Sunday, June 24, 2007

Using the Construct of God as an Explanation Causes More Problems than it Solves

The construct of god as an explanation for anything causes more problems than it solves.

1) One has not given an explanation if one has not proposed a mechanism. Giving god credit for something leads to the illusion that one has offered a satisfactory explanation, when one has actually not said much of anything. To illustrate, allow me to use "gremlins" for the word "god".

Where did the matter/energy for the Big Bang come from? "Gremlins did it". It sounds like I gave an explanation, but I proposed no mechanism, so I never really answered the question or explained where the matter/energy came from. So the question still remains. Yet, some theists criticize atheists for not having a definitive answer for this question. My point is that theists don't have an answer either. "God" by itself is not an answer. Where did god get the matter/energy from? "Oh, he is omnipotent so he can just do things like that". That is not an explanation. I could claim the same for Flying Spaghetti Monsters or Invisible Pink Unicorns.

2) Immaterial and material gods. People have many different concepts of god, so it makes showing the problems with god’s properties difficult, because not every theist believes he has such and such a property. But, allow me to address the problem immaterial beings have.

How does an immaterial being interact or have any influence on a material being? Being immaterial, god has no weight (i.e., no gravitational pull), no electrostatic charge (he can't touch or hold any material thing), no electro-magnetic waves (he is not light, cannot be seen, and cannot influence things that can be influenced by light), he has no molecules that can hold heat energy, etc. If he is immaterial, he has no physical force or energy with which to interact with the physical world. Mind powers don't cut it. How would an immaterial mind exert a physical force to move a planet, etc? What makes the physical world physical is that it responds to physical forces. And energy and light are physical. Remember E=mc^2? Matter/energy is one thing. Kinetic energy, heat, etc, are natural and part of the physical world.

By this point, some theists are saying, "OK, an immaterial god won't work because although we can dream of beings that can move physical objects with their mind, there is no mechanism to make it happen, so I changed my mind and now my god is a material god". So, now the problem is how does a material god do all the things people claim he does through natural means? And why haven’t physicists detected any physical forces of unknown origin doing everything from altering the rate at which neurons fire in human brains to stopping bullets from going through garments.

Look, a neuron does not fire unless the charge on the inside of neuron reaches -70 mV. Since we have already established that it would take some physical force to do that, why do we not find any out of place electrical charges targeting certain neurons so that God can give you a thought that you would not have had without his interference? That is just one issue. You name whatever you think god has done and tell me why we cannot find any trace of physical evidence that he did or is doing something.

Someone yells, “We just haven’t discovered it, yet”. Well, my friend, everything is happening naturally and normally according to the natural laws of physics. There is no evidence that the system is being acted upon. If god is physical then he is an actor in the physical universe and we should be able to detect him doing things that change the normal course things would follow. Now, someone will bring up the strange behavior exhibited by sub-atomic particles in which quantum mechanics rules supreme. The strange behavior of mesons and such does not help the theist out. I am willing to show how it is not helpful if someone posits a coherent theory of how god uses quantum mechanics to answer prayers, etc.

3) The probability of the existence of a god complex enough to be able to create physical laws and constants is less likely than the probability of the physical laws and constants existing without a creator. As difficult as it is for some of you to believe that something as complex as the universe exists as it is without a creator, it is even a bigger leap to believe that something way more complex, a god that can manipulate the constants of the universe, exists without a creator. Now, Mormons believe god did have a creator, namely a father god, but this only moves the same question back a step and does nothing to solve the problem. You are attempting to solve the problem of how something complex can exist without a creator by supposing something even more complex existing without a creator. This does not prove that a god does not exist, because even highly improbable things can happen if given enough trials. But, it does make moot the argument for the existence of god due to the probabilities of the universe being the way it is without a creator. And you have made the whole matter worse by introducing a god whose existence and properties must be explained.

In conclusion, using the concept of god as an explanatory factor for anything that happens in the universe creates more problems than it solves. Without a stated mechanism by which god does his miraculous deeds, using god as an explanation explains nothing. Immaterial beings have to have some interface by which to influence physical things. The question of how one gets an immaterial thing to influence a physical object is a lot more difficult than explaining whatever you need to explain without god. And finally, using a god to explain the origin of the universe just moves the questions back one step and makes the task even more difficult because now you have to account for something even more complex than the original question.

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