Ring-a-ring O’ Roses with a Push Me Pull You-And We All Fall Down
It’s just common sense that the preconceived notion that God exists is not evidence for saying that God conclusively exists. This also applies for non-mutual claims, such as, the existence of the universe does not beget the existence of God. These are independent claims. They may or may not be related, but any such inference is purely speculative since there is absolutely nothing to suggest one necessitates the other.
Let’s consider the fine tuning argument, for example. When a Christian theologian pretends that God is the creator of the entire universe, that this God is omnipotent and omniscient, etc. (e.g., the Biblical God of Christianity) and that he has set the parameters for life to arise, and thus this “fine tuning” is evidence for an “intelligent designer,” and therefore the appearance of our universe’s finely tuned properties are, in turn, evidence for the existence of a creator God, this is faulty reasoning.
How so? Because it starts with the ad hoc assumption that God exists, and then it posits the finely tuned properties of our universe as evidence for God’s existence, then in post hoc fashion the theory is augmented to account for God’s intentions of why he created the universe capable of supporting life. In other words, it’s a belief in search of evidence rather than evidence relied upon as the basis for developing a set of provisional beliefs based on that evidence.
For even if there turns out to be a creator God, then how does the universe’s properties which come out of nature’s physical laws denote any semblance of design let alone intention of a designer? Simply put, if we did not live in a universe capable of supporting life we would not know about it-the fact that our universe is observer dependent does not require that it be specifically designed for us to observe. It just happens to be dialed into the right set of parameters for life to evolve so that observation can be made. I for one do not see how a range of numbers denotes intent. Personally, I feel this is the religious projecting their own desire for God to be real onto the data.
See, the problem here is that we have to allow the assumption that the natural physical laws of the universe could only come about by being “tuned” by a “tinkerer” being, but this assumption is invalid since, as any levelheaded cosmologist would tell you, regardless of whether or not certain physical properties are necessary for the formulation of life, that this does not automatically entail, or require, an “intelligence” to bring such parameters into harmony. In fact, most cosmologists will probably explain that these parameters are simply consequences which fall out of the preexisting natural laws, and can be explained naturally with no need to invoke any supernatural agents of any kind. Thus there is no reason to posit an “intelligent designer.”
Although, I’m quite aware that deriving the fundamental properties of the universe from natural laws doesn’t rule out an intelligent designer either. However, since it is neither here nor there, sort of like Dr. Doolittle’s fabulous Push Me Pull You, the so called “fine tuning” of our universe’s physical properties cannot be used for evidence for God. The inference is without support.
Instead of doing as scientists do, reviewing the information accumulated by experiment and observation and formulating a theory, theists are stating their conclusion and then informing that the evidence fits with their theory about God’s existence. Usually this takes the form of the Cosmological argument: because the universe exists, then it must have been created, therefore it has a creator, and this is evidence for God. Basically, theists are arguing from an unsupported belief to the evidence instead of relying on the evidence as support when formulating a plausible set of beliefs.
Superimposing Intent on Unintentional Causes
As I stated earlier, the Cosmological argument goes from its conclusion to its premise in support of its conclusion, which is the same as saying it’s ridiculously circular. God exists-the universe exists-thus God must have made the universe-therefore proof of God. Yet this argument is predicated on the argument from ignorance (a fallacy best to be avoided).
The correct reasoning would look like this: The universe exists, we do not yet know how it came to be, but since it exists it is may be probable that it was created. However, that’s where the hypothesis, and so too conclusion, ends. It never goes as far as to claim the existence of a supernatural creating agent (especially since we know there are natural causes, such as fecund universes or multiverses, which are more probable than any supernatural cause. Note: multiverses are predicted in numerous different branches of cosmology, and therefore are highly likely. See Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality, chapter 2 and 3).
Those who like to say God is the creating agent, and the initial cause of the universe, are taking a Kierkegaardian leap of faith and assuming that whatever creating agent is the cause for the universe it must be God (or more accurately their concept of God). The truth is, we just simply do not know what happened before the quantum singularity (i.e., the big bang).
Thus we know the God hypothesis continues to lack all the credentials to qualify as a working theory, and moreover, it fails to make any valid predictions which can be confirmed and that, conveniently enough, cannot be falsified.
Even if we were to give believers the benefit of the doubt, and agree with them (for argument’s sake) that God was real, then it would call for more stringent testing of their hypothesis. For example, we may ask, how exactly do the “finely tuned” parameters of our universe fall out of God’s being? If believers fail to answer this question satisfactorily then they have failed to supply reason why God should be the cause of the fine tuning in the first place.
