Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H


Is there evidence for the existence of God?
Antony Flew told us to assume that the proposition that God exists is false until arguments are developed to show that the proposition is true. So if there is no evidence for God that means you assume that he does not exist.
It has been suggested that Flew has gone too far.
Brian Davies says if you meet Brian Davies at a party and he says he is Brian Davies then you are not being irrational if you believe him without developing arguments as to why you think he is telling the truth (page 32, The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil). He adds that if we need arguments before we believe signs telling us where London is or what people or books or anything say we won’t be able to live at all.
I have four responses to this.
1 – If you meet somebody saying his name is Brian Davies at a party and believe him that is fine. If you meet a stranger at a party who claims to be the king of Spain then the claim is outrageous and you would be entitled to look for verification first. It would be reasonable to. God is an outrageous claim so you need outrageous evidence before you can believe in him.
2 - The arguments are still being used. You believe him that he is Brian Davies because your argument is that you can't see why he would lie to you. You believe many things because you have the arguments all done for yourself long ago. When you were a child you might have found yourself sceptical about a lot of things that you later saw you shouldn’t have been sceptical about. This led you to believe that most signs are correct and most people give their real names at parties. So you did believe Brian Davies was his name because of arguments after all. You had the arguments at the back of your mind. We always use arguments whether we realise it or not.
3 – Even if it is true that we cannot live if we look for arguments all the time that has nothing to do with the question of, “Should we look for arguments all the time?” It is reasonable to believe that Brian Davies is his name because we are unable to look for arguments all the time. In other words, it is only reasonable because we are stuck. It is reasonable to believe a notorious liar who claims to be directing you to the fire escape in a burning building for it is an emergency and his testimony is all you have got. Back to the man claiming he is Brian Davies at a party. If he is not Brian Davies then we are unreasonable in another sense – we made an assumption that what was untrue was true. In that case, it is an issue of logic not practicality. Flew is discussing logic not the practicalities of believing in God.
4 - It might be reasonable yes to take his word for it that he is Brian Davies. But it is obvious that it is far more reasonable to look for reasons that he is telling the truth!
Flew was right.
Religion commonly insists that the existence of God is demonstrable by reason. The most significant exponent of this claim is the Roman Catholic Church. And it did it while using its alleged infallibility. “At the First Vatican Council in 1870, the Catholic Church declared that it is possible to solve the problem of God by scientific and philosophical reasoning. But it has never asserted that all men, in actual fact, succeed in doing so” (Jesus Hypotheses, page 15 – see also page 31). Nothing could be more dishonest than to say that proving God’s existence is possible although we are unable to do it for we might never be able to do it. If reason can prove it and it hasn’t done it yet then there is something wrong with our heads. If we can’t prove something so important then we are so barmy that we should be depended on in nothing and this revelation from God through the Church Council implies that evil is the true good.

If the proofs for God do not work then it follows that God can be done without as an explanation for the universe and the existence of material things. If a God made us and he is the necessary being, the being for whom non-existence was logically impossible, then we have less to feel grateful about for there is more gratitude in feeling that chance started it all off for we are so lucky to be alive.
Christians reply: “But God freely decided to make us. He might have decided not to make us at all. And you say there is less to be grateful about if he exists and has made us!”
I reply, It is very likely that if we don’t need the God explanation that it can be done without. We might be wrong but at our present level of understanding we have to take it as the probable truth that God is fictitious. To wish then that God existed and was the one who had the power to make all things would be sheer fanaticism. Why? Because we would say it was up to him to make us if he wanted to and if he did not it would be just fine. At least with the chance you would say the chance was programmed to happen and our emergence was inevitable which you cannot say with God. To wish God existed would be wishing and willing the situation to be one in which we might not have come to be and that is not on. To respect God and wish he existed is to respect something that might have chosen not to make us at all. We have more respect and gratitude for our existence without God.

Anyway, let us put the claim that reason proves God on trial.
All the proofs begin with the assumption that God must be a spirit, that is, a being who has no parts. A partless being doesn’t need a maker for it is totally simple. Only complex things need to be made. If God were made of matter we would have to wonder about what made God and there would be no need for the hypothesis. Spirit is an incoherent idea so the proofs are useless. Everything that is said about Catholic teaching about God can be found in On the Truth of the Catholic Faith, Book One, Thomas Aquinas, Image Books, New York, 1961 or any copy of the Summa.


