Monday, July 09, 2007

What God?

The Slut pointed me to Tektonics' satire Over Three Hundred Disproofs of God’s Existence. Norm Doering points us to Vox Day's call for arguments against Christianity.

But there really is only a single argument against the existence of God. To keep this from being my shortest philosophical post ever, let me relate to you an apocryphal story:

It's the final exam for Philosophy 101. The professor places a chair in front of the lecturn. On the board he writes, "Prove this chair does not exist."

The students all scribble away for two hours, presumably constructing edifices of careful philosophical reasoning. All but one. He thinks for a half an hour, puts pen to paper for less than ten seconds, and leaves triumphantly. He receives the only 'A'. His paper?

What chair?

So my gentle (or "militant") atheist reader, the next time you're pressed for an argument proving that God does not exist, you may simply ask, "What God?" and walk away well-pleased.


  1. This sounds a bit like the MO of drive-by creationist commentators, who scoff at the silliness of evolutionary biology by claiming a lack of transitional fossils (i.e., "What evidence?").

    Of course, I think you were talking about in person encounters where you'd rather not get into a debate. And it does sound nicer than "piss off!" 8^)

  2. Well, the difference is that we can point to the evidence for evolution.

    To the atheist, though, there isn't, by definition, anything that stands in need of disproof.

  3. Brilliant post, but it reminds me of the beliver's reply to an atheist, Which god don't you believe in? Or in your terms, why say "What chair?" if you mean "What do you mean by "chair"?"? (Sorry, but I love repetitive punctuation (quite a lot (sorry)))

  4. 40 year Atheist7/12/07, 1:14 PM

    Actually denial is very Nietzschean and is the very core of Atheism. Nietzsche merely denied that the First Principles could be proved, denied that intuition exists, and there you have it: there ain't no god.

    Evidence, empirically speaking, is more difficult to devise. Proving that there is "No(X),for all space-time" is an absurd pursuit. So one is forced to claim that the extravagant extrapolations of the forensic evolution data-jammers is hard and fast evidence, and not to be questioned. Thus it is the new "truth", religiously speaking.

    Factually however, every fossil is just another data point, with no realistic way to deterministically relate it to others. So forensics is just as befuddled as empirics with regard to actual, factual truth.

    So, "What chair?" is in fact the only answer that Atheists can devise.

  5. Technically, "What God?" is not a denial: It's a question: What is it the theist is asking me to prove does not exist?

    The chair story is kind of philosophical smart-assery. But the atheists' response is entirely sincere: What precisely is it the theist is asking the atheist to disprove? If the theist could simply point and say, "That God!" there wouldn't be a controversy.

  6. I cannot prove, even empirically, that there is no god hiding behind my couch. But this is a disingenuous and dishonest demand: The theist is not talking about—and the atheist does not even bother to deny—the sorts of gods that can or would hide behind couches.


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