Is God an Atheist?

Introduction

One of the things I hear from time to time from the believer camp is that they see atheism as a faith-based position. To them atheism, the disbelief in gods, requires more faith than it does to believe that there's someone or something in charge of and above it all. When atheists are honest enough to admit that we don't have a definitive answer to where the Universe or Cosmos came from or what the fundamental nature of reality is some believers see that emptiness as a place where they can insert their God.

This is a common argument but it is a fallacious one, sometimes referred to as a God of the Gaps, sometimes called an appeal to mystery. Either way it is a subset of what is called the Argument from Ignorance fallacy. This is where believers take something we do know about the world BUT don't yet have a full grasp of (or something we just plain don't know) and insert their God as a fill-in-the-blank that comfortably makes the questions go away. They wonder how I can look at the complexity of the Universe and the mysteries around me and not say that a God was responsible.

In this hub I'm going to talk a subject that I've touched upon in a few places but never written about at length and that is the fundamental ignorance about God that leaves a belief in God uncertain and often undermines the very arguments that Christians and other believers make for their God. That and the question – if the Universe or the human mind/body is so complex that it SCREAMS in the direction of a creator, what does that say about God himself?

God is the Greatest

Among the Abrahamic faiths some believe that God is the greatest possible of all conceivable beings. While some Christians, Muslims or Jews may claim God is inconceivable many apologists and other believers would simply state that God is the greatest being conceivable within the human mind. When put into a formal logical argument this is called the Ontological Argument for God. Rather than simply address the ontological argument I want to look both at the Biblical God's characteristics as portrayed in the Bible and by believers and apologists. I also want to touch upon some commonly made arguments and how they undermine the very God the believers just argued for.

We'll start with this idea that God is the greatest conceivable being. Usually this establishes God as in possession of the major OMNI characteristics, all knowing, all powerful, perfectly moral and loving and present in all places and all times. One of the biggest problems with this is that it relies on flawed human conception, the ability of a human being to conceive of God, to prove that God exists. In a world where God had created no minds to conceive of him it would be utterly illogical to say that God is the “greatest conceivable being” - because the question then would be “Conceivable by whom? There isn't anyone in this world to conceive of him”.

What if God had created human beings differently, or what if there are aliens on another world with different conceptions of what makes something the greatest conceivable being?

Never mind that the Ontological argument could be used to prove the greatest conceivable ANYTHING, just replace Being with any other word and you have reduced the argument to what it is, a word game meant to define God into existence.

Either way not all aspects of God are known to man or even conceivable to him, just God's "existence" is conceivable.

We Are Like Ants to God

When talking to believers about the Problem of Evil/Suffering and other issues they will often resort to saying something along the lines of “God's mind is to us as our minds are to ants”. They do this to obfuscate any sense of responsibility that God might have to adopt - so God can treat us as if we are insects, mere pests stealing from his picnic basket and whining when he steps on us with natural disasters, diseases and all manner of disaster.

But if our conception is so limited that we are like ants than God is quite a few notches above our own perception. What I am getting at is that God is so far above us that he may in fact be able to conceive of a being GREATER THAN HIMSELF.

Now some may complain at me saying this and argue “but he's the greatest conceivable being that is logically possible”. Disregarding for a moment that none of God's characteristics stand up to scrutiny logically speaking my argument is that if you were equal to God's level your understanding, as well as your ability to conceive of other things, would be exponentially increased. Being the God of an entire Universe would give one an astonishing level of understanding far beyond what humans have and thus open up possibilities we might see as logically impossible or utterly inconceivable. Some believers would admit this but either way they cannot possibly rule out the idea that God can conceive of a being greater than he is.

If we are to God as ants are to us than God is to this UBER GOD what ants are to us. If we can do it than God can do it and no believer can make the argument that God absolutely CAN'T conceive of an even greater God because to do so is to presume to know God's mental capabilities.

