2/06/2003                                                                                       View Comments

Why the Christian God is Impossible

By Chad Docterman, copyright 1996
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Taken from:

The Atheist Soapbox (a web-page that has now been taken down)
Published by permission from the author

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Introduction

Christians consider the existence of their God to be an obvious truth. This assumption is false, not only because evidence for the existence of this presumably ubiquitous yet invisible God is lacking, but because the very nature Christians attribute to this God is self-contradictory.

Proving a universal negative

Many Christians, as well as atheists, claim that it is impossible to prove a universal negative. For example, while we may not have evidence that unicorns or dragons exist, we cannot prove that they do not exist. Unless we have a complete knowledge of the universe, we must admit the possibility that somewhere in the universe, there might be such creatures.
But the claim that omniscience is needed to prove a universal negative presumes that the concept which we are discussing is logically coherent. If the attributes which we assign to a hypothetical object or being are self-contradictory, then we can conclude that it cannot exist, and therefore does not exist. I do not need a complete knowledge of the universe to prove that cubic spheres do not exist. Such objects have mutually-exclusive attributes which make their existence impossible. A cube, by definition, has 8 corners, while a sphere has none. These properties are completely incompatible -- they cannot be held simultaneously by the same object.

I intend to show that the supposed properties of the Christian God Yahweh, like those of a cubic sphere, are incompatible, and by so doing, to demonstrate that Yahweh's existence is an impossibility.


Defining YHWH

Christians have endowed their God with all of the following attributes: He is eternal, all-powerful, and created everything. He created all the laws of nature and can change anything by an act of will. He is all-good, all-loving, and perfectly just. He is a personal God who experiences all of the emotions a human does. He is all-knowing. He sees everything past and future.
God's creation was originally perfect, but humans, by disobeying him, brought imperfection into the world. Humans are evil and sinful, and must suffer in this world because of their sinfulness. God gives humans the opportunity to accept forgiveness for their sin, and all who do will be rewarded with eternal bliss in heaven, but while they are on earth, they must suffer for his sake. All humans who choose not to accept this forgiveness must go to hell and be tormented for eternity.

These attributes of God are related by the Bible, which Christians believe to be the perfect and true Word of God.

One verse which many Christians are fond of quoting says that atheists are fools. I intend to show that the above concepts of God are completely incompatible, and reveal the impossibility of all of them being held simultaneously by the same being. There is no foolishness in denying the impossible. Foolishness is worshipping an impossible God.


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Perfection seeks even more perfection

What did God do during that eternity before he created everything? If God was all that existed back then, what disturbed the eternal equilibrium and compelled him to create? Was he bored? Was he lonely?
God is supposed to be perfect. If something is perfect, it is complete -- it needs nothing else. We humans engage in activities because we are pursuing the elusive perfection, because there is disequilibrium caused by a difference between what we are and what we want to be. If God is perfect, there can be no disequilibrium. There is nothing he needs, nothing he desires, and nothing he must or will do. A God who is perfect does nothing except exist. A perfect creator God is impossible.


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Perfection begets imperfection

But, for the sake of argument, let's continue. Let us suppose that this perfect God did create the universe. Humans were the crown of his creation, since they were created in God's image and had the ability to make decisions. However, these humans spoiled the original perfection by choosing to disobey God.
What!? If something is perfect, nothing imperfect can come from it. Someone once said that bad fruit cannot come from a good tree, yet this "perfect" God created a "perfect" universe which was rendered imperfect by the "perfect" humans.

The ultimate source of imperfection is God. What is perfect cannot make itself imperfect, so humans must have been created imperfect. What is perfect cannot create anything imperfect, so God must be imperfect to have created these imperfect humans. A perfect God who creates imperfect humans is impossible.

The Freewill Argument

The Christians' objection to this argument involves freewill. They say that a being must have freewill to be happy. The omnibenevolent God did not wish to create robots, so he gave humans freewill to enable them to experience love and happiness. But the humans used this freewill to choose evil, and introduced imperfection into God's originally perfect universe. God had no control over this decision, so the blame for our imperfect universe is on the humans, not God.
Here is why the argument is weak. First, if God is omnipotent, then the assumption that freewill is necessary for happiness is false. If God could make it a rule that only beings with freewill may experience happiness, then he could just as easily have made it a rule that only robots may experience happiness. The latter option is clearly superior, since perfect robots will never make decisions which could render them or their creator unhappy, whereas beings with freewill could. A perfect and omnipotent God who creates beings capable of ruining their own happiness is impossible.

