A new conception of God: He’s real in the way mathematics is

July 20, 2022 • 10:00 am

In August of last year, I wrote a post called “Eric Hedin is back, now asserting that there is zero chance that life originated through natural processes, so God must have been responsible.” If you don’t remember Hedin, I’ll summarize what I said about our contretemps at the time. Hedin was teaching at Ball State University, a state school in Indiana.

Way back in 2013, I discovered that Hedin was teaching a general science class to nonmajors that not only promoted intelligent design, but religion itself. That was a violation of the Constitution, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation and I informed the school’s President that they were breaking the law. The result: Hedin’s class was ditched, as it should have been. I never called for him to be fired or not promoted (he was subsequently given tenure), but I didn’t want him teaching creationism as science, which the courts have repeatedly forbidden. I didn’t try to get the man dumped or permanently demonized, which is what cancellation is about.

Though Hedin got tenure at Ball State, his religiosity apparently got the better of him and he now teaches at Biola University, formerly the Bible University of Los Angeles, where he’s a Professor of Physics and Astronomy and also Chair of the Department of Chemistry, Physics and Engineering. He’s also written a book, Canceled Science, beefing about his being censored by the FFRF and me.  In reality, none of us ever called for him to be fired or discipline, only for Ball State to stop teaching Intelligent Design as science.

Today’s post is based on a comment Hedin made in an interview with the conservative college-monitoring site The College Fix, where he said this:

[College Fix]: Do people who have not studied this issue in depth truly understand the mathematical enormity of the fine-tuning argument? It’s not just “the chances are low” that life arose by chance.

[Hedin]: Honestly, as a physicist I would be willing to say the physical reality chance of life originating on its own by natural processes within this universe is zero, not just low. It’s because the universe is not infinitely big. There is a finite universe.

Reader A. C. Harper, commenting on Hedin’s statement, then posted this comment:

And this morning, dear readers, some comment named “Defender” responded to Harper’s sarcastic but on-the-mark response. Defender argues that it’s senseless to ask where God came from because, like numbers, he’s always been there, but only recently was His presence apprehended by the human mind. The comment:


In reply to AC Harper.

I know you wrote this a year ago and your views may have changed on this matter, however, you seem to have a misunderstanding of God. Whenever I read someone writing about the origin of God and where He came from it never fails that the person who’s writing it ( no disrespect), hasn’t got the slightest clue of the nature of God. Think of numbers for example, or mathematical equations, these are metaphysical things, that have not been created, however were discovered. The number 7 was the number 7 before anything at all came into existence. This is also true concerning the nature of God. He is not some material being that has come into existence, he is like a number that has always existed, (and by the way nobody will deny this logic with the number, however when someone mentions God a problem occurs). With this explanation, you cannot pick and choose the logic presented. It’s either God and numbers have the same metaphysical substance or if you deny it, you are denying the substance of what numbers are, and we can all agree numbers in fact do exist. This is not proof for God, however, if your justification for not believing in God is the supposed “conflict” of who created God, or how did God create himself, please consider a different reason for the one you may have chosen is logically fallacious.

What is ironic here is that “Defender” criticizes people for not having a clue about the nature of God, and then proceeds to tell us the real nature of god. He assumes, to start, that “mathematical realism” is true; that is, mathematics and numbers themselves exist independently of the human mind: they exist objectively, and humans simply discover them rather than confect them. Within this school are various of conceptions about what “real” means. Most mathematicians seem to adhere to some version of mathematical realism, though there are also “mathematic anti-realists“, who themselves diverge into different schools. Their general view is that mathematical “truths” don’t express facts about entities actually existing in the Universe, but the outcomes of assumptions about imagined “ideal” or “Platonic” entities.  I won’t go further into this as it’s way above my pay grade, and in Faith Versus Fact discuss only briefly whether mathematical “truths” are similar to “empirical truths”.

