Shand’s (Mis)conception Of Omnipotence

God's Hand

In Probing Shand’s Refutation of the Existence of God, I contended that John Shand, associate lecturer in Philosophy at The Open University, attacked a Straw God and committed an informal fallacy of composition. In this article I addressed his (mis)understanding of omnipotence. His (mis)understanding of omniscience and omnipresence are addressed in the next article. Continue reading

Dawkins’ One-God-Further Blunder Simplified

One Less God

In A Devil’s Chaplain, Richard Dawkins reechoed an increasing popular meme. Dawkins contended:

[M]odern theists might acknowledge that, when it comes to Baal and the Golden Calf, Thor and Wotan, Poseidon and Apollo, Mithras and Ammon Ra, they are actually atheists. We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. (Dawkins 2004, 150)

I presented a case in Dissecting ‘One God Less’ Meme  showing that this meme is nonsensical utterance because it confused the concept of God, a general notion/idea of a being that is God, with conceptions of God, the way in which that general notion/idea is perceived or regarded. Noting that concept of God refers to objective notion/idea of a being that is God, while conceptions of God(s) refer to a particular groups’ subjective way in which that objective notion/idea is perceived, the meme appears to be a mere wind-egg. This article offered an analogy to explain the argument presented in a more simplified form.

Explanation From Analogy: United States of America’s Future Presidency

Say we are in USA in year 2050. There is a confusion over who is the current president, if indeed there is any. State B claims that Theodore Baal is the current president of USA. State C claims Benjamin Thor is current president of USA. And so on.

Newly formed State X dismisses Baal and Thor &c., as current president of USA and X claims that William Allah is the current president of USA.  State U rejects all B, C and X former-candidates regarded to be in the presidential office and hold that the former-candidate, now in office, is unknown. In this pool of States there is also ‘apresident’-state, State A. A claim is that there is no such thing as a president in USA.

From this analogy, it is clear that states B, C, X and U agree on the notion of there being a former-candidate that is now occupying the presidential office. What they disagree is who that former-candidate is regarded to now be in that office.  State A, contrary to other States, reject that notion of a being occupying the presidential office, since according to A, there is no such thing as presidential office.

Dawkins one-god-further’s blunder is on failing to note that by X dismissing Baal, Thor, &c., former-candidates regarded to be occupying the presidential office, X does not dismiss the notion of there being a being in presidential office. There  is multiple former-candidates but a single office presidential office. There is no multiple offices for A (or B, C, X and U) to go one further. There is either an office or no-office.

Claiming that X is like A in regard to Thor, Poseidon &c., but A goes one president further is nonsensical utterance because what X dismisses is not the notion of presidential office (concept), namely there is a being in office, but who is in that office (conception). U, for example, rejects all former-candidates regarded to be now in the office, but U  is not A  because does not reject that there is someone in that office.

Dawkins, Richard (2004) A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love. A Mariner Books. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Atheism: Insufficient Evidence For Belief in God?

Andrew David's Russell

A belief that atheism is true because of insufficient evidence for belief in God is feeble and unwarranted. Kai Nielsen, an atheist philosopher, correctly explained that “[t]o show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false”(Nielsen 1971: 143-4).

Even if an atheist succeed in showing that the theist’s case for existence of God is a failure, this by itself does not confirm the truthfulness of atheism. “All the proofs of God’s existence may fail,” explained Nielsen, “but it still may be the case that God exists”(ibid)

If all proofs of God’s existence fail, and there are no evidence for the belief in God, then agnosticism, not atheism, is a warranted position unless a successive case is give against the existence of God.

The sum total of the probability that God does exist, P(T) with that of God does not exist, P(not-T) must equal 1.  An agnostic gives both P(T) and P(not-T) the values .5. When theist C offer evidences for the existence of God, C increases the value of P(T) thus, decreasing  P(not-T). So if say, the probability that God exists given background information viz., cosmological, teleological, ontological, moral and resurrection of Jesus  argument is .7, (thus P(not-T) = .3), and an atheist A succeed in showing that all C arguments for P(T) fails, then A reduced P(T) back to .5. A needs to offer a case against the existence of God to increase P(not-T), which will decrease P(T), to be justified in believing that God does not exist.