Second, even if we were to allow the necessity of freewill for happiness, God could have created humans with freewill who did not have the ability to choose evil, but to choose between several good options.

Third, God supposedly has freewill, and yet he does not make imperfect decisions. If humans are miniature images of God, our decisions should likewise be perfect. Also, the occupants of heaven, who presumably must have freewill to be happy, will never use that freewill to make imperfect decisions. Why would the originally perfect humans do differently?

The point remains: the presence of imperfections in the universe disproves the supposed perfection of its creator.


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All-good God knowingly creates future suffering

God is omniscient. When he created the universe, he saw the sufferings which humans would endure as a result of the sin of those original humans. He heard the screams of the damned. Surely he would have known that it would have been better for those humans to never have been born (in fact, the Bible says this very thing), and surely this all-compassionate deity would have foregone the creation of a universe destined to imperfection in which many of the humans were doomed to eternal suffering. A perfectly compassionate being who creates beings which he knows are doomed to suffer is impossible.
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Infinite punishment for finite sins

God is perfectly just, and yet he sentences the imperfect humans he created to infinite suffering in hell for finite sins. Clearly, a limited offense does not warrant unlimited punishment. God's sentencing of the imperfect humans to an eternity in hell for a mere mortal lifetime of sin is infinitely injust. The absurdity of this infinite punishment appears even greater when we consider that the ultimate source of the human's imperfection is the God who created them. A perfectly just God who sentences his imperfect creation to infinite punishment for finite sins is impossible.
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Belief more important than action

Consider all of the people who live in the remote regions of the world who have never even heard the "gospel" of Jesus Christ. Consider the people who have naturally adhered to the religion of their parents and nation as they had been taught to do since birth. If we are to believe the Christians, all of these people will perish in the eternal fire for not believing in Jesus. It does not matter how just, kind, and generous they have been with their fellow humans during their lifetime: if they do not accept the gospel of Jesus, they are condemned. No just God would ever judge a man by his beliefs rather than his actions.
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Perfection's imperfect revelation

The Bible is supposedly God's perfect Word. It contains instructions to humankind for avoiding the eternal fires of hell. How wonderful and kind of this God to provide us with this means for overcoming the problems for which he is ultimately responsible! The all-powerful God could have, by a mere act of will, eliminated all of the problems we humans must endure, but instead, in his infinite wisdom, he has opted to offer this indecipherable amalgam of books called the Bible as a means for avoiding the hell which he has prepared for us. The perfect God has decided to reveal his wishes in this imperfect work, written in the imperfect language of imperfect man, translated, copied, interpreted, voted on, and related by imperfect man. No two men will ever agree what this perfect word of God is supposed to mean, since much of it is either self- contradictory, or obscured by enigma. And yet the perfect God expects the imperfect humans to understand this paradoxical riddle using the imperfect minds with which he has equipped us. Surely the all-wise and all-powerful God would have known that it would have been better to reveal his perfect will directly to each of us, rather than to allow it to be debased and perverted by the imperfect language and botched interpretations of man.

Contradictory justice

One need look to no source other than the Bible to discover its imperfections, for it contradicts itself and thus exposes its own imperfection. It contradicts itself on matters of justice, for the same just God who assures his people that sons shall not be punished for the sins of their fathers turns around and destroys an entire household for the sin of one man (he had stolen some of Yahweh's war loot). It was this same Yahweh who afflicted thousands of his innocent people with plague and death to punish their evil king David for taking a census (?!). It was this same Yahweh who allowed the humans to slaughter his son because the perfect Yahweh had botched his own creation. Consider how many have been stoned, burned, slaughtered, raped, and enslaved because of Yahweh's skewed sense of justice. The blood of innocent babies is on the perfect, just, compassionate hands of Yahweh.

Contradictory history

The Bible contradicts itself on matters of history. A person who reads and compares the contents of the Bible will be confused about exactly who Esau's wives were, whether Timnah was a concubine or a son, and whether Jesus' earthly lineage is through Solomon or his brother Nathan. These are but a few of hundreds of documented historical contradictions. If the Bible cannot confirm itself in mundane earthly matters, how are we to trust it on moral and spiritual matters?