At any rate, the debate about “mathematical realism” seems to be unsolvable by any kind of empirical argument itself. Nevertheless, “Defender” sees God like the number 7, or the Pythagorean Theorem: like mathematics, God existed before we did, independently of humans, and has been a Platonic entity floating around forever. It’s telling that he renders his conception of God impervious to refutation:

[God] is not some material being that has come into existence, he is like a number that has always existed, (and by the way nobody will deny this logic with the number, however when someone mentions God a problem occurs). With this explanation, you cannot pick and choose the logic presented. It’s either God and numbers have the same metaphysical substance or if you deny it, you are denying the substance of what numbers are, and we can all agree numbers in fact do exist.

In other words, if you deny that numbers do exist, then you’re denying this kind of God, and that would be dumb, wouldn’t it? The problem is that we can manipulate numbers and use them to arrive at truths, while we can’t do the same with our conception of God, which remains a Plaatonic ideal. The only way to manipulate this Platonic God is to answer detractors that demand evidence by saying, “Give me evidence that the number 7 actually exists as an empirical entity.”

Although it’s clear that this kind of god does not correspond in any way to the theistic God believed by many faiths, including Abrahamic ones, it’s a conception of God that’s been confected simply to avoid the questions “What was there before God?” and “Who created God?”  It finesses the question by assertion that God is like the number 7 to mathematical realists. But in fact it does make an assertion about God: that he has an objective reality, which is why he resembles numbers to mathematical realists.  Just as mathematical realists can’t prove that numbers are actual entities existing out there, so “Defender” can’t prove that God is an actual entity existing somewhere.

In the end, drawing an analogy between God and mathemetics in this way is just a fancy way of saying, “Don’t ask ‘who created God?’ God was always around, independent of the human mind.”  I find the mathematical analogy unconvincing, even if “Defender” says that it’s not a proof of God. He’s right: it’s just a conception of God that is resistant to disproof, likes saying “God is the laws of physics”.  And because most people have no such conception of God, it need not be discussed further.  If we had any evidence for this sort of entity beyond the fact that we can imagine it, then it might be worth discussing.

100 thoughts on “A new conception of God: He’s real in the way mathematics is

  1. To say that God is like mathematics, or colors for that matter, seems to be the least proof of its existence that there could be. As you say, it doesn’t demonstrate anything about the nature of God. Like mathematics, I guess it would be up to man to determine its utility, if any. Thus far it seems we haven’t been able to construct any meaningful, coherent language of God, unlike mathematics (or color). Maybe that indicates that it’s not really there.

  2. Defender: “… he is like a number that has always existed, (and by the way nobody will deny this logic with the number, …)”

    Plenty of people do deny that logic concerning mathematics. For starters, can anyone give a way of distinguishing whether numbers “exist” in that sense versus not existing? If not, the claim is empty.

    And, if God exists in the same way that abstract numbers “exist”, then God is causally inert. And so is not actually God. After all, even mathematical Platonists accept that any such existence is causally inert.

  3. He really didn’t think about his analogy. When has the number 7 cured the sick, raised the dead, or found you a parking spot?

  4. “Defender” should look into the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis by Max Tegmark. It posits a sort of radical mathematical realism: mathematical structures are not only real, but everything IS mathematical structures.
    It has (a number of, pun intended) its own problems, but trying to force a God into the schema isn’t one of them.

  5. Numbers are well defined concepts abstracted from real world phenomena that have logical relationships with one another and that, exactly as concepts like “up”, “down” “below”, “above” can be used to describe or define aspects of the physical world. Abstract concepts like numbers do not have agency, or a will, or feelings of jealousy.
    God is an ill defined concept that in the traditional version of the concept has a will of his own, creates and destroys real world stuff and humans at will, gives out orders, has emotions and interacts with humans in a king-like fashion. No similarity at all, unless you essentially strip all meaning from the concept God and define it as, e.g. “whaever is beyond our understanding in the realms of cosmology and quantum physics”.

