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The Disconfirmed Deity
Conventional wisdom has long presumed the impossibility of 'disproving' the existence of God. But the longer I contemplate it, the more I wonder about our common approaches to the question, and the more I suspect that conventional wisdom may be wrong.
The issue of God's existence is often erroneously addressed as a quantitative or factual question, which can be indisputably resolved through some objective measurement or testing. For example, if someone claims there's a cat under the bed, one need only pull the bed away and look, laying the matter conclusively to rest.
I suggest the issue of God's existence is a qualitative or evaluative question -- a proposition confirmed or refuted through weight of evidence. For example, U.S. criminal trials begin with a mandatory presumption of innocence and the prosecution attempts to offer evidence sufficient to reverse it “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Obviously, objectivity is still necessary in examining each point of evidence. But discerning where (or if) the accumulated weight of evidence overturns the initial presumption is unavoidably subjective.
We begin by narrowing our focus to the biblical deity Yahweh, with a specific, commonly agreed upon set of fundamental qualities. Just as any argument can be 'disproven' by falsifying it's component premises, I submit that the presumption of Yahweh's existence can also be refuted, by critically examining these qualities and falsifying each in turn. For example:
Revelation 19-6: “...the Lord God omnipotent reigneth...”
The inherent fatal flaw of 'omnipotence' is perfectly highlighted by the unpresuming eloquence of a child's question -- “Can God create a rock so heavy he can't lift it?” In other words, if a being is unable to create an impossible task for himself, he is NOT omnipotent. If he IS able to create such a task, he is STILL NOT omnipotent, because there's STILL something he cannot do (complete the task). The very notion of omnipotence is an absurd logical paradox. It is literally IMPOSSIBLE, for Yahweh or anyone else!
1 John 3-20: “...God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things...”
Yahweh demonstrates ignorance on numerous occasions throughout the Bible narrative. For instance, he fails to perceive that Adam and Eve will 'fall' in the Garden, or that humankind will become so 'sinful' he'll need to destroy them in a flood, or that his Israelites will make him so angry at Sinai that Moses has to talk him out of slaughtering them.
Omniscience also clashes with Yahweh's other supposed qualities. For example, he cannot transgress his own laws and therefore CANNOT empirically know what it is to 'sin.' And omnipotence and omniscience are mutually exclusive with regard to the past, present and future: If one is omniscient and knows them with certainty, he is therefore unable to change them (and is not omnipotent). If he IS omnipotent and CAN change these states, he cannot know them with certainty (and is not omniscient).
Jeremiah 23-24: “...Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth?...”
In the Bible Yahweh routinely and unambiguously revealed his presence to a tiny portion of humanity for thousands of years before disappearing two millennia ago. Yet he NEVER personally revealed himself to Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas, most of Africa and the planet's various island nations. In fact, the VAST MAJORITY of humankind had never even heard of him until they were proselytized in the last millenium! By any practical historical measure, Yahweh has NOT been 'omnipresent.'
John 1-3: “...All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made...”
Theoretically, a plane of existence can precede an entity that will exist within it (things can be added to it). Or an entity and its plane of existence can both emerge simultaneously. However, an entity CANNOT precede its own plane of existence. Logically, if the entity exists, so must its plane of existence, by default.
Heaven is Yahweh's plane of existence. He could NOT have preceded it, and therefore could NOT have created it. And if we insist upon the theological premise that everything must begin with an external 'creator,' this necessarily also applies to both Yahweh's plane of existence and Yahweh himself! In other words, both Yahweh and Heaven were fashioned by yet ANOTHER 'creator' (who was created by yet another, who was created by another, and so on).
Deuteronomy 32-4: “...all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he...”
In any rational, moral conception of 'justice' the punishment or restitution is proportional to the offense. Yet, according to Yahweh the absolute worst conceivable 'sin' -- the only sin that CANNOT be forgiven -- is blasphemy against him! EVERY OTHER offense is equal in the sense that they are all resolved with same punishment (Hell) or the same plea bargain (accepting Jesus). In effect, a slanderer (along with anyone who isn't 'saved') is inescapably doomed to hell fire while a genocidal murderer can be redeemed! By any HONEST assessment, this is NOT equity or justice!
Micah 7-18: “...he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy...”
In the Bible, every instance of Yahweh's 'forgiveness' is predicated upon some demand for atonement or sacrifice. But TRUE forgiveness requires no atonement, sacrifice or even acknowledgment from whomever is being forgiven! Like true love, it is an UNCONDITIONAL gift from the heart.
And Yahweh clearly DOES “retaineth...his anger for ever,” because his punishment is INFINITE (far exceeding any FINITE offense humans could conceivably commit). Inflicting endless suffering is the very opposite of mercy.
A God With No Qualities?
In our brief examination of Yahweh's supposed essential, elemental qualities, some are inherently impossible while most are impossible within a biblical context. Collectively, they define Yahweh's existence, and if they are all refuted, the being they define is likewise refuted. Ultimately, the cumulative weight of evidence suggests that these impossible, imaginary attributes belong to an impossible, imaginary being!