1. There is no evidence for the existence of any god

Perhaps the reason most commonly adopted by people who believe in a god is that his existence is self-evident. For believers, the existence of god is so clear that even listening to arguments to the contrary or harboring doubts is a waste of time. Most of the world’s believers probably do not care to study debating the existence of their god for this very reason. They do not think it is possible for them to be wrong on this point because it is so damn obvious that they are right. After all, their god is everywhere. Their god has done everything. Their god answers prayers. Their god created the universe. Their god makes the universe work…. Nothing could be clearer than the existence of their god, they say. Many believers find it ridiculous to even consider the hypothesis that he might not exist. Whether it is obvious or not, belief in gods deserves to be subjected to critical analysis.

How is it possible, for example, that the “obvious” god of more than a billion Muslims is completely unrecognizable to five billion non-Muslims alive today? About five-sixths of the human population does not believe he exists. Nothing is more obvious to Christians than Jesus. So why do more than four billion people not believe in his divinity? One billion Hindus believe their gods are self-evidently real. But five billion other human beings do not feel the same way. This disagreement over beliefs dismantles any claim about the self-evidence of a particular god. Wouldn’t an evident god be able to convince at least most, if not all, of the world’s population of its existence?

Believers who claim that their god is self-evidently real should also explain what they mean. A tree in front of us is self-evidently real. A shoe on the foot is self-evidently real. How is an invisible, silent god evidently real? It should not be too difficult to convince others if this god were truly self-evident. Of course, believers already make an incredible effort to try to prove to others the “self-evidentness” of gods. Anything from songs to comic books, from missionaries to military invasions, has been used to try to get people to see a “self-evident” god. But for some reason, the results have been rather disappointing, because to this day, after two thousand years of Christianity and one thousand four hundred years of Islam, for example, more than half of the world’s population still thinks those two religions got it all wrong. How can this phenomenon be explained if it is true that Jesus and Allah are self-evident?

Any evidently real god should be recognizable by anyone, even Atheists.

Atheists are not the types to deny evidence, they do not close their eyes or minds when faced with evidence or strong arguments, they are curious people and want to know as much as possible about anything, they would never deny a scientific confirmation of the existence of a god. If the African god Fidi Mukullu manifested tomorrow in Times Square, they would stay glued to the TV or the Web to know every detail of this historic event. They would feel excited, not upset. An Atheist’s first impulse would be to try to get an interview with him to learn everything possible about what it means to be a god. Atheists are very intelligent people, they are more open-minded than believers, they are passionate fans of science and like to know all about the latest microbes discovered in the depths of the sea or the strange behavior of atoms for example. They could not look away from an unusual discovery, including a god, even if they tried. If the world scientific community brought overwhelming evidence for the existence of Fidi Mukullu, or any other god, they would feel no shame for being Atheists. They would just be grateful to have known something new and so important. If gods existed, they would be genuinely interested in learning about them.

The problem is that what seems obvious to many believers is not at all obvious to nonbelievers. The stories of the holy books have not convinced most people that there is one god rather than another. For centuries, brilliant theologians, monks, imams, authors and even many scientists have done their best to prove to the whole world the existence of their god. But none of them has even come close to that goal. Today, any secondary school student who knows a minimum of catechism and has a good science education can beat, or at least cast strong doubts on, the arguments for a god developed by the greatest religious philosophers in history. This is not to say that Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, C. S. Lewis, Jonathan Edwards and all the others were more ignorant than middle school kids, it just shows that there is a serious “ammunition shortage” when it comes to defending claims about the existence of gods.

Yet, a believer would say, someone up there is, there must be a god who created everything, the sacred scriptures speak clearly: “In the beginning…” the first words of Genesis introduce us to the demonstration of the existence of god centered on the first cause…

The rough outline of the argument in question goes like this:

  1. Everything has a cause or, perhaps, multiple causes.
  2. No thing is a cause of itself.
  3. Causal chains cannot extend to infinity.
  4. Therefore, there must be a first cause.
  5. The first cause is god. God therefore exists.

If we consider the common meaning of the term “cause” and, accept this argument, it is easy to identify god with the first cause. As believers say, god is the one who “started the dance.” What has happened then? Have we already found god? Is He the first dancer or the originator of the Big Bang? Problem solved? It would seem not at all; indeed, this argument is not even remotely decisive. Its first weakness lies in assumption number 1, which we might better formulate as: either all things have a cause, or there is something that doesn’t. Whatever path we take, the argument of the primary cause is leaking everywhere. If everything has a cause, it follows that God also has one and therefore, no primary cause can exist.  

