How You Can Know There Is No God

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by Wayne Adkins

There is no God. How could I just make an assertion like that? Why wouldn’t I say “I believe there is no God” or “I don’t believe there is a God”? After all, I am making a negative assertion, an assertion that something does not exist. To prove that something does exist, one need only provide a single example of a things existence. But, we are often told, to prove a negative assertion, an assertion that something does not exist, one must conduct an exhaustive search of the universe or have complete knowledge of everything. So to prove that God does not exist, we are often told, one must possess god-like abilities. This is rubbish. A negative assertion can be proven.

Take the case of square circles. Squares and circles are well defined two-dimensional shapes. I can claim with confidence that square circles do not exist. I don’t need to conduct an exhaustive search of the universe or be omniscient to prove this. Just a basic understanding of squares and circles is all that is required. From my basic understanding of squares and circles I can reason that squares and circles are, by definition, contradictory shapes which cannot exist in a single entity. No genius level intellect is required. No omniscience is required. Negative assertions can be proven by demonstrating that whatever is being proposed contains contradictory attributes which cannot exist in the same entity. You can be certain that square circles do not exist. Of course some will say that God is magic and He can do anything, even make square circles or make 2+2=5. That’s bullshit. You can change the definition of words or numbers to try to make your argument work, but you can’t change the ideas those words represent or the values those numbers represent. Some things are immutable facts and invoking magic doesn’t change them.

Likewise certain actions cannot have occurred without minimum requirements. A murder cannot occur without a victim. It really doesn’t matter who the would be murderer is or what kinds of weapons they possess, what kinds of skills they possess or what magical murder powers they have, if there is nobody to kill there can be no murder. So if you are the only being in existence you cannot murder someone. You can be certain that victimless murders do not occur.

You cannot travel if there are no places. Travel requires a point of origin and a destination. It doesn’t matter whether you are walking, driving, flying, teleporting or even a spirit being who floats through walls, to travel requires places to travel to and from. You can be certain that movement from one place to another couldn’t happen if no places at all existed.

Thought requires a thinker and a subject, something to think about. If you were alone and nothing else existed and never had, what could you possibly think about? It wouldn’t matter what your potential cognitive abilities were like, whether you had a physical brain, a digital processor, or were a magical spiritual being, if nothing exists there is exactly nothing to know, nothing to calculate, nothing to measure, nothing to decide, nothing to ponder, nothing to think about.

 Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” That verse refers to the beginning of the heaven and the earth while God is presupposed by the author and described elsewhere in the Bible as eternal. God is described as having no beginning and the existence of everything else is attributed to God. John 1:3 says “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” So according to the Bible, and just about every other creationist narrative, God has always existed and created everything else that exists. If it were true, this would mean that at some point, God was the only thing that existed.

Phillip Johnson, known as the father of intelligent design, said “you need a creative intelligence to do all the creating that has been done in the history of life.” But if you think the God of the Bible is that creative intelligence, then you have to ask how He could possess intelligence if He was the only thing that existed. How could he think if there was nothing to think about? How could He possess knowledge if there was nothing to know? He couldn’t, not any more than He could commit murder with no victim or travel without any places to move to or from. How do you even define intelligence if it doesn’t include knowing things, calculating things or problem solving?

Well most Christians would say that “God knows everything past present and future, so He would have always possessed perfect knowledge of everything.” All that does is make the argument circular. Making the existence of the universe dependant upon the prior existence of some intelligence and then making that intelligence dependant upon the subsequent existence of the universe is classic, textbook, circular reasoning. It also precludes any creativity which folks like Johnson claim is required. If the universe existed conceptually for all of eternity past in the mind of God, how could it be said that He created, or designed any of it? You can be certain that intelligence cannot exist in a vacuum. The universe is not dependant upon some prior intelligence because intelligence cannot exist without thought which cannot occur without, at a minimum, a thinker and something to think about.

I know that this argument only applies to God when defined as an intelligent, creative being who pre-existed the universe, you know, the God of virtually every major religion. Some have pointed out that it doesn’t mean that God as some mysterious force that acted as first cause or draws and binds the universe together can’t exist. Fine, but let’s be honest here, nobody worships that God, nobody prays to that God and nobody means that when they talk about God. That God is more akin to some force of nature like gravity or polarity than the God of the Bible or Koran. The God they claim was “intelligent” when there was nothing to know, you can be certain that God doesn’t exist.

 

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26 thoughts on “How You Can Know There Is No God”

  1. Overall this a good argument against the God of most monotheistic religions. But it does not defeat all God claims.

    I can think of two exceptions to this. The being known as God could have come from a prior existance. Everything he has created in the new existance where he is omnipotent is extrapolations of this prior existance.

