Chapter 7: Possibility of Existence
Section I: Introduction
Through the length of this work, I have only examined the evidences for a god or a form of supernaturality. I criticized the claim that we may know a god or a form of supernaturality - or anything, for that matter - through the concept of Faith. Some claimed that the Universe is itself proof of a creator, and I criticized that claim. Other refutations include the argument from religious experience; however, the argument from religious experience failed in that religious experiences can be reproduced without supernaturality through drugs, hypnosis, and other methods. The argument from miracles, prophecy, and revelation was much in error just as the argument of design and creation: they are based on the ignorance of the workings of the natural world. I have only refuted these evidences for a god or a form of supernaturality. If someone claimed that they believed in the existence of a god or a form of supernaturality through a particular reason, and I answered why such a particular reason was insufficient, then it would be reasonable to drop belief in said form of supernaturality. However, even so, I have not yet answered the possibility of the existence of a god or supernaturality; I have only discredited the most commonly used reasons for the existence of a form of supernaturality. The only reason that we rely on proof and evidence is that proof and evidence have consistently been the best method for accurately finding the truth. It is certainly possible that a person could murder the a person without any evidence being left behind at all and a jury could find them innocent, even though they did kill that person. The same is with our situation: even though there is no valid evidence for a form of supernaturality, just what is the possibility of the existence of a form of supernaturality? Some will claim that this is the difference between an Atheist and an Agnostic, one completely ruling out the possibility of a god whereas the other accepts some sort of possibility of a god; however, already examined both terms of Atheist and Agnostic and find no intrinsic difference. It is this idea - the possibility of existence - that I shall now examine.
Section II: Epistemological Inferences
Epistemology, the study of how we know what we know, is absolutely important to the question of knowing whether a god could exist or not. Well, if we are not allowed to use Faith as a form of Epistemology - in that Faith can justify Santa Claus equally to justifying a god, as well as inconsistencies by using Faith compared to the natural Universe - then what would be a good method for attaining knowledge? I think that using the concept of reason, instead of Faith, to gain knowledge is much more accurate. To gain knowledge, we must base a belief on evidence, make sure that the belief is not contradictory, and make sure that it does not contradict previously confirmed beliefs. Beliefs that do not meet any or all of these specifications cannot sincerely be labeled as adequate knowledge.
If knowledge and reason can justify a belief in degrees through these three points (evidence, consistency, and not contradicting previous facts), then is there any possibility to know if it is impossible for a being to exist? Impossible, in the sense that I use it, means that there is absolutely no way that something could exist or could have happened. There certainly is a way for determining if something is impossible. The laws of Logic dictate what form truth may take. If something does not abide by these laws of Logic, then it cannot exist. The first of the three laws of Logic is the Law of Identity. The law states...
The Law of Identity states that something is itself and nothing else. It may appear to be common sense to most, but it is imperative that the laws of Logic be identified, as they are important to our understanding of the natural Universe. An example of this law in usage would be to state, "A car is a car; a car is not a dog." The second law of the threes laws of Logic is the Law of Excluded Middle. The law states...
The Law of Excluded Middle states that there is no middle ground between possibilities. Someone either exists or they do not exist. Someone is either running or they are not running. A house is either green or it is not green. These are things that the Law of Excluded Middle is imperative on. The third and last law of the three laws of Logic is the Law of Contradiction...
The Law of Contradiction is sometimes referred to as the Law of Non-Contradiction. An example of a contradiction would be a live corpse. The contradiction is that a corpse is not live and something that is live is not a corpse. One may argue quickly that this is a form of semantics, or arguing words, but it is not so. Instead of saying "live corpse," I could say "something that is alive, but is not alive." I am arguing concept, not words. These things - these contradictions - are simply impossible. Other examples of contradictions may be a married bachelor, a square circle, or a false truth. The Law of Identity, the Law of Excluded Middle, and the Law of Contradiction or the three laws of Logic and can be used to rule out or rule in possibilities.
In regards to the existence of a god or any other form of supernaturality, it all depends on definitions. In chapter one, I defined god as a supernatural being of immense power who is responsible for creating this Universe. However, there are other definitions. This leads us to one of the most highly debated part of the god-question: linguistics. Many people will argue what words mean and others will argue for particular attributes of god. The Pantheists believe that god is all and the Christians believe that god is Jesus Christ as prophesied by the Old Testament. The Muslims believe that god is Allah as revealed through the Qur'an and the Jainists do not believe in a god at all; the Jainists believe in various forms of supernaturality. It is all based on what we define a god as and it is necessary for us to accurately examine these definitions. The primary religions in the West, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, are all based on lengthy works. Christianity is based on the Old Testament and the New Testament. Judaism is based on the Old Testament. And Islam is based on the Old Testament and the Qur'an. All volumes being exceedingly large, I would assume that to find contradictions between the obscure and profane verses would not be at all a difficult job. However, there are Open Theists who do not believe any religious scripture but only believe in a type of a god.
