Arguments against God's existence


#1

Can someone help me with these arguments against God’s existence? They are taken from Wikipedia’s entry:

  • The problem of evil contests the existence of a god who is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent by arguing that such a god should not permit the existence of evil or suffering. The theist responses are called theodicies.
* The argument from poor design contests the idea that God created life on the basis that lifeforms exist which seem to exhibit poor design.
* The argument from nonbelief contests the existence of an omnipotent God who wants humans to believe in him by arguing that such a god would do a better job of gathering believers.
* The argument from parsimony contends that since natural (non-supernatural) theories adequately explain the development of religion and belief in god,[21] the actual existence of such supernatural agents is superfluous and may be dismissed unless otherwise proven to be required to explain the phenomenon.
* The omnipotence paradox suggests that the concept of an omnipotent entity is logically contradictory, from considering a question like: "Can God create a rock so big that he cannot lift it?" or "If God is all powerful, could God create a being more powerful than itself?".
* Another argument suggests that there is a contradiction between God being omniscient and omnipotent, basically asking "how can an all-knowing being change its mind?" See the article on omniscience for details.
* The argument from free will contests the existence of an omniscient god who has free will - or has allotted the same freedom to his creations - by arguing that the two properties are contradictory. According to the argument, if God already knows the future, then humanity is destined to corroborate with his knowledge of the future and not have true free will to deviate from it. Therefore our free will contradicts an omniscient god.
* The Transcendental argument for the non-existence of God contests the existence of an intelligent creator by suggesting that such a being would make logic and morality contingent, which is incompatible with the presuppositionalist assertion that they are necessary, and contradicts the efficacy of science. A more general line of argument based on this argument seeks to generalize this argument to all necessary features of the universe and all god-concepts.[22]

It is alleged that there is a logical impossibility in theism: God is defined as an extra-temporal being, but also as an active creator. The argument suggests that the very act of creation is inconceivable and absurd beyond the constraints of time and space, and the fact that it cannot be proven if God is in either.

* The atheist-existentialist argument for the non-existence of a perfect sentient being states that if existence precedes essence, it follows from the meaning of the term sentient that a sentient being cannot be complete or perfect. It is touched upon by Jean-Paul Sartre in Being and Nothingness. Sartre's phrasing is that God would be a pour-soi [a being-for-itself; a consciousness] who is also an en-soi [a being-in-itself; a thing]: which is a contradiction in terms. The argument is echoed thus in Salman Rushdie's novel Grimus: "That which is complete is also dead."
* The "no reason" argument tries to show that an omnipotent or perfect being would not have any reason to act in any way, specifically creating the universe, because it would have no desires since the very concept of desire is subjectively human. As the universe exists, there is a contradiction, and therefore, an omnipotent god cannot exist. This argument is espoused by Scott Adams in the book God's Debris.

Some of these are fairly new to me. I know many of the arguments for God, but I don’t know much about dismantling those against God. A little help, argument by argument?

Thanks and God bless!


#2
  1. The problem of evil contests the existence of a God who is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent by arguing that such a god should not permit the existence of evil or suffering. The theist responses are called theodicies.

  2. The argument from poor design contests the idea that God created life on the basis that lifeforms exist which seem to exhibit poor design.

  3. The argument from nonbelief contests the existence of an omnipotent God who wants humans to believe in him by arguing that such a God would do a better job of gathering believers.

  4. The argument from parsimony contends that since natural (non-supernatural) theories adequately explain the development of religion and belief in God,[21] the actual existence of such supernatural agents is superfluous and may be dismissed unless otherwise proven to be required to explain the phenomenon.

  5. The omnipotence paradox suggests that the concept of an omnipotent entity is logically contradictory, from considering a question like: “Can God create a rock so big that he cannot lift it?” or “If God is all powerful, could God create a being more powerful than itself?”.

  6. Another argument suggests that there is a contradiction between God being omniscient and omnipotent, basically asking “how can an all-knowing being change its mind?” See the article on omniscience for details.

  7. The argument from free will contests the existence of an omniscient god who has free will - or has allotted the same freedom to his creations - by arguing that the two properties are contradictory. According to the argument, if God already knows the future, then humanity is destined to corroborate with his knowledge of the future and not have true free will to deviate from it. Therefore our free will contradicts an omniscient God.