Theologians often duck the issue by affirming God is, by his own nature, a “creator” being and so it is his “intention” that the “fine tuning” be within the required parameters for the universe to support life. But several erroneous assumptions crop up. Obviously, the first is that God is a “creator” being of some kind. Although it would seem such a claim is biblically supported, there is no extrabiblical (i.e., practical) evidence to substantiate such a claim. For all we know God could be a “destroyer” being and, to use the theologian’s logic, entropy proves his “entropical” nature. Thus God’s intention may not be to create, but rather, be only to destroy (creation of the universe, and of life, would only be the prerequisite necessary for destruction to take place).
Also, we know that, should God prove to be a real entity, and should God be omniscient and omnipotent, that we would require a lot more substantive evidence than an archaic fragment of a dilapidated piece of papyrus written over three thousand years ago to prove whether or not this being, in point of fact, intended there to be life at all. Especially, as we have seen, he could equally be considered a being of destruction. So the assumption that God “intended” there to be life is merely that, a baseless assumption. Creation doctrine is simply without merit-especially since it begins with God creating everything, which sounds all honky dory, that is, until up pops a talking snake in a magical garden with a magical tree with magical fruit, and then you’re clued into the fact that it’s (actually) an origin myth and has nothing to do with what God’s intentions might actually be should he really exist.
Needless to say, we already have reliable theories derived from the natural laws, such as Einstein’s theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics which, in turn, explain things like galaxy, nebula, and star formation—as well as planet orbits and the orbits of extraterrestrial bodies such as asteroids, meteors, and moons—as well as things like the electromagnetic properties (e.g., charge) of an electron and so on—we have no reason to posit a “God hypothesis” in lieu of already perfectly dependable theories which fit (with exacting precision) current data and observation.
At this juncture, it seems the God hypothesis is simply superfluous and so not particularly needed. This is the polite way of saying there is no model of nature which requires the God hypothesis, and more over, there is no inference to be had from nature which would necessitate the belief in the first place. Indeed, it serves no discernible purpose other than to act as a means to interject a “profession of faith” into a field of practice (e.g., science) where faith is not required and serves no purpose to the enhancement of our understanding of the universe. Furthermore, metaphysical naturalism is a more plausible option for explaining real world phenomenon, since it is backed by the success of methodological naturalism.
It is my opinion that the God hypothesis should be discarded and viewed as nothing more than pure, unfounded, speculation. Even so, where answers are unavailable and mysteries remain in excess, this is not (by any logical deduction) evidence for God (e.g., the God of the gaps argument is just tenuous excuse making set about to salvage belief in God—but again serves no purpose other than to sustain a diminishing faith). Just because science cannot say, for example, exactly how the universe came about does not mean the belief in God is a good substitute for methodological naturalism, which thus far has an impeccable track record. Meanwhile, it appears the God hypothesis has zero utility, and thus does not count for much, least of all a feasible theory.
Why the God Hypothesis Fails
Rationalists and realists of a naturalistic inclination will tell you that the God hypothesis fails miserably for a couple reasons. First, it lacks basic support, empirically tested evidence, and confirmed results which would substantiate the claims that the existence of a personal God is anything other than an unfounded belief. Next, and perhaps just as pertinent, is the fact that the God hypothesis lacks the fundamental utility required to make successful predictions, enhance our knowledge, or improve our understanding of the natural world.
Whereas the first requisite renders the God hypothesis untenable due to insufficient evidence, lending itself instead to healthy skepticism, the second feature of utility finishes the job. Utility means the God hypothesis, in order to be considered a real theory, needs to meet three prerequisites first. These prerequisites are: 1) the ability to successfully predict certain (specific) events thus validating the theory’s efficacy, 2) the ability to repeat these predictions by third parties and get the same results thus validating the theory’s reliability, and 3) the ability to be falsified when it seems the theory has reached a threshold where explanation eludes us and predictions grow increasingly difficult, or where the theory continuously makes the wrong predictions, so that it may be revised based on the updated (and correct) information—or else discarded in favor of a better, more functional, theory.
Unfortunately, the God hypothesis fails all three aspects of meeting even a rudimentary utility. It does not make predictions, it has not proved itself reliable in any sense, and it is not falsifiable. Therefore, it’s not really a valid theory and ought to be rejected until it can meet the basic prerequisites necessary for yielding real results and becoming a reliable theory. As such, it appears, based on real world observation, that God is either non-existent or else supererogatory (in the peripheral sense).
I will not go so far as Nietzsche to say God is dead (that is to say the God concept is dead), but I will say this much, when it comes to understanding the real tangible world, God is so inconsequential as to not even count in the grand scheme of things. And this, for me, suggest that either God is non-existent, or else, simply negligible (i.e., a deistic watchmaker which wound the clock and just sits back in his accutronian mood contented to let things run their own course—in which case such a being is too indistinct, barely even a semblance, of the being believers raucously worship to count as an equivalent substitute for their distinct conceptualization(s) of God).