In a video called Is There Real Proof That God Exists?, a Christian YouTuber by the name of mytruepower2 has presented eight arguments he asserts are proofs of God’s existence. In this blogpost, I will examine each argument and explain why it is fallacious. I will be formatting each argument in a bold sans-serif that resembles the font he used in his video, and I will be replicating his capitalization of several words.
We Think That Our Senses and Thoughts Are Dependable When They Function Properly
But … Why?
Unless There’s Some Connection Between
How Can we be Sure That Our “Proper Function” is to Understand the Truth?
God, and Only God, Provides us With a Reason, in Theory, to Think There is Such a Connection
The main reason I think my senses and thoughts are dependable is that the consequences of depending upon them routinely reward me for depending upon them. For example, I look both ways before crossing the street, see that no cars are coming, cross, then find that I made it across safely. That’s positive feedback for depending upon my senses and judgements. In numerous everyday actions, my senses tell me what to expect, and the consequences of my actions tell me that I expected correctly. I see a door, open it and go through. I see a keyboard in front of me, type on it, and see what I mean to type appear on my monitor. There are just countless ways in which I am continually getting positive reinforcement that my senses and judgements about the world are reliable.
Also, I don’t just sense the world and automatically believe the world to be as I sense it. I am aware of how my senses can be deceived. I have seen optical illusions, and I have seen things look different in the dark. The main reason I trust my senses to function properly is that I test them against reality. When something seems to be a certain way, I test whether it really is that way.
What goes for my senses also goes for my thoughts. I don’t just think things and assume I am right. I form hypotheses and test them. Hypothesis-testing is not something that is limited to scientists. We do it everyday. We come up with our best guess as to what is true, act as though it is true, and observe the results. When the results are not what we expected, we are able to adjust our hypotheses and try something different. A good example of how this works is computer programming. I rarely write error-free computer code right from the start. After I write something I think should work, I run it and see what it does. If it doesn’t operate as I expected it to, I look over my code and do further tests to find the bugs. I make corrections as I find bugs, then repeat this process until my code is working as I want it to. Despite not having a god-given ability to write error-free code every time I program, I am able to end up with error-free code through the trial-and-error process of spotting and fixing bugs. Through similar trial-and-error processes, I am able to understand what it is I’m sensing and form accurate beliefs about the world. There is no need to assume a divine origin for my thoughts and senses before I can trust them. All that’s needed is to understand how the trial-and-error method I routinely employ naturally leads to greater accuracy. Because I can count on trial-and-error to lead me to more accurate beliefs, I am able to trust my senses and thoughts.
Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?
God, and Only God, Perfectly Explains This
For God to explain anything, God must first exist. If God exists, how is God’s existence any less a mystery than the existence of anything else? In fact, if God exists, how God could exist is a greater mystery than how the universe could exist. I understand how order can arise from chaos in a naturalistic manner. I have described this in detail in my video and blogpost on Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, and I addressed it again in 15 Questions for Evolutionists – Answered. If we start with the existence of a mere something that is not divine, is not intelligent, and is not even ordered, we can still end up with an orderly universe with intelligent life. All of this can be explained through the algorithmic processes of natural selection. But if we start with the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, supremely intelligent being, that is a much bigger mystery than the existence of a mere something. Not only do you have to explain existence, which I don’t have an explanation for, but you have to explain how something this incredibly complex could exist from the very beginning. I know how to explain complexity over time, but I have no explanation for such a high degree of order and complexity existing from the very beginning.
I’m now going to skip ahead, because my answer to the next one will help me address some earlier arguments.
Many Things Clearly Have Value
However, That Value Can’t Exist Unless There’s an Ultimate Measuring Stick/Source For Value
[But they can’t have any intrinsic value unless there’s a measuring stick for value which represents the greatest possible value.]
