If you think that having a theistic outlook on the world is irrational, prove it. Show me, point by point, exactly why there can't possibly be gods in the universe.
OK, I'll give it a shot.
I originally wrote this for a slightly different audience so please forgive any digressions.
I work strictly from definitions here, because you can be sure something that you reason about from your own definitions is correct. Whether those definitions also accurately describe what they are commonly understood to mean is something we can discuss.
Truth: something which follows from its assumptions (definitions).
- "Henry VIII reigned for 57 years" is an empirical belief, and cannot ever be known to be true or false.
- "If Henry VIII ever reigned, then he must have reigned for some time" is a valid truth, since it follows from the used definitions that it cannot be other than true.
- "I see that black rock there" cannot definitely prove that the black rock was indeed there; it only proves that you saw a black rock there. You cannot prove that you experience anything to any other person, but it is undoubtedly true that you are experiencing what you are experiencing.
- Truth itself is a definition. It is the word or concept we use to refer to that which follows from other definitions we have made.
Cause: something which has an effect, and "creates" that effect.
a cause which is necessary for an effect to arise; without the cause, the effect would not occur.
- Your having a heart is a necessary cause for your continued survival. If you remove the heart, the continued survival does not occur; therefore it is a necessary cause.
- Me not killing you is a necessary cause for your continued survival.
- (These may not be literally necessarily true, but you get the idea)
a cause which can create an effect, but is not the only possible cause which could do so.
- Me buying a burrito at Taco Bell is a sufficient cause for them making money today.
- Me kicking my monitor in is a sufficient cause for it to stop working right.
God: the creator of all things.
everything without exception. Any thing you might conceive of as being outside of the Totality, is by this definition a part of the Totality.
Thing: some object that can be distinguished from the Totality.
- That which can be distinguished from what is not that thing.
- That which has a boundary of some sort delineating it from the Totality.
Finite: not the Totality; bounded. Any thing, as defined, meets this definition of finite.
Infinite: Utterly without boundaries. No thing can be infinite by definition. By this definition, the Totality is infinite -- utterly without boundaries.
- A finite thing X must have one necessary cause, that cause being that which is not it: not-X.
- This is because if you remove not-X, then X itself disappears. X relies on not-X to give it boundary and definition. Removing not-X removes that boundary and definition. Therefore not-X is a necessary cause for X.
- Therefore, any given thing is caused.
- Therefore, all things are caused, and are also finite.
- It is interesting to observe that any time we conceive of X, we also have implicitly conceived of what is not X. We draw up a boundary between X and not-X. This conceiving could therefore be called a necessary cause of X's existence.
- If we conceive of God as an entity of some type, with some attributes, then God is a thing. He has a defined boundary between what is him and what is not him.
- Therefore, if God is a thing, he is finite.
- Therefore, if God is a finite thing, he has a cause.
- Being thusly caused, then by definition, this finite God cannot be the creator of all things, since he himself has a necessary cause (at least, "not-God").
- More specifically by the drawing-up of a boundary between what is God and what is not God.
- On the other hand, we could conceive of God as infinite in nature. Then:
- God has no boundaries from/in the Totality.
- "God" is therefore identical to (not-other-than) "the Totality".
- God therefore cannot have any specific properties that we can speak of meaningfully, which would distinguish him from anything else and make him not be identical to the Totality.
- However, here we could meaningfully think of God as defined, "the creator of all things". Since it is indeed the Totality which is literally "the creator of all things" (all creations and creation is a part of the Totality), then Infinite God and the Totality both satisfy the definition of God as "the creator of all things".
- The Totality can be said to have a property, that property being that the Totality is not bound in any way, and is not a "part" of reality; it refers to literally all of reality.
- We could therefore call the Totality a thing, in that it has a property which makes it something other than "not the Totality".
- But under our definitions it is illogical to do so, because a thing is that which can be delineated from the Totality, so we would be trying to say "the Totality is not the Totality".
- In our definitions, the Totally literally means "not a thing".
- More mundanely speaking, common religious conceptions of God are finite, because they think of God as an entity or force which created all things. Those which do not believe their God created all things cannot also logically believe that their God is all-powerful.
- They also assign various specific attributes to him, such as benevolence. This conception of God is finite because if you say "God cares for people", you must have then an idea of what is "not God".