ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Religion and Philosophy»
  • Atheism & Agnosticism

Is Belief in God Logical? Is Belief in God Reasonable?

Updated on August 25, 2014

In a previous hub I made a distinction between atheism and belief that theistic claims are unreasonable. An atheist can have no such opinion, in which case he has zero burden of proof or he may have that opinion, with an attached burden of proof but NOT for the atheism itself. Such a person would only need to prove that belief in a deity is not reasonable. Here I would like to provide some concrete examples of how belief in a deity can be proven to be not reasonable.

A deity (the Christian god for example) is purported to have certain characteristics. Such a being must be metaphysical, which means it is not made up of matter or energy and is timeless. In essence it can exist outside of our universe. This is necessary if the deity is said to have created the universe because it is illogical to create a universe from inside of said universe. Furthermore, no scientific instruments have ever detected a deity, which makes it reasonable to say that it must be metaphysical. It is also reasonable to say that God is omnipresent (in the past, present and future simultaneously) since it is possible for it to exist outside of time and therefore is not constrained by time. Current scientific evidence suggests that time is a tangible thing that distilled into existence during the big bang and relativity has proven repeatedly that the flow of time can be altered (for example it can be slowed for fast-moving particles). Since God is metaphysical, he ought to be omnipresent as well. The remaining attributes come from claims from scripture and are somewhat denomination specific. Many religions claim that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing) and omnibenevolent (all-good). The problem is that these characteristics logically contradict each other.

One who went from theist to atheist, back to theist

The first contradiction is strictly between 2 of the characteristics and requires no specific references. For something to be all-good (omnibenevolent) it can not be associated with evil in any way shape or form. However an example of something which is "not good" can be unnecessary or purposeless suffering. If someone is made to suffer for absolutely no reason whatsoever, there is zero benefit and the act is therefore not good. We know that purposeless suffering exists because acts of nature are capable of causing suffering and they are without purpose or benefit. If a newly born baby dies from complications, this is a natural phenomenon and had no purpose. It is not good. If a hurricane pins someone beneath a car who dies in agony, that act was without purpose or benefit and is therefore not good. God, who is all-knowing and all powerful is not only aware of these events taking place, but he has the power to prevent them and does not do so, which means EITHER, he is in fact not all-powerful OR he is not all-good. Furthermore, since God is all knowing, then he understands, in fact internalizes, the most intimate and personal feelings that a sick murderer has in his head, which delight him in the act of killing a baby. God has to be at least capable (since he is all-powerful) of being a sick murderer himself. If God is not able to be a sick murderer through and through, then he is not all-powerful. If he is capable of being one, then he is not all good. Therefore there is evidence that belief in God is not reasonable because, as you can see, several of God's characteristics do not permit the existence of the others.

The proton-proton chain powering the sun is an example of conservation of mass and energy

What about science? There's a case to be made here too. God may be transcendent (metaphysical) but he is at least capable (omnipotent) of operating within the universe he created. He can "interact" with the physical reality that we live in. In Christianity, the Bible says that God took a rib from Adam and created Eve. Assuming this was a normal rib that we are familiar with in medical terms, such a transformation violates the laws of physics, namely conservation of mass and energy. In fact numerous acts of creation (from within the universe where physics are known to hold reliably) and miracles violate conservation laws by creating something out of nothing. The theist may be tempted to interject at this point and say that the big bang is the same thing but it isn't. The big bang is an event that created the very laws of physics themselves. Prior to that (even though the word "prior" has no meaning when time didn't exist), there were no physical laws to break so something COULD come from nothing. Once the universe has been created however, you cannot disobey the natural laws. God, being omnipotent, should be able to do so anyway but this is only logically consistent, not reasonable. What's reasonable is to expect everything to work as it always has according to the natural laws. The fact that we have never known the laws of nature to be broken, even once, is physical evidence that belief in God is unreasonable or at least less reasonable than not believing in one.

