God: Some Logical Difficulties
Dr. Ali Sina
September 9, 2009
There are realities that perhaps we would never be able to understand. Life, love, compassion, perception or intuition, are enigmas. But then who knows! Everything is possible. A wise person would never say never. We may one day be able to discover the physical and biological characteristics of the brain that would make a person more loving, compassionate, perceptive or intuitive. But would we be able to single out the “thing” that can be called love, consciousness, compassion, perception, or intuition?
What is life? I have no doubt that one-day, perhaps not too far; we would be able to create living organisms. What we would do is to engineer an organism that would simulate living beings and therefore would start to live and even manifest other faculties like love, consciousness and intelligence. But does that mean that we can define life?
There are realities that cannot be measured by present scientific methods. That does not mean that in future we won’t be able to invent “machines” that can detect them. Now we can take a picture of the human aura. All living organisms have auras. Is this our spirit? It does not look to be made of mater, or is it? Is it a function of living organisms or is it what gives life to the organisms? Is it the spirit or is it the life energy, the élan vital that ticks the being into living? Or are these the same thing? We don’t know the answer to these questions yet, but we will find out.
The point is that we cannot deny the existence of spirit. How otherwise would you explain the phenomenon of premonition, or dreaming something that would take place in future? How would you explain the telepathy?
I believe in reason. I would not accept anything that is irrational and contradicts logic. The existence of human (even animal) spirit may not be verifiable in labs and by our scientific methods yet, but the important thing is that it is not against reason. There are many realities that are beyond human reason, i.e. you cannot reach them by reason alone. Yet the point is that they should not be unreasonable either.
Existence of God as a Reality or a Principle cannot be determined by scientific methods and it is beyond reason. It is not unreasonable; in fact it is very reasonable to assume that there is a principle underlying the creation. But the existence of a deity, as described by Semitic religions, is utterly unreasonable. Although the characteristics of this deity has changed gradually and the god of Moses who was a smoke-like anthromorphic god and the god of Rumi who is an unknowable essence are not the same, the general concept of this god has not changes. God in all these religions is a “being”. It is no more a physical being, and it may not be even a spiritual being, but it is still a being. It is a god that resembles humans. We don’t envision him any more as an old patriarch but we attribute to him our own human characteristics. He is no more imagined in our physical semblance, and some even hesitate to call him with a gender-biased pronoun. Yet in our subconscious mind God is our father, best friend, someone to pray to, someone to worship, someone to rely upon, and someone who loves us. We assume that God is intelligent, loving, caring, mighty, wise, help in peril and someone who would eventually come to succor us if we knocked on his door supplicating with utmost humility and meekness. He is a god that worries about us, who sends messengers to guide us, who rewards us either by giving us access to his paradise or by allowing us to associate with him more intimately when we die.
But this god is also a jealous god and is very paranoid. He does not like us worshiping another god and feels restless when we busy ourselves, making a living or enjoying life and forget to bow in front of him, (who is apparently everywhere) constantly. His messengers tell us that we should worship him for our own sake. But you don’t have to be Freud to realize that he actually enjoys being known and worshiped. In fact, if you fail to do so, he is offended so much that would take you to his cosmic rotisserie and barbeque you forever. That is a long time, I say. Don’t you think so?
His messengers tell us that he has sent them to teach us to be righteous. Apart from the fact that for this mighty task he often chooses men who do not walk their own talk and themselves live less than honorable lives, which in the case of his favorite Prophet was scandalous, he has made it clear that living righteously is not enough. We have to recognize him also through his messengers. Without that recognition, none of our good deeds would count. But the problem does not end there. Despite the fact that each time he sends a messenger he makes it clear, in one way or another, that this messenger is the only and exclusive way to him or that he is the last one, he surprises us by sending new massagers at the least expected moments and in the most unlikely places, often choosing the less educated and the most ignorant among the men. Then he expects us to find these new messengers with the purity of our own heart but without the use of our brain. If we fail to do so, even if we already praise him, all of our worships become null and when we die we are given a one-way ticket to hell.