If, on the other hand, something has no cause, of course it could be god, but why not the physical world itself? The person who claims that god is the incausate first cause often also ends up bragging about it, as if by this he has really explained something. We should instead ask this person: why couldn’t this incaused first cause be the physical world itself? Ockham’s venerable razor, after all, suggests that we “cut out” all superfluous assumptions, and after all, assuming the world itself as the incausate first cause has the great merit of dispensing with the unnecessary assumption of god. Moreover, all the questions that would follow from accepting the incaused existence of the physical world-“why does it exist?” “where did it come from?” and, of course, “what caused it?” – can also be safely dusted off with god: “why does god exist?”, “where did it pop up from?”, ” what caused it?”

The force of this objection is well evidenced by St. Augustine’s reaction to a variation of it. To those who asked him what god was doing before he created the world, he replied unnerved, “he was preparing hell for people who ask questions like this.”

So, for the believer, the explanation “my god made it” “the first cause is god” is simple, convenient and reassuring. The problem, of course, is that there is absolutely nothing to justify crediting a god with the existence of the universe. Believers before wasting their breath unnecessarily should first prove the existence of their imaginary god and then, prove that he created the Universe.

It is true that the Universe seems incomprehensibly vast and complex to us, and it is equally true that there are many questions that have so far puzzled scientists. Some mysteries of the Universe may never be solved. But this is ignorance, not proof of the existence of a god.

The best scientific explanation we have today for the origin of the Universe, as everyone knows is called the big bang theory, and at the mere mention of it some believers burst out laughing, dismissing it as hogwash and refusing to consider the evidence that supports it, other believers, on the other hand, consider the big bang a “proof” of the creation of their imaginary god. But is the big bang really the work of a god? Is there any reason, or the slightest clue, to suggest the presence of a divine being behind this great event? Absolutely not! This explanation of the origin of the Universe is not a belief and does not require one to have faith, there is nothing to suggest that a god had anything to do with the big bang, it is important for believers to understand that there are important differences between “my god made it” and the big bang theory. The former tends to be “hot air,” a conclusion based solely on faith (on nothingness), so it has no evidence to support it; the latter is a scientific theory derived from the scientific method.

Most believers unfortunately do not see an inch from their noses and continue to flaunt the ridiculous issue of “divine design”: “There must be a god who makes the world go round. The Universe, nature, physics, how do you explain the perfection of it all? For billions of years every piece has remained in place, everything works perfectly, if it is not the work of a creator how can all this exist?”

Although they have always been refuted, they keep grasping at straws by bringing forward the usual useless arguments, such as William Paley’s (18th century clergyman) analogy of a clock, according to which the making of a clock can be seen as analogous to the creation of the whole universe, the clock, implies an intelligent designer. Of course, this is an argument that almost all careful and sensitive people discover for themselves at some point in their childhood. Such an idea, throughout the course of history, has seemed absolutely convincing, absolutely true; now we know that it is wrong, superfluous and unnecessary. The Universe is explained by mathematics and its natural laws, which are autonomous and function on their own, therefore, they do not need any imaginary friends to function. We now know that the order and apparent predetermination of the living world is the result of an entirely different process, a process that works without the need for any designer and is basically a consequence of very simple laws of physics: the process of evolution by natural selection, discovered by Charles Darwin and, independently, by Alfred Russel Wallace.

So, let’s not talk nonsense! The analogy with a Paley clock is purely subjective, it means absolutely nothing; to say that a certain pattern or process shows order or systematicity, one must have an element of comparison with which to evaluate whether the object in question shows evidence of being designed or ordered. We have an element of comparison, a general pattern, and that is the Universe itself, from which we draw our ideas. We have observed this Universe and its functioning and have called it order. To say that the Universe is structured according to an order of some kind is equivalent to saying that the Universe is structured as the Universe. It cannot mean anything else.

If I see a poem written on a piece of paper, I come across a mousetrap or, in Paley’s watch, I intuit that these are human projects. If I catch a glimpse of a protein chain under a microscope, I have no similarly stringent arguments to prove that it is the product of an intentional design. The redundant complexity of biological structures, with its load of information, in itself does not imply that they are the product of an intelligent design comparable to human design. We can also explore the reverse route, which is to ask what features we expect to find in an intelligently designed object, formalize them, and then compare them with the features we find in the more complex objects found in nature. Those who have tried have noticed that the properties and evolution of artifacts are completely different from those of genetically based biological systems.

What we commonly do is use probability calculus, statistics and common sense to assess whether an object is presumably the result of human design. There are so many influencing factors, including our background knowledge: if we read a poem or observe a machine, we know it is an artifact because it has a specific pattern, an organization that we recognize as the result of intelligent activity.

Let us now examine another argument of believers against evolutionism. For they tend to cover themselves in a mathematical garb and then focus their criticism by pointing out its evolutionary impossibility.

