Top 10 Arguments For The Existence Of God

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[Beating Dead Horses]
Since many people think Jesus is coming soon, we thought in the spirit of this revelation, we'd share a new article published over at Freethoughtpedia: The Top 10 Arguments For The Existence Of God.

See where your rationale fits in...

[Republished with permission - because, well I wrote it but it's hosted over at Freethoughtpedia .]


10. Shifting the burden of proof

a.k.a. You can't prove God doesn't exist

Premise:

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!

Critique:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This is the way the real world and science works. When you say God exists, you are making an extraordinary claim, therefore the burden of proof is upon 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.

9. Argument from popularity

a.k.a. If God didn't exist why would most of the world believe?

Premise:

The vast majority of the world believes in God. It belies the universal truth that God is real, otherwise it makes no sense that so many people would believe.

Critique:

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 "burnt offerings" of humans and other creatures. All sorts of things were commonly accepted as reasonable and acceptable, such as slavery, that we now recognize were misguided beliefs. 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. The Ontological Argument

a.k.a. If you can't touch "love" how can it be real?, semantic psychobabble, new age

The Ontological Argument is a bastardization of logic and reason. Theists employ this technique to claim God exists by abandoning any evidence or references, in favor of using logic itself to prove the potential for God's existence. Theists start by examining the idea of God and use this as a basis to prove that merely be recognizing the potential for God to exist, we have therefore proven he does exist.

Premise:

The Archbishop of Canterbury in the 11th century coined the argument as such:
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).

Critique:

The Ontological 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 and meaningless. The ontological 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 ontological 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.

7. Argument from coercion

a.k.a. Believe and live forever in heaven, or don't and suffer eternal damnation, Fearmongering, There are advantages to belonging to a church...

Premise:

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.

Critique:

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

a.k.a. something can't come from nothing, Every effect has a cause, First law of thermodynamics proves God exists

Premise:

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.

Critique:

Like many arguments of this nature, theists make a special pleading to exempt their argument at God. 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 (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 dismisses your supernatural claims. The First Cause argument ignores huge amounts of contradictory evidence, as does many of the arguments herein.

5. Argument from authority

a.k.a. The Bible proves God exists, Begging the question, Circular reasoning

Premise:

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.

Critique:

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 were historical characters that truly 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, that's just an arbitrary claim. 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

a.k.a. I feel the presence of God - I know he's real

Premise:

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.

Critique:

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 experience is not evidential.


3. Argument from improbability

a.k.a. What are the odds of human beings existing?, Existence defies entropy, Humans are too perfect to have been accidentally created

Premise:

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.

Critique:

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, 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

a.k.a. Better to believe and be right than not believe and be wrong, It doesn't hurt to believe in god and it's a safer bet

Premise:

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.

Critique:

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 your beliefs are not sincere. Beyond that Pascal's Wager does not address the more substantive argument of "Which God" should you 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 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

a.k.a. Every creation must have a creator., Intelligent Design

This argument has been floating around ever since religion was invented, but the Argument from design was perhaps perfected by C.S. Lewis in his book, "Mere Christianity". Lewis' great writing style made this fallacious argument seem almost legitimate.

Premise:

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.

Critique:

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.

Details

Debate this article over at the FTP forums

 

Admiral
Posted by pilgrimradio on 2008-01-02 04:21:09
Well written.
Posted by Pile on 2008-01-02 10:44:27
Thanks! : )
If God Didn't
Posted by Ron on 2008-01-04 21:22:53
Exist I don't think there'd be so much time spend tring to prove that He didn't exist. Ha Ha Ha

Suck it up; If He doesn't exist I've lost nothing; if He does exist He's not happy with those who doubt His existance. Either way I win you lose. Ha ha ha
Posted by glis on 2008-01-05 15:17:10
BLASPHEMY!
Wow, Mike!
Posted by Paul on 2008-01-08 07:48:10
Wow, you should be giving lectures somewhere!

Great stuff.

But your job on the Huckabee campaign looks a little in jeopardy, I'd say.
A few problems...
Posted by TheSimulacra on 2008-01-08 08:47:26
"Any claim that cannot be tested or subjected to some sort of independent verification is not a meaningful, legitimate claim."

Can you prove that empirical evidence and logic are the only ways to find truth on all matters? Your argument, which you've used as your rationale for several of your more relevant points, is that if you can't prove something exists, then it doesn't. What about the various spectrums of light, which have had different effects all over the world throughout the history of the universe, regardless of whether or not science has had the ability to measure them? For that matter, what about every other thing in the universe that existed long before human science could measure it? You mentioned the "universe revolves around the Earth" belief, but you failed to recognize that that idea was originally legitimized by a scientist! At the time, Ptolemy use all of the tools at his disposal to measure the universe, and drew a conclusion that, because he assumed that there was no other evidence to the contrary, was ultimately wrong. Or what about Newton, whose equations were ultimately proven flawed hundreds of years later by Albert Einstein? Couldn't it be possible that God exists, but we just don't have the tools to properly prove it according to scientific standards?