    But that is thing about infinity. People (not you it seems) like to throw it around like they understand it. They are like 3 years who think they can drive because they can touch the steering wheel. It is a very complex concept that when applied to reality, breaks it.

    Like for instance, (example from the Infinite Hotel by Ted-ED) if I owned a hotel with infinite rooms, that were currently occupied by infinite guests, and an infinite number of guests wanted to check in. All I would need to do is tell the current guests to move to room 2 x their current room number and then check all the infinite guests into the odd rooms. The two infinities of guests would all have a room in my one hotel of infinite rooms.

  2. Nicely reasoned. I am not a hundred percent sure, but it might also be possible to disprove god using mathematics; I am pursuing this approach. Wish me luck.

  3. This is one of the silliest things I’ve read. I stopped at “there can be no thought without matter”, even by God. God is, by most people’s definition, all-knowing, all-powerful. Why would God be limited in any way? Did I just not read far enough?

    I don’t believe in any God, by the way, just sayin’…

  4. The whole post is similar in nature to a theistic one, that appeals to some knowledge gap in the purely naturalistic worldview when it comes to the origins of the universe.

    The assumption being made by theist here is that one is required to know this, in order to accept naturalism. The reason why this argument doesn’t work, is the same reason yours doesn’t work.

    Yours in essence is suggesting that theists, are required to know how thought works in relationship to God, whether he even “thinks” with some affinity to how we do, and rather than some some sort of fixed point, like timelessness, and immutablity.

    These questions might interest some religious philosophers, and thinkers to ponder, but have no real relation to the basis why anybody would believe, even if those belief are based on wrong evaluations. In fact most believes likely don’t give these questions any thought at all, because such things are merely vestigial, and have too little bearing on the heart of why they believe what they do, to bother with.

    Imagine if someone lived a life with considerable faith in God, and his life was a continuous story of extraordinary and uncanny events, brought along by this faith. He perceived himself in essence to be living a story, and he himself a character in this story, seeing a moral frame, and direction in it, rejecting any premise of inherent nihilism. This individual would presuppose that there’s an author behind the story of his life and history. In fact the events may have been so profound, that this becomes impossible to deny for him.

    If you were to come to him, and informed of how he hasn’t settled the questions about the author beyond the story he weaves, of how he thinks, of how many fingers he can hold up, he would likely inform you that he doesn’t know, and continue believing as he does, leaving your questions as seemingly irrelevant to why he believes in the first place.

  5. To a believer, rational argument can’t refute an irrational one. All the religionist has to do is to say: “But god doesn’t work within the framework of reason and logic”, thus defeating, in his own mind, the rational argument. This is why, I think, there are so many believers. It’s simple, tidy, and irrefutable. To them.

    It’s a good argument. But it’s wasted on them. Have you ever had any believer admit the sense of such an argument?

    1. I was that believer at one time. I was a pastoral theology major at Baptist Bible College. I have to think that there are other Christians who can be reasoned with.

  6. This argument is pretty close to the one I’ve been using for years to prove the Biblical God cannot exist. Whenever I present it, the theists act like they don’t understand it–and for some reason it’s the atheists that object to it mostly, which is bizarre because I feel I’m arming them with valuable information to defend not only an atheist position, but a gnostic atheist position. I have simplified the argument considerably than what is posted here, but I feel it contains the necessary points:

    //The God in the Bible could not possibly exist as the creator of the universe and all that exists. And it’s very simple why this is the case. For God–or anything–to be conscious they have to be conscious of something. Asserting God existing as a conscious entity before nothing else existed is a contradiction of necessary conditions. People say you can’t prove something cannot exist. Nothing however can exist as a contradiction of itself. A square-circle or a married bachelor cannot exist.
    Theists quickly respond with “God could have been conscious of himself”. Now here we have the same situation as Rule #1 :The customer is always right #2 If the customer is wrong ‘re-read rule #1. God can’t be conscious of himself because he can’t exist.//

    This argument actually identifies and eliminates the possibility of God of even pondering ‘being conscious of himself’ as it’s already been shown God can’t exist. And things that don’t exist cannot be conscious of himself. The main argument is that existence must exist before any consciousness exists. And nothing can exist as a contradiction of itself.

  7. I just now scrolled all the way down and realized there was a comment section. lol. This was eye opening! I have had vague ideas along these lines fro years, but nothing jelled into a coherent argument or statement. This spells it out clearly and because I have been thinking about it for a long time, it rang true with every word. I have been using it constantly on facebook (I hope that is okay. I just link to this page) GOOD WORK! and thanks so very much!

