Oftentimes Theists complain to me, that there are no good positive arguments for Atheism and that we’re under the impression that Atheism is the default position, meaning if they can’t prove God or provide evidence, then they should become Atheists.
While I do agree with that view, I’m also realistic enough to know that most people won’t give up their beliefs without a good reason being presented from my side. That’s what I’m attempting to do this week: Provide positive arguments for Atheism and I’m going to start with a little bit of deductive atheology where I will take a look at God’s attributes and how they backfire.
The first attribute I want to consider is “perfection”. Most Theists hold to the view, that God is absolutely perfect, the greatest being ever who has no flaws whatsoever.
With that in mind, let’s look at an argument originally from Theodore M. Drange against the existence of God:
P1: If God exists, then he is perfect.
P2: If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
P3: A perfect being can have no needs or wants.
P4: If any being created the universe, then he must have had some need or want.
P5: Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe (from 3 and 4).
C: Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5).
I think this argument is valid in form but is it sound? I contest that it is and here’s why:
I don’t think Theists will object to the first two premises. That’s simply what God essentially is. It’s going to get controversial with premise 3.
It of course largely depends on your definition of the word perfect but if it is flawlessness and maximal greatness then I would say God probably doesn’t need anything and he is perfectly satisfied as is.
One of my friends on Twitter @atheisttothemax did offer an interesting escape for God by postulating that “Creating the Universe might be his last need in order to reach perfection” . As far as I’m concerned this is a legitimate way to escape the argument but I don’t think many Theists were going on board with this and it does come with devastating theological implications, because it means that God still wasn’t perfect when he sacrificed Jesus on the cross, since he still had that need. In other religions similar problems arise. God needed the last revelation in form of the Qu’ran meaning that he wasn’t perfect until it was finished.
Other than that I see no I see no reason to reject the premise because every need or want God has would imply that he’s imperfect as he lacks something.
I find premise 4 to be solid too. If God has no needs nor wants then he really has no motivation to create anything. If one says “he did it out of love for us” then didn’t he have a want to show his love or a need to show his love?
Additionally God is also a personal being that is like us: Pretty much all of my actions are out of motivation to fulfill a certain desire or need that I have. Sure, I might go through some troubles in order to get there but I need a certain motivation in order for me to take action.
If God has no want to create anything and has no need to create anything then he didn’t create anything. And yet we observe a Universe.
if 3 and 4 are accurate then 5 and therefore the conclusion logically follows.
It might be the case however that the argument is flawed. I’m always willing to consider that. So if any Theists out there see flaws in the argument then by all means tell me what they are and I will adress them in the future or concede your point.
With this argument out of the way, I want you to consider the following:
What is perfection really? Some theologians have identified certain “great making properties” like maximal power, being all loving etc. .
But what if we muddy the waters a little? If we go for example to aesthetic values.
What does it mean to be perfectly good looking? Everyone has different ideas concerning that. Does he have perfect muscle mass? I’m sure at some point many women become grossed out if a guy is too muscular. What is the perfect hair colour? What does the Universally perfect beard look like or is being shaved maximally virtuous?
You might object and say that God has no aesthetic values, but then he would be lacking something again, wouldn’t he?
Does God have the perfect opinion concerning political issues? According to many Christians he should have an opinion, since he was the one who appointed Trump.
Unless we reduce “God being perfect” to a tautology then I don’t think we have a definition of “perfect” that covers all bases and therefore we don’t exactly know what it means to be perfect, aside from being without any flaws at all.
You don’t need to know everything about something in order to believe that it’s true but you should be able to define what it is. If you can’t then I don’t know what you’re talking about and I highly suspect that you don’t know either.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation