Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
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29-05-2014, 03:05 AM (This post was last modified: 29-05-2014 03:21 AM by Mathilda.)
Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
I was going to use this tactic on Jeremy E. Walker in a boxing match but he flounced before I had a chance.

I have noticed that the theists will put forward philosophical arguments as proof, or even evidence taken out of context. They never talk about evidence in terms of how likely it is that a belief or hypothesis is correct or not.

No atheists ever claims to be gnostic, only ever agnostic. And that's good because technically it is true, but that's because we are treating the subject like scientists and Science is limited to falsifiable, reproducible and testable hypotheses. If we use the theist standard of 'proof' then in their eyes we're gnostic atheists not willing to stand by our convictions. After all, we can't say that a meteorite won't fall on our head and kill us but the chances of that happening are so remote as to be negligable and therefore not worth worrying about. The same applies to the question of whether God exists. In short, there is no God.

What I have found is that taking this approach every theist argument for the existance of God can not only be turned around using the same standard of reasoning to show that God does not exist, but quite often makes for a stronger case. This is because we can easily bring in the laws of Thermodynamics.

So far I have the Kalam Cosmological argument, William Lane Craig's version of the cosmological argument, the argument by Leibniz and Alvin Plantinga's modal ontological argument changed to show that God does not exist. If anyone can suggest another then please do so.

Where possible I have tried to keep as many of the first premises exactly the same. First I figured out the flaws in the original argument and rather than arguing against them I have kept them in the modified argument. After all if it's good enough for theists to accept the idea that God exists then it's good enough for theists to accept that God does not exist. I have tried to keep them as concise as possible, sometimes they are shorter than the original version.

Let's start with my favourite so far ... the modified Kalam Cosmological argument, both classic and WLC.

  • Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;
  • We know that energy cannot be created or destroyed so therefore must have always existed.
  • The universe does not have a beginning of its existence and therefore there is no cause for it


And a modification to WLC's version of it
  • An actual infinite cannot exist.
  • An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
  • An infinite temporal progress of events is an actual infinite.
  • Therefore there can be no Heaven, Hell or God.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kal%C4%81m_...l_argument
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29-05-2014, 05:00 AM
RE: Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
(29-05-2014 03:05 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  
  • Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;
  • We know that energy cannot be created or destroyed so therefore must have always existed.
  • The universe does not have a beginning of its existence and therefore there is no cause for it

Just a quick note on this formulation, I think the final 'therefore' is unjustified by what preceeds it.

Premise #1: Beginning implies cause.
Premise #2 & #3a: Universe has no beginning.
Conclusion: Universe has no cause.

The conclusion doesn't follow from the premises, since Premise #1 is only implicative, hence, if something has no beginning, it may or may not have a cause and the premise still stands. You can circumvent this by switching it to:

Premise #1: Cause implies beginning.

Now the conclusion follows by modus tollens. How much this formulation affects the credibility of the premise remains unclear to me though, since it's still the same meaningless word salad from the original Kalam. Cause? Begins to exist? Back to the asylum.

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29-05-2014, 05:49 AM
RE: Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
(29-05-2014 05:00 AM)John Wrote:  The conclusion doesn't follow from the premises, since Premise #1 is only implicative, hence, if something has no beginning, it may or may not have a cause and the premise still stands. You can circumvent this by switching it to:

Premise #1: Cause implies beginning.

Now the conclusion follows by modus tollens. How much this formulation affects the credibility of the premise remains unclear to me though, since it's still the same meaningless word salad from the original Kalam. Cause? Begins to exist? Back to the asylum.

I completely agree. I wanted to keep to the original wording so that if the theist wants to argue it, like in the way that you have, then the theist will be refuting their own arguments. With any luck it might make them see it from our point of view and see how their own arguments are flawed. This is why I copied and pasted the first line from the wikipedia article and kept as close to the original wording as possible.

My personal objection to the first premise is what is meant by "beginning of its existence". Also what is meant by "cause". In fact on thinking about it the whole premise is utter pish.