The reasoning goes like this:

“It is impossible for DNA to have formed on its own, it is impossible for something like the eye or any other physiological mechanism to have formed without intelligent design, it is impossible … it is impossible …”

If DNA, the eye and any other physiological mechanism exist, it means that it was possible so it would be time for them to change the repertoire with: it is unlikely but not impossible. The origin of life and its evolution on Earth are simply the result of the development of a series of self-organizing processes of matter, a sequence of processes governed by the natural law of chance (or, probability) in a temporal succession of events characterized by irreversibility and unpredictability, so it was chance that came into play, but not in a single, monolithic act. On the contrary, a whole series of small random steps, each small enough to be a credible product of its predecessor, occurred one after the other in sequence. These small steps are caused by gene mutations, random changes-true errors-in genetic material. They give rise to changes in existing body structure. Most of these changes are harmful and lead to death. A small portion, however, induces slight improvements, leading to improvements in reproduction and increases in survival. From this process of natural selection, those random changes that are beneficial are eventually passed down through the species and become the norm. And we prepare for the next small change in the evolutionary process. After a thousand of these small serial changes, each providing the basis for the next, the end result has become all that we see.

Let us explain it in somewhat more precise terms. For a species or biological process to evolve, a very long sequence of highly improbable mutations must occur. Assuming that these mutations are independent events, it follows that the probability of all of them occurring and in the correct order is given by the product of their respective individual probabilities, which is always a microscopic number. For example, the probability of obtaining the series of outcomes 3, 2, 6, 2, 5 by rolling five voices a single die is 1/6×1/6×1/6×1/6, i.e., 1/7776, which is one chance in 7776.  The evolution of a new species or biological process requires a much longer series of chance events and thus leads to tiny probabilities. This is why creationists argue that the hypothesis of evolution can essentially be considered impossible. Behind this reasoning, however, lies a gross error: in each organism only one of many possible evolutionary paths has been completed.

“It is impossible for DNA to have formed on its own, it is impossible for something like the eye or any other physiological mechanism to have formed without intelligent design, it is impossible … it is impossible …”

If DNA, the eye and any other physiological mechanism exist, it means that it was possible so it would be time for them to change the repertoire with: it is unlikely but not impossible. The origin of life and its evolution on Earth are simply the result of the development of a series of self-organizing processes of matter, a sequence of processes governed by the natural law of chance (or, probability) in a temporal succession of events characterized by irreversibility and unpredictability, so it was chance that came into play, but not in a single, monolithic act. On the contrary, a whole series of small random steps, each small enough to be a credible product of its predecessor, occurred one after the other in sequence. These small steps are caused by gene mutations, random changes-true errors-in genetic material. They give rise to changes in existing body structure. Most of these changes are harmful and lead to death. A small portion, however, induces slight improvements, leading to improvements in reproduction and increases in survival. From this process of natural selection, those random changes that are beneficial are eventually passed down through the species and become the norm. And we prepare for the next small change in the evolutionary process. After a thousand of these small serial changes, each providing the basis for the next, the end result has become all that we see.

Let us explain it in somewhat more precise terms. For a species or biological process to evolve, a very long sequence of highly improbable mutations must occur. Assuming that these mutations are independent events, it follows that the probability of all of them occurring and in the correct order is given by the product of their respective individual probabilities, which is always a microscopic number. For example, the probability of obtaining the series of outcomes 3, 2, 6, 2, 5 by rolling five voices a single die is 1/6×1/6×1/6×1/6, i.e., 1/7776, which is one chance in 7776.  The evolution of a new species or biological process requires a much longer series of chance events and thus leads to tiny probabilities. This is why creationists argue that the hypothesis of evolution can essentially be considered impossible. Behind this reasoning, however, lies a gross error: in each organism only one of many possible evolutionary paths has been completed.

Low probability alone does not rule out chance at all, so it may be improbable but not impossible.

Let’s leave aside for a moment the independence of individual mutations, randomness or the influence of favorable environments to focus instead on a few more examples. Let us take a deck of playing cards. The fifty-two cards can be arranged in almost 1068 (1 followed by sixty-eight zeros) different orders. Each of the fifty-two cards could be the first, each of the remaining fifty-one the second, each of the remaining fifty the third, and so on. This is certainly a gigantic number, although we can easily find everyday situations that give rise to even larger numbers. Now, let us shuffle the cards and then arrange them in order on the table. We must conclude that the probability of getting just this particular arrangement was decidedly negligible, more precisely about 1 in 1068.

No one can say, however, that by randomly we could never have arrived at this particular arrangement, just because it’s a priori probability was so low. A disposition had to occur, and this time it did. Nor can we conclude that the whole process of moving from one arrangement to another by shuffling the cards is so improbable as to be practically impossible. Any actual outcome, whatever it may be, will always have a tiny probability of occurring. Nevertheless, unless you are a creationist, you certainly could not question the process by which that particular arrangement was obtained.