Redefining atheism as “lack of belief in God” fails, I believe, because “lack of belief in God”, by itself, only shows a psychological state of a subject and not the reality of outside world. It does not show whether God exist or not. This redefinition fails because it shifts the discussion’s focus away from ontology of an object(i.e. God) to epistemology of a subject.(i.e an atheist). Example: John Doe may have a lack of belief that Jane Doe is having an affair, but that does not show if Jane Doe is having an affair or not. She may be having an affair even though John Does lacks a belief that she is having an affair.

Question: When is absence of evidence evidence of absence?


Nielsen Kai (1971) Reason and Practice. New York: Harper & Row

Cover photo-credit: Andrew David

Does God Exist? Debate Summary of William Lane Craig vs. Klemens Kappel

Summary of Craig’s and Kappel‘s opening speeches and their first rebuttals.

There were more than 600 people(majority of them were theist of 15-30 years) present at the debate. Those who came late could not get in. Yesterday’s debate was at Indre Mission, Rømersgade 17, 1362 Copenhagen K from 19:00 – 22:00.

I would describe Kappel as a friendly atheist who is definitely not a new atheist. He did not offer any ad hominen or ridicules. He was honest and had a typical Danish humor.

Craig opened the debate by offering Leibnizian cosmological argument, Teleological argument, Kalam cosmological argument and the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Kappel opened by defining God, atheism, and atheist. Atheism, Kappel said, is the view that God does not exit. An atheist is a person who believes that God does not exit. (Sorry I was not quick to write his definition of God: the debate will be available in YouTube for free soon)

Kappel admitted that it is not easy to come up with evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist. People don’t believe God exist because of the same reason they don’t believe Thor (Danish god) exist. The reason some believe in God is because they are born in environment that believes in God.(Comment: Genetic Fallacy)

Kappel’s reasons for not believing in God is that we ought to treat God Hypothesis as an alternative hypothesis to much of what we take for ourselves to know from science and common sense about the would.

We are entitled, said Kappel, to ignore such alternative hypotheses as the God Hypothesis and the purported evidence that support it. (Comment: He did not give reasons why)

Kappel said “you cannot prove that God exist or God doesn’t exit”. We can just treat “God Hypothesis” as “Thor Hypothesis” because the supporting evidence is weak. He offered a Magical Mythological star that doesn’t exist, The Magical explanatory star and ontological Necessary star that leave no physical trace, not subject to physical laws of nature and no evidence as illustrations.

We should not take them[the Hypotheses] seriously because the standard and methods of science determine what exists in the world and what doesn’t. We should give special priority to empirical observation.

Craig’s rebuttal: Kappel did not give justification for holding his position. Craig pointed out the genetic fallacy and show that giving the “star” attributes of God just doesn’t work. Craig added the Moral argument.

Kappel’s rebuttal: “What is the aim of this debated” wondered Kappel, since the Danish’s norm is that religious beliefs are private. “Why is it important to prove God?” He continued to wonder. “It is not important to their[Danish] lives”.

Kappel continued, “We know God does not exit”. We don’t have to prove that God doesn’t exist. He then admitted. “ I have not presented any argument that God does not exit”. Kappel said “ [Craig’s arguments] are fine arguments but all the premises are controversial. He said some think moral values are objective, but some think they are not. Even though things in the universe has explanation of their existence, it’s still in dispute whether the universe itself has an explanation (Comment: Taxicab fallacy)

It was interesting debate, though I hoped Kappel would have dealt with Craig’s argument. I will let you know when the debate is available on YouTube.

[Update: Its now available Copenhagen’s Debate ]

My best friend Pierce Peter has also reviewed the debate in his blog: FactorySense

Skeptic Debunking Zeitgeist: Is Jesus Another Sun God?

A non-Christian, Edward L Winston, went into detail examining the truthfulness of internet’s most popular myth known as Copy-Cat theory. The basic claim of Copy-Cat theorist is that Christianity is a copy of many other ancient sun-god religions. Winston used Peter Joseph’s Zeitgeist movie as his source for copy-cat theorist claims.

He writes:

“If they say something in the film not included in the transcript, I will insert it in red. As you can see below, their claim is indented, and below it I will correct anything that is inaccurate. As I said on the main page, some things are true, such as that the zodiac exists and that Horus was an Egyptian god, so I will not touch things like this. I should note that just because it contains grains of fact, does not make the movie factual.”

