Response to GotQuestions.org “Is God imaginary?”

This is my response to the article posted on a Christian site GotQuestions.org “Is God Imaginary?”

Answer: Godisimaginary.com is not the first to claim that God is imaginary. In an article entitled “Theology and Falsification” written many years ago, Anthony Flew, one of the twentieth century’s most outspoken atheists wrote,

Two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. In the clearing were growing many flowers and many weeds. One explorer says, “Some gardener must tend this plot.” The other disagrees, “There is no gardener.” So they pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen…Yet still the believer is not convinced. “But there is a gardener, invisible, intangible, insensible to electric shocks, who comes secretly to look after the garden he loves.” At last the Skeptic despairs. “But what remains of the original assertion? Just how does what you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all?”

This is a rather poor analogy. We are given little detail of this hypothetical scenario of a clearing in the midst of a jungle. All we are given is that the clearing is occupied by flowers and weeds. For all we know, this clearing was actually cleared of trees by a storm, humans cutting the trees and left, or even a small fire (we don’t know how big and spacious the clearing is).

But for the moment, we have two people in a clearing. One guesses that there is a gardener who crafted this spot, the other doubts their proposal. And yet, despite no sign of a gardener ever appearing, the believer continues to believe he is right without any evidence. All the believer relies on is the fact the clearing is there.

But it gets even worse.

The believer starts making stuff up about his belief in a gardener. He says the gardener is “invisible” “intangible”… basically immaterial, and absolutely nothing. Since he cannot present any evidence that there is a gardener, he excuses himself from being able to present evidence by making the “gardener” untestable and unprovable.

The honest thing to do is to postpone asserted beliefs until evidence is provided. The believer in the gardener can make up whatever he/she wants about their idea of the gardener, even go so far as to say the gardener is a tiny undetectable jungle gnome.

Following Flew’s thoughts from decades ago, the web site godisimaginary.com provides what it believes are 50 “proofs” that God does not exist – that He is nothing more than an imaginary gardener, a superstition, a myth. The site claims, “Let’s agree that there is no empirical evidence showing that God exists. If you think about it as a rational person, this lack of evidence is startling. There is not one bit of empirical evidence indicating that today’s ‘God,’ nor any other contemporary god, nor any god of the past exists.”

 

By the end of the day and at the end of the debate, the claims made on the web site godisimaginary.com are correct: There is not one bit of empirical evidence indicating that today’s ‘God,’ nor any other contemporary god, nor any god of the past exists.

This Christian article attempts, and fails, to provide any coherent and empirical evidence for a creator, let alone their belief in what/who the creator is or if it there is only one.

Addressing each of the 50 points is unnecessary as it doesn’t matter if the site had 50,000 “proof” points against God; all one needs to do is use a logical, rational, and reasonable argument to show that God does indeed exist and every point becomes irrelevant. It is telling and interesting that godisimaginary.com focuses so much of its time on red herrings of issues with prayer and why God won’t do tricks upon request, and ignores the primary question of philosophy and religion: “Why do we have something rather than nothing at all?” In other words, like Flew, the site concentrates on issues with a gardener they believe to be imaginary and ignores the question of why a garden exists in the first place.

First of all, godisimaginary.com addresses the idea of a personal god as imaginary and ridiculous. This Christian article is defending the very God that claims it will do what godisimaginary.com challenges it to do.

Why do we have something rather than nothing at all?

How do we define nothing? What are it’s properties? If it has properties, doesn’t that make it something?

Claiming God is the answer only brings up another question, why is there God rather than nothing?

As physics and cosmology have demonstrated, the transition to nothing-to-something is a natural one, not requiring any agent. As Nobel laureate physicist Frank Wilczek has put it, “The answer to the ancient question ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ would then be ‘nothing’ is unstable.”

Furthermore, godisimaginary.com is not avoiding anything. Everyone acknowledges that the universe exists. The only issue is that one group of people are saying that a magic genie created it. The reasonable group logically shows that is both wrong and absurd. While the reasonable group can show that the universe is fully capable of forming naturally, the “magic creator” group refuses to accept it because their belief and faith demand that they ignore all evidence.

The only place on the site where a possible answer to this question is offered is “proof” point 47. Complexity, says the site, could only arise from either Nature itself or a Creator. “Proof” point 47 then states, “the advantage of the first option is that it is self-contained. The complexity arose spontaneously. No other explanation is required.”

