Added: March 5, 1998
HOW DO YOU KNOW GOD DOES NOT EXIST?
As an agnostic, nowhere do I or would I declare that there is no god, even though I BELIEVE there is no personal god of the Biblical type.
My position regarding the existence of gods is identical to that of Albert Einstein who said the following in no uncertain terms.
I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on the creatures of His own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God.
It is unfortunate that so many uniformed
believers, equate the two terms, 'agnostic' and 'atheist.' They do not understand that a true agnostic is not concerned with the issue of a God's existence or non-existence. Rather he is concerned with claims that cannot be verified to be true or false, i.e., falsifiable, even when the language concerned makes reference to non-theistic terms such as 'point,' 'equality,' 'force,' 'gravity,' 'democracy,' 'justice.' 'numbers,' 'straight lines,' and volumes more.
A denial or affirmation of the existence of a god is of no epistemic value and can be neither verified nor falsified in the absence of a specific definition of the term.
Unfortunately, the question is not accompanied by a definition of what a person means when he uses the word, "God."
I assume, therefore, that the concept here ascribed to the term, 'God' is the one commonly accepted (as in the Old Testament of the Bible, or in the Koran, etc.), throughout the world; i.e., the UNKNOWABLE, INCORPOREAL (SPIRIT), ALL GOOD, ALL POWERFUL, ALL PRESENT, ALL KNOWING, and FIRST-CAUSE-CREATOR of the universe.
Among the countless different concepts of gods postulated from the dawn of man throughout the world, and among the theists and philosophers of the HUMAN race, the concept of God cited above is one of the easiest to prove to be linguistic nonsense, i.e., epistemic gobbledygook.
We must never confuse CONCEPTS of gods with real gods.
More than that, the Biblical concept of a god is riddled with hidden and not so hidden contradictions comparable with insisting that black is white and that nothingness is somethingness.
Updated: February 27, 2001
The Bible declares God to be UNKNOWABLE.
JOB: IIIVI, 26: BEHOLD, GOD IS GREAT, AND WE KNOW HIM NOT, NEITHER CAN THE NUMBER OF HIS YEARS BE SEARCHED OUT.
I COR: II, 16: FOR WHO HATH KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE MAY INSTRUCT HIM? BUT WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST.
ST. JOHN: I, 18: NO MAN HATH SEEN GOD AT ANY TIME; THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, WHICH IS IN THE BOSOM OF THE FATHER, HE HATH DECLARED HIM.
I JOHN: IV, 12: NO MAN HATH SEEN GOD AT ANY TIME. IF WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER, GOD DWELLETH IN US AND HIS LOVE IS PERFECTED IN US.
I JOHN: IV, 16: WHO ONLY HATH IMMORTALITY, DWELLING IN THE LIGHT WHICH NO MAN CAN APPROACH UNTO: WHOM NO MAN HATH SEEN, NOR CAN SEE; TO WHOM BE HONOUR AND POWER EVERLASTING. AMEN.
First of all, since this god's existence cannot be known, i.e., be verified, or falsified, then all TALK (i.e., language) about Him is utter imagination, conjecture; i.e.; we don't know WHAT we are talking about any more than if we were discussing a book we had not read.
To claim that God is unknowable is to claim that one knows something about an unknowable god.
No one worships a god; all worshippers worship their individual CONCEPTS of a god.
To argue that "He can be known by His works," is to show ignorance of the fact that the existence of "works" verifies only that THEY exist, not how they came into existence.
If the claim is made that God is SPIRIT, let us recall that the original meaning of the term 'SPIRITUS' was the "moving breeze."
If that is all God is, a moving breeze is hardly worth worshiping.
God is supposed to have created man in His own image.
But, by definition, He (She?) has no eyes to see with, ears to hear with, or a brain to think with.
How can He see, hear, think, or know anything?
To mention only a few of this angry and jealous god's cruelties, and atrocities:
God, through His laws of evolution, created us capable of committing evil.
God took revenge against all men and condemned humanity because Adam sinned, i.e., ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge.
God created animals to prey one upon the other.
God ordered the sacrifice of many human beings.
God persuaded men to resort to war.
God visited evil upon those who opposed Him.
God sent Satan to entrap Job.
Moreover, God is the greatest mass murderer in the history of the earth.