Special Pleading

Almost all arguments for God, at some point, require special pleading to exempt God from rules of logic or biology we would hold any other being within the bounds of. The most common I can think of is the idea that life or Universes always require some sort of intelligent source because they are too complex to originate on their own – so there MUST BE a God, yes? But after pulling this argument Christians insert a God that breaks the very principle they just stated. If a complex life or lifeforms must have its origin in some intelligent agency, or at the very least come from another biological life, then God MUST be subject to that same rule. Who created God?

But God is God, believers say, there is none like him - he doesn't need a creator because is defined in such a way to exempt him from that. There are no other Gods before him. He is the Alpha and Omega and laid the foundations of the world. The problem is that even if I, for sake of argument, take all the things the Bible, or the Koran, or the Jewish scriptures say about God as actually things God said about himself that wouldn't prove anything.

Keep in mind please that the Bible was written by human beings who, presumably, were under some sort of inspiration from the Spirit of this God. Even if every self-aggrandizing word God said about himself REALLY came from an ACTUAL God there would be absolutely no way for the “ants” to know that this God was telling the truth about himself. There is no way to rule out God deceiving us which brings me to my next point.

God is an Arrogant Atheist Asshole

There's tons of arrogant atheist assholes on the internet. Some folks would likely accuse me of being one of them. I'm certainly arrogant, definitely an atheist, but I'm not sure I cross into asshole territory. One being that definitely does fit the asshole label is the God of the Bible, for being a war-like, plague bringing, child murdering, slavery condoning, genocide demanding psychopath. God requires that animals, or humans (Jesus) be slaughtered in a form of ritual blood magic to appease his wrath.

God's wrath, mind you, stems from one time that human beings ate some fruit they weren't supposed to and because of that act God let sin corrupt his entire Creation and decided to send humans to a fiery torture pit that he had created earlier for some other guy who rebelled against him.

While I have never been asked this I have seen other atheists be asked this. Sometimes believers will say something like, “Oh I see, you're an atheist, that means you've exalted yourself up above God. You think you're God!”

Ironically their own God, the God of the Bible, might be one being in a vast array of Cosmic supernatural life. There may be an Uber God above Yahweh and maybe there are peers too - other Gods each with their own vast Universe's to govern. And when they get together they scoff at Yahweh for going around telling the people in his Universe that he is the only God, that there's no one else and that to worship anyone else is punishable by eternal torment. They tell Yahweh that there must be a creator for them, after all it takes too much faith to NOT believe in Uber-God.


God, not just an atheist, but demands that if you believe in any other God you should be brutally executed by your own family!
God, not just an atheist, but demands that if you believe in any other God you should be brutally executed by your own family!

God Has Never Written a Word

At the beginning of this I granted for sake of argument that God had really been in communication with the authors of the Abrahamic holy texts but now its time to revoke that. None of the things written in the Bible were written by God, every last word there is written by the “ants”. We the ants, mere insects huddled onto a small piece of rocky debris hurdling through an infinite Cosmos, are trying to understand our world. In our attempt to understand the baffling natural world around us we have formed religions and we have investigated with experiments. We have only begun to grasp the fundamentals of our Universe, which may be one of many and which contains billions of galaxies each with billions of suns.

Do you really think that some folks in the desert a few thousand years ago got it right? That a God who is said to have brought down plagues and famine and commanded soldiers to slaughter men, women, children and cattle with the sword was actually really the creator of all the Earth? And not just the Earth but the billions and billions of stars that fill the Cosmic emptiness with light? I say to the theists, O ye of little imagination - to look at images of other Galaxies, other suns, newborn stars and swirling nebulae and then turn to a book that says homosexuals and people who pick up sticks on a Saturday have offended the creator of ALL OF THAT beauty and should be stoned as a result.

How can you be so cruel? How can you be so blind? How can you be so sure of yourself?

Conclusion

It is not I, as an atheist, that have faith. I have freed myself of that prison as much as possible so that I can imagine whatever possibilities might come our way as we the ants investigate the world around us. I no longer see the bizarre barbaric gods or imaginative myths of the ancient past as being good answers. They are comforting answers only for as long as you can keep the self-deception going.

