Can God be proven to be likely to atheists

bless life

New member
I was raised in the Catholic Church but since the age of about 12 I have fallen away as the narrative the Church told about the world and how it came into existence ceased to match with what I learned in science class. Now as I age and read more, I think I have finally found the argument for belief in God in of all places a philosophy book by a declared atheist (David Deutsch). I propose in this post to outline his theory and the inevitable consequence that there is a benevolent God.

Deutsch makes a number of assertions at the beginning of his argument that seem self-evident to non-religious people but may give people here some challenge.
1. We are products of evolution. Evolution is the primary driver of change in the world we experience
2. Science is the best way we have to understand reality, but it is only 500 years old, we are still at the very beginning
3. We have no idea about the size of the universe, either outward (beyond 50b light years or so), on inward (below the Planck scale)
4. The universe is full of complex patterns (of which we are one), we will NEVER get to the end of discovering new and more complex patterns.

Deutsch then asks a strange question: "Is there such a thing as objective beauty". What he means by that is that if aliens arrived and looked at the things we described as beautiful would they agree?

One example of beauty is a beautiful woman, another is a piece of ripe fruit. Deutsch argues that these are not examples of objective beauty, we find these things beautiful because they are evolutionarily adaptive. Female beauty is correlated to youth, clean skin & bright eyes (no diseases), waist to hip ratios (reproductive ability). Women who look like this will reproduce more easily and will likely have more children. Evolution will select for them and for men who like women with these characteristics. The piece of fruit is the same. Deutsch calls this subjective beauty, it is subjective because it is not inherent in the universe, it is an emergent property which sustains the species. Dung beetles will find turds beautiful, lions will find injured gazelles beautiful. For subjective beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder -- or the beholder species.

Deutsch then asks about flowers. Why do we find flowers beautiful? Flowers pay no part in supporting our evolutionary success. We cannot eat them, they can be used as part of human courtship rituals but why flowers and not say twigs? Deutsch then makes an interesting move. He declares that beauty is that which attracts. For subjective beauty, the attraction fits within the evolutionary development of the organism, but objective beauty must be generally attractive apart from any evolutionary benefit. Flowers evolved for plants to attract insects to spread their pollen. This was a hard problem for evolution to solve. Plants and insects were very different to each other, they had no subjective beauty "standards" that they could develop to attract each other, they needed to start from scratch. The evolutionary process went to work to look for some kind of attractor that could attract insects. Evolution does not have a mind, it is searching in the same way a fire searches for material near by to burn, and it tends to find the closest solution in the same way fire finds the closest fuel. The closest attractive object that would work for flowers was something that was inherently attractive, that is something that had characteristics of beauty that were not evolutionary, but where the beauty was already there in the universe. This is also the reason that we find flowers beautiful, we are discovering something that is really out there and apart from us.

So if there is an objective beauty, what about morality? Morality is a way for organisms to interact with each other in "better" ways. The problem is we don't really know what better means? We do have morality that fits tightly with our evolutionary programming -- so we protect babies and will act to punish transgressors even to our own cost. But as an analogy with subjective beauty, this is a more subjective morality. Subjective morality is valuable, it is probably most of what we work with in religions and societies today. But is there a morality analogous objective beauty? Morality can be considered as a particular form of beauty, it is a beauty in the interaction of organisms. So logically if there is objective beauty, there must be objective morality -- even if we cannot yet tease subjective and objective apart yet.

We come then to Deutschs other claim. We are at the very beginning of humanity journey of discovery. We have only have had any type of science for about 500 years and the rate of discoveries is speeding up rather than slowing down. Everywhere we look there are new patterns and they are more intricate and more beautiful than anyone has thought. Why would that ever increasing level of complexity ever stop? Deutsch gives a good argument that it will not (his book is called "the beginning of infinity") That then implies that there is an infinite level of complexity in the objective morality that is "out there".

What is an infinite level of objective morality if not God?