To know god is a very serious business. If you make a mistake you know where you end up. So you are left on your own to find your way through this maze.
Why god does that? One wonders!
It is because he wants to test us.
Test what? Does he want to test our intelligence?
No, not at all! The majority of intelligent people do not believe in him. He likes the meek ones the unsophisticated and the simple-minded people who would easily believe in him without too much questioning.
Does he want to test our knowledge?
No that is not also what he is interested in. He says that knowledge acts as a veil for knowing him. And most of the believers in him are amongst the illiterate and ignorant people.
So what is he testing us for?
He wants to test the purity of our hearts. Only those who are sincere will recognize his new messenger, or recognize that this new pretender is an impostor and remain steadfast, whatever may the case. Others will fail and go to hell.
Honestly, I think that is unreasonable. I have lived among many nationalities and befriended people of different faiths and denominations. I found that the majority of them are sincere and have pure hearts. They truly believe in their particular faith and are willing to sacrifice their own lives for it, with the exception of the Muslims who prefer to sacrifice the lives of others first. But even that is done with sincerity because they are promised that by killing the non-believers they will go to paradise.
It is absurd to believe that close to two billion Christians who failed to accept Muhammad as a Prophet of God are insincere and all of them will go to hell. It is also absurd to believe that over one billion Muslims who preferred Muhammad to Christ will go to hell.
Why not Allah or Yahweh?
I do believe in God but not in Allah or his Jewish counterpart Yahweh. These psychologically anthropomorphic gods are illogical. I know that human logic is limited, but it is not just the best, it is also the only means that we have to determine the truth and the claims of the multitude of god’s self-proclaimed envoys.
There are three major objections in accepting the god of the prophets.
a) I reject Allah and Yahweh, or any other deity for they are “beings”. They may be big or the biggest, yet they are still beings. It makes no difference whether this being is a physical or a spiritual being. As a being, he is a thing an as a thing he has a distinct identity, and is separated from other beings. He is one, yet one among many. He is distinct from his creation. If there is a distinction between the creator and the creation, then the creation has its own identity independent from the creator and that is a duality. This means that God is not unlimited for where the creation is God is not.
b) Another difficulty with this god is that he acts. He “answers” the prayers; he “sends” messengers; he “rewards” and “punishes”, etc. Any action must perforce take place in time. Therefore a god that e.g. answers the prayers is acting in time. He is reacting to our prayers. If you say that time does not apply to God and all his actions took place in one instant that cannot be measured by time, which to us appears an eternity, then there would be no need for you to pray because he has already either answered your prayers or has rejected them. Your supplication, or not supplication cannot change things that have already taken place. In fact this is what is known as predestination and is repeatedly confirmed in the Quran and many hadithes. If everything is predestined, praying or not praying, supplicating or not supplicating should make no difference. God had either answered or not answered your prayer before he created the universe. Your life is like a film already cast, you can only watch it happen but you cannot change it.
c) The third difficulty with this God is his moodiness. He is subject to emotions like us. As his messengers have assured us, he becomes pleased with us or would be displeased with us depending on what we do. He can become angry, mad or loving and tender, depending on our behaviors. That is an awesome power given to us, the decedents of a bunch of African apes, to control the mood of the almighty God, the author of this unimaginably vast universe. Does it make sense that you and I, who are nothing when compared to the vastness of humanity and our planet is nothing when compared to the immensity of this universe and what is happening in our universe is nothing when compared to its eternity could actually alter the mood of God? How little these self-appointed prophets know of God and how preposterous is their claims!
When I was a child one of my schoolmates asked, can God make a rock that he cannot lift? As childish as this question may sound, there is a great wisdom in it. Whether your answer is yes or no, is irrelevant. In either case you are admitting that God is not omnipotent. If you say yes then God is not all-powerful to lift the rock and if you answer no then he is incapable to create such rock. This is just an example. The point is whether God can set himself a task that he cannot perform? No matter how you think of it, you have to admit that God cannot be all-powerful.
