Deconstructing the Christian God
In my last hub I discussed the notion put forth in the book of Genesis that mankind is made in the image of God. The hub primarily focused upon physical descriptions of God and that, in fact, when you deconstruct them gods are generally made in the image of man. In this hub however I want to talk not about God's image but about the things that make God God, his character, his non-physical attributes. I'm going to argue that the attributes of the Abrahamic God as described both in scripture and by believers are either nonsensical or meaningless and thus show that if a God exists it must be a different kind of God than believers typically promote.
God Who? - The Omni Characteristics
Generally what characteristics are given to God by believers? When I was younger I was taught that God was omnibenevolent which means he's good, in fact it means morally speaking he's meant to be the best. According to scripture God is also possessed of all knowledge, even knowing how many hairs are currently on your head, he can see you when you're sleeping and definitely knows when you're awake. Along with omniscience God is also all powerful, which only makes sense if you're the source of the entire Universe in which all-power exists. Furthermore God is omnipresent, meaning he exists in all parts of time and space simultaneously though how this might work with a God that is alternately believed to be beyond time and space is beyond me.
In fact according to professional philosopher and Christian theologian William Lane Craig God must be timeless, spaceless, immaterial and changeless among a handful of other characteristics trumped up by Craig as he makes massive leaps in logic to avoid the infinite regress common to First Cause arguments.
So let's start deconstructing these shall we...
William Lane Craig
Good God Y'all
I'm not going to even bother going into the Biblical God's endorsement of slavery, genocide of innocent children or creation of a Lake of Fire for eternal torment without end, reprieve or purpose – instead I'm going to raise another point and that is that for God morality is meaningless. I've mentioned this before in an earlier hub but it bears repeating and further fleshing out here. God is the creator of the Universe, existing for eons before the measure of an eon would have had any meaning at all and also before there was anything to interact with.
Keep in mind that for monotheists the pantheon is a lonely place, with only room for one deity on the throne. If this God also happens to be the creator and moral law-giver that puts said deity in an awkward position. Not only is the God of the three major monotheistic religions an only child but he's an only life-form. He would have been, until the creation of the Universe, the only being that existed.
With nothing and no one to interact with morality simply wouldn't exist – COULDN'T exist. The notions of right, wrong, good and evil, suffering and pleasure go out the window in a world of one. Now some might try to trump up company for this lonely God by invoking the Trinity but the Trinity is just an extension of the same God and, unless you want to suggest that the Holy Ghost is capable of wrongdoing, morality remains just as meaningless and non-existent.
The only way to get morality in this scenario is for God to invent it himself or for it to evolve naturally (as it evidently did) without divine intervention. Even after creating life-forms the idea of right and wrong still doesn't make much sense without sin or evil actually existing and in order for anything to exist, if there is an all-powerful God who made everything, God must be responsible for sin. That isn't to say that God must sin directly but simply that all roads lead back to the source and all power requires all responsibility.
Of course you could always claim that morality is just a part of God's eternal “nature” as some believers do. Just an inherent part of what makes God God. Only without other intelligent life interacting where did God's morality come from? He has no parental figures to instill him with it, and no basic moral instincts since that is a purely naturalistic idea.
Suddenly it almost makes sense when some Fundamentalists claim that a sin is any offense against God, rather than against man, because any morality that could exist in God's head from the start would have been selfish indeed.
The Naughty List
The second characteristic I want to discuss is the idea that God is all-knowing, or possesses all knowledge. This is another attribute given to God that, when you strip away the fat, only makes sense if God is an entirely fictional anthropocentric invention. By what mechanism is God All-Knowing? As in with what does he collect the information?
Human beings, indeed all organisms that we know of, respond to stimuli in the environment, typically using sensory organs, to gain knowledge about the world around us. I'd hate to limit a supposedly limitless being but without really good eye-sight how is God counting the hairs on everyone's head?
That's just a minor quibble I suppose and really I don't expect any theist to answer the question because to them the way God operates doesn't matter and doubting or questioning him definitely can get you into trouble (wonder why that is). Even if we want to say that his knowledge gathering is an inherent supernatural ability there actually has to be some knowledge for him to gather for that ability to make any sense.
The real point I want to make regarding omniscience is that, like morality, it only makes sense in the context of the Universe as it presently exists. As before the concept breaks down entirely when you apply it to God prior to the Universe's creation. What is there to know, besides the contents of his own mind, before he sets the Universe in motion. There is no knowledge to be possessed, nothing, just emptiness and God. Then God makes the Universe and the world and all the things in it. It only makes sense that he knows it as he's making it, wouldn't be very good if he forgot halfway through creating what he had wanted it to look like. But after this initial phase of creation God's omniscience would surely be called into question.
Even in Genesis God has a hard time finding Adam and Eve after they've sinned as he walks in the Garden. God also fails to see coming the inevitable fall from grace that Adam and Eve cause which in-turn damns the whole human race and drives him to damn the whole of creation as welll. Believers might gripe that God cannot see beyond free will or perhaps can't even know the future, both claims could be supported by scripture as even scripture doesn't agree that God knows everything or the future.
