Wednesday, January 2, 2013

There's a website at that claims to "prove" the existence of none other than the Christian God using nothing but logic. The website is both inane and hilarious, so it's worth a tour.

The front page is simply a trick to make you choose the "absolute truth exists" option. For example, if you choose "I don't know if absolute truth exists", it just jumps to a false dichotomy trick question (where the only options are "absolutely true" and "false", lacking the option "I already said I don't know".)

But anyway, let's play their game and see if they succeed in "proving" anything. We choose "absolute truth exists." It jumps to a page about how it's going to logically prove the existence of God. Pay special attention to this particular sentence:
This website offers logical proof, not persuasion.
We'll remember that and hold you accountable for that promise if you don't deliver, so let's continue.

The next pages go on about trivial questions of whether laws of logic, mathematics and science exist. Of course I'm suspecting that what they mean by "exist" might be just slightly different than what it should be, but let's just play their game for now. (It's a whole branch of philosophy that discusses what it means for abstract concepts, ideas and descriptions to "exist", and what the author of this website means by "exist" in this context might be misleading, but let's not go there now.)

Then they present the question of whether absolute morals exist. This is a very nuanced issue, and it depends a lot on what you mean by "absolute", and they are presenting a dichotomy here that may well be false, but let's just play their game for now and just choose the option that they do exist.

Then comes the question of whether these concepts are material or immaterial. Again, it's a philosophical question of definition of what it means for them to "exist", what they depend on, and whether they could even be considered to exist if there were nobody thinking and formulating them. But let's still play their game and say that they are immaterial. It's not like it's such a big deal.

Then comes the false dichotomy of whether these concepts are universal or, as they call it, "individual." There is no option for "I don't know", which would be the correct one. (After all, I really don't know if, for example, the laws of physics, or even logic, apply to a possible "outside" of this universe, if that exists. I most certainly can't say that the laws of "morality" would apply to this possible exterior, if it exists.) In fact, science makes the assumption that the laws of physics apply equally everywhere in this universe, but they do not assert it with absolute certainty; it's simply that based on observation so far there's no reason to believe otherwise, and assuming that they apply everywhere the same has worked very well so far.

The false dichotomy is even more blatant in that it contrasts these laws being "universal" or "individual", the latter meaning "each person can decide them at a whim" (as seen if you choose the latter.) They completely leave out the possibility that they may be the same for our local observable universe, but might be different somewhere else, which is not a complete impossibility (especially when it comes to the laws of physics, not to talk about the much more abstract concept of "morality".)

But anyway, that's not really a big deal. Let's continue with their game and say that they are "universal." (After all, they might very well be.)

And we go to another false dichotomy: They ask if these laws are unchanging. There's no option for "I don't know," which would be the correct answer. (If you choose that they are changing, they give a hilarious argument about your day-to-day personal experience and how you assume that everything works today as it worked yesterday. Yeah, like that's a definitive proof that they have always been the same since the beginning of time and will be for infinity...) Fine, let's keep at their game and choose what they want me to choose and go on.

Now, finally, after all these silly games, we get to the beef. The actual "proof." So what is their "logical proof" that God exists?

They just jump to the Bible, quote a vague passage, and just state:
The God of Christianity is the necessary starting point to make sense of universal, abstract, invariant laws by the impossibility of the contrary. These laws are necessary to prove ANYTHING.
Wait, what? Where exactly did the bible step in all of a sudden? Or the God of Christianity? Not just any supernatural all-powerful being out of this universe, but "the God of Christianity" in particular. Where exactly are the missing steps from the previous game to the God of Christianity? Leap in logic much?

They summarize this "proof" in the next page as: "The Proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn't prove anything."

I see where this is coming from. This exquisite circular logic is exactly what Eric Hovind is so fond of proclaiming. And, what do you know, the website had been made by one of his pals.

The inanity continues in the next page:
Note that the proof does not say that professed unbelievers do not prove things. The argument is that you must borrow from the Christian worldview, and a God who makes universal, immaterial, unchanging laws possible in order to prove anything.
There are many other gems there as well, such as "only the Christian worldview can logically support rationality."

There's just so much wrong with this. It's making so many unjustified claims, leaps in logic, and logical fallacies that it's hard to even try to list them. (But just to mention one: Even if it were absolutely true that "Christian worldview" contained all the laws of logic, physics and morality, how exactly does this prove the existence of a god? You know, two worldviews can come up with the same conclusions by observing the universe. And what exactly proves that Christianity invented these laws first? Ok, I'm digressing here quite badly, so I'll just stop.)

Then it asks if you believe in God or not. If you answer that you don't believe, it goes to a page that starts with: "Denying the existence of God is not unbelief but an exercise in self-deception. You may know things, but you cannot account for anything you know." And so on.

Now, remember what I quoted at the beginning of this post? "This website offers logical proof, not persuasion." What else is this other than persuasion? There's not a shred of logic here, only logical fallacies, vague references to the bible, and claims of "self-deception" if you don't accept their claims.

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