If something exists then it is just a persistent pattern of atoms and energy flow that has somehow come about, whether because it has self organised or because something else made it so. There was no beginning. When exactly does a hammer begin to exist? When the handle and head are joined together? When the handle is crafted and the head is cast? When the seedling first starts growing into a tree to make the wood for the handle? Even the simplest steel of is still made from iron and carbon and so was the hammer first created in a sun that went super nova? If you can't point to a beginning then you can't point to a cause.

The first premise of William Lane Craig's argument is flawed as well. Do we actually know that an actual infinite cannot exist? Is there any reason to believe this? No matter, the theist will continue to argue it so let's use it against them.
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29-05-2014, 06:40 AM
RE: Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
First of all, I love this idea. I'd love to see it in action. I wonder if the theist would try to reverse the tables and cry "nonfalsifiability!".

(29-05-2014 03:05 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  No atheists ever claims to be gnostic, only ever agnostic. And that's good because technically it is true, but that's because we are treating the subject like scientists and Science is limited to falsifiable, reproducible and testable hypotheses. If we use the theist standard of 'proof' then in their eyes we're gnostic atheists not willing to stand by our convictions. After all, we can't say that a meteorite won't fall on our head and kill us but the chances of that happening are so remote as to be negligable and therefore not worth worrying about. The same applies to the question of whether God exists. In short, there is no God.

It's semi off topic, but this reminds me of thinking about the distinction between gnostic and agnostic atheism. I realized that from all practical purposes, they're pretty much the same: both are going to live their lives as if there were no gods. The difference only shows up in debates and nowhere else.

So, while I identify as "agnostic atheist", the atheist half of that is a lot more important and informative than the agnostic part. That last part only tells you the approach I'd take in a debate.
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29-05-2014, 07:00 AM
RE: Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
(29-05-2014 05:49 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  
(29-05-2014 05:00 AM)John Wrote:  The conclusion doesn't follow from the premises, since Premise #1 is only implicative, hence, if something has no beginning, it may or may not have a cause and the premise still stands. You can circumvent this by switching it to:

Premise #1: Cause implies beginning.

Now the conclusion follows by modus tollens. How much this formulation affects the credibility of the premise remains unclear to me though, since it's still the same meaningless word salad from the original Kalam. Cause? Begins to exist? Back to the asylum.

I completely agree. I wanted to keep to the original wording so that if the theist wants to argue it, like in the way that you have, then the theist will be refuting their own arguments. With any luck it might make them see it from our point of view and see how their own arguments are flawed. This is why I copied and pasted the first line from the wikipedia article and kept as close to the original wording as possible.

My personal objection to the first premise is what is meant by "beginning of its existence". Also what is meant by "cause". In fact on thinking about it the whole premise is utter pish.

If something exists then it is just a persistent pattern of atoms and energy flow that has somehow come about, whether because it has self organised or because something else made it so. There was no beginning. When exactly does a hammer begin to exist? When the handle and head are joined together? When the handle is crafted and the head is cast? When the seedling first starts growing into a tree to make the wood for the handle? Even the simplest steel of is still made from iron and carbon and so was the hammer first created in a sun that went super nova? If you can't point to a beginning then you can't point to a cause.

The first premise of William Lane Craig's argument is flawed as well. Do we actually know that an actual infinite cannot exist? Is there any reason to believe this? No matter, the theist will continue to argue it so let's use it against them.

Just to clarify, I'm fully sympathetic to this approach of countering fabulous BS with even more fabulous BS, it's just a very exhausting way to argue since you typically don't know what BS your opponents will champion next, they're always a step ahead of you. And not to mention that you have to bend your mind and juggle with untenable assumptions to construct arguments you don't believe in. But indeed, when done succesfully, your opponent ends up undermining his own position, which counts for something, I guess.

And yes, I agree with all your objections to the premises of the KCA, they are vague to the point of being meaningless. It's an argument not worth arguing about. To dig up a quote from our friend Jeremy:

(23-05-2014 03:42 PM)Jeremy E Walker Wrote:  Actually, I think it a step in the right direction that people here are even entertaining the argument.

