I'm thinking about posting this to a few more religious forums, but I'd just like to hear what people have to say on here.
So, playing Devil's Advocate, and hopefully without a bunch of straw man replies, what is the best argument for God you've heard? And, if you really can't stand it, why is that argument not good enough?
My favorite is Descartes' Ontological argument- but since I don't have a clear and distinct perception of God, this one still isn't enough for me.
Excited to hear replies!
RE: "One such conception which is common to most mainstream religious traditions is omnipotence."
I don't know how many times I need to repeat this, before it finally (if it ever) sinks in: "Insanity involves believing your delusions are real; religion involves believing other people's delusions are real." What do "most mainstream religious traditions" have to do with anything? A superstition begins umpteen thousand years ago and is promoted by fear, ignorance, and those who feel the need to control the behavior of others, and you want to build a mathematical shrine around it?
What makes you think the origin of everything has a cause? Is it that in everyday life everything seems to have a cause? Well, the physics of everyday life didn't exist yet when the universe happened.
Thinking in terms of causes may be the only way we humans can make sense of things, but it doesn't follow that everything can be made sense of and if there ever were to be an exception, it looks like the origin of the universe is a great candidate.
Suppose that nothing is Supernatural, meaning everything is Natural. Then Nature is omnipotent: Nature causes everything, including itself. For if Nature does not cause itself, then Nature is Supernatural!
No. Not by the common understanding of "omnipotence," which is "All powerful. Capable of doing anything." Nature, however, is bound by natural law. It cannot make a self-conscious stone or a round triangle. Only an omnipotent being could do those things. However, since things like round squares are contradictions omnipotence is impossible.
First of all define God. I think in minimalist terms we can say God is a deity, at least conforming to the definition of a deity in deism. With that definition, the argument from design/irreducible complexity is the best possible argument for God imo...
... I'm still waiting to see any irreducible complexity in nature though.
The best arguments for god are still related to our lack of knowledge to explain...
-the origin of life.
-the creation of the universe, if it even required creation.
Obviously the big religions have lame unbelievable stories. I would also argue that this creative force does not give a dammmmmm about us.
That's easy, I do not argue for a god or God, my arguments are always for the negative.
I found this, it's a Plato-esque dialogue between a theist (T) and an atheist (A), presented by Vic Stenger, Ph. D, Emeritus Professor of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Hawaii and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, University of Colorado:
T: Where did the universe come from?
A: Why did it have to come from anything?
T: Everything has to come from something.
A: Then, you tell me. Where did the universe came from?
T: The universe came from God.
A: Where did God come from?
T: God did not have to come from anything. He always was.
A: Then everything does not have to come from something after all. Perhaps the universe always was.
T: Philosopher William Lane Craig has argued that the universe had a beginning, therefore it must have had a cause. That cause is God.
A: Quantum events can happen without cause. Perhaps our universe was a quantum event in a larger universe that always was.
T: You have no evidence for this.
A: You have no evidence against it. Current physics and cosmology allow for such a scenario.
T: How could this happen? Where did the matter and energy of the universe come from?
A: Matter was created from energy in the early universe. Observations indicate that the positive energy of matter is exactly balanced by negative gravitational potential energy. Thus, the total energy of the universe is zero and no energy (or very little--just the amount allowed by quantum mechanics) was required to produce the universe.
T: Where did the order of the universe come from?
A: It could have been produced spontaneously by natural processes of a type that are now beginning to be understood in physics. One such process is called "spontaneous symmetry breaking." It's like the formation of a snowflake.
T: Still, the second law of thermodynamics says that disorder, or entropy, must increase with time. It must have started out more orderly than it is now, as created by God.
A: An expanding universe allows increasing room for order to form. The universe could have started as a tiny black hole with maximum entropy, produced by a quantum fluctuation, and then exploded in the big bang.
T: You can't prove that. No one was there to see it.
A: You can't disprove it. Such a scenario is allowed by current scientific knowledge.
T: Many prominent scientists don't think the big bang happened. What does that do to your scenario?
