Saturday, March 26, 2011

NonStampCollector posted a video on YouTube in which, after about eight minutes of rambling on, he challenges theists to explain how there is one God of the universe as opposed to three, 15 or x number of gods. I couldn’t resist a challenge like this, so I formulated an answer. Basically, if there are many gods of the universe then the world would be a much more chaotic place as each god would want to form and rule the universe in a different way. The competing gods would likely oppose each other like they do in Homer’s “The Iliad.” Since the universe is orderly we can conclude that there is just one God who formed it.

Here is my Monotheistic Argument:

Premise 1—If there are many gods of the universe then the universe would be very chaotic and able to  support physical laws, as each god would oppose how the others formed and rule the universe.

Premise 2—However, the universe obeys laws and is very ordered.

Premise 3—If there are many gods of the universe then there would be many competing sets of objective moral values.

Premise 4—However, there is one set of objective moral values.

Therefore—Since the universe is orderly and there is one set of objective moral values there is just one God of the universe.

Say that god A wants a universe without stars so they, after the big bang, set the strong nuclear force stronger so that hydrogen and therefore stars couldn’t form. God B on the other hand wants a universe with stars so they set it at the current level so that stars can form. If these two gods were equally omnipotent who would win this disagreement? What if god C wants a universe without gravity, but god D likes gravity? Since there is gravity that allowed planets to form by causing matter to lump together we know that god C didn’t win that argument as the universe was forming, but say C decides to eliminates gravity and then D reestablishes the law of gravity. If this were the case the law of gravity wouldn’t be a law because gravity would exist at one moment and not exist at another moment—the world would be a very chaotic place. Since the world is orderly we can conclude that one God formed and rules the universe.

In the same way, say god A rules that raping and murdering people is a virtue while B rules that these acts are an abomination. Which god would win this argument? Since most everyone knows deep down inside that raping and murdering people is wrong and that being loving your neighbor as yourself is a good thing we can conclude that one God established objective moral values.

Objections
I guess you could try to argue that there are no objective moral values, but that would put you in the very difficult place of saying that there is nothing wrong with The Holocaust, torturing little children; or intentionally destroying the environment. I think most objectors would argue against premise one by saying that there could be a council of gods where, somehow, the gods all perfectly agree on how to form and rule the universe. This seems pretty unlikely that many gods could come to a perfect consensus. Disagreements about how to do things seem inevitable. The gods would come to a disagreement and there would be a battle of omnipotent beings which would cause chaos in the universe. Besides the chaos of multiple gods, I could also argue that if one omniscient, eternal god is capable of ruling the universe then why would there need to 50,000? If there was one omnipotent God ruling the universe then there wouldn’t be the chaos inducing disagreement of multiple gods.

1. "Premise 4—However, there is one set of objective moral values."

Are you sure? Can you explain this claim further? Can you offer me a list, you know, objective moral value #1, objective moral value #2, and so on?

I would hope that, since you make this bold positive claim that "there is one set of objective moral values", you would have the ability to list them for us.

2. Hi Bob,

Welcome to Intellectual Feast! It looks like you made your way here from DC.

By objective moral values I mean that something is good or evil independent of what humans think or feel is right or wrong. For example, the Nazis who were gassing innocent Jews believed that their actions were good, but because there are objective moral values we can say that those actions were evil. If there were only subjective values then these actions wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.

Moral values and duties are grounded in divine commands; they are not independent of gods. Divine commands come out of the nature of that particular god. Say god A is a just and loving perfectly good god. God A would command that killing innocent people is wrong and that helping starving people is good. On the other hand, god B is an evil god who commands that rape and killing innocent people is good. If god B were ruling the world then we wouldn’t say that somebody who goes around punching random people in the face is behaving badly, in fact, they would be behaving virtuously. Say god C is somewhere in between gods A and B; somewhat good. God C could rule that might makes right, so in the Nazi example, if the Nazis had won WWII then, since they were in power, killing Jews would be a good thing. If gods A, B and C were all omnipotent gods of the universe then whose commands would stand? If all three gods’ commands stood then nothing would be objectively right or wrong. This clearly is not the state of the world because we all know deep down inside that raping little children and killing innocent people are objectively wrong actions. Since this is the case we can conclude that God A is the sole God of the universe.

3. Hi Keith...yes, I visit DC often.

"For example, the Nazis who were gassing innocent Jews believed that their actions were good..."

"...then nothing would be objectively right or wrong. This clearly is not the state of the world because we all know deep down inside that raping little children and killing innocent people are objectively wrong actions."

These two statements seem contradictory. Either the Nazi's "believed their actions were good", or they fall into the category of "we all" and "know deep down inside that killing innocent people are objectively wrong."

So, which of your statements is correct?

But lets try some less extreme examples, can we? I mean, I think we will agree that killing the innocent is "wrong" or bad. How about killing the guilty? There are some who are against capital punishment. How about cutting off the hand of a thief? How about a thief who was starving and just wanted to eat?