This assertion and conclusion is flawed as they have proposed two explanations and then bundle a third option into the solution they like – spontaneous generation with an eternal universe. An eternal universe is, initially, a logical option but not spontaneous generation, which is a scientific term for something coming from nothing or self-creation, which is an analytically false statement – that is, a statement that shows itself to be false by definition. A fundamental law of science is ex nihilo nihil fit – out of nothing, nothing comes. And as Aristotle said, “Nothing is what rocks dream about.” The web site derides Christians for believing in magic, yet it embraces greater magic than anything found in the Bible – life just appearing out of nothing from non-life with no cause.

 

The website does not say that complexity arise spontaneously out of nothing. The word “nothing” is never used anywhere in Point 47. It says complexity formed spontaneously. That is, the materials needed to form complexity were already present.

First of all, this Christian article does say that “an eternal universe is, initially, a logical option.” So, the issue can already be stopped and settled here.

Second of all, this Christian article fails to address the second half of the argument in Point 47.

“The problem with the second option is that it immediately creates an impossibility. If complexity cannot arise without intelligence, then we immediately must ask, “Who created the intelligent creator?” The creator could not spring into existence if complexity requires intelligence. Therefore, God is impossible.

In other words, by applying logic, we can prove that God is imaginary.”

And right there, we don’t need to go further to demonstrate that not only is God imaginary but that this Christian article does not have any legs to stand on and it’s entire base is inaccurate.

 

Next, their argument argues the basic laws of causality – an effect must resemble its cause. How can an impersonal, meaningless, purposeless, amoral universe accidentally create beings who are full of personality and obsessed with meaning, purpose, and morality? It can’t. Further, intelligence doesn’t arise from non-intelligence which is why Richard Dawkins (noted atheist) and Francis Crick (co-discoverer of DNA) admit that intelligence had to engineer DNA and life on earth – they just say it was a superior alien race who seeded the earth, which of course, begs the question of who engineered that superior alien race. Godisimaginary.com claims, “No intelligence is required to encode DNA,” but refuting this statement is the very co-discoverer of DNA himself – Francis Crick – who admits there is no way for DNA to have arisen apart from intelligence.

The “laws of causality” is not a universal law. While common in our experience, this is not applied everywhere. There are lack of cause for some events, such as radioactive decay. Therefore, the claim that a universe cannot cause beings like humans is unfounded.

On another note, if one believes in a uncaused Creator, they already admit to themselves that the “laws of causality” do not apply to everything. In the same regards, can a universe like ours be uncaused? There is a lot of scientific data to suggest that indeed it is. It is very possible for a eternally oscillating universe, allowing a universe without a first cause.

Richard Dawkins never stated that he believes that aliens created DNA. This is a dishonest creationist lie. Dawkins was asked to give a “hypothetical” scenario where he thought Intelligent Design could be correct. He still maintained that the universe was not created, and that life had to form on some planet by evolutionary means. After that, once life forms had reached such a great technological age to engineer life forms to blossom on other planets – that was the hypothetical answer given by Dawkins. Dawkins never once said this is what he thought really did happen on Earth. He was only giving a hypothetical scenario where he though Intelligent Design could be true, but anyone familiar with his work and views should know full well that Dawkins firmly believes that not a single bit of Intelligent Design is true or accurate at all.

But what of evolution? Doesn’t evolution explain life and intelligence? Not at all. Evolution is a biological process that attempts to describe change in already existing life forms – its has no way to answer the question of existence. This one piece of evidence alone began to turn Anthony Flew from atheism.

While it is true that evolution does not explain the origin of life, evolution can, and has done, explained the origin of intelligence.

These facts being evident, it then becomes quite easy to offer a simple, reasonable, logical proof for God in the following way:

  1. Something exists

  2. You don’t get something from nothing

  3. Therefore, something necessary and eternal exists

  4. The only two options are an eternal universe or an eternal Creator

  5. Science has disproven the concept of an eternal universe

  6. Therefore, an eternal Creator exists.

The only premise that can be attacked is premise five, but the fact is every drop of evidence in the possession of science points to the fact that the universe is not eternal and had a beginning. And everything that has a beginning has a cause; therefore, the universe had a cause and is not eternal. Any fanciful assertions of collapsing universes, imaginary time, and the like are just that – fanciful – and require more faith to than to believe in God. The two choices are simple – matter before mind or mind before matter – and it is interesting that this web site claims it is their intelligence that causes them to choose the former over the latter.

