Argument from nonbelief


#1

Hello

I am just wondering how a Catholic would respond to the argument from nonbelief? The argument basically says that if God existed, he would have brought about a situation in which everyone believes in him.

Here is Drange’s argument from nonbelief:

  1. If God exists, God:
    a. wants all humans to believe he exists before they die;
    b. can bring about a situation in which all humans believe he exists before they die;
    c. does not want anything which would conflict with and be at least as important as his desire for all humans to believe he exists before they die; and
    d. always acts in accordance with what he most wants.

  2. If God exists, all humans would believe so before they die (from 1).

  3. But not all humans believe God exists before they die.

  4. Therefore, God does not exist (from 2 and 3).

John


#2

On the contrary, God wants all men to love Him, without compulsion or coercion. God could force men to love Him if that was His will, but of course, this is not real love.

b. can bring about a situation in which all humans believe he exists before they die;

I think that it is possible for most people to come to some knowledge of God before they die. For those that cannot, I can only trust in the mercy of God that He has prepared some other method of judgement for them.

c. does not want anything which would conflict with and be at least as important as his desire for all humans to believe he exists before they die; and

I believe this is wrong.

d. always acts in accordance with what he most wants.

OK, but sometimes this is hard for humans to truly discern.

  1. If God exists, all humans would believe so before they die (from 1).

I disagree with 1, and so the rest of the argument.


#3

The problem with that argument lies in the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘does’. God may want everyone to believe (and if we’re discussing an abstract deity who isn’t necessarily Christian, even that isn’t necessarily so), but God also wants people to have a real choice – and so he does not prove himself for all to see.


#4

The main weakness of the argument, and even Drange admits this is premiss c:

does not want anything which would conflict with and be at least as important as his desire for all humans to believe he exists before they die; and

The fact that not everyone believes in God (some went to their graves as atheists or agnostics), and consequently not everyone is saved, only means that God must have some other more compelling reason than actively bringing about that ideal situation where everyone would believe in Him before their physical deaths. It becomes a simple matter of choice on God’s part and in no way proves His non-existence.


#5

Just as children are wired to love their parents, we are wired to love God. But just as children rebel against their parents and turn on them, we are able, under the right circumstances, to turn on God. And just as the prodigal son finds his way home as often as not, so are the sons and daughters of God able to return weeping on their knees.

Life is often pure drama … or melodrama.


#6

This is illogical on so many levels, I’ll have to go point by point.
1.a. Who says? By beginning with an “if” you are implying a “then”, but this is a non sequitur. One particular religion says so (Sola Fide Protestantism), but their stance on the issue isn’t self-evident.
b. Again, it’s a non-sequitur to just assume God is necessarily omnipotent, although it’s sort of logical to predicate of the Supreme Being. Not as illogical as 1a, but still doesn’t follow automatically from God’s existence, the only portion of this argument that can be considered a premise.
c. Another non-sequitur, confusing the God of Revelation with the God of the philosophers.
d. Ditto to 1c.

  1. Unless God forces them to, no, they won’t, because “belief” is of the will. Unless he’s assuming lack of free will, which is not stated in the premises, and if he’s also assuming there are no crazy people.

  2. The only true part of this argument.
    4.Bad premises invalidate your conclusion.

But seriously, thanks for playing. I thought you guys were the Rationalists?:smiley:


#7

Thanks for all the input. Just to clarify things, I am Catholic and, as such, I am most definitely a theist. Unfortunately, I am not too good with philosophy so I just wanted to hear people’s responses to that argument.

Thanks again,
John


#8

Unfortunately? If you feel the need to clutter up your mind, upload something useful like math.


#9

I suspect the force of the argument, and of its induividual parts, will vary acording to people’s theologies.

1 b & 1 d are true; 1 c is doubtful; 1 a is probably false.

God has no need of man. We are not as important as that :slight_smile:

God’s purpose is that He be glorified - if people resist Him, He turns their resistance to His glory; if they accept Him, that is His gift.

Being God is a win-win situation. ##


#10

I’d argue that 1d isn’t necessarily true either :wink:

One only has to look at Jesus in Gethsemane to poke a nice big hole in it – and that’s just from the Christian point of view!


#11

Yeah, I kind of thought you were; at that point, I’d kind of moved into addressing an imaginary debate opponent.

That sure is a bad argument right there, though.


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