God and Only God Provides This
For this one, I put what he said in brackets where it differed significantly from what he wrote on the screen. When I use actual measuring sticks to measure things, I do not use measuring sticks that are of the greatest possible distance. Most commonly, I use a 12 inch ruler. Why should my measuring stick for value be any different? When I measure value, my “measuring stick” is the value of my own life. It is through the value my own life has for me that I have any notion of value. So that’s what I begin with.
In my Inherent Worth and Dignity video, I have explained that human life is a natural source of intrinsic value. What makes human life valuable is the ability of humans to subjectively value their own lives. As beings who value, human beings have value. Also, it is worthwhile to live as a human. Human life is life worth living. Even if a human life has value to no one else, it has value to itself.
Beyond that, the value of God’s life cannot give value to human life. Even if human life is of instrumental value to God, that doesn’t make human life any more valuable, intrinsically speaking. Intrinsic value cannot come from an external source. It must come from within. If human life has any intrinsic value, it comes from what human life is inherently. Inherently speaking, human life is capable of comprehending and valuing itself, of living a life that is worth living. That’s what gives human life value, whether or not God exists. So, the existence of value does not prove the existence of God.
If God Doesn’t Exist, Objective Moral Right and Wrong Lack a Concrete Foundation
However, Objective Moral Right and Wrong do Exist, and Must be Founded on Something
As Proof of This, the Following Argument Seems to be the Strongest;
Torturing Someone For Fun is Morally-Wrong, and Anybody Who Disagrees is Wrong.
The foundation for objective moral right and wrong is the inherent worth and dignity of human life, already mentioned above and covered in detail in the video mentioned above. If we look at the best of Christian morality, we see the same standard at work. The golden rule tells you to treat others as you want to be treated yourself. The foundation of the golden rule is that the lives of other people have the same inherent value as your own life. This has nothing to do with our origins or with the will of a divine being. It simply has to do with what we essentially are. We are beings whose lives inherently have value, and the recognition of this bears on how we should treat each other.
Furthermore, morality serves a practical, social function. We have evolved as social beings who must cooperate with each other in order to survive. Morality helps ensure group survival, which in turn helps ensure individual survival. For this reason, humans have evolved to have predispositions toward moral behavior. But there is a loophole here. While it is beneficial for humans to live among people who behave morally, the moral behavior of a person doesn’t always directly benefit that person. That’s where the temptation to immorality comes in. We can understand that morality is good for society, and that society is good for us, but we can also be tempted to sacrifice the good of society for our own personal gain. Much of morality is about how we can live together for mutual benefit. We can easily understand this function of morality and use this understanding to make moral judgements. What people seeking objective morality sometimes want is to close this loophole. They want to be able to tell you why you should always put the good of society above your own personal gain. One way of doing this is threatening people with Hell. The threat of Hell is supposed to give people a reason to forgo personal gain and put the good of society first. But all it does is appeal to personal reward and punishment on a larger scale. It doesn’t explain why you should behave morally in a moral sense. It just tells you that you better behave morally or else.
Furthermore, God cannot possibly supply the foundation for objective morality. If something is right or wrong because God says so, that reduces our so-called objective morality to subjective morality. It’s defining objective morality in terms of what is subjectively right or wrong to God. But it still gives no basis for determining what is right or wrong. The foundation of objective morality, whatever it may be, must be truly objective, free from the opinion or whim of any particular being. It must be a standard by which it is meaningful for us to say that God is good. If God is the standard of goodness, then it is no longer meaningful to say that God is good. Plato covered this matter in detail in the Euthyphro.
Evil Exists, and Must Therefore Have an Objective Foundation
See Previous Argument For the Implications of This
There are two types of evil, natural and moral. Natural evil is a lack of goodness. Goodness is rooted in value, which I previously explained the foundation of. But whatever goodness is rooted in, there must be a great lack of it in any universe that was not designed by a being of supreme power, intelligence, and goodness. So, the existence of natural evil does not prove the existence of God.