Many of the liberal theologians define god as love, affection, or compassion, not as any physical being. Although this makes any Atheist frustrated by trying to debate a Theist, it is not necessarily a flaw. If one defines god as love or affection, then it may suffer from the Law of Identity. Love is love and god is god; love being associated as an animal emotion and god being associated as a supernatural being. "Love" is usually attributed with characteristics of compassion and affection whereas a "god" is usually attributed to some sort of mystical, supernatural being. The argument from there on delves into definitions of words to fit whatever religion. It is good, though, in my opinion that many liberal theologians have a loving deity rather than the cruel one portrayed in the Bible. To quote Thomas Paine...
Lev Nik Tolstoy (1828-1910) is known as perhaps the most notable author of the 1800's. Although he was an author, he also did much political and philosophical work. He wrote My Confession and Critique of Dogmatic Theology; in both works he criticized currently standing religious dogmas. He criticized the priests and aristocracy, as well as their inaction to the current problems plaguing Russia. He is also held as the father of Christian Anarchism, a concept based on acting like Christ and resisting oppressive government. In his book Where Love Is God Is, there is a story of "Martin the Cobbler;" it is about a cobbler who encounters various persons as well as dilemmas within his village and discovers that god is within all of them. Although not anything important in the context of today, it was significantly different from the other theologians' depictions of the cruel, brutal, and damning god of the Bible. In fact, it was his opinion of religion and what god is that was the cause of him for getting excommunicated. The decree that they excommunicated him with stated...
Tolstoy, however, was a compassionate and warm being. In a book by Henry Stephens Salt, Salt notes on some recent news about Tolstoy..
Robert Green Ingersoll, the Great Agnostic that was around at the same time as Tolstoy, also noted on the character of Tolstoy To quote him...
The words of Lev Tolstoy tell his story better than those who talk of him. To quote Tolstoy..
Lev Tolstoy was not bent on instilling the fear of hell onto people and his compassion for animals was endless, as he did not eat them. I am simply giving a bit of history on a particular manifestation of the concept that "god is love." There are certainly many other depictions of what exactly god is, some ranging from a cruel and vindictive being as Paine stated and some loving and warm and many liberal theologians believe. If god is simply defined as love and nothing else, then I certainly believe in the existence of it.
Some define god as omnipotent or capable of doing anything. This definition is flawed right from the beginning. If god may be able to do anything, can he make a rock so heavy that he cannot pick it up? If he can, then he is limited in some way. If he can't, then he is still limited in some way. This question can also be rephrased. Can god make a picture so small that he cannot see it? Can god make a whisper so soft that even he cannot hear it? These are all things that if god cannot do, then he is not omnipotent, and if god can do them, then he cannot exist, as he breaks the laws of Logic. There are arguments that defend the omnipotence of this god. One argument claims that while god is omnipotent, he may switch from the position of being able to pick up the rock and then not being able to pick up the rock, thus fulfilling the question "Can god make a rock so heavy that he cannot pick it up and still be omnipotent?" However, if someone can pick up a rock, then they can. If they cannot, then they cannot. That is the Law of Excluded Middle. You either are, or you are not. There is not "switching," and even if "switching" was a justifiable method for excusing god from the question, may god make a rock so heavy that he cannot pick it up and still be omnipotent without "switching?" Even beyond that, can god make a married bachelor, a live corpse, a false truth? In fact, I could simply ask if god could break one of the laws of Logic and if he could not, then he is not omnipotent, and if he could, then he's not real. This is the reason why I did not define god as omnipotent. The obvious contradictions flowing from that one description are countless. There are those who may argue that the god does not want to break the laws of Logic, but this is not a question of desire, but of capability. It would work wonders for the modern theological movement if they did not define god as omnipotent, but simply as immensely powerful.
Another thing to contemplate in regards to the possibility of a god, is whether or not this god is defined is a benevolent or kind being. If this god is benevolent or loving, then certain things must be taken into account, such as the condition of the world being full of many evils and the blatant failure of this god to answer prayers. One could claim that there is a god and a devil of equal power that are fighting against each other, thus the result of lacking prevention of evil and the lack of answering prayers. Or, perhaps, there is a god who cares not at all about the workings of us animals on this planet and will not interfere for any reason. These are all things that we must take into consideration when we are defining this god and then weighing whether or not it is possible for it to exist. Surely, there is no evidence for a supernatural being or any particular form of supernaturality. However, in regards to the laws of Logic, if a concept - supernatural or not - breaks any of the laws of Logic, it cannot possibly exist in the realm of reality. To argue that anything could exist that breaks the laws of Logic is to leave the question of "Does a god exist?" and to argue epistemology, or how we can know knowledge. The only way that an omnipotent god could exist is by someone legitimately arguing against the laws of Logic as a proper and accurate form of epistemology.