  8. According to the writing, Adam and Eve were the first humans created by God, who lived approximately 6,000 years ago. According to the science, humans existed a long time before. The two lines of thought can be easily united, thanks to the omnipotence of God, who in the beginning created humans in a reality where there was no concept of “evil”. Metaphorically speaking, Adam and Eve were expelled from this heavenly reality, find himself in another reality, namely in today’s reality that we all know, where there is the concept of evil, as well as that of the well; not necessarily a reality where they were the first humans, but the first who experienced firsthand the life God had reserved for them (so they were the first humans in the “perfect” reality). From here it is clear that the story of Adam and Eve does not upset in the least bit the evolutionary linearity. In practice, they were the first men of God; whereas prehistoric man lived before Adam and Eve was a man, but it could be considered as an animal evolved from apes or created by something else, which had two arms and two legs, and that may have hybridated with the descendants of Adam And Eve after they were “moved away” from the “perfect reality”. God has endowed man about the concept of “infinity” and “eternity”, as well as other questions can not be explained through the use of the scientific method, thus making humans free to believe in God or not, in a reality for us tricky and necessary for the construction and continuation of his project.

  9. I am afraid you can neither disprove, or prove God. I would suggest Psuedo-Dyonisius the Aeropagite and the Names of God and the Celestial Hierarchy for better arguments. God is beyond time and space if such a thing exists and so any arguments made from within time and space are spurious. You either believe, or not and don’t think you are so smart as to actually be able to prove anything.

    1. Any God described as an intelligent creator of everything else that exists (the god of all major religions) is subject to this argument. Intelligence cannot exist independent of everything else. If you can suggest a way in which intelligence could precede the existence of everything else I would have to reconsider my position, but you can’t. Also, what is your assertion that God exists outside of space and time based on? Certainly not observation….

  10. The only flaw with this argument is that the bible never says God existed before anything else. In fact it says let’s make Man in our own image. (Plural) Suggesting something else existed before man.

  11. Look genius your argument is affirming the consequent it’s a fallacy. Just because you can prove X exists by one example of X that does not mean that no example proves it doesn’t exist. If that were true then we proved the giant Panda doesn’t exist every year until we found one.

    1. Most logicians wouldn’t attempt to point out a logical fallacy by committing two of their own, an ad hominem and a straw man, but OK, you do your thing. For the record, the argument isn’t “we haven’t found X yet therefore X doesn’t exist”. It’s “the proposed X contains properties which are by definition mutually exclusive and cannot exist in the same entity”. It’s not that we haven’t found a square circle yet, it’s that we KNOW we will never find a square circle because the properties which define squares and circles are mutually exclusive. Why don’t you have someone read it to you again real slowly, look over your notes from Logic 101 and take another crack at it.

      1. Who’s we? just you not the other three billion believers on the planet. The Bible says in Romans 1:19-21 that Gods awareness is in everyone. Its not that you lack evidence to believe but you lack desire to believe or obey God. Remember Helen Keller? she said she knew there was a God but she didn’t know his name till she learned to communicate.

  12. Okay, so we exist. That’s obvious. And though atheists like to tout the evolutionary flag, evolution isn’t the issue here. Instead, we need to go way back and ask, where did the universe come from? You see, whatever has come into existence was caused to come into existence by something else. The universe came into existence. So, what caused it to come into existence?
    When answering this question, there are only two possibilities to account for the cause of the universe: an impersonal cause and a personal cause. This is an antonymic pair that exhausts all possibilities. It is either one or the other. There is no third option. Let’s first look at the atheist option to explain the universe: an impersonal cause.
    If the atheist were to say that the universe brought itself into existence, then that would be illogical since something that does not exist has no nature; and with no nature, there are no attributes; and with no attributes, actions can’t be performed such as bringing itself into existence. So, that doesn’t work.
    If the atheist said the universe has always existed, that doesn’t work either because that would mean the universe was infinitely old. If it is infinitely old, then why hasn’t it run out of useable energy by now as the 2nd law of thermodynamics would state. Also, in order to get to the present in an infinitely old universe, an infinite amount of time would have to be crossed. But, it is impossible to cross an infinite amount of time to get to now. These problems would also mean that there could not be an infinite amount of past cycles of the universe where it expands and contracts forever. So, those explanations can’t work.
    If the atheist says that matter and/or energy have somehow eternally existed before the universe, just in different forms, then the same issue of crossing an infinite amount of time to get to now would negate that idea. But, this explanation would pose yet another problem. If the necessary conditions for the cause of the universe have always existed within the pre-existent matter and energy, then the effect of the universe being formed is a necessary result of that matter and energy; and the universe would have been formed an infinitely long time ago. But this can’t work since it would mean the universe would have already run out of useable energy by now (entropy problem again)–not to mention the perpetual problem of crossing an infinite amount of time to get to now. So, that explanation doesn’t work either.
    Okay, so the universe, which is comprised of matter and energy, cannot be infinitely old in its present form or any other form. So, how did it and ultimately we get here? Atheism can’t help us here. So, let’s turn our attention to the other option: a personal cause. If there is a personal influence, which means a personal being that acted upon the universe, then we have an explanation for the cause of the universe. Let me explain.
    A rock doesn’t suddenly change from being a rock into say an axe head unless acted upon by something else. For matter and energy to change and form something new, they must be acted upon from the outside. So we must ask what acted upon matter and energy and caused the universe to exist?
    Whatever caused the universe existed before the universe. Since the universe had a beginning in time and since matter and energy do not spontaneously change and arrange themselves into something new, then the best explanation for the cause of the universe is an action that was a decision.
    In other words, a decision to act at a specific time in the past is the best explanation of the existence of the universe. Of course, we Christians would say this decision was made by a personal being whom we call God.
    You see? The atheists have nothing to offer us with the important issue of explaining how we got here. Atheism can’t answer one of the most important philosophical questions pertaining to our own existence. It is deficient and lacking and at best can offer us only ignorance and guesses.
    Okay, finally, even though it isn’t necessary in this video, I’ll deal with one of the standard objections atheists have when this topic comes up. What brought God into existence?
    The answer is simple. Nothing brought him into existence. He has always existed. He is the uncaused cause. Think about it. You cannot have an infinite regression of causes. It’s like having an infinite line of dominos falling one after another. If you go back infinitely in time to try to find the first domino that started it all, you’d never find it because you’d have to cross an infinite amount of time to get to it which is impossible to do. This would also mean that there you can’t have an infinite regression of causes. Furthermore, this would mean there would never be a first cause. If there is no first cause, then there can’t be a second, or a third, and so on; and you wouldn’t have any of them falling at all. But since they are falling, there had to be a first cause–that itself was uncaused that started the whole thing moving at a specific time in the past. So, too, with the universe. It was caused to exist at a specific point in time. The uncaused cause is God, who decided to create the universe and who, as the Bible says in Psalm 90:2, “is from everlasting to everlasting.”

