A problem with an argument

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Bogdan126's picture
A problem with an argument

Hey guys, I'm new here. I'm an atheist and I recently talked to my dad (a catholic, like I used to be) and we discussed science and religion. After a while I was able to convince him that catholicism is plain wrong as it is one of the most naive, wonderland religions out there. We talked a bit more and he still believed in a being that he called a god. His view on god was a being so far superior to us that we can't grasp the forms of communication it tries to reach us with. And as an example he told me that it's similar to human-ant relationship. His point was that ants are so far inferior to humans, that they can't communicate with us in any way, and we don't care for them that much to try and talk in ant language, so we just let them live or just kill them with our almighty fingers/boots/whatever. So the point of this was to show me how a normal interaction with a being so much inferior to another being is impossible. Therefore there can be a being which he called god, that can't communicate with us in other way than through normal life situations like death for example. I'm thinking about it and I can't find an argument to prove that statement wrong, the statement being "There is a chance of a being so much superior to us that it can be called a god and it can't communicate with us using our methods of communication (the human-ant anegdote as the argument of that)". I would love to see your thoughts on this. I've been wondering where to start and the first question I came up with is "Do I, as an atheist, believe that there are beings in the universe so superior to us that they might be called gods?" Because when it comes to ants- we are almost gods to them.



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Tin-Man's picture
Hey there, Bogdan. Welcome to

Hey there, Bogdan. Welcome to the AR. That is a damn good question and an interesting topic for discussion. Got a few things to do right now, but will be on later to give my input. No doubt, though, a few of the others will be along shortly to get in on this. Meanwhile, make yourself at home and feel free to browse around a bit.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
""Any sufficiently advanced

""Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C Clarke

Yep. a certain proportion of the human race would immediately succumb to the "I don't know how they did it, must be magic/miracle/a god/an angel" ( see the South Pacific Cargo cults, the capitulation of the Incas))

Many would recognise/rationalise that perhaps technology of an unimagined power/different source/development is being utilised and try to emulate/steal or borrow it. I cant see any members of this forum, for instance, taking such demonstrations on face value and giving up our power of rational thought. Certainly not worshipping the wielder with virgins or sacrifices or whatever else it demanded.

Cognostic's picture
An omnipotent being that is

An omnipotent being that is beyond time and space and so far above us that it does not communicate with us or effect us in any way is the exact same thing as nothing at all. If this god does anything at all, has any effect at all in this world, ex: responds to prayers, then that effect is measurable and demonstrable.

The God your father is hypothesizing is the Deist God and it is no different than no god at all. This is also an "Argument From Ignorance." "You can't prove me wrong so I am right." The god your father invented is non-falsifiable. It exists only in imagination. You could hypothesize a super intelligent UNIVERSE CREATING BLUE BUNNY and use the exact same argument that your father is using.

This is the dragon in the back yard analogy. I have a magic dragon in my back yard. He is big, invisible, non corporal, and magic. Still he is a bit shy around people he does not know. Prove me wrong. I can show you his water bowl. I have to fill it twice a day in the summer months because he is so thirsty. I can show you his footprint. I can show you the broken chain that once went around his neck. I can show you the fence that he leaned on and bent. Sometimes at night you can hear him breath or move about. Not only that, but he is a magic dragon that grants wishes to people who visit him. Just drop $20 in gold in the hole that he dug and make a wish. People all over the world have had their wishes come true. James Carlson of Deerport, Indiana wanted to win the local lottery, and after dropping $20 in gold into the hole, his numbers came up. He is now a millionaire. Prove me wrong! You can not prove me wrong, look at all the facts I have. My dragon has all the same properties your God has.

You will find another famous argument like this one with the "Flying Spaghetti Monster." It has all the exact same attributes as your father's god.

calhais's picture
1An omnipotent being that is

1 An omnipotent being that is beyond time and space and so far above us that it does not communicate with us or affect us in any way is not exactly the same as nothing at all. What you would better write is that most people would not have a good reason to care about that being. 2 The OPA's father's argument is not an argument from ignorance because the father only defined a god; the father's argument would have to include an ontological claim stronger than ``there is a chance'' in order to be an argument from ignorance because arguments from ignorance are strictly ontological.