When I dealt with this topic, Copy-cat theory apologist tagged me a Bible-brainwashed Christian. Well here is skeptic and a non-Christian, Edward L Winston, refuting the same claim: Zeitgeist – Part I: The Greatest Story Ever Told

Related article:

Zeitgeist – Companion Guide – by Edward L Winston

Busting The Dying And Rising Gods Myths – by Prayson Daniel

Youth Pastor And Joey the Atheist

This is a fictional dialogue between an atheist Joey and Christian youth pastor Luke, that I put together with a hope that it will help some of Christians, with gentleness and respect, give an answer to everyone who asks them to give the reason for the hope that they have.(1 Peter 3:15)

Joey: My sister Jane said you could give me reasons for why you believe in God?

Luke: Oh, Jane is your sister! She is a kind and lovely young lady.

Joey: Indeed she is. I am “the atheist older brother” she told you about.

Luke: Nice to finally meet you in person.

Joey: Same. I am interested to hear your reasons for believing in God. How do you know that God exist?

Luke: Well, they are three ways, I as a Christian, could answer your question. First, I could answer that I know God existed because I experience his joy and glory in my personal life. Second, I could also answer that I believe God exist because of properly basic beliefs, and last, I could offer you good arguments for existence of God, as reasons for why I believe God exists.

Joey: Could we begin with the last one? What do you mean by “good arguments”?

Luke: Well, when I attempt to persuade you to the conclusion that God exist, I need to offer you an argument that:

  1. is logically valid
  2. has true premises and
  3. has premises which are more plausible than their negation

Joey: Okay. Let me hear them.

Luke: I will share with you Leibnzian cosmological argument to begin with and if your interested we could arrange to meet once a week, 5 times for coffee and cupcakes at Crux Café, so that we could go through other arguments like Kalam cosmological arguments, teleological argument, moral argument, historical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and also hear your objections and reasons for not believing that God exist.

Joey: Cool! I will so much like that. Let me hear the Leibnzian cosmological argument?

Luke: Leibnzian cosmological argument has three premises that go like this:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (either in the
necessity of its own nature or in an external cause).

2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

3. The universe exists.

And from premises 1 and 3 it logically follows that;

4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.

And from 2 and 4 the conclusion logically follows:

5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

Joey: I can see that its logically valid argument, and I believe premise 3 is undeniable. Before I disagree with the premises 1 and 2, could you unpack them?

Luke: You spoke like a wise man.

Joey: My sister Jane challenged me never to I agree or disagree, unless I am in a position where I can say that I understand what is said. That is why I am here.

Luke: O Jane, she is wiser than I am. Well, according to premise 1 there are two kinds of things: (a) things which exist necessarily and (b) things which exist contingently. Things which exist necessarily exist by a necessity of their own nature. Many mathematicians think that numbers, sets, and other mathematical entities exist in this way. They’re not caused to exist by something else; they just exist by the necessity of their own nature. By contrast, contingent things are caused to exist by something else. They exist because something else has produced them. Familiar physical objects like people, planets, and galaxies belong in this category.(Craig)

Joey: Okay! What reason might you offer for thinking premise 1 is true?

Luke: If you think about it, this premise has a sort of self-evidence.

Joey: How so?

Luke: Borrowing from a Christian philosopher, William Lane Craig, explanation: Imagine that you’re hiking through the woods one day and you come across a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You would naturally wonder how it came to be there. If one of your hiking partners said to you, “It just exists inexplicably. Don’t worry about it!, you’d either think that he was crazy or figure that he just wanted you to keep moving. No one would take seriously the suggestion that the ball existed there with literally no explanation.

Joey: I am following.

Luke: Now suppose you increase the size of the ball in this story so that it’s the size of a car; Would that satisfy or remove the demand for an explanation?

Joey: No, it would not.

Luke: Suppose it were the size of a house; would that satisfy or remove the demand for an explanation?

Joey: Nope.

Luke: Suppose it were the size of a continent or a planet or entire universe?

Joey: Still no, because I believe by merely increasing the size of the ball does nothing to affect the need of an explanation.

Luke: Exactly

Joey: I can see that it would be “the taxicab fallacy” to say that it is true of everything in the universe that demand an explanation but not of the universe itself.

