The professor of a university challenged his students with this question. “Did God create everything that exists?”
A student answered bravely, “Yes, he did”.
The professor then asked, “If God created everything, then he created evil. Since evil exists (as noticed by our own actions), so God is evil. The student couldn’t respond to that statement causing the professor to conclude that he had “proved” that “belief in God” was a fairy tale, and therefore worthless.
Another student raised his hand and asked the professor, “May I pose a question?”
“Of course” answered the professor.
You have probably seen this post on Facebook. This is a conversation between a professor and a student. It is a classic argument from atheist that posits a God that is omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient cannot exist because of Evil. The professor tears into a Christian student for believing in God. It seems that the professor had vanquished yet another god myth until one brave student stood up and began to question the professor in an attempt to use the professors own logic against him. The end result, the student turned the tables on the poor atheist professor and the big reveal, was the student was none other than know Christian Evangelical…….Albert Einstein.
The score is now God = 1 and Atheist = 0 but wait, are we to take this tale on faith alone? The Christian will say YES but like any good skeptic, let’s see what the evidence really has to say and let’s see if these arguments are really valid.
#1: The claim that Albert Einstein had this conversation with a professor
Look no further than snopes and this first claim is proven to be false . The first sign that this is false is that we have a record of this story circulating five years ago and Albert Einstein was not mentioned. It was later added to add credibility to the story, kind of like the Gospels. Also, this story never appears in any known writings about or by Albert Einstein .
Was Einstein a Christian? Nope, wrong again. Einstein himself was an agnostic and at best, a deist. He did not believe in a personal god. Here is a direct quote from Einstein himself from a letter he penned in 1954 :
The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.
Einstein was also of Jewish decent but not a practicing Jew. Here is what he had to say about the Jewish people in that same letter:
For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.
In the game of logic, this fallacy is called an appeal to authority. Albert Einstein is one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, so therefore appending him to this conversation adds creditability. The evidence clearly shows that Albert Einstein did not have this conversation but what about the logic of the arguments? They should be able to stand on their own without throwing Mr. Einstein into the mix. The responses to these arguments come from a friend a mine and are being used with his permission.
Student: Professor is there such a thing as heat?
Student: And is there such a thing as cold?
Student: No, sir. There isn’t.
(The lecture theatre became very quiet with this turn of events.)
Student: Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.”
The opposite of cold is hot, not heat. Both hot and cold are sensations, not things. They are subjective evaluations of how we feel about a certain level of heat energy. Cold therefore is not the absence of heat. It is a subjective description of a sensation we get with regard to heat energy levels. When we say we feel cold, it is not because there is no heat energy in the air around us. There is always heat energy in the air, it is at such a low level, and we cannot perceive it with our limited senses.
The author of the piece above attempted some linguistic sleight of hand by declaring that a sensation (cold) is the opposite to something tangible (heat energy). The logical fallacy presented here is called a false equivalency. Sensation and energy are not the same, this argument is illogical.
Student: What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?
Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?
Student: You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, were you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?”
This again is an attempt at linguistic trickery. The word “light” can either be used in the context of a sensation or in the context of form of energy. When it is used in the context of a form of energy, it is indeed a thing. However, when it is used in the context of a sensation, it is not a thing anymore than darkness is.
There is no such thing as the opposite of light when used in the context of a form of energy. In other words, there isn’t such a thing as the opposite of a photon (the light particle).
Given the context of the conversation, light is being spoken of as a sensation. Darkness is also simply a sensation and we can have low darkness, high darkness etc., just as the sensation of light can be more intense or less intense, so to can be the sensation of darkness. If darkness then is the absence of the sensation of light, then light is the absence of the sensation of darkness. Again, this logical fallacy is called a false equivalency.
Student: Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a “good” GOD and a “bad” GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.
Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it.”
Here is a series of irrelevant statements that seem to be thrown in for effect more than substance.
Life is actually a series of self-sustaining chemical reactions, when the chain of these reactions if broken in a critical way life obviously ceases to exist. The opposite of existence is non-existence. Death is the term we use to articulate the state of an entity that previously existed as life but now no longer does.
Electromagnetism is very well understood by scientists. Scientists study phenomena by examining the effects of said phenomena. In other words, you don’t see wind (with the naked eye). Instead you detect wind by observing the effects of wind. Electromagnetism is a force. You study a force by observing the effects said force has on things we can observe. Therefore saying that scientist have never “seen” the force they study is more than a little bit disingenuous an argument.
Every time someone posits that God does something that manifests physically, they are presenting God as something measurable. As long as God interacts with physical entities, he must by definition be measurable in some way, similar to any force that acts on physical bodies.
“Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?
Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.
Student: Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)
Student: Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?”
Evolution is simply the change in the distribution of genetic material in a population of organisms over generations. This change is heavily influenced by the environmental conditions. The process is referred to as natural selection. Yes evolution via natural selection is readily observed in species that reproduce rapidly enough for the changes to become evident (ie. bacteria). Also, the evolutionary path of slower reproducing organisms can be seen by the evidence the ancestors of these organisms left of their existence, and by the evidence gleaned from the study of the genetic material of these organisms.
A forensic specialist doesn’t have to see a death take place in order to figure out how an individual died. Given sufficient evidence, he can determine cause and even approximate time of death. When events take place, there is often evidence left of the event taking place. Studying this evidence can help a knowledgeable observer piece together what happened and how it did. Similarly, studying the evidence left over eons of time has helped us to determine that organisms have evolved and how they did it.
The theory of evolution is one of the best documented and substantiated theories in science and forms the bedrock of all biology. Without it, biology ceases to make sense. Also, the theory of evolution does not posit that humans evolved from monkeys. That is a mischaracterization of the theory advanced by people who misunderstand the theory. This fallacy is called a false dichotomy . The student is only proposing two alternatives and is forcing the professor into an extreme position. An example would be “you’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.” What about being an innocent bystander? The student gives the professor only two options, either the professor is teaching his opinion or he is teaching the false assumption of evolution.
These arguments are a reinterpretation of what is called Augustinian Theodicy. This argument posits that God created the world perfect, without any evil or suffering. It was through Free Will that angels and humans turned their back on God and thus introduced evil into the world. There are several criticisms of this argument.
F.D.E Schleiermacher claims that this argument is logically contradictory to claim that a perfectly created world went wrong, since it implies that evil created itself out of nothing. The claim is that the world was not created perfect to begin with or God made it go wrong and therefore God is to blame for evil, not humans .
Another criticism is that if the world was perfect and that there was no knowledge of good and evil, how could Adam and Eve disobey God if goodness and evil were not yet known? Good and Evil had to be present for Adam, Eve and the Angels to disobey God, so it goes back to God for creating Good and Evil and we are not responsible for evil, God is.
The refutation of this argument is the fact that Adam and Eve never existed on biology, evolution and DNA evidence proves this to be true.
With the evidence presented, this argument falls flat on its face. Let your Christian friends know when you see this on the Facebook page that this conversation never occurred and that the arguments presented are illogical, you probably won’t win any new friends but at least you can sleep well at night knowing you are correct in your logic.