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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Does the question exist?

Atheists, theists and philosophers of all sorts have argued for and against the existence of God for centuries. The often-smug rhetoric from both sides reveals a significant contempt for what they perceive as the lack of intelligence in the opposing camp.

In online forums and college campuses you can easily find arguments and quick retorts in an atmosphere of a spoken or unspoken, "You are an idiot," assessment. But I find myself asking how can both sides be so shallow as to perceive themselves so brilliant and their antagonists so void of brains? I think both sides fail to discuss this question intelligently.

In fairness it is not actually their fault, because neither side has widely considered the possibility that the question lacks the proper prerequisites for being asked let alone discussed. It is as if both sides get so caught up in a need to defend their personal view that they fail to consider the viability of the question itself.

The question of God's existence cannot be resolved intelligently. So my purpose herein is to discuss the question itself. I want to examine its implications and offer an argument that the question cannot ever be answered for reasons that have nothing to do with whatever the correct answer might be.

I call this the Next Dimension Unavailable (NDU) argument. It helps to have a name for arguments so we can refer to them without having to recite them, and since this is my argument, I guess I get to give it a name. My argument is an analogy taken from basic geometric concepts.

It should go without saying that if God exists then he does and if he does not exist then he does not. So I will have to assume, for purposes of avoiding nonsense altogether that if a god created the universe, then it would be necessary for him-her-it to exist in a place other than the universe and that he-she it comes from a place beyond the constraints of the universe we see and know. So lets look at some peculiar aspects for properties of objects that occupy space in the universe.

We will start with a geometric point in a zero dimensional world. Any such point does not exist in space it merely exists. It is simply a point without any location. It is just a point and nothing else. It has no depth, height or width; it is just a point. However if that point is also part of a 1 dimensional world, all we can perceive in the one-dimensional world is the line that point is on.

Now lets move to a two dimensional world that would possess both height and width. The X, Y coordinates of such a world help define what we call a geometric plane. Note, however, this plane is composed of an infinite number of points. But notice, every single point in the plane possesses all the same intrinsic properties of a point in a 1 dimensional world. A point on a plane can even be part of a line in that plane.

There is nothing intrinsically special about a point in a plane that uniquely differentiates it from a point in a one-dimensional line. The properties of both points as points are identical. There is no property within a point in the plane to indicate that the point is actually part of the larger plane. To even be aware of the fact that the point is in a plane can only be seen from the perspective of the plane. However the plane cannot be seen from the perspective of just the point or the 1 dimensional line.

Nothing that occurs within the plane ever alters any one point within the plane in a manner that changes any of the point's intrinsic properties. No point possesses any property that gives evidence that it in fact is a point in a plane. No point in a plane possesses any properties that give evidence of any event occurring in the plane outside of that point. In fact, were an event in the plane to change the features of a point, the point could not perceive these changes in any manner inconsistent to what can change its features on a line or simply as an independent point. Let us go still a bit further and move into a three dimensional world.

A cube or a sphere can be defined using an X, Y, Z coordinate system. Spherical geometry tells us that the three dimensional world is made up of an infinite number of planes. Every single plane in a three dimensional world possesses the exact same properties as any plane in a two dimensional world.

In fact, there is no property of a plane that can ever, from purely within the plane, demonstrate that the plane is indeed part of a three dimensional world. As above the three-dimensional world can see the plane, but the plane cannot see the three dimensional world. It makes no difference what, if anything, is occurring in the three dimensional world. The plane will never know it. Even the line created by the intersection of two planes does not require the awareness of both planes to define it. The line itself cannot define or reveal the two planes that intersect at the line.

So even if a line did exist, there would be nothing about that line that could prove it was caused by something occurring in a greater dimension. That possibility could be nothing more than a possibility. Can you say, "string theory?"

We can go on, but it is not really necessary. It is sufficient to note at this time that multidimensional geometry recognizes that lower dimension have properties that are never altered or violated by introducing greater dimensions. Lesser dimensions contain no evidence concerning events taking place in greater dimensions. Such events can only be possibilities. Indeed, it is not possible for conclusive evidence to even exist. This is quite without regard to whether such events actually take place or not. A point cannot prove the existence or non-existence of a plane and a plane cannot prove the existence or non-existence of a sphere.

Now let us extend this insight into the question of God's existence. If there is a God who created the matter that exists in space, then this God must exist in a dimension greater than the three-dimensional space we are familiar with. If this is the case, then space, as we know it, cannot be altered in any manner that forces a proof for the existence of any object that does or does not exist in a greater dimension. This would be true even if changes in three-dimensional space were actually caused by forces in the larger dimension acting upon three-dimensional space. From the perspective of three dimensions, it cannot graduate beyond being only a possibility. Any effect caused by an object in a greater dimension would have an impact identical and indistinguishable from the impact of the object limited to the intersection of the greater and lessor dimensions. Just as the intersection of two planes creates a line, that line, nonetheless, cannot prove the existence of the two planes that form it without access to a three dimensional perspective. Of course, if God does not exist, or even if a greater dimension does not exist, then there could be no evidence of that non-existence regardless of what principles we rely upon.

So we are left with this. If God does exist in a greater dimension than the three we can see, then there would have to be no conclusive evidence of that in our lesser three dimensions. Furthermore, If God does not exist in any greater dimension; there could never be any evidence of that non-existence either. Therefore, regardless of if God exists in a greater dimension or not, multidimensional geometry requires that in this dimension, there could be no evidence of it either way.

Since it is impossible for the evidence to exist regardless of what the truth is, it is futile to search for it. It cannot be found. The absence of the evidence fails to prove anything either way; the question is unanswerable.

We may not want to admit it, but the truth is that theists who believe in God and atheists who have no belief in God arrive at their position for no other "reason" than that they are personally comfortable taking the risk of that standpoint. I call it "faith."

Even though plenty of unintelligent arguments have been offered by theists and atheists to advance their personal opinion, neither position is in and of itself particularly intelligent nor particularly stupid. It only becomes unintelligent when we attempt to prove our position. We can continue to argue like fools or we can accept the responsibility to attribute our position to mere personal choice. Whatever the truth is on this question, the evidence that could confirm that God exists can only be found in a greater dimension than we have access to. That evidence is therefore unavailable.

So the question cannot be asked with the hope that anyone could authentically answer it. I say the question does not exist as an authentic question.

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