One of the things that has been on my mind... I'm sure this has been examined by some atheists somewhere, but I haven't run into it (I don't do much reading). It's just a bit more explicit in my mind than it used to be.
Once you start to realize how big and complex the universe is, in my view, this provides an argument (inductive?) against any possibility of a god that is all-powerful (one which controls every quark/molecule/etc., at all times, in all ways) . As for a non-all-powerful God, I suppose some might say that still fits their hypothesis.
In other words, is it possible for some form of being to be truly omniscient, all-knowing? Said being would have to be conversant in topics ranging from sub-nuclear physics to the kind of cosmological science which would describe the Big Bang and its sub-processes, then also in the derivative sciences of chemistry and metallurgy, and of course, physical chemistry, which describes those processes which allow living matter to develop from non-living material. Stipulated that this is a brief list and not at all meant to be all-inclusive.
Said being would also have to be, if not omnipotent, then pretty damned potent. It would have to set up the initial conditions for everything in the universe to occur as we have seen it, but even more than that. It would have to simultaneously make it look as though the whole enchilada happened On Its Own, without any form of external interference.
Could such a being exist, some form of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and a dash of Sheldon Cooper on steroids? I suppose ... but does this thing, whatever it is, also get its rocks off on the smell of burnt sacrifices, turning curious women into salt pillars, and repeatedly throwing screwballs at what is supposed to be its supreme creation, too?
Sorry, but that starts to sound too much like the bratty little kid with his magnifying glass, hanging out at the anthill. Regardless of how someone might want to define it, they still haven't PRODUCED it or evidence for it, and until such time, I ain't havin' any.
The universe and space beyond is so complex, intricate, and reliant on its own laws of physics that the notion of a god is not sufficient enough to explain it, especially in light of the zero evidence we have. Theists may claim that complexity and intricacy are proof of god and of a designer. But, I ask, if a god has done all this, why create a universe so needlessly complex or one that can function entirely on its own merits?
Complexity is not, in and of itself, indicative of intelligent design. A roll of toilet paper is intelligently designed. I would hardly call it complex.
Is "God" possible?
Is God possible?
In English the word exists. Someone named that is unnecessary.
Is god possible? Well, yes, as possible as fairies at the bottom of my garden. Is he probable? As probable as fairies at the bottom of my garden. As atheists we can state with certainty that god does not exist (god is impossible). As impossible as fairies at the bottom of my garden.
Thanks for the various responses. In my own words:
- 1) I don't see how an omniscient all-powerful god is possible. .
- 2) If we try to tone it down as to the definition of a "god" and say that it is an entity that is relatively more powerful than we are, but which is neither omniscient nor all-powerful, then I have to come back with how is that necessarily any sort of "god"? Isn't that just playing games with words? If we specify in the definition that this entity has powers that we regard as "supernatural" then, as far as I can tell, this would just fit within saying that we humans haven't yet understood the principles behind those powers. So, I think this second case fits within some sort of anthropological bucket of understanding sometimes beings define a "god" as an entity that appears to have an unusual amount of power over them and the surrounding world. We can understand this as an anthropological phenomenon without agreeing that the more powerful entities actually have supernatural powers, omniscience and total power over everything. Powers that appear to us as "supernatural" and all-powerful are, in my view, indicative more of our own unwillingness properly to bucket the not-yet-understood as part-of-the-world-but-not-yet-understood.
All that hand-wringing may be a bit annoying, but to come back to the beginning - if we consider some of the basic known physical properties of the world around us, and I suppose some of the basic psychological properties, and if we really think about them (the number of atomic and sub-atomic particles, the forces at work, the speed of light, the workings of the brain, the elements of consciousness, etc.), I guess I'll say, not to be rude but to be honest, ludicrous to hypothesize an all-powerful all-knowing entity..... it seems like a less-than-fully-competent or less than a full effort better to understand what is around us, and what is important.
One point needs to be made in the midst of any discussion regarding the existence of any kind of supernatural, foundational being: in the course of humankind's study of the phenomena which surround him, there is one truism which has characterized the resolution of each and every investigation:
The Answer Has NEVER Been "Magic."
Without exception, our forays have resulted in natural causations and processes which may be rationally understood. There has been no discontinuity, no break, no result so extraordinary as to break the back of the scientific method. Personally, I am severely dubious that any such break will ever occur or will provide substantiation for some supernatural element. Such a discovery would be inconsistent with the rest of what we've found the nature of this reality to be, and while that is hardly the strongest argument against such a being, it remains worthy of consideration.
Loren, in my two years in a Catholic high school taught by nuns, a kid who was thinking was committing the sin of pride.
Doncha feel guilty?
I went two years to a Catholic high school taught by Jesuits and don't remember a line as manipulative as that one.
I went to Holyoke Catholic High School for four years (1964-1968) and heard similar lines from the teachers. Imagining a universe operating on its own without God was to commit the sin of doubt.
"Doncha feel guilty?"
How about: FUCK NO! If the RCC is built on any one single emotion, it's built on guilt, and I will have no truck with that or with them. Thankfully, I wasn't raised a catholic, so I never had that baggage to shed in the first place. How is pride involved in Being Right, in apprehending the world correctly? Every step I take in learning how the world works puts me in a position of having greater control of my environment and, as a result, the environment having less control over me. That makes my own life better and potentially the lives of those I have interaction with.
If we were as humble before their god as the catholic hierarchy would have us be, I wonder if we would have ever made it out of the caves.
Edit: in having more control over my life, not only is the environment reduced in power, but SO IS THE CHURCH! And they don't like that very much. To which I say, simply, tough shit.
I'll second that "FUCK NO!" I left quilt and fear behind the second I found-out gods did not exist.