Moral evil, which was the subject of my Ph.D. dissertation, cannot be defined in terms of God. Doing so would give God license to do anything at all, and it would render meaningless the claim that God is not evil or that evil is opposition to God. For those who believe in God, claims such as “God is good” and “God is not evil” are supposed to be reassurances that God cares for our well being and is looking after us. For these claims to be reassuring, they must be saying something more meaningful than God is God. But if we define evil as opposition to God or violation of God’s will or in any other way in terms of God, that’s all that these claims come down to.
Can there be evil without the existence of a supreme being? Certainly. If the world is not the creation of a supreme being, then it is natural for it to have flaws and imperfections. Although life is the source of value, it is limited in duration, and it is subject to various pains, difficulties, and limitations. These are all natural evils. Moral evil arises from our failures to be perfectly good. It is one thing to wish everyone prosperity, happiness and immortality, and it is quite another thing to be able to deliver this to everyone. We are limited in what we can do for others, and many times taking care of our own interests may entail hurting the interests of others. For example, we must eat to live, and most of what we eat are the bodies of other living beings. When we eat meat, it is at the expense of animal life. When we eat plants, it is at the expense of plant life. If we don’t want our homes crawling with insects, we must take insect life. To have our homes, we must occupy land that was formerly the habitat of other animals. To do well financially, we must compete with others. When you get a well-paying job, there is usually someone else who would have gotten that job if not for you. Through competition and exploitation, people are able to look out for themselves by getting ahead of or taking advantage of other people. Moral evil comes into the picture when we start to disregard the value of other people’s lives and focus only on our own needs and wants. Besides that, we’re capable of making mistakes. Many people do awful things to each other in the name of ideals. Ideals can get us to do good, but they can also distort our perception and lead us toward inadvertently disregarding the needs of others and working toward causes that don’t benefit anyone. Just think of religiously-motivated terrorists as an example. In the belief that they are doing right, they do untold harm. So, if the world was not created by a supreme being, it is natural for there to be evil in the world. Evil doesn’t require a divine creator. All it requires is want, powerlessness, and limitation. These will be in abundance in a world that was not designed by a supreme, benevolent intelligence.
There is a Meaning to Life
However, There Can’t be a Meaning to Life Unless It’s Given Meaning by Someone
However, we Don’t Give Our Lives -Objective- Meaning; we Just Make Choices About Our Future Actions
God Explains How Our Lives Could Have Such Meaning
My life is meaningful to the extent that I make it worthwhile to live or contribute to making other lives more worthwhile to live. Meaning comes from having a purpose to fulfill. As a being capable of living a life of value, my primary purpose is to live a worthwhile life. Recognizing that others are sufficiently like me in this regard, I also find the purpose of helping other people live worthwhile lives. It’s not that these purposes have been given to me by someone. I find them in the nature of who I am. Living a worthwhile life does not become more meaningful if God exists. It is already meaningful. If there is a God, he could extend my life, allowing me more opportunities to live a worthwhile life and help others do the same. But that’s just wishful thinking. It’s not accounting for anything that’s lacking an explanation. Also, it is conceivable that God could rob our lives of meaning either by (a) doing too much for us or (b) controlling our lives too much. If God granted us all bliss in heaven, that would leave us little to do for ourselves, making our choices and actions less meaningful. If God sent us to Hell for eternity, that would leave us with too little we could do for ourselves, also rendering our choices and actions less meaningful. Our actions become more meaningful when we are capable of taking positive action toward our goals, when our choices matter. In a world where our happiness is our own responsibility, our choices matter more, and our actions become more meaningful. So, it is not God who gives our lives meaning. It is having purpose that gives our lives meaning, and purpose comes from (1) having unmet needs or desires and (2) having the ability to take action toward fulfilling our needs and desires. If we were not perfectly designed by a supreme intelligence, it will be natural for us to have unmet needs and desires. If there is no one above looking out for us, it will be our responsibility to do what it takes to fulfill our needs and desires. So, God is not required for meaning, and the existence of meaning in our lives is not any kind of proof that God exists.
