0

I would like to preface this question with two pieces of information so as to minimalize confusion.

First, I am in no way a Theist myself, as I have put in nowhere near enough time, research, or thought into a question as important as this to accurately or logically reach a conclusion. This question is in no way seeking confirmation bias or attempting to be self-serving to my own positions. It only seeks to ask for additional methods in realizing the logical inconsistencies and errors of a commonly used argument for Atheism and how to make them clearer to its proponents.

Second, the argument that I am presenting this question against varies slightly depending on the individual, but typically goes as follows:

  • The Big Bang implies that the creation of the Universe occurred as a direct result of scientific processes.
  • Scientific processes are well-supported and clearly evident in shaping the physical conditions of the universe today and the beginnings of life.
  • Science is capable of explaining all undertakings and occurrences in the universe.
  • Therefore, the Big Bang, and subsequently the creation and formation of the universe resulted entirely from scientific processes, making the existence of God as an omnipresent and omnipotent creator of the universe impossible.

(This is but a rough approximation of the general argument. If it has issues or is a strawman, I am willing to edit it).

With that information noted, I would like to delve into the question at hand.

This is an issue that has been on my mind for quite some time, as I have read a number of papers and have had discussions with these individuals whose only claims against the existence of a God are purely scientific. In the case of the conversations, they almost always have devolved into me explaining that the very definition of God itself states that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and not solely limited to being a creator who plays and active role in human affairs. Thus, God's nonexistence (or existence, for that matter), can not be accurately explained by science. I have logically disproven all scientific arguments revolving God not by doubting the validity or reliability of the scientific processes themselves, but merely by stating their irrelevancy and inability to prove the existence or nonexistence of such a deity. Evidently, either I have made some unnoticed error myself, or my arguments have not been clear or concise. Are there any better or more clear arguments, especially metaphysical ones, that decisively and successfully disprove the common Scientific Argument used by Atheists?

10
  • 4
    Even aside from the irony of using the word "creation" here, the Big Bang theory implies nothing about "scientific processes" in the "creation of the Universe". It is a non-physical singularity in the mathematics of relativity, and possible physical mechanisms behind it are the focus of active current research. It is expected that quantum gravity will shed some light on it, but that is hardly in the bag. It is also unclear why Big Bang is needed in this argument at all. Clause 3, science is all-capable, is a non-sequitur, but already makes God redundant. Any theist will reject it.
    – Conifold
    Jan 4, 2022 at 0:24
  • 3
    Which God? There are so many.
    – tkruse
    Jan 4, 2022 at 1:39
  • 1
    It's interesting that the Big Bang was first proposed by Georges Lemaître, a Catholic priest. He certainly did not take his idea as proof of the absence of God. On the contrary, it's the steady state theory that opposes a single moment of creation; and the Big Bang that supports the idea of divine intervention. At least there's no direct conflict. Why did the Big Bang happen? Random fluctuation in a quantum field? Or fiat of God? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lema%C3%AEtre
    – user4894
    Jan 4, 2022 at 3:25
  • 2
    The Bing Bang theory is thoroughly physical, but it does not concern the initial singularity, only what happened after. At the moment, physicists themselves describe the singularity of "infinite density" as non-physical. It may well be described by a physical theory one day, quantum gravity or some other, we just did not work it out yet.
    – Conifold
    Jan 4, 2022 at 4:10
  • 2
    @GoldenRatio, as a resolute Strong agnostic, I agree with the premise that you don't need to be a theist to disagree with atheists. However, in the absence of a cited source, your target appears to be a Straw argument. Could you provide a reference to an argument of this kind being used?
    – Paul Ross
    Jan 4, 2022 at 20:46

5 Answers 5

5

This argument is wrong in basically all particulars.

Point 1, the origin of the Big Bang is NOT understood scientifically. How we got the high-density energetic mass flux that appears to have been the universe's initial conditions, is NOT addressed by the Big Bang theory, which only deals with the subsequent expansion.

Point 2, the beginnings of life are also not scientifically understood. EVOLUTION is understood. ABIOGENESIS, is not. The furthest that abiogenesis has gotten with pre-biotic processes is the creation of fat globules, and amino acids. Actual proteins, DNA, RNA, and semi-permeable membranes -- no. Much less the even more complex organelles needed to make a bacterium.

Point 3 -- as a follow on to the two areas already noted as not understood -- science also does not understand:

  • The whole collection of the philosophic bases of science: IE what is truth, knowledge, information, justifications, mathematics, and reasoning. -- and how to use all of this to justify science's methods.
  • the nature of causation
  • the nature of time
  • how to do knowledge in a pluralistic environment, now that reductionism has clearly failed
  • how does emergence work, and how do emergent phenomenon interact with a base strata?
  • What is consciousness/awareness?
  • What are abstractions, and why do they seem to be so causal/embedded in the physical?

