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Quote:

"Faith is not a good reason to believe in any one thing. It's a bad reason to believe in everything. Faith is not synonymous with any one idea; it is synonymous with any strongly held idea, true or not. But one thing faith is not synonymous with is a logically justified idea."

March 18, 2010

Top 10 Arguments for the Existence of God

10. SHIFTING THE BURDEN OF PROOF:

THEIST:
I know God exists. If you disagree, prove otherwise. Oh you say you can't prove God doesn't exist? That's because you know he does!

ATHEIST:
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This is the way the real world and science work. When you say God exists, you are making an extraordinary claim; therefore, the burden of proof is on you to back up your claim.
A position that God doesn't exist is not a "belief," it's the standard position we all start out with until we're indoctrinated into religious schools of thought. People aren't born believing in Jesus. They start out atheist: lacking belief. There is no counter-claim necessary. Nobody has to prove the tooth fairy doesn't exist either. Furthermore, it's technically impossible to prove a negative of this nature. I can no easier prove God doesn't exist than you can disprove my claim that I have an invisible, ethereal unicorn in the trunk of my car. I say I do. It's not my fault he disappears when you look there. Prove he isn't there. You can't. A famous counter-spin on this argument is the Russell's teapot claim. How do you know there isn't a magical teapot hovering around earth that is responsible for creation? Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there.

9. POPULARITY:

THEIST:
The vast majority of the world believes in God. This supports the universal truth that God is real, otherwise it makes no sense that so many people would believe.
Critique:

ATHEIST:
Just because a majority of people believe something does not make it true. There was a time when everyone believed the earth was flat, or that the Earth was the center of the universe and everything revolved around it. As our understanding of science and the universe expands, it illuminates the irrationality of many early beliefs. We no longer believe that lightning is caused by the god Zeus waving his scepter. We understand that there are reasons for earthquakes and weather events that have nothing to do with anything supernatural, even though in past times, people were convinced God was at the control panel actively making these things occur, and the weather could be controlled by making sacrificial offerings of humans or other creatures. All sorts of things were commonly accepted as reasonable and acceptable, such as slavery, that we now recognize were unreasonable and unacceptable. If history has taught us anything, it's that just because a large group of people believe something is moral or truthful, does not make it so.

8. TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD: (TAG)

THEIST:
1. God is, by definition, a being greater than which nothing can be conceived (imagined).
2. Existence in reality is better than existence in one's imagination.
3. God must exist in reality; if God did not, then God would not be that than which nothing greater can be conceived (imagined).

ATHEIST:
The Transcendental Argument is faulty at its onset because it relies on various base assumptions that have not been proven. Items #1 and #2 in the premise are presuppositions which are arbitrary, unproven and therefore meaningless. The Transcendental argument is dependent upon the false assumption that for us to conceptualize something, it must have some basis in reality. Here's another example: What is love? Can you see love? Can you touch love? If it is not tangible how can it exist? But you know love is real. You can see what love does in your life and society, so it does exist. God is the same way. The Transcendental Argument proves nothing. Just because you want to associate real-world impulses with this concept of "love" does not mean that love is something tangible that exists in the physical world. Love is an abstraction. The concept of love is subjective. As is the concept of God. It's merely a way of describing something, and not, in itself, something that exists. The Ontological Argument ignores this fact. Another popular spin on this fallacy involves referencing the so-called laws of logic and suggesting that these "laws" have to be dictated by somebody or something, ergo God exists. In reality, there are no "laws of logic". Logic is a name given to describe the function of how your brain processes information. Your stomach's function involves digestion. Is there a "law of digestion?" No. Another intellectually bankrupt semantical run-around.

7. ARGUMENT FROM COERCION:

THEIST:
You must believe in God/Jesus. It's your only hope for salvation. We are all doomed if we don't accept Jesus as our personal savior. It says so in the Bible. If you want to live forever and avoid suffering, you must accept God.

ATHEIST:
Christianity and most organized religions exist mainly due to the Argument from Coercion. The crusades were basically one big argument from coercion: convert or be killed. Needless to say, that's a very effective argument. In modern society, the need to get along with others in the community (which often involves participating in religious rituals or identifying yourself as subscribing to the dominant theology in the area) is also a form of coercion. Religion has always sought to wound people, and then offer the cure for their ills. The argument from coercion is just that. Did you know you were cursed to eternal hellfire? Yep. But hey, while I have your attention, if you follow my instructions, we can fix this. Oh, also, it would be nice if you did everything this nice pastor says and give 10% of your income to the church. Thanks! Fear has always been a big-time motivational force, but it usually doesn't turn out helpful in the end. There's an easier way to avoid hell and eternal suffering: not believing in it. Then you don't have to give a tithe to the church, subvert your personal responsibility, cultivate an innate sense of insecurity, guilt, and self-loathing, and support institutions that have oppressed, abused, and murdered people in the name of God since their inception.

