Dear Chris: Evidences for God
Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately, your alleged “evidences” for a god do not stand up very well to criticism. You named quite a few, so let’s take them one by one, shall we?
1. Beginning of the Universe
You contend that the universe “hasn’t always existed”, and thus, if it hasn’t always existed, then it must have a cause. You also contend that there is no possible way for everything to come from nothing.
As it appears, however, there are multiple flaws with both sides of the statement. On one hand, to suddenly jump from the universe having a cause to that being a god is special pleading, not based on any particular evidence. So, if you’re implying that the universe was caused/created by god, I’d assume that you would have some evidence for that being the specific cause, and not another cause.
Also, just because the universe had a beginning, more or less described by the Big Bang Theory, does not imply that the universe hasn’t always existed. For example, in the case of an expanding and contracting universe, where the universe expands for a long period of time, and eventually collapses and brings itself together again, before starting a new Big Bang, the universe as we know it would have had a beginning, but the cause of the universe would have already existed without the presence of a god.
Also, moving to the second part of the argument, you contend that, basically, “everything cannot come from nothing”. However, that statement would be better said as “something cannot come from nothing”, because if a block of wood came from nothing, and that was it, then that block of wood would be everything that existed. Thus, that something can come from nothing basically implies that everything can come from nothing.
However, if that’s the case- if something cannot come from nothing, that is- then how did your God come to be? For your God is something as well.
Of course, there are two loopholes in this rebuttal: that there wasn’t always nothing, or that God is eternal and infinite. However, if there never was nothing, then clearly the idea of your argument behind nothingness falls apart, as one of your contentions was, to quote,
b. However, if there was nothing prior to the existence – how did this happen? Nothing is not a property. It means no thing. That there was nothing. No energy, no mass, no ways of coming into existence on it’s own.
Well, if something did exist prior to the universe, and something always existed, then this argument is invalid, because it contradicts the idea that there was nothing prior to the existence.
The other possibility is that, whatever came “before” the universe, it was “infinite and eternal”, an argument commonly used by theists. However, this argument falls apart as well, because then that would mean that, if something was infinite and eternal, that the argument from nothingness used above is invalid, because there was always something prior to the existence of the universe. Plus, if God can be infinite and eternal, why can’t the universe, like in the expanding and contracting universe explained earlier? Of course, none of your argument even explains why the cause of the universe must be God, and nothing else, because you seem to claim that your argument is evidence for the existence of a god, yet it fails to explain why God must be the only explanation here.
c. Let’s say it did come into existence on it’s own – this actually opens a can of worms to why other things don’t just POP into existence.
Again, unless you’re saying that God is eternal and infinite, then that means that, if God came to existence on his own, that, according to your argument, that would mean that we should still see things popping into existence.
On the other hand, if God is indeed eternal and infinite according to you, that the universe, like shown in the expanding-contracting idea aforementioned, can be eternal and infinite as well.
Plus, remember that the universe has its own set of laws that are seperate from anything that is not part of our universe; if our universe’s laws dictate that something cannot come from nothing, then that must be the case, regardless of how our universe began.
2. Objective Moral Values
First, I’m going to address something that you’ve been consistently repeating throughout your argument: that happiness is an emotion, that emotion can be irrational, and thus it is irrational to use happiness as my baseline for morality.
However, this ignores my original definition of happiness,
Happiness: this isn’t exactly an easy term to define. However, the definition I provided above gives a basic idea of what happiness is. To summarize it, happiness is the ultimate good, the ultimate desire; everything that we desire is desired as the result of happiness. I’ll talk more about happiness later.
You tried to mock me for saying that it isn’t an easy term to define, however, I said that because it isn’t something that I can observe crystal-clear in front of my eyes and describe it to you. Also, from my research, there were few sources that gave a decent definition of happiness, so I had to combine what little I had together to create my defintion. However, something being difficult to determine does not render it untrue.
Anyhow, there are two different types of happiness:
Happiness: the ultimate commodity, the one thing that we as humans strive for; the ultimate desire.
Happy/Happiness: the human state of being filled with happiness (as mentioned in the above definition).
One definition is a desire, the other is a state of emotion. I used the first definition, not the second.
And you accuse me of jumping to conclusions.
