So, I’m minding my own business being an atheist and not talking to anyone about it when I get a note from my TBM sister-in-law. Here’s what it says:
I have a question for you. I have to do a presentation on “does God exist?” I have to use both sides and I can’t think of why he doesn’t. So I was wondering if you had any points that I could use. I have to have it done by sat. If you could help me great if not that’s okay to.
After I swept up the saliva that splashed all over the floor when my jaw hit it, I gladly replied. It took about an hour or so to write the reply, but I thought MSP would like it:
Here are some basic arguments any Mormon considering the existence of god should consider…
First, what do you mean by “god”? This is a definitional issue. Before you can determine whether god or a god exists, you have to know what it is that is supposed to exist. So you have to begin by defining god. Let’s think through this using a god… How about Athena, greek goddess of heroes? Since you are likely an atheist towards her (you don’t believe in her), she’ll work well to illustrate the point.
In Greek mythology, Athena is the shrewd companion of heroes and the goddess of heroic endeavour. As is the case with all of the gods of the Greek pantheon (family of gods), Athena can manifest herself to humans. However, Athena is “supernatural,” which means she is above or beyond nature – she is outside what humans can detect using our five senses (touch, taste, see, smell, hear). We can only detect Athena if she is willing to let us detect her. But, if she wants us to, we can. What else do we know about Athena? Well, according to Greek mythology, she is the offspring of Metis (a Titan), and Zeus, the head god. Zeus was told that Metis would give birth to a god that would one day be greater than he was. So, to prevent that, he ate Metis. But Metis was already pregnant with Athena, who was nurtured inside Metis until she sprang fully formed and with her armor on from Zeus’s forehead.
In most of the stories in which Athena has a part, she ends up helping heroes, but not solving problems for them. For instance, she aided Odysseus only from afar by implanting thoughts in his head during his journey home from Troy. She later shows herself to him, but only to deliver weapons. She appears in Nausicaa’s dreams to ensure that the princess rescues Odysseus and plays a role in his eventual escort to Ithaca. Athena appears in disguise to Odysseus upon his arrival, initially lying and telling him that Penelope, his wife, has remarried and that he is believed to be dead; but Odysseus lies back to her, employing skillful prevarications to protect himself. Impressed by his resolve and shrewdness, she reveals herself and tells him what he needs to know in order to win back his kingdom. She disguises him as an elderly man or beggar so that he cannot be noticed by the suitors or Penelope, and helps him to defeat the suitors. She also plays a role in ending the resultant feud against the suitors’ relatives. In the course of building a temple to her, one of the workers, the quickest and the handiest workman among them all, with a slip of his foot fell down from a great height, and lay in a miserable condition, the physicians having no hope of his recovery. When Pericles was in distress about this, Athena appeared to him at night in a dream, and ordered a course of treatment, which he applied, and in a short time and with great ease cured the man.
Asfor actual descriptions, Athena is described as “unwearying”, virgin, and the First Fighter, i. e. she who fights in front. She is also described as bright-eyed or with gleaming eyes. Athena is frequently depicted with an owl perched on her head. The olive tree is likewise sacred to her. Athena also teaches the art of shipbuilding or navigation and is the patron of craftsmen and artisans. She is also the protector of Athens and its Acropolis, but also of many other cities, including Argos, Sparta, Gortyn, Lindos, and Larisa. She is supposed to have invented the chariot. (FYI, most of the info. on Athena comes from Wikipedia; some quoted directly, just so you know I didn’t plagiarize it.)
So, based on the above, what can we say about Athena? Well, apparently she has the following powers and abilities: (1) she can implant thoughts into peoples’ heads, (2) she can appear as someone else and make others do so as well, (3) she has lots of knowledge, but is probably not all knowing as she doesn’t know how everything is going to turn out (just like her father, Zeus, didn’t), (4) she cares about some humans, but not all humans, (5) she wants to be worshipped, (6) she is a virgin, (7) she is unwearying or doesn’t get tired, and (8) we can only detect her if she wants us too, otherwise we can’t.
