Rebirth of Reason

Intellectual Ammunition

There are no gods
by Manfred F. Schieder



“The conflict of reason versus mysticism is the issue of life or death – of freedom or slavery – of progress or stagnant brutality.   
Or, to put it another way, it is the conflict of consciousness versus unconsciousness.”

(From “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,” in “Philosophy: Who needs it?,” by Ayn Rand)


          By simple, noncontradictory definition, the term Universe signifies “All that exists”. It is verified by an ostensive definition, sweeping one’s arm around and stating: “I mean this”. Thus, it is an axiomatic term, identifying a fundamental, self-evident truth, a primary fact of reality. It is an irreducible primary, for any attempt to oppose it produces a self-contradiction, as it would require a leap to nonexistence.



          Moreover, its definition renders every intention to define it as “part of existence” nonsensical, due to what it defines, i.e. “ALL that exists”. In accordance, trying to introduce “Multiverses,” “Metaverses,” “Parallel Universes,” etc. indicates that such aims signal a lack of understanding of the term itself, for the definition states that there can be no multiplicity of "universes". The universe is ALL that exists and, as such, there can be no multiplication of "ALL that exists," since the term itself makes this impossible. Hence, the universe is linguistically as well as in existence a singular. It has no plurals. This in itself points out that it is not an independently existing object, separated from everything else existing (which would also turn it into a self-contradiction of itself) but an abstract term, a synonym standing for “ALL that exists”.



          On the other hand, the term allows the use of the concept “Local Area of the Universe” or “LAU(s),” should the speaker want to differentiate given localized parts of the whole.



          The definition itself states that beyond (or beside) the universe there is nothing, a fact which in itself suffices to define as a contradiction in terms the tentative statement that something exists (or could exist) outside of the universe, be the cause or action of anything within the universe, but not belonging itself to ALL that exists.



              We must even be extremely careful with the way in which we word what we are saying, since even to state that something exists within the universe is a needless repetition of the term itself for nothing can exist outside of the universe or without the universe. If it were the only thing existing, it would be, in itself, the universe. The universe is all there is and nothing can exist anywhere else, for there is no "anywhere else," as we shall see when we come to view Parmenides’ premises. Hence, "existence exists," a further synonym to “Universe,” signifies a self-sufficient primary and, thus, an axiom, self-sufficient as every other axiom. In fact, it is the basis of every other axiom.



          Due to the very definition of the term, “Universe” lacks any cause. It is in itself the sum of everything existing as well as the place where everything happens. This allows several conclusions, premises that were deduced by Parmenides, who lived some 2,500 years ago in Ancient Greece:


          1) What is, is


          After the enumeration of 2), a blank space has been left on purpose, to better convey the sense of the premise immediately resulting from the first one, which is: "What is not, is not". Our language is so object oriented that it cannot describe what is meant by the statement "What is not, is not" in any other way than by not saying it, since "what" already implies an object and "not" is the negation of either something existing or of negating the action of something existing. But here no object at all is involved ("Not being" is, in this context, no object of any kind whatsoever[1]). It is by no means something else or something different existing apart from what exists but just nothing at all. It cannot even be "seen" or conceptualized as a void ("big" or "small" makes no sense in this relation) since, as said before, a void creates in us the impression of a "place" which can somehow be "seen" as limited by some measurable size. Hence, leaving a blank is the only way to "show" what is meant by the statement, however uncomfortable this may look.

          From "What is, is" - basically the main premise - the following deductions, both necessary and sufficient, are drawn:

          a) What is, is uncreated.
          b) What is, is indestructible, which means that it is, necessarily, eternal.
          c) What is, is unchangeable.

          For a better understanding, I will explain these conclusions – particularly point c) - in a more detailed way. It is necessary to do so as it will allow to oppose the objection that at any moment new things are created and others are being destroyed. "Nothing is eternal" is a common saying and, besides, we can all see how things, particularly living matter, changes[2]. While rocks, due to the abrasion resulting from other rocks falling on them or sliding by, the impact of rain drops throughout the ages and the effect of wind blowing over them, are finally reduced to grains of matter and even smaller, the change can be much better observed on living beings: they are born, they grow, they reproduce themselves, they die and then decompose. The hand that writes these lines as well as the eyes of the writer and the reader grow older and weaker with every passing second. This is a particular characteristic, which affects all living matter. How, then, can it be said that what is, is unchangeable? How can this and the foregoing conclusions be held to be sufficient and necessary? Didn't Lavoisier already state that nothing disappears but everything changes? The first part of the statement already implies the explanation.