Anyways, happiness is the ultimate desire, as I defined. True. Everybody wants happiness; true. Even those of us who are starving. We don’t suddenly think to ourselves, “Oh, we need to eat something!”. No, we think “Man, my stomach sure is hurting [unhappiness]. I better go eat something [happiness after eating something]!”. This is because happiness is the ultimate motivator. Everything that we do eventually strives towards some kind of happiness for ourselves.
So, if the ultimate motivator is happiness, as it is truly the only thing that we actually desire, then that would mean that rational self-interest would dictate that we should pursue happiness as human beings.
Now, I’ll come back to that. Let’s look at your argument.
2. objective moral values.
a. Things are either right/wrong. Objectively. Regardless of benefit, emotion or opinion.
b. I believe they are. Seems you do too.
Yeah, I believe that things are right or wrong, not an in-between… But you extend things too far.
Here’s the thing: my entire argument, I have been stating that the reason for being moral, for wanting to follow my law of morality, is because it benefits us as human beings. True, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. However, in my email, I told you that I would suggest that everybody follow it, because, speaking from rational self-interest, every rational person would want to pursue what benefits them, which is happiness. Thus, if you don’t want to follow the law, then you’re an irrational person.
Of course, my law doesn’t dictate that everybody’s going to act in the best interest of everybody overall. For example, murder: people murder people, generally, because it produces happiness in some form or another. However, my moral law does not say that everybody, automatically, follows the exact law. People murder others out of self-interest, out of self-motivation; to them, the happiness produced for them in particular is far more important than the unhappiness produced for others.
We make government to protect everybody’s overall best interests; thus, the government must punish ultimately immoral behavior. We formed government to protect us and our happiness, and thus the government ought to punish the criminal for producing ultimately more unhappiness than happiness.
Now, going back to what you said, you imply that an action is right or wrong regardless of “benefit, emotion, or opinion”. As I showed earlier, the happiness, as I define it, that I use is not an emotion. It is a desire, a benefit (I’ll come to that in a moment).
Nor is my moral law based on opinion; either an action promotes happiness, or it doesn’t. There’s no “Oh, in my opinion, we shouldn’t kill people”. It’s “Oh, we shouldn’t kill people because, out of millions and millions of situations in which we see one person murder another, we practically always see that that murder makes people a lot unhappier than happier”. There’s no opinion to that, it’s a true or false statement, and nothing in-between.
However, my moral law is based on benefit. But here’s the thing.
Like I said earlier, we all have a motivation to try and follow the moral law that we’ve set out; doing so benefits us. That’s why we have government, to help enforce that moral law. It’s not like the government suddenly decided “Oh, let’s make killing illegal, because that’s my opinion”. No, they make it illegal because nobody desires to be killed, no family member desires to have another family member killed, no friend desires another friend to be killed, and the like. With the moral law I’ve described, we actually have a reason to follow it: because it benefits us.
With your moral law, we have no reason to follow it.
With your moral law, something’s either right or wrong, with no explanation why or how; it’s based on the laws Jesus and God have set out for you. If they told you that you ought to murder every living person on the planet, you’d be forced to say that that’d be the moral thing to do, because you base your morality on deities.
Of course, if you want to whine and say that I’m jumping to conclusions by saying that your moral law is based on godlike beings, well, here’s the thing: either a god made your morality, or one didn’t. So, if you’re god didn’t make your morality, then the fact that we’ve been arguing this at all is ridiculous. If your god did make your morality, then my jump to a conclusion was a correct one.
So, take your pick.
Going back, though, in summary: my moral law is based on cost versus benefit; yours isn’t. I say that we ought to follow my moral law out of rational self-interest; you say that we ought to follow it because, well, God told us to. I have a reason to follow the moral law. You don’t.
There has to be some kind of motivation for us to actually give up our ability to do some things, like killing people. For me, that motivation is quite clear. For you, that motivation is as clear as mud.
So, just to say that morality is objective, regardless of benefit, is a rather silly point. The only reason we ought to act moral is because of the benefit. If you disagree, then there’s no motivation to act moral. If you agree, then you contradict yourself by saying that objective morals are objective regardless of benefit.
