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Why God Doesn't Exist - Living

Updated on December 11, 2015

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Exist is not a synonym of living.

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Descartes became quite famous for formulating his no-nonsense, practical definition of existence: ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ (“I think; therefore, I am”). He insinuated that as long as you are conscious of yourself, it is self-evident that you exist. We can more or less rephrase his proposal as, “I am aware of myself; therefore, I had better exist.”

But the logic of this version of the word exist leaves much to be desired. For instance, if we put God in the driver’s seat, we can say that ‘God thinks; therefore He exists.’ God also believes that the table exists, therefore, the table exists. So far, so good! However, this doesn’t seem to work in reverse. The table doesn’t think; therefore, the table doesn’t exist. And it follows that because the table doesn’t think that God exists, God disappears as well. What have we learned?

Descartes’ definition falls short of the mark because it circumscribes existence to living entities. Pursuant to his proposal, my car, my house, my clothes -- anything lacking self-propulsion -- would cease to exist simply because inert objects are denied the ability to think.

Yet even within living entities ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ struggles against logic. A snail is a living entity which does not enjoy the blessing of a high IQ. Is the snail conscious of its existence or of your existence? Does the snail ponder whether it or a table exists? If we accept Descartes’ operational definition, existence would be further circumscribed to humans. What would be the purpose of such an unwarranted restriction?

However, the ultimate problem with Descartes’ proposal is that it fails within a temporal context. Does it make sense to say that Napoleon existED? Did Napoleon begin to exist one day and cease to exist on another? Are ‘to exist’ and ‘to live’ synonyms?

Both living and exist are on or off, black or white types of concepts. You are either alive or dead, and the UFO either exists or it doesn’t. But living is a dynamic concept whereas exist is static. You need to watch a minimum of two frames of a movie to understand ‘alive’, ‘to live’ or ‘living’. You need to imagine but a single shape to understand ‘exist’. Living is to an interval what exist is to an instant. Living invokes motion; exist, location. If there is a single object in the Universe we may say that it exists. In order for it to be living, it would have to do more than just sit there. God does not need to breathe to exist. God does need to breathe or think or walk to be alive.

Note that nothing in this line of reasoning changes were we to replace the word God with the word rock. It is incongruous to say that the rock has always existed (past) or that it will continue to exist (future). The verb ‘to be’ is a synonym of the dynamic concepts to live, to occupy, to continue to remain, or to belong. It is not a synonym of ‘to exist.’ A statement such as, ‘The rock is there’ does not satisfy the intrinsic, static existence spec a standalone object meets all on its own. It addresses, instead, the dynamic ‘to occupy’, ‘to remain’, or ‘to belong’ notions that originate in the perceptions of extrinsic observers.

Therefore, it is incongruous to say that God has always existED or that He will continue to exist eternally. The proponent is saying that God lived, lives, and will continue to live, to be, to remain, or to occupy, but has so far said nothing about God’s existence

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