Today's Atheism is increasingly petulant and lazy. I'm an Agnostic and honestly I'm tired of these angry Atheists' attempts at holier-than-thou strutting. If you want to really discover the true meaning of a world that is without God, read some Sartre or Nietszche or Camus on the subject. Yes, if someone comes banging their Bible at you then by all means explain to them the flaws in their thinking. But you don't yet know everything there is to know about the universe, so how can you claim to know what doesn't exist?
Love2Love
Posted by JacktheRipper on 2010-01-26 00:48:44
I would like to commend you on coming to many of the verdicts you've attained based on ur reasoning. But let's break this down a bit. If there was a God out there, then you'd definitely be putting him in a box. There are historical items and discoveries that line up exactly with the bible. Have you ever figured why Mt. Sinai is completely guarded and blocked off? Or maybe you haven't been there...Did you know the Red Sea actually has chariots at the bottom of it. Why not take a trip out there. Maybe you haven't experienced some things. Does this mean it's not real. Have you ever seen a possessed person? Have you ever seen someone speak in tongues? Maybe you think it's all fake. Does this discount when a person has never ever learned a language and when on mission trips they can just start speaking and natives are able understand every word on many occassions? Have you ever seen a person who's been paralyzed walk again after prayer for healing (ohh and doctor's have records). Why not go and actually seek some of this stuff out before trying to disprove anything.You can make an account on stuff you've come to reason on your own contained knowledge. Yeah, there are phonies and fakes everywhere, but does that make everything fake.Is there a beginning of time? Is there really an end to time? I'm not one to push anything on you, but you can't make an arguement if you've never true seen anything. Maybe you don't believe in faith. If that's the case, learn some history. Did you know that all the accounts in the Bible with King Darius, King Xerxes, Pontius Pilot line up exactly with your history books.Does that mean the history books are wrong too? If you can disprove God with your own logic, then why not try and disprove all of creation then. How are we really here? Isn't it coincidence that we seem to all be completely adapted to our environment. We're the only mammals with eyebrows, we're the only mammals with nails as weak as they are. Bees are able to fly with such little wings. Have you ever figured why their are Satanists? Have you ever figured how many of these high ranked Satanists are able to truly cast spells? This isn't some movie we're living in like that crap in Sherlock Holmes. Everything we learn comes over a gradual period of time. How about this. Move away from Christianity all together. Did you know that in just about every major history there are records of a great flood? Did you know that the Bible started in Isreal/Upper Africa area. John the Baptist was writing to churches in Asia in Revelations. If that's the case then who's to say that the America's truly have enough information to even disprove these accounts. Have you truly seeked this stuff out? Have you traveled to these countries? Have you even seen any of the stuff I've brought up? Why not truly seek for the answers and then formulate the answers. I have to commend the attempt though. It was very well thought out.
Posted by Genuine on 2010-01-26 01:39:32
Maybe u don't believe in God and the bible. But bringing in a comment from a past commenter, I have to elaborate. Someone posted that that at one time everyone thought the world was flat. Let's look at it like this. Is that statement true as well? I think the thing is, many of those teaching the bible didn't know the bible almost as much as so many of these scientist were basing more information on theories and limited resources than accepting that many of the answers were right in front of us. In Isaiah 40:22 it's mentions the earth being a circle. Or if you look at the original biblical scrolls, it says Duwr in Hebrew. Duwr means sphere. How about that. Jeremiah stated that there were as many stars in the universe as there is sand. But our scientists have constantly put numbers on it. Our leadind scientists a few hundred years ago stated that it was in the 1000s. Now with modern telescopes they have concluded millions and other galaxies. Carbon dating alone only dates up to 6,000 years. Past that, it becomes very much distorted. Would that make the world 4.2 billion years old? If there's no telling what's really true, then what if my truth says yours is a lie. Is it still true? Say you don't believe in God. I can respect your not believing, but does that make me wrong for completely disagree with you? So your not afraid of death. You don't believe in Hell. That's all your choice to. I fully respect that. But let me ask one question. How is it that the Bible was the only book that ever stated life is in the blood? Yet for all these year we've had people using stuff like leaches curing diseases, up until we actually stated to discover these medicines we recently discovered. George Washington died from over bleeding due to one of these procedures. The bible stated the Hebrew diet wayyy back that our big time health experts are now concluding is the healtiest way to eat. Now that all doesn't prove every account to be true either. Maybe it's going nowhere for me to even try and argue anything. Not because I can't or because everything is a lie, but maybe even I don't know all the answers to every question you may ask. That alone doesn't prove there to be no God. I weight lift. When I lift, I may never see anything happening. I may never feel any stronger. I can explain why I ever feel a change, but it's always there. There's stuff in this world that happens that we cannot see and explain either There are so many new discoveries every day. Maybe the only reason none of us see God is because we don't open our eyes to the ways He tries to show Himself to us everyday. Have you ever thought that if there was a God, that He won't sit up here and just poof from place to place and reveal Himself to everyone. If he did, then would we really have a choice to believe in Him? Everyone would. But we want a choice right? And I believe He gave us what we asked for. And because of that people will always discount Him and try and disprove Him.
Great Article!
Posted by GWL666 on 2011-01-09 16:06:48
As an atheist for over 45 years, I remember what my philosophy 101 teacher said,
 

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