I believe that the world needs considered theology that is grounded in modern science and philosophy more than ever. Theology should not be the diminishing eddy current in the community of ideas -- it should be moving to the centre. God is a serious business!
 
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Idolater

"Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan..."
You can't ground God in anything, all things are grounded in Him. Philosophy's thousands of years old, as old as God's first appearance in history anyway, seems that language and philosophy and God all appeared around the same time. We might call that the time of creation. It's unlikely that a place such as earth would be so matched and mated so perfectly just by sheer chance.

And I don't mean the odds of this occurring naturally are long odds, I mean, they are long odds, subjected to long odds raised to the power of long odds and taking the long odds factorial somehow, and then subjecting that whole ball of wax to longer odds than even that. And then that's just the start of what atheist evolutionary nihilist cosmologists say occurred naturally to produce this earth for us, situated perfectly in its own solar system with its own sun, so safely far away from all the other stars out there, and galaxies. That seed was then subjected to even further and longer long odds, where the prototypical long odds "million-to-one shot" is replaced with a million raised to the power of a million, all raised to the power of a trillion raised to the power of another trillion, to one. And then we're supposed to believe that things like this happened, over and over and over and over again, and if we resist, we're called irrational, because instead we believe in the also unlikely God theory, where instead of "nature" causing preposterously long odds to occur, God intervenes and makes them occur, on purpose, with deliberation and skill and wisdom.

The God theory is far and away the more likely notion. It's head-and-shoulders above atheism in terms of probability. Anybody who denies this is just pushing their own personal preference (there's zero evidence consistent with atheism that is also necessarily inconsistent with God being real). Besides science---philosophy with measurements---even has a name for God: nonlocal hidden variable. Science is honest enough to tell us that short of God being real, the universe is elementally categorical aka quantized, and not continuous, and this conflicts with all of ours direct personal experience of the world. It's continuous. So therefore God is real.

And re: objective morality, our God-given and absolute human rights are moral. "Subjective morality" I call ethics, objective morality is basically a question of whether it's against the law.
 

bless life

New member
You lost me with your very first sentence. Saying all things are grounded in God as your axiomatic basis leads to the next question "so can you point to him?". You can't point to God any more than you can point to an electron. All things might be grounded in God or God might be an emergent property of the universe. But it is on you to prove the existence of God in a world which has a well founded explanation of the physical world and has delivered all sorts of wonders such as the internet on which we are having this exchange. Where theology gets lost today is in ignoring the scientific worldview and therefore essentially giving up on God as a rational explanation for the vast majority of thinking people.

You also said "Language, philosophy and God all appeared at the same time" -- I really don't understand what you are saying here. It is just so divergent from everything we know about the universe.

Ethics and law are probably mostly based on subjective morality. It is hard to tease objective morality out from the moral maze -- but a worthwhile project I believe.
 

Idolater

"Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan..."
You lost me with your very first sentence. Saying all things are grounded in God as your axiomatic basis leads to the next question "so can you point to him?".
It's not axiomatic, but it's also not just granting the alternative either, it's definitional or semantic or grammatical. If God is real, which is one of the two options, then naturally all things are grounded in God. Your post is an argument that God is real, so why are you granting the opposition's position? Incongruent.
You can't point to God any more than you can point to an electron. All things might be grounded in God or God might be an emergent property of the universe. But it is on you to prove the existence of God in a world which has a well founded explanation of the physical world and has delivered all sorts of wonders such as the internet on which we are having this exchange.
Either you did not read what I wrote about the probabilities necessarily involved in what you're calling "a well founded explanation", or it went over your head.
Where theology gets lost today is in ignoring the scientific worldview and therefore essentially giving up on God as a rational explanation for the vast majority of thinking people.
Theology is lost because it has ignored the bishops.
You also said "Language, philosophy and God all appeared at the same time" -- I really don't understand what you are saying here. It is just so divergent from everything we know about the universe.
Give or take a millennium or two it's not wrong. You have some idea that it's not true? We're talking about atheistic cosmologies that deal in something called "billions of years" which also can't be pointed to.
Ethics and law are probably mostly based on subjective morality. It is hard to tease objective morality out from the moral maze -- but a worthwhile project I believe.
You think the laws protecting the rights against being murdered, raped and falsely testified against in a court of law, are based on subjective morality? You don't think that those rights are objectively real and absolute?
 

