The most ridiculous argument for God
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Esquire has had for some years a running series "What I've Learned" in which various celebrities weigh in on what they have learned from their lives. Quite often the comments are surprisingly insightful. And sometimes, they are not.
The December British edition of Esquire featured Paul Gascoigne, a retired footballer, renowned for his hard living as much as his considerable skills at soccer. His closing comment was:
I've just started to believe in God. I read the Bible now and again. I'm not a bible-basher but I believe in God because he has kept me alive, touch wood.
That's the Paul Gascoigne argument for God - "I'm still alive at 39, therefore God exists."
I got a good laugh at that, particularly the closing "touch wood" part.
Occasionally I hear from believers who accuse me of putting myself at the center of the Universe by denying God. But is there anything more self-centered than "God is keeping me alive"? So what if in the 39 years that Paul Gascoigne has lived, the same God that is apparently keeping him alive has carelessly allowed some two billion people to die, half of whom got less than 39 years? Those folks don't matter; Gazza lives, so God exists.
On the other hand, one would think that if God was looking after Gascoigne, England would have won the FIFA World Cup at least once in his lifetime, if not in his playing career.
What Gascoigne is really presenting is the anthropic cosmological argument for God writ small - writ extremely small. It's not just that the conditions in the universe are exactly right for human life in general, it's that the conditions are exactly right for one specific individual's life.
Paul Gascoigne can believe what he wants, but the fact that he is alive today at 39 does not convince me that God exists. Nor does the fact that I'm alive today at 63 even suggest the existence of any form of god to me. The argument is just too ridiculous.
- What I've Learned, Paul Gascoigne, Esquire, British edition, December 2006 p 92
- Gazza, also Gazzer - the British press nickname for Gascoigne.