Additionally, the argument that you outlined is NOT the argument that New Atheists use against theism -- for theism they instead note the God is an unnecessary hypothesis, not that God is refuted by certain knowledge. Your counter-argument -- that God cannot have discernable consequences -- actually reinforces the actual argument New Atheists make against God.

The argument you outlined IS used but is used instead in favor of scientism/physicalism, and against both idealism and any form of dualism, rather than against theism. This rebuttal to each of its points will possibly be useful in those disputes.

4
  • 2
    Thank you very much for this answer. I have come to the clear realization that this question is very poorly written, constructed, and worded, but I greatly appreciate your response. Jan 4, 2022 at 19:14
  • 2
    I especially found the information you provided on points 1 and 2 to be very helpful. I think I previously had a number of great misconceptions of Science, New Atheism, as well as the beginnings of life. Jan 4, 2022 at 20:02
  • I agree with point 1, the Big Bang is an explanation of universal inflation, not origin. With that being said, you can scientifically step-wise explain the 13.8 billion years that came after the origin leading up to us, humans. Abiogenesis is one of those steps, so I do think point 2 is misleading. Yes abiogenesis hasn't been replicated in a laboratory setting, but it's conceptual understanding is far from unknown; grab some popcorn and watch my favorite video (youtu.be/U6QYDdgP9eg). It's all just non-equilibrium steady-state chemical systems, no room for God. Jan 25 at 11:40
  • @kendall.tubbs An extended discusison on abiogenesis would be an off topic tangent, but I would like to hold that discussion with you. So I created a chat here: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/142351/discussion-on-abiogenesis
    – Dcleve
    Jan 26 at 16:17
2

Every argument about God is a philosophical argument about existence, consciousness and causality

The existence/non-existence of God falls within the field of metaphysics and hinges on one's views on existence, consciousness and causality. The position is heavily informed by epistemological principles relating to the onus of proof, and the admissibility and evidence required for assertions of causality and consciousness.

Most arguments relating to the existence of God come down to deciding which of existence, consciousness or causality has primacy in metaphysics --- i.e., does an existing thing always need to have been caused by some other thing. Scientific theories like the Big Bang really do not change the philopsophical argument at issue. Assuming you accept the Big Bang theory it just pushes the argument one step back --- i.e., what, if anything, caused the Big Bang?

The argument you give in your question does not really address the fundamental philosophical question at issue, and it has a lot of glaring problems that would be simple for a sophisticated theist to dispatch. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the premises here pretty much guarantee that a sophisticated theist will back you into a corner where you have to concede the essentials of their position. Below I will point out some aspects of each of the elements of your argument that are weaknesses for an atheistic theory. At a broader level, it is wrong to think that you can substitute science for philosophy --- no scientific theory is ever going to oust philosophy on this issue.

(I actually don't think what you have given is a serious scientific argument against theism at all. An atheistic theory requires acceptance that there is some primary in existence that was not itself caused by a previous thing/process --- i.e., that it just exists. Consequently, any serious argument against theism is going to adopt an epistemological view that precludes arbitrary assertions of causlity, and it is going to interpret causality as applying to the actions of existents, rather than to ther existence. This will be a philosophical theory that is logically prior to science in the hierarchy of thought.)


The Big Bang implies that the creation of the Universe occurred as a direct result of scientific processes.

This first premise asserts that the universe "occurred as a direct result of scientific processes". This is an asssertion that the universe was caused by an underlying process, so it then behooves you to describe the process that caused the universe. Either you can't do this, which opens the door for a theistic explanation, or you can do this, and you just push the question one step back for the theist (i.e., what caused the things/processes that you say caused the universe?). Alternatively, if you try to appeal to an alleged cause that is itself outside of the universe, you are then coming onto the theists turf and conceding a substantial part of their position.

Scientific processes are well-supported and clearly evident in shaping the physical conditions of the universe today and the beginnings of life.

The theist can easily concede this point without damaging the ultimate question of what, if anything, caused existence. Indeed, most sophisticated theists will probably claim that the reasoning underlying science supports their own theistic position (i.e., looking for an underlying cause for things/processes), so they will be quite happy to agree on this point and then use it to beat you over the head later.

Science is capable of explaining all undertakings and occurrences in the universe.

Assuming you want to follow science (and it seems clear you do), this premise commits you either to an infinite regress of causal explanations of the existents in the universe, or else a causal assertion that the universe is caused by something outside the universe (which is exactly what the theistic theory provides). By implication from this premise, if your theory of existence ever runs out of explanations (e.g., if you ever get to a primary existent whose occurrence can't be explained from some previous existent that is also in the universe) then your theory is non-scientific. You have posited that the Big Bang caused the universe, so now explain the occurrence of the Big Bang, then explain the occurrence of the thing that caused the Big Bang, then the occurrence of the thing that caused the thing that caused the Big Bang, and so on ad infinitum.