bless life

New member
Science and the scientific worldview is not "the opposition". Humans are curious entities, we explore and try to explain the world. Science is our best way of doing that. Basing an argument on God at the beginning when he/she/it cannot be directly detected just loses people. Science can explain everything around you -- literally everything. But what is around you is not all of reality, the universe is a big, big place. Unless theology goes with what is known and positions its arguments in that context, it is just irrelevant. I am trying to start a discourse with science not against it.

Your last sentence on ethics and law do not address the distinction I make between subjective and objective morality. I did not say that subjective morality was not useful, in fact the opposite. However, until we find a way to see objective morality which stands apart from evolution, the real modern conversation about who we are and where we are going will ignore us.
 

Idolater

"Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan..."
Science and the scientific worldview is not "the opposition".
I never invoked "scientific worldview", just atheism, which is the opposition to the God theory.
Humans are curious entities, we explore and try to explain the world. Science is our best way of doing that. Basing an argument on God at the beginning when he/she/it cannot be directly detected just loses people.
Nobody did that. I just didn't suppose that God is not real, which is what you're suggesting here is the right way to argue.
Science can explain everything around you -- literally everything.
With clown-like slapstick improbabilities, of course---who couldn't do that? And what I mean is, the very existence of the earth and all of our species is astoundingly and inconceivably unlikely, and this is twice now that you're not addressing these improbabilities. The competition is between the improbability of God being real, vs. the improbability of all that atheistic cosmologists and evolutionists say happened being real. All things considered the more reasonable position is the God theory.
But what is around you is not all of reality, the universe is a big, big place. Unless theology goes with what is known and positions its arguments in that context, it is just irrelevant. I am trying to start a discourse with science not against it.
And I'm telling you that you're beginning by granting atheism their position, for no purpose. But regardless, let's just say that you're stubbornly insistent upon your tack here and you do just begin by granting atheism, or by granting that we can't point to God (even though that begs the question, since we can just point all around us at all that He created as certain proof of Him, just for starters, but you went ahead and granted atheism to start): so now examine the evidence consistent with the Resurrection of Christ, and the total lack of evidence inconsistent with it actually occurring. If that happened, if that was real, then that's proof positive of God being real, I've encountered one interlocutor who wouldn't grant that, he or she or neither he nor she wanted to argue that He could have resurrected without God being real---some people are just so stubborn. Stubborn rebels without a cause. So if you insist on granting atheism right from the outset, then I'm going to point to the case for Christ's Resurrection to argue that that presupposition is wrong, because the Resurrection couldn't have occurred without God being real, and if the Resurrection is a fact of history then God is definitely real.
Your last sentence on ethics and law do not address the distinction I make between subjective and objective morality. I did not say that subjective morality was not useful, in fact the opposite. However, until we find a way to see objective morality which stands apart from evolution, the real modern conversation about who we are and where we are going will ignore us.
I repeat: You think the laws protecting the rights against being murdered, raped and falsely testified against in a court of law, are based on subjective morality? You don't think that those rights are objectively real and absolute (and now I'll add "apart from evolution")?
 

bless life

New member
We are not having a real conversation here. I think it is because you are starting with the premise that it is obvious that God exists. For me that is not obvious at all and for a large portion of my life looked extremely unlikely. So when you get into arguments about the earth and our civilisation being extremely unlikely without a creator and say that "Science can explain everything with clownlike, slapstick improbabilities" we go into a discussion where you will start to challenge settled science and I will just get frustrated with you.

The conversation I want to have is to ground theology in the modern world. I want to grant scientific atheists all of settled modern science and STILL there is an argument for God.

