Saturday, October 8, 2011

Six underwhelming arguments for the nonexistence of God

I came across Berg’s six arguments for atheism via Proph over at Collapse, who has penned three pieces addressing the first three of Berg’s arguments. Needless to say, I’m underwhelmed by the arguments presented. So, I decided that I would take a stab at his first of six. And in the event that I find the refuting process rewarding, I may continue to debunk his five other arguments.

His argument consists of six steps; the first one:

1.If God exists, God must necessarily possess all of several remarkable qualities (including supreme goodness, omnipotence, immortality, omniscience, ultimate creator, purpose giver).

This is at best an argument for a particular conception of God, not one that encompasses all definitions of the divine. Moreover, it is based upon the false premise that all of these attributes are independently derived. As Proph noted, the only attribute necessary for omniscience, immortality, and purpose giver is omnipotence. Supreme goodness can be acquired merely by being the Creator of the universe and thus having the right to define what is good. And being the ultimate creator isn’t a common attribute among all gods, but only God in an absolute sense, in which case God would serve as the ultimate existence and would thus not be probable at all. Going further, ultimate creatorship is enough to satisfy all the aforementioned attributes and would certainly make God status, as it is not inconceivable that the ultimate reality would have control over the rest of reality that is ultimately derived from it.

2. Every one of these qualities may not exist in any one entity and if any such quality does exist it exists in few entities or in some cases (e.g. omnipotence, ultimate creator) in at most one entity.

Even the most die-hard, run-of-the-mill atheist would accept omnipotence and ultimate creatorship as qualifying attributes of a God.

3. Therefore it is highly unlikely any entity would possess even one of these qualities.

This is a non-sequitor. How can the third possibly follow the second?

4. There is an infinitesimal chance that any one entity (given the almost infinite number of entities in the Universe) might possess the combination of even some two of these qualities, let alone all of them.

Why is that? Berg never postulates, let alone examines, the necessary contingents for such characteristics to exist. Therefore he cannot speak of probabilities. But the most embarrassing part of Berg’s argument is not his inept logic, but his woeful disregard for the relevant facts. There may very well be an infinitesimal chance that a god-like entity should arise, but we do know for sure that Man exists, and that he has the ability to create simulations where the designer of such electronic worlds could reasonably be considered the god of.

5. In statistical analysis a merely hypothetical infinitesimal chance can in effect be treated as the no chance to which it approximates so very closely.

According to physicists, the balance of the fundamental and derivative constants of nature is so delicate and so improbable that it should be able to support life forms. By Berg’s logic, there would be zero chance that you or I should be here. And yet, I’m typing this as you will eventually read it. When for all we know, the laws of physics could be necessary and fixed, or there could be a gazillion universes out there and we just happened to be in the right one.

Even if we accept Berg’s incorrect assessment of God’s infinitesimal probability, God may very well exist by virtue of His necessity or by trial and error. So, the probability of God’s existence has to be measured by His observable effect on the material world, not hypothetical conjecture.

6. Therefore as there is statistically such an infinitesimal chance of any entity possessing, as God would have to do, all God’s essential qualities in combination it can be said for all practical and statistical purposes that God just does not exist.

The conclusion is false because, as we have seen, the premises which it is based upon are faulty, incorrect, illogical, and irrelevant.

I always find it amusing whenever atheists respond to an argument for the general notion of gods with the appeal that it doesn’t prove a particular God. And yet, Berg finds the audacity to dismiss all conceptions of the divine by selectively attacking one notion of God. But even confined to that limited scope, he proceeds ineptly and bereft of any intellectual honor.

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