  13. A

    Their are gods many ,Yahweh, is not, his name means that he is self existent, eternal,get this,yah ain’t no god,Yahweh is yahweh of hosts, a mass of persons,fig. Of all things he,it, i

    .first,last,beginning, ending, alpha,omega,

  14. I can’t believe I wasted all that time reading Red”s reply, just to have him kill his own argument at the end. After all that effort to prove that something can’t be infinite in time, he states that God is. I had a great laugh over it but it was a long way getting there.

  15. The doctrine of the Trinity gives some framework for what God was doing in eternity past. Why is there a common theme of relationship in this world? Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in eternal relationship in eternity past. Otherness and oneness for eternity. I believe this complete and eternal relationship could provide plenty of room in the expansiveness of the Trinity for thought, intention, movement, and relationship. All within the “boundaries” of God Himself. God as both listener and speaker. God as both thinker and referent to thoughts. Your argument seems to make a pretty solid case for the imminent value of the doctrine of the Trinity which kinda seems to put Christians theology at an advantage to what we see in explaining the world around us.

    1. “God as both thinker and referent to thoughts” That’s your answer? He thought about himself? So could he consider himself mighty? Compared to whom? Based on what accomplishment? Could he consider himself wise? Based on knowing what exactly? Could he consider himself holy? What sin can you commit when you are the only thing that exists? Murder? No. Lust? No. Theft? No. This is ludicrous! All of those things are completely meaningless without context. Look at the lengths you are going to to justify what is essentially a childlike belief in magic. If you don’t understand how a physical process could have brought about something, then there MUST be an invisible, magical, eternal, all-powerful being who did it. That’s the biggest non-sequitur in human history! There is no such thing as magic!

  16. So I could spend a few lifetimes considering photosynthesis, but you can’t imagine that it would be possible for God to take some time to consider HOW he would create, or what world he WOULD create or what he COULD create. You have created a massive straw-man named “the God without imagination, relationship, and even your common faculties of internal thought” and then disproved His existence. I agree with you fully. That God of your own making doesn’t exist.

  17. Referencing the two questions “How could he think if there was nothing to think about? How could He possess knowledge if there was nothing to know? ”

    If God existed, there was something to think about; God. In fact, there was a LOT to think about.

    I think, therefore I am

    God knew He existed, so He had knowledge.

    He used that knowledge to create wisdom (see Proverbs 8). So, we have an eternal, immortal, omnipotent being possessed of knowledge and wisdom, thinking for an eternal changeless non-time. Your argument fails.

    1. He thought about himself? Name something you can think about yourself if you are the only thing that exists. Is he mighty? compared to whom? Based on what accomplishments? Is he just? What case has he ever decided? Is he holy? what sin could be committed if nothing else exists? Is he kind? To whom? Please elaborate John. Give an example of what he could think about himself with zero context.

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