Let me start by saying that the logical arguments that follow are not against the existence of a supreme being per se. I am not an atheist, but an agnostic. I acknowledge that a god might possibly exist. The arguments are against the premise that the Christian God exists.
So let us first define some terms:
The Christian God is the god of the bible, the main characteristics of whom are that he is a personal being who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He also has, and has granted us, free will.
A personal being by the Christian definition is one who has free will. Omniscient means all-knowing. Omnipotent means having the ability to do anything at all. Omnipresent means existing everywhere at all times.
Free will means the ability to make a decision, to choose. The act of choosing simply means there must be an alternative present, one which could possibly be chosen. It also implies a deliberation, even if only a short one. And deliberation requires the passage of time.
First, let me concede that a god can be omnipresent, since omnipresence can be a characteristic of other entities, such as time itself.
But if God is omniscient he cannot also be omnipotent. An omniscient god knows everything – past, present, and future. If he knows everything, he already knows every decision he is ever going to make. If he already knows every decision, he cannot change his mind about them. If he cannot change his mind he is not omnipotent, because changing his mind is something God cannot do. If, on the other hand, he does change his mind, then he didn’t know everything from the beginning, so he is not omniscient. An omniscient being cannot also be omnipotent.
But what if God is omniscient? That means he already knows everything that is going to happen. It also means God is outside of time. Only a being who is outside of time can look at the fabric of time in its entirety. But if God is outside of time, it means he cannot deliberate, since the act of deliberation requires time. Therefore, God cannot make choices; he is stuck with the choices that he made when he created everything. Therefore, God cannot have free will. He is a robot.
If God is omniscient, it also means we have no free will. If God knows that tomorrow I will go to the store and purchase a gallon of milk, then I don’t have a choice to do otherwise. I might think I’m deciding to go to the store rather than stay at home, but if God already knows what I’m going to do, then how can I change my mind? If I cannot change my mind, then I don’t have free will.
What if I do change my mind? What if I had decided to stay home but then changed my mind and went to the store instead. If God is omniscient, he already knew I was going to change my mind, so it makes no difference. I still didn’t really have a choice. It was an illusion.
If I don’t have free will then prayer makes no sense. God already knows that I’m going to pray or not pray, so I have not made the choice myself. Also, if God is omniscient, he already knows everything that he is going to do in the future, so praying cannot alter God’s predetermined plans. Remember, God cannot change his mind if he is omniscient, and if he cannot change his mind, praying for something different to happen is futile.
God also cannot change his will. If God is omniscient, then his will is predetermined and unchangeable. Praying that something is God’s will is pointless. If it is God’s will, it will happen and not even God can change it, regardless of what you pray for. Prayer is a completely useless act.
In summary, I have logically shown that God cannot be both omniscient and have free will. He cannot be omniscient and also grant us free will. He cannot be omniscient if he is omnipotent. If God is not omniscient, if he does not have free will, and if he cannot grant us free will, then he is not the god of the bible. In fact, the god of the bible cannot exist.
Perhaps some lesser god does exist, one who is neither omniscient nor omnipotent but who is vastly superior in both knowledge and abilities to any human. In our view, he would still be worthy of the title of “god,” just not the god of the bible. The god of the bible cannot exist because the characteristics assigned him by Christian beliefs are mutually exclusive.
Prayer and free will only make sense if we assume that God is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. But if we make those assumptions, we are assuming that the Christian god is a fallacy.
I’ve heard all the counter-arguments. God is so far above us that he can do things we cannot possibly understand. That’s a cop-out. Even God cannot defy logical thought. If A is less than B and B is less than C then C has to be greater than A.
And then there is the observational God model. God knows what we are going to do in advance, but we are the ones who choose to do it. That’s fine if we assume that God didn’t create the universe and all the laws of nature that govern it. If it is his creation, then everything we do is caused by him.
Let’s use a metaphor. God’s creation is a gigantic quilt. Every thread in that quilt represents a timeline. We, being on the quilt, cannot see where the thread meanders ahead. We can choose to turn left or right onto thread after thread, but we can’t see where the threads end or where new ones begin. But God, being on the outside, can see the entire quilt. He constructed it. He knows where every thread goes because he put it there. In other words, he created our destiny; our choice of threads has already been made for us. We only think we get to choose.
If you can come up with a logical way out, then you are free to leave a comment. But if your logic is based on nothing but faith, then it isn’t logic at all. I don’t see a way around the logic outlined above. If you do, please let me know.