Could God make sense even if God cannot be supported with evidence? And what if God cannot be proven? You need to prove spirit is the best or only explanation but you cannot.  When you speak of God as being a spirit person then why not a spirit computer or spirit abacus or a spirit anything?


When you assume a spirit does not need a maker and then set out proofs that is cheating.  What if something simple does need a maker?  A wall that is a mess of paint needs a designer less than a wall that is pure white!
The Five Ways
St Thomas Aquinas taught that there are five ways to prove the existence of God. They would be the strongest arguments if they worked. You will notice that you can tell by looking at his proofs that there cannot be any other because they are based on being and design. So if they fail there is no hope of proving God. Let us look at them.
Proof from Motion

All things are moved by other things. Nothing moves by itself. All things must be moved by something that does not move. This something is God.

If nothing moves unless it is moved by something that moves then this argument disproves God’s existence for God does not move.
The Causality Argument

All things are caused and must be caused by what is not caused. The uncaused cause is God. God is self-sufficient so he depends on himself to exist and nothing else.

If all things are caused then what caused God? Once more the proof would refute God if it had any value. Moreover religion believes that God causes himself which contradicts the proof.
The argument tends to be read as saying, "If something happens now it is caused by something else. That something is caused by something else too. And we go on back to the start of time and we get a first cause. This cause has no cause and is God."
Religion says it is saying that but much more than that. It is talking about dependency. If there was a first cause, that first cause is also the current cause - its the reason things don't revert to nothing right now. So the first cause is not just starting things off but sustaining them. It is a sustaining first cause.
But if the first cause notion is faulty the whole argument is faulty. The sustaining is actually irrelevant. If an uncaused cause is a problem at the start of time, it is still a problem for the present moment.
Suppose all things have actually being created for the first time this very moment. You will still have a link of causes that go to the uncaused cause. The length of time does not matter.
Aquinas believed in the first cause but he did not believe this proof proved it and nothing more. He believed it proved not just a first cause but an uncaused sustaining cause. That is to say God has no cause but himself and he creates all things now in the sense that he holds them in existence. He causes the present moment. So it is not like he just set everything rolling aeons ago and sat back. He is still doing the same job. Aquinas believed that if the universe was as eternal as God that it would not mean that God did not exist or that God was not needed to explain this. If an eternal universe can exist if there is a God then the argument that an infinity of moments are in the past (unless time can change direction like negative numbers change at point zero to positive numbers) is absurd therefore there must have been a first moment of creation is wrong.
Imagine a film that is made up of different pictures of a doll. When the film is run the doll appears to move because each different picture is flashed so fast before you. One might think that the doll was causing itself to move if one did not know. How do we know that the change that is around us is not something the same? It could be that instead of lifting my arm I am tricked to think I have done this while what really happened was that I was replaced when my arm was down by a replica that has the arm lifted. Much of modern physics rejects the idea of time being something that moves. It is like the film which is made up of things that do not move but appear to move. It only appears to move but it doesn’t (page 129-130, God and the New Physics). It could be then that instead of causality existing in the universe and moment A causing B that God causes A and then moment B separately by two acts which mimic A causing B. It is hypocrisy for the likes of Aquinas to use the doctrine of causality to prove God for God is detrimental to it. God means it cannot be proved. Now it is admitted by all believers in God that if God exists then he is several powers in one undivided power without division. We make the distinctions in our way of thinking but there is no distinction. So perhaps nothing causes anything except for God causing himself and perhaps we and all that exists is a manifestation or appearance of God in strange forms. For example, the tree we see outside could be just something that God has imagined. We could be God pretending to be people. The book, Reasons for Hope, claims that the foundation of the arguments for God is the law of non-contradiction and the law of causality or contingency (page 15). They rest on an invalid foundation that is wrong. Christians cannot prove that God is not a contradictory concept. They think that proving God exists is enough to prove that he is not contradictory but what if there is something a bit wrong with our heads that leads us to the wrong conclusions? In any case, it is certain that the law of non-contradiction alone cannot prove God but can only do it in unison with the causality proof which does not work so all proofs for God are a shambles.