Life in the Universe Hinges on the Universe’s Expansion Rate
Life Wouldn’t be Possible if the Universe Weren’t Expanding at Almost Precisely the Rate it is
However, This Depends on Universal Constants Which Merely Come to Exist at the Big Bang
The Odds Are Incalculably Against These Values Falling Into Life-Permitting Ranges by Chance…
…In That Calculating Them Involves Numbers so Vast, That no Computer on Earth Could Process Them
Why Are These Odds so Pathetically Small?
Why Are Things Set up This Way? By Whom?
God, and Only God, Provides an Adequate Answer
In its original form, the teleological argument argument claimed that there must be a designer, because there is evidence of design in the world. Then Darwin came along and explained how all that apparent design was the result of natural selection, not of the intelligent design of a creator. Because of this, the teleological argument has taken on a new form, focusing this time on constants of the universe. It has given up on the idea that God formed man from the dust of the earth, but it clings to the idea that God must in some way be responsible for the existence of life. So it says, if certain constants of the universe were slightly different, life would be impossible, and since getting the right combination of constants is astronomically improbable, it concludes that God must have intentionally set the constants just right for life.
Let’s grant that it is astronomically improbable for a universe to suddenly appear with just the right combination of constants to support life. I don’t know if this is really true. I have my doubts, because I understand how order can arise from chaos, and I imagine that a universe with different constants might sometimes just support different kinds of life. But I don’t need to refute this claim to refute the teleological argument. So, for the sake of argument, I will assume it is true.
If one universe can spontaneously appear in a big bang, why not several? Why not millions, trillions, even innumerable universes? Maybe most universes are still births that come to nothing or never support life. But if universes with different constants appear again and again, chances are that one will eventually get the combination that supports life. And, of course, that is the sort of universe we are going to find ourselves in. As living beings, we are going to find ourselves in an environment that seems as though it has been designed to support life. From the constants of the universe to the climate of the earth, everything will be suitable for life. But none of this implies that it was intentionally designed this way. And if we look about the universe, we find many more environments unsuitable for life. Earth is a tiny oasis in a vast desert of uninhabitable places. We couldn’t live on Venus, Jupiter, or the Sun. The places we can’t live are much greater in number than the places we can. And maybe our universe is itself a tiny oasis among a vast collection of uninhabitable universes. The fact that we inhabit an inhabitable region of an inhabitable universe is simply what to expect, because we couldn’t inhabit anyplace else. This in no way proves the existence of a designer who made it this way.
God is a Maximally-Great Being
By Definition, a Maximally-Great Being Has a Necessary Existence, and Therefore Exists in All Possible Worlds
We Live in a Possible World
Therefore, if it is Even -Possible- For God to Exist, Then God Exists
In it’s original form, the ontological argument claimed that existence was a property of the greatest conceivable being, and it concluded from this that such a being must exist. The form presented here is designed to address some of the flaws of the original form. So let’s first look at what those flaws were and how this addresses them. One problem with this argument is that it limits God to the bounds of conception. Maybe God is greater than anything conceivable. Describing God as a maximally-great being gets around this objection.
The standard refutation of the ontological argument came from Kant, who said that existence is not a predicate. Let’s use symbolic logic to understand what this means. We can use lowercase letters for subjects and capital letters for predicates. For example, let’s use
k to represent the subject Clark Kent, and let’s use
S to represent the predicate “has superpowers.” Then we could use
Sk to represent the statement, “Clark Kent has superpowers.” If we wanted to say that someone has superpowers, we could not just write it as
s represents someone. In this instance, we don’t have a definite subject, and we need a variable. We’re also making an existential claim about the subject. So we would write the claim that someone has superpowers as
(∃x) (Sx). This reads, there exists an x such that x has superpowers. In this statement,
S is the only predicate. The
∃ symbol is the existential quantifier. It specifies what our predicate applies to, but it is not itself a predicate. Since existence is not a predicate, it is not implied by the concept of being the greatest conceivable being. To get past this objection, the present form replaces existence with necessary existence.