Still he is a bit shy around people he does not know. Prove me wrong.

It does not sound like the OPA's father asked for a `proof' against his definition for a god; rather, the OPA is trying to find a proof. You rightly criticize the idea of trying to `disprove' a definition, but if your suggestion is that the father is the one heading down that road, then you are wrong.

David Killens's picture
If there are vastly superior

If there are vastly superior beings in the universe, why do we have to call them gods, instead of their proper label, that of "more advanced beings"?

If they are superior, what makes them superior? A very long timeline of an advanced civilization and advanced knowledge of the sciences? If so, then they must have to work with the same laws of physics as we do. There is no "magic", but there can be sciences so advanced we have not discovered them ... yet.

So are they limited to the speed of light in travel? How do they communicate, radio?

These are just a few thoughts. Your father has erected a wall that he does not wish to be penetrated, that we try to explore and understand if there really are advanced races/civilizations. But my simple questions have demonstrated that we can ask questions and explore the "nature" of this hypothetical advanced race.

Can they read our thoughts? We know from our study of the brain that we can perceive and understand brain functions. So how do these advanced being read our thoughts? To do so would require receivers of incredible sensitivity and power. The laws of physics dictate how powerful and sensitive they must be to read the thoughts of a being on Earth, (for example) ten light years away. Don't they have better things to do than use an antennae tens of thousands of miles in diameter to drop in on my wet dreams?

If there are advanced beings (and I am not ruling them out), then they must operate under the same laws of physics, and we can interact with them. An ant can bite me, and I can feel it. I can also squash that ant. But I did feel the bite, and I did feel pain.

There is no magic one-way barrier, both sides can be aware of each other and interact.

Maybe there is/are advanced civilization(s). But until we have "made contact", then in every sense they are invisible and we are unable to interact. Until then, I treat them as hypothetical concepts, we cannot prove or disprove their existence. So why worry, and why try to put the "god" label on them?

I have enough to worry about, I don't need to add some hypothetical extra agent that will probably never interact with me. Sheesh, between the tax man, making sure I don't get run over by a car at intersections, and trying to lose weight, I am not going to invent a new problem.

Tin-Man's picture
Okay, I'm back. Want to go

Okay, I'm back. Want to go ahead and throw my two cents worth in here before reading all the other posts, though. The thing is, I actually love speculating about stuff like this. For me it is just fun mental exercises. Imagination is a wonderful thing. *grin*

So, first of all, in regards to this "god" your dad described, the very first question that came to my mind when I read that was, "Even IF such a being/entity did actually exist, then why call it a god?" The next question after that was, "And why the hell would anybody want to worship it???" (Oh, and in my mind, those questions were asked in a very bewildered tone.) However, you said you came here looking for a means to counter your dad on the "Human vs. Ant" anecdote. Well, let me see what I can do...

Where to start, where to start?....*rubbing hands together briskly*.... Hmmm.... Okay, for starters, let's just go all hypothetical here for a moment and say there is such a being/entity so vastly superior that we are indeed like ants by comparison. (Wow, there are so many ways to go with this, yet so little time. May end up with a couple of posts... *almost giggling with glee*) And, as your father suggested, this being (or these beings) cannot communicate with us in any "normal" methods we might understand. He also said they might not even be interested in communicating with us in the first place. Sooooo.... This begs the question, "How the hell would we even know these beings exist unless they choose to reveal themselves to us?" And here is where his Human/Ant analogy comes up short... One, I don't know much about ant eyesight, but I am pretty sure when a human (or any other animal, for that matter) stomps on the ant hill, there is a good bet the ants actually SEE (or sense, or whatever they do) that which is doing the damage. And if a few happen to get on you, rest assured they will likely let you know how displeased they are with your destroying their home. In other words, we (humans) are REAL. We exist. The ants CAN and WILL interact directly with us if given the opportunity. Granted, we may not speak "ant language", but when we start feeling several ant bites, we understand their meaning. In my opinion, that little example alone is enough to sink the Human/Ant anecdote.

