103 thoughts on “Proof of no God: the Argument From Sphenisciformes

        1. Yeah, it is hard to watch normally rational people use pretzel logic when religiwoo is on tap

          Suddenly the classic tropes used by mediwoo are valid arguments for Jebus

  1. Can I has mathematical induction? I postulate that for all n>0 there is an Eric(n-1) eating Penguin called Eric(n), where Eric(0) eats God.

  2. I don’t get it. Am I a heretic?
    ‘Even if you can prove that Eric doesn’t exist, that same proof will be applicable to God’. I do not see how it must work both ways. I see how God must exist (or must have existed) for Eric to exist, but I do not see how the reverse is automatically true. God could exist (and continue to exist) if Eric is only a myth.

    1. It’s a reply to “You can’t prove there isn’t a God!”

      Well, then you can’t prove there isn’t an Eric either.

      And if you think you can prove there isn’t an Eric, then you don’t get to say “You can’t prove there isn’t a God!”

    2. “God could exist (and continue to exist) if Eric is only a myth.”

      That’s a possibility. The question is–how would someone argue for that state of affairs? You would need to figure out how to create an argument against the existence of a supernatural, unobserved being that applies specifically to Eric and not to God. I’m sure some kind of mental gymnastics are possible to accomplish that goal, but it would be very difficult to do in a way that would be remotely convincing.

      Although quite clever, this trap doesn’t ultimately introduce anything new. Religious belief already finds itself in precisely this kind of a trap in reference to differentiating among religions. Belief in Christianity requires not just a belief that God exists, but that specifically the Christian God exists while those of various other religions do not. If the best the religious can come up with is that we can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, they’re stuck with admitting the same for all other proposed supernatural beings. What they need and conspicuously lack is a positive argument for not only the existence of a supernatural being, but that this supernatural being must have specifically the qualities ascribed to it by their preferred religion…

      1. “If the best the religious can come up with is that we can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, they’re stuck with admitting the same for all other proposed supernatural beings.”

        Ha! You sort of glossed over the itsy bitsy problem of getting them to actually realize that!

        1. That does tend to be the problem. I meant stuck in the sense of having no coherent way of avoiding the issue, not in the sense of *admitting* that they’re stuck.

          Of course, I’m sure none of the religious would admit to being trapped by this “Eric, the god-eating penguin” scenario, either.

        2. But God is being the Ground of Being. Anything else is just being a Being. Or a Not Being, be that as it may. God Be’s MORE than Beings Be, for Godssake.

          1. Uhhh . . . wait a minute. I didn’t quite get that. Could you say that again, one more time?

            Something about how we are all magical fruits, but god is more magicaler? Or something? Does he really toot all that much better than us?

  3. There are many arguments similar to this one. That does not change the fact, however, that ‘Eric the Penguin’ is so beautifully eloquent. He should be up there with the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  4. Behold the power of self-reference and recursion — Erik being, of course, another in the same spirit as Turing’s Halting Problem and Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem.

    Cheers,

    b&

  5. I so love that it is a penguin, of all things. But if something can eat a god, does that make it a god, and does it therefore end up eating itself? Or is Eric more like a Ground of Penguins?

  6. Well, imagine the greatest god-eating penguin you can imagine. Are you imagining it?

    Well, wouldn’t a REAL god-eating penguin be greater than the god-eating penguin you are imagining now?

    That means that either you are not imagining the greatest god-eating penguin (which you are not, because you are, see above), or the greatest god-eating penguin actually exists.

    Q.E.D. The god-eating penguin exists.

    1. I’m convinced, especially as I have known two people called Eric and seen penguins, but not seen a god. Who needs faith when you have empirical evidence and logical arguments?

  7. Cute argument.

    However, what is predicated of a penguin vs. what is predicated of God, is insufficient to make this argument even work.

    For if God were maximally powerful, such a penguin would hardly be able to devour God, for if God is a timeless, necessary being, the penguin, like Satan, could not take on such a feat, as the penguin and Satan are both contingent, and cannot override that which is necessary.

    By definitions, both by predication and mathematical properties of each atteibute, this argument flies like a penguin.

    1. You miss the point.

      Erik is defined as the penguin which eats entities which are defined as maximally powerful. And Erik is similarly defined as even more timeless than timelessness, and even more necessary than necessity. Indeed, he’s so necessary that, by definition, any gods he eats necessarily become contingent.

      All of this by definition.

      If you think it’s absurd to define Erik thus, then at least now you know why it’s absurd to define YHWH thus.