    1. I do like that one. If one argues that god is like numbers, then why not argue instead that god is like “up”, or “above”, or any other relationship that existed before we did.

      1. They’ll eventually argue that God’s creation of the Universe happened because it was the only perfectly logical thing to happen, although they won’t be able to prove this. They end up making an assumption that ex-nihilo creation is perfectly logical, and that it is illogical not to create anything. Duns Scotus might have been the first to make this argument. Kurt Goedel, one of the greatest logicians of all time and also a committed theist, tried to refine this argument a lot with his incompleteness theorems, but he didn’t really get too far.

    2. “Abstract concepts like numbers do not have agency, or a will, or feelings of jealousy.”

      Except for god, who tests your faith.

      Oh my god, that is fun! Try it!

  6. So, if god has the same metaphysical substance as numbers then since numbers are abstract concepts god is also an abstract concept? That logic works too.

  7. Hedin was teaching at Ball State University, a state school in Indiana.

    One time in the early ’70s, I was in Fort Lauderdale on spring break, walking along A1A near the ocean with a buddy of mine who was wearing a “Ball State U” t-shirt. (He had a cousin or brother or a some other relative who was a student there.) A Lauderdale cop stopped us and told my buddy that his shirt violated the new anti-public-obscenity ordinance the local city fathers had recently enacted.

    We tried to explain that “Ball State” was an actual real-life college. (This was decades before you could whip out a cell phone, google something, and stick it in somebody’s face to prove they’re wrong.) I was like, “Muncie, in Indiana, part of the Mid-American conference — any of this ringing a bell for you, officer?” When he said he still wasn’t buying it, I started going full Walter Sobchak in the coffee shop about free speech, the First Amendment, and prior restraints. Finally, my buddy put a hand on my shoulder and said, “Easy, man, I’ll just turn the t-shirt inside out.”

      1. I looked it up after reading your comment. That sure wouldn’t pass muster with the Lauderdale city fathers circa ’73 either.

        1. I’m glad I found this delightful, tangential anecdote, and I’m grateful for my newfound knowledge of the RISD mascot. Thanks for the chuckles, folks. Cheers.

  8. But of course I must ask who created god? Yet another dead end. Some things, such as the concept of infinity, are beyond the human mind’s grasp, so the need to invent constructs to make them more relatable is somewhat understandable, yet these are the same constructs used in the past to explain such natural phenomenon like lighting. Lack of understanding is not a license to create a fictional explanation. Next Santa will be worked into the equation.

  9. I can see why some would make the argument that God is like mathematics. It would be hard for us to imagine that 2 doesn’t mean the same thing in all possible universes and that 2 + 2 = 4 in them as well. Although we have no access to other universes, or even know that they exist, it seems like there are no facts that we should give more credence to than these. However, these rules have no physical existence. They seem to exist in a realm separate from the physical universe. They should exist before the Big Bang and past the heat death of our universe. So God is a bit like these mathematical rules. Still, it is not a convincing argument for the actual existence of God. The existence of the concept of God was never really at issue anyway.

    1. Complex numbers sit inside our laws of physics, though. Doesn’t that count as “physical existence” of a sort?

      No argument for God follows, of course. Lacking a clear conception of God, no substantive a priori argument is even possible.

      1. Mathematical systems, including complex numbers, are used to model things in the physical universe. We can use them to count chickens or describe complex physical processes. Our descriptions of physics, not the physical processes themselves, depend on mathematical concepts. From this perspective, mathematics is a human creation. On the other hand, the idea of counting things seems to transcend our existence. This is why philosophers and mathematical theorists argue about them. We can imagine intelligent aliens having mathematics that differs from our own but surely they count like we do (using different symbols, of course).

        1. I suppose the difference lies in whether complex numbers (for example) aid in descriptions of physical systems, or are constitutive components of them.