And if God causes himself this causing is both not causing and causing because only what did not exist before now can be caused now and God always existed so he caused himself before he caused himself so the word cause is not honestly used in relation to God at all (page 291, An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis). For cause meaning cause as in causing yourself before you cause yourself is not our use of the word cause. Religion uses many words with outlandish meanings to delude the faithful.

All agree that since God is a timeless being he could have created time that never had a beginning. Some add that he could never have used a first moment of time because there was no moment before time meaning time always existed and was created by him (page 140, The Puzzle of God). But it is possible to imagine that the present moment was just created and there was no past. The past is different from the present and the present different from the future therefore when they are different the first moment could have been created without a past. The past does not exist anymore for Heaven’s sake! If time can exist without a first moment then there is no time. But nevertheless since God has infinite power and was always there it follows he could have made time that never had an origin. It has been said that if there was a first moment of time then time was made by a force in eternity or the timeless state and that it is ridiculous to think that this could be for there was no moment in eternity or time from which this moment was created (page 140-141, The Puzzle of God). Nobody said, “Let there be time”, and time was made for there was no moment to say it in. The answer is that eternity is a moment that stays the same without a past and a future so this argument is wrong.
The notion that God is the uncaused cause makes assumptions that need proving as well. It assumes a force that has no parts and which is like a disembodied mind or computer can exist. But it is only an assumption so the uncaused cause proof is not a proof but an assumption.

The Proof from Necessity
Some prefer to call it the proof from dependence (page 7, Part 1, Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine) for it says that God is the only being that does not depend on anything to keep him in existence and that he made the universe for everything in it depends on something and he is the thing they ultimately depend on.
It says that all things need something to hold them in existence and that needs nothing but himself to exist. It is really just the causality argument in another form. To refute one is to refute the other.
The Design Argument
Religion says that since there is a necessary being and all things are designed that this being must be the designer. Even if that being made an angel that designed all things he gave the angel that power and designed things indirectly through the angel and maintained the design so design proves God. But that being would have to make all things from himself. You don’t say that the modelling clay designed the model.

The argument then is no use at all by itself. It only has value if you already think you have proven God. Take it on its own. Design might prove a designer. But the designer need not be a God or God.

Also if God designed all things in the universe, then we need something he didn't design to compare it with what he has designed. You only know a clock has been designed because you can compare it with items that seem to have no design. But to say God designed all things is to say you cannot compare the clock with items that haven't been designed. So how can you tell then that the clock has been designed.
Does goodness imply the perfection of God?
Aquinas held that good things are made only by better things and better things by better things and so on and so on until infinity proving that there is an infinite God of goodness.

Good things can be made by equally good things so it does not prove God. A magical good force would do, so positing a personal god is overdoing it. Even if there were nothing there would still be some good in that so goodness does not require a power or person, to make it or cause it, to exist. There is no good magical being up there for we would not be suffering if there were. Though religion says God had to logically exist like 1 + 1 have to be 2 it is clear that there might have been nothing instead and in many ways that would have been good and yet this good has no cause. Also, when religion says that God makes himself for all things have a cause it follows that God makes himself out of nothing. So there could have been nothing and when the good of being an existing thing comes from nothing it follows that Aquinas’ argument is incorrect.
Do Not Lead to a Personal or Good God
A major fault in Aquinas’ proofs is that none of them lead us to the Christian doctrine of a perfect and personal God. If they did allow for a good God it would not follow that this was necessarily a good for us God. The goodness of God need not be about us. Goodness is not about us. It does not exist for us.
The most the proofs would show, if they worked to any degree, is that there is an omnipotent and impersonal and amoral force. To use them as proofs for God is to drop integrity. The Handbook of Christian Apologetics says that not one of the twenty proofs for God it gives proves that God is good on their own but says they do this when taken all together (page 50). That is impossible and we must remember as well that none of the proofs are honest. If X does not prove that God is good and Y does not prove it and Z does not prove it then how can they do it if they are put together? They cannot. Then the book contradicts itself by giving as proof 4 the argument used by Aquinas from the degrees of perfection implying a supreme infinite perfect being.