Religionists say that God is all loving. But it is clear that the foundation of this world is not based on love. Every day billions of creatures die for other creatures to feed on them and live. Is this how a loving god would design the universe? Every day thousands of innocent human lives are destroyed in God-made and man-made disasters. Why God does not intervene? Religionists for lack of answer to this question say: he is testing us! What an outrageous thing! There are 40,000 children who die every day because of malnutrition and diseases associated with poverty. What test they have to give? To prove what? The other lame excuse is that God is patient? Is that a virtue? Can any loving God sit patiently letting small children be blown up by terrorist bombs, killed in earthquakes and other disasters or simply withered by prolonged hunger? What does this "all knowing" and "compassionate" god want to prove? Why he is so oblivious of the cries of the wronged ones in this world? In my country if one sees someone in danger and is able but does not intervene to help, that person could be prosecuted. If God sets foot to Canada, I will take him to the court for crime against humanity. No war criminal has done more harm to people than God. Is he less compassionate than humans? Why he does not come to the rescue when his children need him?
There are three possible answers to this question:
1- God sees the pain of the people, suffers because of it but cannot help.
2- He does not know what is happening and does not hear the supplications of those in desperate need.
3- He knows what is happening and can help but decides not to
In the first case he is impotent, in the second case he is ignorant and in the third case he is callous. (These are what I could say of Mr. Khatami, the smiling and powerless president of Iran. who speaks of democracy and cannot deliver. Is God as useless as Mr. Khatami?). Irrespective of your answer to this question, this God is unworthy of my worship. (just as Mr. Khatami was and is unworthy of my vote) I am defiantly more compassionate than him and I refuse to bow in front of an impotent, ignorant or a callous god.
Religionists say that God is all knowing. God knows what is going to happen in the future. In that case not only we humans have no control over our own destiny but also God has no control over his. If he does something different from what he knows that he should do then he proves to be not all-knowing because he has done something of which he had no idea of and if he does exactly as he had planned without any deviation or change of mind, then he has no free will. He is acting like a robot doing what he is supposed to do.
This also raises another problem. If God knows the future, his knowledge of the future makes it impossible for us or him to act differently and therefore our prayers and supplications are of no use. What has to happen and is in the knowledge of God will happen anyway, whether you pray or not. Then why pray for the peace? Why pray for the deceased? Why pray for blessing, bounty, protection, forgiveness or wisdom? Isn’t praying a total waste of time? Prayers affect only the one who believes in them. There have been people that have miraculously recovered from their diseases by praying. But this is not due to the power of the prayer but the power of their belief. It is the placebo effect. The brain does have the cure for all our diseases and positive thinking, imagery, autosuggestion and beliefs can stimulate the release of the endocrines that do cure the ailment. However, you could take advantage of the power of your brain without the need to rely on the mumbo jumbo of a god.
What is the purpose of the prayer anyway? When you ask God something, isn’t it that you are asking him to change his mind and do something that otherwise he would not have done it? Isn’t this sheer arrogance to expect that the author of this universe change his mind to appease us humans, the decedents of a bunch of African apes? The whole idea of prayers is just ludicrous.
We humans live in a relative world. We are not perfect and therefore are left on our own to choose between the bad, the good and the better. This is the source of our freedom. But God is perfect. He can do only the best. Can God do something, which is wrong? If he can and does it then he is no more perfect but if he cannot do wrong and whatever he does is perfect then he has no freedom of choice. The God as taught by religions is not a free god.
Of course this is a long subject and I know that this debate has been going on for centuries. But the reason it is not settling is not because there is not enough evidence to disprove God. There is plenty of evidence and I have just scratched the surface of it. The reason because people, and many of them very intelligent and brilliant people, are not willing to give up the notion of a personal god is because of their emotional ties to this imaginary creator. The religionists also present their own reasons to prove the existence of God. But all of those reasons can be easily rebutted while no one is able to answer to the proof presented against the existence of God.
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