25 Reasons We Don’t Live in a World with a God (Part 9)

25 Reasons We Don’t Live in a World with a God (Part 9) April 9, 2018

Do we live in a world with a god? It doesn’t look like it (part 1 of this series here).

Let’s continue our survey with the next clue that we live in a godless world.

17. Because theism has no method to decide truth

From the standpoint of many Christians, evidence is mere decoration. It’s the parsley on the plate of the Christian argument.

For example, William Lane Craig has made a career by using science to argue for Christian apologetics. Unfortunately, he undercuts his entire project when he says, “It is the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit that gives us the fundamental knowledge of Christianity’s truth. Therefore, the only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role.”

Even if we take his theology for granted, it still doesn’t make sense. Craig says, “The experience of the Spirit’s witness is self-authenticating for him who really has it.” Okay, then who really has it? Does Craig have it? Maybe he’s wrong to think that he does. Maybe someone he’s dismissed as unworthy of God’s favor has it instead. There is no public, objective algorithm that we can all apply to see who has been touched by the Holy Spirit. It’s not an evidence-based process.

And when you return his theology to the spotlight, the usual questions return. Does the Holy Spirit (or any member of the Trinity) exist? When two Christians (or Christian denominations) disagree, which one is correct? Of the mountain of supernatural claims made by the world’s religions, which are correct? Religion gives you no way to answer these questions reliably.

Christians can look to the Bible for the rules of how to get into heaven just like a Dungeons & Dragons player can look up the capabilities of various characters. While the Bible is more venerable than the D&D handbook, neither is a reliable source of supernatural information. If we lived in God World, we’d know it because supernatural truths would be reliably accessible to everyone using reason and evidence.

18. Because there are natural disasters

God’s marvelous plan is not that marvelous. Eight million people have died from natural disasters since 1900.

When we fight against natural disasters—stack sandbags against a flood, create vaccines, or warn people about hurricanes—are we subverting God’s plan? How can Christians hold in their heads these two contradictory ideas: God’s plan is to kill millions by natural disasters and we should do our best to subvert that plan? What does it say about the vagueness of God’s plan that we even have to ask that question? (More here.)

Christian apologists trot out a couple of flabby responses to God’s embarrassing lack of interest in stopping natural disasters. First, if God exists, he has good reasons. In other words, don’t second-guess God.

But with this argument we meet our old friend, the Hypothetical God Fallacy. The key word is the if. Yes, if God exists, then you win the argument! You can just stop there, but you know that you don’t assume God into existence; you must provide evidence. Assuming God into existence doesn’t support your argument. If you want to argue that God has good reasons, first show us that God exists.

An alternative argument you could make is to enumerate those good reasons for the disaster. And don’t say, “Well, it might be this.” No, you must make a convincing, non-hand-waving argument showing us how things are objectively better after the disaster.

Second, apologists look at the value of natural disasters. Maybe they’ll say that earthquakes are part of a natural cycle that recycles minerals. Or that hurricanes are just part of the weather cycle, and we don’t complain about gentle spring rains and warm summer sun, do we?

This is the inept argument that desperate apologists like John Lennox makes to assist his impotent god. It’s actually humans’ fault, he’ll add, because we build in flood plains or near coasts or on fault lines.

(Okay, today we can blame humans for some of this, though it would’ve been nice for God to have guided city placement centuries ago, before we knew the science.)

And if earthquakes are necessary, God could just clip their magnitude. The energy of a magnitude 8 earthquake could be channeled into 10,000 magnitude 5 earthquakes. Tornadoes could be steered away from towns. Rain storms could be spread out to avoid flash floods. Droughts and locusts could just be eliminated. God is magic, remember?

Natural disasters with natural explanations are evidence that God doesn’t exist.

Continue with part 10.

Why doesn’t God heal amputees?
Because they don’t deserve their arms,
they deserve to die.
That’s what the Bible teaches.
Sorry if you don’t like that!
— video blogger VenomFangX

Image via Ethan Bergeron, CC license

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  • Anthrotheist

    “While the Bible is more venerable than the D&D handbook, neither is a reliable source of supernatural information.”

    No, but it is an interesting comparison. In my experience, nearly all D&D players spend more time with their handbook than most Christians spend with their Bible. What’s more, most of the time D&D players are very consistent (even pedantic) in following the directions and behaving within the limitations outlined in their handbook, another comparison that doesn’t look favorably on the Christian and their Bible. Could you imagine if Christians lived their life according to the tenets of their Bible the way D&D players abide by the rules of their game? Even setting aside the impossibility of reconciling contradictions, it would be monstrous and infeasible.

    • Cozmo the Magician

      Hmmm, can I rape my neighbor’s daughter? Better find out who the GM is this week…

      • Bob Jase

        You wouldn’t need to rape her if you hadn’t made Charisma your lowest characteristic.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Hmm, OTOH I do have a high enough INT to cast a damn good illusion (;

        • Bob Jase

          But do you have the WIS to know if it works?

