The Six Ways of Atheism: Way the First
Geoffrey Berg’s tome, The Six Ways of Atheism, is a small volume but it requires some unpacking to get at the core of what he’s trying to say. I’m going to tackle one argument per post and we should get through the book by Saturday.
Let’s dive in to the first argument, the Aggregate of Qualities Argument:
- If God exists, God must necessarily possess all of several remarkable qualities (including supreme goodness, omnipotence, immortality, omniscience, ultimate creator, purpose giver).
- Every one of these qualities may not exist in any one entity and if any such quality does exist it exists in few entities or in some cases (e.g. omnipotence, ultimate creator) in at most one entity.
- Therefore it is highly unlikely any entity would possess even one of these qualities.
- There is an infinitesimal chance that any one entity (given the almost infinite number of entities in the Universe) might possess the combination of even some two of these qualities, let alone all of them.
- In statistical analysis a merely hypothetical infinitesimal chance can in effect be treated as the no chance to which it approximates so very closely.
- Therefore as there is statistically such an infinitesimal chance of any entity possessing, as God would have to do, all God’s essential qualities in combination it can be said for all practical and statistical purposes that God just does not exist.
This argument fails to disprove God as Christians defend him. Berg states repeatedly that there is little chance a being in this universe possesses any of these qualities, let alone all of them. Agreed. But we never argue that God is part of the universe. Which means all of Berg’s statistical analysis and posturing about how language glosses over reality is moot. His rantings only apply to beings originating in and living in the known universe. God transcends that universe, and therefore isn’t subject to laws that define the universe.
Berg anticipated seven potential responses; this was (oddly) not one of them. All of the objections he considered were pathetic and require no rejoinder from me.
So Berg and I agree that God doesn’t exist in the known universe. That is only equal to “God doesn’t exist at all” given metaphysical naturalism.