I will use scripture as the 3rd piece of evidence that theistic claims are not reasonable. Again I will use Christianity as an example. There are countless parts of the Bible that are unlikely from a scientific or rational perspective. For example, almost every detail of the great flood and Noah's ark is highly improbable. The boat was not large enough to hold its occupants. There isn't enough water on Earth to make the flood levels rise as high as is claimed and there are many more questionable details of this sort. There are also gross omissions and errors regarding the origins of the human species. The first 2 humans were made from dust and a rib. Subsequently the entire human race would have come from the same 2 ancestors, which doesn't allow for the necessary genetic diversity to create the population demographic we have today. God dispatches servants to do things and collect information, which is unnecessary for a god to do. He is known to violate his own moral code numerous times by killing people indiscriminately who have committed no offense. If there was an offense, it seems to be obfuscated. With all we know about how the universe works today, to read the Bible is to question the validity of most of what we know. Because science is established through rigorous validation and scrutiny, we would either have to seriously question the natural laws and probably discard them if we believed what the Bible says, or conclude that the Bible is in error, which makes the theistic claim far less reasonable than simply lacking belief.

There is no free will for billiard balls

God is all-knowing but he gave men free will. This is logically impossible. Suppose a man named Adam, who has free will is about to make a choice. The choices are beer or sex. Adam hasn't made his choice yet. He is thinking about it. He chooses beer because he had sex 3 times that morning. He exerted his free will. However God knew what he was going to choose because he is all-knowing. What if Adam had chosen sex instead? Having free will means you control your own actions rather than some external force controlling you. But if Adam's choice is already known to God, then it could not be any other way or God would be wrong. If it could not be any other way, then by means beyond Adam's comprehension, he was compelled to make that choice. He may have felt as if his choice was his own but he MUST choose beer or it would make God wrong. It was his destiny to choose beer. The reason you can't have free will and omniscience at the same time is simple. Omniscience means that there is a causal and deterministic link between all events. Imagine a line of billiard balls separated by a few centimeters. If you strike the first one with the cue ball, the future of all the other balls is already known because the initial conditions are known and the balls must obey the laws of physics. This is a deterministic causal system. The cause of striking the cue ball has the effect of sending the last ball on a specific path. The laws of physics (the speed, the angle, the mass of the balls) makes it deterministic. If God knows Adam will choose beer, it can only be because the universe is of a deterministic and causal nature and he can see the interactions from his vantage point outside of space and time. This sort of a system can only play itself out 1 way so Adam is really just a billiard ball obeying the laws of nature. He does not have free will. Today we know that the world doesn't work quite like this because of things like quantum uncertainty but that makes an omniscient God an unreasonable belief as a consequence.

Opposing views on free will and omniscience

Finally I'd like to propose a thought experiment. If you were a god and had infinite power, knowledge, morality and could see eternity, why would you create anything? Why create humans and then get upset with them? Why judge these flawed designs? Why make flawed designs in the first place? You see, when you become a god, and you remove all limitations from yourself so that you can do absolutely anything, then you remove all purpose as well. Purpose comes from having limitations, not removing them. The purpose of a human life may be to strive to better himself because he is flawed and limited. Without limitations, there is nothing to aspire to, no reason to do anything at all. Why create the universe? For entertainment? As a test? Tests assume you don't know the outcome, which a god of course would. Entertainment suggests your emotional state can be improved, which is meaningless for a god which can have all emotional states at the same time with zero effort. Does God love us? Again, love is unnecessary for a perfect being to exhibit. Why does he need us to worship him and believe in him? A god should logically NEED nothing. He is perfectly complete in every way already. And so I ask, is it more reasonable to believe in a deity or is it more reasonable not to?

Which argument did you find most compelling?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Emi 2 years ago

      機會係個天俾嘅 yes. BUT it is only those who are prepared that can see and caitlapize the chance given. The people who always blames god/命/天 that there is no chance is absolutely wrong! If they haven't prepared, work hard or think hard, how can they see the chance themselves, even if they see the opportunity is right in front of them, they wont have the skills, connection, knowledge or experience to take advantage of it.How sad!!!Bomb

    • profile image

      Jakayla 2 years ago

      I found just what I was needed, and it was enatretining!

    • Che Rogers profile image

      Che Rogers 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I understand your point of view. I don't think the destiny is the main focus. It's the journey. If this all knowing God knows the final destination it doesn't mean it understands the actual journey until this said journey takes place. I believe the creator made all things to have a relationship with it and experience things through different manifestations of self. It didn't understand until it experienced it. It knew the mathematical outcome but didn't know the actual experience itself. One cannot truly understand something until it experiences it. It can theoretically know based on numbers but until it goes through the process it really doesn't know it in its totality. There is a difference between knowing and understanding.

