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All Spokesmen of God are Charlatans

Existence of God has its own philosophical attacks, and the goodness of God (or the existence of evil) has its own philosophical attacks. These are well and good and in many cases older than Jesus, especially in the case of Epicurus's proofs. I seek to attack the many kinds of charlatans and con artists who claim to bring us word from on high. To that end, I have constructed simple questions which seem without flaw. And I trust you'll point out their structural weakness in the event that my incompetence has shown through.

1.) If God has omnipotent power, then by definition God cannot lack the power to be heard by all men, everywhere, and at once. All spokesmen of an exclusive God are charlatans.

2.) If God is infinitely complex, then by definition we can never, and will never, comprehend such a being. All spokesmen of an inscrutable God are charlatans.

3.) If God is the source for everything, then by definition God cannot lack, or want, for anything. All spokesmen of a creator God are charlatans.

4.) If God's will is absolute, then our prayers are incapable of effecting change. All spokesmen of an attentive God are charlatans.

5.) If God is omnipresent, then all of space is holy ground. All spokesmen of a domnionist God are charlatans.

6.) If God is infallible, then God's desires are always, and already, fulfilled. All spokesmen of a compassionate God are charlatans.

The concepts of "God", "nothing", "omnipotence", "omniscience", "omnibenevolence" and other "omni-" concepts are self-refuting. They lead to logical paradoxes like Bertrand's "list of all lists that do not include themselves" or a "barber who shaved all men in town who did not shave themselves". One can never tell whether such list includes itself or who shaved the barber.

If you look up self-refuting ideas, you'll find that they can be either self-consistent (tautological) or self-contradictory (create logical impossibility). Statement "This statement is always true." is self-consistent. If it's true, it's true. If it's false, it's false (which makes it true). It's an absolute truth. Self-consistent statements do not send our brain into a race condition between logical zeroes and ones, speaking in electrical terms. Once we make up our minds whether they are true or false, we don't have to change our mind. Statement "This statement is always false." is self-contradicting. If it's true, it's false. If it's false, it's true. This statement is always false. It's an absolute lie. It oscillates between "true" and "false". It's an analogy of constant doubt without making one's mind. It symbolizes mental torment.

All this seems like a pointless exercise, but it is not. When I say "I have absolute faith in nothing but God", it's a self-consistent statement. I don't have to change this belief. If an atheist tells me that "God does not exist", I say: "Fine, then everything else is subject to doubt" and my position is no different from atheism.

But if I say "I am skeptical of everything", that's a lie. I have to have faith in skepticism for this to make sense.

In moral world, if we want to discover if someone tells truth or lies, all we have to do is to apply his own words to himself. Would a legislator want a law to be applied to himself? Do I want this to be done to me? It's a litmus test of morality. In this sense, the golden rule follows from the abstract "absolute truth" concept.

Although these statements are circular, self-refuting, and defy logic, instead of getting sucked into this whirlpool of nonsense, we can step outside and see what it is spinning around. Some circular arguments spin around nothing. Literally. Like "the universe appeared from nothing", "no it did not", etc. Such arguments are hollow. To use a wheel in a machine, it needs an axle. A ring is used by wearing it on a finger. A hollow tire is fun to watch going down the hill, but not for much else (unless it is put on a wheel with axle).

By understanding why something does not make sense, we understand what does. So, these paradoxes are not completely useless (which is a paradox in itself).


AG wrote: "When I say "I have absolute faith in nothing but God", it's a self-consistent statement."

It is not a self-consistent statement, because you have first to define the properties of this "God", you are talking about. Otherwise your statement remains fuzzy. -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.4.12 (Cygwin)

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The concept of "nothing" is even more fuzzy than the concept of "god". You may be right. It's circular reasoning either way.

Every time we contemplate these questions, we end up facing the question "who am I?". The only answer that makes sense to me is the circular one "I am who I am". It makes sense not because it's logical (it's illogical and circular itself). It makes sense, because it associates with many philosophical things: 1. it is the name of the Lord according to Exodus. 2. It tells me that the question is as meaningless as the answer. 3. It means to me that instead of asking silly questions and making judgments based on nonsense, we should take things as they are, experience them. This, of course, associates with Zen philosophy. These circular paradoxes somehow remind me of Zen koans.

All reasoning about God short-circuits on ourselves. I don't think, it can be explained in a logical and consistent way. It's like this Zen saying: "Those who know don't tell, and those who tell don't know." As we open our mouth to express it in words, the meaning disappears. It cannot be taught with words. People either understand it or think it's nonsense.

And me telling all this shows that I don't know :) I'm still looking for the answer, much like most others.

If you think that this does not make sense, watch this video:

Dan Dennett is an atheist and a professor of philosophy specializing in consciousness.

He starts saying that consciousness is like street magic to many people. When it is explained, the magic and the fun disappears. So, many people don't like it when magic tricks are explained to them, because it is disappointing. So, he asks to leave those people who don't like to be disappointed.

Then he shows with a few simple psychological experiments that what we perceive about reality is not what reality IS, but rather what we expect it to be. And when we find out that reality is not what we expected, we are disappointed. And that's, he concludes, is how consciousness works.

Now read all the disappointed comments about this presentation. That's the funniest part. People were disappointed, frustrated, and, sometimes, angry that he did not explain anything. Why? They didn't get it. The only message he delivered is that people get disappointed when they find out that reality is not what they expected. And they are - proving his point. The problem is not with the presentation (reality). The problem is with expectations. He couldn't have delivered this message better! We expect to find logical explanation to things, and we are annoyed when we don't. Which brings to mind the propositions in the OP.

I know two reactions to this kind of stuff: one is disappointment, frustration, annoyance, mocking, and anger; another is appreciation and awe. Dennett says, he's an atheist. I think, he is a Zen Buddhist in disguise :)

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