Is God really the best answer that we ants can come up with? Really all he is is just us multiplied to infinity. The most powerful - The most loving - The most knowledgeable. Do you not see the logical inconsistency with saying that the complexity of the human body must have had a designer but the infinitely more intricate and complex ethereal being you've just inserted (God) does not need any designer at all?

Maybe there's a swarming sea of strange gods out in those impossible rifts of emptiness, between realities, surfing on cosmic waves between Universes in a multiverse. WHO KNOWS? One answer I think is fairly certain, it wasn't a bunch of people who thought tearing out a bull's intestines was the best way to bring on the rainy season.

Darkmatter2525 asks, who is God's God?

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Comments 8 comments

Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 13 months ago from Michigan, USA

An interesting hub, Titen. I've always used the notion of infinite regression to counter the cosmological argument, but never thought to apply it to the ontological argument. Fascinating idea!


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 13 months ago from back in the lab again Author

Thanks Paladin. It occurred to me a while back that even if God is the greatest conceivable being to us such a God might well be able to conceive of a being even greater than itself. I've heard some theists say that if there was a greater being than that first God than THAT being would just be God but as you say that just leads to an infinite regression. Part of what inspired this hub is an episode of the sci-fi comedy cartoon Rick and Morty where they go inside a simulated Universe which is inside a simulated universe which is inside yet another simulated Universe... due to the issue of "global skepticism" such things are impossible to rule out.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 13 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Titen

Paladin put me onto this hub and while I haven't read all of it yet I enjoyed what I did read!

One point though and that's that you want to put God into the same biological frame that we exist in!

My understanding (and I'm taking more a cosmological approach with this) is that even time and space are part of the universe, in other words part of what came into existence at the Big bang!

Whatever or whomever created the universe would need to be outside the created order, in other words outside of time hence not subject to the laws as he set those laws in place.

Hope that helps

Lawrence


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 13 months ago from back in the lab again Author

Thanks for the comment Lawrence and welcome,

"One point though and that's that you want to put God into the same biological frame that we exist in!"

It is not so much that God MUST be biological or material but that the very notion of something that EXISTS and something that is ALIVE necessarily relies on Time, Space and material. What I mean is that if you strip away time and space talking about something that EXISTS without time or space to exist in simply makes no sense. That isn't to say such a being could not exist... in fact such a being is unfalsifiable... but that we would need some explanation as to how such a being could exist before reasonably accepting the claim.

To say that God exists without time and space, or transcends time and space, is nonsensical from our current understanding. That is not to say that our understanding will always remain as it is but it does mean that currently our language, logic, and understanding of the Universe make claims to this God unfalsifiable and incomprehensible to human minds.

In order to establish such a God as plausible we'd need to see evidence that non-material substances actually exist. We would need evidence of DUALISM, that something spiritual/ethereal/non-physical actually exists. We would then need a reason to think that intelligent life could exist and be made of this non-physical stuff. We would need a coherent way to define "existence" that transcends space-time (since existence necessarily implies taking up space over a period of time). We would need a way in which this non-physical realm can interact with and indeed CAUSE the physical realm to begin existing.

As it is we have none of this, just assertions from believers that it's true.

"Whatever or whomever created the universe would need to be outside the created order, in other words outside of time hence not subject to the laws as he set those laws in place."

I recommend you read farther into my hub. The main point I am making is that even if your God exists and transcends the Universe he created there is absolutely no way to rule out that he is TRULY the supreme being for everything. God could have ALSO have been created by yet another God, a Super-God or Uber-God if you will, that allowed this God to create a Universe when really a single Universe is itself an insignificant speck compared to this Uber-God.