Unfulfilled prophecy

The Bible misinterprets its own prophecies. Read Isaiah 7 and compare it with Matthew 1 to find but one of many misinterpreted prophecies of which Christians are either passively or willfully ignorant. The sign given by Isaiah to King Ahaz was meant to assure him that his enemies King Rezin and King Remaliah would be defeated. The prophecy was fulfilled in the very next chapter. Yet Matthew 1 not only misinterprets the word for "maiden" as "virgin," but claims that this already-fulfilled prophecy is fulfilled by the virgin birth of Jesus!

The fulfillment of prophecy in the Bible is cited as proof of its divine inspiration, and yet here is but one major example of a prophecy whose intended meaning has been and continues to be twisted to support subsequent absurd and false doctrines. There are no ends to which the credulous will not go to support their feeble beliefs in the face of compelling evidence against them.

The Bible is imperfect. It only takes one imperfection to destroy the supposed perfection of this alleged Word of God. Many have been found. A perfect God who reveals his perfect will in an imperfect book is impossible.


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The Omniscient changes the future

A God who knows the future is powerless to change it. An omniscient God who is all-powerful and freewilled is impossible.
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The Omniscient is surprised

A God who knows everything cannot have emotions. The Bible says that God experiences all of the emotions of humans, including anger, sadness, and happiness. We humans experience emotions as a result of new knowledge. A man who had formerly been ignorant of his wife's infidelity will experience the emotions of anger and sadness only after he has learned what had previously been hidden. In contrast, the omniscient God is ignorant of nothing. Nothing is hidden from him, nothing new may be revealed to him, so there is no gained knowledge to which he may react emotionally.

We humans experience anger and frustration when something is wrong which we cannot fix. The perfect, omnipotent God, however, can fix anything. Humans experience longing for things we lack. The perfect God lacks nothing. An omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect God who experiences emotion is impossible.


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The conclusion of the matter

I have offered arguments for the impossibility, and thus the non- existence, of the Christian God Yahweh. No reasonable and free thinking individual can accept the existence of a being whose nature is as contradictory as that of Yahweh, the "perfect" creator of our imperfect universe. The existence of Yahweh is as impossible as the existence of cubic spheres or invisible pink unicorns.
While believers may find comfort in being faithful to impossibilities, there is no greater satisfaction than a clear mind. You may choose to serve an impossible God. I will choose reality.

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What do you say?

16 comments:

Ernesto said...

this article is full of the writer's own confident preception of what a perfect god is to be or not to be thereby making him a godlike since who can know such great things. After all, to judge someone, in this case God, you have to have a greater knowledge and authority than the one being judged. Perhaps an article titled " Why being the judge of a perfect god is impossible" needs to be written before people start worshiping that judge.

Astreja said...

Ernesto, remember that little incident with the tree and the snake and those two innocent humans who ate the forbidden fruit?

According to Genesis 3:22, "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil..."

Sir, what we have here is an invisible, intangible being who sets up sting operations with talking snakes. All for the purpose of punishing humanity for thinking too much about matters of good and evil.

Original Sin is an illogical concept from the start, because supposedly Adam and Eve started with no knowledge of good and evil. Technically they should not have been punished at all because they had not yet acquired moral knowledge and were therefore incapable of knowing that they were about to do something wrong.

Putting aside the above quandary, in order for "Original Sin" to persist down the generations, the knowledge acquired from the forbidden fruit must have also persisted.

Ergo, humans and gods are now on an equal playing field vis-a-vis the comprehension (and judging) of good and evil.

Anonymous said...

I'm not Christian, I'm an Israelite, yet I find the arguments in the article are lacking any true depth of thought. For example the person speaks of certain things being illogical. The Big Bang theory is illogical, yet we teach it. An explosion started the universe. Where did the substance come from that exploded initially. The existence of time itself doesn't follow what most people would consider logic. The writer hasn't obviously asked questions like, "is there anything explanation in the universe that goes beyond the capacity of human logic to explain." Yet such a blanket statement at the end about freethinking people not believing in God. And about God not getting angry, well to human perception a thunderstorm may seem angry, but it is an act of creation. If we keep abusing nature, it will seem the world will be angry when we experience the aftermath of planetary problems that could result, but nature or God's anger may just be the perfection of correction. Bringing things in balance sometimes necessitates destruction as well as creation. Keep "free-thinking" long enough and you realize that you can never find all the answers because the mind can only explain so much. When you reach that point, you will probably find the need to believe, there is somewhere, some kind, of higher power, that defies what we now consider "rational thought."