This is something I tried to steer away from as best as I could. He had his go with Stevil and cjlr for some 15 pages back and forth over definitions, which didn't even result in a "we agree to disagree" conclusion. And that with an argument of 2 premises. When Simon posted his breakdown I could just see the floodgates opening. And low and behold, some 30 pages more of the same.

The actuality of infinities falls in the same realm. Meaningless.

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29-05-2014, 01:53 PM (This post was last modified: 29-05-2014 02:03 PM by Mathilda.)
RE: Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
Leibnizian word salad next. Probably the most bizarre one yet. Premise 3 made my brain explode in WTFiness.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/leibniz/#ExiGod


The original

Quote:(1) God is a being having all perfections. (Definition)
(2) A perfection is a simple and absolute property. (Definition)
(3) Existence is a perfection.
(4) If existence is part of the essence of a thing, then it is a necessary being.
(5) If it is possible for a necessary being to exist, then a necessary being does exist.
(6) It is possible for a being to have all perfections.
(7) Therefore, a necessary being (God) does exist.


Changed to:

1) God is a being having all perfections. (Definition)
2) A perfection is a simple and absolute property. (Definition)
3) Anything that exists is subject to entropy and cannot be perfect.
4) For something to be a thing it needs to exist and is therefore less than perfect.
5) God as per definition 1 cannot exist otherwise it will not be perfect.
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29-05-2014, 02:08 PM
RE: Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
There is no need for supernatural for creation of the universe.

If String Theory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory) is 100% valid (there is currently no other hypothesis that devalues it, scientists continue researching) - universe is created when another universe branch-off from itself or if two universe bumps to each other and merges. The same way the bubbles from a soapy liquid operates.
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29-05-2014, 03:19 PM
RE: Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
(29-05-2014 02:08 PM)sanmayl Wrote:  There is no need for supernatural for creation of the universe.

If String Theory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory) is 100% valid (there is currently no other hypothesis that devalues it, scientists continue researching) - universe is created when another universe branch-off from itself or if two universe bumps to each other and merges. The same way the bubbles from a soapy liquid operates.

But you'd probably face the argument:

All these universes divided from already existing universes, but at some initial point there had to have been only one universe... And where did that come from? Yup. God.

And you say, "prove it."

And they say, "Bible."

And then you smack them.

And then they cry.


And then you feel bad.

... .... .... ....
... .... .. ....

... ..... .....

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29-05-2014, 03:22 PM
RE: Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
Your argument seems perfectly sound to me. There is nothing wrong with using a structure of logic and turning it on its head, and it can be illuminating to pretend a premise is true for the purpose of making a larger point.

In general though, I rebuke at the idea of compromising my standard of reasoning in order to "win" an argument. You didn't do that in your posts, but that seemed implied, and I wanted to express my disagreement for it. As the old adage goes, "Never argue with an idiot, then will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience".
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29-05-2014, 03:30 PM
RE: Using theist arguments to 'prove' God does not exist
(29-05-2014 03:19 PM)Jeffasaurus Wrote:  
(29-05-2014 02:08 PM)sanmayl Wrote:  There is no need for supernatural for creation of the universe.

If String Theory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory) is 100% valid (there is currently no other hypothesis that devalues it, scientists continue researching) - universe is created when another universe branch-off from itself or if two universe bumps to each other and merges. The same way the bubbles from a soapy liquid operates.

But you'd probably face the argument:

All these universes divided from already existing universes, but at some initial point there had to have been only one universe... And where did that come from? Yup. God.

And you say, "prove it."

And they say, "Bible."

And then you smack them.

And then they cry.


And then you feel bad.

... .... .... ....
... .... .. ....

... ..... .....

When that is used, then we go back again with Dr. Krauss' argument: Don't assume an answer before you even asked a question. If you don't know, you don't know - don't fill the gap with "god" - that is the humility that Scientific Method promotes.
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