He killed every creature on earth except Noah, his family, and two (another account says nine) of every creature He created.
These are hardly the acts of an ALL good god.
No "ALL good" God would do these things because Being "ALL powerful," with a snap of His incorporeal fingers, He can eliminate all evil and even non-human-caused suffering such as the diseases He inflicts upon us with the germs, i.e., "God's creatures," He created.
God could have created a perfect universe not alone a perfect earth and a perfect race of man merely by perceiving them--according to the "philosophy" of BISHOP George Berkeley.
If God is "all present," He is everywhere in the universe eternally.
Therefore, he is powerless to move since He is already everywhere else.
Nothing in the universe can occur without God's allowing it since he created all the laws by which EVERYTHING in the universe functions INCLUDING THE HUMAN BRAIN, the source of all thoughts, evil and good, naughty, or nice.
Being "all knowing," God knew every act of evil a person would commit "zillions of years" before we were born and created us anyway.
To argue FREEWILL, is to resort to another form of determinism because human acts of "freewill" are determined by physically, chemically, genetically, socially, and educationally developed personalities and if not those then by "God's Laws of the universe."
Being incorporeal, God has no physical dimensions, i.e.; He is not matter/energy, i.e.; He is nothing.
NOTHING certainly cannot create anything or cause anything to happen.
According to all available evidence only matter/energy can have a causal affect whatever that term may refer to..
The Biblical God cannot pass the test of rational argumentation, and His existence cannot be verified through BLIND FAITH.
Consider Epicurus' (342-270 B.C.) thoughts on the matter
Is Deity willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then He is impotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then He is malevolent.
Is He both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is He neither able nor willing?
Then why call Him Deity?
Added July 11, 2000
There is another aspect of "God's" claimed abilities that to my knowledge has never before been examined:
We all know of the biblical claim that God created the world in 6 days and despite being ALL POWERFUL rested on the 7th.
We'll ignore God's need or desire to rest and concentrate on the nature and relationship of time insofar as it concerns "God," man, and the physical world.
It has been argued that just as our concept of "good" is different from God's, so is God's temporal realm different from ours, particularly the length of His day compared to ours.
But the issue is much larger than merely being different.
We need to examine in what way it is different considering what we have learned about "time" since the Bible was written by non-scientific men.
To begin with, we must consider the nature of "time," "space," and "space-time."
First let us recognize that time is but a function of change and that we must not confuse our concept of time (an illusion which we cannot observe, a metaphor) with our consciousness of change which we perceive constantly.
Change occurs only in a physical world, macroscopically and microscopically, even though we do not and cannot observe most of it.
Some changes in the physical world as in the brain, eyes, ears, etc., cause changes in our perceptions leading us to become conscious of these changes.
Also, we observe comparative brute sizes (big, small) but not concepts like length, width, depth, and time, i.e., duration: temporal distance, which are mathematical in nature with no corporeal ontology.
But duration is subjective, an illusion (apologies to Henri Bergson) as Plato and Heraclitus made clear (i.e.; nothing remains the same from one nanosecond to another) and as experience demonstrates.
Hence, duration makes no temporal sense because it is immeasurable--except in social matters such as in the phrase "the duration of his presidency."
Bear in mind that "time" is not itself a dimension of space as are length, width, and depth;
Nor is the 5th dimension, mind (a function of the brain), without which, from an epistemic point of view, measure of the universe would be impossible.
Time is subjective in nature and "exists" only conceptually and has no ontological (i.e., materially existential) status.
Time cannot be conceived meaningfully in the absence of a concomitant concept of a material world in a state of change.
Space, however, has no meaning in the absence of matter, particularly if by the term, we mean a perfect vacuum.
Space being measurable (a form of change) gives us the illusion of being done in time.
We can observe change, in its simplest forms, because we can observe a succession of different "spatial" positions.
If there were no physical world in a state of change or if there were no physical world, there would be no time or space.
Both concepts are defined in terms of each other.
Aristotle intimated as much when he declared form and matter to be inseparable.
Leibniz in turn (17th century) declared that time is not separable from the physical events of the universe giving rise to the concept of space-time.
Herman Minkowski gave the name to the concept.
Samuel Alexander and Conwy Lloyd Morgan considered space-time to be the ontological matrix of all existents (God, if you will).
