There Probably Is No God
Presenting bad evidence hurts your case more than presenting none.
Between the Torah, Bible, Quran, Tripitaka and Bhagatvad Gita we have plenty of examples of direct communications from God himself. Direct, allegedly unquestionable, proof of divine existence. This alone should be convincing enough for atheists to change their ways. There’s just one slight problem, which one should we choose? Because it’s not like, when we read them, that they are very complementary to each other. So at least one, in fact at least ALL but one, must NOT be a result from a direct communication with ‘The Divine’. So by pure deduction we must conclude that, at best, 1 isn’t false. Even though each and every one is defended like the mere suggestion of this is on a par with genocide. In fact, genocide was and is committed to ‘proof’ these books’ infallibility. Perhaps not the best way of making a point. But for all this violence, their arguments are weak, even against basic high-school maths.
‘Atheists can’t prove there is no God.’ Even for a ‘strong’ atheist as me this is still technically true. Like I said in “God is Love”, once you redefine and squeeze your God to Planck-length to fit the ‘gaps’, Science is unlikely to ever contradict that. But while ‘Deism’ (belief in a non-specified God) is a strong position, few people actually adhere to it, simply because that is not how power and indoctrination propagate. No one gives YOU money because of a God that belongs to no-one and of whom nothing whatsoever is known. Theists adhere to THEIR God and therefore absolutely require a past and/or present connection (phone-line) to not only elevate them to ‘the chosen people’ but to distinguish their God from a generic Deism and usurp power over other people’s conduct, from this rather simplistic notion.
In high-school we are thought about mathematical probability. So let’s apply some of it here.
Imagine your friend Tom holds a pouch with four differently coloured marbles
(red, green, yellow, blue).
- Choose a colour in your head
- Have Tom select one of the marbles
- What is the chance he will have selected the colour you guessed?
The answer is 25% or 1 in 4. Well done!
Yours was an informed decision though, since Tom told you how many and which colour were the marbles in the pouch. Metaphorically speaking there was a ‘phone-line’ to ‘reality’ through which you obtained crucial information to optimise your decision process. Likewise if we assume that out of 4 ‘phone-lines’ only 1 goes to the ‘One True God’ while the others lead to ‘Illusion-Gods’, our chance of picking the correct Holy Book that results from these ‘conversations’ is also ‘1 in 4’. Or more precisely it is 1 in ‘N’, with ‘N’ being the number of religions that claim to have a line to the ‘only God’.
This is assuming, if only for a moment, that not all religions are disconnected from reality (both literally and metaphorically). This is, after all, what theists are implicitly claiming: that THEY have the correct phone-line to the divine and the others are actually calling an echo of their God. They will often say ‘We all worship the same God’ but they do not agree the other theist has equal authority to scrutinize God’s will. He is simply holding the wrong phone! They all claim the same thing and while all can be simultaneously wrong, they can’t all be simultaneously right.
When we actually look more closely at each individual book these religions produced, we find internal inconsistencies and historical inaccuracies in all of them. To us, non-religious, this is a strong indication that, in fact, none of them have a phone-line to God. So far, none have actually been able to demonstrate the opposite. As a response to this observation, theists will often counter atheists by saying ‘atheists can’t prove there is no God.’, defending Deism against Atheism, using a true but strained assertion. This, to our lone ‘deist’ is rather hilarious because ‘Deism’, while finding the concept of ‘God’ plausible, rather boils down to the believe that ‘there is no phone-line’. It is therefore ironic that theists defend Deism when they are put under pressure, while Deism shows not the slightest bit of love for the random Theisms of this world. Given atheists opposition to the existence of ‘phone-lines’, it might also seem to the deist we have reinforced his Deism, as we weakened Theism without disproving God. But, in this opinion, he would be quite wrong!
Going back to our marble-pouch, obviously there are not just 4 colours in the world. In HTML you can encode 143 different colours from ‘aliceblue’ to ‘yellowgreen’ in alphabetical order. For the sake of argument let’s assume those are all the colours. So now you have 143 colour options: without the benefit of a phone-line to Tom, what is the chance you can guess the correct colour of the marble Tom is about to select? Without a ‘phone-line’ what is the chance Christianity (for example) is right in all its assertions?
