A week or so ago, I had a Twitter “debate” with a theist who was running around claiming he could prove God was real. I know, I know, it was a waste of time, especially on Twitter, but I asked and he essentially threw the Quinque Viae arguments at me, which I’ve covered before, the existence of the Cosmological argument, etc., was all it took to convince him that God must exist. So I said fine, let’s debate Kalam and I referred him to my assessment of the claims made. Of course, he was not impressed and I didn’t expect him to be. He was entirely unable to appreciate or understand the very basic problems that many of these classic apologetic arguments have.
However, he did toss two rather unusual things my way, both of which I wanted to address. The first is the easiest. He kept claiming that because anything exists, God did it. Now before I took the next step, I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he was saying there was some kind of first cause, whatever it was, and he was just choosing to name that indeterminate first cause “God”. I’ve run into that before, where people don’t necessarily hold a Christian model for their primeval cause, but no, this guy was determined that it was God, the guy in the Bible, yadda yadda yadda. So I took a different tack. I asked him how he knew it was God and not Zeus or leprechauns or magical pixies? Nope, it couldn’t be any of those things because he was convinced that any other option, any other deity, any other entity, was simply being proposed as a means to take God out of the picture. This should have been a huge red flag, and in fact, it was. It plays uncomfortably close to the ridiculous idea that everyone knows God is real, some people just refuse to acknowledge it because they’re in league with the devil or whatever. While I never asked directly, I would bet good money that’s exactly where his beliefs lie.
But no, I continued and decided to try to point out the causal failure of the Cosmological argument. You cannot get from the existence of the universe to demonstrating that a specific god actually created the universe. It cannot be done. To generate a valid causal link, you have to be able to move from A to B to C and on down the line, showing that A was the cause of B and B was the cause of C, etc. Theists simply leap from A straight to Z with no demonstrable evidence in between, just the claim that it had to be that way and they refuse to accept any other answer. It’s like going into a court trial and declaring “we found this guy dead, we found that guy a couple of blocks away, he must have done it!” Even though they can’t even show that it was a case of murder, or that the perp they fingered was even in the area when the crime happened, this is the only answer they’re willing to accept and it’s a grand conspiracy to even suggest anything different.
Yet that’s exactly where this “debate” went. I asked him to demonstrate that God actually created the universe, or that God even exists. He could not. He admitted as much freely. I asked him why leprechauns or Odin or the Flying Spaghetti Monster couldn’t have done it and he returned to his “those are just things to take God out of the picture, God is the only one who could have done it”. How does he know? Because God is possible. Yes, that’s right, God *MIGHT* exist, therefore he is completely justified in believing that God not only does exist but God is responsible for whatever he wants to declare God did. I asked him if other gods are not equally possible, but he denied it, saying that the only conceivable use of other gods, in his mind at least, was to lead people away from the only God that actually exists.
It was soon thereafter that my head exploded and he suddenly “had to go”. The amount of face-palming that was going on was mind-blowing. It reminded me of trying to debate a 5-year old about the existence of Santa Claus. The 5-year old is supremely convinced that Santa is real and nothing can ever convince them otherwise. Therefore, they’ll ignore reality and mentally contort to get around any possible danger to their Christmas security blanket.
So I guess my question is, what is it about some theists that they can never progress beyond the level of a 5-year old? After all, virtually all children eventually conclude that Santa Claus isn’t real. Why did this theist never improve beyond such an immature state? Worse yet, why was he so utterly oblivious to his failure to mature? We can sit and laugh at this guy and his ridiculous beliefs and more ridiculous rationalizations, but he represents a sizable percentage of theists, people who are so fanatical about their beliefs that they are incapable of identifying their own fanaticism.
These people are a problem that need to be addressed.