          The universe is composed by matter in a multiplicity of components and appearances, i.e. the basic elements and its atomic components such as protons, neutrons, electrons and all their sub-components and effects like quarks, electromagnetic waves, etc. All of these parts of nature, both in a pure or a combined state, have each a specific identity which obliges them to act in ways that are strictly related to them. Here the Law of Identity and the Law of Causality apply. Given the same circumstances, gases will expand, and a leaf will fall to the ground. Some materials will change from liquid to solid and so forth. The combination of certain elements in between, produce effects that can be discerned by any expert in physics and chemistry. We see strictly determined behavior. Under a given circumstance, two atoms of hydrogen will join one atom of oxygen and form water. It is unnecessary to add more possible examples. Occam's razor operates here. However, hydrogen will always be hydrogen in its various appearances (Deuterium and Tritium, for example), Iron will be iron, copper will be copper, and so forth. Uranium will remain being uranium as long as it does not decay into other, lower, elements but the resulting elements will again be recognized by their particular characteristics. Iron will remain being iron and copper will remain being copper as long as they don’t decompose into their constituting parts or we don't place them into an accelerator to split them into their component parts (Proton, electrons, etc.), but these too will have their defining characteristics. Nothing can disappear into nothingness. Due to this, it has been possible to elaborate a periodic system of chemical elements.

          We define materials and their related effects by means of concepts and hold them as verbal expressions we can prove by ostensive definitions, i.e. by pointing at them either with our hand or through scientific instruments, however complicate these might be. Would we not do so, language would be impossible; there would be no means of communication and civilization itself would never have developed.

          Changes are all around us, and of course a spermatozoa and an ovum will develop, in due course and if all goes naturally well, into a newborn and so forth. But these are only changes of aspect. As important as this may be, it can be left unconsidered for what is here explained. To use a short cut, we can say that the basic substance, which makes up everything that exists in its multifarious ways, is always the same. We could call it by any coined word whatsoever, as it is done nowadays when we refer to the “quark”, for example, but it is the task of natural science to finally and definitively establish whatever this basic substance may be. It is this as "matter" named basic substance, which is meant here when speaking of it as being unchangeable. This substance can adopt new forms and change these forms but it cannot change the stuff of what it physically is. As mentioned a few phrases earlier: "Everything changes, nothing disappears," stated Lavoisier. This is not a contradiction to Parmenides statement, for while the forms change, the basic substance neither changes its intrinsic characteristics nor can it disappear. Take a proton out of the nucleus of a given atom and this atom is no longer the earlier element. It is now different and react differently with other elements, yet neither the atom as such nor the loosened proton have disappeared. Thus, it is to this permanence to which we refer when we say that the basic substance does not change, however many possible forms it may take. Thus, it is only in this sense that Parmenides' third conclusion operates. We can take a wool skein as a simple example. We can make handkerchiefs, socks, pullovers or a scarf with it, but the wool itself will always remain the same.

          Some, mostly the religious and the all-is-indeterminate types, will now oppose "Why? Can't it just – puff! - disappear?" No, it cannot. The reason is, again, that by definition, the Universe is all that exists and, to disappear, it would have to disappear to a nonexisting place, i.e. into nothingness. This is impossible. Thus, there is no way into where the basic components could disappear. As such, they remain and are, therefore, eternal, which is also Parmenides' conclusion.

          The infinite forms that the substance that is may adopt, are determined by its identity and subject to the physical and chemical laws, which are permanently and inseparably part of it. Not the laws of nature determine the basic substance but this, in its various manifestations, determines the laws of nature. It can, thus, never change in any unprecedented way. The basic substance itself determines its frame of existence, there being nothing else beyond. Identity has consequences and these consequences are not a result of wishful thinking. Lysenko convinced Stalin that such wishful thinking was possible, that matter could be "pushed" to adopt communistic aims. All he got, besides the criminal effect of sending those brilliant minds who knew better to their untimely death, was throwing Russia's genetics into the farthest past.

          The above brings us immediately back to the first premise. Matter is uncreated, for there is nowhere from where it could have "come" to the universe (all that exists). Hence, we are now again, where we started: What is, is. What is not is not. End point. It’s useless to repeat the same circle.