Based on this definition, do you think Athena exists? Well, you have to take each of the characteristics I just laid out one by one to determine whether that characteristic is plausible in a supernatural entity. Is it possible for a supernatural entity to implant thoughts in peoples’ minds? Well, we can now do this with various technological advances using magnets and electricity. So, sure; it’s possible. Is it possible for a supernatural entity to change its shape? At present, humans can’t really do this physically, but we can appear to have changed our shape using makeup and special effects, so I’d say sure. Is it possible for a supernatural entity to appear as someone else? Humans can do this, so why not? Seems possible to me. Is it possible for her to know a lot, but not everything? A lot of people know a lot of things, but no human knows everything. So, again, yes she could do this. Is it possible that she cares about some humans, but not all humans? Again, lots of humans are this way, so yes. Is it possible for her to want to be worshipped? Well, again, there are humans who want this, so a supernatural entity could certainly want this. Is it possible for her to be a virgin? Absolutely – plenty of those around. Is it possible for her to be unwearying? Well, that’s a challenging one. This is impossible for humans. So, this clearly falls into the range of supernatural. But, perhaps with future genetic modification we may make it so humans don’t need sleep and we never get tired. So, let’s say this is possible. Finally, is it possible that Athena can avoid detection by all human means (i.e., radar, sight, sounds, smell, touch, etc.) except when she wants to? Well, humans have developed an invisibility cloak that allows light to pass around it. So, you could avoid detection by sight and potentially radar. If we can do that now, with our limited technology, perhaps she can prevent people from touching her, smelling her, or hearing her all at the same time as she can prevent people from seeing her. So, again, I guess this could be possible.
The conclusion: It is possible for someone like Athena to exist.
But now we have to ask: Do you, Hillari, believe that Athena exists? My guess is that you do not. Nor do I. But why? It’s possible she does. I don’t believe she exists because: (1) no one else believes she exists and (2) she no longer manifests herself in ways that reinforce belief in her; i.e., there is no empirical evidence she exists. If it occasionally happened that Athena appeared to people and it could be independently verified (i.e., there are other people around when this happens and they get photos, video, and can detect her), then I would probably believe. I’d probably believe she was an alien, not a supernatural deity. But I would believe. Wouldn’t you?
So, what have we established at this point? That it is possible for a supernatural entity like Athena, a Greek goddess, to exist. However, neither of us believe in her because there is no evidence other than ancient myths that suggest she exists and no one else believes in her. Since there is no current evidence to suggest she does exist, we don’t believe in her. Is this an acceptable exercise to determine the existence of a god? In other words, is it morally okay to ask: (1) How do you define that god? (2) Is that definition logical and/or plausible? (3) What evidence is there to support that the god exists? Then, based on what you conclude from the three questions, you make a decision as to the existence of a god. I think this is exactly what you should do whenever someone presents the possibility of a god: Have them define it, examine the logic of that definition, ask for evidence, then make a decision as to whether that god exists.
Now, let’s turn to a god that is more relevant to you. You believe in a god (at least, I assume you do, as you are Mormon). Can we define the Mormon god? Lucky for us, someone already has. Here is the URL for the entry on god in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:
cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/ EoM&CISOPTR=4391&REC=6& CISOSHOW=3731
Mormons actually believe in a lot of gods (sort of henotheists), but let’s just stick with the one main god – god the father. How is this god defined by Mormons? First, he has a body of flesh and bones (not blood). This god is also male. This god is also the creater of the universe. This god lives near a star named Kolob. God the father can communicate with humans and they can hear him with their auditory system (their ears), not just inside their head. This speaking is done from heaven. This god is distinct from Jesus and the Holy Ghost (the other members of the godhead; important criteria for distinguishing Mormons from other Christian religions). God the father is greater than Jesus. God the father won’t judge anyone; that is Jesus’s job. God the father wants people to pray to him. God the father set up a plan that involved his only begotten son dying on a cross. God the father can impregnate human women. God the father is literally the father of all the souls of people. God the father is one in purpose with Jesus. God the father is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness. He is a god of truth and no respecter of persons. He personifies love. God set forth a system that requires his children to believe in him and follow him in order to return to him. That system requires specific rituals and behaviors. God can tell people things that they would not otherwise know (revelation) God speaks to living prophets today and spoke with prophets in the past. God once lived on a planet, like us, but followed a similar plan to become a god. God sits on a throne. God looks like a man. Finally, the only way to know any of this is for god the father to reveal it to each person individually. However, before he will reveal himself to someone, that person must already have faith in him.