There is another little bit of fun I would like to have with this, but will start another post so as to not make this one an epic saga....*happily humming to self while completing the math question*....

Grinseed's picture
We aren't gods and we don't

We aren't gods and we don't claim to have created, love, want to communicate with, nor be worshipped by ants (well I don't).
I don't think defining your stance as an atheist has anything to do with the relative differences between species or the imagined awe ants supposedly hold for us. If anything we are probably a enormous interference at best ie a pest rather than gods.

Tin-Man's picture
Okay, this should be fun....

Okay, this should be fun....

This vastly superior being your dad wants to label as a "god".... Is it one lone super being just hanging out and wandering about the universe, flicking stars about with its mega-finger, or maybe performing experiments with black holes just for shits and giggles? Or is it an entire group of super-superior beings wandering the universe? Or maybe each super "god" entity is assigned its own galaxy, or quadrant of a galaxy, or specific solar systems? (Depending on how many of these "gods" there are, of course.) For the moment, however, let us say it is just one poor little lonely bastard that cannot interact or communicate with us in any meaningful way, even if it chose to do so. Now, does this being have "dominion" over the entire universe, or is it limited to just our galaxy, or is it limited to hanging out only within our solar system? Well, regardless of its parameters, one thing is for sure.... It SUCKS to be that entity! How fucking boring would that be, and what would be its purpose? The very thought is totally absurd. But wait! It gets better...

Let us say this being (poor little bastard) has access to the entire universe to roam about freely. It is a real shame that a majority of people in the world are so oblivious to exactly how tiny and insignificant our planet is in the grand scheme of things. We do not even rate as a grain of sand among all the deserts of this world. That being the case, a being of that nature would likely never even know we exist in the first place, unless it ran across us by sheer luck/chance. (Oh, the irony.) So, again, why in the world would anybody even want to be concerned about such a hypothetical entity in the first place? And, I repeat, why in the hell would they want to worship it? Honestly, it is very difficult to take these sort of things very seriously, so I just do my best to have fun with them.

Anyway, just a little food for thought for you, Mr. Bogdan. Hope it helps you some. There are many more ideas I have on this, so I will likely do a bit more posting when I get the chance. Now to go see what everybody else has said.

algebe's picture
I admire ants. If their nest

I admire ants. If their nest is attacked by a human "god", they don't cower and surrender. They counter-attack in vast numbers and "communicate" by biting and stinging (fire ants are great communicators). Religion has conditioned people to kneel and surrender. That's literally what "Islam" means.

We're homo sapiens. The smartest, most dangerous species ever to walk the Earth. Fuck surrender. Fuck kneeling. Fuck all gods and god-botherers.

Tin-Man's picture
Re: "We're homo sapiens. The

Re: "We're homo sapiens. The smartest, most dangerous species ever to walk the Earth. Fuck surrender. Fuck kneeling..."

Hey, Algebe! Have I ever told you I really like how you think? Outstanding!

algebe's picture
Thank you Tin-Man. And back

Thank you Tin-Man. And back at you.

LogicFTW's picture
If everyone in NZ is like

If everyone in NZ is like Algebe, I am ready to move their tomorrow, if NZ would take someone from US that is.. we do have quite the reputation these days.

It is NZ right?

toto974's picture
Fuck yeah!!!! It is the

Fuck yeah!!!! It is the spirit!

Sky Pilot's picture


"His view on god was a being so far superior to us that we can't grasp the forms of communication it tries to reach us with."

So your dad was a Catholic but now he's created his own imaginary deity. Well, all deities are imaginary anyway so he's normal in that regard.

The point is that if he was a Catholic he supposedly believed in the biblical fairy tale. That fairy tale has numerous stories about how Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews and the God of the armies, spoke directly to a number of characters. Then there's the Yeshua (Jesus) person who is supposed to be Yahweh's son. What about his dialogue with the assorted characters in the New Testament?