          On the round trip, we had a powerful companion, Aristotle's laws of logic, which repeat in different words, Parmenides basic premises:

          a) Whatever is, is what it is (A is A, the Law of Identity).
          b) It must be either what it is or something else (A is either A or non-A: the Law of Non-Contradiction)
          c) What is cannot be, at the same time, what it is not (A is either A or non-A: the Law of Excluded Middles). In other words, to borrow from philosopher Ayn Rand: "A leaf cannot be at the same time completely green and completely brown, it cannot at the same time be completely frozen or in the process of complete combustion"[3].

          The outcome of the foregoing is fundamentally important, for it gives us the knowledge that we live in a stable, firm, absolute universe that can be studied and understood. Stable, firm and absolute means that what is cannot arbitrarily change its characteristics but only do so in accordance with what it is and the natural laws which are inherent to it. Intellectually this, in itself, is the end of religion and the start of metaphysics and all that follows from it.

          In fact, religion's full range of fallacies and contradictions denounce it as what it is: witchcraft, not intellectuality. In reason – the faculty that identifies and integrates all that exists – we live in a comprehensive universe. Volcanoes are a death threat for all living beings and they will not suddenly turn into a garden of thornless roses, as much as we may wish when we are in the track of the lava they spill out (barring Hollywood's tricks, if a joke is here allowed).

          What is, is, an enormous but, at the same time, necessarily limited set of material things existing (the atomic elements, their combinations and effects) out of which an infinite amount of new things can be made if we apply reason, the faculty that identifies us as human beings. This includes, of course and besides what is immediately perceivable, electromagnetic waves, gravitation, weak and strong forces, etc., etc., the nature of many of them not yet discovered but in the process of being so. This set is closed in itself as nothing can leave the universe into nothingness. Nor, of course, is there anything that might be "added from the outside". Everything existing within the universe has a cause (for example: a tree grows out of a seed) but not so the universe itself[4]. Since it cannot disappear it has, thus, also not come from somewhere, and, therefore, cannot have been created. It just is. In accordance, the universe itself has no cause of its existence; it is itself causeless and the context of all causes. A contradiction would result if we were to say that the universe must have a cause for its existence because the universe is not a separate entity from all that exists but the abstract term by which we mean all that exists. This is the core of the matter.

          Most people believe (the word here taken in the sense of accepting what has no proof) that the universe has an external cause. By doing so they neither understand neither the term itself nor what it stands for (It is not a concept, for to be such it would require to have an identical twin or a similar in characteristics). Religions are built on this ignorance, which allowed them to obtain, in the run of time, a very handsome "fringe" benefit by keeping people ignorant: high positions, money extracted by force and fraud by them and their allied governments, from the productive part of the population. Their power rests on a fantasy (The figure of a high-ranking religious representative of any religion past or present looking down at a tiny boy comes to mind, the priest saying: "So you don't believe in publicity? Then how can you explain that millions of people believe in a product they have never seen?"). They are not interested to make people knowledgeable for this would kill their foothold on people's naivety and/or ignorance. Since Ayn Rand developed the Philosophy of Objectivism, the big show down is at hand, and the winner already decided. This can be avoided, of course, but the result would be, due to the facts mentioned above, the end of mankind.

           Hence, as psychologist Nathaniel Branden said, there is no way out from the universe: "You cannot leave it, whether left nor right, above, under or 'below'"[5]

          Philosophy does not need to dedicate itself to investigate what exists, for this is the task of natural sciences. Its metaphysical task basically ends with the statement that "existence exists". In this relation, it merely states the law of identity, indicating that everything that is has an identity, which means that it has characteristics that identify it as what it is. This identity, moreover, is the cause of multiple direct and indirect effects. Attached to the Law of Identity and inseparably connected to it is the Law of Causality: the identity of what is definitively sets the actions to what it is capable for. The Law of Causality indicates that the origin of the actions of anything lays in what it is. In philosopher Leonard Peikoff's words: "Causality is a law inherent in being qua being. To be is to be something – and to be something is to act accordingly. "[6]

          These laws of identity and causality automatically pertain and dominate everything that exists. They are part and product of all that is and lead us to far extended consequences. One of them is that we cannot state that something could exist outside of the universe and have consequential actions on the universe since the term universe signifies everything that is, By definition, beyond the universe there is nothing. In fact, this in itself already suffices to define as a contradiction in terms the statement that something exists (or could exist) outside of the universe and be the cause or action of anything within the universe.