    • chriscamaro profile image
      Author

      chriscamaro 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for your comment Che. I deleted your duplicate post, just so you know it had nothing to do with what you said. I kept 1 copy.

      Indeed algorithms are our limited attempt so far to model very complex systems in much the same way that QFD tries to model fluid flow. A god-like being certainly would be able to model and therefore predict human behaviour perfectly every time. That's precisely my problem with free will though. The causal framework that lends itself to models and predictions would destroy the possibility of free will so in order to have free will it would have to be possible for something to exist which could not be known ahead of time... a true fork in the road so to speak. This would enable human decisions to select a path arbitrarily but therein lies the paradox. How could God know of an arbitrarily chosen path in advance?

    • Che Rogers profile image

      Che Rogers 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Algorithims predict outcomes based on cause and effect. Look up Webbot. This technology is out right now being used by governments all over through social media and cell phone activity to predict people's actions. If man can do this through simple mathematics how much more can a creator predict it's creations actions through math? Just a thought

    • chriscamaro profile image
      Author

      chriscamaro 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      That's a very cogent response Immanuel.. one that made me think carefully and while I am willing to entertain that God doesn't have to be omnipotent and omnibenevolent simultaneously, it would seem that this is what Christians often assert in order for their "absolute standard of morality" argument to hold up. I therefore assumed it. One cannot have it both ways.

      Regarding free will, at some point there MUST necessarily be an unknown outcome. Free choice by its very definition is creating a cause-effect chain from a set of possible realities. The specific path that solidifies depends on the "choices" made but until those choices are made, the future is necessarily unknown. Now you could wait for a timeline to occur, then go back in time and declare you know everything but this would still require you to be ignorant at some point. Since human beings are NOT eternal and have finite existence, our choices are therefore finite as well and God has to work within that limited temporal framework to determine what we will do with ourselves. He is therefore not absolutely omniscient. If he were, our choices would not be choices at all.

      On point 3, I do not attempt to explain WHY anything exists because to me the question of why presupposes a reason and this isn't necessarily the case. Also I don't believe there's any reason to think that the laws of physics do not require a universe in which to operate. Anything beyond our universe does not need to obey the laws we have discovered and strictly speaking other parts of our own universe need not follow them either but we have yet to demonstrate otherwise. All empirical data shows remarkable homogeneity within the observable universe.

    • Immanuel79 profile image

      Immanuel79 3 years ago

      Hi there, first time poster on your blog.

      I'm sorry, but your arguments are logically flawed, and it's very easy to find why.

      Your definitions of "all good" and "all powerful" are arbitrary - you conceived two tautologically incompatible attributes, but your error was in assuming that God must have them to be God. It is entirely possible for God to be all-powerful, but not fit in your definition of all-good.

      As for the free-choice argument, this is also a very old one. If God is outside of time and space, he may have already witnessed the outcome of one's free choice. If free-will existed, having witnessed a free-willed choice doesn't make it any less free. Your are confusing the resolution of a choice with the impossibility of it having been otherwise.

      Finally, as for "the beginning of everything", you are making the assumption that the laws of physics need the universe in order to apply - and even so, this doesn't explain why anything should exist at all.

      As a Roman Catholic and a software developer, I see no contradiction in believing in God and science.

      Regards,

      Immanuel

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      I will be leaving you for a while, so this note is to ask people to make their own study see:

      Association for Research and Enlightenment ARE,

      Biographies of Edgar Cayce, or

      Silva Ultramind, or Nelson Silva.

    • chriscamaro profile image
      Author

      chriscamaro 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I agree with everything you said, which is why I didn't take a position that Jay's assertions were false. However, even an open-minded individual needs more than testimony to work with. A working theory needs to be in place before any progress can be made in establishing truth. Otherwise there will always (necessarily) be doubt and skepticism of the unbiased kind. We owe it to ourselves to validate what we believe in to avoid the very mistakes you've pointed out that our scientific predecessors have made.