        1. Sorry, but my inner mathsie won’t let that slip by. (1) The null set is itself an abstract mathematical entity with the same ontological status as each of the counting numbers (regardless of one’s stance on mathematical realism); so it’s useless to try to somehow bootstrap from one to the other. (2) Although the counting numbers can indeed be mathematically constructed starting with the null set, you also need a fair bit more mathematical machinery (axioms of set theory) to do so. (3) It takes much less machinery to construct them starting with Zero and Successor. This is all a very well understood area.

          If you’re interested, I have a filk that kind-of sort-of relates to this….

      1. Numbers seem to be a construct of the human mind used to quantify what we can sense or deduce both with our senses and mind and what our instruments are revealing or suggesting. By manipulating the relationship of these various numbers (concepts) we are able to deduce and appreciate relationships we were previously not aware of. An example is E= MC2. All of a sudden we realize not only an equivalency but the nature and degree of equivalency.

  10. Re “Biola University, formerly the Bible University of Los Angeles” — a picky note: BIOLA originally denoted the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, pronounced bye-oh-luh. I used to listen to their execrable radio shows. It didn’t take.

  11. Good luck getting the hardcore religious to accept that argument. Math isn’t going to get me a free ticket to heaven, or score me a winning lotto ticket.

  12. Perhaps “7” was not the best analogy for god. I would have used “i”, an imaginary number.

  13. I agree that the gods are real in the way that mathematics are real, i.e. they are products of the human mind.

  14. Perhaps “7” is not the best analogy for god. I would have used “i”, an imaginary number.

        1. If that’s a pun on the psychological v mathematical senses of “transcendental” and “irrational” then ok (although I don’t get the joke). But, if not, then it’s just wrong — reckeck the definitions.

          1. I think we know this, I’m just … you know, the record :

            pi “is a transcendental number, meaning that it cannot be a solution of an equation involving only sums, products, powers, and integers.”


            … great pun! Or whatever that is. The transcendental part.

            [ gets coffee ]

          2. Pi is transcendental in the mathematical sense and therefore – by definition – also irrational.

            I admit I’m playing a bit fast and loose with the definitions of irrational and transcendental which are normally defined in terms of the real number line, but why not?

      1. I believe Gauss wanted to rename them as ‘transverse’ numbers. In fact he proposed three categories: ‘direct’ (positive), indirect ‘negative’ and ‘transverse’ (which we call imaginary). Not sure where zero would fit.

        It would (IMO) have been a better naming convention, but never caught on.

        1. Interesting – so fat, I found – for _complex_ numbers :

          “The term ‘complex number’ is due to the German mathematician Carl Gauss (1777- 1855). ”


          Nothing about transverse yet. I guess Descartes named i “imaginary”…. :

          “Originally coined in the 17th century by René Descartes[4] as a derogatory term and regarded as fictitious or useless,”


          I enjoy the humor of “imaginary” – akin to names for numbers like “evil”, “odious”, etc… it shows some sense of humor, I think. Perhaps it is a mathematical tradition, a sort of trolling of Descartes.

  15. Numbers are apparently a feature of a mind who can count. Without a mind to slice and dice up experiences into things (that can be counted), there are no numbers. Minds didn’t exist before the universe. If god is like that, I agree. Once people understood ancestry, they were wondering who was their first ancestor, and that was usually a deity. The humble origins of Christianity, via Judaism, is no exception.

    Anyone can assert anything about god(s). What Christians yet have to understand is that their ideas are contradicted by other faith groups with rival ideas, and often enough by their own plethora of denominations. If Christians can’t even agree on the One True Christian Faith, they should refrain from bothering other people with their contrafactual, magical speculations.

  16. Note we add “math” to the list of things that god is supposed to be, or supposed to be like. But we are still waiting for a shred of evidence that the fellow even exists.

