A disproof of God

Since at least the European Enlightenment, there have been defenders of a distant, remote version of God. Deists don’t generally have a lot of influence on popular religion, but mainly provide a way of maintaining both intellectual respectability and the ability to call oneself devout.

A common argument in the service of deism is that a miracle-performing God actually works against himself. After all, God is responsible for the Laws of Nature that miracles violate. Wouldn’t it be a more impressive God, a greater God, who accomplishes his purposes for humans without having to tinker with the natural order? Isn’t a God behind the scenes, who accomplishes everything through the lawful order established at creation, a more efficient, more economical, more majestic God? Doesn’t the miracle-mongering, prayer-granting theistic conception of God reduce the Author of the Universe to a second-rate hack constantly in need of editing the story?

If you don’t like Enlightenment deism, similar ideas can be expressed in a more Platonic idiom, where God is all the greater by not being directly entangled with all the imperfections of material existence.

Let’s combine these insights with the profound metaphysical intuitions expressed by the ontological argument.

1. God must be such that no greater being is conceivable.
(Seems reasonable. Stolen from the ontological argument.)

2. A being that accomplishes a purpose indirectly, with less involvement, is greater than one who has to oversee or modify its plans.
(Deists, NeoPlatonists, and a boatload of modern theologians concerned to reconcile God with science seem to think so.)

3. The least level of involvement is no involvement at all.
(There is no minimum level of involvement, as we can always conceive a more indirect approach. This is the same way there is no minimum positive real number. No involvement at all is an infimum, the way 0 is the infimum of the set of positive real numbers.)

4. It is not possible to achieve a purpose with no involvement at all.
(The purpose can still be achieved, but if you’re not involved, not even indirectly, you don’t achieve anything.)

5. Therefore a God that achieved the creation of our universe does not exist.
(If God was at all involved, 1-3 are problems. If God wasn’t involved, 4 is the obstacle.)

In other words, the greatest possible God is a God who does not exist.

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University


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