Undermining rational thought

I stumbled upon this hilarious website called proofthatgodexists.org. The emblem of the site is a circle containing the URL and the words “Absolute Apologetics,” as well as a tic-tac-toe board with X’s in all nine spaces — I guess to drive home the degree to which they feel they’ve won.

The site leads you through a bunch of obvious statements, then tries to conclude by asserting that the Christian god exists. They sell this unambiguously as a definitive, absolute proof (emphasis mine):

You have likely heard that it is impossible to prove that God exists. You have heard wrong. Not only can the existence of God be proven, denying the proof undermines rational thought. It is true that God does not need anyone, let alone this website, to prove His existence. The Bible teaches that the existence of God is so obvious that we are without excuse for denying Him. No one needs proof that God exists, I simply offer these 8 steps to the logical proof of God’s existence in addition to what you already know (and may be suppressing).

… If you are honest with what you truly believe, this website will lead you to the proof that God exists. This website offers logical proof, not persuasion. It is my hope and prayer that God will renew your heart and use this site as a tool to help you understand your condition, lay down your arms, and accept the promise of salvation, and the peace which passes all understanding.

For an intellectual atheist like me, this is (on face) really exciting! Finally, the evidence and logical inference I’ve been promised by so many believers, here on a website with a URL I could have just guessed! Don’t hold your breath, though.

There are a few rabbit holes you can go down along the way, but they all loop you back onto the main track or kick you out to the Disney website (really), so I’ll just list the main path for you here along with my commentary.

  1. Absolute truth exists.
    Sure. I think that there is a reality. We can make statements about this reality that could be absolutely true or absolutely false.
  2. Laws of logic exist.
  3. Laws of mathematics exist.
  4. Laws of science exist.
    2-4 should all be pretty self-evident. We can duke it out the comments if anyone objects, I guess.
  5. Absolute moral laws exist.
    I know this statement is not without controversy, but I’m comfortable agreeing with it. I think we can begin with some basic principles about right and wrong and derive rules for morally good and bad human behavior.
  6. Laws of logic, mathematics, science, and absolute morality are immaterial.
    This is just amusing. They actually pose this question: “are [these laws] made of matter, or are they ‘abstract’ entities? – are they physical or non-physical things?”
  7. Laws of logic, mathematics, science, and absolute morality are universal.
    By this they mean that these laws are the same regardless of who is asking, and where/when in time/space they might be when they ask.
  8. Laws of logic, mathematics, science, and absolute morality are unchanging.
    Agreed. Just because we improve our understanding of science, morality, etc. doesn’t mean that the truth itself has changed.

If you’ve had any experience debating theists on the subject of their beliefs, you are probably wincing in disgust right now in anticipation of the non sequitur that’s about to happen. We’re getting ready for the punchline of the Transcendental Argument for God (TAG).

To reach this page you had to acknowledge that immaterial, universal, unchanging laws of logic, mathematics, science, and absolute morality exist. Universal, immaterial, unchanging laws are necessary for rational thinking to be possible. Universal, immaterial, unchanging laws cannot be accounted for if the universe was random or only material in nature.

…The God of Christianity is the necessary starting point to make sense of universal, abstract, invariant laws by the impossibility of the contrary. These laws are necessary to prove ANYTHING. Therefore…
The Proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn’t prove anything.

For a moment, I gave the author of this site the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps, I thought, they have a liberal interpretation of Christianity and simply defined “god” to be “the set of all universal laws about reality.” Of course, this was naive of me. The first Q&A on the main site you get to after you’ve made it through this sorry excuse for a proof says:

What are some of God’s characteristics?

God is a personal being (not an impersonal force). God is immaterial, omnipresent (everywhere), omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnibenevolent (all good), immutable (unchanging), sovereign (supreme in authority), free, perfect, and eternal (without beginning or end). As the creator and sustainer of the universe it is understandable that there are some characteristics of God that are beyond our ability to comprehend. For instance God is one divine being in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each are equally and eternally the one true God.

God reveals His characteristics to us through ‘general,’ or ‘natural’ revelation, and through ‘special revelation.’ God’s general revelation includes what He has revealed to us through His creation in nature and in our God given conscience. Special revelation on the other hand is what God has revealed to us through supernatural means including His Son Jesus Christ, His Spirit, and His Word the Bible.

So not only do we have this bizarre and totally unwarranted assumption that universal truths can only exist if a deity exists, we somehow also sneak in there (via Bible quotes) that this deity must be the exact one specified by Christian dogma. And apparently denying the sense of this is what would “undermine rational thought.” Right….

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  1. My penis is the necessary starting point to make sense of universal, abstract, invariant laws by the impossibility of the contrary. These laws are necessary to prove ANYTHING. Therefore the proof that my penis exists is that without it you couldn’t prove anything.

    Yay assertions!

  2. I love how they go to all this effort to make a seemingly rigorous argument, laying out their premises one at a time, defining their terms, showing how each statement implies the ones that follow… and then, at the very end, they just suddenly drop in this massive, incredibly specific conclusion that has no relation whatsoever to anything they’ve said up till that point.

    Christian apologetics are like cargo-cult reasoning. They think that by reproducing the form of a rational argument, they’re also reproducing the substance.

  3. I thought that site was good for laughs. I chose “Absolute Truth Does Not Exist” it is just kept putting me into a loop. It basically told me I was dumb.

  4. I Stumbled onto a site similar to this and was excited, because I wanted to show you it. After listening to one of their podcasts, though, I quickly withdrew the idea and wondered why I couldn’t start my own site with such nonsense (and maybe even for a profit!).

    Like we’ve said before “proof” isn’t likely in this life. Anyone who claims such should be immediately put into a dunk-tank (because I’ve always wanted to use one of those, but never have).

  5. @Adam: Wow, yes, the cargo cult analogy is applicable to so much of theology in whatever religion. You’d think that after a few thousand years of this, they’d realize the airplanes full of supplies aren’t going to land …

    @Adrian: I didn’t want to take the time/space for this tangent in my post, but this group does have a conference coming up, which they’re charging $49 to attend if you register before the end of May. (Comes with free Chick-fil-A lunch!) If you decide to take a crack at this industry, do let me know. 😉

  6. Also, the whole god being logical common sense thing was addressed really well in a debate I watched a while back. I think it might’ve been Krauss and someone, but I’m honestly not sure.

    The point was made though, about the first cause argument, I think, that no matter how logical or common-sense you make god seem, science routinely discovers things that seem to violate all common sense, but are nevertheless demonstrably true.

    Relativity is my favorite example. Relativity *makes no sense*. If you went back in time to someone in 1800 and, “Nah, man, listen, listen. Time? Time goes *slower* when YOU go faster. Seriously.” they’d think you were fucking nuts. So would anyone before it was demonstrated. It flies in the face of every ounce of everyday common sense, but is absolutely, undeniably true.

    Or, as PZ Myers once put it, “Philosophy comes up with interesting questions, but science is what answers them.”

  7. Theists love to bait Atheists (and others) into talking about “Truth”. It is a slippery, slimey word loaded with cultural baggage. Best to dump it and work with better words right from the beginning — or at least define domains and methods (and you know they won’t/can’t do that!).

    Sniffle: my comment on your last post sits all alone and sad

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