God: The Failed Hypothesis, by Victor Stenger

the-failed-hypothesis.jpgFriends,

I know most of you are going to be rushing right out to buy this book, so before you do, please read this review. It might just help you to save the $20 you will spend at amazon. Benjamin Wiker writes:

Stenger’s argument is this: We do know enough to disprove the existence of God (big G) because we can define the attributes or effects big G would have in His interaction with the world; and since we can define them, then we can test the particular big-G model against the evidence that would either vindicate or annihilate it. Thus, he isn’t actually arguing that no god exists, but that the big G (“a God having the attributes that are traditionally associated with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God”) does not exist.”

Here’s more:

Stenger argues that any claim of evidence put forth by a theist—be it an actual miracle or some scientific fact that seems to point to the existence of God—cannot count as real evidence “if a plausible scientific model consistent with all existing knowledge can be found” that makes God’s existence unnecessary. For if such a model can be imagined, “then the [theistic] claim fails.” And now hold your breath, because this is a direct quote of the very next line: “The [scientific] model need not be proven to be correct, just not proven to be incorrect.”

In other words, Stenger doesn’t actually put forth an argument at all. And, if what Wiker writes is true (and I have no reason to doubt it) then why is it always the so-called ‘Abrahamic’ God (big G) that is being attacked? I think it is just one more piece of evidence that suggests atheists are terribly afraid of the Abrahamic God. After all, doesn’t it make sense to suggest that you can only really attack something that is real? I mean, logically speaking, if the Abrahamic God didn’t exist, would Stenger, Dawkins, Harris, et al have anyone or anything to attack? Their books would be quite meaningless (they are anyhow).

But I have noticed this about these atheists who write these books attacking God or writing about why ‘he almost certainly does not exist’ (to borrow a chapter heading used by Dawkins). They never actually provide conclusive evidence that God doesn’t exist. They provide plenty of anecdotal evidence that the people who belong to said God cast him in a bad light because of their behavior. But for all their vitriol and hypotheses, they never have so much as a single shred of evidence that proves God does not exist. Their best argument is: “God doesn’t exist.” So Wiker:

As the history of science should make evident, since such models regularly replace one another, relying on consistency and practical use to define a scientific model only tells you that, as far as you know, this is the best way to describe such and such. It does not make a demonstrably definitive statement about all reality and hence all possible knowledge. No scientific model—on Stenger’s own definition—could demonstrate what it would have to demonstrate either to prove the existence of what it describes or to prove the non-existence of what doesn’t fit the model. Therefore, Stenger’s entire argument proves nothing at all.

Precisely. And isn’t that exactly what he set out to prove? Maybe someday atheists will come clean, be honest, and just admit that even though they know in their hearts that there is a God, specifically the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, they simply do not want to believe in Him because then they would be forced to submit to Him.

jerry

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  1. Ye Gods!

    Check your logic and your atheist sources — most acknowledge that you cannot logically disprove a negative.

    Your disapproval would make me inclined to buy Stenger’s book, but I already knew what you say he has written.

    I think Stenger’s point is that the Bible does make unsubstantiable claims about natural events. Since the huge body of scientific knowledge provides an empirical (falsifiable, testable, verifiable) body of knowledge that better explains those naturalistic claims, then the God of the Bible is effectively reduced to an infinitessimally small probability and is, in essence, disproven.

    The burden of proof, or disproof, does not logically fall on the atheist. The burden of proof falls on the claimant — those theists who have failed in over 2,000 years to prove Yahweh, in almost 2,000 years to prove God, and in 1,400 years to prove Allah (same mythical entity, different dogmas).

    So, atheists do not believe in God because of the lack of evidence, the immeasurably better explanatory power of science, and all the religious mythology that strains credulity.

    You say that atheists are arguing against something that must exist — sure, we argue against illogic, ignorance, misinformation, pseudoscience, bigotry, and religious violence. Those all exist and, though not all theists exhibit all of these, the correlation is too high to dismiss as a problem confined to fundamentalism.

    As to atheists fearing God, you are utterly mistaken and you are projecting your own fears onto people who genuinely have none of the fears that you apparently love to imagine. There is *nothing* to submit to except stupidity and I have never been impressed by foolishness.

    Go ahead, make the empty threat that all atheists will go to hell for their disbelief. Theists merely want to believe all the myths about atheists because theists cannot imagine being free of indoctrinated fear.