    1. This argument is called the Transcendental Argument for the existence of God, and it is not “new” in the least. Despite being a pre-Christian argument, Christian apologists have often used it to explain their Trinity concept. The Gospel of John references it in its opening(‘Logos’ being translated to ‘Word’), and it is at least as old as Plato. In fact, sometimes, it is called the Platonic Argument for the existence of God. It’s definitely my favorite argument for the existence of a deity, but it is not without its flaws. For starters, it doesn’t really say anything about abstract truths, not even that they exist: some “neo-Platonists” have argued that existence is influenced by the non-existent. Secondly, Logic and Mathematics never create or destroy things by themselves.

      1. How on earth does this argument give ANY evidence for existence of God. If it’s flawed, it’s just ONE BIG FLAW.

        Please explain to me how one’s assertion that God has always existed and needs no beginning or no origin in any way buttresses the claim that there IS a god?

        1. The most common version of the argument goes like this:
          1st Assumption) If Logic(including Math) inherently reflects truth about the universe, then logic must exist.
          2nd Assumption) Logical arguments about the universe from true propositions about the universe are always true.
          1st Conclusion) Logic must exist.
          3rd Assumption) If Logic exists, it must exist independently of matter, space, and time.
          4th Assumption) Logic exists.
          2nd Conclusion) Logic must exist independently of matter, space, and time.

          3rd Assumption) If Logic exists independently of matter, space, and time, Logic must be God.

          Most people today who make the argument just leave it like that because they define God in this manner, at least when arguing with atheists. Historically, some people, ranging from Augustine to Euler went deeper than that, but that’s the argument in a nutshell. It ducks the problem of empirical evidence or lack thereof by making an entirely introspective argument. To a person making the Transcendental Argument, asking for empirical evidence of its reality is like asking for empirical evidence that 1+1=2. It’s also associated, though not strictly, with this idea that a most-perfect way of imagining things and one’s minds will reflect reality better than the empirical scientific methods. If someone making this argument rejects the Theory of Evolution, he probably rejects the Scientific Method and Empiricism outright.

          1. That is pure insanity, for you can’t prove an existence claim by logic. This is like the Ontological argument or the First Cause argument, and I truly feel sorry for people who are convinced of God’s existence through such stupid arguments.

            1. The Ballad of St. Anselm

              (set to a traditional melody)

              Once a jolly friar got himself an argument
              And couldn’t get it out of his mind.
              He thought he could prove the existence of the Deity
              Just from the way that the words are defined.

              Thus spake St. Anselm, thus spake St. Anselm,
              Thus spake St. Anselm, who is now long dead,
              And we’re awed as we read through his proof so ontological;
              Who can deny a word that he said?

              If that than which nothing greater can be conceived
              Can be conceived not to exist,
              Then ’tis not that than which nothing greater can be conceived:
              This is unquestionable, I insist.

              For in that case a being greater can be conceived,
              Whose major traits we can easily list:
              Namely, that than which nothing greater can be conceived
              And which cannot be conceived not to exist.

              For if that than which nothing greater can be conceived
              Has no existence outside of man’s mind,
              Then ’tis not that than which nothing greater can be conceived,
              Due to the way that the words are defined.

              For in that case a greater can be conceived
              (This is of course analytically true);
              Namely, that than which nothing greater can be conceived
              And which exists in reality too!

              Thus spake St. Anselm, thus spake St. Anselm,
              Thus spake St. Anselm with weighty intent,
              And we’re awed as we read through his proof so ontological;
              Would that we could understand what it meant.

              1. I first encountered it in the 80’s on a Philosophy department’s bulletin board. A true LOL experience.

            2. I’d go further. I would say you can’t use logic to deduce anything about the real world. You can create a model and you can make logical deductions from that model but you can’t be sure that your model was correct without comparing the results of your deductions against what really happens.

              As an example, you might choose to model speed of an object relative to an observer as a real number and you might model a change of observer by adding and subtracting speeds. So, an observer measures a train going past at 20 m/s and somebody on the train throws a tennis ball at 10 m/s. you predict that the observer by the track measures the tennis ball at 30 m/s. As it turns out the model is wrong but it only becomes obvious as the speeds approach the speed of light. There’s no way you could know that without doing some measuring in the real world.

