I found a post called Atheist Delusions. The author of that post, Laurensheil, must have expected a response from atheists. And indeed I am one of the atheists who replied. In the post, Laurensheil bemoans atheists demanding proof of theists’ claims, but then not providing any evidence for their own position; an argument that entirely misses what atheism is and where the Burden of Proof lies. The burden of proof lies with the person making a claim, and the claimmaker is the theist. The atheist makes no claims.
The post then goes on to claim that atheists mistakenly believe that their position is a scientific one. So I proceeded to offer a number philosophical defences of atheism (in addition to the burden of proof). My summaries are rather trite, but here they are:
Paradox of Omnipotence: can God create a boulder so heavy not even He can lift it?
If you want to limit “omnipotence” to “omnipotence within logical limits”, that’s fine. But that certainly is less-than-omnipotent (and is my point and not yours). But, where did logic come from, to limit the omnipotence? In the theist’s narrative I believe I am correct in saying God is the creator of everything, and God authored the logic that limits him. So God is omnipotent, except for the limits He put on Himself?
Logic does not limit God when it comes to questions of causing the universe. How can something lie in a causal relationship with nothing and effect a universe? (Effect, as a verb, means to induce. Affect, as a verb, means to interact with. I have used that correctly.) How can causality exist without time?
The Problem of Suffering: how can there be suffering in a world micro-managed by a benevolent and omnipotent God?
Many theists say that suffering is caused by freewill, that God must allow us to harm each other else He’d have limited our freewill. But God could have bestowed us with more empathy (He gave us some, why not a little more?). But that doesn’t account for why God would allow natural suffering: famines and droughts and earthquakes etc.
Many theists assert that this suffering is morally necessary on the grounds that it is the only way to more peace, later. But this imperfect solution is not a sign of omnipotence; it is a sign of an imperfect Being negotiating with the state of the world.
The Paradox of Omnipotence and Omniscience: if I know the future, how can I be free to change it?
If I know what you will have for breakfast, and it is impossible for me to be wrong, then you must have for breakfast whatever it is I know you’re going to have. And if I am omniscient, I do know what you’re going to have for breakfast tomorrow; you have no freewill.
I also know what I am going to have for breakfast tomorrow; therefore I cannot eat something else for breakfast. There is something I cannot do, therefore I am not omnipotent.
Or, I am omnipotent, therefore I am free to have anything for breakfast tomorrow, therefore I don’t really know what it is. There’s something I don’t know, therefore I am not omniscient.
The Incompatibility of Mercy and Justice: mercy negates justice.
Justice is an exact response to an action. Mercy is anything that is lenient on the exacting of justice to the favour of a party involved. If one is a negation of the other both cannot be realised at once.
The Hidden God: if He wants this loving relationship so much, where is He?
Assuming the definition of a personal God includes the description of wanting a loving relationship with me, there is one step He needs to take. This step isn’t going to infringe on my freewill. This step is to show that He exists. God needs to show Himself. Given the levels of atheism, God has clearly not demonstrated Himself (unless you believe that an omnipotent demonstration of His own existence would fail). In fact, God seems to be at pains to hide Himself behind a very convincing facade of reality being explicable by natural means. Not only has He not demonstrated Himself, He is hiding. That is not the behaviour of a consciousness that wants to have a loving relationship.
I consider the God that conforms to these definitions impossible. That is pretty clear. And I would think that this position would be interesting to a theist who claims: “I love a good theological or political debate. Arguably (or should I say debatably) that’s what this blog and my whole purpose for writing is all about.” I’m not just unconvinced, but for the God described above, I actively think it’s impossible. But on the very grounds that I think this definition of a God is impossible, the author refused me a debate: “But I will not enter a theological debate with someone who will not accept even the possibility of an outside deity.”
I am open to a definition of a lesser God; a God that is less than perfect in its actualisation of the above traits. I suspect that if we resolve each of these paradoxes we will end up with a powerful being from outside our universe that made our universe from something else outside our universe. The being would be very clever, but mostly indifferent to us (we’re like an ant farm, if the being has noticed us here in this nondescript point in the universe). But not omnipotent, not omniscient, not benevolent and, most importantly of all, not in any way verified or verifiable.