Most non-atheists, who visit the atheist board, seem not to realize that the arguments which appear new to them are really old, I thought I would list all the ones I have heard, with the reasons they fail, and give them numbers. This should help organize the discussion.

There are four major categories of argument:

1. God's existence is the best explanation of a fact of the world (e.g., design).

2. God's existence is the best explanation of something a theist thinks is a fact (e.g., miracles).

3. God can be defined into existence (e.g., The ontological argument)

4. Its better to believe in god than not (e.g., Pascal's wager).

1. God's existence is the best explanation of a fact of the world.

1A Every event has a cause. There cannot be an infinite series of causes. There must be a first cause. The first cause is god.

The first cause shares the criticisms of the next three. It has its unique problem. So I'll only mention that here. It is self contradictory. If every event has a cause then there can be an infinite series of causes. If there cannot be an infinite series of causes, then some events do not have causes. One premise must be wrong

1B There is movement in the world. Things don't move by themselves. Something had to start everything moving. The prime mover is god.

The statement that, "things don't move by themselves" is a scientific statement. I know of no scientific law to this effect. I know the law, things in motion tend to stay in motion, but I don't remember hearing the parenthetical - they don't start by themselves.

1C There is design in the world. Design implies a designer. The designer is god

There are two objections to this. First, how do you tell "Design" (something that looks like it has a designer, because it does) from "design" (something that looks like it has a designer, but does not). I have a friend who is an artist. One of the ways he paints is by throwing paint at canvas. They look like stupid globs of paint to me but what do I know about art? During one of the earthquakes some paint fell off a shelf and landed on a canvas. I can't tell the difference between one of his paintings and this accident. I don't know any more about the status of the universe. Second, suppose there is a designer. The designer has structure. Where does this design come from? You either have an infinite regress or have gone one step too far.

1D We are able to reason and use logic. This can't happen by chance. God must be the source of our ability to reason logically.

It can happen by chance. Organisms that can't reason on an elementary level (If predator then escape... If food then eat) don't last.

1E Some evil people lead lives where nothing bad ever happens to them, and this is unfair. Justice demands they be punished by god in the afterlife.

I hate quoting someone to argue a point, but in this case I make an exception. My favorite comment about this argument is by the philosopher Michael Scriven, " This argument probably packs more punch in a pint-sized package than any three of the others. It not only attempts to prove the existence of God in two sentences, but on the way it establishes the existence of life after death and makes three assumptions of such enormous magnitude as completely to undercut its conclusions". You cannot assume that there is a principal of universal justice. If there is there is no reason to believe that the principal requires an administrator.

1F People have a sense of right and wrong. They can only have this from god.

And they can't have this sense from parents or teachers?

1G Moral Standards exist. This could only happen if there was a god.

The argument from 1D applies. Evolution can account for the development of those moral standards humans have in common. Also moral standards can be justified in the absence of god (John Rawls). The existence of god does not sustain a moral standard (is something good because god wills it or does god will it because its good). It must be justified in other ways.

1H Some people have a sense of beauty, poetry, love. There must be an external source of the standard i.e., god.

Please see 1F.

1I Things are said to be less beautiful, good, logical etc. than other things. Where there is less there is more and most. The most is god.

Some people were less committed Nazis than others. Where there is less there is more and most. The most committed NAZI is god.

For the fun of it I invite readers to create there own example. 1J Some things are said to be beautiful. To say this we need a standard. The standard is god Please see 1G, first and third response.

1K Holy Scripture (take your pick OT, NT, Vedas) says there is a god. So there must be one.

Assuming you get lucky, and are able to pick the right one out of thousands you would be in a circular argument. 1L I have talked to god. So there must be one.

This only proves it to the person that has the experience. I proves nothing to the persons who have not had the experience. I could be lying, mistaken, all sorts of things.

1M People through out history have live in hope they would see god when they died. It would be unfair for the hopes of these people to be in vain.

I have lived with the hope that I would play for the Boston Celtics. There is even less chance that there is a god. Life is unfair.

2. God's existence is the best explanation of something a theist thinks is a fact.

2A Most people throughout history have believed in god. This level of agreement on god's existence is greater than chance. So god exists.

First, there is no way to establish this is a fact, we can only talk about today. Second, most people today don't believe in god (Russia, China etc.). If the argument against this is that the people in China are miscounted or brainwashed, you are acknowledging the usefulness of the argument.

2B There are miracles. Only god could make miracles. So god exists.

A miracle is either an unexplained event or an event that can only be explained by the existence of god. Under the first definition every unsolved murder is a miracle. Under the second we beg the question.

2C Some people have talked to god, therefore god exists.

The response to 1L applies.

2D Believers in god have happier, richer, healthier, etc. lives. This cannot be due to chance. There must be a god who causes this.

There must be a proof that this is true and there is not.

3. God can be defined into existence.

3A An atheist is someone who KNOWS god does not exist. You can't KNOW that, so god must exist.

I can't know that Santa does not exist. This does not mean that he exists.

3B God is defined as a being greater than that which nothing greater can be conceived. Any existing being is greater than a non-existing being, therefore by definition god must exist.

This argument works only if existence can be considered as a predicate like color, size, etc. It is not. I can conceive of a golden island that is greater than any other island which can be conceived. It does not exist.

3C God is the sort of being that cannot be proved using human efforts.

Then god cannot have any effect in the world and the question of its existence is irrelevant to anything.

4. Its better to believe in god than not.

4A People are sometimes happier believing in things for which there is no definitive proof (children and Santa), so you are better off believing in god.

This has never been demonstrated. Selecting a sample (do you take anyone that says they believe in god? Only christians?) presents extreme difficulties. Even if it could be demonstrated how do you "make" yourself a believer? I know for a fact that I would be happier if I got more exercise, drank less, ate healthy, and watched PBS more, but I can't. How do I make myself believe?

4B Pascal's Wager - It's safer to believe in god. If there is no god it makes no difference. If there is on it will punish us for non-belief.

The only assumption this argument does not make is that there is a god. It assumes there is only one god. That this god will punish us for disbelief (what if god only punished hypocrites?). That this god can punish us for disbelief (what if there was a god who would punish us for disbelief, but we don't survive physical death?). The chances that we will be punished for "betting" on god (we picked the wrong god, It hates hypocrites etc.) are at least as high as for not "betting". So all bets are off.



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