  8. The Transcendental argument for the non-existence of God contests the existence of an intelligent creator by suggesting that such a being would make logic and morality contingent, which is incompatible with the presuppositionalist assertion that they are necessary, and contradicts the efficacy of science. A more general line of argument based on this argument seeks to generalize this argument to all necessary features of the universe and all God-concepts.[22]

  9. It is alleged that there is a logical impossibility in theism: God is defined as an extra-temporal being, but also as an active creator. The argument suggests that the very act of creation is inconceivable and absurd beyond the constraints of time and space, and the fact that it cannot be proven if God is in either.

  10. The atheist-existentialist argument for the non-existence of a perfect sentient being states that if existence precedes essence, it follows from the meaning of the term sentient that a sentient being cannot be complete or perfect. It is touched upon by Jean-Paul Sartre in Being and Nothingness. Sartre’s phrasing is that God would be a pour-soi [a being-for-itself; a consciousness] who is also an en-soi [a being-in-itself; a thing]: which is a contradiction in terms. The argument is echoed thus in Salman Rushdie’s novel Grimus: “That which is complete is also dead.”

  11. The “no reason” argument tries to show that an omnipotent or perfect being would not have any reason to act in any way, specifically creating the universe, because it would have no desires since the very concept of desire is subjectively human. As the universe exists, there is a contradiction, and therefore, an omnipotent God cannot exist. This argument is espoused by Scott Adams in the book God’s Debris.


First, let’s divide these up into numbed points for convenience. Most, if not all, of these arguments have been discussed on CAF at one point or another, so try a search and show us what you get. I have a response to point 2 that I will get back to you on.


#3

Hi there!

I’m pretty tired (I had to teach 8th grade CCD tonight) but reading the list I’m surprised about how easy to disprove some of these are. Here my first stab.

For starters # 1 describes God as been “omnipotent and omnibenevolent” if you add “Omniscient” to the list (Which God is since by definition a perfect being would require to posses all knowledge and for all of his plans to be perfect) Then an argument against 1 to 4 goes as follows:

Since God’s knowledge is infinitely greater than ours isn’t it possible that perhaps he permits evil and suffering today so that his perfect plan for creation is fulfilled in the distant future. We judge him for what we know, but our knowledge is not perfect so we do not understand his purposes.

You could apply this line of reasoning to #2 In other words when we say “Life exibits poor design” we should ask “by whose standards?” If we could travel 200 Billion years into the past and examine the first organisms most likely we would conclude, there is not way that trees, cats and dolphins will result from such “imperfect” organism. But God knew what he was doing back them and he knows what he is doing right now. So imperfect organisms is not an evidence of God’s non-existence

Again applying this line of reasoning to #3 perhaps God knows something we do not know? This is why we is forced to reveal himself in the way he did, because any other way it would have been detrimental to His perfect plan.

and #5 (I leave #4 as an exercise but you can use the same argument as 1,2 and 3) is easy. In a perfect being there can not be contradiction, hence God can not contradict Himself (Or his own nature) so… He can not create a rock so big that he cannot lift it. God’s omnipotence is bound by his divine nature, in the same way he can not sin he can not perform an action that is against his nature.

I think this is enough for tonight, hopefully others will take care of the rest.

In His love…


#4
  1. (Why does God permit evil and suffering?) Answer:

#5

Wow, talk about leaping into the fire. Good luck. :thumbsup:

Trying to tackle 11 arguments for the non-existence of God is rather a lot to ask of one poor forum thread.

I am kind of curious why you’ve attempted it. One thing I’ve noticed about people is that they seem to think that the side that they are on, also known as the right side, has all of the answers. People on the other side, also known as the wrong side, disagree. Even if you find some arguments that are enough to convince you, you are never going to convince someone who doesn’t believe. Which begs the question, why go to the effort for something that will never bear fruit?


#6

My eight year old said it best (about God’s existence) - if there is no God, how did everything get here?

The rest of the arguments made against God’s existence overlook this basic and critical point - explain to me how something came from nothing, and if you really believe that something can come from nothing, why don’t we see that in science or physics?


#7

Interesting, how do you think that God did it?


#8

Don’t know.


#9

Then, just out of curiosity, why would you expect an atheist to know how the universe is created?

You say, “God did it.”

I say, “It was a natural process.”

On paper they seem both equally good, and equally poor, explanations. We’re both saying, “I don’t know, but it worked somehow.”

I would have to say your explanation puts us right back to square one. Except, I get to sleep in on Sunday mornings. :slight_smile:


#10

Actually they do in some aspects of quantum physics

Things tend to get a little funky down at that level so an 8-year old’s argument might not be the best way to go.


