Tag Archives: Existence of God

Spontaneous creation or God?

NASA StarChild image of Stephen Hawking.

Image via Wikipedia

Recently (3rd Sept. 2010) Stephen Hawking declared that it was not necessary to invoke the hand of God in the creation of the universe, that the powerful force of gravity could accomplish the fabrication of the vast and wonderful cosmos in an act of self-creation.[1] He was almost immediately rebutted by John Lennox (a professor of mathematics from Oxford University), who said that “As a scientist I’m certain Stephen Hawking is wrong. You can’t explain the universe without God.”[2] He then proceeds to offer rather flimsy examples of how objects need to be designed by an exterior mind, which I believe is deceitfully misleading and over-simplifies Hawking’s argument. He also makes utterly nonsensical statements like “…the Christian faith actually makes perfect scientific sense”, and “But support for the existence of God moves far beyond the realm of science. Within the Christian faith, there is also the powerful evidence that God revealed himself to mankind through Jesus Christ two millennia ago. This is well-documented not just in the scriptures and other testimony but also in a wealth of archaeological findings”. The first statement is utterly wrong, unless the science to which he is referring is the psychological study of mass hysteria, superstition, enforced tradition, cruelty, and genocide. The second statement is dishonest; the evidence offered for the existence of God comes from ‘within the Christian faith’, which makes it faith, not evidence. The ‘well-documented scriptures’ are delightfully corrupt texts, there is no non-Christian ‘other testimony’, and there is no, I repeat, no archaeological evidence for the Christian god, or Christ himself. Lennox even says that “The existence of a common pool of moral values points to the existence of transcendent force beyond mere scientific laws. Indeed, the message of atheism has always been a curiously depressing one, portraying us as selfish creatures bent on nothing more than survival and self-gratification”. Both of these statements are fallacious, morality has nothing to do with faith, and atheism is hardly depressing, and in fact encourages community over selfishness because it does not believe that a myth will save humanity from destroying itself.

Lennox does have a vaguely defensible point though; he believes that there must have been a being to set things in motion, an unmoved mover, a first cause which, at the very least, created gravity, which in turn created the universe. This is the crux of the debate, as it has always been, and probably always will be. Every time science deduces a rational answer for the existence of the universe, and all that lies within it, faith takes one step back. When it was found that the earth was not at the centre of the solar system, religion said it was still the centre of the universe. When it was realised that we evolved from chemicals, religion declares it was a development guided by the ‘hand of God’. The Big Bang must have been seen as a wonderful theory by the established faiths; it provides a point in time, a creation event to which they could attach the label ‘God did it’, even though this was not what science had sought to achieve. And then science pushed back further, but still ‘god’ must be the first cause.

The simple fact of the matter is that science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of ‘god’ (yet). And a true scientist, a skeptic to the core, must accept that there is a possibility, however remote, removed from reason, or absurd, that there is a supernatural force that impelled the universe into being. It must be made clear that this ‘god’ is a very different to the ‘god’ of religion. This hypothetical unmoved mover would be far removed from human discourse, a detached entity existing outside the universe. Arguing that this ‘god’ has anything to do with Christianity, as Lennox does, is intellectually misleading. The revelation of ‘god’ to desert nomads, a carpenter’s son, or faith healers might provide many people with some notion of comfort, but it should not be accepted as the basis for society, morality, laws, or educational practices, which, sadly, it is. His arguments grant credence to oppressive religions, allowing them to argue that there is scientific evidence for ‘god’, and, consequently, all of their incumbent traditions and bizarre beliefs and practices. The ‘god’ of faith is an irrational creature, prone to violence and jealousy, and the religions based on the deranged visions of so-called prophets and messiahs are uncritical of their own practices and beliefs, cling to tradition, and deflated dogma.[3] They can hardly claim to have any scientific basis or any grounds as historical fact.

Whether ‘god’ exists or not is an opinion, not a fact which can be proved or disproved. Hawking believes the weight of the evidence suggests that the universe came into being through the agent of gravity, and Lennox holds that ‘god did it’. What can be proved or disproved are the links in the chains of faith, the shackles of religion which fetter the freedom of thought, and of humankind. Everyone should be free to believe what they wish, but they are not. Religion is imposed on society, indoctrinated from birth, and enshrined as the font of all morality. It is not open to criticism, or investigation. Religion is a closed concept, a narrow viewpoint which seeks to eliminate all others, a parasite of the mind. Whether or not ‘god’ exists is not the point; religion does, but it shouldn’t.