Excellent. That’s a pretty clear definition of the Mormon god. That gives us a lot to work with, more than we had with Athena. But, let’s follow the pattern we used with Athena. Based on our limited knowledge, is it possible for a god to have all of the characteristics above? Well, let’s see…
Is it possible for god to have a body of flesh and bones? Well, I do. So, sure. Of course, this rules out god being omnipresent, but we’ll get to that later.
Is it possible for god to be male? Again, I am, so sure. This does imply male superiority, which I find repugnant, but that is a different issue. It’s possible.
Is it possible that god is the creater of the universe? Well, yes and no. Here we run into our first problem with Mormon theology. In order for god to create something, he must be outside that thing. Think about it this way: Hillari, could you create a child but be inside that child while you create it? In other words, could you create a child that surrounds you? No. You can’t. Likewise, can you create a house but be part of the house? You could actually be “inside” the house while building it, but if you are “part” of the house (say, you make yourself a support structure like a pillar holding up the celing), can you still build the house if you are now part of it? No. Here’s why: Something cannot create itself as part of something else. You may be able to create a clone of yourself as part of something else, but you literally cannot create YOU as part of something else. So, here’s where the problem comes in for the Mormon god: He (Elohim) lives in this universe, near a star named Kolob. How could he create the universe if he is in it? Doesn’t that make god part of his own creation? As we just illustrated, you cannot create yourself. God supposedly didn’t create himself, but was created by his father. Fine. But how does god create a universe that he is part of? Here’s the possible answer: Perhaps god created the universe while he was outside it. So, he was not part of the universe. Then, once it was created, he moved into the universe. Science, of course, is uncertain how such a thing could occur because there is nothing we know of outside the universe. But let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that it is possible to create something as immense as the universe, which is quite impressive. Then let’s say that the entity (god) that created it decided to inhabit it. If you assume god is smaller than the universe, then this is theoretically possible (though remember this when we discuss omnipresence). God didn’t create himself. He just created an immense universe then inhabited it. He created it while outside it, then moved inside it. Okay, possible. Moving on…
Can this god speak and be heard from heaven? Well, it depends on where heaven is… If heaven just means “the heavens” as in – up in the sky, absolutely. I can hear sonic booms occasionally, so it is theoretically possible for a loud enough sound to come from the sky and be heard by mortals on the planet. I’m not sure how intelligible it would be, but it’s possible. But if heaven is either (1) near a star named Kolob or (2) outside the universe, this is substantially less likely. Unless god is able to instantly teleport himself to any part of his creation, from either inside or outside it, and then speak to humans and have them detect it with one of their five senses, god would have to have some tool to transmit his voice across the universe or into and across the universe. Such a tool is well beyond what we can accomplish scientifically. It would probably have to be a faster than light tool (or god would have to plan out his transmissions hundreds of millions of years in advance). But, let’s say god is so advanced that he has figured out how to warp the space-time continuum and travel or send messages faster than light. We can imagine this. So, let’s say it is possible. It’s highly improbable, but possible. So, let’s say god has the ability to warp space and time (since he created it, why not) to communicate instantly anywhere in the universe. So, we haven’t ruled out the existence of god yet.