  2. Friend,

    I suspect you don’t sign your name because you afraid that someone might find out about your real ideas. Oh, well.

    As I wrote at your blog, I won’t make empty threats that I cannot personally uphold. I don’t need to.

    So far the only argument you have leveled against my belief in God is that I am stupid or foolish or otherwise. OK. I can see how your highly educated mind would think that an insult is equivalent to proof.

    Yes, yes. Check logic. Check sources. Check this and that. When will you atheists learn that insults are not proof? When will you learn that you only make my point when you are so full of anger? It is your very anger, not your reasoned response, that shows to whom you belong.

    I didn’t have to read past the first two words to know what you would say. It’s the same as Jon, Joe, Ken, and half a dozen other atheists who say the exact same thing.

    But I have an empty tomb in the middle of history on my side. You don’t.

    Thanks for stopping by,

    your friend,
    jerry

  3. Joe

    “So far the only argument you have leveled against my belief in God is that I am stupid or foolish or otherwise.”
    If you read what he actually said, maybe you would have picked up that his real argument was that there was no evidence to support the existence of god.

    “I didn’t have to read past the first two words to know what you would say.”
    Ah that explains it. You prefer your personal prejudice to the actual views expressed.

  4. eblack

    agreed, jerry. empty tombs trump.

    some people will remain like thomas….
    they will need Jesus in person, with holes in the hands…

    thanks.

  5. E,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I certainly needed to see a friendly reply today. I appreciate it more than I can express.

    jerry

  6. Bad

    In other words, Stenger doesn’t actually put forth an argument at all.

    I don’t think that’s accurate at all. Stenger’s tactic is that by removing the necessity of theist explanations by providing live alternatives, we completely undercut their usefulness as arguments for theism.

    But for all their vitriol and hypotheses, they never have so much as a single shred of evidence that proves God does not exist.

    You have it quite backwards. If you insist that God exists, you need to prove it. All skeptics have to do is show that your reasons and proof are flawed and cannot lead to your conclusion. That’s how the burden of proof works.

    The reason that these writers are not asserting that no possible God exists is that anyone can keep changing around the attributes of God or inventing endless ad hoc excuses to avoid ANY argument, especially when they aren’t bounded by any natural laws or even evidence. That’s one reason the burden of proof exists in the first place.

    Anyone can claim that, for instance, we are all disembodied brains in vats hooked up to a virtual reality simulation. And there is no ultimate, unbeatable way to “disprove” such a claim. But no one has to do so: those that make it have to provide reasons to think it’s true, or else there’s no reason to take it any more seriously than countless other possible things.

  7. Bad,

    Thanks for the input. But you too are wrong. I’m not asserting that ‘any possible god exists’ and I’m not ‘changing around the attributes of God’ or ‘inventing ad hoc excuses to avoid any argument’ that are not ‘bound by any natural laws or even evidence.’

    In fact, I’m claiming just the opposite. I’m claiming the God of the Bible exists–and only the God of the Bible. I’m claiming that he is exactly what the Bible says he is: Righteous, holy, just, loving, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and that He sent his son Jesus Christ to earth to die for the sins that we have practiced.

    Furthermore, I’m claiming that my evidence is in fact historical: It’s the Resurrection, completed and accomplished after the death of Jesus in space, time, and history. It is attested to by eyewitnesses who wrote down their eyewitness accounts for all who came after them. Jesus did his work in history for all to see. That, my friend, is evidence.

    I also disagree that I have the burden of proof. The only reason you say that is because you begin with the premise that God doesn’t exist. However, that is not the place to begin since it is inherent in all of us that he does; we also see this in our ability to make moral judgments.

    So, in fact, there are plenty of evidences that God does in fact exist. But I suspect that you too are another whose eyes have been blinded by the god of this age. You cannot begin with the premise that everything that is has always been. Contingent beings, which we are, ‘cannot cause another for the simple reason that everything cannot be contingent’ (Geisler). In other words, ‘every finite being needs a cause.’ (Geisler)

    Anyhow, good luck!

    jerry

  1. 1 God, the Failed Myth « Adeistic

    […] the Failed Myth I wrote this in response to a typical theist post reviewing God: The Failed Hypothesis, by Victor Stenger by dangoldfinch at Life Under the Blue Sky: The View From […]




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