6. FIRST CAUSE ARGUMENT:

THEIST:
Everything that exists in our world is the result of some sort of "first cause" which brought about its existence. Therefore, there must have been a force which created the universe. That "first cause" is what we call God.

ATHEIST:
Like many arguments of this nature, theists make a special pleading to exempt God from their argument. If everything that exists must have a cause, who created God? Variations of this argument employ the first law of thermodynamics to imply that God has always existed because the first law of thermodynamics says matter can neither be created nor destroyed. Nice notion, but it still doesn't prove there's a God. It merely suggests there's more for us to understand, and every day scientists get closer to addressing these issues without referencing God or anything supernatural. If there's a recurring theme in any of these arguments, it's that theists pick and choose which tenets of science they want to embrace (the ones that help prove their claims) and ignore all the rest as if they don't exist. These theories are part of a complex interconnected system. It's intellectually dishonest and unethical to ignore evidence that counters your supernatural claims. The First Cause Argument ignores huge amounts of contradictory evidence, as do many of the arguments herein.
More importantly, as we are only half-way into the most common arguments for God, I'm sure you've heard most of these before. And the next five will likely not be a surprise either. The real surprise is that these arguments have been bandied about for hundreds of years. And the refutations of these claims have also been present. This is a testament (no pun intended) to how many religious leaders willfully ignore the flaws and downright misrepresentations in their claims. These critiques are nothing new. A hundred years ago, famous people like Robert G. Ingersoll gave public speeches outlining the same issues. Don't think your neighborhood pastor or priest isn't aware of the faulty logic he is foisting on his flock. It may be their livelihood and they have an interest in saying these stories, but ask yourself if you have as much of a personal advantage in believing the stories told by people who know they aren't true?

5. ARGUMENT FROM AUTHORITY:

THEIST:
God is real because the Bible (or whatever sacred text you believe in) says so. Why would so many people write so much about God if it wasn't true? What about all the miracles that were "documented" by historical writers? There is too much evidence here to dismiss.

ATHEIST:
This argument depends upon a presupposition, that the "authority" being referenced is accurate or legitimate. That remains to be seen. Any critical examination of sacred texts such as the Bible clearly show it to be riddled with inaccuracies and contradictions. Using the Bible as any authoritative reference is dubious at best. Since most of these scriptures are the de-facto, almost exclusive evidence of God's existence, using them as a reference amounts to a circular argument. Christians point to the numerous "eye-witness accounts" of Jesus' resurrection in the Gospels as "evidence" that this really happened. But the gospels themselves are riddled with contradictions, and were written decades after the events supposedly took place. It's not unreasonable to consider many of these sources unreliable. You could likewise argue that the overwhelming amount of literature making reference to vampires proves they are real characters that truly do or did exist. Or maybe not. Maybe Jesus, like Count Dracula, Zeus or Santa Claus, was simply a popular mythological figure about which people made up stories? It's worth noting that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is another manufactured myth which relies on the Argument from Authority, by claiming certain substantiating references are indeed authoritative, when in reality, they are just arbitrary claims. In time, no doubt, as more people embrace the amusing notion of FSM, we'll begin seeing them use the Argument from Popularity as well.

4. ARGUMENT FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:

THEIST:
I know god exists because I can feel him. I know it in my heart; he talks to me; I feel his strength and existence flow through every fiber of my being.

ATHEIST:
The problem with the Argument from Personal Experience is that it's personal. Whatever you feel is not something that anyone else can feel. Therefore it is meaningless and inconclusive. I can find somebody who thinks he saw Elvis in Starbucks last week. That doesn't mean Elvis is alive. It means he was deluded. Any claim that cannot be tested or subjected to some sort of independent verification is not a meaningful, legitimate claim. I have no doubt you feel the presence of god, but this can also be explained rationally from a psychological perspective via various concepts such as the power of suggestion, lucid dreaming, hallucinations, mental disorders, etc. Personal "feelings" are not evidential.

3. ARGUMENT FROM IMPROBABILITY:

THEIST:
The second law of thermodynamics says matter inevitably becomes entropic (spreads out in chaos) and this defies the observation on Earth where we see, things becoming more organized. Therefore God is responsible. What is the likelihood that humans would have turned out the way they have? It's improbable that humanity (or any other impressive life form) arbitrarily came into existence. Imagine a wind whipping through a warehouse of airplane parts and blowing the pieces around until they form a perfect, functional 747 jet? That's what we are talking about in terms of the likelihood man "just happened" on Earth. A similar story involves monkeys being given typewriters and eventually writing all the works of Shakespeare. A particularly hilarious version of this argument is Peanut Butter: Disproves Evolution?