Then of course there is the idea of the unknown unknown, the things that even God doesn't know that he doesn't know about. One's certainty about how much they know can never be enough because even if you claim to know everything there could always be, somewhere out there, something that you don't know... but you don't know that you don't know it.
Unlimited Cosmic Power
The biggest and perhaps most impressive attribute claimed for God is his omnipotence, the idea that God possesses all the power that ever was, is and ever will be. God is the source for everything. Again this is another idea that doesn't make much sense when you dig into it even a little. Let's go back to our favorite time and place which are actually neither, just before the Universe floating in absolute nothingness with God. How exactly does it make sense to call this being All-Powerful if he is floating in a void in a pre-Universe state? There is no time, there is no space so the idea of power, of force that can be exerted even if it be a supernatural force or some kind of power we've never seen or dreamed of simply doesn't make sense. There is nothing to exert force upon, no matter, no energy, no time, no space.
We must keep in mind that it is the claim of most theologians and believers that God created the Universe ex nihilo (meaning out of absolute nothing). If God had been acting upon a pre-existent pre-Universe full of matter or energy or potential we would be talking about an entirely different sort of creation. Instead it is posited that God was all alone in the absolute emptiness of complete and total nothing. So how does the concept of power make any sense? The only thing in existence is God himself and since there is no material for him to be made of that makes him a disembodied mind, a consciousness and nothing more. The only power God can have then, logically, is the power to change his own mind, not exactly the stuff Universes are made of.
How exactly does one measure unlimited power? God is said to be all-powerful but how exactly do you measure that? As with knowledge God would only be able to assert his all-powerful status until someone bigger and badder came along to supplant him. If God descended from the sky tomorrow claiming omnipotence to be amongst his traits how would we test that? Have him move the Earth? Move the Sun? Rearrange the Galaxy? That would still only be a fraction of the power contained within this immense and insanely massive Universe (which God apparently created just for us, or for himself rather) and it would prove nothing in regards to omnipotence.
Such a miraculous act would only prove this would-be deity possessed SOME tentatively-supernatural power. A claim to omnipotence could never actually be proved, only disproved.
See, and all that without mentioning the simple paradoxical question of “Can God make a rock so big he can't lift it?”
The actual William Lane Craig
Craig, Omnipresence and the Nail in the Coffin
The last characteristic is the claim that God is omnipresent. This claim contradicts the idea that God is outside of space and time though such a claim would necessarily be true for any First Cause attempting to evade causality. This characteristic, like all of God's characteristics that I've mentioned thus far, also contradicts William Lane Craig's assertion that this God must also be CHANGELESS. Indeed the Bible states that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and yet this cannot be the case because clearly the creation of the Universe changed God.
Without other life-forms there can be no morality. Without things to know about God cannot know things. Absent of any power other than himself, and absent the possibility of measurement, the idea of omnipotence crumbles. Prior to creating a place to exist God cannot be omnipresent... Therefore, without the Universe, God cannot exist. Without the Universe to provide him these characteristics God HAS NO DISCERNABLE characteristics and is entirely indistinguishable from some shit people just MADE UP.
What can be discovered about God? What can be known about God? What physical and non-physical characteristics can be given about him? Omnibenevolence, omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience, these are meant to be the big revelations about God's character. He's not just good, he's the best, he's always there for you and always loves you, he's more powerful than anything and created the whole Universe and he knows past, present and future.
What a lucky coincidence that such a God existed eh? How incredibly coincidental that an all-knowing God also turned out to be all-powerful enough to create something for him to know about! Or how lucky is it that a God who wanted to create other living things turned out to be omnibenevolent so he could give them morals. You see there is no source for God's attributes since there is no source for God, supposedly he just POSSESSES THEM as part of his “NATURE” in the same way that Superman can fly.
Gods have existed for thousands of years, they've come and gone across the pages of history the way fashion fads rise and fall. I hope that, with these two hubs especially, I've helped open at least a few eyes to the fact that these beliefs about God are not based on knowledge or understanding or direct revelation – They are ONLY beliefs. I don't expect anyone to abandon their faith. What I do want is to convey that it's good to question and it is exceedingly good to doubt especially when you are threatened with some of the worst torment imaginable for it.
Why would they threaten you with Hell? Why would a God, any God, loving or not, if it really existed, want to threaten you for not believing in it? Especially when it is not God that threatens you directly in any way but has, instead, had some ancient people write it down for him so that puffed up preachers can shout about it come Sunday. What sort of deity is CONTIGENT upon belief and believers (or worship, or tithe, etc) for its continued pleasure and existence? I think you'll find that the most obvious answer is a FICTIONAL ONE.
I also think you'll find that God never asked you to worship him. In fact for most believers God never says a word or a whisper; never writes a page; never sends a text. After all, how could something with no known characteristics whose existence has never been confirmed by a shred of evidence or sound reasoning be bothered to do a bit of writing or a bit of speaking when there's so much fan-fiction to go around?
I'm just rambling now, so I'll leave it at that! Thanks for reading!