gods

I’ve written many articles about atheism, atheists, theists, gods, logic, rationality, ethics and morality etc. but as this is my 100th published post on Answers in Reason I wanted to do a special post. I wanted to give you an insight into my past and what lead me to my present, as well as how AiR came about and eventually lead to our podcast and YouTube channel.

I felt it would be good to address why I believe no gods exist and go into detail about the various arguments. This article will cover what I mean by god or gods, my history with religion(s), what led me to not believe in the first place, and what arguments I find compelling for the nonexistence of the aforementioned gods.

  • So What is a God? – P1
    • Classical Theism
    • Polytheism
    • Deism
    • Other forms of theism
    • The Types of gods I do not regard as gods
  • What led me to Atheism in the First Place? – P2
    • Preschool
    • Primary School
    • Teenage Years
    • The 20’s
      • Keyboard Warrior Phase
      • Birth of AiR
      • Definition of Atheism
      • Fresh AiR Podcast
  • Arguments Against Gods Gods Existing – P3
    • Divine Hiddenness
      • The Hiddenness Argument
    • Logical Impossibilities
    • Problems of Evil
      • Logical
      • Evidential
      • Teleological
      • Evolutionary Suffering
      • PoE Summary
    • Arguments Against Gods Gods Existing – P4
    • Multiple God Concepts
    • Errors
    • Testimony
    • Experiences
    • Literalism & YEC
    • Deism
    • Moral Arguments
      • Meager Moral Fruits
      • Morals on our hearts
      • Immoral Doctrine
    • Incoherence of Gods
    • Arguments Against Gods Gods Existing – P5
    • Models that Work Without Gods
    • Gaps are Closing
    • Religions Fade
    • Evolutionary Explanation for Religion
    • Free Will
    • Metaphysical Naturalism
    • The General Unclaimed God
    • Bad/Incomplete Arguments for Gods
    • The Ongoing Refinement and Reinterpretation of Religions
    • Theodicies
    • Souls
    • The Afterlife
    • Summary of the Arguments Against Gods
  • Am I open to the Possibility a God Exists? – P6
  • Do I Believe Religion/Theism is Harmful?
  • Do I Believe Religious People are Stupid?
  • Do I Believe a Theist Can Be Rational?
  • What Would change My Mind About Gods?
  • Closing
  • References

First I feel we should define what I mean by a god.

So What is a God?

I see a god as a conscious powerful entity that can control the universe, or at least aspects of it, much like the good of classical theism or the polytheistic gods worshipped by folks like the Norse. Or even the deistic take on god would count.

Classical Theism

The God of classical theism is the metaphysically ultimate being, seen as the creator of the universe, has the omni-characteristics, is the necessary being etc and is the centre of monotheistic religions such as Christianity and Islam.

Classical theism’s ancestry includes Plato, Aristotle, Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism. It entered Judaism through Philo of Alexandria (§4), reaching its apogee there in Maimonides (§3). It entered Christianity as early as Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria and became Christian orthodoxy as the Roman Empire wound down. Though more and more challenged after 1300, it remains orthodox. Classical theism filtered into Islam as early as al-Kindi (§§1–2)Al-Ghazali attacked it as the view of Islamic Aristotelians, and it suffered in Islamic orthodoxy’s successful reaction against Aristotle.

https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/god-concepts-of/v-1/sections/classical-theism
God, concepts of
By Leftow, Brian
Accessed April 2022

That said, modern iterations of the Christian God are often adaptations of this classical theistic take. Not quite so limitless but still the perfect creator god that is the most powerful being that can be conceived. This is often in an attempt to deal with some of the contradictions that come up when the god of classical theism meets religious doctrine. These amendments are acceptable for me to still regard this being as a god.

Polytheism

Polytheism, the belief in many gods. Polytheism characterizes virtually all religions other than JudaismChristianity, and Islam, which share a common tradition of monotheism, the belief in one God.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/polytheism
Britanica.com
Accessed April 2022

The polytheistic versions of gods are often human-like imperfect supernatural beings that largely seem to be personifications/controllers of natural processes and emotions. The stories about them seem to show them having quite an active role in history, especially the greek pantheon and the Norse gods.

