Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Five bad arguments against theism

*Don't forget to also read the accompanying post titled, Five Bad Arguments for Theism

In this post I'm going to list the top five worst arguments against theism; arguments I've heard in debates (professional and lay-level) that I think are simply not reasonable enough to not hold theism. What I want to make clear here in the beginning is I don't think a person is stupid for using these arguments. I'm not intending for this post to read like an insult to anyone that uses the arguments. I'm simply voicing why I find the arguments to be the worst of the bunch. I'm also going to write a post about the worst arguments against atheism; so atheists, skeptics, etc. don't think I'm not fair.

1. Hating God. 

The argument goes something like this 1) I hate god 2) therefore, god does not exist. Come on. Not liking something doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. This is not a valid reason for disbelief; either God exists or He doesn't, it's not up to whether we believe it or not. Plus, how can you hate something that doesn't exist? This argument violates the law of non-contradiction. 

2. Hypocritical Christianity 

This isn't an argument that professional debating atheists will use (I haven't heard any use it anyway), but atheists "on the street" use. Christians are hypocritical so God cannot exist. This argument is bad because 1) it doesn't follow that God doesn't exist because some Christians are hypocritical and 2) you can't base something's existence, character, etc. on the character of it's followers. Even if all of the Christians in the world and in history were hypocritical, didn't follow God's commands, do you really think that would make God non-existent? God's existence isn't dependent on the actions of His children. 

This argument is contradictory like the argument "Hating God." You must acknowledge the existence of God to use the argument. Let me explain. If you say Christians are hypocritical, therefore God does not exist; where are you getting the standard for how Christians should act? Are you not acknowledging God's standard for living in the process of judging the character of His children? If you are acknowledging God's standard then you must acknowledge His existence I would think. Either way, the person that uses this is simply finding a reason to not believe in something he or she doesn't like, which doesn't disprove the existence of the thing not liked. All this argument is good for is for not attending church, which can be understandable. However, not all churches are hypocritical. 

3. Euthyphro's Dilemma

This "dilemma" has been answered time and again, yet it still resurfaces (kind of like Pascal's wager, not sure why theists use that anymore) like a bad case of ants. You think the ants are gone then BAM you see one again. This is a bad argument because it's not a dilemma at all. There aren't only two answers to the dilemma there are actually more. Many atheists stand behind this argument, I cannot imagine why when the dilemma is not a true dilemma. 

See my posts on Euthyphro's Dilemma and the answers to it by clicking here.
4. Problem of evil 

Atheists stand behind this argument very proudly too. The problem of evil argument is stated something like this 1) If God was really good, He would want to get rid of all evil. 2) If God was really powerful, He would be capable of getting rid of all evil. 3)Since we do have evil, either your God is not good or He is not powerful, either of which sends the knockout punch to the one professing the existence of God. My quick response is that this has nothing to do with God's goodness, power, or existence. This argument doesn't destroy God or Christianity. Like Greg Koukl says, "It wasn't a problem of power that there is evil. And it wasn't a problem of goodness, that there is evil. And in fact, goodness requires evil and power doesn't have anything to do with getting rid of it." 

There is a four-step process (thanks Koukl) for answering the problem of evil. 1) People ought to be allowed to choose between moral alternatives. 2) It's a good thing that we have the freedom to make moral choices. 3) It's part of the nature of moral freedom to be able to choose between good and evil. 4) Raw power cannot make it possible for a morally free being to only choose good. Having genuine moral freedom means you might choose evil and having moral freedom is a good thing. 

More on this four step response by clicking here to read Greg Koukl's article Sixty Second Theodicy.  

5. Multiple Religions 

The argument is that since there are multiple religions then God, or at least the Christian God, cannot exist because of the varieties of gods created by man. It doesn't follow that God doesn't exist because there are multiple religions. There are multiple hypotheses on the mechanisms for evolution. Does that mean evolution isn't fact? Of course not. There are multiple views on aesthetics, yet that doesn't mean there is no art. You see where I'm going with this. Since there are many religions, does that mean God doesn't exist? Not at all. 

These arguments raised against theism I find wanting. I don't mean at all that these are stupid or irrelevant claims raised against theism. What I mean is that these objections do not go very far when analyzed. Many people think some of these are end-all arguments and that's simply not true. When thought over, one can see that these objections fail.
Check out my post about five bad arguments for theism. 


  1. I'll agree with you on 1, 2, and 5. And you can get around the Euthyphro dilemma by anchoring moral laws in God's Nature instead of in His Will (although then you limit God's power, unless He can change his own Nature--a "paradox of omnipotence" will then likely arise). However, you are completely wrong about the Problem of Evil. The only options are these: 1. consider God much weaker, more ignorant, and far less good than He is often thought to be; 2. throw up your hands and just say "God works in mysterious ways". There is no ulterior good which can possibly justify all the evils that have occurred and will occur in the world. The free will defense (which you mistakenly cite as the answer) fails on multiple counts: (A) free will doesn't explain natural evil (tornadoes, etc.), unless you go with the whole "Fall from Eden" story, in which case we all INHERIT our sin, but only a crazy, evil God would even conceive of punishing us today for something our great-great-great-great-great-(20 more times) grampa and grandma did. B. God could have given us free will, but made us virtually invulnerable to sharp blades, swords, arrows, guns, tanks, bombs, chemical weapons and whatever else we use to harm each other. In other words, if God is really good, and really cares about us, why didn't he make us all like Superman? Certainly Superman, as depicted in the stories, has free will! By not making us all like Superman, a being who clearly has free will, God made it easier for us to harm each other. That seems like a pretty evil thing to do. Remember, free will doesn't technically require us to actually be able to harm each other; it requires only that we can CHOOSE to harm each other. So free will does nothing to explain why God would make it so darn easy for us to hurt each other. C. It's not even clear what "free will" even is, and it's even less clear that we actually have it. Cognitive scientists, psychologists, neurobiologists, and so on can do a pretty darn good job explaining all the nuanced and subtle behaviors we display on a daily basis, and they're getting better at each year. Everything we do may be determined simply neurological processes in relation to the environment, according to our genetic predispositions.

    So, please do your homework on the argument from evil. The free will defense has been refuted for a long time. And really just a little extra thought and imagination can show why its false.

  2. Let me add to my point about the Fall from Eden: There is no way you can morally justify the death of 3-year-old from cancer (a natural evil) by appealing to our corrupted nature caused by Adam and Eve. While back in the day, children were punished for the sins their fathers. But we expect much better from people today. So we should expect much better from any alleged God.


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