Sunday, September 17, 2006

Prager’s God of the Gaps, A Plea for an Exemption

This post is in response to an "Ultimate Issues Hour" segment entitled "Who made God" on the Dennis Prager radio show, September 12th 2006, and can be listened to here.

Dear Mr. Prager,
Recently on your program during the "Ultimate Issues Hour" you took the position that because the universe exists, then a creator God must have "made it". You claim that this is a very powerful argument for the existence of God. You assert that the claim that "the universe made itself" is absurd. Furthermore, you characterized the objection in the form of a question "Who made God?" as a non-sensical one.

I have several objections. First, is the language employed. The word "made" implies active, creative, and conscious activity. To say that the universe "made itself" is indeed non-sensical. IF God exists, and it created the universe then the word "made" is appropriate. An atheist should not propose that the universe "made itself". Indeed, nothing can "make itself". But of course your use of these particular phrases is a way to stack the deck in your favor. Instead the atheist should propose that the universe came into being by natural processes, or that the universe is "self-caused".

If the theist argues that the existence of the universe requires a creator, why should the skeptic grant the theist an exemption for the explanation of God's existence? Simply because the theist defines God as something that "just is" and always has been, not requiring explanation? Why is this necessarily superior to the assumption that the universe "just-is", self-caused and came into being through natural processes? I argue that the only things exempt from explanation are imaginary things that do not actually exist. If you claim this, then the exemption is granted.

The concept of God is a total mystery. Theists typically claim that God is a non-material being, but a conscious "spirit" being. The word "spirit" is used to speak of disembodied (non-material) consciousness. Nobody has demonstrated the existence of "spirit" or given an adequate account of the possibility of its existence. There is only speculation of the existence of "spirit" in theology and other forms of religious thought.

On the other hand, as it now stands, cognitive sciences have revealed that consciousness, "the mind", is dependent on the material activity of the brain. Although it is not well understood exactly how consciousness arises from the electro-chemical activity of the material brain, scientists are working on this problem. We should not assume that they will never solve the problem of consciousness.

Is it possible that a special being (a God) with conciousness, a mind, but without a brain can exist? A disembodied mind? I think it is doubtful, and there is no reason to assume it true.

As to how the universe came into being, a simpler hypothesis with fewer assumptions is preferable to a more complex hypothesis with more assumptions. The hypothesis that the universe came into being by means of natural processes, without an external cause requires the universe, and the assumption that it is self-caused. The God hypothesis requires the universe, the assumption of God, and the assumption that God is self-caused. The latter hypotheses is obviously more complex, and assumes the existence of a mysterious entity not demonstrated to exist.

One often hears the argument that something cannot come from nothing. Therefore, a God must be the source of the something, the universe. But why should we permit the assumption that a God can come from nothing? Or that God has always been?

You, Dennis Prager, object that science does not have an answer to what proceeded and caused the Big-Bang which brought the universe into being. Indeed, science does not have the answers to every question that can be asked, and it may never have ALL the answers.

However, that does not mean that religious answers to these questions are by default correct. This is the "God of the gaps" argument that pretends to answer these questions. The theists should not be able to set up the rules that support their desired conclusion, and then declare that these rules are not relevant when the same rules can be used to question their premises and desired conclusion.

You, (Prager) claim that the question "Who made God?" is a non-sensical question. Perhaps so; but only to the extent that the concept of a God that is outside of time, space, and nature is equally non-sensical.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having lisened to radio prog you refer with Dennis,thus on behalf of power of creation I apoligise that you being much offended.... Feel justified your complaint be treated respectfully....there be no dispute to your reasoning.... In your case you were are in need greater depth in understanding, again you have humble apoligies, t bullshit put in guise of truth... HOWEVER..there always an however. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Dennis not speak unto you alone but to the many many others whom not as BEING advanced as you ARE in thought....Yet for some Dennis made much sense... as some little sense,but a seed planted which in mercy as time give, independence thus freedom... from superstition religious teaching, brainwashing. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^