A: The data from cosmological observations, which has improved enormously in just the last few years, has left no doubt among current working cosmologists that the big bang happened. The remaining holdouts are a few older astronomers who are gradually dying out. They are like some nineteenth century chemists and physicists who refused to accept the atomic theory to their dying days. Furthermore, the big bang is used by theists such as Craig and Hugh Ross to support their theologies. It does not, but I caution atheists not to argue against theism by saying the big bang did not occur. It very definitely did.
T: But isn't the universe fine tuned for life? Isn't it true that the slightest change of any one of a number of physics constants would make life impossible? Is this not evidence for a universe intelligently designed for life?
A: The universe is not fine tuned for life. Life is fine tuned for the universe. If we had a universe with different constants, we might have a different kind of life.
T : Doesn't life require carbon, which would not exist without a delicate balance of nuclear parameters?
A: Our kind of life, yes. We do not know about other kinds of life.
T: You can't prove that life is possible without carbon.
A: I do not have the burden of proof here. You are making the claim that only one kind of life is possible, carbon-based life. You have to prove that. I am simply saying that we do not know and so cannot say the universe is designed for life as we know it. It could have been an accident. Nothing in current science says that is impossible,
T: So, even if everything that happens is natural, as you claim, where did the laws of nature come from?
A: The laws of nature are misnamed. They are not necessarily rules that govern the universe, that sit out there in some kind of Platonic reality. They could just as well simply be human inventions, descriptions we have made of observations.
T: Then they are subjective. We can all make our own laws.
A: Not quite. We can make up different laws if we want, but they are not scientific unless they agree with observations. The laws of physics can be written in many different ways, but they agree so well with the data that we are confident they describe aspects of reality.
T: Well, then where did those aspects of reality come from, if not from God?
A: Why did they have to come from anything? But, that's how we started this discussion.
T: Still, you have to explain why there is something rather than nothing.
A: Define nothing.
T: Nothing. No thing. No matter, no energy, no space, no time, no laws of physics.
A: No God?
T: God is a separate entity who created matter, energy, space, time and the laws of physics from nothing.
A: I won't ask you again who created God. Rather, why was it necessary for the universe to have come from nothing?
T: It had to come from something.
A: But you just said it came from nothing!
I love this. I wish they had discussed "Why is there so much matter?" I believe I heard or read somewhere that for some reason it's held that when the universe began, matter and antimatter were exactly equal in quantity. Yet, today, the universe is chock full of matter. Why? Matter and antimatter should annihilate each other. Where did all the antimatter that didn't annihilate the matter in the universe go? Is it gone for good or is it hiding somewhere ready to bring it all to an end.
Actually, go to the link, he has a lot more good stuff, but here, space is limited.
I believe that current theory holds that matter and anti-matter were NOT equal, and in the beginning, matter and anti-matter annihilated each other, the entire universe we have now, being the remnant, the left-over matter.
But such an annihilation HAD to have produced an incredible amount of energy, which can never be destroyed, so it has to be out there, somewhere. What exactly is the process that converts energy to matter? Surely it has a name. Could all of that energy ultimately become matter?
What if Dark Energy, expanding the Universe, gradually converted to matter, would that be enough to produce a Big Crunch?
That reminds me, I'm hungry --
The biggest problem with going back to The Big Crunch is that the universe isn't just expanding, it's expanding at an ever increasing rate. It's almost as if there is something outside the universe which we can't see but which is a very potent (increasingly potent attractor).
I also read somewhere that if there had been no antimatter, the universe would be a trillion times bigger than it is.
Pretty good - except that towards the beginning, it appears that A. takes a rather enormous leap of faith:
"A: Quantum events can happen without cause. Perhaps our universe was a quantum event in a larger universe that always was."
Why should we believe that quantum events can happen without a cause? Simply because quantum physicists are currently unable to determine a cause? That sounds to me like an argument from ignorance.
When superstitious people are unable to determine the cause of a phenomenon, they just pull the Supernatural card and call it a day. But for quantum physicists? Abracadabra - the cause DOESN'T NEED TO EXIST!
How is this audacious claim any more reasonable or scientific than just labeling the event Supernatural? Wouldn't a more honest interpretation be that we simply don't KNOW of any cause?