Water is spelled with a 'w'
(2) Wet is also spelled with a 'w'
(3) Therefore, water is wet

Yes, water is wet, but it's got nothing to do with the way it's spelled.

2. Cosmological Argument, a.k.a. First Cause Argument (I)
(1) If I say something must have a cause, it has a cause.
(2) I say the universe must have a cause.
(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

A variant on the version of the first cause argument I usually see, which goes like this: "All things must have a cause; the universe must have a cause; that cause is god." The standard reply to the standard first cause argument is: "If everything must have a cause, what caused god?"

This argument has a couple of holes in it. Step 1 boils down to "because I say so," which looks to me like a form of argument from authority. Step 2, if the universe must have a cause, it will (or not) whether or not you say it must. Step 3: see Step 2. Step 4: the link between the universe (or anything else) needing a cause and god is merely alleged, and is in no way demonstrated.

Oh, yeah: what caused god?

3. Ontological Argument (I)
(1) I Define God to be X.
(2) Since I can conceive of X, X must exist.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

1: You can define god as anything you want, but if you're defining something, you're not explaining it, you're creating it.

2: I can conceive of a great number of things, but I don't assume that my conception of them is enough to make them real. In many cases, I'm glad of that. Just because I can conceive of Cthulhu does not mean I think (or want) him to exist.

4. Ontological Argument (II)
(1) I can conceive of a perfect God.
(2) One of the qualities of perfection is existence.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

Step 1: Really, you can't conceive of a perfect anything. You can think of the label, "Perfect X" where X is whatever you want it to be, but slapping a label on a conception is not the same as actually being able to conceive of somethings actual "perfection."

Step 2: I can conceive of a perfect frog, but that doesn't mean there is such a thing.

(1) I can conceive of the perfect bank account, one that contains several million dollars.
(2) One of the qualities of perfection is existence.
(3) Therefore, I have a bank account containing several million dollars.
Sadly enough, a quick check shows that in fact, I do not have a bank account containing several million dollars.

5. Modal Ontological Argument
(1) God is either necessary or unnecessary.
(2) God is not unnecessary, therefore god must be necessary.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

Step 1: Necessity and reality do not always overlap. A hiker has a heart attack miles away from the nearest person. He needs a doctor, badly, but has no way to communicate that need. His necessity is not matched by existence, and he dies. Did he need a doctor? Yes. Did a doctor exist there to help him? No.

Step 2: it is not shown that god is necessary.

6. Teleological Argument, a.k.a. Design Argument (I)
(1) Check out the world/universe/giraffe. Isn't it complex?
(2) Only God could have made them so complex.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

We're going to see this one a lot, in different forms. It boils down to this: "See that? Only god could do that, so god is real."

Step 1: On the whole, the universe is empty space. Not what I'd consider to be all that complex.

Step 2: again, it's not shown that god is the only possible answer for complexity.

Argument from Beauty, a.k.a. Design/Teleological Argument (II)
(1) Isn't that baby/sunset/flower/tree beautiful?
(2) Only God could have made them so beautiful.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

I told you we'd see this one again.

Step 2: Again, it's not shown that god is the only possible answer for beauty.

Shouldn't there be a matching Argument from Ugliness?
(I) Isn't that an ugly baby/dog/whatever?
(2) Only god could make anything that ugly.
(3) Therefore, god exists.

8. Argument from Miracles (I)
(1) My aunt had cancer.
(2) The doctors gave her all these horrible treatments.
(3) My aunt prayed to God and now she doesn't have cancer.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

Still waiting for proof that it was the prayer that made the cancer go away, and not the "horrible" treatments. Or plain, for reasons unknown to us, remission.

If christians really believed in miracles, especially miracles of this kind, they they're blatant hypocrites for ever going to the hospital. Sick? Injured? Wounded? Will the average christian pray for god to help them, or pray they can get to the hospital in time?

Yeah, that's what I thought, too. Medicine over miracles every time.

9. Moral Argument (I)
(1) Person X, a well-known Atheist, was morally inferior to the rest of us.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

Step 1: no connection between X's atheism (and by the way, atheism isn't a proper noun, and thus doesn't need to be capitalized) and his immorality.

"Person Y, a well-known christian, is morally inferior to the rest of us. Therefore, there is no god."

Ken Hamm, noted creationist and tax-evader, is in prison for tax evasion. Guess that proves there's no god.

10. Moral Argument

(1) In my younger days, I was a cursing, drinking, smoking, gambling, child-molesting, thieving, murdering, bed-wetting bastard.
(2) That all changed once I became religious.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

In my younger days, I cursed, drank, smoked, gambled, stole etc. That all stopped about the same time I gave up religion. (Okay, I still curse, and since I buy powerball tickets from time to time, I still gamble.)

This is as good a point as any to mention that the plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data. In other words, a friend of a friend of a relatives friend did something is meaningless.

Step 2: no link shown between giving up bad behaviors and embracing a religion.

That's enough for now, more later. I'm going to have to go read Pharyngula to wash the stupid off.

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