        • Cozmo the Magician

          No, but I hopefully have enough HP if it don’t O_o

        • Bob Jase

          What’s her THAC 0?

          damn thing keeps autocorrecting my zero!

        • Cozmo the Magician

          idk, she THAC’ed me and I said OW

        • Greg G.

          It has been done. See Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.4 which is the section immediately following the Testimonium Flavianum.

        • Kevin K

          It is fascinating that most people don’t even understand there’s an entire book from Josephus that has survived. It’s fascinating reading, actually.

        • Greg G.

          It may have been the interpolations into Antiquities that made all of his writings worth preserving to the monks. (Thanks, Eusebius!)

          There is a mention of a Justus of Tiberias who wrote an account of the war and blamed Josephus for the troubles in Galilee. Josephus’ Vita defends against those charges. Photius (9th century) noted that Justus never mentioned Jesus. Apparently his writings weren’t worth reproducing after the 9th century when most of the surviving Bible manuscripts were produced.

        • sandy
      • Anthrotheist

        It doesn’t matter who the GM is, it’s entirely up to your alignment!

  • RichardSRussell

    Christians can look to the Bible for the rules of how to get into heaven just like a Dungeons & Dragons player can look up the capabilities of various characters.

    As a D&D player dating back to 1977, I can testify that the D&D Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide are much more internally consistent, better organized, well indexed and cross-referenced, and easier to read than the Bible. It’s as if they were actually designed to be consulted as reference works.

    • Bob Jase

      The White Box set is sacred.

    • Cozmo the Magician

      AD&D even has RULES for various deities. Off the top of my head I can’t remember if they published a book or if it was an issue of Dragon magazine. But I remember ages ago seeing entries for various different pantheons.

      • Bob Jase

        Indeed, somewhere along the line I had a fanzine or gaming mag that had D & D stats for Yahweh, Jesus and Satan, wish I could remember which that was in.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Dragon used to do all sorts of stuff like that. I think I recall them even doing a write up for Santa.

        • quinsha

          I remember the write-up for Bugs Bunny. They listed him as Chaotic Good.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          OMFSM! Yeah.. I remember those! They were from the land of cartuin or some such spelling (; I should google see if anybody has those up on the web.. was shocked to see the deity & demigods as a pdf (:

          found this -> https://annarchive.com/files/Drmg048.pdf

      • Otto

        It was the book Deities and Demigods I believe. I used to love reading through that book when I played. Interesting piece of trivia: Jeff Dee who hosts the atheist podcast The Non Prophets, and also use to host the Atheist Experience TV show, illustrated a number of the drawings of the gods and demons in that book.

        • Bob Jase

          Didn’t he also create the the Elementals comic?

        • Otto

          Probably, I know he has done a lot of that kind of stuff. I just know this one because I was reading that book when I was 12, and then 30+ years later I am listening to his podcast and heard him talking about Deities and Demigods specifically.

    • I’ll bet the Bible beats the D&D books on number of contradictions as well.

      • Bob Jase

        Heck, the bible doesn’t even keep the alignments of its’ main characters straight.

  • Bob Jase

    Natural disasters are just Dog’s way of continuing to fine tune the universe. They will stop when he finally gets it right.

    • Of all the universes in this multiverse, we had to get stuck with the one controlled by the buffoon god …

  • Cozmo the Magician

    There is only one thing anybody being honest can conclude about god if they really believe he exists. God is a 100% pure USDA choice Asshole. When I think of the absolute WORST human(s) I have ever met. God makes them all look like their shit must be made of gold. FFS, when I think about the worst human(s) in all of HISTORY, they can’t even hold a candle to god’s evil. If I actually believed in the bible , i would be forced out of decency and morality to be a Devil Worshiper. Go Lucifer, hope you win the next round (;

    • RichardSRussell

      For an excellent fictional take on this premise, read Harlan Ellison’s novelet “The Deathbird”, most readily accessible in his anthology Deathbird and Other Stories. I organized a live reading of it at an Atheist Alliance International convention in Texas a couple of decades ago, and half the audience was in tears by the time it was over.

  • Greg G.

    I had almost forgotten about VenomFangX. Then somebody reminded me of him.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      My condolences.

    • Yeah, sorry about that.

      Apparently he’s still around, making friends on the internet(s).

    • Kevin K

      Sadly, he’s responsible for the rise of Thunderf00t. Blerg. Another name I’d rather forget.

      • Greg G.

        I liked Thunderfoot when he talked about atheism, science, remotely controlled planes with cameras, and traveling but he lost me when he became MRA.

    • Kuno

      My thoughts reading the quote were literally “Wow, there’s a name I haven’t heard in a while”.