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.