Mister Dee said...

I didn’t see any reference to the fact that we are all balls of energy that perceive the world in our heads.. As much as we live on this earth we create it.. Sure they would like you to think that your not powerful beyond unimaginable possibilities. The truth is we only know what we are told.. Only through meditation or another from of receiving information can we see the truth.. Educational institutions and television cloud our judgment.

Unless you awaken from your slumber you will continue to believe that your some random cataclysmic anomaly. We are all glorious creations here to play our role on this Earth..

What people don’t realize is that being born on earth and dying on earth is just Parentheses (“life----experiences of a materialistic world-----death”)
In the big story of thing so don’t trip off the little details.. Just pick the right side derrty so you don’t go back a level..

Anonymous said...

Well written, and very knowledgable. I agree with the writer's thesis.

Anonymous said...

The author of the article claims to have made arguments for the impossibility of God. In order for any of his claims to have any merit, he must know the Christian God himself or at least what God was thinking. The author uses flawed logic to establish his point. I am not saying that God exists only that his article proves nothing.

The author unwittingly agues from personal incredulity - "I can't believe this is possible, so it can't be true." In other words, The author is asserting that a proposition must be wrong because he is (or claims to be) unable or unwilling to fully consider that it might be true, or is unwilling to believe evidence which does not support his preferred view. This is a common mistake when people try to debunk the unknown.

Lets examine his claims.

If God is perfect, there can be no disequilibrium. There is nothing he needs, nothing he desires, and nothing he must or will do. A God who is perfect does nothing except exist. A perfect creator God is impossible.

God is perfect.
God needed to create.
Desire is a need for something.
Perfection needs nothing.
Therefore
A perfect God can not exist.

Flaw in the argument. God needed to create. Is it possible that God wanted to create? "Man needs water, man wants beer."

Each one of his conclusions requires that he knows the intentions of the Christian God. Only people that believe in God can know of God's intentions. The writer is an atheist so how can he know of what he believes does not exist. "How can you know what a space aliens intentions are if you don't believe creatures from outer space exist."

A perfect God who creates imperfect humans is impossible.
Is it viable that God created imperfect humans because he wanted to?

The point remains: the presence of imperfections in the universe disproves the supposed perfection of its creator. God can only make perfect therefore why would he allow imperfection?
Why not?

A perfectly compassionate being who creates beings which he knows are doomed to suffer is impossible.
Again why not? Because its impossible is not an answer.

No just God would ever judge a man by his beliefs rather than his actions.
Why not? Because the author says so?

The Bible is supposedly God's perfect Word.
The Bible is based on the word of God but was written by man. Because you can point out inconsistencies in the Bible does not mean that the concept of a Christian God is flawed. It means man is. There were originally over 600 books in the Bible. Man only kept 66.

A God who knows the future is powerless to change it. An omniscient God who is all-powerful and free willed is impossible.
God knows the future. Man doesn't. Man can chose his path. God already knows the outcome. I don't see how the two concepts are mutually exclusive. "God has the scientist's view of the maze, man has the rats."

An omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect God who experiences emotion is impossible.
Because the author says so? Again, if his knowledge does not come from a personal relationship with God, where does it come from? Can you say false prophet?

Bottom line the belief in the Christian God is based on faith. Just because some don't have the faith does not mean God is made up. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Bl0wfish@blackplanet

.:webmaster:. said...

There are pink unicorns orbiting around a planet 8 million light years from ours.

What? I have no evidence of this?

Well, absence of evidence is not evidence of absense.

With that kind of logic, anonymous, anyone can believe anything at anytime for any reason and everyone is always right all the time about everything.

Show me your god, and I will believe.

Simple.

Until then, your god does not exist any more than do my flying, horned horses.

.:webmaster:. said...

God needed to create. Is it possible that God wanted to create? "Man needs water, man wants beer."

Why does man want beer? Because he is thirsty? Because he wants to feel good? Because he desires...