I appreciate that 99.9% of theology today is about interpreting ancient books and then trying to design appropriate modern behavior from them. I am not part of that conversation.
 

Eric h

Well-known member
I am all for science, but can science explain how the universe came to be purely by natural causes?

Can science prove how life came from no life purely by natural causes?

Can science explain how the eye and the skeletal system evolved purely by natural causes?
 

Idolater

"Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan..."
We are not having a real conversation here.
This is a real conversation, it is just one where you don't feel that it's going well for you because I won't just grant what you're saying. So you need to adjust, if you want the conversation to be constructive instead of just you insisting that I just accept what you're putting forth.
I think it is because you are starting with the premise that it is obvious that God exists.
That's just false. I'm not starting with the premise that He exists, but I'm also not starting with the premise that He does not exist, and you can't tell the difference between that and "starting with the premise that it is obvious that God exists", which is why your experience of this conversation is negative.
For me that is not obvious at all and for a large portion of my life looked extremely unlikely. So when you get into arguments about the earth and our civilisation being extremely unlikely
I never said anything about our civilization.
without a creator
It's extremely unlikely period. And this is science talking, not me.
and say that "Science can explain everything with clownlike, slapstick improbabilities" we go into a discussion where you will start to challenge settled science and I will just get frustrated with you.
I do not challenge settled science. You might be surprised what settled science is and what it is not however. For example, that "billions of years" is a thing, is not settled science. Nobody's ever seen "billions of years", and we have no way of showing or demonstrating that "billions of years" is real.
The conversation I want to have is to ground theology in the modern world.
Why would, or how would you go about doing it, you ground theology, the study of God, in whatever it is that you mean by "the modern world"?
I want to grant scientific atheists all of settled modern science and STILL there is an argument for God.
I did that. It's through the Resurrection of Christ being an historical fact.
I appreciate that 99.9% of theology today is about interpreting ancient books and then trying to design appropriate modern behavior from them. I am not part of that conversation.
Perhaps that's what it is outside of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, comprising near two-thirds of Christianity, but within that near two-thirds of Christianity, "99.9% of theology" is listening to what the bishops say that the Apostles taught about God; about faith /doctrine and morals /ethics.
 

Idolater

"Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan..."
I am all for science, but can science explain how the universe came to be purely by natural causes?

Can science prove how life came from no life purely by natural causes?

Can science explain how the eye and the skeletal system evolved purely by natural causes?
Yes, it can, with extremely unlikely events happening, all by chance, and all happening one after another after another after another, each one extremely unlikely, and the whole chain of them strung together being the most preposterous improbability that could be imagined.

There's nonfiction, there's realistic fiction, there's fairytale or fantasy genre fiction, and then there's atheistic cosmology and evolution---this is a scale going from certainty to improbability.
 

bless life

New member
I am all for science, but can science explain how the universe came to be purely by natural causes?

Can science prove how life came from no life purely by natural causes?

Can science explain how the eye and the skeletal system evolved purely by natural causes?
Science can explain the 2nd two pretty completely, there is not much dispute. The source of the big bang is not explained, but a creator seems a very complicated way of getting there and most people think it seems less likely.
 

bless life

New member
This is a real conversation, it is just one where you don't feel that it's going well for you because I won't just grant what you're saying. So you need to adjust, if you want the conversation to be constructive instead of just you insisting that I just accept what you're putting forth.

That's just false. I'm not starting with the premise that He exists, but I'm also not starting with the premise that He does not exist, and you can't tell the difference between that and "starting with the premise that it is obvious that God exists", which is why your experience of this conversation is negative.

I never said anything about our civilization.

It's extremely unlikely period. And this is science talking, not me.

I do not challenge settled science. You might be surprised what settled science is and what it is not however. For example, that "billions of years" is a thing, is not settled science. Nobody's ever seen "billions of years", and we have no way of showing or demonstrating that "billions of years" is real.

Why would, or how would you go about doing it, you ground theology, the study of God, in whatever it is that you mean by "the modern world"?

I did that. It's through the Resurrection of Christ being an historical fact.

Perhaps that's what it is outside of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, comprising near two-thirds of Christianity, but within that near two-thirds of Christianity, "99.9% of theology" is listening to what the bishops say that the Apostles taught about God; about faith /doctrine and morals /ethics.
I a just starting with the cartesian proposition "I think therefore I am". That's where modern science started. Progress from then has proceeded on the basis that someone has an idea about things are, they suggest an experiment on the basis of their prediction and then others test it. If you make a prediction that God exists, then you need an argument to prove that. It is not good enough to say "it seems self evident to me".

You say no-one has seen billions of year. I would say no-one has seen anything. EM radiation hits your eyes and are then changed to electrical signals in your optic nerve which are then processed to construct an "image" in your head. All your thoughts are constructions -- there is nothing "natural" about any of it.

I was brought up a Catholic and so were many of my friends, no-one believes that what the bishops say is an authoritative source of reality. That is not to say they are not good men -- I think they are. But their comment on how the world is put together is uninformed.
 

Bradley D

Well-known member
Science is largely theory and opinion with bits and pieces of facts. I was dying in my barracks room of heart failure in my sleep due to alcoholism (fact). I awoke and felt my heart beating very fast. I started to fall asleep when a voice within told me "if you fall back asleep, you will not wake up." I took that to mean I would die in my sleep. I got up and was wondering what to do. I was afraid to leave the barracks room. I thought I will just wait till someone comes in the morning and knock on the door. That inner voice came back again and told me, "get to a hospital now!" I left the room, went down to the barracks office and requested a ride to the hospital. The base police took me to the ER. I was admitted and put on the mental/detox ward. They gave me medicine to slow down my heart beat. I believe that inner voice was God. That was over 30 years ago. God has gotten me through many difficult times since then. But I have stayed sober.
 
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Eric h

Well-known member
The source of the big bang is not explained,
The creation of the universe is history, and you can't change history. Either at least 'One God created the universe or there is no god, there cannot be a maybe or probable god. No matter what you or I believe we could be a 100 % right or wrong on the toss of a coin.

The truth is worth searching for.

The Nilsson and Pelger explanation for the evolution of the eye does not seem to give a satisfactory answer.
 

Eric h

Well-known member
no-one believes that what the bishops say is an authoritative source of reality. That is not to say they are not good men -- I think they are. But their comment on how the world is put together is uninformed.

Science cannot explain magic. In order for anything to exist there are two choices.

Something had to have no beginning.

Or

Something did not come from anything.

The universe is here today, so how do you explain this, or can you think of another option?
 

Idolater

"Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan..."
I a just starting with the cartesian proposition "I think therefore I am".
I am just starting with language itself. What does 'I think' mean? How do we know you're thinking, for instance? What does thinking look like? What can we point to and say, 'This is thinking.'

The statue called 'The Thinker' is of a man sitting doing nothing. Is that what thinking is? Is that what you mean by, 'I think therefore I am'?? 'I sit and do nothing'?
That's where modern science started. Progress from then has proceeded on the basis that someone has an idea about things are, they suggest an experiment on the basis of their prediction and then others test it. If you make a prediction that God exists, then you need an argument to prove that. It is not good enough to say "it seems self evident to me".

You say no-one has seen billions of year. I would say no-one has seen anything. EM radiation hits your eyes and are then changed to electrical signals in your optic nerve which are then processed to construct an "image" in your head. All your thoughts are constructions -- there is nothing "natural" about any of it.

I was brought up a Catholic and so were many of my friends, no-one believes that what the bishops say is an authoritative source of reality. That is not to say they are not good men -- I think they are. But their comment on how the world is put together is uninformed.
You should have stopped first and asked what it means when you use words. Then you wouldn't have gone down the rabbit hole.
 

oatmeal

Well-known member
A man convinced his will is of the same opinion still.

Either people want to learn something or they do not.
 
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