Aquinas imagined that since to cause something to exist is to cause a perfection in the sense that you have done it perfectly so if God caused the first movement God must be perfect (Chapter 28, Summa Contra Gentiles). But this only requires that God be a perfect mover. I am not perfect but I can move a table perfectly. God might have the power to cause the first movement and things take off from there. He would not even need to be an intelligence to do that. The Handbook of Christian Apologetics says that when God is the source of all being he must be perfect for evil is failure in the sense of something failing to be the being it should be (page 96). But the fact that we have a vast universe with nearly all of it empty and useless is a falling short of what should be, so there is no God. The proof cannot prove that there is a perfect God but it might show that whatever holds all things in being is only good at causing but not being morally good. So, that is the proofs of Aquinas all dealt with and found wanting.
You can believe in an intelligent spirit being that controls all things and still be an atheist for this being is more like a clever machine than a God. Religion claims that the maker of the universe must be perfect for he made many perfect things and has infinite power and intelligence. But he can be perfect without being morally perfect. When it does what we think is morally wrong the act is perfect in the same way a perfect art form can look incomplete and still be perfect for it was perfect as it was intended. If we are the same being as that being, similar to Pantheism, then we will live forever. Religion says that if the being makes us conscious persons then it must be a conscious person because being perfect it cannot make anything better than itself. But it is perfect the way it is. The way it is, is perfect for it. These considerations prove that if such a being can be proved it is not a personal God or entitled to worship and that a personal and loving God can never be proved.
If God exists, then pantheism is true. Pantheism says we are God already so we have no need to obey a God like the God of religion that is separate from us and presiding. 

There is no evidence or proof that God exists. It is a matter of faith and blind faith at that. Those Christians who say there is no evidence are right (page 26, 98, Taking Leave of God). 

Argument: We have an innate desire for God.


Answer: Many disagree and why are most people not that interested in God?  You have no right to say God lets terrible things happen when you only believe in him because you want him to exist.  Even if that is part of the reason it is not good enough.  The matter is too serious for that.  If you see a miracle, an act that shows that God makes and controls nature by doing something that looks magical - eg making a brick talk to you, then you will not care unless you already want to believe in God.  The desire argument is the true driving force behind the argument that miracles show God exists.  Religion says a miracle is done to show God's love and that magic is different.  But in fact both claim to change nature so essentially there is no difference.  And religion loves unloving miracles and the loving ones are a matter of interpretation.


Argument: We experience God.

Answer: What God?  Those who experience God communicating with them soon learn that they are imagining it.  Nobody just an experience of God - they have an experience that God has revealed himself in a book or religion but all those accounts contradict each other.


Argument: Beauty shows us there is a God.

Answer: But God has no parts!  If he can make beauty good for him but he cannot be beautiful.  The beauty should be better than him!


Argument: If there is no God there is no morality - moral opinions yes but nothing you could call a moral fact.

Answer:  A dying baby needs help because it is a baby that suffers and not because there is a God.  If you had to think either of God or the baby then the truly human person will think only of the baby.


Attempts have been made to show that once you understand what God is you will see that he has to exist just as surely as once you understand that what an equilateral triangle is, you will see it must have three equal sides. Such attempts are doomed to failure. They seek to prove a God who is goodness itself literally. But good is abstract. It is not a thing. It is not a thing in the way 1+1=2 is not a thing. If God is 1+1=2 then he cannot exist. The idea of God is at best beyond our understanding and at worst contradictory. The latter is the correct assessment. Ontological arguments are based on human arrogance and on a sleight of hand. What we have said refutes them in all their forms.  
Even if the proofs worked or were evidences for God rather than certainties, there is still the proof of suffering and the experience that we are not God to stand against them. This would be a paradox. We would have to conclude that there is something we cannot grasp that explains it. We need not assume that our reason is defective at this point. And we know that the proof of suffering and experience would be stronger than the other proofs for the other proofs are worked out like sums while suffering and experience prove themselves without working them out and are more direct. What is proven directly to my consciousness supersedes even what is proven by reason in a more indirect fashion. Or what is direct supersedes what is indirect and harder to prove. To ignore the evidence of human suffering and prefer to assume there is some explanation when you don’t have one speaks of a certain hardness in your heart.

There is no evidence that God exists. Therefore there is no obligation to believe in him whatever the Bible and the Church might say. Any harm done over the belief is evil because there is no evidence to support the belief. God or not, the opportunity arises to do good and he is irrelevant. We have to get on with it.
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