If you said ‘1 in 143’ or ‘1 in N’ respectively you are sadly mistaken. The reason is that you are not ‘calling’ Tom to learn about the marbles in his pouch but you are instead calling Tim with the same question. With ‘Tim’ being the imaginary realm you connect to by praying, meditating or sticking pins through your nose. An imaginary realm which you just happen to mistake for reality. The problem is: Tim is giving you information based on his pouch with his own marbles. So instead of straight up guessing which marble Tom is going to select (sadly without knowledge of the colours or the amount of marbles Tom has) the game changes fundamentally and becomes:
‘The chance that Tim and Tom will pull the exact same colour marble out of their respective pouches’.
with all marbles imaginable.
with all marbles unknown.
Now there is no guarantee that Tim and Tom have the same colours or number of marbles and therefore no guarantee they even haves one marble in common. This probability is influenced by how many marbles each has out of the total number of possible marbles.
Labelling ‘I’ for the number of Tim-marbles and ‘O’ for the number of Tom-marbles, with ‘N’ being the total number of possible marbles, the chance thus becomes: 1/I x 1/O x I/N x O/N. This chance is always going to be significantly smaller than just 1/N for any number of I,O or N (for Natural numbers).
The difference in these odds depends mainly on the value for ‘N’, the total number of possible options. For Tim, the imaginary realm, that number seems limitless. For Tom, reality, it is indeterminable without a phone-line. Building that phone-line, scrutinizing which options could have yielded a consistent reality and which ones in fact manifested, is the process we have come to label ‘Science’.
What the ‘Tim-Tom-formula’ expresses is that if you have a source of information and that source is debunked for reasons of ‘not being in a position to either know or not know said information’ the chance of that information still being correct is no longer the random statistical probability. Instead it gets coupled with the chance that your untrustworthy source just happened to choose the correct data to lie about. (for more on ‘coupled chances’ read “Religion’s Monthy Hall Problem”). theists did not choose to argue for the existence of ‘teapots in orbit’ or ‘pink unicorns’ or even ‘hidden elephants in strawberry fields’ (for some reason many of these elephants are also hiding in my post on ‘Materialism’). They argued for the existence of a God, their God, their all-knowing inerrant God that just happened to mimic parent-child social bonds we form ourselves.
But their stories are not inerrant, in fact they are full of holes, as one would expect when several humans collaborate on ‘making stuff up’. Despite their claims, they do not have a line to God and therefore ‘God’ and Deism take a ‘punishment’ with respect to each alternative god-free option. Sure ‘atheists can’t prove there is no God’. But by arguing his existence based on concocted evidence, theists have themselves reduced the possibility of their claim. Making it less likely to be true then, for example ‘pink unicorns’.
Obviously atheism is not a movement arguing for the existence of ‘pink unicorns’ or ‘flying tea pots’. Instead we argue for further improving on the phone-line to ‘Tom’ and not guessing at all. Some sounds coming over the line are already clear indication of an apparent omission. Mainly that Tom hasn’t use ‘God’ even once to describe how things in reality work. But obviously our phone-line is incomplete and we haven’t been able to ask Tom all necessary questions. What he did say so far, however, is counter-indicative of theists having a line to Tom. There is no knowledge of chemistry or micro-biology in the Bible. Quran makes scientific claims that are manifestly wrong. So basically these Holy Books are just man-made fiction. Something which was already obvious from the way religions contradict and supplement each other as they rise and inevitably suffer demise at the hands of the next one.
There probably is no God. If we’d eliminate options in the order of their probability, with the biggest on top, we’d actually need to rule out ‘Pink Unicorns’ before we’d be able to address the various possible gods. But nobody is worrying about what grave consequences a-Unicornism might have for them after death.
Hell might be non-stop-tickling and cotton candy (The Horror!). But I guess Pascal’s Wager is only cutting so deep. If it can’t turn theists into Unicornists, I don’t see why it should affect our sleep at all.