And Einstein included the concept of space-time, non-theologically, as the frame work of his theory of relativity.
To get to the point directly, neither time nor space "exists" independently of each other.
Time is defined in spatial terms as a sequential relationship of occurring physical events .
And space is defined in mathematical (i.e., logical) terms, i.e., the "area" between two material existents without which the distance between them cannot be determined.
But, being mathematical and conceptual, Space-time is as much a misplaced "category" as is God.
On our dimensional plain of existence, we measure "time" by synchronizing our mechanisms in terms of the orbital revolution of the earth around the sun and in terms of the earth's rotation around its own axis, etc.
How we determine a year, a month, a week, a day, an hour, a minute, and a second is common knowledge.
It would be rather nonsensical to apply these mechanistic measurements of time in situations where to do so, man's longevity might measure no longer, relatively, than that of a fruit fly (two weeks).
In other situations, his life's span might measure a thousand years.
It would not be that he really lived any longer or any less in terms of his own biological functions unless, of course, a different spacetime frame affected the manner in which his biological functions operated.
Certainly we could not expect that at a near speed of light or in a subatomic realm of the universe time would be measured in the same way.
If somehow we were able to diminish the size of our "clock" to carry it with us in our diminution, we would expect that there would be a concomitant slowing of the clock particularly because its mass would be affected differently by the internal subatomic gravitational forces.
As a consequence, an hour in that subatomic world would be no more than a nanosecond on the macroscopic level.
Certainly, if a fruit fly with its life's span of two weeks were able to enjoy the advantages that technological progress has brought us, it would have fashioned its clock so that its two-week span of life would, to it, have a read-out of about 75 years.
However far-fetched this comparison is, it shows that there is no absolute time (apologies to Isaac Newton).
It shows that a unit of time is relative to its spacetime frame and/or to the mechanisms which we contrive in order to synchronize our affairs and to order our lives predictably.
What, then, has this to do with the Time of God?
In matters involving man's moral behavior, predicated by social mores, and later by the high priests of history, as sinfull, evil, good, and the like, concepts of space and time may not be ignored.
Man conceives God as observing his every action and expects to be either punished or rewarded according to God's reaction to his conduct.
In such situations, man conceives space and time as if God is functioning in man's spacetime frame.
Man is either ignorant of or has a tendency to forget that his concept of time and space is relative to his own size, his own perception of the world.
He seems to be little aware, if at all, that dogs, cats, amoebas, fishes, birds, children even adult human beings from different social and cultural environments have radically different senses of time and space.
Just as man once thought his earth was the center of the universe, he still thinks he is God's favorite creature.
However, with the advent of the 21st century there does seem to be an awakening of the possibility that "God" created extraterrestrial forms of life and intelligence also -- "in His likeness."
Man's egocentricities require that he conceive his gods and his gods' knowledge as oriented to his space-time frame and his conceptions.
An OMNISCIENT god requires His knowledge of an infinite number of space-time frames and further requires his ability to cause events in each of these space-time frames simultaneously--a concept that Einstein showed does not exist.
It is obvious, then, that the term, 'the same time.' is suspect.
If we accept the validity of Einstein's mathematics and his theories about time, such a phrase as, "the same time," must be taken to be metaphorical or pragmatic.
It functions only to serve man's need to communicate with his fellowman.
It makes no sense, then to speak in spatio-temporal terms in relationship to God or to speak as if an incorporeal God EXISTS in and can act in an infinity of spacetime frames not alone a particular one.
We cannot accept the thesis of theologians that God exists in all these spacetime frames at "the same time" that he is both eternal and present in every point-instant in the universe regardless of the infinity of time frames, that he possesses spatial and temporal qualities that are possible only to physical beings.
Such language stretches credulity and common sense to the breaking point.
A study of such theistic language clearly shows it to be double-talk.
Theologians cannot even agree on the meaning of the word "day" as used in the biblical accounts in which God is presumed to have created the world in six days.
The account is, nevertheless, couched in pre-scientific spatio-temporal terms conceived by pre-scientific man.
Hence to speak of god's relationship to man in any spatio-temporal sense insofar as God rewards us or punishes us in our spacetime frame results in conceptual and linguistic nonsense.
© 1997 by Pasqual S. Schievella