If you adopt this view of science, now you are screwed --- the theist will simply push you further and further back and commit you to an infinite regress of causal explanations. When you inevitably run out, the theist will give you a theistic causal explanation for your primary, using God as an entity outside of the universe which caused that primary. At that point, according to your premise of what science is, your theory is non-scientific (because it can't explain an occurrence in the universe) and their theory is still potentially scientific (since it can explain this without adding any new thing in the universe that itself requires explanation).

As you can see, this premise will deem any atheistic theory of existence non-scientific, since any atheistic theory of existence is going to have to choose a primary which does not require any further causal explanation, and your premise here deems any such theory non-scientific. So, far from seeing this as an element of a persuasive atheistic theory, this seems to me like a sure-fire way to kill your atheistic theory and provide the theist with the mantle that they represent "science" while atheism is "anti-science".

Therefore, the Big Bang, and subsequently the creation and formation of the universe resulted entirely from scientific processes, making the existence of God as an omnipresent and omnipotent creator of the universe impossible.

It's unclear how the second part follows from the first. As to the first part: Cool, so what caused the Big Bang?

Hmmm, since science requires every occurrence to have a causal explanation (according to your premises), perhaps an entity outside the universe caused it? An entity outside the universe that is so "potent" that it caused the entire existence of the universe ---i.e., so potent that we might reasonably call it "omni" "potent" perhaps. What, pray, might we call such an "omni" "potent" entity outside the universe that caused the Big Bang (or the thing that caused the Big Bang, etc.)?

2
  • And the other side of the coin is that all logical reasoning exists within the sensual universe and not beyond. God, by anyone's valuation of the word, is beyond the sensual universe and as such, a priori, cannot be proved. Jan 4, 2022 at 6:20
  • I'm not sure what the sensual universe is, but I want to go to there.
    – Ben
    Dec 29, 2022 at 9:17
2

If any god creates a unicorn on my front lawn, that damn well physically proves the existence of this creator god, no matter their transcendence. Same if this god were to create a universe. Any noteworthy thing a god could do in this universe would leave traces for science to see. Religions have claimed that there have been such traces and that therefore so humans just believe and worship.

This is also the claim of the New atheists, according to wikipedia:

Dawkins argues to the contrary, claiming the "God Hypothesis" is a valid scientific hypothesis,[48] having effects in the physical universe, and like any other hypothesis can be tested and falsified.

Your argument that gods just cannot be disproven by science misses the link that such gods which do ever act in this universe would leave a trail of evidence that science could detect, and science can detect the absence of such evidence in most relevant cases.

Other gods which never did anything meaningful in this universe are undistinguishable from demons, devils, delusions... And thus not worthy of worship.

Modern writers who strongly argue against science based arguments against god can most likely be found in the Christian Community. So asking in https://christianity.stackexchange.com/ might be more useful. Non-religious writers tend not to write much about the existence of gods, because there are so many definitions and most of them arbitrary and unclear, making it hard to write without reference to one specific religion.

9
  • I have several corrections I would like to suggest. This comment: " If this creator god creates a unicorn on my front lawn, that damn well physically proves the existence of this creator god," is problematic. You may see a unicorn appear on your front lawn, but the cause -- "creation by a creator god", is not "proven" by that observation. There are two issues -- science does not "prove", it indicates likely causal processes based on predictive power. And it is not clear how a God hypothesis would predict a unicorn on your front lawn.
    – Dcleve
    Jan 4, 2022 at 15:43
  • Additionally although most of the New Atheist authors treat God as causal and testable, I have found in practice that most contemporary atheists actually make a similar argument as the OP -- that Gods and spirits by definition are "supernatural" and cannot therefore be causally studied. I agree that this is an invalid/contradictory claim, yet it has gained widespread usage. It is an application of Gould's "non-overlapping Magisteria" claim, combined with the scientism presumption that everything knowable is on the science side of that divide.
    – Dcleve
    Jan 4, 2022 at 15:49
  • A god hypothesis cannot predict a unicorn appearing on my front lawn. Because a god creator could make anything appear. But a scientific model of my front lawn would predict zero unicorns appearing at any time, unless a god interfered. This the unicorn would strictly speaking disprove the scientific prediction of zero unicorns appearing.
    – tkruse
    Jan 4, 2022 at 17:00
  • I agree that many or most atheists might not agree that gods must be disprovable. But the question was specifically about new atheism, and so my answer also f on that.
    – tkruse
    Jan 4, 2022 at 17:02
  • Beside god concepts that only affect the afterlife, gods can also hide from science by only speaking as a voice in the head of prophets, or by doing miracles only while nobody points a camera. But such god concepts are too weak to support religions, so i think new atheism mainly aims to disprove such gods concepts that support religions, which is more focused than mainstream atheism which does not need to disprove anything.
    – tkruse
    Jan 4, 2022 at 17:07
0

In your question, you propose that the problem this argument faces is that the definition of God is transcendent, and consequently that the argument misses its mark as a kind of equivocation fallacy.