HOLD ON!!!

Someone tell me how we conclusively proved that “something cannot come from nothing.” I would love to see this person tell that to Lawrence Krauss’s face.

Second of all, how did we prove that the universe is NOT eternal????

NOWHERE in this article answers that question. There is no argument in this article that defends the claim that science has proven that the universe is not eternal. It is merely taken for granted. They just assume that “everything that has a beginning has a cause” so they include the universe just for the hell of it.

Also, how can there be only TWO options? Later on, this article accuses the website godisimaginary.com of committing a false dichotomy, and yet they do exactly that here. How about this for another option: multiple eternal creators. Eh? Hows this other option: There could be a team of creators out there, each just as majestic as the next, and this universe is just their little lab experiment.

“it is interesting that this web site claims it is their intelligence that causes them to choose the former over the latter”…yes, it was their intelligence AS WELL AS their free thought. This website, Got Questions, starts all their thought and arguments based on a presupposeition based on FAITH – i.e. pretending to know something they don’t.

“But who created God?” the site asks. Why not ask, “Where is the bachelor’s wife?” or “What does the color blue taste life?” It’s a category mistake – you don’t make the unmade. Further, why sit back comfortably and believe in an unmade universe and yet angrily bristle at the notion of an unmade Creator? Could it be because mindless matter cannot call human beings into moral account whereas a personal God can? Finally, is it more reasonable to embrace a cause that contains none of the characteristics of its effect (personality, love, meaning, purpose, etc.) or a cause that embodies them all (a personal God)? The site claims, “In other words, by applying logic, we can prove that God is imaginary,” but in reality, logic, reason, and evidence disprove their position and point in the absolute other direction.

You don’t make the unmade, and yet this article asserts that the universe is “made” and their made-up god is “unmade.”

While everyone agrees the universe exists, one group of people believe a personal god created it. Which makes more sense? Here is where Occam’s Razor comes in. If the universe is unmade, why make an unnecessary step to add a next step of a “unmade” entity that would thus sprout even more unanswerable questions?

Occam would easily side with those who do not believe in a personal Creator and the notion that the universe is unmade that arose out of quantum physics.

why sit back comfortably and believe in an unmade universe and yet angrily bristle at the notion of an unmade Creator?

Perhaps because it is absolute make-believe nonsense? Nonsense that has poisoned everything. Nonsense that has bastardized human intelligence and progress.

Could it be because mindless matter cannot call human beings into moral account whereas a personal God can?

Religious people often praise ignorance, and accuse nonbelievers and atheists for not believing in God because these people don’t want to be held accountable for their “sins” and behavior – BUT THE THEISTS say that whatever sin they commit and continue to do commit, they will automatically be forgiven simply because they believe. It is obvious that the ones who “love their sins” are the Christians and theists, not the atheists and nonbelievers. The Christians deny accountability, while the atheists and nonbelievers hold themselves responsible for their own actions.

Finally, is it more reasonable to embrace a cause

You mean a cause that does not evidently exist? A cause that is conjured out of pure imagination and fantasy? There is NOTHING reasonable about believing in a imaginary cause.

The conclusion is that a personal Creator exists. Moreover, this Being who created everything mirrors the God described in the Bible quite well as evidenced by what one can infer just from the fact of creation alone:

  • He must be supernatural in nature (as He created time and space)

  • He must be powerful (incredibly)

  • He must be eternal (self-existent, because there is no infinite regress of causes)

  • He mist be omnipresent (He created space and is not limited to it)

  • He mist be timeless and changeless (He created time)

  • He must be immaterial because He transcends space/physical.

  • He must be personal (the impersonal can’t create a personality)

  • He must be necessary as everything else depends on Him

  • He must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinities

  • He must be diverse yet have unity as unity and diversity exist in nature

  • He must be intelligent (supremely). Only cognitive being can produce cognitive being.

  • He must be purposeful as He deliberately created everything

  • He must be moral (no moral law can be had without a giver)

  • He must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given)

The conclusion is that a personal Creator exists.

*Buzzer* Wrong! The logic and arguments presented thus far in this article have been exposed as flawed or having no evidence supporting it, but rather having all the evidence oppose it.

Supernatural: So basically non-existent. This Christian article just blew itself up in the face.

Powerful: How powerful? Where is the measurements? Where is the data, the proof?