Luke: You are smart. Just like a 19th century atheist philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer explained it, premise 1 cannot be dismissed like a hack once you’ve arrive at your desired destination!

Joey: I have read Copi’s Introduction to Logic. So I am familiar with wrong reasoning.

Luke: Now, that is a good book on the topic! Do you need more explanation on premise one?

Joey: No, I need to ponder more on that. Could you explain premise 2? I believe it is here I can see a problem.

Luke: Well, you know that two statements are logically equivalent if it is impossible for one to be true and the other one false, yes?

Joey: Yes, they stand or fall together.

Luke: Good. Now premise 2 is logically equivalent with a statement that is typically given by an atheist in response to premise 1, namely:

A. If atheism is true, the universe has no explanation of its existence.

That position is logically equivalent to saying:

B. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, then atheism is not true.

So we can’t affirm (A) and deny (B).

Joey: And I can see that (B) is virtually synonymous with premise 2!

Luke: Yes.

Joey: Okay, I can see what you are saying but why should that explanation be God?

Luke: Well, think of it, all of space-time reality, including all matter and energy, what we call the universe must have an external cause as the explanation of its existence. This cause must be a non-physical, immaterial being beyond space and time.

Joey: Go on.

Luke: There are only two sorts of thing that could fit this description: abstract object like number or an unembodied mind. We know that abstract objects can’t cause anything so the only candidate must be a transcendent unembodied mind, which we, Christians, call God.

Joey: You gave me something to think about.

Luke: I hope I did. This is one of the reasons I believe in the existence of a necessary, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal Creator of the universe.

Joey: Not so fast! If everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, and you believe God exist, what is the explanation of God’s existence?

Luke: Good question. Remember I said in premise 1 that everything that exists has an explanation of its existence either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. God necessarily exist by a necessity of his own nature.

Joey: I am not completely convinced by the argument but I will go home and take a careful look at it. I hope to bring more objections next Sunday.

Luke: Fair enough. It was wonderful talking to you, Joey!

Joey: It is me who need to say that to you.


Dialogue inspired by William Lane Craig’s On Guard and Reasonable Faith Q&A: Question 25

How Did Judas Iscariot Die?

The old English couplet says“Still, as of old, man by himself is priced; for thirty pieces, Judas sold himself, not Christ.”¹ Have you ever wondered how Judas Iscariot, the disciple of Jesus who was a thief(John 12:6), a traitor and a man better off unborn, died?

We have seemly contradictory accounts of his death:

Account 1: Matthew’s in Gospel: Judas hanged himself

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,  saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”  And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.  But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” (Mt 27:3–6 ESV).

Account 2: Luke’s  in Acts of Apostles:  Judas fell and his body burst open.

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said,  “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.  For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”  (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)  (Ac 1:15–19 ESV).


Historical: Church Father’s Solution

Commentary on the fragments of Papias (c. 70-155 A.D)

Apollinarius. ‘Judas did not die by hanging, but lived on, having been cut down before he was suffocated. And the Acts of the Apostles show this, that falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. This fact is related more clearly by Papias, the disciple of John, in the fourth (book) of the Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord as follows:—

Judas walked about in this world a terrible example of impiety; his flesh swollen to such an extent that, where a waggon can pass with ease, he was not able to pass, no, not even the mass of his head merely. They say that his eyelids swelled to such an extent that he could not see the light at all, while as for his eyes they were not visible even by a physician looking through an instrument, so far had they sunk from the surface …’

Complied from Cramer Catena ad Acta SS. Apost (1838) p. 12 sq. and other sources.²

Apologetic: Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe’s Solution

These accounts are not contradictory, but mutually complementary. Judas hung himself exactly as Matthew affirms that he did. The account in Acts simply adds that Judas fell, and his body opened up at the middle and his intestines gushed out. This is the very thing one would expect of someone who hanged himself from a tree over a cliff and fell on sharp rocks below.³

It important to notice that Geisler’s solution presumes that Judas died by hanging or at least in that process of hanging himself , which Matthew account does not explicitly spill out. while “Apollinarius” does not. 


1. Weber, S. K. (2000). Vol. 1: Matthew. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference (450). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
2. Lightfoot, J. B., & Harmer, J. R. (1891). The Apostolic Fathers (534–535). London: Macmillan and Co.
3. Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : A popular handbook on Bible difficulties (361). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.