Proof of God: Acknowledgements


In absolutely no order, I must give thanks to:

  • [names]
  • Brandie and Zane, for helping debug some of my thoughts.
  • Daniel Dennett, who’s book “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” tipped me off to Hume’s near-discovery of evolution.
  • Paul Buller, who accidentally helped me improve my section on the Cosmological proof.

How To Read This Book

Experienced readers may find themselves somewhat bored with this book. I’ve done my best to come up with novel arguments, but this territory is very well trafficked. If you find yourself nodding off or intimidated by the scope of this book, there’s no harm in skipping ahead. You can always come back later if need be.

If instead you find yourself short on time, or with no desire to wade through proofs you’ve heard multiple times before, here’s what I recommend:

  • Read at least the last chapter. It makes more sense if you read the Introduction first, but experienced readers should be able to puzzle out what they missed.
  • Hop around through the rest of the chapters as you fancy. Beyond the beginning and end, this book has a very non-linear structure and sometimes refers to previous or future chapters to support a point. Take advantage of that to graze along as you find the time and desire. I recommend skimming the chapters on Fine Tuning, Design, and Popularity, in particular.


Any writer that discusses science faces this dilemma: should I use scientific notation, or not?

As an example, I can write the speed of light as 299,792,458 metres per second, or as 3.00 • 108 metres per second. The little exponent piggybacking the 10 tells you how zeros to tack on to the right of the decimal place to get to the true value. If that exponent is negative you head left, unsurprisingly; our eyes are most sensitive to light that has a wave length of 0.000000555, or 555 • 10-9, metres.

Scientific notation is much shorter than the conventional way, which seems like a clear advantage, but it also tends to obscure the true scale of large numbers. The difference between 2.0 • 1010 and 6.0 • 1014  seems bigger than the difference between 7.0 • 1018 and 9.0 • 1018, until you do the maths: the first is a difference of 599,980,000,000,000, while the second is 2,000,000,000,000,000,000. Human beings are lousy with large numbers, and the exponent in scientific notation makes that an order of magnitude worse.

The sheer bulk of conventional numbers creates its own problem, however: all those extra digits make them look more accurate than they really are. For instance, the size of the visible universe is 880,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 metres across. That looks extremely precise, but in reality we’re only confident of the first three digits. All but the first zero is mere padding to get those digits into the right place, and yet there’s no good way to remove the excess fluff.

The same number in scientific notation is 8.80 • 1026. The precision is so easy to convey that it’s intuitive!

On the balance, I prefer to waste a little space to give you a better feel for how large some numbers are, so long as the zeros don’t get too crazy. Just be aware that the first two or three digits are usually the only accurate ones. [1]

My next problem is one of capitalization.

Christianity has decided that their god shall be called God, and can get rather snippy if you don’t fall into line. Yet God is but one of many gods that have existed through the ages, and in this book I’m aiming at a definition of god that encompasses them all. Given the choice of offending Christians by not capitalizing the word god, or offending other religions by implying their Gods are really just the Christian one, I’ve decided to go with the majority. Sorry, Christians, but I don’t mean offence by it, and if I do talk about your god in particular I’ll be sure to make liberal use of the Shift key.

There’s also the problem of pronouns. The Christian God is a “He,” which is both a generic pronoun and a male-specific one. Hindu gods have a definite gender, and some can also be considered a “she.” Deists roll their eyes at the suggestion of a physical shape to their god, let alone a gendered human-like one, so “it” is most appropriate. Satisfying everyone is impossible, so I’ve decided to satisfy no-one and freely interchange all of them.

While apologizing for my apologetics, I should also ask for forgiveness from polytheistic religions. To save my poor typing fingers, I’ll frequently refer to god in the singular. I’m fully aware of the possibility of multiple gods, and all my arguments should succeed or fail equally well in that framework, but it gets annoying to continually write “god or gods.” Again, no slight is intended.

Speaking of other religions, atheists are commonly criticized for focusing on one religion and ignoring all others. I’ve tried hard to avoid that.

[1] But not always. In 1983, the Comité International des Poids et Mesures decided to define the metre as exactly 1 / 299,792,458th of how far light travels through a vacuum in one second.