ATHEIST:
This argument works because those making these claims deliberately leave out a critical aspect of the story: No scientist ever said everything happens randomly or arbitrarily. How things evolve, change or become something new and different can be explained using processes such as Natural selection. This argument ignores glaring facts in the equation. The second law of thermodynamics applies to a closed system, but the Earth is not a closed system. The entire universe is expanding and entropic. Theists ignore this fact. When employing the Argument from Improbability to the concept of evolution, theists also deliberately ignore the process of natural selection, which clearly demonstrates that the evolutionary process is anything but random and arbitrary. In any case, even if the Argument from Improbability were true, it wouldn't prove the existence of God. Theists also employ the Argument from Ignorance to arbitrarily suggest Godidit! whenever something appears they can't explain. The bottom line is that just because something seems impossibly unlikely to naturally occur, that does not mean it is impossible. In most cases, many of these "improbable" happenings do indeed have clear scientific explanations that theists conveniently ignore.

2. PASCAL'S WAGER (YOU CAN'T WIN IF YOU DON'T PLAY):

THEIST:
French philosopher Blaise Pascal reasoned that it was a "safe bet" to believe in God just in case he was real. What's the harm? If you believe and he doesn't exist, you don't lose anything, but if you don't believe and he does exist, you lose big time.

ATHEIST:
Most theists have reasoned that Pascal's Wager makes sense. The problem is, it is a fool's bet. If God is really omnipotent, then surely he knows that your beliefs are not sincere, that you're just playing the odds. Beyond that, Pascal's Wager does not address the more substantive question of which God you should believe in. Do you believe in Christ, or Xenu, Mithra, Saturn, Buddha, or Allah? What if God's real test was to see who would defy convention and refuse to believe and those were the ones who get to heaven? The permutations in this equation are endless, which proves that Pascal's Wager is a total waste of time. Like all the other arguments, theists will disagree, but only because they've manufactured their own set of rules that convinces them that their reasoning makes more sense. It doesn't though.

1. ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN (INTELLIGENT DESIGN):

THEIST:
The most common analogy used to illustrated the Argument from design is the "watchmaker argument". If you found a watch on the ground, you never met the watchmaker, but you know from its design, the beauty of it; the way each piece was intricately designed to work together, that this watch had a creator. Theists point to the human body; the precise way each of our organs work with each other and claim it's the most amazing "creation" of all, and surely there was some sort of creator behind it.

ATHEIST:
This most famous argument for God is also the easiest to completely deflate. If anything sufficiently complicated must have a creator, then who created God? It's as simple as that. However, when you point out this flaw in theist logic, they commit another logical fallacy: special pleading to claim that God is the exception to the rule and doesn't need to have a creator. Furthermore, every example to date a theist can make to suggest that humans are too complex to have "happened by accident" (another false claim) has been debunked by scientists. The famous Dover trial put the argument from design on trial and the theists failed miserably to prove their case.

18 comments:

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Anonymous said...

IF GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE, THEN WHO CREATED GOD?
Part I
Earlier it was impossible for us to give any satisfactory answer to this question. But modern science, rather we should say that Einstein, has made it an easy task for us. And Stephen Hawking has provided us with the clue necessary for solving this riddle. Actually scientists in their infinite wisdom have already kept the ground well-prepared for us believers so that one day we can give a most plausible and logically consistent answer to this age-old question. Let me first quote from the book “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking:
“The idea of inflation could also explain why there is so much matter in the universe. There is something like ten million million million million million million million million million million million million million million (1 with eighty zeroes after it) particles in the region of the universe that we can observe. Where did they all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero.”
Here the question stops. So the clue is this: if we can ultimately arrive at zero, then no further question will be raised, and there will be no infinite regression. What I intend to do here is something similar to that. I want to show that our God is a bunch of several zeroes, and that therefore no further question need be raised about His origin. And here comes Einstein with his special theory of relativity for giving us the necessary empirical support to our project.
God is a Being. Therefore God will have existence as well as essence. So I will have to show that both from the point of view of existence as well as from the point of view of essence God is zero. It is almost a common parlance that God is spaceless, timeless, changeless, immortal, and all-pervading. Here we are getting three zeroes; space is zero, time is zero, change is zero. But how to prove that if there is a God, then that God will be spaceless, timeless, and changeless? From special theory of relativity we come to know that for light both distance and time become unreal. For light even an infinite distance is infinitely contracted to zero. The volume of an infinite universe full of light only will be simply zero due to this property of light. A universe with zero volume is a spaceless universe. Again at the speed of light time totally stops. So a universe full of light only is a spaceless, timeless universe. But these are the properties of light only! How do we come to know that God is also having the same properties of light so that God can also be spaceless, timeless? Scientists have shown that if there is a God, then that God can only be light, and nothing else, and that therefore He will have all the properties of light. Here is the proof.

