Proof that the Christian god cannot exist

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Cris, Jun 21, 2001.

  1. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Cole, hi,

    Time - I do not see how there could be a point where time did not occur or how anything could be considered outside of time and I don't think it is an issue where we cannot conceive of the concept. Rather, time is a basic property of existence. For anything said to exist in this universe including any potential gods, actions/events occur. Such events cause a change and for every change there will be a "before" condition and an "after" position. When something transitions from "before" to "after" it is time. We like to think of time in units of measure, seconds, hours, milliseconds, but these are merely tools we use to help us cope with time but they don't reflect the reality of time. Time has no minimal unit of measure. Time is simply a change of state, it is not an entity that exists or can be started or stopped, or manipulated. It is simply a basic component of existence. When we seem to measure time, we are instead measuring a span of state changes.

    What then do we mean by the past and the future? It is tempting to think of time as a dimension like distance, along which we can travel or measure, but this is an entirely false perspective. Time is not a dimension. The past is simply a history of state changes. The future is simply state changes that have yet to occur.

    The concept of God being outside of time has no meaning with the above understanding. If he can be said to exist and can cause events then time will have occurred.

    What then of omniscience and a knowledge of the future. I would suggest direct knowledge of future changes of state (time) is not possible since those changes will not have occurred. Could they be pre-determined? Possibly if all known variables that will cause state changes are known and fully understood. A god woud presumably have this ability.

    What of the idea that God creates the universe and can concurrently see all state changes from the start of the universe to the end? This follows from the previous point in that if he knows all the variables then he can predict the future perfectly. We can see the analogy in a computer program that is perfectly deterministic if all the input data is known beforehand.

    There is a distinction to be made though between direct knowledge of an event and the prediction of an event that has yet to occur. Technically the knowledge would not exist, however, in the case of a God with perfect knowledge of all variables then there would be no discernable difference.
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  3. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member


    Very good post. I would only point out that the relativity of simultaneity does not require that an eternal god be "outside of time", only experiencing a different relative rate of time.


    Units of measure of time are relative. One observer may experience a minute concurrent with another experiencing a year.
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Let's not forget that old Kurt lost his marbles eventually. Must have been the incompleteness theorems that did him in.
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  7. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member


    I am simply using the concept that omnipotence means no limitations, something Christians generally consider true.

    The Jehovahs Witnesses have created an entire cult around the absolute nature of the predictions given in revelations. I studied it with them for a while. Others otherwise believe in much of the prophetic aspects of the bible and what is to come and very much in the sense that God knows exactly what the future holds.

    Not really, but I remember my years as a Christian and the certainty expressed by my mentors the infallibility of God and hs complete power. I remember being told that if I ever consider something he cannot do then I will be wrong. I believe many Christians believe this exact same thing. Apologetic doctrine might well try to argue otherwise.

    I don't partcularly disagree with any of that. In fact my original intent of this thread was very much to explore that very essence of Omniscience vs free will with that level of Christians that were present in the forums at that time. Things have changed perhaps, and if I were to start again I'd likely take a differnt approach.

    I can believe that.

    You are assuming that because we perceive indeterminancy that an all powerful god would be similarly limited. Are we so certain of our knowledge that the events are truly indeterminant? I believe that in science in general no such conclusion would be stated with the certainty that you imply. Also, since a god has unimaginable supernatural abilities then I am not so sure it is reasonable to assume he is limted to the same extent as ourselves.

    You are again making the mistake that the limitations we perceive also apply to an Omnipotent god whoose abilities we can barely imagine. It is not a reasonable comparison.

    I believe I understand well enough, it is just that I believe you are making a huge leap that a god would be similary limited as ourselves. His non-physical nature for example puts him in an entirely unkwnown perspective that we cannot comprehend.

    I'll proceed on the basis that I do not believe that you can show that a god would be similarly restricted to the same degree as ourselves. If we are to assume he is capable of creating an entire universe then it is not reasonable to assume that he is limited to understanding variables compared to our still relatively primitive understanding of the laws of the universe.
  8. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member


    Interesting. I had an entire paragraph included on relativity but deleted it since it didn't effectively add to the argument. It still doesn't. Time is not about our units of measurement. States of change will still occur for all observers, how the rates differ in a relative manner is not relevant here.

