On the existence of God

Hello, I am a high schooler interested in learning more about the existence of God. So far in my life I have only heard of claims arguing for the existence of God, but never any claims against the existence of God. Some claims I have heard are: The Cosmological Argument, Fine-tuning argument and Moral Argument. Of these I find the fine-tuning argument to be the most convincing, but I would like to hear the opinion of someone who does not believe that God exists and how they would refute these arguments.

Thank you

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Welcome! I am sure there are some unbelievers here who will address what you want. I am not one of those. But I do like the fine-tuning argument, as well.
 

A common argument that skeptics give in response to it is the self-selection effect (and I anticipate you might expect to be a reply). It says, in effect, “Of course the cosmos looks fine-tuned for life, if it weren’t, we wouldn’t be here.” Here is one rebuttal to that argument:

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Two more:

…and this I have posted before:

(How many planets with intelligent life have a sun and a moon like that? I would expect unbelievers, without justification, to subsume that immense unlikelihood into a probabilistic intuition.)

And on the same note,

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I do believe in God, but all the same - I think I may be able to ‘steel man’ what some responses might be from atheist quarters - and a any of our friendly atheists around here can chime in about how I do, or add their own corrections / insights.

Dale may have already touched on much of this above, but at least some of the fine-tuning could be explained as adaptive response. I.e. … we are organisms that need to live within certain parameters of temperature / pressure / atmospheric composition / etc. …and so voila! It’s a good thing that this is exactly what we have! But this is like Douglas Adams’ proverbial puddle of water rejoicing that the hole in which it happens to be is just exactly the right shape for what the puddle needed! Which is silly because the puddle is formed by the depression - just as we are adapted to the environment within which we find ourselves.

Of course fine-tuning is not completely answered by that, though - there are still genuine amazements in terms of physical constants being on a hairs-breadth ‘knife-edge’ away from total non-viability for much anything (much less life). Some answer to that might be to fall back on a multiverse possibility - perhaps trillions of other universes were non-viable - and; no surprise! We would not be in any of those to be able to comment on it. In any case, even if this is the only universe - we just don’t know enough about how such constants could be “tweaked” or “selected” in the first place. Maybe there was some necessity in them (like the geometric necessity that pi must be about 3.14159) that makes them less contingent somehow. And that’s the problem here … jumping from “here is a very precisely needed value” to “therefore there must be a personal Creator God” (much less a specifically Christian one) seems an unwarranted jump to responding atheists. While they might find this interesting (even amazing), it would need to be accompanied by other independent evidence (preferably much more specific evidence).

As for saying “the fact that there is anything that exists at all - implies an initial cause” or an ‘uncaused-cause’, that too is quite non-specific evidence that such a cause must be what Judeo-Christians describe as a personal Creator God. Perhaps there is some infinite regression - maybe the big bang is one of an infinitely recurring number of cycles, etc. There is just too much that is unknown.

The moral argument is one that has been dismissed as a kind of “special pleading” that it would be highly undesirable for our moral structures to not have any objective grounding. Even if this were true, it doesn’t follow that this makes evidence for such absolute moral foundation. Our wanting it to be true (even if it is conceded that it would be very good for it to be true) nevertheless does not constitute evidence that it actually is true. Atheists have pointed out that nonbelievers find quite enough basis for their own contextualized cultural morality just in the surrounding culture alone; and they don’t all fly off the handle into nihilism just because they fail to believe there was an absolute moral-giver chiseling it all in stone.

That is what I think might sum up some atheist responses to all this. As a believer myself, I engage with all that too (and concede that they are valid - though not unanswerable points). My belief isn’t anchored in my being able to ‘refute’ all the above or give it any stunning rebuttals (I can’t). My faith is anchored on much other grounds which provides me a context to see all the above. And so long as my faith context remains plausible (not asking of me that I accept demonstrably false things as true), then I remain undisturbed by my inability to address all such physical mystery.

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Hi @sky. I believe that God exists (or rather, that all exists in God) and refute all of those arguments :slight_smile: Faith in God doesn’t need any of them. And fine tuning disappears, like all apologetics, in the face of the fact of eternity. Whether God exists or not. And no, not the infinite monkey typists coming up with Hamlet argument. There is no fine tuning and no random tuning. Of c, or any of the other empirical fundamental dimensionless and dimensioned physical constants, that can only be derived by measurement. If God does not exist then they emerge at the intersections of the prevenient, minimal, efficient, sufficient laws, forces, dimensions of reality. If He does, does He have to om in the key of c, G and h, from eternity, in that gap, for physics to otherwise congeal around? I doubt it. I could be wrong. But the standard model with 25 such dimensionless constants certainly is. If He exists then He grounds being, He instantiates the laws of physics which He humbly submits to. Perhaps, possibly, probably all of them. It doesn’t invalidate Jesus, who is actually the only justification we have for believing in Him.

