Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Existence of God

Philosophers, theologians, scientists and others have proposed arguments for and against the existence of God for thousands of years.  Still, this cannot be proved and acceptance is a personal choice. (1)

Belief Systems

Every human being has a belief system to make sense of the world. There are wide varieties of belief systems, which can be categorized, as metaphysical, logical, empirical, or subjective. (2) All belief systems are based on either evidence or faith. 

Science considers that the world is ultimately understandable through observation, experiment, and extrapolation.  It recognizes that humans have beliefs that may be biased and attempts to moderate such bias by requiring that evidence must be capable of independent verification. By strict adherence to verified procedure, it assures that conclusions are objective. Something that operates outside those rules is rejected as being unscientific.  

Faith-based belief systems are mental constructs that lack evidence. Indeed, scientific confirmation may be impossible.  This defines the important difference between faith-based and science-based beliefs. Faith cannot be introduced into an evidence-based system any more than one can demand evidence of a faith-based system.  Religion is a faith-based belief system.

Religion provides a sense of meaning and comfort for believers, and studies show that such beliefs intensify during threatening situations. Now research suggests that some people's faith in science may serve the same role. It may be that belief itself, regardless of its content, helps people deal with adverse situations. (3)

God Views

About 70-80% of the worlds almost 7 billion people profess belief in God. About a third are Christian, a fifth are Muslim, a sixth are Agnostic or Atheist, and another sixth are Hindu. (4)

Christians believe in the teachings of Jesus, who was born 2,100 years ago. He was Jewish and left no writings, but many people wrote about him. Today, there are more than 2 billion Christians.

Islam originated in the Middle East about 600 AD. Muslims worship the same God as Christians do. Their prophet Mohammed claimed to have been inspired by God to write the Koran, which they consider the Holy Scripture. Today there are about 1.5 billion Muslims.

Almost 1 billion Hindus believe that Brahman, a supreme being, created the universe and has many forms and pervades the whole of creation. Other religions, such as Buddhism, do not concern themselves with the existence of gods. Agnostics claim they don't know and cannot know if there is a God. 

There are over 1 billion people who profess Atheism. They believe there is no God and view arguments for the existence of God as insufficient, mistaken or weighing less in comparison to arguments against. 

Belief in God

There are many different arguments for the existence of God, based on history, science, personal experience, and philosophy. Each supports a certain conception of God, and represents the base of a specific religion. Together, these arguments claim to prove the existence of a perfect, necessary, transcendent being that created the universe, has authority over it, and takes an interest in humanity. (5)

The First-Cause Argument assumes that every event must have a cause, and that cause in turn must have a cause, and on and on and on. But an infinite series of causes and events doesn't make sense. There's got to be something — some kind of first cause, which requires some kind of "supreme" being. The philosophers call this God. (6)

The Design Argument suggests we live in an orderly Universe that surely had to be designed. The existence of the universe and various phenomena within it indicates the presence of an even greater intelligence, namely God.


A significant argument against God’s existence is the problem of evil. Of all the atheistic arguments, this is the one that has been around the longest. The traditional conception of God implies the ability to prevent all suffering. Suffering, though, is a familiar part of the world around us; it has not been prevented. Therefore, there is no God. (7)

Other atheistic arguments claim that there are logical problems and several related paradoxes. Can God create a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it? A being that is not omnipotent is not God, and therefore, does not exist.

One of the most common arguments for atheism is the view that religious belief is mere wishful thinking, just an emotional crutch for those who are unable to deal with the reality of life without God.

Another objection is that those who believe in God ought to be tolerant of those of other faiths and of those of no faith. Many religions are intolerant and indeed have been the cause of wars against non-believers. This is an argument against the objective existence of God – it makes no sense to talk of absolute religious truths because all religious truth is relative. (8)

Personal Views

For this blog, I considered it important not to just write generalities, but to make it personal. I have several friends who are Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim. Their views about God are widely available – here are some references for those who wish to review further. (9)

Here’s an interesting fact: The US Congress does not include a single admitted atheist. A 2012 survey found that 50% of Americans believe atheism is "threatening" to them. (10)

Atheist Views

In a spirit of agreement, I invited two of my closest friends, who are avowed atheists, to present their views in this blog.

Stan Lieberman

A technologist, philosopher and professed atheist, my good friend Stan Lieberman sent me this summary of the reasons he believes that God does not exist:

Since the universe exists, and the universe is everything, then something must have created the universe.  If the universe was created by the Big Bang, they something must have created the Big Bang.  That is, there must have been a First Cause.  We will call this First Cause "God."  (This is a standard Aristotelian argument.)  And since God created the universe, he created all that is in it including human beings.

