Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Is it rational to believe that God exists?

I believe in God, by which I mean I'm certain that He exists. However, as I confessed last night on Twitter, I don't think this belief is rational. In fact, I think this belief of mine is highly irrational. There don't seem be very good grounds for believing in God, and the most famous argument is notably flawed as the ensuing Twitter conversation showed:

DB: I believe in God. Give me a reason, though, to believe in God that is better than the reason to believe Elvis is still alive. [By this I meant that neither belief seems justified by evidence.]

SM: There is simply no rational explanation for too many things [in Israel] to question whether God exists.There's no reason to deny the hand of God in miraculous events when no other explanation could possibly exist.

DB: There's no rational reason to introduce God to solve something you can't immediately explain. That's the philosophical problem [with that approach.] If "no rational explanation exists," the rational answer is to leave it a mystery, not to introduce something [i.e.: God] that [itself] can't be proved or explained.

RK: The fact that we exist makes the possibility of a Creator much more likely than Elvis still being alive.

DB: I don't need to introduce God to explain why I exist. And, anyway, why [introduce] God and not fairies, or aliens? If "no explanation exists," why introduce God, to solve the problem and not dragons, or a witch with a magic wand?

RK: I'm talking about the starting point. First Cause. Prime Mover. Creator. More likely than Elvis still being alive.

DB: You say everything needs a cause, right? So what caused the 1st cause? Why is the 1st cause the exception to the rule? Maybe the universe itself  is the exception to the rule? Your argument contradicts itself. It depends on the premise that "all things have a cause" which you then contradict with the claim that God has no cause.

 [RK is using the design argument, and saying that everything needs a creator, including the universe, and that creator is God. In my response, I'm pointing out that if the rule is everything needs a creator the God who created the universe requires a creator, as well. By claiming that God doesn't need a creator, RK is contradicting the premise upon which his whole argument is based. What is his justification for doing that?]

RK: Once you are dealing with a supernatural entity, these questions don't apply (certainly not the same way). All NATURAL things need to have a cause.

[DB: Did you catch the ad hoc maneuver? When confronted with his contradiction, he changed the premise to "all natural things" need a cause, but how does RK know this? How does he know that supernatural things don't require causes? Maybe they do. How would we know otherwise? What empirical information or evidence does RK posses about supernatural things? What are his grounds for asserting that they don't requires causes? I ask him in my next Tweet.]

DB:  ...how do you know what rules govern supernatural entity? You have to PROVE supernatural entities dont require a cause. You can't just assert it loudly.

RK: When talking about G-d? You've got to be kidding.

DB: You're trying to prove God exists. You can't do that by saying "You've got to be kiddding" of course he exists. "You've got to be kidding" is a dodge and an appeal to emotion. Not an argument. Make one or resign.

From here, things deteriorated. RK was never able to provide proof that supernatural entities don't require causes; indeed he was never able to provide any grounds for belieiving in God at all. All he had to offer was a fallacious argument based on a contradiction, though he refused to see or acknowledge this. Those who think Elvis lives make the same sort of arguments, and are equally blind to the shortcomings of their claim.  Does it follow that beleiving in God is no less irrational then believing that Elvis lives? I'm afraid so. Because no good argument for God seems to exist, I'm left with nothing but the conclusion that we (like the Elvis-faithful) believe for no good reason.

And yet, I continue to believe.

See: The DovBear Creed

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