    • Che Rogers profile image

      Che Rogers 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      What is interesting is there have been people and ancient cultures that practiced this and tapped into this "spiritual science". There are many things scientist today are rediscovering from ancient cultures that were either destroyed when conquering nations took over or lost in translation over time. The fact that people are still experiencing these types of things today is more evidence that it's not something that is a crock or fluke. The issue I find is that because something hasn't been described or proven by modern scientist they are quick to decredit it. The earth was flat at one point in time by many scientist, earth was the center of the galaxy by many scientist at one time. Scientist do get it wrong because of their inability to think outside of the box they are told to think in. Many reject a long history of evidence because it forces them to change their thinking and ideologies. Those who are willing to change become innovative and trailblazers of our world. Always keep an open mind. Much of the world's knowledge is kept from the average person to keep them ignorant and powerless. Those in power know use much of this ancient knowledge yet deny it's existence because of the implications.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Yes, I understand your concern. Try studying the subject for a while.

    • chriscamaro profile image
      Author

      chriscamaro 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I find it fascinating to hear about things that I cannot explain and which science is also unable to explain. I do however believe in the power of "method" and try to discipline myself to rely wholly on it because if you follow a systematic approach to discovery, personal bias will never enter the equation and I agree with you... that's how it should always be. Is it possible that certain people have the ability to access something that transcends the material reality we live in? I suppose it cannot be logically ruled out. People like myself and other purists do look on such accounts with skepticism however, not necessarily because we think it's a crock but because our inability to transcend the material reality scientifically creates an impasse, whereby we cannot use the method we are so fond of to convince ourselves of the truth of the claim. It's an awkward position to be in because we're being told to believe a book is 30 cm in length but all we have is a thermometer.

    • Che Rogers profile image

      Che Rogers 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Edgar cayce is definitely someone to research and look into. He stated that he would tap into the "spirit of the universe". Like a universal mind or energy source. In order for people to agree on the existence of "God" we must agree on the definition and that will be problematic because we all have different definitions of who or what God is. Many religions have gotten it wrong in their absolute concept of who God is and atheists make their concept of who God isn't based off religious nuts and fanatics. There is a group of people who use science and spirituality in an unbiased way who have a clearer understanding of god that is far from traditional.

      Another guy who is similar to Edgar cayce is chico xavier who had consistent experiences with the "other side" and wrote over 400 books on it. He never took one red cent and donated all the money from the books to charity. Some people are born with abilities that modern day scientist cannot explain. Mostly because they refuse to admit in its existence which prevents them from being unbiased when studying it.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Please read the prior posts. Telepathy exisits, but how it works is unknown. Just because we do not know how it works does not mean it does not exist.

      Cayce in particular made statements which were unknown to any living person and was proved true. There must be some form of information beyond the known, material world. Read, "Cayce Proved Jesus." This is all laid out there. There are also medical readings outside the knowledge of living persons.

      Try finding an ARE Study Group and study the subject for a while before deciding.

    • chriscamaro profile image
      Author

      chriscamaro 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I checked it out and I don't dispute the experiences themselves. I'm sure they took place. Rather, if one makes the assertion that the cause was telepathic communication, then there's a burden of proof to explain how it works in a logically consistent and scientifically sound manner. The mechanism has to be fallible, testable and repeatable. Until then it (the assertion of how the telepathy works) isn't yet true.

      But since the topic here is God, I would urge readers to remain affixed to that specific topic. If you have a targeted argument (telepathy or otherwise), where the existence of God follows directly from your argument logically, then it would be relevant here. Simply to prove telepathy is not to prove God for example.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      We agree that there are logical fallacies held by mainstream theists. The papers (Hubs) cited explain the points more clearly. I do not want to duplicate all that I have already written, so it cite them to you for your review.

      In, "My Telepathic Experiences" I am giving testimony of a Verified experience. This is not a delusion of one person, but a shared experience. The experience was repeated. It is therefore a fact. Read about Edgar Cayce, "There is a River" by Thomas Sugrue. His experiences were repeated and verified. Do some research into the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE). There are some 14,000 case studies. Just because a scientist cannot control a phenomenon does not mean it does not exist. It does exist, but is not always controlled. Also see the Silva Group or Silva Ultra Mind.

    • chriscamaro profile image
      Author

      chriscamaro 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you for organizing your points but I am not sure I understand how any of this pertains to my hub, which is specifically focused on exposing some logical fallacies held by theists.