My response is: what caused the First Cause?  I do not need to know how the universe began since I believe the universe has always existed in some form.

I find no reason to believe in something that is not rational but must be accepted by faith.  In addition, every religion defines God differently, and since the definitions are contradictory, this is further proof that one can only believe in God based upon faith.  There can never be a rational proof of God.

Merle Borg

My long-term friend, Merle Borg, is one of the nicest people I have ever known. We have had lunch together every week for as long as I can remember. Merle is an avowed atheist. He wrote a significant response to my blog, “Religions and Faith-based Beliefs”. Essentially what Merle says is: “God did not create Man - Man created God!”

Merle wrote:

A few hundred thousand years ago, on the plains and jungles of Africa, this world’s most fearsome predator emerged. Homo sapiens. Our supremacy was not based on speed or size or stealth. We evolved language and intelligence, and the ability to imagine and create tools.

Compellingly dominant, we covered the globe and adapted to nearly every environment. Accompanying our intelligence, however, was the disturbing understanding and anticipation of our own death.

There was a fix. With our ability to imagine things, we simply decided that anyone as clever as us could live forever. We began burying tools and provisions with our leaders and loved ones. Comforting, yes, but from that time on, the “here and now” have been materially diminished.  

As recently as a few thousand years ago we mastered agriculture in ways that made civilizations possible. These civilizations were more efficient and they quickly swallowed up tribal peoples and became the norm. To mobilize and control the large diverse populations, and to indulge our yearnings for eternity, these civilizations adopted more sophisticated religions. Some survive to this day.  

The more enterprising of these beliefs are pyramid schemes. Followers are encouraged to have large families and to convert others. The beliefs compete and are at the root of much of our over-crowding and poverty… and most of our butchery. Nothing inspires bloodlust like the promise of forever.

Organized murder, however, occurs on a relatively small scale. The truly colossal waste is this magnificent, oblivious mass of humanity living the only life it will ever live while believing this is not the real thing… that what is important is yet to come.  

The over-crowding and the butchery and the delusions are tragic, but the waste is self-inflicted. Our other failings are less forgivable. Blessed with relatively long lives and perched safely at the top of the food chain, we humans own this beautiful blue marble. You might think we would enjoy and take care of our paradise… and work to pass our blessings along. Unfortunately, with eyes firmly fixed on the heavens, our kind considers this world to be temporary and we treat it with little regard for tomorrow, or for the tomorrows of any living thing. 

With the elixir of eternity on the table, decency gets pushed aside. As the Gods watch the comic tragedy, they must question the wisdom of producing a species clever enough to imagine forever… and just clever enough to believe in it.”

Jim Pinto View

I was born and brought up a Catholic. Now I am not religious, but spiritual.

I marvel at the beauty, intricacy and interdependence, and just “worship” the universe as the result at this point in time – our very small fraction of Time and Space. 

Here is my own view: There is a Transcendent God, the spirit of all Space and Time, the creator who initiated the Big Bang. And there is also an Immanent God – something which is here and now, in me writing this and you thinking about what I’m saying and responding. 

I invite you to read my blog: “Creation Allegory”. (11) 

If you don’t wish to use the word “god”, that’s all right with me. I have no need for the word. It confuses the issue, because too many people have too many interpretations for that word.

Let’s Engage

Please share our discussion by responding to these questions directly via the blog. If you prefer, send me an email and I’ll insert your comments.

  1. Do you believe in God?
  2. What is your religion?     a. Christian       b. Islam      c. Atheist                                                     d. Hindu     e. Buddhist    f. Other
  1. Are you a devout believer? Explain why you believe?
  2. Are you an Atheist? Explain why.
  3. Do you often think about this stuff? Or, not really too much?
  4. Please comment on Stan Lieberman’s proofs of why there is no God.
  5. Please comment on Merle Borg’s view, “God did not create Man - Man created God!”
  6. Please comment on Jim Pinto’s understanding of God.

  1. Existence of God:
  2. Science, Faith, And Belief Systems:
  3. How Science Mimics Faith:
  4. Religions and Faith-based Beliefs:
  5. Arguments for God's Existence:
  6. 7 Philosophical Arguments for the Existence of God:
  7. Arguments Against God:
  8. Arguments for and against the Existence of God:
  9. Major religious groups:
  10. Why All of the Atheists in Congress are Closeted:
  11. Jim Pinto: Creation Allegory:
Jim Pinto
Carlsbad, CA. USA
11 November 2015