Monday, 22 June 2009

The Six Ways Of Atheism

Now this is good. Atheists have at long last found the answer to "Answers In Genesis" (that group of out-on-the-edge crazy people that makes all vaguely religious people hide under the table at mention of their name). In the form of a chap called Geoffrey Berg (no relation to Ice, heh heh heh), who has come up with "Six Improved Arguments For Atheism" - "New Logical Disproofs Of The Existence Of God".

Now, at first glance, this all looks like a Hitchkins-type production: 'God does not exist', 'I went to Cambridge' etc., and one might indeed be impressed by the thought of not one, but SIX simple arguments which have been unknown to philosophers everywhere for millenia and yet have revealed themselves to Mr (Dr? Prof?) Berg all in one fell swoop. But then you read them, and realise they're crap. So crap, in fact, that I'm going to assume that atheists everywhere are hiding under the table with their fingers in their ears every time the man's name is mentioned, and not blame them in any way at all.

Before we look at the arguments, it is important to note that Mr Berg has published the book himself, and sent copies to libraries. As he points out on his website, one of the libraries even wrote back and said thank you, which (as we shall deduce from the quality of arguments 1-6) almost constitutes a 7th argument.

We turn now to the 6 arguments which prove that God does not exist.

1. The Aggregate of Qualities Argument
In order to be God, you'd have to be really, really good at everything, right? Like, you'd have to be good at being good, and at making worlds and zebras and stuff, and good at football, and spellings, and good at knowing everything. What are the chances of that? How many people do you know who are good at everything? There are arty people, and there are science people, and there are sporty people and chatty people. But you don't really get anyone who's really, really good at absolutely everything. Like how many spelling bee winners go on to Olyympic Gold? So God can't exist.

2. The Man And God Comprehension Gulf Argument
We're dead small and God would have to be really big, like infinite. So if God existed, Geoffrey just, like, wouldn't get it, like, at all, so God doesn't exist.

3. The 'God Has No Explanatory Value' Argument
There are all these dead big questions, and the answer to all of them should be 'God'. Like, how the feck did this man ever get a degree from Cambridge? Since the answer to these questions is not God (and we know it isn't, because Geoffrey said it isn't), God doesn't need to exist, so it's probably best to assume He doesn't. A similar case can be made for George W Bush.

4. The 'This Is Not The Best Possible World' Argument
I actually heard him talking about this one with William Crawley on Sunday, and laughed out loud. The argument is thus: if God made the world really really good (which He had to, if He was God), then how come we made it better by inventing lip balm and Big Brother and Sky+ and that? Also, people in the future might invent even better things, so it's not fair because we won't have those things. So God can't exist.

5. The Universal Uncertainty Argument
This one was also discussed with William Crawley, and was presumably only half-concocted when Mr Berg was distracted by something bright and shiny at the other side of the room. Unfortunately he'd already committed to six arguments, so it had to stay in anyway. It is summarised as 'God can't exist because if He did He would have to know He was God, but since He can't know He is God, He can't exist'.

6. The 'Some Of God's Defining Qualities Cannot Exist' Argument
If God existed, my life would have purpose and meaning. However, on reading this book I have lost the will to live. Therefore God cannot exist.



Anonymous said...

weird one isnt it. not sure how someone like this gets interviewed on the bbc... other than for people to roll their eyes at. I've no idea whether his arguments hold logical water or not, seems a bit of a wasted effort. its easy to disprove something you've defined for yourself in a disprovable way.

As always i think you're waaaaay to optimistic in your definition of Answers in Genesis. waay waay waay.

whynotsmile said...

I think someone else was meant to be on the show, and pulled out, so it may be that this guy was hauled in from the bottom of the barrel.

Every now and then I think about doing a post on AiG, and then lose the will to live.

Wandering Photographer said...

"I think someone else was meant to be on the show, and pulled out..."

Reminds me of this guy, who pulled a blinder in an awkward situation and provided a small chunk of comedy gold:

However, coming back to your post ... I can't help feeling that you might have misrepresented the arguments somewhat. This feeling (OK, lets call it a thought, I'm not being emotional about it after all) is probably being engendered by the mindblowing stupidity of them.

For your next post, how about a discussion of Russell's Teapot?

Conor Keogh said...

Leave Answers in Genesis alone!-the Earth is exactly 5645 yrs old last Tuesday and Noah's Ark was recently spotted by Russian spy planes resting on top of a Mt Arararatatrataratatatattttt....

whynotsmile said...

Ha, WP, I remember seeing that interview a few years back - so funny!

OK, I admit that by the last couple of arguments I had lost all willpower and thought I might as well just spout crap. But did you read the originals? I think mine are better.

I will bear Russell's Teapot in mind for the next post, thank you for the suggestion.

whynotsmile said...

Last Tuesday you say Conor? That means it has almost the same birthday as me!!! Wow!

Welcome to the blog, by the way.

Anonymous said...

ever heard of lip balm being used as an argument against the existence of God..but there you are!

may a say a far more entertaining dismantling of this lunatic than Mr Crawley's

Conor Keogh said...

yip, its true - Ken Ham told me so.

ianam said...

The only person I've found who agrees with Berg's logic is the one he quotes on his web page, : "the Reviews Editor of the Christian Bookshops’ blog in the United Kingdom, Phil Groom (who is also Manager of the London School of Theology Books & Resources)" ... figures.

Groom writes the question remains: does the cumulative force of Berg’s arguments genuinely represent the decisive proof against God’s existence that he claims?

The answer is, in my view at least, yes; and I also think it matters not one whit. Quite simply because Berg, like Dawkins before him and in common with so many aggressive atheists, has fallen into the trap of regarding God as an entity within the universe. As he rightly insists, such an entity cannot and does not exist, has never existed beyond the human imagination.

Uh, but Dawkins says he's agnostic (as he is about fairies at the bottom of his garden or about Russell's teapot), and that there are no logically valid arguments that god doesn't exist -- his arguments are empirical and probabilistic.

My argument is that neither gods nor fraglimorkers exist because neither is a well-defined category. Fill in the characteristics enough and it might be possible to prove logical impossibility -- e.g., along the lines of Berg's 4th argument, if god necessarily only creates the best of all possible worlds, then god doesn't exist because we can conceive of better worlds.