Monday, April 30, 2007

Proof that God exists!

A: If God does not exist then Life is absurd.
C: Consequently God exists.

C follows from A by reductio ad absurdum, while for A consider, e.g., that you are camping, and that lions are about to attack your camp, so you dress up as a ballerina and dance the tango with a twig, in your remaining moments. Clearly that would be absurd.

But if God does not exist then there is nothing that we can do to avert the terrible, inevitable extinction of all that matters to us. We can have no possible saviour if we had no greater Creator than the natural selection of random mutations amongst the rocks and stones. And if we are too petrified by that terrible fact to act at all, death will only come the quicker, so we must live as best we can, and act on whatever whim takes our fancy. To live is so to act, and furthermore we must do so in a world that will soon be lit up only by alien lights, as our own are extinguished.

We will not be remembered as who we knew ourselves to be, for all that we inhabit a world that is surely as we think it is, rather than as, say, the ancients believed it to be. Were the ancients just as they thought they were? Of course not, so consider what will ultimately be known of us by the alien language-users of the future? Might not we be no more than twigs to them? Now, although that ‘proof’ was admittedly not a very convincing reductio, it does raise some interesting logical questions.

E.g. if God's nonexistence is prima facie absurd then ought not the burden of argumentation to lie with the atheist? But how could we find good physical evidence of God's nonexistence? Cf. how, from a grainy photograph, we can't tell if we're looking through a microscope at Michelangelo's David, or through a telescope at a meteor (not without the bigger picture), or how, given only a short sequence of letters, we would be unable to tell if they were produced by monkeys on typewriters or by a brilliant crytologist.

(The following paragraph was added on May 9:) After all, empirical evidence, even of quantum mechanics, need not undermine belief in the existence of this Universe—we need only say that that is more or less how this Universe appears to be (maybe pausing to do some philosophy, to reflect upon how we represent our representation of it to ourselves). Similarly nothing within any sequence of words would necessarily undermine a justified belief in the existence of its author—perhaps its author is Joyce, or a Surrealist, or an alien and so forth (that its author is not Austin might of course be strongly indicated). And I have yet to discover why saying that finding no miracles, for example, might amount to finding evidence that this Universe has no Creator is so dissimilar to saying that finding no typographical errors might indicate that our string of words had no intelligent author (which is absurd). After all, even if there were unnatural events, scientists could hardly accept any evidence for them as more probable than its deceptiveness, whence (what Dawkins consistently avoids) the absence of scientific evidence could hardly imply the non-existence of the unnatural.

Another interesting logical question is, if atheism is true, then why should we care about (what we have somehow come to think of as) truth to the extreme of challenging major political blocks within our own society? And a more metaphysical question is, what’s so wrong about absurdity anyway? Why not embrace, say, paraconsistent logic, or Humean Supervenience?


Lindsay said...

I don't think that the initial proof works. A valid chain of inference would be: i) If ~P then Q. ii) But Q is absurd; c) ~~P, (so P). But your Q is actually "Life is absurd." [We can't let Q be "life" because this isn't a statement with a truth value.] So what you want to show is the absurdity of Q-- i.e. the absurdity of life being absurd. This will be quite a task.

Enigman said...

Or (i) ~P, but (ii) ~P implies an absurdity, so (iii) an absurdity, whence (iv) P.

That (iii) absurdity was only illustrated analogically, so I take your point. But an equally difficult task would be to show the absurdity of 1 = 0. We assume that it is not the case that 1 = 0, and I assume that it is not the case that life is absurd. I could give you some reasons for that assumption, e.g. pragmatic ones (of course).

Analogically, Descartes and Wittgenstein asked us to consider whether or not a god or demon could be fooling us about 2 + 2 = 4. If so, then absurdities would abound. And so not so. Maybe that is just wishful thinking? Anyway, that is also how I feel about the absurdity of life: maybe life is absurd, but maybe 2 + 2 = 5. We can hardly act on the assumption that 2 + 2 = 5, and I can hardly act on the assumption that life is absurd.

Enigman said...

That is, I doubt that I could act rationally under the assumption that 2 + 2 = 5; and similarly, I doubt that I could act rationally under the assumption that my life, along with everything else, was absurd, that my life (and all its aspects) essentially concerned nothing more than the temporal persistence of certain patterns of chemicals (not unless I redefined ‘rationally’).

licentiaexsententia said...

It seems to me as if your second paragraph is an attempt to exploit the human desire for a feeling of safety, in order to convince them that a deity will swoop down from the sky and save them when this planet crumbles.

John Lerrato said...

God does exist. I have proof or rather a test that can prove my theory. its