Next, god is distinct from Jesus and the Holy Ghost. Distinct from Jesus, sure, why not. I’m distinct from other people with bodies. But I’m not sure I’m distinct from the Holy Ghost. I also don’t know what the Holy Ghost is, so I’m not sure how I can be distinct from it. But, let’s pretend the Holy Ghost is actually made up of some material that is finer than matter (Joseph Smith taught this), but has a finite essence. If the Holy Ghost can control that essence, then I guess I could be distinct from it and so could god. However, there is another problem here. Supposedly, through god’s spirit, which is also supposedly distinct from the Holy Ghost, god is everywhere in the universe at once. Well, now we have a real quandary. If god is distinct from Jesus and the Holy Ghost, and if both Jesus and the Holy Ghost are inside the universe, then god and Jesus and the Holy Ghost are not, truly, distinct. If god is in the universe, and Joseph Smith said he is, living on a planet near Kolob, then I’m not sure how Jesus and the Holy Ghost could be outside the universe. If they are not, then they are not distinct from god as god is everywhere. Thus, either god is not distinct from Jesus and the Holy Ghost or god’s presence is not everywhere through his spirit (a.k.a. the light of christ). So, this characteristic of god is not logically correct. Strike one against the Mormon god.
Next, is God the father greater than Jesus? Well, since he created him, the obvious answer would be yes. However, we do have to stipulate that this can only be true for a certain period of time. Why? God promises that all those who attain godhood will have all that he has. If that is true, then at some point in the future, assuming Jesus attains godhood (which Mormons believe has already happened), then Jesus will be as great as god. Thus, god the father is currently greater than Jesus. But god the father cannot always be greater than Jesus or he was lying about his children having all that he has. So, this may be true now, but cannot be true forever. We’ll call this a half-strike against the Mormon god.
Is it true that God the father won’t judge anyone; that is Jesus’s job? Well, again, this may be true at some point, but certainly cannot have been true in the past, with some possible qualifications. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Jesus will judge all of those who live and die on this planet. Fine. If that is the only judgment this refers to, then god the father won’t judge anyone in the future. But if this refers to ever judging anyone, god has already done so. In the pre-existence, he cast 1/3 of his children from heaven. That included a judgment as those children are sons of perdition, doomed for eternity. That seems like a judgment to me. I guess it’s possible that Jesus made that decision. But that would imply that god the father doesn’t do anything and wasn’t really involved in the war in heaven. Possible, I guess. Additionally, didn’t god the father prejudge all of his children as being unworthy to be in his presence once they came to earth? That was the whole reason for the atonement. Did Jesus also make that determination? If so, again, god the father isn’t very involved in his creation. Possible, I guess. If all this is true, then god the father is a very, very distant god who basically just gets involved to tell others to listen to Jesus. That, of course, doesn’t mesh with what most Mormons think and also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in light of other things that have happened. For instance, when Jesus died on the cross supposedly the earth shook and there were horrible catastrophes. Did Jesus do that or did god the father? Jesus would have had to do that while he simultaneously was ministering do spirits in spirit prison, which is where he went when he died and before he was resurrected (by himself). So, it would seem god the father did that. That would also seem like something of a judgment, as lots of people died as a result. So, does god the father judge? Well, I’d say yes. There are ways to kind of weasel around this, but I don’t find them compelling. So, another half-strike against the Mormon god.
Does God the father want people to pray to him? Well, I can understand why an all-powerful (we’ll get to this issue later) god would want to know what people want – he can do something about it. But why would a god want prayers of praise? Doesn’t that sound egotistical? I guess we didn’t specify that god is humble. In fact, god says he is a jealous god. Maybe god is also a proud god that wants praise. Maybe god wants people to praise him and thank him to teach humans humility. That’s a strange way of teaching that. So, I guess this is possible. But if god the father does want people to praise him, which he says he does, he is not a god I would want to praise. I’m not a fan of arrogance. This is a possibility, but if it is true, I wouldn’t worship this god. After all, why would he need or want my praise?