So to be clear are you saying that your dad has now rejected his religion?

Mutorc S'yriah's picture
Human beings do not claim to

Human beings do not claim to be all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present, and maximally good. Furthermore, humans do not claim to have a special "personal" relationship with ants, and we don't promise ants special benefits if they can look up to us, and worship us. On the other hand, ants can probably see us, climb upon us and bite us. Ants have more evidence for humans, than humans do for this god your dad claims to believe in, Bogdan 126, and that he claims to know exists.

And having the qualities and properties claimed for it, the god ought to be able to make itself clear and known to us, but in a huge number of cases, it does not. Even if it is too super-duper complex for us to understand its motives and methods properly, it does not do even a half way decent job of showing itself to be in existence in any way, in fact far from it.

The truth is that the world that I inhabit looks precisely to me, like one in which no gods exist. It is a good con-job, to blame us poor limited humans for the failure of the all powerful, all knowing god which Christians claim exists. However, if the god really does exist let it convince me, or let its followers convince me. So far that hasn't happened, indeed many past believers have seen fit to dump their religion, and their belief in the god supposedly behind it, and de-convert to atheism.

So if the god can't communicate with is well enough, let the blame lie with the god, after all, it ought to know by its omniscience that its efforts that have been in vain with us atheists, (and people of other religions), were going to be fruitless, before it tried them, so why did it bother in the first place?

Mutorc S'yriah

Bogdan126's picture
Thank you guys for such an

Thank you guys for such an amazing feedback, I didn't expect such a response. If you want to write some more ideas, go ahead, so far I've got plenty of arguments against that statement, all thanks to you.

Yes, I agree that ants can indeed see us and even fight back and I agree that if such a being exists, we have no means to label it as a god and really think about that being at all as it's merely a blind hypothesis. However I feel like thinking about it as a pure source of fun and brain exercise, it's not leading anywhere as it's, as you described, it's non-falsifiable, therefore I can't really do any reasoning in a real/fake argument. I will try to get all of your ideas and get them together to counter this ant vs human argument.

My dad dropped from the catholic wonderland and maybe after another discission he will drop from the ant theory he gave me :) I'll talk to him, hopefully he will be able to agree with me and my 12-year old sister will be free of that religious nonsense. Thank you so much again, have a wonderful day!

Sapporo's picture
For all practical purposes

For all practical purposes things that are not falsifiable don't exist. There is no point assigning a probability to such things.

Ramo Mpq's picture


Given your question. What do you think about this picture?


Attach Image/Video?: 

Sapporo's picture
@Searching for truth

@Searching for truth
A "Mom" is a falsifiable premise.

Do you disbelieve that Muhammad was sodomized by a pig?

Tin-Man's picture
Re: Twin baby meme

Re: Twin baby meme

I'm curious...*tilting head side to side while looking at meme from different angles*..... Are there really people out there who would look at that meme and actually find it to be a convincing and compelling argument/statement?.....*scratching head*.... Soooo.... Did the person who made that meme have even a slightly remote basic understanding of biology and logic?.... *reading the words (slowly) for the fifth time*.... *stepping back with index finger over pursed lips*....*tapping right foot*..... Nope. Not seein' it.

....*mumbling to self while walking away*... Gads. I hope "Ren and Stimpy" is on Netflix. I need to recover some IQ points.....*grumble*....

mickron88's picture
t-man i'm positive the one

t-man i'm positive the one who posted this is a science drop out...

you know...everything that is too much is bad for you.....even religion or faith...

it gives you comfort,but really at the back of your head you just can't help but admit that you're too dumb to figure it out...
and you just don't care whether its good argument or bad for your brain....

and t-man please stop mumbling...it ends you up drooling....stop jesus fucking christ..!!!

Bogdan126's picture
I think they have a lot of

I think they have a lot of arguments for existence of Mom, they are fed constantly without their interference, they move with the container they are in, so it's logical to assume there is something moving that container. I would compare it to our universe, but we are not the size of like half of the universe so we don't have the tools to see if our big container is moving in different directions.