One immediate objection is that necessary existence is no more of a predicate than existence is. In symbolic logic, we do not write necessary existence as a predicate. We write it with the modal operator ◻, which we place before a proposition to indicate the domain in which it is true. The ◻ operator indicates that the proposition following it is true in all possible worlds. So, the statement that a maximally-great being exists in all possible worlds may be symbolized as
◻(∃x)(Mx). But this goes beyond what we can conclude from the concept of a maximally-great being. Neither existence nor necessary existence are predicates, and we cannot infer either one from the concept of a maximally-great being.
But let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that necessary existence is truly part of the concept of a maximally-great being. All this gives us is the proposition that if there is a maximally-great being, then that being necessarily exists. This may be symbolized as
(∃x)(Mx) ⊃ ◻(∃x)(Mx). The new ⊃ symbol means if-then. Instead of asserting the existence of anything, this statement merely asserts a truth-functional relation between two propositions, namely that if one is true then the other is true. But we still haven’t established that either one is true. But because of what it means to be necessarily true, we know that if a necessary being exists in any possible world, then it exists in every possible world. Never mind that necessity is about the domain in which propositions are true, and the concept of a necessary being in a category mistake. For the sake of argument, I am assuming that necessary being is an intelligible concept and that it is part of the concept of a maximally-great being. With this in mind, we can assert that if a maximally-great being exists in any possible world, then it exists in every possible world. Using
◇ as the possibility operator, which means the proposition following it is true in some possible world, we can symbolize this as
◇(∃x)(Mx) ⊃ ◻(∃x)(Mx). Assuming this has been legitimately established, then all we need to prove the existence of a maximally-great being is the possibility that such a being exists. With the premise
◇(∃x)(Mx), we have a logically valid modus ponens argument from which we can conclude
◻(∃x)(Mx). And from this we can conclude
(∃x)(Mx). Since the maximally-great being is supposed to be God, it would then follow that God exists.
But there is a problem with this argument. It equivocates on the meaning of possible. The sense in which we might truthfully say it is possible that a maximally-great being exists is not the same as the sense we need to say
◇(∃x)(Mx). When people honestly assert that it is possible for God to exist, what they mean is that they don’t know that God’s existence is impossible. This is an epistemological claim, not an ontological claim. It’s a statement about the limits of someone’s knowledge, not a positive claim about what is true in some possible world. Consider the question, is it possible that the millionth digit of π is 7? Sure, as far as I know, it could be 7. I certainly haven’t calculated π out that far. In this epistemological sense, it is possible that the millionth digit of π is 7. But this doesn’t establish whether it is possible in the sense that counts, that it is true in some possible world. Whatever the millionth digit of π is, it is necessarily so, and it will be the same in every possible world. It is either 7 in every possible world or 7 in no possible world. If I tried to argue that it is 7 on the basis of my epistemological uncertainty, I would be equivocating on two different senses of possible. Also, the same form of argument would work just as well for any other digit. This gives us a total of ten arguments, nine of which have a false conclusion. This demonstrates that this reasoning is fallacious. Yet this is the kind of reasoning this form of the ontological argument is using to prove the existence of God. The ontological argument is fallacious. It does not prove the existence of God.
Beyond that, the concept of a maximally-great being describes an impossibility. Is there such a thing as a maximally-great number? No, numbers go on to infinity, and there are even infinities of infinities. The concept of one number being greater than another is perfectly intelligible, but the concept of a maximally-great number is unintelligible. In the same way, the concept of a maximally-great being is unintelligible. Consequently, whatever the greatest being is in any possible universe, there will be a greater being in some other possible universe. There is no limit to greatness, and therefore there is no such thing as a maximally-great being. This form of the ontological argument fails spectacularly.
This ends my examination of his alleged proofs for God’s existence. At the end of his video, he claimed that any one of these “proofs” is sufficient for proving the existence of God. Sure, if any of them worked, a single one would be sufficient. But they all fail. I have yet to see any proof of God’s existence that actually works.