The Creation of God
Recently a wave of comments inundated several of my hubs from a hubber called Joseph O Polanco. Many of the arguments made in his posts draw substance from philosopher and theologian Doctor William Lane Craig. I don't at all condemn such borrowing as I myself have borrowed from other atheists and indeed MUST borrow from believers in the sense that in order to critique religions I must understand the beliefs and the arguments used to support those beliefs.
Joe's comments have caused a bit of a renewed spark for me in the whole atheism theism debate and I've watched several of Doctor William Lane Craigs recent exchanges in order to better understand what I take Joe's positions to be. In this hub I'm going to address the Kalam Cosmological argument and the generally accepted nature of the modern monotheistic 'Abrahamic' God and how neither are reasonable to accept or believe.
So this hub will be a bit of a hodge podge with an overarching theme.
Most of this hub will deal with the Kalam Cosmological argument, which is among William Lane Craig's favorite arguments for God to use. The argument asserts that all things that begin to exist have a cause and that because the Universe has a beginning, the Big Bang, that the Universe has an 'external' or transcendent cause that we call God. Most debaters do not take issue with the first premise, which is that everything which begins to exist has a cause but both the first and second premise are problematic when we begin talking about Cosmology and the type of creation or beginning being discussed.
You don't need a PhD to object to the first premise, all you need is an understanding of what Craig is actually saying. There is a hidden premise within the first premise that is seldom mentioned, which is the idea that the Universe came into existence out of nothing, or was created out of nothing. This idea is not founded on Cosmology but rather upon the philosophical presupposition that nothing ought to exist or that the fact that there is SOMETHING rather than NOTHING is somehow strange and demands an explanation.
It may seem obvious to the average person that the presence of something rather than nothing suggests that at some point in the past there was nothing and apologists are content to assume that the Big Bang asserts just this. Among scientists there are those who assert that, in fact, a Universe could arise from nothing via natural processes and still other scientists suggest that SOMETHING always existed, even “before” our Universe. The first premise of Craig's argument is dubious at best as a philosophical point and completely misrepresents the debate going on in modern Cosmology about the subject of cosmic origins.
Furthermore Craig's belief in creation out of nothing compounds the problem of establishing his first cause for Kalam because we have no confirmed examples of causality in regards to that type of creation. In simple terms we've never seen anything come into existence out of nothing and we have no idea if creating something out of nothing requires a CAUSE in the same way that normal cause and effect work. If the Universe was coming out of nothing we simply do not know that something causally prior to the Universe is necessary, let alone that it is a God.
An excellent deconstruction of Kalam's many flaws
The Meaning of Life
If we grant the first premise of Kalam we get to the second premise, which I am more than glad to grant for now, and that is typically stated as The Universe began to exist (although again Craig means created from nothing, rather than something pre-existing). The conclusion is where Craig once again gets into trouble. Craig comes to the conclusion that the First Cause is NOT simply an inanimate force beyond time and space but that the first cause is a timeless, spaceless, immaterial disembodied mind we call God. The problem with this is that even if we grant the assertion that a timeless, spaceless, immaterial thing can exist how can it possibly be a living mind?
As I partially explained to Joe we have numerous definitions of what it means for something to be alive, to be a living being or living organism. The definition that William Lane Craig seems to be suggesting is either based on some twisted form of vitalism (the idea that all life is different from the inanimate because it has an immaterial essence) or more likely upon the idea that all human beings have a soul, an immaterial immortal soul given to them by God. Either way Craig is engaging in special pleading, asking that God be exempt from the rules for no good reason.
So what does it mean when something is alive? What is life? Well in simplest terms life is a complex and unique form of organic chemistry. Things that are alive, or possess life, are capable of growth, reproduction, and carry on metabolic or chemical processes that are distinguishable from chemical processes carried on by non-living material. The definition of life as we understand precludes Craig's God and any attempts to amend the definition of life to include this timeless spaceless first cause either employ special pleading or invoke outdated definitions or unproven ideas (vitalism, the existence of a soul, etc).
I Got Soul and I'm Super Bad
In order to assume this God CAN exist in such a state Craig must already have the presupposition that such things are possible without a reason to back it up. In particular Craig has to believe that something which is immaterial can have the quality of life. The only argument I can think of that he can give for why we should somehow change our definition of what it means to be alive is to make an appeal to the human soul.
The idea that human beings have a soul cannot be used as evidence that something immaterial can be ALIVE outside time and space for several reasons. First of all the general belief is that only human beings have a soul, so having a soul cannot be said to be part of what it means to be alive, it would merely be a part of what it means to be human. Secondly William Lane Craig is not the type of theologian to deny the truth of evolutionary science, he is NOT a creationist in that sense and so he does, as far as I know, agree that human beings share a common ancestor with modern extant apes. So at what point, then, does the soul enter the world?