You had gods like Thor or Zeus who controlled thunder and lightning, for example.

In many polytheistic stories, even though immortal there were certain weapons or spells that could be used to kill the gods.

When it comes to Hinduism, there seems to be an almost blend of classical theism and polytheism, they have a supreme god, Parambrahman, that did the role of creating everything even the other gods who then took on other roles and may have created other things. The comparison that could be made here would be perhaps with Christianity with the God Character, Jesus and the angels. The difference is, Hindus will give praise to their individual gods, perhaps feeling an affinity with certain gods over the others but are all worshipping the supreme god by extension

Para Brahman in Hindu philosophy is the “Supreme Brahman” that which is beyond all descriptions and conceptualisations. It is described as the formless that eternally pervades everything, everywhere in the universe and whatever is beyond. Param Brahma is conceptualised in diverse ways.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Para_Brahman
Wikipedia
Accessed April 2022

Deism

There are some arguments over whether deism should be regarded as a form of theism or not. When you peel it [Theism] back it is the propositional content of the belief that at least one god exists. The deist god is a god so therefore it would seem like it is a form of theism and is how I would see it. That said, the argument against deism being a form of theism is that the God Character is( or can be) so different to those in the monotheistic/classical theistic/polytheistic sense as it is not personal or interactive in any way that it should not be regarded as a form of theism.

So what is the deistic take on God?

The deistic god is a supreme being with some similar qualities to the god of classical theism, except it does not intervene in the universe or wish for a personal relationship with people. It essentially created the universe and then left us to get on with it. There are specific forms of deism that have been influenced by religion, but classical deism is religiously secular (there is no religion) and leaves the deist with no more answers about the universe than the atheist (except for one I guess).

The term deism refers not to a specific religion but rather to a particular perspective on the nature of God. Deists believe that a single creator god does exist, but they take their evidence from reason and logic, not the revelatory acts and miracles that form the basis of faith in many organized religions. Deists hold that after the motions of the universe were set in place, God retreated and had no further interaction with the created universe or the beings within it. Deism is sometimes considered to be a reaction against theism in its various forms—the belief in a God that does intervene in the lives of humans and with whom you can have a personal relationship. 

https://www.learnreligions.com/deism-95703
By Catherine Beyer
Accessed April 2022

Other forms of Theism

pantheims panenthism

There are other forms of theism, like pantheism which is essentially equating the universe or existence with divinity, but this just seems like redefining the universe to be god, the universe exists therefore god exists and I don’t really accept that use. Also, if these are regarded as a form of theism, then why would some people argue that deism shouldn’t be regarded as a form of theism yet pantheism should?

When it comes to Spinoza’s take on God, I am sympathetic to the idea. He equated god to nature. Rather than a transcendent being, god is an eminent being that is the cause for all. This has some serious implications for free will, at least libertarian free will. Existence is god, and everything that exists is both part of and caused by god. All of our takes on gods are mere projections of human characteristics. He made the analogy that if triangles could talk and consider gods they too would describe them with triangle-like qualities.

To Spinoza, god is nature and is therefore natural rather than supernatural. But, if god is merely nature then I’m back to my question, why call it god?

Secular theism, aka non-religious theism, is simply that. Belief in at least one god but there is no religion or doctrine to follow. Some secular theists seem no different from deists, others might have a more spiritual take on their god(s) and some speak of energy or natural processes as god(s). Many theists find secular theists to be those that are “just making stuff up” and others will look upon those comments as “instead of following something someone else made up a long time ago?”.

A Really confused take on secular theism

The Type of Gods I don’t Regard as Gods

So, what I don’t accept is things like redefining natural processes, the universe, or energy to be a god, it just seems like redefining something to be God to conclude that gods exist. If there is no form of consciousness (even if it is consciousness way above and beyond our understanding), no intent, no will, I don’t see how it can be regarded as a god. Therefore, I do not argue against these forms of gods as I just simply do not think they are gods.


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