Cognostic's picture
For FK sake... RE: Searching

For FK sake... RE: SFT Poster

I'm beginning to lose belief in human intelligence. I think I lost three IQ points by just reading the poster. "What do you think of this?" "Think?" "Think?" I can not equate the word "Think" with what you have posted." Did you bother to look at the poster or read the words before posting or do you just like pictures of naked babies? This is what happens when you leave creation stuff to Allah them stupid concepts of Gods. You get pancakes instead of gray matter. Now there is nothing wrong with pancakes, you just shouldn't use them for thinking.

calhais's picture
There is a chance of a being

There is a chance of a being . . . .

1 It is possibly possible, 2 but if the condition, ``there is a chance,'' means there is a nonzero chance, then consider this: 3 if `chance' refers to the probability that the proposition will be evidenced as true, then it is hard to support your dad's claim; 4 if `chance' refers to the degree to which it is possibly possible that the proposition is true, then your dad is entirely right; 5 if `chance' refers to the degree to which it is merely possible that the proposition is true, then the proposition has to be shown true at least some of the time, possibility being simple ability. 6 These points follow only from the condition that ``there is a chance'' and ignore the proposed god's other properties.

A being so much superior to us that it can be called a god . . . .

1 Some inferior things can be (have been) called gods. 2 Whereas a theist might define a god such that it could destroy anyone that does not call it a god, 3 therefore the god's might would determine `right,' and it would be `right' to call the being a god. 4 Having the freedom to assert that such a god is not a god is strong evidence against the existence of such a god, were the god malevolent; 5 it is not evidence against the existence of such a god were the god benevolent.

This god cannot communicate with us using our methods of communication.

1 This is equivalent to the definition that ``this god cannot communicate with us.'' 2 Note the absence of near-omnipotence; 3 this definition for a god does not necessarily entail the so-called Abrahamic God, 4 and if it remains a lone definition without extending normative arguments, then it is not a significantly harmful idea.

arakish's picture
You mean kind of like the

You mean kind of like the "fleas" on the back of the Ginormous Cosmic Bunnies? The playing marbles at the end.


Sorry. Just thought I'd throw in some humor...


Cognostic's picture
@ calhais: Seriously. How

@ calhais: Seriously. How many superfluous utterances can you ferret out and incorporate in a set of words that are complete in itself, typically containing a subject and predicate, conveying a statement, question, exclamation, or command, and consisting of a main clause and sometimes one or more subordinate clauses and then transpose into a calligraphic representation of said utterance prior to placing it on your computer and posting it for all to consider. Wouldn't it be more accessible and less burdensome to compose the utterances can you ferret out and incorporate in a set of words that are complete in itself, typically containing a subject and predicate, conveying a statement, question, exclamation, or command, and consisting of a main clause and sometimes one or more subordinate clauses and then transpose into a calligraphic representation with a bit more epigrammatical? Just asking.

calhais's picture
Ask Sheldon. He's got a

Ask Sheldon. He's got a vocabulary problem on top of it.

It's hard to be precise and entertaining, and my comment is still sloppy and prolix. It's also mostly trivial, and it would be better if the OP said more about the father's argument.

Cognostic's picture
Okay! I am in complete

Okay! I am in complete agreement. I was just wondering if you were human or a bot. Glad to know you are breathing.

arakish's picture
You know bots can be designed

You know bots can be designed to imitate breathing...


Dave Matson's picture
The reason communication with

The reason communication with ants is difficult (not impossible) is because it is basically chemical and very limited. Humans, however inferior to some god-like being, are not nearly so limited. I find it difficult to believe that advanced beings would be unable to crack our language and read our books. They could begin with grammar-grade books and work up. They could make use of any number of resources, including picture dictionaries. I see no reason why they couldn't communicate with us at a high level. At the very start, they could communicate their presence with mathematics. We would surely recognize pi and many other facets of mathematics. Don't overlook communication by pictures and videos. That would be a powerful two-way learning channel

The ant-human choice was simply a poor analogy. I don't see that it has much relevance to communication between an advanced being and we humans.


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