And, to address the point of objectivity, no matter where you are in the world, an action will either promote happiness, or it won’t. Regardless of culture, too. You mentioned self-mutilation. Although I see little reason to self-mutilate, I see even less reason to ban self-mutilation, as long as it isn’t clearly irrational- in other words, as long as it doesn’t violate rational self-interest. Now, if you took me against my will and mutilated me, that would be immoral, because it went against my desires. However, if I’m rational, and I believe that self-mutilation will benefit me, then I ought to have the right to self-mutilate. No matter where you are in the world, this remains the same. If you’re in the US, and nobody wants to self-mutilate, that’s their choice; that’s their action. However, if you’re in another part, if somebody does want to self-mutilate, again, that’s their choice, their action, and it fulfills their desires. So, really, self-mutilation isn’t much of a good point for you to make.
So, take your pick, Chris: either state that there is no benefit and thus no reason to follow moral law, or there is, and thereby contradict yourself.
3. The Resurrection
3. Jesus’ death and resurrection.
a. Can’t be done without a God.
As Dave mentioned, that assumes that Jesus ever existed, and that he was resurrected, which you haven’t provided proof for. Done.
From here on out, my rebuttals are basically going to be the same as Dave’s.
Uh… How does that provide evidence for a god?
Same as above.
6. Existence of love.
Same again, plus it can be explained pretty easily by evolution/happiness.
Same, plus it can again be explained by the fact that happiness is a motivator and thus people don’t always act in the best interest of everybody, which again explains our invention of government.
8. Life in general
Chris, you appear to find it difficult to believe that life could arise from nonlife by chance. However, you miss a lot of major points.
For example, our universe isn’t very well fine-tuned to life in the first place. Considering that +99.999999999% of the places in the universe we could be right now would kill us in seconds, if not, a few minutes, the word “fine-tuned” seems a bit odd. However, looking at probabilities, eventually, given the formation of the stars and the near-infinite number of tests of trial-and-error, it would seem absurd to assume that a self-replicating molecule wouldn’t eventually form.
Also, further along with the belief that the universe/Earth is fine-tuned for life, that’s assuming life in its current form; there are other ways that life could portray itself, and there are possibly many other nonliving, yet still very interesting compounds of chemicals that could exist in other “versions” of the universe.
Furthermore, multiple constants in our universe are dependent on other constants (Kane et al. 2000).
Not to mention, it’s difficult for you to determine that this universe is only one of a near infinite number of possible universes; for all we know, this could be the only way the universe can form.
On top of that last point, with the expanding-contracting idea of the universe, even if there were a near infinite number of possible universes, as long as the universe expanded, then contracted, expanded, then contracted, eventually, a universe like ours would appear, even if it took a near infinite number of trials.
Also, you neglect the possiblity of multiple universes, in which case at least one could very well have life within it.
You neglect the idea that life could have started off in a form very similar to viruses, with a self-replicating RNA molecule, which viruses happen to be composed of. We’re talking about a near infinite number of chemical reactions on planets all across the universe; that you would believe that a self-replicating RNA molecule or self-replicating nucleic acid could not be created on at least one planet, a single planet, in the universe, is rather odd.
I hope I don’t have to go any further to explain this to you. Even if the chance of life forming is extremely, extremely small, to assume that it was created is ridiculous, due to the immense number of trials that occured all across the universe.
9. Sentient Life
Explainable through evolution, which is a very well-established, scientific theory.
10. The Bible
Assumes that it’s true, even though it contradicts centuries and millennia of evidence to the contrary. Assumes that it was written by the people it claims to have been written by, although the New Testament has been shown to be filled with forgeries, and the fact that Mark, John, Luke, and Matthew were all almost certainly illiterate, not to mention that there was no way that these Roman peasants suddenly developed excellent reading and writing skills in Greek that allowed themselves to write a book like the New Testament, among other things, like the Old Testament being a ragged copy of legends from the ancient world that have no basis in reality whatsoever.
11. Fine tuning of Earth for life
Yes, because out of trillions of planets and stars, a near-uncountable number of reactions throughout the universe, the great age of the universe, it still seems remarkable to you that a self-replicating molecule could have formed somewhere in the universe. It’s like flipping a coin; flip it enough times, and you’ll eventually get one hundred heads in a row.
How is this evidence for God?
Same as above.
14. Cognitive Ability
So, that’s my response to your alleged “evidences” for a God. I’ll be rebutting the rest of your comments soon.