Anonymous said...

IF GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE, THEN WHO CREATED GOD?
Part II
Scientists have shown that total energy of the universe is always zero. If total energy is zero, then total mass will also be zero due to energy-mass equivalence. Now if there is a God, then scientists have calculated the total energy and mass of the universe by taking into consideration the fact that there is also a God. In other words, if there is a God, then this total energy-mass calculation by the scientists is God-inclusive, not God-exclusive. This is due to two reasons. First of all, even if there is a God, they are not aware of the fact that there is a God. Secondly, they do not admit that there is a God. So, if there is a God, then they have not been able to keep that God aside before making this calculation, because they do not know that there is a God. They cannot say that they have kept Him aside and then made this calculation, because by saying that they will admit that there is a God. At most they can say that there is no God. But we are not going to accept that statement as the final verdict on God-issue, because we are disputing that statement. So the matter of the fact is this: if God is really there, then total mass and total energy of the universe including that God are both zero. Therefore mass and energy of God will also be zero. God is without any mass, without any energy. And Einstein has already shown that anything having zero rest-mass will have the speed of light. In other words, it will be light. So, if God is there, then God will also be light, and therefore He will be spaceless, timeless. So from the point of view of existence God is zero, because he is spaceless, timeless, without any mass, without any energy.

Anonymous said...

IF GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE, THEN WHO CREATED GOD?
Part III
Now we will have to show that from the point of view of essence also God is zero. If there is only one being in the universe, and if there is no second being other than that being, then that being cannot have any such property as love, hate, cruelty, compassion, benevolence, etc. Let us say that God is cruel. Now to whom can He be cruel if there is no other being other than God Himself? So, if God is cruel, then is He cruel to Himself? Therefore if we say that God is all-loving, merciful, benevolent, etc., then we are also admitting that God is not alone, that there is another being co-eternal with God to whom He can show His love, benevolence, goodness, mercy, compassion, etc. If we say that God is all-loving, then we are also saying that this “all” is co-eternal with God. Thus we are admitting that God has not created the universe at all, and that therefore we need not have to revere Him, for the simple reason that He is not our creator!
It is usually said that God is good. But Bertrand Russell has shown that God cannot be good for the simple reason that if God is good, then there is a standard of goodness which is independent of God’s will. Therefore, if God is the ultimate Being, then that God cannot be good. But neither can He be evil. God is beyond good and evil. Like Hindu’s Brahma, a real God can only be nirguna, nirupadhik; without any name, without any quality. From the point of view of essence also, a real God is a zero. Mystics usually say that God is a no-thing. This is the real God, not the God of the scriptures.
So, why should there be any need for creation here, if God is existentially, as well as essentially, zero?
But if there is someone who is intelligent and clever enough, then he will not stop arguing here. He will point out to another infinite regression. If God is light, then He will no doubt be spaceless, timeless, etc. Therefore one infinite regression is thus arrested. But what about the second regression? How, and from whom, does light get its own peculiar properties by means of which we have successfully arrested the first regression? So, here is another infinite regression. But we need not have to worry much about this regression, because this problem has already been solved. A whole thing, by virtue of its being the whole thing, will have all the properties of spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness. It need not have to depend on any other external source for getting these properties. Thus no further infinite regression will be there.
H. S. Pal

Anonymous said...

Your forgot the 11th reason that God exists.

In order for something to not exist, doesn't it first have to exist.

or maybe it exists as an idea.

couple of options I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Okay, it is clear that you don't believe in God and support Atheism. So answer this: If God didn't exist, how did time start? How was everything made? Did it suddenly float into existance? What about the Big Bang? Do you know how many scientists have used this example to say that reason could be used to prove the existance of God? There's reason. If you don't want faith, there's reason to prove the existance of God. We have no proof of the existance of unicorns either, as you have said. Yet, they didn't do anything that we can note. That's why we don't believe in the existance of unicorns. We believe that God created the world, time, space. Prove how he didn't. Who created mass? Who made the vast time of space? Who did all of this? If you want to prove that God doesn't exist, then answer these questions.

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