Section III: A Guiding Rule
Now that the foundation for the prospects of the possibility impossibility of a god have been laid down, just how possible is it for a god to exist? Considering that the concept of a god or a form of supernaturality follow all the laws of Logic required, it is possible that this god could exist. How probable exactly is the possibility of a god existing?
God, considering he follows the three laws of Logic, could exist. He could exist just as much as a planet in space that reads "GOD." This is possible, as planets are cut and formed by asteroids and meteors in space that creates line on the surface of the planet. The lines much of the time may be nonsensical and will just appear to be lines. However, possibly the lines may be formed randomly and create a letter or a word. It is possible, however unlikely; it is to be noted that it is possible. It is simply possible that these things could exist. That is the guiding rule. Possible, yet unlikely. It is certainly possible that there may be advanced extraterrestrial races outside of our galaxy that could appear as gods, if we defined "god" as an immensely powerful being, but in no way would they be supernatural, or beyond nature. There is certainly no proof of a god as of yet, if the traditional religious description of a god is how we define god, so it would be reasonable not to believe in this god until proof is brought. Surely, we would not believe anything until there was a reason to believe in it. In regards to the supernatural, I see no reason at all to believe in it, and all the evidences brought forward for supernaturality are invalid. Yet, even though we do not hold belief in the existence of a logically consistent god, it does not mean that it is impossible for this god not to exist (as long is the concept of this god follows all the laws of Logic as they stand).
Similarly, in regards to immortality, there is no reason to assume that we will live forever. When we drop a book and it falls to the ground, do we - our ought we - assume that it slips into and out of another dimension? Certainly not, although it is simply possible for it to do so without notice. Furthermore, when someone dies and falls to the ground, should we assume that this person has left the physical world and has entered eternal heaven or eternal damnation? It would not be reasonable to assume as such. It is possible that a book could slip into and out of another dimension when dropped, just as an animal's "soul" could slip into heaven or hell at the moment of its death. However, it is unlikely and certainly unproven. There is also the dilemma that neuro-science has identified consciousness being processed by the brain. When an animal dies, its bodily functions of consciousness, respiration, digestion, and other functions of the body will cease. The consciousness, the true part of who we as animals are, ends. Until a religion can explain how the consciousness is truly dead at the death of the body and how there may be an afterlife, I can be rest assured that there is no such thing as an afterlife. I believe in life before death and life after birth, and nothing else.
Section IV: God - The Idea
It is certainly important to note on the only existence of god. God exists, yes, but only as an idea. Some may argue that by talking about a god, I therefore confirm the existence of a god. However, this is not so. I could talk and discuss the concepts of Santa Claus perfectly well without confirming his existence. This argument stems from the philosophy of Ontology, or the belief that to define something is to prove something. This, however, is certainly not so, and well demonstrated by the Santa Claus example. However, it is good to note that god exists and no more than an idea. He exists just as Communism, Nationalism, and Democracy exist, as they are simply ideas.
Section V: Conclusion
In regards to the possibility of the existence of a god, it is based primarily on the definition that we apply to this god. The definition of this god must not be inconsistent with the laws of Logic or reality. A benevolent god, for example, would not allow evil to exist and therefore cannot possibly exist. The definition of a god must not break any of the laws of Logic discussed. The Law of Identity, the Law of Excluded Middle, and the Law of Contradiction make up the laws of Logic. Some redefine god to entirely unconventional standards, such as Pantheism which claims that god is everything and such as the religion of liberal theologians, which is based on god being a loving being. Some even take it even further to claim that god is simply love, and to believe in the mental emotion of love is to believe in god. The possibility of the existence of a god is based primarily on the definition that we apply to this god. The definition of omnipotence creates contradiction, and therefore no being can be omnipotent. To argue that a god - or that any being, supernatural or natural - can be in contradiction of terms is to argue a point of Epistemology. The guiding rule to the possibility of god is clear - it is certainly possible for a sort of traditional god to exist, but it is possible for anything obscure exist, as long as it coincides with the laws of Logic. There could be a planet that reads "GOD" on its surface just like there could be a god. However, through this work I have analyzed and criticized all of the evidences for this god, rendering the concept of supernaturality as undeserving of belief, although in this chapter concluding that this god may possibly exist. Immortality through consciousness is flawed, as consciousness is produced through the brain and when the brain is dead, there is no consciousness. Unless science is flawed in this area of consciousness and how it is produced, then we see no reason to believe that there is a life after death. There is life after birth and life before death; nothing else. Finally, god does exist as an idea, but no more than the idea of Socialism, Hinduism, or Monarchy. They are all ideas, similar to the idea of god, and they are no more proven, tangible objects than god or supernaturality is.
1. Logic: An Introduction, by Lionel Ruby (Chicago: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1950), page 262.