          2. “… this idea that a most-perfect way of imagining things and one’s minds will reflect reality better than the empirical scientific methods”

            That is essentialism. The circle drawn in the sand is an approximation to the essential circle it represents. The elephant on the plains is an approximation to the essential elephant – if we were in the time before Darwin.

            Oh, I see where this is going.

              1. Yes, Essentialism is a key part of the Platonism. The “anti-Science” aspect of Platonism goes a little further than Essentialism: if pure and perfect essences/forms are not reflected in perceivable experiments, Platonists contend that one shouldn’t expect to best learn from those, but rather only learn from “thought experiments.” If electricity and magnetism are both different instantiations of the same force, electromagnetism, a Platonist would say that one should try to perfect his introspection and imagination to be able to naturally derive Maxwell’s Equations in his head without ever referring to Faraday’s experiments. I think history shows that the pure Platonists underestimate the utility of the Scientific Method.

          3. This utterly fails at your 2nd Assumption, and one need not go further. “Logical arguments about the universe from true propositions about the universe are always true.”
            Where to begin? Humans have mounted quite a number of “logical arguments” that they thought were true propositions about the universe, only to discover later that they were pure crap. We once thought that orbiting bodies surely had to be pushed continually to keep orbiting in our solar system. We were absolutely sure that the earth was the center of the solar system. These seemed logical, once upon a time.
            Logic on its own can’t be trusted. We need observation. You religious folks keep slithering and backtracking about where the magic is. It’s in a different dimension. It’s in the “ground of being” (another smoke and mirrors argument that means nothing). It’s in math. And now it’s in “logic”. But logic on its own can’t . be . trusted.
            There are other ways that #2 fails, but I’ll stop bc I know it won’t matter.

          4. God is Love
            Love is blind
            Ray Charles is blind
            Therefore, Ray Charles is God.

            Moral: sometimes you can produce a crazy argument for a true conclusion.
            (But the Logic=God one isn’t one of those.)

            1. The logic is faulty even if your three premises are all true. Two things having the same property does not imply the two things are identical.

              Besides. Clapton is God so either we live in a polytheistic universe or Ray Charles is not God.

    2. Remember though – he’s a [ well, male, obvs ] and playfully mischievous. So even though nothing exists that is evidence for that silly trickster in his cosmic bakery, he’s always giggling with his hands in front of his wide-grinning face when we look at fancy telescope photos and get all smarty pants about it, saying to himself “oh my god, which is me, they have no idea! It’ll be so funny when they find out I’m actually god! Ho ho ho ho! Ahhhhh…”

  17. The Universe contains many things of different sizes and degrees of complexity, from quarks to galaxy clusters, some of which have interactions with each other.

    Mathematics is a tool that humans have invented to talk about those things and interactions. Indeed, so is language itself, although language is versatile enough to be useful for talking about other things as well.

    God is also an entity that humans once invented to talk about things, mostly those in the natural world.

    So yes, in that sense, God is exactly like mathematics.

  18. When Caltech played Biola in football back in the 1960s, it was about the only team we could beat.

    1. There are 10 kinds of people in the world – those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

      (I like this joke, but it’s definitely print-only.)

  19. Numbers as nouns don’t exist (the number ‘5’ doesn’t exist as a free-floating entity). But as adjectives, numbers do describe states of reality, e.g., the statement “there are 5 eggs in the basket”. I don’t see anything particularly controversial or spooky or supernatural about the claim that there are 5 eggs in the basket.

    1. What leads you, or anyone else for that matter, to conclude that multiple objects in the basket qualify as ‘eggs’? Are their shells identical? Do they have the same material properties?

    2. What about the claim that there is something in common among 5 eggs in a basket, 5 decks of cards, 5 hotdogs on plate, and infinite other quintets, and that this “something in common” (5-ness) has a necessary, as opposed to contingent, existence? Not obvious to me that this can be dismissed without some serious philosophical cogitation.