      Cheers,

      b&

  8. Ceiling Cat is a cat. Cats chase and eat birds. Penguins are birds. Therefore there is a greater being than Eric.

    1. Penguins are birds? Hmmm… can fly? No. Can swim? Yes, supremely well. I’ve got them classified as fish.

      Maybe it’s a baramin thing…

      1. Of course, now I think of it, cats eat fish too. Still, I’d like to see a cat trying to eat a penguin…

  9. Hurrah for Eric the magic sphenisciform. There should be a monument to him and his sibling Percy. Percy Penguin taught perseverance to my children many years ago. Just imagine a 404 ft high penguin of Chilmark stone, along side Salisbury cathedral, he might even have gothic wings!

  10. I am disgusted by all the Eric deniers on this site. Eric IS real and he loves you just as much as he loves eating God.

  11. It’s all fun and games to play about with Eric amongst ourselves and even think you might be able to use him one day against a theist – but you still cannot argue against pure faith as it defies logic and reason.

          1. OK, it’s not totally ineffective. However, given that reason and reality are entirely on the side of atheism, if this were enough religion would already be gone.

            A belief that the religious are convinced by rational, empirical evidence simply cannot explain why religious belief is so common. If this were the case, why do most Americans believe in creationism or theistic evolution? Why do they prefer a faith-based belief over the scientific evidence?

          2. “It works sometimes” is not a good argument that you have the right tool for the job. If the chosen tool fails most of the time, it’s probably the wrong tool.

              1. Who said I had the right tool?

                Admittedly, not having the right tool can be a good reason to keep using the tool at hand. However, it is not a good reason to believe that the tool at hand must, therefore, be the right one.

              2. The tools we have are the best tools we have. We should use those tools. Others may appear in the future. But claims that current tools don’t work are simply untrue.

                We know that religion declines in countries with good social safety networks. We should work to improve social safety networks. It is the rational thing to do. We know that people are sometimes amenable to reason. We should keep pushing reason. We know that religion doesn’t evaporate by itself. We should continue confronting it at every opportunity.

                There is no “right” (aka “perfect”) tool. There never will be. So what? Keep building anyway.

    1. IMO, this is why people like Tanya Luhrmann (regardless of her tendency to pat religion on the back too often) are important. If we want to reduce the harm caused by religion, we have to understand how religion works. Why do people hold harmful beliefs and how do we change that? Instead, the typical atheist approach has been to argue against religion as if believers were intending to pursue rational, empirical beliefs and just doing a very poor job of it. If their beliefs are non-empirical and irrational by intent rather than by accident, it isn’t going to work.

      1. What definitely doesn’t work is, as you say, patting religion on the back.

        You keep asserting that confronting religion with reason doesn’t work. What is the alternative? Confront it with irrationality?

        By all means, we need as much understanding of the processes by which religion prospers as possible. Nobody is against that. It would provide more fodder for the argument. But we don’t need to stop confronting religion today because someday we will have even more insight into the nature of this delusion.

        1. Agreed, we don’t need to stop confronting religion. But we might benefit from paying more attention to why religious belief arises and what form of confrontation will be most effective.

          If, as Luhrmann’s work suggests, the religious actively pursue irrational beliefs (putting considerable time and effort into getting themselves to believe things that aren’t true–and which they apparently know and will admit aren’t “really” true, i.e., not true in the rational, empirical sense), then arguing that their beliefs are irrational does not seem like a good means of confrontation. There are alternatives that don’t rely simply on pointing out that their beliefs are irrational–and which don’t require us to confront religion with irrationality. We can, for instance, show that many religious beliefs are in conflict with other desires the religious have (to live moral lives, to be physically healthy, to enjoy the various benefits of modern technology, etc.). Maybe we should do more of that and less “your beliefs are wrong”.

            1. The difference is that interpreting my comments as concern trolling requires you to assume that I am writing my comments in bad faith.

              1. Since there is no way for me to determine your inner state there is no way for me (or anyone else) to distinguish the two. It is like the invisible and the non-existent. They look very much alike.

              2. As the fella says, “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Better not to bother with the whole thing, no? Let’s just say that you and I proferred different opinions and leave it at that.

              3. Huh? What was asserted without evidence? You said that difference between your comments an concern trolling was intent. Nobody but you knows your intent, so the rest of us can reasonably conclude concern trolling.

              4. Ah well, I guess I was being too subtle. In any case, have a good night, I think I’ll sleep.

  12. Just before Penguin Erik tried to swallow God he was devoured by Orka Natasja. How sad. Thus, like Schrödinger’s Ceiling Cat God is now in state of alife or dead.