Eternal:

Omnipresent: If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e. outside space and time). If God exists, he is omnipresent. To be transcendent, a being cannot exist anywhere in space. To be omnipresent, a being must exist everywhere in space. Hence, it is impossible for a transcendent being to be omnipresent. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist.

Timeless/changeless: Changeless? So God has no free will? Also, how can God have create time??? It is logically impossible.

P1) God is defined as the arbiter of all things, including time;

P2) A decision requires transition from indifferences to will (requires time)

P3) Since time cannot exist prior to its existence, God cannot choose to create time;

P4) If God cannot choose to create time, he is not arbiter of all things;

P5) Therefore, a personal entity cannot be the ultimate arbiter of all things;

P6) Therefore, God as defined is internally inconsistent

C) Therefore, there is no God.

It is common to hear a theist explain ‘God is outside of space and time.’ If he existed outside of time, he could not do anything before he did anything else, he could not do anything after he did anything. That means if God exists outside of time, he does not exist. He cannot do anything before and/or after what he is doing, then he cannot do anything. So we disprove God just based on his own definition, but where did that definition come from, where did the concept of God come from…mankind.

Immaterial/Transcendent: If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e. outside space and time). If God exists, he is omnipresent. To be transcendent, a being cannot exist anywhere in space. To be omnipresent, a being must exist everywhere in space. Hence, it is impossible for a transcendent being to be omnipresent. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist.

“To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial, is to say, they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise.” – Thomas Jefferson, a letter to John Adams, August 1820)

Personal: The website godisimaginary.com already blows this idea of a “personal god” out of reality. Of course, this Christian article self admitted that it does not care to address its points, it’s only goal was to try to prove “God exists” – not a personal God exists. Even if this Christian article did it’s job and provided even one piece of evidence that God exists, the points made by godisimaginary.com still stand and still provide solid proofs that a personal god is nonexistent.

Necessary: This one is complete bollocks, its practically comical. Science has already shown time and time again that God is in fact NOT necessary for everything or anything to exist.

Infinite:

Diverse and Unity: While this could easily fit the profiles of deities like Brahman and Krishna, the God of Abraham has a much bigger problem then being “diverse and unity” – the God of the Bible is self-contradictory and illogical. Ergo, this being cannot exist.

Intelligent: And yet created a very unintelligent universe. The universe is mostly composed of particles in random motion, with complex structures such as galaxies forming less than 4 percent of the mass and less than one particle out of a billion. This is exactly the kind of universe we should expect to find that arose naturally without any aid from a divine agent.

Purpose: Not only is there no evidence that God exists, let alone “created everything”, to label an entity that does not evidently exist as having purpose is just as sensible as saying cloud fairies have a purpose.

Moral: Anyone who reads the Bible even badly can tell that the god of Abraham is far from being a moral being. Furthermore, if any being is god, he must be a fitting object of worship. No being could possibly be a fitting object of worship since worship requires the abandonment of one’s role as an autonomous moral agent. Therefore, there cannot be any being who is God.

Caring: Caring? Because this character provided “moral laws.” How about ego-centric and tyrannical? But that does not even matter, because there is no morality needed please the god of Abraham. All that is required is belief. Not moral acts or obedience, but belief.

As this piece alone has shown, this Christian article has shown that the qualities and characteristics of the god of Abraham are inherently logically contradictory – thus it cannot exist. The qualities are so diverse and inconsistent, some parts of the world would call this “making shit up as you go.”

The Judeo-Christian God perfectly fits this profile. At this point, all 50 “proofs” on the web site become irrelevant – God exists; therefore, all points offered on the site are incorrect in the final conclusion that they collectively try to reach. Wondering why God won’t cure all the cancer in the world because a group of Christians prayed for it, pointing out the divorce rate among Christians, scoffing because God doesn’t create money for churches out of thin air, wondering why Jesus never moved a physical mountain, asserting a false dichotomy that says a person must be a person of facts or of faith (many brilliant scientists believe in God), making unprovable claims that Jesus never did a concrete miracle, and erroneously stating that the Bible “advocates” senseless murder, slavery, and oppression of women – all end up being impotent in light of the conclusion that a creator God exists.

The Judeo-Christian God perfectly fits this profile

So would Brahman and Krishna.

Seriously! Brahman could fit this profile, especially the “diverse and unity” piece.

Brahman is said to be the ultimate God, and all concepts of god derive from him.

Not only is this article’s conclusion that the “creator God exists” is totally inaccurate.