  20. Creating your own definition, then arguing that your hypothesis is true “by definition”, is rhetorical cheating.

  21. So God has still no more substance than a metaphor.

    I am not sure how to interpret this claim:
    “The number 7 was the number 7 before anything at all came into existence”

    If that means that 7 (or 13, or 666, or N, or R) ‘was’ before even God ‘was’, numbers were not created by God. Is He/She/It still God (a lesser sort)?

    1. The concept of 7 seems to exist without anything else needing to exist. In other words, its definition doesn’t depend on God. After all, if God created the integers, what were things like the moment before?

      1. That’s why I don’t understand the sentence coming from a deist (Defender): how it is possible that some ‘things’ doesn’t need God to exist? If the concept of seven pre-exist to the world, God didn’t create seven. Similarly It/He/She didn’t create the other numbers and concepts that are of the same “metaphysical substance’ than himself, which makes him a lesser god than a Creator of the whole universe.

        1. Look, if God came after 7, God would equal 8. But clearly that’s not divisible by 3 (holy trinity), so we add 1 (as in, monotheism). Take the square root (radical teachings of Jesus Christ), and boom, you’re back to the holy trinity.


          Also, this whole thing reminds me of the title of a Minutemen song: God Bows to Math.

  22. What a great explanation of god vs math! Best I’ve read of yours yet which is why I continue to read your missives.

  23. The problem with god vs science is that these two concepts are mutually repellant. Really should never be compared or contrasted. Fiction is an enjoyable aspect of human creation. It gives us comfort and solace when we need that. Religion does the same.
    Math, on the other hand, helps us make real the concepts we use to propel human existence into hopefully better circumstances. Food, shelter, health, transportation, communication, all possible because humans invented math, or some might say, discovered it.
    Essentially, one could argue for the separate existence of both if so inclined. I am not. But I do kinda like the kittie ceiling god in your posts.

    1. The problem is that the faithful not only fail to recognize their beliefs as “fiction”, but try to impose that fiction on other people, including their children. As for religion giving us comfort and solace when we need that, it doesn’t do that for me. Maybe it does for you, but think of all the downsides of that “comfort and solace”. Divisiveness, killing, propagandizing, valorization of “faith” (belief without evidence), and so on. Sorry, but I’ll take atheism.

      As for Ceiling Cat, well, he’s a satire of God. You know that, right? He’s made up, and was made up to mock genuine religion, which deserves such mockery.

      If people need the comforts of religion so desperately, why is Northern Europe shedding its religious belief so fast? It’s even waning pretty quickly in the U.S.!

  24. I boldly underscore our host’s last sentence in this post. If, as the bumper sticker proclaims, God is Real, then we should have visible, audible, olfactible, gustable, tangible, sensible evidence for such a being. No evidence, no discussion. Don’t bring any arguments for God’s existence to discuss with me. They’ve all been blown out of the water, including the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which appears to be the last refuge of many believers these days.

    1. Quote:

      ” [God] is not some material being that has come into existence, he is like a number that has always existed, (and by the way nobody will deny this logic with the number, however when someone mentions God a problem occurs).”

      So, if number 7 can exist without a creator so could God, but if that premis is to be true God cannot be the creator of number 7, nor any other abstract concept that would benefit from the same assumption as numbers, how else would the logic of the entire argument benefit God? (Not just the end of the passage).

      Unless there is a condition added to God that does not apply to numbers, which would explain the arrise of a problem(in the quote). Like, number 7 does not come with the burden of being the creator of the entire physical universe. They are by defenition not compareble enteties.

      It just feels like a very weak argument or intense logic bending, since, even if you create a logical concept on numbers and then ”export ” it to the term God. It is truly grasping for the things they got in common to justify what sets them apart.

      Now, that is just what came to my mind after reading the post, and not any serious attempt at anything.

      Seems like I managed to reply to StehpenB, when it was intended to reply to the main post.