Unlikely events happen by the thousands every day. Go and ask anyone who has just won the lottery or any bridge player. The probability of any 13-card bridge hand is 1 in 600 billion, however, no player cries for a miracle as soon as he or she has been dealt the cards, and fortunately, no one is stupid enough to claim that extreme improbability proves that in fact that hand was never dealt to him or her. Who has never met a friend at the same time on the same day in the same street, some years apart? Who has never heard a song on the radio a few seconds after he was thinking about it? Who has never received a phone call from a person they were talking about moments before? Each case would end up being assigned to a design, in the belief that every time I recognize an unlikely pattern it means that “someone” intentionally arranged things so that that pattern would actually occur, when in fact it is just a coincidence to which we subjectively ascribe “meaning” based on our background knowledge. Would winning the lottery three times in a row with numbers ending in two imply a pattern? Not to mention all the cases of illusory patterns, in which there is a recognizable and improbable pattern, but no drawing except in our imagination. A mountain outline resembling a sleeping woman is a report of improbability, a complex shape, the result of a normal perspective illusion.

There is also another popular and widespread argument that lists facts of a natural order that, if they were different, would result in the non-existence of our planet or life on it. It is pointed out that we would not be here:

If the Sun were a little farther away or 50 percent weaker; if the Earth’s axis had a slightly different tilt; if the moon were bigger or closer or farther away; if gravity were not so weak; if DNA did not replicate; if molecules were bigger or smaller; if our solar system had sixty planets; if carbon did not exist; if the speed of light was half of what it is; if genetic mutations did not take place; if the Earth’s rotation period was one-tenth of what it is….

Therefore? These facts are undeniable, if things were different, things would be different, but they are not different, so where is the point of that argument? The Sun will one day no longer be able to support life on this planet. It is already now unable to support it on many other planets. And what does this prove about the project? Nothing. The axis of the Earth has been oriented differently and will be oriented differently again. One day this planet will be uninhabitable. What does this prove relative to the project, intelligent or otherwise? Nothing. We cannot deny that without the concurrence of millions of factors we would not be here. So what? Many of these factors did not exist in the past and will not exist in the future of this planet. At one time on Earth life did not exist, and there will be a time when life on Earth will no longer exist. At one time this planet did not exist, and there will be a time when it will no longer exist. What does this prove relative to the project? Nothing. There are countless planets where the conditions necessary for life do not exist. What does this prove relative to the project? Absolutely nothing. It could be argued that the probability of all the conditions necessary for life occurring at the same time is one in a billion, but since we are here, the probability of that happening is 100 percent.  Life on Earth is there and the evidence is there for all to see.

CONCLUSION:

The ability of modern scientists to study evolution, to study the Universe, to detect and observe objects and phenomena both near and far is extraordinary. Scientists are able to study viruses, molecules, atoms, even the parts of atoms. Scientists are able to see far beyond our solar system and galaxy. They even go so far as to observe the past, thanks to “deep space imaging.” But despite all these abilities, no one has ever been able to discover the faintest trace of a god. After so much research, so much listening and so many observations, we still have nothing but weak arguments and unreliable evidence to support the existence of gods. How does a person who believes his god is self-evident explain what goes through the minds of these non-believing scientists?

If an obviously real god had created the universe, the Earth and all life on it, don’t you think the best astronomers, geologists and biologists on the planet would be the first in line to worship him? Don’t you think that intelligent professionals who have devoted their lives to exploring, discovering, experimenting and reflecting on life and the universe would be the first to identify a god? How is it possible that so many of the most intelligent people on the planet have not yet discovered a valid reason to believe in a god?

Scientists would not ignore a god if only a believer could produce at least half a verifiable proof of its existence. Instead, there is no empirical evidence, i.e., a type of research that bases conclusions on direct or indirect observation of facts that shows that god exists, there is not even the slightest empirical evidence to indicate that today’s god, nor any other contemporary god, nor any god of the past, exists, in fact the evidence of facts shows us that:

  1. If we had scientific evidence for the existence of god, the study of god would be a scientific enterprise instead of a theological one, i.e., the Science of Nothingness.
  2. If we had evidence for the existence of god, a new scientific discipline, e.g., called “diology,” would probably be founded and a process of investigation of the newly discovered deity would begin.
  3. If we had proof of god’s existence, we would not need faith to believe in him, we could talk about “science of god” rather than “faith in god,” if god existed, there would be no need to believe in him, it is disarmingly obvious.
  4. If we had scientific proof of god’s existence, all religious people would align themselves with the god whose existence has been scientifically proven, instead we have thousands of religions.

The soundness of this lack of evidence is easily noticed by an unprejudiced observer-the reason there is no evidence of god is because god does not exist.