          The above suffices also as demonstration that there neither is nor can be any “god” of whatever denomination whatsoever.


          "Well, there must be some power, some 'God' or the like, something that originated the universe", someone might now say. Whoever does so is totally missing the meaning of what we have just said. As said already, anything that might exist "beyond" the universe does not lie "beyond" but is, by definition, part of the universe, i. e. all that exists. Hence, in the utopian case that we were to accept that "God" (whatever we may mean by this) "made" the universe (again, whatever we may mean by this) we would already be facing an impossibility. If this "God" exists, it would automatically be part of all that exists and, thus, cannot have created what already existed eternally. This "God" couldn't also "exist beyond" the universe because, again, the universe includes everything that is and nothing can lie "beyond"[7]. Further on, the "creation" of a universe out of an already existing universe is a contradiction in itself. Even more, we must remember that, since by “Universe” we mean all that exists, an additional contradiction comes up here, were we to state that the universe was “made” out of nothing.


          Pantheists, who mean that "God" is everywhere, would now come up with the fallacy that "God" is just a synonym for "universe", that "God" himself is the universe. This is a double contradiction since what the pantheist means here is that "God" had to make himself first and then the universe. Out of what? Out of nothingness? Nothingness is not just a part of existence. It is nothing. It does not exist. Thus, we have two impossibilities in a row. End point, since the conclusion that this "God" would have had to "create" himself in the first place pertains not only to Pantheism but also to all religions in general.


          Well, then, "God" would have to be "made" out of existence. But this is also a contradiction, since it would require the very idiotic act of "making," as said before, existence itself out of existence. This would place "God" on the same level as man, and not on any "superior" level, since only a living, rational, being can make something different out of something already existing (like man producing semiconductors out of silicon and several other elements). Here we have, again, the Heraclitean notion that man "made 'God' in his own image and likeness". Moreover, to "make" all that is out of all that is would also be a senseless purpose.


          However, since the definition involved is so peculiarly important, let us use another example of what is meant. Could the reader explain what is a non-apple? Is it an apple taken away from the fruit bowl or is it an "apple" that never even existed? Nothing cannot be anything. Let me repeat it: any intention to give identity to what does not exist ALWAYS produces a contradiction in terms. At least one of the premises on which it is based is false and must, thus, be corrected.


          Though the word "God" means a lot of different things (and often very contradictory things) to different people, it always relates to something supernatural, most of the times in the shape of an old bearded man covered with a Greek toga (Xenophanes expressed this by saying that "if oxen or horses or lions had hands, and could paint with their hands, and produce works of art as men do, horses would paint the forms of their gods like horses, and oxen like oxen and make their bodies in the image of their several kinds"). This "supernatural" power would have had to exist in a "void", that is, it would have had to be "outside" of the universe itself (All that exists).


          Let's reduce this to the final end point from another angle. As said before we confront a contradiction since it is maintained that it was this "God" that "made" existence out of nothing. As existence means all there is, the notion of "God" produces a "double" existence: "God" and the universe, which is, as shown before, a contradiction of terms. Either "God" or the universe is defined as all that is. To take "God" as the definition of all that exists produces in its turn a further contradiction. The universe was not "created," for would it have been, it would have had to be created from an impossible place lying outside of the universe. As we have already seen, such a point cannot exist even in imagination, for to have existed "outside" of the universe it would, due to definition, have been automatically part of the universe. Hence, "God" is a fraud developed by the human mind as a way of explaining what was unexplainable at a time when men were still closer to the irrational animals than to what man is by definition: a being with the faculty of reason. Philosopher Ayn Rand considered religion to be an early form of philosophy, an initial intention to understand the universe. Out of this effort, religion tried to construct a sense for man’s being and supplied a very rudimentary standard of ethics.


          The additional fraud of stating that this so-called "God" is unknowable entails again a contradiction which whoever coined the hoax (Plato and Kant among them) was either unaware of or, else, a liar himself, since how can the notion of "God" even be conceived, if it is unknowable. Everything knowable can be known and understood. The unknowable means that it cannot even be known as unknowable and, thus, cannot be described since describing the "unknowable" would mean that we know it. Incongruities sum up and make it unnecessary to spend more time with them. Remember, whenever a contradiction pops up, at least one of the premises on which it rests is wrong.