#11

very well :wink:


#12

I should really drop this. I know I should, but just as an example of how no answer to these questions is going to land you a slam dunk:

What do you call a person that allows untold suffering in order to forward their own personal goals? I don’t know either, but all-loving isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

You could apply this line of reasoning to #2 In other words when we say “Life exibits poor design” we should ask “by whose standards?” If we could travel 200 Billion years into the past and examine the first organisms most likely we would conclude, there is not way that trees, cats and dolphins will result from such “imperfect” organism. But God knew what he was doing back them and he knows what he is doing right now. So imperfect organisms is not an evidence of God’s non-existence

Again, untold suffering in order to further someone’s personal plans. You do think God is good don’t you?

Again applying this line of reasoning to #3 perhaps God knows something we do not know? This is why we is forced to reveal himself in the way he did, because any other way it would have been detrimental to His perfect plan.

I actually thought I might have to come up with more than one objection to your post, but gosh darn it, it still fits. Untold suffering for one’s own personal scheme is not all-loving.

In a perfect being there can not be contradiction, hence God can not contradict Himself (Or his own nature) so… He can not create a rock so big that he cannot lift it. God’s omnipotence is bound by his divine nature, in the same way he can not sin he can not perform an action that is against his nature.

Actually, I think the classical answer is that yes God could. God’s infinite power would allow him to limit himself. For instance, if your argument followed, Jesus would have to be lying when he cried “My God why have you forsaken me?” As it would have been impossible for God to be separated from himself.

Not an expert though.


#13

What is wrong with theodicies? Plenty of smart faithful people have reconciled the existence of evil.

While this may be an argument against a literal 7-day creation (maybe)
it has nothing to say about the existence of God
God made the world as he willed who are we to impose our ideas of design upon Him?

“better” by whose standards?

While parsimony is a good and valid tool it is not a hard and fast natural law.
Natural explanations the existence of religion and belief do not exclude a God who created that nature

False dilemmas.

What did that article say?
Where in our faith do we say God changed his mind?


#14

the conspet of transendance removes God from Time and thus the “before and after” dilemmas of free will and cause and effect aren’t applicable

I don’t understand a word of that
The problem with having and an online encyclopedia that can be edited by “the people” is that is often is.

While creation is bound by time and space why would God have to be? Doesn’t make sense.

and what makes Sartre and Rushdie correct and Aquinas wrong?

Anthropomorphizing God whether to say He has a reason or “no reason” to do anything is equally sloppy. While I’m an fan of Adams’ work I don’t think that even he knows the mind of God.


#15

Not sure what that means

“Untold suffering”?
What do you mean?

Me neither.


#16

You may get to sleep in on Sundays for the rest of your life but the other guy who believes and goes to Mass gets to spend eternity living in the presents of God and you my friend, well if we are right and you are wrong I feel sorry for your outcome. Repent and you will be saved. Choose death and isolation from God and you will get just that for eternity. I vote for the eight year old!


#17

Jesus did say in order to get to heaven we have to be like children or the faith of a child. I think your kid is onto something.

Peace!


#18

I’m curious with all the surveys and testings out there, are there any surveys that show people who believe in God and practice religion ussually live better and are happier than people who don’t believe or have religion in there life. My own experience has shown that my life with out God was bad and my life with God is good. Also my own observation has been that people who believe and have God in there life look and live better than people who don’t. For example look at pictures and footage of the right for life walk in Washington. The people for life and God looked good and happy, some had faces of shock when looking at the side line, but those on the side line who were againts prolife and God did’nt look very good or happy infact they looked upset and miserable. I mean do we really need to debate with people who don’t belive. If we were to share our personal stories and asked them who don’t believe to share theirs I think that would be evidence enopugh nevere mind all the phsyco babel. Keep it simple man.

Peace!


#19

So science has discovered instances of something coming from nothing?


#20

In most surveys, religious people report being happier than non-religious people. “Live better” is really subjective. For instance, there are more religious charities than there are secular ones. On the other hand, there are a disproportionately large group of religious people in jail.

You could conclude that religion tends to produce happy and
charitable felons, but I think that would be a stretch.

Religious people have a big advantage on the happiness front. They have churches. Communities of people who believe the same thing that they believe. I would argue that atheists who have the same level of community ties would be as happy, but I can’t prove it. So go ahead and score one for religion.

My own experience has shown that my life with out God was bad and my life with God is good.

Cool, happy is good.

For example look at pictures and footage of the right for life walk in Washington. The people for life and God looked good and happy, some had faces of shock when looking at the side line, but those on the side line who were againts prolife and God did’nt look very good or happy infact they looked upset and miserable.

It is not terribly surprising that the people who agreed with the march were happier than the ones who didn’t. Go to a gay pride parade one day and see if the marchers or the protesters look happier.


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