I do believe in the existence of God, but I do not believe in any of these arguments. I not only think them to be unsound, but I think they are in danger of idolatry, for they invariably replace ones faith in God with a faith in the premises of those argument. Just because something is true doesn’t mean an argument for it is valid, and the premises of such an argument may in fact be false.

Cosmological argument: The principle flaw is that the need for something upon which the existence of things depend does not require it to be God. Atheists have no problem making the laws of nature that upon which the existence of things depend. Both theist and atheist make these an exception to the rule, theists saying that God’s existence doesn’t depend on anything and atheists saying that the existence of the laws of nature do not depend on anything.

Fine tuning argument: Probabilities which cannot be calculated are empty rhetoric, and we have no way to calculate the probability that the universe could have been different than it is. Furthermore just because life of our sort couldn’t exist in a universe different from our own doesn’t mean a different sort of life couldn’t exist in that universe. Also atheists respond with the idea of a multiverse, where all possible universes exist and naturally we must be in one where life is possible.

Moral argument: The above arguments are simply logically unsound but this argument is morally unsound. It is based on an authoritarian notion of morality which is only suitable for toddlers. But in a changing world, mature adults require a morality based on reasons which they can apply to new situations and a morality dictated by some authority (no matter how divine) particularly in ancient documents is simply inadequate. Furthermore we have every indication from science that morality is an evolved instinct of social animals and required for cooperation which is one of the most successful survival strategies to be found in evolution (amply demonstrated in many different species).

So if I do not believe in any of these arguments, then why do I believe? My reasons are found here.

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Thank you for your reply and input on the topic, it is greatly appreciated. I agree with your response to the Fine-tuning argument that it is countered by the idea of a multiverse as well. Personally, I also find the moral argument to be the weakest of the three. I find it very interesting that you believe these arguments to be in danger of idolatry though.

Thank you for your reply and input on the question I put forth. Your responses to the arguments were very eye-opening and ones I have seldom see. It seems that the only contradiction to the fine-tuning argument is the argument for the existence of a multiverse, but this also cannot be proven. I also find it incredible the level of precision that our universe is built on.

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Hi!

You may find this a good read for you since you have interest in fine tuning/multiverse stuff!: https://biologos.org/common-questions/what-do-fine-tuning-and-the-multiverse-say-about-god

Science is subordinate to rationality. Rationality says, God or no God, the eternal multiverse is.

If no God,
…then reality self tunes,
else God may om in the key of c, G, h

What He oms or in the transcendent we haven’t the faintest idea.

But it’ll be a nice tune.

Hello sky. I’m someone who doesn’t believe that God as a unified, separate entity exists but I have no idea how to refute those arguments. Obviously I don’t find them very convincing. I’ve heard the one William Craig argues more than the others but I don’t know its name. He argues that for something to begin to exist there must be a prior cause. So for the universe to have a prior cause the only thing that could pre-exist the universe would be God. But these kinds of arguments just seem so speculative. Why couldn’t there be prior causes back forever? Doesn’t Christianity believe in eternity? As those young earther’s who like to argue against ‘Darwinism’ like to say, was anyone there to see the universe pop into existence? Did anyone see what caused it? I prefer to admit I don’t know and leave it at that, except to add I don’t think anyone else knows either. Personally I suspect singularities and ‘Big Bangs’ are phenomena which come and go for reasons we don’t understand, but I don’t think any deity is required to light the ‘fuse’.

While I doubt that God is actually like Christians imagine Him to be, I do believe there is something real and important that gives rise to God belief. What that is is less important than how we relate to it. I think Christianity offers one good way to do that. Also, as someone who grew up in a Christian family and absorbed its mythos, perhaps I am indebted to it for arriving at my world view. If there were no cultural traditions around what is greater than ourselves, maybe I’d have missed it?

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As a non-believer I don’t think the fine-tuning argument has been supported with evidence. For the argument to work our universe has to be the only universe or one of just a few universes. No one knows how many universes there are. Also, you have to assume that the constants which are finely tuned could have been different. That, again, isn’t known.

As to the Moral argument, I cite the simple observation that we judge for ourselves whether a religion is moral. When we see people committing what we consider to be atrocities we hold those people responsible for the crimes they committed. We don’t excuse them because they claim to be deriving their morality from the commands of a deity they believe in. To put it more succinctly, “I was just following orders” is not morality.

Och man, infinite. Self-tuned.

And we know this because…

Oh yeah!

People are scrambling to make up some special revelation scripture to back that up claims about many other universes even as we speak.

Infinite self-tuned science fiction, likely. Certainly not a certainty.

How many dimensions are there?

How many separate universes can be contained within them? God is independent of them all.

God is independent of nothing.

The axiomatic infinity of universes is an absolute certainty. God or no God. Whether God has to om in the key of c and or G isn’t.

Interesting paper – I actually never heard the estimate of two trillion galaxies, I always heard ~200 billion. So I missed when the estimate went up, and now it is back to the number I always quote anyway. Lucky!

I love the fact that 200 billion galaxies and 200 billion stars/galaxy and 10 planets/star gives (approximately) 1 mole of planets in the visible universe.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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