Even less extreme - what is the objective moral values with regard to abortion? What should we do to the 15 year old girl who has an abortion? The 40 year old woman? The medical staff who perform the procedure? This is an act that happens thousands of times a day. What should we do?

I suspected that you would not answer my initial question. I have never gotten a straight answer from a Christian on what exactly are these objective moral values. I am not asking where they come from or what a few of them are...I want to know what every single one of them are. For it is completely useless to us humans to believe there are moral absolutes, and that they are the product of bible God, yet we don't know what they are. Useless!

It is a very simple question Keith. You know (believe?) that there are objective moral values. Can you list them, all of them? Perhaps start with diet, how much sleep is "good"? What gas station should we purchase our fuel from? How long should my hair be?

If there are no objective moral values governing these subjects, fine. Is it the case that, if it isn't found in the bible then it is of no concern to bible God?

4. Premise 1—If there are many gods of the universe then the universe would be very chaotic and able to support physical laws, as each god would oppose how the others formed and rule the universe.

Why would the existence of several deities bring about disorder? Perhaps they would balance one another out. How do you know that the various powers would vie for control of the universe? Being gods and goddesses, they might be more perfect than we humans and not feel petty jealousy towards one another.

5. Wait a minute, Bob, you said, “I think we will agree that killing the innocent is "wrong" or bad.” How could we all agree on that if there were no objective moral values? If moral values were subjective then we couldn’t come to this conclusion. According to god B killing innocent people is a virtue. If gods A and B were ruling the universe then how could we say that killing innocent people is wrong?

Just because some Nazis had been brain washed into believing that Jewish people are evil and so felt that killing Jews was a good thing doesn’t mean that killing innocent people is objectively good. In fact, some Germans like Oskar Schindler and Albert Göring, the brother of Hermann, felt sorry for the Jews and helped some survive. Even the German officer, Wilm Hosenfeld, helped Jews escape because he felt guilty. People from Italy, Spain, France, Japan and China helped Jewish people escape because they knew that killing innocent people is objectively wrong.

The monotheistic argument is not intended to be a catalogue of moral do’s and don’ts. It simply says that if there were multiple gods then there would be multiple sets of moral values, but since we can agree that there are some objectively right and wrong actions then only one God is ruling the universe.

I’m no moral judge so I’ll leave it up to your conscience to decide where to fill up your car or how much sleep to get.

6. Kieth - "Wait a minute, Bob, you said, “I think we will agree that killing the innocent is "wrong" or bad.” How could we all agree on that if there were no objective moral values? If moral values were subjective then we could’t come to this conclusion."

I said "we", meaning you and me. I also said "I think", assuming that you and me will agree that killing the innocent is wrong or bad. And I don't think objective moral values are absolutely necessary for you and I to agree. Subjective morality does not automatically rule out agreement...agree?

I think we both will agree that driving under the influence of alcohol is "bad" in that it could result in the injury or death of the innocent. But what is the objective moral value that deals with drunk driving?

"...if there were multiple gods then there would be multiple sets of moral values, but since we can agree that there are some objectively right and wrong actions then only one God is ruling the universe."

So that's it...? We agree killing innocents is wrong = one and only one God (your God)? Amazing!

So, what we have is your claim that there are absolute moral values that have their origin in your God...bible God...but you can't tell me what these absolute moral values are.

What you have is an empty claim that adds nothing to any conversation. Why bother bringing it up?

7. Hi themaverickjester,

Welcome to Intellectual Feast! The disagreements between the multiple gods wouldn’t have to be as extreme as what we see in “The Illiad” for there to be chaos in the universe. Any disagreement in how the universe would be ordered would be enough to cause chaos. Say the gods were arguing about whether or not there should be gravity and each is equally powerful; they wouldn’t balance each other out they would cancel each other out. There could be a council of gods, but each god would have to be in perfect agreement about how the universe is ordered as well as perfect agreement on moral commands. It doesn’t seem plausible that multiple gods would be in complete agreement about governing the universe. If all the gods were in complete agreement and were equally capable of ruling the universe then why would there need to be 50,000 interchangeable gods? You could subtract 49,999 gods and have the same exact result—one god capable of ruling the universe.

8. When the guilty kill the guilty without being given authority then that blood is on the hands of the guilty, but if a righteous man kills a guilty man, that is justice. Man being a depraved creature is guilty so man killing man is a crime given the provisions of the new covenant to love one another until the righteous man returns to execute judgement, having overturned, for a time, the command to stone adultery and the like in order to give mankind a chance to repent.

Yahweh gave the command to Israel to exterminate the Canaanites and wipe out their names from under heaven. Now to the modern Christian laity such genocide seems out of character with their conception of God, yet all that happened in the Mosaic community was an analogy for what is to come, and the Christian laymen should not forget that the return of the Son of God will usher in a global extermination not seen since days of Noah. Should man judge? No. Will Yahweh judge? Most certainly.