Is it possible God the father set up a plan that involved his only begotten son dying on a cross? Yeah. I guess that’s possible. That’s a pretty cruel god, though. Think about it, if god is all powerful, why can’t he simply make everyone’s sins go away? If he can’t do that, he isn’t all powerful. If he can but he won’t, then he is not the personification of love. So, again, it’s possible that god did this, but if he did, he’s a cruel god. I wouldn’t worship such a god, but still possible.
Can God the father impregnate human women? Well, if he has a body of flesh and bones, I guess so. He’d either have to sleep with the woman, use artificial insemination, or be able to materialize a sperm in a woman’s fallopian tube. Let’s think about those options. If god slept with Mary but was not married to her, then god is an adulterer and he committed incest (she is his daughter). If god used artificial insemination, then god masturbated. If god made a sperm materialize in a woman’s fallopian tube, god has some remarkable technological prowess. That would entail having the technology to send a single sperm across the universe to a specific location inside a woman’s body that is about the size of a straw. That’s remarkable. Personally, I like to think god used one of the other two methods – sex with his daughter who he wasn’t married to or masturbation – it makes me laugh that the Mormon god broke his own commandments in order for his plan to work. So, is this possible? Yes. Is it probable? Not at all. Another half-strike against the Mormon god.
Is it possible that God the father is literally the father of all the souls of people? Well, considering how many souls that is, that, too, is quite a feat. It isn’t necessarily impossible, but I have to wonder how many wives he has, how often they have kids, and how a spiritual child is created. Is it similar to the mortal process? If so, and if the universe is 13.8 billion years old, that would mean that to people just this one planet, god would have to have one child with at least one of his wives every year since the beginning of the universe to populate this planet. And this is just one planet. Supposedly there are millions like this across the universe, all peopled by god. Since we don’t know how god creates his children, we can’t really rule out that this is possible. But it seems highly improbable as well. Semi-strike against the Mormon god.
Is God the father one in purpose with Jesus? If so, Jesus committed suicide. He knew he was going to be killed, could have stopped it, and didn’t. That must mean he wanted to die. If god and jesus are one in purpose, then god must advocate suicide. Since the Mormon god does not advocate suicide, I have to assume that god and Jesus are not one in purpose. Strike against the Mormon god.
Is God the father omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent? This is probably the easiest one to refute. First, omnipotence. That means all-powerful. Here’s the question: Can god create a rock so big that even he cannot lift it. If he can, he is not all powerful. If he cannot, then he is not all powerful. God is not all powerful. Second, omniscient. That means all-knowing. If god is all knowing, that means he knew when he created Satan that Satan would become the devil, convince 1/3 of his kids to rebel against him, and doom them to eternal damnation. If god knew that before it happened but he did nothing to stop it, then he may be all knowing, but he certainly isn’t loving. He basically didn’t care about 1/3 of his kids. If he knew, and he is loving, but he couldn’t stop it, then he is not all powerful. So, either god is omniscient but doesn’t care about his kids, or god is omniscient, cares, but is not all powerful. Take your pick. Either way, this also makes god responsible for all evil as well. Is god omnipresent? That means present everywhere. If god is present everywhere, that means everything is god. If everything is god, then there is no way to distinguish god from anything else. My shoe is god; my toilet bowl is god; my house is god; my computer is god. If everything is god, then nothing is god, because it makes no sense to call everything something other than something. That just makes god something, but simultaneously makes god nothing in particular, as god is no different from anything else. So, if god is omnipresent, then god is nothing. So, is god omnipotent, omnisicent, and omnipresent? No. Three strikes agains the Mormon god.