God has desires? Desires imply a lack of something. When people have desires that they want fulfilled, it means they lack satisfaction with what is. What in the world would this god of your lack so that he would desire anything?

.:webmaster:. said...

If God knows the future, then the future is set in stone. Nothing can change a future that is set in stone. Now, unless you want to say that God knows all the possible futures that could happen, Chad's argument is sound. You can't have a round square. Either the future is set, or it is not. If God already knows the future, then it is set, and even he can't change it. If he knows that he will change it, then that's the same thing as knowing a future that is set in stone.

Bottom line: When a believer is finally able to offer evidence that a god exists, faith will no longer be necessary.

boomSLANG said...

Let's see---anonymous/Bl0wfish claims that many points from the article are false, or at the least, inconclusive, because of the attempt to "debunk the unknown".

So in other words, "God's ways are unknown". This of course, is a common sound-bite response from believers, but interestingly in this case, someone who claims that they are "not saying God exists"---and even more interestingly, someone who in reference to the "omniscience" of "God", later makes this analogy: "God has the scientist's view of the maze, man has the rats."

"God has the scientist's view.." 'Nough said. Moreoever, there's a 3-inch thick handbook that supposedly delineates "God's ways" called the Holy Bible. So yes, it is the Christian who DOES claim to know "God's ways", so the article is a refutation based on that reference, which is the whole point.

Oh, and about the "rats in a maze"---when I think of how blatantly circular the Chrisitian argument is, I'm reminded of a rat on it's exercise wheel = )

Anonymous said...

The Bible is a book that starts with the awakening of good and evil. This is really a shoet version of the evolution story in which God is still the Creator. The difference is the time span and the fact that at one point in time, Ancient man and woman began to act freely from their pre-programmed automaton instincts. It's like a dog which never has to go to dog school to be a dog. They are born with the inert ability to be a dog. Well. guess what? We were once the same way. If you need proof of God's existence , then look at the existence of DE JA VU. The Creation is the Creator and It is always Creating. It is truly a Matrix that has universal laws. The Creator can never be reduced to a simple explanation. The Creator is, was and will be.

Anonymous said...

The Bible is a book that starts with the awakening of good and evil. This is really a shoet version of the evolution story in which God is still the Creator. The difference is the time span and the fact that at one point in time, Ancient man and woman began to act freely from their pre-programmed automaton instincts. It's like a dog which never has to go to dog school to be a dog. They are born with the inert ability to be a dog. Well. guess what? We were once the same way. If you need proof of God's existence , then look at the existence of DE JA VU. The Creation is the Creator and It is always Creating. It is truly a Matrix that has universal laws. The Creator can never be reduced to a simple explanation. The Creator is, was and will be.

Melissa said...

DE JA VU and DRUG USE?

It has been reported that certain recreational drugs increase the chances of déjà vu occurring in the user. Some pharmaceutical drugs, when taken together, have also been implicated in the cause of déjà vu. Taiminen and Jääskeläinen (2001) reported the case of an otherwise healthy male who started experiencing intense and recurrent sensations of déjà vu on taking the drugs amantadine and phenylpropanolamine together to relieve flu symptoms. He found the experience so interesting that he completed the full course of his treatment and reported it to the psychologists to write-up as a case study. Due to the dopaminergic action of the drugs and previous findings from electrode stimulation of the brain (e.g. Bancaud, Brunet-Bourgin, Chauvel, & Halgren, 1994), Taiminen and Jääskeläinen speculate that déjà vu occurs as a result of hyperdopaminergic action in the mesial temporal areas of the brain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_ja_vu

Kephra, does your creator have a name? How do you know this creator is THE creator of the Universe?

boomSLANG said...

"De ja vu" is NOT evidence for any deity.


(Holy shit!...I feel like I've posted this response before. There MUST be a creator!)

lol

CSI Addict said...

When Christians retort, "We cannot know the mind of God." I laugh. It's right there in tbe bible dimwit. Their bible tells them exactly what God was thinking and why he did what he did.

Therefore, I would not worship a God who knowingly created a place called hell.

20somethinggirl said...

You just summed up exactly how I feel. Bravo. I could not have said it better myself! I have always felt that suffering points to a creator who is not omnipotent and omnibenevolent. God could just as easily created mankind to be happy and fulfilled and all-good - and eliminate all suffering from the picture.