      I'm willing to entertain the idea of telepathy insofar as information can be conveyed by radiation (a form of energy). However, as the mechanism of action has yet to be identified and verified by the scientific community, I would suspend any belief until that's been cleared up. Human experience, in my opinion, is highly suspect as human being are susceptible to cognitive impairment and all sorts of pathogens. I guess I just don't see how any of this pertains to the "reasonableness" of believing in God.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      1. I have had several verified telepathic experiences. See Hub, "My Telepathic Experiences."

      2. Some form of ESP or energy is transferred from one person to another. We are energy.

      3. Edgar Cayce used some form of ESP in his medical readings (look up Edgar Cayce readings or ARE). I follow EC because I did the same thing he did.

      4. EC went beyond telepathy and gave facts that no living person knew at the time (1930s). The Sahara had been green and the Nile River had changed course. EC's statements were proved true with satellite imaging. See Hub, "Cayce Proved Jesus."

      5. Some form of information source exists beyond living people.

    • chriscamaro profile image
      Author

      chriscamaro 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Sorry, there was a lot of content in your post and I think I lost the main thesis somewhere in there. What are you saying, which differs from my arguments? Are you saying that personal experience is evidence of God?

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      If you are willing I would like to offer a different point of view. To begin, I rely on my own experiences. In my teens I had 5 verified telepathic experiences. See Hub, "My Telepathic Experiences." This led me to Edgar Cayce and his medical readings, see "Cayce Proved Jesus." Also see the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE).

      We are energy, not the material body. The Theory is, there is only energy, matter is an illusion, a standing wave. See, "The Twelve Suggestions."

      I believe most of what is taught about mainstream Christianity is a fusion of Judaism and what Jesus taught. It is therefore contradictory. I offer another view: we project our own negative emotions onto others. See, "GOD DOES NOT CONDEMN, we judge ourselves in mirror held by God."

    • Che Rogers profile image

      Che Rogers 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      You are right. I do agree from a Christian standpoint everything you have said because I've used the same logic to dismantle those who use the bible as infallible truth. I don't think they really think about what they say the believe.

      Great hub by the way!

    • chriscamaro profile image
      Author

      chriscamaro 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for the very thorough insight. None of these questions are easy by any means and none of us are qualified enough to declare what is true, at least for the moment. We are therefore left to various degrees of belief based on what is reasonably possible, based on our accrued knowledge and experiences.

    • Che Rogers profile image

      Che Rogers 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I agree with most of what you said regarding "the god of the bible". It doesn't in fact mean the biblical descriptions of a god or creator are the all say to what the creator is. From what I've studied the bible is made up of much older documents and then rewritten by the greeks. The bible and other modern religions are fairly new to the knowledge of a creator or "god". Their claims come off ludicrous and are easily discredited by those who use logic. From what I've studied in more ancient and advanced civilizations such as kemet or kush. They believed the creator had to had some form of intellect because shortly after matter or creation was made also were universal laws such as gravity, polarity, correspondence, gender, karma, all is mind etc. Polarity would explain why we are able to understand what hot is by having cold also. Same with light and dark or good and bad. One cannot understand perfection without having imperfection. In order to understand and know something one must experience it. They believed the creator manifested itself in its creation is everything it created to experience it's creation. It couldn't have been all knowing without first creating it and experiencing it. It could know truly what bad was without good and vice versa. It couldn't know what it was like as a dolphin unless it created it from itself to experience it. Same goes for humans and other parts of creation.

      The largest question everyone has atheist and theist too is where did dark matter or a creator come from? One poses the question where does dark matter come from which accidentally or by coincidence created all things. And the other asks where did the creator come from who has intellect and created every living thing with purpose which is why universal laws were made to keep a certain balance from chaos. Is it more logical to have faith in nothing and coincidence of all the splendor and detail our creation shows not to include human intelligence and also creations intelligence, adaptation and evolution? Or is it logical to think some form of energy had a mind to first think to create and what laws to put in place once it was created but also then create everything with the purpose of experiencing it and knowing it's creation through vicariously living through it. This eliminates the concept of all knowing or predestination.

      I think science and religion have parts of the truth but not one side can say they have the 100% truth of existence.

      I do side more so with creation was created with a purpose otherwise there would be constant chaos not just on earth but every where around us. Nothing would be allowed to progress or evolve in constant chaos. This is why it makes sense for a creator to place universal laws like gravity and polarity to keep balance and order.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 3 years ago from Tasmania

      Have not read all of it yet, but very interesting and well thought through. I will read again in the morning.