The Bible says that God breathed the breath of life into Adam often this is interpreted as God giving man an immortal soul and to those who take that metaphoric approach it is the moment that God turned man from a mere ape into a man. But at what point in the evolutionary timeframe was that? Was it a hundred thousand years ago? One million? Was it when the Neanderthals died out leaving homo sapiens the dominant hominid? When did human beings acquire this immaterial thing that makes us so special and why has it thus far proved entirely undetectable and completely inconsequential?
When faced with my claim that it is nonsensical to suggest something can be alive and also be immaterial, timeless and spaceless Joe accused me of the appeal to incredulity fallacy because I couldn't 'imagine' it and thus dismissed it. I can imagine it just fine however the idea directly contradicts our understanding of what it means for something to be alive. I am perfectly open to amending my understanding of what it means for something to be alive but I need a REASON to do so other than my own imagination. Being able to imagine something doesn't make it a reasonable proposition to accept.
I elaborate upon why an immaterial, spaceless, timeless LIVING God makes no sense, and also attempt to dismantle God's attributes such as omnipotence and omniscience in my hub Deconstructing God's Characteristics but I want to go one step further here and I understand this hub is running long so I'll try to make this segment quick.
If God is omnipotent within material reality, that is he can manipulate matter, space and time, how does it make any sense to say that he is immaterial? In what way can the immaterial affect the material? Even if we assume that God can cause the Universe to come into existence any further action by God to interfere within the Universe raises the question of how he can even act upon matter without material POWER, that is power in the physical sense.
In physics power is the ability to do work over time so it also makes no sense for God to be timeless and omnipotent as any action God could undertake would inherently require time to pass. Furthermore God cannot be omniscient without time and space, time is required for thought processes to occur and there would have to be a Universe to know about for God to meaningfully know anything. Along those same lines without space what does it mean for God to be omnipresent? It means nothing.
Thought processes, as far as we know, are purely a biological thing - a disembodied mind itself makes little sense and those who argue for God give very little reason why we should accept such a thing let alone give our praise to it and feel bad when we offend it.
Craig's God is therefore a massive self-contradiction as all of his meaningful characteristics are contingent upon the existence of a Universe, specifically a Universe like ours where time, space and matter all exist. And, if you take Craig's moral argument for the existence of God, than God's characteristic of omnibenevolence is contingent upon the existence of moral agents like ourselves. That is to say that if there was no Universe and simply was God, there would simply be a spaceless, timeless, immaterial disembodied mind and such a thing, absent a Universe like our own, COULD NOT be all-knowing, all loving, all powerful and present everywhere.
The Teleological Argument OF God
The modern monotheistic God is a chameleon-like mess of convenient plot-hole filler and special pleading so that he can break all the rules just because. Isn't it convenient that such a being explains away all the mysteries we've yet to nail down? What are the odds that a God powerful enough to create the Universe happened to exist? What are the odds that a God moral enough to govern human behavior also happens to know everything we do and think? Wow, what a convenient deity, its almost as if, to steal a line from the believers, God is FINE TUNED. If we tweaked the parameters of this God even a tiny bit why we'd get a totally different result!
Who could have Fine Tuned God in such a way that he fits all these characteristics we need him to? Like fitting neatly into mysteries we want answers to like the origin of the Universe and where consciousness comes from! It's funny because this same God once fit into all the mysteries we do know the answer to now but used to wonder about, like what causes diseases, why crops were bad, why an invading army was allowed to overcome us, death, where all the animals and plants came from, how the planets and stars seem to move, etc... etc... etc...
Who fine tuned God? We did. But now we don't need to defend this indefensible nonsense, we've moved beyond the concept of God. It's not that there are no gods anywhere at all, there might be, we don't know for sure - we need to keep an open-mind. But I think we can say that we understand the creation of the modern monotheistic God, we understand his origins, we understand his past and current evolution and in a lot of ways we've moved beyond the usefulness of the concept of a GOD altogether.
And, as I said in a previous hub, if there was a God that gave a shit about our freedom and autonomy as a species, maybe that freedom would be his greatest gift of all. Maybe the sheep becoming their own shepherds was all part of the plan. If there is a God why must we be so dependent and drag God down to our level, perhaps if there is a creator his plan would involve weaning us away so that he can enjoy his creation.
In conclusion I submit that: -
The modern God defined by monotheists (Christian, Muslim, Jew) is self-contradictory, nonsensical and does not exist.
Whether some kind of God exists or not the anthropocentric, anthropomorphic and primitive gods of our intellectual infancy as a species should be abandoned and we should take control of our own destiny as a species.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to what happens in the comments!