Is god merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness? Well, if he is, he sure doesn’t show it. Where was god when Hurricane Katrina hit? Where was god when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit and over 200,000 people died? Where was god during WWII when over 6 million Jews died? Why did god kill all of his children except Noah during the flood? Either god is merciful but can’t do anything about it, which means he is not all powerful, or god is not merciful. Take your pick. God cannot be merciful and omnipotent. He is either mean and vindictive and all powerful, or he is merciful and not all powerful. If he is mean and vindictive, he is not worthy of our worship. So, you best hope he is merciful but not all powerful. Is god slow to anger? Well, if he is actually the one causing all the destruction around the world, I’d say quite the opposite – he is quick to anger. Read the Old Testament – when Moses goes up the mountain to get god’s commandments, all it takes is for the children of Israel to start worshipping a golden calf for him to curse them and demand the deaths of dozens. God is not, by his own record, slow to anger. If by gracious it is meant humble, we already illustrated that is not true as we wants his children to praise him. That’s the epitome of arrogance. Is god abundant in goodness? I see no difference between that and merciful, which we already ruled out. Ergo, 4 strikes against the Mormon god.
Is he a god of truth and no respecter of persons? Well, if god is a god of truth, why are there so many different religions that claim to know his will? Either god is a mischeivious god who likes screwing around with his followers by making it hard to know his will, which means you shouldn’t worship him anyway, or god has no way of conveying his truth to his children. If that is the case, then god is not a god of truth. Additionally, why does god’s truth change? Mormon doctrine has changed over the years (look up Brigham Young’s Adam-God doctrine). Does that mean god’s truth changes? If so, god’s truth doesn’t mean the same thing that I think of when I think truth. Is god a respecter of persons? Well, he does seem to talk to some people more than others. Why? By Joseph Smith’s own accounts, he was a sinner, he deceived people, slept with women other than his wife (than married them to justify it), drank alcohol, etc. By the standards of the Mormon Church, I’m more worthy to receive god’s will than Joseph Smith was. Why did Joseph Smith receive it and not me? That would suggest that god is a respecter of persons. Isn’t it more likely that “prophets” like Joseph Smith are just pretending they know god’s will than that they actually do? After all, god would definitely have to show favoritism toward certain people, who were clearly sinners and less worthy to receive his will than others, for them to receive it. Thus, the Mormon god is not a god of truth and is a respecter of persons. Two strikes against him.
Does god personify love? If you define love as watching 200,000 of your children die in a preventable tsunami, then I guess god does personify love. If giving some people who absolutely shouldn’t be parents a child (Debi worked with a woman who had 6 or 7 kids, all with fetal alcohol syndrome except 1) and not others who should have a child (I had a woman in my class this last semester who is financially settled, nice, married, caring, etc. but not fertile, even with fertility treatments), is that love? Maybe god does love them and he wants to do something about it but can’t. That means he is not all powerful. Or maybe he feels like that is in the person’s best interest. For the life of me I cannot see how giving a woman who can’t take care of herself or 6 kids with fetal alcohol syndrome is in the best interest of anyone. God does not personify love, which means he is not worthy of worship. Strike against god.
Did God set forth a system that requires his children to believe in him and follow him in order to return to him? Does that system requires specific rituals and behaviors? Let’s say for the sake of argument that god did set out this system and it does require that you be Mormon. This does suggest that god is not very loving as there are millions if not billions who will never receive it. Mormons have a solution for this, though: they say that all of those who have ever lived will be revealed during the millennium so they can have their work done. Okay. Possible. But not very practical or efficient. Also not very loving. But let’s give this one to Mormons.
Can God tell people things that they would not otherwise know (revelation)? There is no evidence that this has ever happened. There is nothing in any book of scripture ever written that cannot have been known by other means. In fact, much of what is written in scripture is simply wrong. Ancient America, if that is the setting for the Book of Mormon (which many Mormon apologists now claim it is not because of these problems), did not have elephants or horses, but they are mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Either god lied or Joseph Smith got it wrong when he wrote it. If god can reveal things people wouldn’t otherwise know to people, why doesn’t he? My religious students don’t do better on tests than my non-religious students? The standard Mormon answer is because it is not in your best interest. This is circular logic: You know god’s will by determining what god does. What god does is god’s will. That’s useless. Strike against a Mormon god.