  25. The more “sophisticated” the theology, the less likely the resulting god is to give one single sweet damn what we humans do in our time on earth. Seriously, I love how religious folks concoct increasingly abstract versions of God in order to slot it into the ever-diminishing gaps in our understanding of the universe, only to be left with a god there is no point worshiping.

    It’s amusing that they can’t see it.

  26. He starts with an unscientific claim “there is zero chance that life originated from natural processes”. If we look at the carefully collected data, it might happen only once in 13.7 billion years, so it might be an extreme rare event. Stanley Lloyd Miller demonstrated in 1952 “that a wide range of vital organic compounds can be synthesized by fairly simple chemical processes from inorganic substances” (Wikipedia). So it’s certainly not a zero chance.

    Most people don’t like the idea that reality is purely physical, but unfortunately for them that’s what our best scientific theories about reality say. As far as we know, nothing can exist without a material basis, not even math or mental capabilities.

    If current science is right, when people talk about reality they are talking about phenomena that emerge from the collective behavior of many physical events. What we experience are illusions that give us a rough indication of what’s really happening; just enough to keep us safe to give us a chance to reproduce. .

    What we believe seems ultimately a matter of trust in an authority; our trusted authority could be a book written 2000 years ago, a priest in a church, math or science. Or we can trust an internal authority: our ego that produces folk explanations of behavior even of non-living material things or non-existing things.

    Some say we trust just in order to appear nice; others say we trust because we want something really badly.

  27. There is a basic ontological distinction between abstract objects (abstracta) such as the number 7 and concrete objects (concreta) such as (the theistic) God, and these categories are regarded as mutually exclusive. What God and the number 7 have in common is that both are immaterial/nonphysical; but given that God is a mental entity (soul/spirit) and 7 is not, being neither mental nor physical, God counts as a concretum and 7 as an abstractum. Moreover, abstract objects lack causal powers, whereas God as a concrete object does have causal powers, being “the Creator”. God is regarded as a noncaused causer, whereas 7 is regarded as a noncaused noncauser. (However, some philosophers believe in created abstracta or abstract artifacts.)
    Abstracta are also spatiotemporally unlocated, and God qua universe-transcendent concretum is spatially unlocated at least too. There is disagreement among theologians as to whether God is temporally unlocated too, i.e. whether his existence is temporal (in time) and temporally everlasting, or atemporal (not in time) and atemporally eternal. Note that if space and time are physically inseparable from one another, constituting one unitary spacetime, then it is incoherent to say that God exists in time but not in space!

    The following sentence is implicitly self-contradictory, because there are no temporal relations such as “before” between temporally unlocated things such as 7 and temporally located things such as planets:
    “The number 7 was the number 7 before anything at all came into existence.”

  28. Since nobody else mentioned it, let me put in a plug for my favorite form of theological argument: apophatic theology. It basically consists of responding to any suggested definition of god or gods by denial. Any concept in anyone’s mind about the nature of god is, by definition, wrong. In the spirit of Lewis Carroll, who tried & failed to promote the notion of a ‘runcible hat’, I have been trying to expand apophatic thinking into other areas. Apophatic economics, for example, or apophatic originalism.

  29. There are sound empirical arguments why apparent finetuning is the current null hypothesis in cosmology. Ironically you have to finetune it away (and then often get an unphysical singularity). And even better empirical arguments why nature mechanisms is better explanation for the nature of nature than mechanism-less magic.

    Likewise, and here some differ from the philosophy of the site owner, there are sound empirical arguments why axiomatic, made up rule based mathematics isn’t physics. For instance, you can’t axiomatize quantization in quantum physics, it is algorithm based heuristics that are used. Observing mathematics itself, some of it gets empirical use and is promoted by importance, some other is internal useful, and some is forgotten. That doesn’t sound like the map of methods is the same as the territory of applications – not even science claims science builds nature. (Admittedly some physicists claim math builds nature, such as Max Tegmark, but that is a hypothesis that didn’t go anywhere.)

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