Answering such objections – if they are genuine and not extend in a way that refuses to believe even if reason responses are given – requires only the disciplined study of Scripture alongside the Spirit of God who inspired it. Arguments with those who possess a hardened skeptical spirit are to be avoided as 1 Timothy 6:20 says, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge.’” But even still, God is fully capable of using His powerful general revelation (the creation) to witness to those who appear completely lost due to a skeptical and hardened heart.

Arguments with those who possess a hardened skeptical spirit are to be avoided

In other words, beware the skeptics. Do not have them question your faith. Do not question faith.

(Side note: There is a class of books called by scholars pseudepigraphy (literally “false writing”) characterized by pseudonymity (“false name”) in which the author deliberately tries to present his writing as originating from someone else. Are there pseudepigraphical works even in the canonical Bible? The answer is something critical scholars have known for years—an unequivocal “Yes.” In the OT, the book of Daniel, some portions of Psalms, and the later part of Isaiah are all known to be pseudonymous. In the NT, the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) are considered by a vast majority of critical scholars not to have been written by Paul.

So, this article’s use of 1 Timothy is self defeating.)

God is fully capable of using His powerful general revelation (the creation) to witness to those who appear completely lost due to a skeptical and hardened heart.

Who is to say that this is the Abraham God’s creation?????

Not only has the case for God’s existent been met, where is the evidence that he is indeed the creator, or the only creator?

Read my blogs:

God, Tron and the Wizard of Oz (learn that for the sake of argument if there is a Creator, how can we know it is who it says it is?)

Tackling Pascal’s Wager (if there is a god, which one is the one?)

The fact the universe exists is self evident, but to label it as a “creation” is not only a logical fallacy is is plain wrong.

In stark contrast to the article he’s written many years earlier, in 2007, Anthony Flew wrote a much different kind of book entitled There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. In it, he recounts his atheism and relays how he now, because of evidence and reason, believes that a creator God exists. The one who initially posited an “imaginary gardener” now says, “I think the origins of the laws of nature and of life and the Universe point clearly to an intelligent Source. The burden of proof is on those who argue to the contrary.” This being the case, one thing is certain – the 50 frail attempts on godisimaginary.com to prove that God is imaginary fall far short of even causing a nick on the armor of evidence that opposes them.

According to Flew, he did not become a theist, nor did he believe in a personal God or an afterlife. Rather, from Flew himself in a letter to historian Richard Carrier, the only reason he accepted the “Aristotelian God” was: a deity or a ‘super-intelligence’ is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature.

Flew admitted to Carrier that he [Flew] did not read any of the refutations and critiques provided by Carrier. When Flew was asked by Duncan Crary of Humanist Network News if he had kept up with the most recent science and theology, Flew responded with “certainly not.”

Basically, in the case of Anthony Flew, he fell into the trap of the “God of the gaps” fallacy.

As for the book There Is a God, it has been called into question under the suspicion that the co-author, Roy Abraham Varghese, as the sole author. This is due to the language used in the book, as well as Anthony Flew’s ignorance of the named philosophers and arguments used in the book. Anthony Gottlieb noted that this book “far from strengthening the case for the existence of God, [the book] rather weakens the case for the existence of Anthony Flew. However, this examination of the book is not important. What IS important is that the case presented in the book has not been met.

Whether known to Flew or not, there have been major breakthroughs in uncovering how life could arise naturally. Anthony Flew fell victim to both Intelligent Design (a fringe pseudoscience) and the “god of the gaps” fallacy (which could be of his own fault due to lack of research in recent science).

One comment

  • Peter

    I liked this a lot. I tried asking GotQuestions some questions about the Garden of Eden story and just got a huge convoluted (very polite) fundamentalist reply, with no possibility of a follow-up, so I don’t think I will bother with them again.

    I argue with believers quite a lot and find one of the most frustrating things they do is the leap from establishing a Creator to their own faith, missing out the huge journey from deism to theism and then from hundreds of theist ideas to their particular one. Craig, Turek, Prager and others all fall when they move from the general idea of a creator to the baseless assertion that it must follow that he is interested in humanity. And then an instant jump to their particular faith.

    Flew described himself as the world’s most notorious atheist? And clearly the most modest as well. His ‘There is a God’ book is a tedious ego trip that theists I know have little time for: one actually wrote to him and begged ‘please stay off my side’.

    All the best

    Peter

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