I think the argument's implied predication of God is quite simple, and if this is in fact the way you want to address it, you should present it differently. One might refactor your argument thus:

  • God is the omnipresent, omnipotent creator of the universe.
  • According to our best scientific theory, an omnipresent, omnipotent creator plays no role.
  • We are ontologically committed to all and only the objects of our best scientific theory.
  • Therefore, God does not exist.

I think in your response, you could pick apart your responses to premise 1, the predication of God, and premise 3, the nature of our ontological commitments vis best scientific theory. Both of these premises independently seem quite plausible, and I don't think you get out of 1 by just saying that the term "God" isn't just defined by this simple feature. I think you would need to step further than this and say that either there is more to say about ontology than captured in science, or to explicitly Negate premise 1 - to claim that God is not the omnipresent omnipotent creator of the universe.

The primary Christian theistic response is to reject premise 3, but I would independently find value instead in asking an Atheist their grounds for believing premise 1. This seems to be a very imperialistic, Monotheistic notion, and in cleaving too strongly to it, New Atheism is in danger of repeating the worst aspects of the religion it most claims to oppose.

1
  • New atheism is mostly opposing mainstream religions, not so much other forms spirituality, that's why it makes sense for the writers to focus on those notions. It's guidance for believers in religious cults to free their shackles, not so much a cookbook for how to be atheist.
    – tkruse
    Jan 5, 2022 at 3:43
0

Ten scientists surround a puddle of water. To the point of mental and physical exhaustion, they discuss whether the water actually exists in front of them, or not. At a heated point when they are all not paying attention, a dog walks over and drinks from the puddle and walks away with no one seeing him...

The dog knows the water exists, but the ten scientists still aren't sure.

So how can you know God exists???

Ask him, and if He is real He will answer you. If He isn't He won't.

How can you know which God is real. Ask him to show you and He will. If He is real.

I knew a scientist once who believed in God. He worked with other scientists who said they didn't. When discussing the existence of God with one of them late one night. My friend turned to the other and said "well we can talk all day and night, but there's really only one way to find out. If you really want to prove the existence of God do a scientific experiment. Go home and every night for two weeks ask God to show you if He is real. Then come back and tell me your findings. Treat it just like any other scientific experiment."

Two weeks later, my friend turned to the other scientist and said. "So is God real? The other one answered. Yes He is."

Some things cannot be comprehended at the moment by science. But the problem with a lot of scientific argument is that it's not very scientific in reality. Everyone's talking, no one's experimenting. So nothing get's any further.

Take dinosaurs as an example. We exist now. We found dinosaur bones that date back to a point in time. These two things exist for sure. But then science becomes very unscientific in filling in the gap with the most amazing fairy tales of how that point and this point came to pass, without any other proof.

Everyone uses Darwin's theory of evolution as the biggest excuse to God's existence, but they fail to realise that even Darwin admitted that it all had to start with something. But they leave that tiny little part out so they can prove their point via deception.

Atheists and scientific types believe in their circular arguments and truly believe they know so much. All based on absolutely no actual fact or trial. But even in their ridiculous arguments they fail to see some incredibly large holes in their theories.

How could any theory of evolution exist in solitude where flowers and bees must have evolved exactly at the same moment in time. Not improbable, but impossible. The same can be said about a million different spcecies and physics in general.

I just had a vitamin deficiency that affected my brain. I will tell you right now how exact the balance of every single vitamin and mineral in your body is and that every single one MUST be present in your system for you to not only be alive but for the functioning of your mind etc. Not improbable, but impossible that that could have evolved in solitude. There is no number that could narrow that down to probable. NONE.

So just like no man knew what was on the surface of Mars before we sent cameras there. No man can know God by theorizing it to death either. There is one way to find out the truth and one only. Try it.

Everything else is just pure B.S. really.

1
  • You do seem to have a well developed position on the existence of God. But the question asks about a specific argument against the existence of God. You don't discuss that argument. You do make some points about the limitations of science, but they, like your version of the argument from design, are not sufficiently developed to be persuasive. Your approach to proving or disproving the existence of God is interesting but is not within the scope of the question and also needs much more explanation if it is to be persuasive. Also, it would greatly improve your account if you could draw on some
    – Ludwig V
    yesterday

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .