#5: Design Flaws
- If God exists, he is an excellent architect of our world.
- The function of a human being is to attain happiness (Aristotle).
- If God is the architect of our world, God has made us to seek and attain happiness.
- Our world is poorly constructed for humans to attain human happiness.
- Therefore there is not an excellent architect of our world.
Therefore, no God.
This is my take on an argument from David Hume in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Hume has a great deal of fun arguing for Premise 4 citing “four unnecessary miseries”: the existence of physical pain, our world being governed by law and not miracle, God didn’t give us what we needed to be happy morally and intellectually (that is, human beings just aren’t that impressive), and the fragile nature of our world. Hume doesn’t think this disproves the existence of a creator, but he does argue that the creator is certainly indifferent, and as such God, a supremely good being, does not exist.
It seems to me this argument hinges on the idea of human happiness. If happiness means pleasure—as it often did for David Hume—I think the argument works. If the argument means goodness of soul—as it did for Aristotle—the argument fails, for I think it can be argued strongly that the difficulties we experience have a spectacular ability to fashion and shape our souls.
The list will conclude next time, but I must include an “Also Ran” category:
The Best Humorous Argument Against God’s Existence: The Ontological Argument for God’s Non-Existence
(1) God can do the most marvelous acts imaginable.
(2) The creation of our world is one of the most marvelous acts imaginable.
(3) The merit of such an act is the product of its quality and the creator’s ability (That is, the greater the disability of the creator, the more impressive the act).
(4) Non-existence would be the greatest handicap.
(5) The creation of our universe by a non-existent creator would be a more marvelous act than the creation of our universe by an existent creator.
(6) A non-existent creator of our universe can do more marvelous acts than a creator which exists.
Therefore, If God can do the most marvelous acts imaginable, God does not exist.
A version of this argument comes from the Australian philosopher Douglas Gasling. It seems logically impossible in my mind for a non-existent being to do anything, and therefore Premise 5 and 6 fail because they reference an impossible state of affairs.
(The list will continue soon…)
JEFF COOK teaches philosophy at the University of Northern Colorado and is the author of Everything New: One Philosopher’s Search for a God Worth Believing in (Subversive 2012). He pastors Atlas Church in Greeley, Colorado. www.everythingnew.org