    At least I don't think so.

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  9. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    Nietzsche too. Perhaps being brilliant just plain sucks too much.
  10. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    as you say, this universe has a structure we call time. As interesting as all this stuff is, I feel it is perhaps not an efficient use of said time to dig in to the various suppositions and ideas regarding the concepts building up to your "proof", as it really isn't necessary to my point about the faulty logic involved. It is just faster to skip ahead past all these what-ifs. So...
    It is a standard defining aspect of the God you are seeking to disprove here though, we must agree on that - please explain how this concept has no meaning, yet omniscience is a concept WITH meaning. I don't understand the substantive difference between the problem logic supposedly has in dealing with a timeless being that somehow relates itself to this universe, and the problem you propose logic has with an omniscient being. Would you say the concept of an omniscient being has meaning? I guess what i am asking is, how can a meaningless concept be used within a logical proof? Also, even if you WERE able to show that it follows that omniscience cannot be existent along with free-will, does anything more follow than the idea that God can't be omniscient in the sense you propose christianity proposes, and that the sect, or rather some of their key philosophical ideologists, were not quite accurate in their interpretation of the bible?

    I mean, let's skip past the whole "Omniscience is bad thinking" debate, and go straight to the "proof". The essence of your "proof" is that some people say things that don't make sense, so nothing can be true about anything else they have to say about God. Maybe they don't have a good grasp on omniscience?
    I mean here are some examples of God's omniscience -
    Isaiah 46:9 I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done. -
    Perhaps what is being said here is that God has some plans to perform some action at some point in what we consider the future, and God knows what they are, and also when things are going to be wrapped up. Does it say God knows all things?
    Psalm 139:4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
    Perhaps God is real smart, so God can know what you are going to say in the time it takes to go from your brain to your tongue, without having to wait for it to come out of your mouth.
    1 John 3:19-20 ...and he knows everything.
    That is? That was? That will be? I am not getting any clear picture here.

    I mean these christian apologists say jesus knew everything because he knew the temple would be destroyed. Perhaps that was one of the few future events in which God was going to purposefully intervene. I would suggest that even if God is all-present and providing rain to fall on the just and unjust every day, and being the light of the world and all that, God DOESN'T jump in and change human events much. If God does that, i think there is a lot of 'splaining to do as to what God chooses to do and not do each day among the many active changes God makes, in that scenario. I am surely not proposing that God doesn't know everything about the future, but I would definitely not say that the bible is perfectly clear on this subject. EDIT- i mean to say I don't know, not that i am not proposing the possibility. -

    You are also assuming the doctrine of inerrancy applies to the people who created this particular version of omniscience proposed, as if christians were all old school catholics and fundamentalists.
    So, yet another possibility is that even if you were to successfully get all the way to your end point, you would only show that only the POPE is an inerrant interpreter, and these other guys are not.

    So even just throwing the whole debate away and pretending you have made your point, have you admitted to the highly limited scope of your result yet? I think it would be better to approach this idea with a realistic view as to what you could do with your idea if it were proven, so as to put the debate back within the realms of logic. Like, bring the whole thing back down to earth and talk about one very well defined idea's validity or meaning. (although again, i am not sure why you think omniscience has more meaning than timelessness or whatever is the most appropriate word for that other aspect.)
  11. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Christians do not generally examine the question of impossible circumstances. As I said, Christians generally have vague notions about absolutes without any further thought, justified by the excuse of it being "beyond human understanding".

    Again, how can vague symbolism be considered absolute prediction? (See my earlier comments on absolutes in Christianity.)

    Depends on the sect, and may be a hasty generalization. "Complete power" is only maximal power. There is no more complete than the most possible. If you have a complete pie then you have the maximal amount of "a pie" possible. Did you accept this all on personal opinion or were you given scripture to support how you interpreted this? Also, were you a child at the time?

    Perhaps you spent too much time with Christians. You are making the same vague and grandiose assumptions of the "unimaginable". I would suggest you study science yourself if you are curious about the degree of certainty, as I am not likely to convince the skeptical on my word alone. A god would necessarily be limited by its own intent, so you would have to assume an intent nowhere advocated by Christians (deceiver god) to assume a god is not limited by its own designs.

