Thoughts on Arguments for God

Many of the arguments I encountered on Peter Kreeft’s list suffered from similar fatal problems. In general, they were based on fallacious thinking or misunderstood science and defended with rhetoric rather than fact. Here’s the full list again, with the two flaws I see as fatal or at least extremely weakening for each argument:

  1. The Argument from Change – poor understanding of science, fallacy of composition
  2. The Argument from Efficient Causality – causality of time is meaningless, fallacy of composition
  3. The Argument from Time and Contingency – causality of time is meaningless, poor understanding of science
  4. The Argument from Degrees of Perfection – non sequitur, poor understanding of science
  5. The Design Argument – false dichotomy, shifting burden of proof
  6. The Kalam Argument – causality of time is meaningless, poor understanding of science
  7. The Argument from Contingency – fallacy of composition, infinite regress
  8. The Argument from the World as an Interacting Whole – poor understanding of science, fallacy of composition
  9. The Argument from Miracles – no miracle claim has been verified, does not prove any particular god
  10. The Argument from Consciousness – false dichotomy, infinite regress
  11. The Argument from Truth – completely unsupported premises, non sequitur
  12. The Argument from the Origin of the Idea of God – ignorance of theological history, poor understanding of science
  13. The Ontological Argument – defines god into existence, greatest conceivable being would not allow evil we observe
  14. The Moral Argument – ignorance of science, easy to deny objective morality
  15. The Argument from Conscience – ignorance of science, requires denial of history of Christianity
  16. The Argument from Desire – ignorance of science, no reason to think all desires (such as our desire for immorality) can be fulfilled
  17. The Argument from Aesthetic Experience – easy to parody to show god does not exist, apparent ignorance of things like evolution and fractals
  18. The Argument from Religious Experience – bandwagon fallacy, such experiences not universal as argument should expect
  19. The Common Consent Argument – bandwagon fallacy, ignorance of science
  20. Pascal’s Wager – skeptic’s prayer didn’t work for me, false dichotomy

As you can see, almost all of these arguments depend on a fallacy or a misunderstanding of science. Further, several of them (e.g., 5, 6, 9, 14, 18, 19) are supported at least in part by Peter Kreeft stating directly or indirectly that he cannot believe the opposite conclusion. I’m sorry, but his inability to believe god might not exist does not make his religion true, and if anyone would take such reasoning seriously, I need only point out my (or my boyfriend’s) inability to believe god exists. Does that make atheism true? Surely not.

There’s an even more glaring problem for Christian apologists than their arguments being bad, however; namely, that they need arguments at all. Granted, if I saw a flawless philosophical argument for god, I would accept it, but Christians claim their Christianity is a personal relationship. Yet, when asked to demonstrate that person exists, they point to things! Normally, it is the universe; often, it is morals; sometimes, it is an experience they had. But never do they say, “Here, I will introduce you.”

Note that I am not here saying that “I can’t see god, therefore he doesn’t exist”. We cannot see CO2, but scientists can demonstrate it exists. Instead, I am saying that every alive person I know can be introduced, but god cannot.

For example, if I wanted to demonstrate that I had a friend in Israel, I might pull up his facebook page and show photographs. I might invite you to send him a message. If you were still skeptical, I might set up a video chat. The point is, it would be almost trivial to demonstrate that this person exists, because I could introduce him, and you could become friends. You might, knowing him only from the internet and my descriptions, acquire some false ideas about who he is, and that might prevent you from growing to know him better, but whether he even existed would not be in reasonable doubt. I might be trying to fool you, and I might even have an assistant helping me to convince you this person exists, but after a video chat, it would be quite obvious that at least someone real is there.

Many of us have social networks spread around the world, but most of us still live close(ish) to the majority of people we know, and even if we move away, it soon becomes true that we live fairly close to the majority of people we speak to often (in the majority of cases). Given this, it becomes even easier to demonstrate that someone I know exists, because I can take you by the hand and lead you to that person. “Here is Frank,” I could say, and you could shake his hand, say “Hello, Rebecca has told me a lot about you,” and strike up a conversation.

This is something Christians cannot do for me when I ask them to introduce me to their god. Obviously, god is not a big presence on social media (probably due to his advanced age), but he doesn’t show up anywhere that I can shake his hand and say, “Hello, I’ve heard a lot about you, can you clear up what is true?” The only answer I have ever gotten to “Can you introduce me to your god?” has been a variation on the theme “go to church” or “read the Bible”. I also have had someone say something like “You have to look for him, then you’ll find him.” When I protest that I have done that, the common response is that I did it incorrectly, or with a wrong idea of god such that it prevented me from getting to know him.

Imagine if a girl wants to meet her boyfriend’s parents and he responded as Christians respond to me wanting to meet their god.

“Here is a book my dad had his grad students write. Just read that.”
“Here is a house I built for my mom. She’s never physically here, but when I think in the kitchen, I feel close to her.”
“Here are my siblings. I think you’ll grow close to our parents if you become part of our community.”
“Have you tried looking for them? Maybe you haven’t done it right.”
“Maybe if you cleared your mind of all preconceptions of my parents, you would be able to get to know them better.”
“Hey, you think my dad is abusive. Of course you aren’t able to meet him, he’s actually super nice and is always there for me.”
“After careful thought and lots of philosophical reading, I have compiled a list of 20 reasons my parents exist.”

That last is the only one with any legitimacy, but only if all 20 reasons are essentially “I exist, I biologically require parents, therefore my parents must exist.” Even so, I personally might think such a boyfriend was an orphan who had deluded himself into thinking his parents were still alive, or possibly a robot. I certainly would not accept that his parents are around somewhere. What would you think?

One thought on “Thoughts on Arguments for God

  1. “There’s an even more glaring problem for Christian apologists than their arguments being bad, however; namely, that they need arguments at all.”

    Totally agree. As I was deconverting, I read a number of apologetics books. I kept thinking that someone must have something convincing to say, but they were all hand waving. Then it hit me… People have to argue to prove God exists?! Shouldn’t it be obvious? But its not. God either does not exist or is hiding really, really well.
    If we have to ask this question, then I think we already know the answer.

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