  13. What?!?!?! This argument appears to be an asinine attempt to use reductio ad absurdum to naysay the ontological argument. The author seems to be confused over the distinction between contingent and necessary being. The ontological argument asserts the existence of a necessary being and identifies that as “God.”

    With that understanding in mind, the “god-eating penguin” argument is self-refuting, as it is logically (and ontologically) impossible for any being to exist that can annihilate a logically or truly ontologically necessary being. The god-eating penguin argument is an epic fail.

    1. See here’s the thing: positing anything at all as a “contingent and necessary being” makes no sense to anybody who isn’t already a believer.

      You think it’s perfectly logical and okay to say that a special case can be made for God, because it’s God. I can assure you that it isn’t perfectly logical to non-believers.

      To those who don’t believe in your God or any gods, that just seems like cheating. It’s an illegal move to just claim the one thing you want to be true, really is true. If you are allowed to posit God, then we can posit anything we like too: black holes, penguins, flying spaghetti monsters, Thor, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

      1. It only ceases to make sense if one posits that logic says absolutely nothing about the real world. such a notion is itself self-refuting as it would make the dichotomy between analytic and synthetic statements meaningless. The statement that logic tells you nothing about “the real world” itself asserts something about the real world.

        If logic really doesn’t give any information about the real world, then not only religion and philosophy would be dead, but science and everything else would be as well. If logic tells us nothing about the real world, then the scientific method would be useless. Needless to say, no one consistently denies that logic is applicable to the real world.

        If logic can give us information about the real world, then there exists the possibility of logically and ontologically necessary being. The existence of truth, for example, is ontologically necessary. The denial of truth is self-refuting. If the statement ‘truth does not exist’ is false, then truth exists. If it is true, then its truth proves truth exists.

    2. The ontological argument asserts the existence of a necessary being and identifies that as “God.”

      Yes.

      And the Erik Argument asserts the necessary existence of a god-eating being and identifies that as “Erik.”

      If you can come up with some meta-argument as to why the assertions of the Erik Argument are invalid, you’ll be sorely disappointed to discover that they apply equally well to the Ontological Argument. And any hyper-meta-argument after that that re-revives the Ontological Argument will, again, apply equally well to Erik, at which point he’ll continue happily gnawing on Jesus’s bones. With his toothless beak.

      Erik’s beak, of course…I don’t think Jesus has much in the way of a beak….

      Cheers,

      b&

  14. So Eric exists but God doesn’t because he is eaten. It seems just as probable that it’s the other way around: God exists and Eric doesn’t. It all depends on whether God is a penguin-eater or not. The amount of penguins on earth tells us He lost His appetite for penguins. Maybe after tasting Eric.

  15. Eric cannot eat God as God (well the Biblical God anyway) is supposed to be infinite. A penguin by definition has a shape, therefore it is finite and too small to eat the infinite. And if Eric is big enough to eat God, he cannot be a penguin. Even a second infinite being cannot eat another infinite being. Therefore Eric has the same problem as the Flying Spaghetti Monster. One: Spaghetti is made from something else. Two: It flies, making it finite. Three: I’ve seen proof for such monsters which are captive in cans.

    Four: I have eaten both Spaghetti Monsters and penguins (chocolate penguins) proving they are contingent and finite.

    The bottom line is there has to be a bottom line. The Universe is contingent and finite and cannot be eternal and cannot bring itself into existence. A multiverse has the same problem ultimately.

    Therefore I eat all Atheists. I ate a penguin. (I am now allergic to chocolate though.)

    PS Holy Communion doesn’t count as I don’t believe in transubstantiation. Besides, if God was claimed to be a piece of bread as bread is finite and something infinite cannot be bread. It is made of corn which is grown and finite.)

    I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!

    1. No, no, no — you’re doin’ it ‘rong.

      You see, you’re confusing the infinitely ineffable Grinder-of-Being Eric with the anthropomorphic penguin, just the same way that unsophisticated folk confuse YHWH with the super-wizard who showed mooned Moses.

      And it matters not if YHWH is infinite; Eric is transfinite. There’s as much more of Eric than YWHW as there are more irrational than rational numbers. We know this to be true because it is asserted by definition thus — exactly the same way that we know that YHWH is infinite. And has been eaten by Eric.

      You are, of course, welcome to define into existence some entity that eats transfinite penguins, but I’m afraid that still won’t do YHWH any good. His Being has long since been ground, eaten, digested, and shat out on the Antarctic plain.

      Cheers,

      b&

          1. …”and thou shalt see my back parts…LOL

            (Isn’t google wonderful!!?? I didn’t need to lug out the old family bible, which I just recently inherited from a childless cousin who felt that I should be the keeper of the Olson family geneology in the front.)

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