Ceterum autem censeo, religionem esse delendam

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1308278/Stephen-Hawking-God-did-create-Universe.html.

[2] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1308599/Stephen-Hawking-wrong-You-explain-universe-God.html. See also, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1308616/Stephen-Hawking-Archbishop-Canterbury-attacks-claim-God-did-NOT-create-Universe.html.

[3] See previous posts, ‘My Problem With Your God 1-5’.


My Problem with Your God 1 – Divinity

Who is this ‘God’ fellow anyway?God

When I say ‘God’ I confine myself specifically to the monotheistic deity of the Abrahamic faiths, as, for reasons upon which I shall elucidate presently, the other faiths of the world, which are either polytheistic or spiritual, do not arouse my philosophical ire to such a high degree, as their humble gods do not lay claim to the vast theological estates as the supercilious, capitalised God does.

So, what is this ‘God’ thing? It, though often described as ‘He’, is the creator of everything “seen and unseen”, the supreme ruler of the universe. It is described as being all-powerful, all-seeing, ever-present, unknowable, and as a being of infinite mercy, wisdom, love and compassion. It is also wrathful, angry, vengeful, destructive, silent, and judgemental. I have no issue with a god having some or any of these traits, but God cannot. It can be either one, or the other; it is either infinite or finite. The polytheistic gods were divine, but limited. They could, and often did, die. They have human traits and failings because they are reflections of the people who invented them. The monotheistic God is granted the supreme prejudice of being omnipotent. This is a coherent deity-concept only if you accept the full implications of its construction; it is entirely unknowable, such that no fragile human mind could grasp the extremes of reality that such a being would inhabit. Which is fine, but then people attach human notions to this supreme being. It is ‘good’, ‘merciful’, etc., petty human conceits, which would be entirely alien to such a being. This is due not to a lack of imagination on behalf of the faithful, but either an impossibility of imagination or purposeful obfuscation by the keepers of the ‘Word’. By attaching human characteristics to this thing people hope to grasp it in some fashion, but it was never designed to be held in the mind. It doesn’t even have a name; ‘God’ is its title.

It might be said that this God is infinite and the human attributes attached to it would be present in any self-aware being capable of reason, just taken to an infinite extreme. This might lead one to the Epicurean dilemma,[1] but I am more concerned with the clear folly of this idea. An infinite and supreme being would just as equally have no understanding of finite and pathetic creatures, such as us, as we would of it. It, I’m told, lives forever and is beyond time, we do not and are not. Pick any attribute of this peculiar deity and it will fulfil this formula. Death, which defines us, means nothing to it; how could it comprehend us if it cannot even share in this most crucial aspect of our being? It could be said that because of its supreme nature it can understand us while maintaining its own ineffability. To understand something it would have to be that something. I cannot understand what it is to be a bat, unless I were a bat. But seeing as we are dealing with the divine, let us allow it this latitude of understanding. Would it not now then be moved by its infinite compassion to help? But that again leads us to Epicurus.God-Python If it understood us, all of us and everything, then it would be, at least in part, us and everything. This is pantheist, and heresy. Aside from the thing itself, what is attributed to it is farcical. It lives in a kingdom in heaven, it has a throne, a son (depending on the faith), and vast armies of loyal soldiers. This is clearly a monarch, a king, a human invention.

Choose then that your God is either finite, knowable, comprehensible to the human mind and is prone to the same failures and weaknesses, or infinite and beyond understanding. The former is clearly the God of Abraham and all his descendants, while the latter is what is often professed by the faithful in their less than infinite wisdom. Pick the petty God and live in fear of his (gender might be applicable to this incarnation) wrath or in hope of the eternal reward he will provide in his kingdom. This God is not worthy of worship, and, more importantly, is not real. Pick the infinite God, and abandon religion and those who claim to interpret this being’s truth for they lie. While there is no good reason to believe that such a being as ‘God’ does exist there is a chance, however unlikely, that it might. If it did, it would be the infinite God, and so far beyond the intellectual capacity of humans as to be not worth even thinking about.

So, even if God exists, it doesn’t matter.

Ceterum autem censeo, religionem esse delendam

[1] “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

Epicurus – Greek philosopher, BC 341-270