Have you ever seen the ending to the sci-fi film Men in Black? We find out that our Universe is one of many that are inside marbles being played with by a giant alien being who is likely nothing more than a child in the Universe that he inhabits. There is no way for you to rule out God simply being like that alien child, a lesser being to some even higher power, some even more inconceivably powerful creator. This means the God Christians believe in, if he exists, might well just be a mistaken atheist who thinks he's the greatest conceivable being but really isn't.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 13 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Titen

I just finished the rest of the hub and thoroughly enjoyed it! There's so much to debate here that we could be going for weeks :-) However I think its a good time to say that probably neither of us will change our opinions, I just hope we'll both learn something from the discussion.

So, God's an atheist? Actually I suppose that for God to be whom he claims to be he'd have to be! as if he believed in one greater than himself then he'd cease to be God as there'd be greater than him around!

Then again for him to make the claim would make him arrogant and also an ass@#$@! So I guess he can't win can he?

As for the 'men in black clip I do remember it, I was watching a youtube clip of Richard Dawkins talking to Stephen Weinberg (the physicist) where Dawkins asked him about the 'multiverse' theories. Weinberg came back that there is no working theory of the multiverse at the moment, there isn't even a hypothesis but only speculation! The clip was edited to make Dawkins look bad but it was interesting to see the two discussing it!

I'll xome back for more later, but as I said I really enjoyed this hub.

Lawrence


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 13 months ago from back in the lab again Author

"as if he believed in one greater than himself then he'd cease to be God as there'd be greater than him around!"

Exactly! And we as humans just can't ever know for sure, we'd have to take God's word for it (if God ever actually said anything to us, a subject of much debate).

"So I guess he can't win can he?"

No, he can't. And neither can we. Global skepticism is such that we can never completely rule out there being some higher power or God. It may be that God is hiding from us, and if there is a God there may be an even more powerful God that is HIDING from HIM, and so on. And it isn't just hiding we have to worry about, but deception as well, as a God that is so far removed from us would have no trouble implanting ideas into our heads if it wanted... and of course such a powerful being doesn't necessarily have to be benevolent to us or have our best interests in mind.

"Weinberg came back that there is no working theory of the multiverse at the moment, there isn't even a hypothesis but only speculation!"

Theoretical physics deals with models that fit the math and the observable facts. There may be a multiverse, there may not be, its up in the air currently. There are models of the Universe that are eternal, and ones that are not, and we may never know what the real answer is. In fact actual underlying reality may be beyond our comprehension and already quantum mechanics pushes our communication skills to dumb down insanely complex math into language the public can understand.

We see the limits of language when scientists like Lawrence Krauss talk about the Universe arising from "nothing" when he doesn't mean NOTHING in the abstract sense that most people imagine when they hear the word.

"I'll xome back for more later, but as I said I really enjoyed this hub."

Thank you! I hope it serves as great food for thought!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 12 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Fascinating to say the least~~~as well as a little deeper that I'm willing to delve at the moment. I follow you and find it all very feasible. It's quite the mental work out....Thanks Titen!


Angele Parris profile image

Angele Parris 10 months ago

Revelation 22 verse 19 says:

"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life,and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

I actually saw God, and one question I asked - when did the darkness began. He told me that He came out of the darkness with the ability to create, so He (God) does not know if there is a force in the universe greater than Him. This God I saw was African, and He told me that white people were sold to Him in slavery. He said the "bling, bling" belong to Him and therefore He has the resources to allow them to bring their visions to life.

I found the Sodom and Gomorrah cartoon very funny and entertaining. Here is my interpretation (ready for it). When God is about to destroy a city like Sodom and Gomorrah, He usually takes out His people first, thus He knows how many good people are left. When Lot offered His daughters, he is not offering his daughters to be ganged rape. He is telling the people of Sodom and Gomorrah that they have the option of having beautiful virgin women (to marry) rather than chasing after men.

There are other powerful forces in the universe. John was caught up in the third heaven. When I spoke to God, He said to me, read your bible again, and find the good God of the bible. As unbelievable as it seems the truth of the bible have been twisted and altered.

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