    Again with the "beyond human understanding argument"? If you truly hold this position then you have no basis to argue, either way. I am using logic alone. No assumptions of a gods nature, physical or not. Simply that a god would be self-limiting by its own intent, assuming only your insistence that we grant the Christian notion which does not include a deceiver god.

    I already have. Precluding a deceiver god, it would be self-limiting by its own intent.

    But go right on believing that god is so awesome we could not possibly comprehend.

    Rates of change are physically relevant and demonstrable. A muon entering our atmosphere lives much longer that its lifetime has been measured in the lab. This is not because these muons are just "longer-lived", as physics is subject to the principle of relativity. Their time is actually slower than our own. In their own frame, they never live any long than in the lab.

    Hopefully that much is not "beyond understanding".
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Well, Friedrich went nuts from syphilis. Not sure where brilliance comes into this.
  13. cole grey Hi Valued Senior Member

    no, the syphilis was just helping him get there quicker, haha. Anyway...
  14. MLJHILTON Registered Member

    The Paradox Resolved

    This thread has been going on for a long time and I’m coming in quite late in the day, so forgive me if I’m touching on something that’s already been covered earlier. There are over 100 pages in this thread and I haven’t read them all, so I may be repeating what someone else has already said.

    Going back to the original proposition, that divine foreknowledge and free will are mutually exclusive: it was obvious to me at first sight that what you said made no sense, and I couldn’t understand why you were saying it, but I think I understand now. The problem is with your initial assumption, because the house you build is determined by the foundation you lay. Let me explain.

    Your basic assumption (and it is an assumption, not a proven fact) is that nothing exists except the material universe. If this is the case then you are quite right to say that free will is an illusion, because in a purely material universe the law of cause and effect means that everything that exists and every event that occurs can be traced directly back to the Big Bang. This, of course, includes everything that goes on inside my brain, including my thoughts, my emotions, and my decisions, all of which are manifestations of whatever is going on inside the atoms that make up my body. When you consider free will, from this materialist viewpoint, you are bound to conclude that free will is illusory.

    However, there is another possibility, which is the assumption that I do genuinely have a free will - that it is not an illusion, but it is real. Everything in my experience leads me towards this assumption. I can consider my options, come to a decision, and then act on that decision. I do this hundreds of times every day, from deciding whether or not to have a cup of tea, to deciding whether to ask my girlfriend to marry me. (No, I don’t do that last one every day!) And if my free will is genuine, not an illusion, and free will in a purely material universe is impossible, then there must be something else, something that is not a part of this Big Bang universe, that gives me the power to have a free will.

    It is this insight, or something akin to it, that has sent billions of men and women throughout the ages on their quest for truth – their quest for God.

    So, if my free will is genuine then there must be a non-material power that is able to endue me with free will; and it is reasonable to assume that that power also has free will, and must therefore be a living intelligent being, but one that is not a part of this Big Bang universe. In short, there must be a God.

    Now, let’s have a look at your paradox. If God knows beforehand what decisions I am going to make, then He must have predetermined those decisions, therefore my will is not free. But if my will is free, He cannot know what decisions I am going to make, therefore He does not have foreknowledge.

    This is where your house has been predetermined by your foundation. If your initial assumption is correct, that there is nothing apart from the material universe, which implies that if there is a god, that god must also be a part of that material universe, then your conclusion is perfectly logical. But what if you are wrong? What if there is something beyond the material? What if my assumption is correct: that my free will is genuine, that there really is a God who is not a part of this universe, and who is therefore not limited to my human one-dimensional experience of time? To me, and billions like me, this concept is not only totally obvious but also presents no intellectual difficulty whatsoever. You are unable to see it because at some point in your life you have chosen (and I emphasise, you have chosen) to restrict your view of reality to the material universe.

    How you see the world and what you believe in are determined by your basic assumptions. There is an unfortunate tendency among atheists to believe that their worldview is the only rational one, and that those who disagree with them are deluded. Perhaps if they took a moment to stand where others stand and to see as others see, they might take a different view.

    “Two men looked through prison bars. One saw darkness – one saw stars”.

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