Can God speak to living prophets today and did he speak with prophets in the past? Well, if he does speak to prophets today, he is a prejudicial god, as he just told Mormon prophets to work against homosexuals, removing their rights. That would indicate god is a respecter of persons. And if god spoke with prophets in the past, he either lied to them, the transmission was faulty, or god didn’t know what he was talking about in the past. The god of the New Testament told his prophets the earth had four corners (Revelation 7:1). Oops. Strike against god.
Did God once live on a planet, like us, but followed a similar plan to become a god? Since this would have had to have happened in a different universe, there is no way of knowing this except by god telling us that it happened. However, we cannot verify it. So, it’s possible. Improbable, but possible.
Does God sit on a throne? Not sure. He could. But if he does, he is also an arrogant god that I would not want to worship. I’d rather my god be humble and walk among the people like one of them. So, possible.
Does God look like a man? Again, possible. But this also suggests another alternative: that man created god, not the other way around. Emile Durkheim basically suggested as much when he was analyzing religion over 100 years ago. He saw god as being the embodiment of man: we create god in our image, not vice versa. Which is more probable? So, while it is possible that god looks like a man, what this suggest to me is not that god looks like a man but rather than man can’t think of anything else that would be worthy of adoration except someone who looks like him. This shows a good deal of arrogance on the part of the men who created that god. This also shows patriarchy. So, is it possible? Yes. Is it more probable that a man created god? Yes. Half-strike against the Mormon god.
Finally, is it possible that the only way to know any of this is for god the father to reveal it to each person individually? And, is it true that god will only reveal himself to someone if that person already has faith in him? Well, let’s put this in simpler terms. What this says is: (1) There is no evidence for any of this. (2) The only way to find out if it is true is to believe that it is true. Well, isn’t that convenient? There is no evidence for any of the above characteristics of god. And the only people who believe this are people who believe this. That is absolutely circular logic. That’s the equivalent of a parent saying to his child: The only way for you to find out if Santa exists is to believe in Santa first. Then Santa will show himself to you. The child says she believes, then the parent takes the child to the mall and shows her a fake Santa. This reinforces the belief. Then she asks Santa for something and her parents get it for her. This reinforces the belief. All of this appears to be evidence of Santa, but, in fact, is not, as Santa does not exist. It just appears to be evidence of Santa. Then the child gets old enough to talk to her friends who don’t believe and finds out that her parents were just screwing with her – Santa doesn’t exist. So, Mormons say the only way to “know” god exists is to believe. Well, you can never know it because there is no evidence. But the only way to believe is to believe. Wow! How’s that for a compelling argument? Two strikes agains the Mormon god.
That took a while…
Now let’s return to the example of Athena. You don’t believe in her because (1) there is no evidence to support her existence, and (2) no one else does. But, (3) Athena is a conceptually plausible god – she could exist.
Let’s apply these criteria to the Mormon god. (1) There is no evidence to support the existence of this god; mormons even say so explicitly. (2) Lots of other people believe this god exists. In fact, the religion often talks about just how many members there are as though that supports the belief in this god. But what about number 3? Well, (3) many of the characteristics of this god are completely implausible. Only one characteristic being implausible should be sufficient to make someone not believe. But you do believe in this god despite the many, many completely implausible characteristics. So, rather than ask why I don’t believe, why not ask why you do believe? I don’t believe in the Mormon god because of #1 and #3. You can’t believe in the Mormon god for either #1 or #3, as neither support belief in that god. So you must believe in the Mormon god because of #2 – other people believe.
So, to answer your question: Why doesn’t god exist? First, define god. We did that for two separate gods. Second, think about that definition logically, preferrably using empirical evidence wherever possible. God doesn’t exist if: (1) there is no evidence to support his/her/its existence, depending on the definition, and/or (2) god’s characteristics are illogical. Those are the two reasons why god does not exist.
Does that help?