Shane Dowling : The problem with God arguments

Atheists and theists alike have for centuries attempted to debate the existence of God, desperately trying to reason out a conclusive answer. The reality of this struck me while I was reading a series of MIT lectures notes on arguments for and against the existence of God.

The lecture notes are very well written(so well written in fact the lazy student in me probably wouldn't have bothered going to the lectures, if I had the pleasure of taking the course in question). The course does a decent job of explaining concepts such as deductive and inductive reasons and a few other philosophical instruments, but this isn't the source of my concern.

question grates on whenever I hear it. Lets take a small village in England, a shopkeeper has just been murdered and a crowd has formed around the scene of the crime. The police chief arrives sirens blaring, barges through the crowd, quickly scans the situation and declares "Did Mayor Dave do it!?". Everyone sighs, the Mayor is always blamed in such cases. No-one remembers why the Mayor is blamed, it's just what's done. The police chief along with his detectives then spend night and day logically deducing if Mayor Dave is in fact the culprit. They always come up short.

The obvious problem here is the police chief has taken the entirely wrong approach, simply by asking the wrong question. I hope you know where I'm going here, but the obvious alternative is instead to declare "Lets look at the evidence and follow where it takes us". Why is this approach not the same for the creation of existence? Why have we taken only one, just one of the infinite amount of concepts, entities, processes, whatever and decided to blow all our time reasoning about this perfect being? A giant dragon by the name of Bill created the universe, discuss. Why is this not getting the equilavent levels of academic debate as Did God do it?

The pointlessness of these discussions hit me when the MIT lecture notes went into detail on the specifics of what theists and atheists are reasoning about. Theists say God is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Good(OOG), then the atheists spend time arguing that if this is the case you can infer(eventually) that because there is evil God must not exist. The theists respond with, ah but if the evils that occur were always outweighed by the future good generated by the original evil act(and this is guaranteed by God), then in essence the overall good is maintained. My counter point here would be, if God guarantees all evils are outdone by future good, isn't it our moral obligation to always be evil? But, I'm not going to be sucked into this rubbish debate. The atheists have lost even by stepping into the playing field. I think we've all forgotten that invention of God(I'm going back as far as Dionysus here), was infact to counter a sensible lifestyle, to say screw you to logic and reason and let emotions run wild. Two thousand years later and we've forgotten this, blowing valid time reasoning about effectively an emotional revolt against reason. Let the theists produce all the reasoned arguments they can think of for God and when the exact same argument doesn't just as validly apply to Bill the giant Dragon or the Flying Spaghetti Monster I'll step up and listen.

Until then I applaud science and philosophers for at least attempting to produce valid reasons for the existence of the world around us. It's an incredibly slow process, but at least it's in the right direction. One that's lately caught my attention is the `Anthropic principle.