          A short commentary of what many people mean when they say that they "feel" that "something different" or "higher" exists that they cannot prove: Feelings, capriciousness and desires belong to the area of psychology but not to the hard world of facts. Feelings are not the proper tools to reach truth. As Ayn Rand demonstrated in her book "For the New Intellectual", emotions cannot be used to obtain knowledge. In order to avoid any confusion in this matter a clear distinction must be drawn between what one thinks and what one feels. Against the contention that this would require omniscience, she stated that an individual must only be fully conscious of what he knows and understand the difference existing to what he feels. One must differentiate between one's thoughts and one's feelings, wishes, hopes and fears, with full clarity and precision. Only a rejection of any contradiction involved is required and this means that a full philosophical knowledge is unnecessary.


          To clean the road from unnecessary ballast let us look at another question, which comes up from time to time (often among scientists who study the composition of the universe but are unaware of the use and meaning of definitions): Parallel universes, Metaverses and such[8]. Are they possible? Can there be infinite repetitions of the same or opposing variations in different areas of the universe? This fantasy is based on two mistaken concepts: One is Plato's concept that the universe is not what it is but an image of ideal forms (whatever such things may be) reflected onto our "imperfect" world as if this were a distorted image of a "real" world existing somehow separately from what exists ("outside the universe", let us remember!). This fantasy sustains that our universe is not real. The "real" form of these ideal forms is unknowable; we can only "suspect" what they may look like in "reality". But how can we even "suspect" what is unknown and unknowable?. Here we are back, with other words, at Kant's notion of both the intention of knowing the unknowable and the doubling notion of the universe (all that is) and something else. The statement of suspecting what is beyond does not turn the idea beyond into a more knowable form; it continues to be unknowable. Let us not juggle with words, but keep to strict definitions. We have analyzed this already and do not need to repeat it.


          A final word of advice must be added: Whoever wants to prove that 'God' "created" the universe, cannot start from the dogma of saying "'God' exists" and proceed from there on. He must, from the very start, demonstrate the true existence of the being or entity he is using as the basis for what he intends to prove. Relying on a dogma clashes totally with the definition of what the universe is. Since a dogma cannot be proved – else it would not be a dogma but an axiom, i.e. something that must not be proved since one can deictically point at it – the expounder must then abandon any hope to prove his thesis, for it is based on nothingness. As philosopher Ayn Rand declared in "Atlas Shrugged", he will have "to expound no theories and die."




[1] "Not being" can be used, of course, in another context also, when something existing is involved, like "He’s no longer alive".

[2] However, most of the time we have a tendency of seeing change to be external to us, in a way like an eighty year old man who sees again a friend of his youth and thinks: "My, oh my, how has he changed since I've seen him last time sixty years ago."

[3] From "Atlas Shrugged", Part III, Chapter VI (Random House)

[4] From the "Intellectual Ammunition Department", by Nathaniel Branden ("The Objectivist Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 5, May 1962). Many requests, like the one demanding an origin of the universe are also related with the peculiarity of the languages that allow the composition of grammatically correct but logically incorrect statements, such as: "What, on the planet, lays north of the North pole or south of the South pole?" or "What form has a round square?"

[5] Ibid.

[6] "Objectivism – The Philosophy of Ayn Rand" by Leonard Peikoff.

[7] The objection that the universe – real existence - was made by "God" starting from a spiritual level is invalid, since such an influence had to act and, thus, operate, on a material level. This puts us back at the beginning ("What is, is", etc.), as we shall see immediately, since it could not remain spiritual while acting materially. In addition, the same considerations apply to the "spiritual" as well as to the "material": From "where" would the spiritual have come in the first place? If the universe were a spiritual creation (as would be required in this assumption) it would have to be an all-spiritual "creation" and could not be material in any way and viceversa. It is or isn't, as Aristotle would have said, which clears the contradiction. On the other hand, it is very well possible to create something that has not existed before, though for this being possible raw materials must already exist. Mankind constantly produces new things by inventing new ways of mixing existing materials or producing even new materials out of existing ones (plastics, for example) which are then produced, sold, used, etc.

[8] Here too and once again we start with the scientists’ lack of concern for the meaning of the definition of universe, that is that it means "All that exists". Undisturbed by this, scientists and philosophers as well are smuggling into our minds an impossible repetition of the term (Twice everything that exists).

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