Deities

As I will be talking about controversial topics, we need to get some things out of the way. One of these things is religion. I am not religious. Actually, I am quite a virulent atheist. Although I do not usually feel the need to justify that opinion, it seems appropriate to devote one or two paragraphs to repeal any religious fanatics that may want to use this blog to attack science in general.

There is no such thing as god. Why? Because that concept makes no sense. If you were to explain the concept of god to someone who didn't know anything about it, you'd invariably end up defining it as "the entity that created the universe", the universe being then defined as "all things that exist, except god". As such an entity is unobservable and unprovable, proponents of the god theory resort to logic to deduce its existence. The bottom line of these arguments is that everything has a cause and that god is defined as the cause of the universe. The problem is that such an entity is ill-defined.

The concept of cause cannot be arbitrarily applied. Causality is a concept we use everyday, to link actions to their effects. It is not a property of objects or actions. It is a kind of mental arrow. It exists in our heads, within the framework of models we make of the real world. It is not because you define a model where the universe is an entity (a thing which in itself is dubious — since the universe would by definition include the model) with an arrow pointing to it with god as its origin, that there is an object in the real world corresponding to that origin. Also, is god part of the universe? Did god create itself? If we define the universe as everything that exists, speaking of the cause of the universe thus makes no sense.

Note that it is also perfectly possible inside a well-defined model to have effects without definable causes — you just need to have a circularity in the cause-effect graph. In more mundane terms, the chicken-and-egg analogy shows that every effect has not necessarily a unique cause. Hence deducing by analogy that the universe must have a cause is a fallacy.

Now one can imagine that the human race has been created by a race of intelligent beings whose advanced technology made them appear like gods. That is something entirely different from the monotheistic gods and is not covered by the above discussion.

I also believe most religions are false even if there was such a thing as a god. (I say most because I'm talking of the ones I know something about.) If you look at the three big religions, not only are their holy books full of falsities, they are also obviously immoral. I won't explicitly name those religions because I don't want to have my throat slit by a fundamentalist - that would serve no purpose.

Summary: there is no god because it doesn't make sense; and all major religions are false because, well, they are old pieces of junk full of falsities.

2008-06-06