"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves?" Nietzsche
When Nietzsche said "God is dead" in his 1882 collection The Science of Joy, I wonder if he expected that 134 years later, religion would be gone or at least, become the past time of a minority. So why, when it was clear to him that god is not real, is it that in 2016, there are still billions of people who are religious? In addition, while the numbers are falling steadily, why is the process so painful and slow?
One argument is that there are strong, intellectual arguments for belief in god making theism a rational, even wise, choice. Many of the arguments are not new, but many still find them very convincing, so much so that people will at times kill and die for their religious beliefs.
To be clear, the majority of these arguments are philosophical arguments which are not rooted in religious texts or scientific observation.
Contrary to what some theists claim, none of the arguments present a definitive case for god. At most they can make the case that belief in god is rational. Some of them are easily debuked and some require carefully thought. Either way, examining them is an interesting and educational exercise that will not only provide an understanding of theist thought but challenge the thought of the non-theist and hopefully learn something in the process.
None of the arguments seeks to make the case for one specific god or collection of gods. That step is a topic in its own right, one that is frequently trivialised or ignored by theists. So even if someone were one day to produce an argument for a god that proved to be water tight, there is a whole extra journey needed to prove that this now proven god is Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu, Zeus, or anyone of the thousands of other gods that exist or have existed.
Twenty popular arguments for the existence of god will be examined over time - this may be adjusted with time to reflect feedback. While I will not respond to feedback individually, it is welcomed and will always be considered. It may even be referenced in this review.
It is strongly recommended that the person following this thread, reads outside of it, and references will be included to facilite this. The list to be examined is as follows -
"The argument from motion", often referred to as "the argument from change", was proposed by Thomas Aquinas.
Plants flower and seed, and animals feed and breed, all changing with time. A seed contains the potential to become a plant, and 'moves' from being a seed to being a plant. In this context the term 'moves' is used far more broadly than the narrow sense that a car travels from A to B, although that is included. The argument from motion relies on the concepts of potentiality and actuality rather than that of causal sequence.
The argument can be summarised as
This argument assumes causality to be a universal truth, and uses this to assert the need for an Unmoved Mover or an Uncaused Cause to break the resulting infinite regress. There are a number of rebuttals to the argument that show it is inconsistent with modern science and logic, and some are listed below.
(1) Physics is no longer classical. The idea that no movement can happen without something else causing the movement, is not just pre-Einsteinian, it is pre-Newtonian. When people thought that no motion was possible without a mover, they believed that angels had to push the planets to keep them moving.
(2) Two bodies at rest will start to move towards each other due to gravity. They can be each other's first mover. Therefore, the prior mover requirement is unnecessary, in fact, gravity means that a universe without motion is inconceivable and no first mover is needed.
(3) Pairs of virtual particles are created (and annihilated) all of the time, out of literally nothing. These particles affect each other's motion, thus disproving Aquinas's premise. Not all events necessarily have causes. In quantum mechanics, not all events need a cause that proceeds it. To complicate matters, identical experiments can have different outcomes in quantum mechanics. These differences are spontaneous or 'uncaused' and they are mundane patterns of scattering electrons and photons.
(4) Einstein's General Relativity supports closed time loops in which an object can meet itself in the past. These are at odds with the causality assumed in Aquinas' argument.
(5) There is no good reason for allowing the Unmoved Mover to exist without a cause. This is a case of special pleading and there is no good reason to accept it. If nothing moves without a prior mover, then God must need a prior mover, as well. Otherwise God is nothing, which contradicts the conclusion. Thus, either the premise is untrue, in which case the argument is unsound, or the conclusion doesn't follow, in which case the argument is invalid. In fact, as stated, the argument is clearly self-contradictory. Who created God?
(6) If for some reason it is possible to show that there has to be a Unmoved Mover, why would this need to be a being? Why could it not be the universe itself, or some team of super gods that created lesser gods who created lesser gods who created the universe? Why could it not be a random quantum fluctuation? Aside from the fact, that the arbitrary use of god in the argument carries a lot of undesirable cultural baggage, denoting an intelligent being, the decision to insert god as the starting point as the creator of the universe is simply arbitrary and without justification. The argument simply does not demonstrate anything like a god, but just the cultural baggage of the person using the argument.
(7) Imagine there was evidence for the notion of a being that created the universe, there is no reason to believe that this god is the god of any particular religion. Theists simply go from 'I have proved the need for a god' to 'My god is real' without any convincing argument that bridges this huge gap.
(8) Even if there is an infinite regress of causes, so what? The human mind is uncomfortable with the concept of infinity, but reality has no obligation to make humans comfortable. An infinite regress may turn out to be the correct explanation.
They're heavily veiled, believe in polygamy and have to follow thousands of rules. Yet increasing numbers of young and educated British women are converting.
Rasheed Benyahia was in a hurry. Like so many young adults going places in Britain today, he needed to get a move on.
When he said that he had only himself to blame for the death threats and abuse, he epitomised how morally redundant this whole controversy has become.
The castigation of a British gymnast for 'mocking Islam' is illustrative of a troubling return of blasphemy, argues Stephen Evans.
As someone who works full-time to promote political secularism, to see what is now happening in France defended in these terms is deeply troubling.
The BBC and Demos have published an accidental case-study in why we should all stop using the meaningless and sinister word 'Islamophobia'.
Banning drugs makes no sense
Making a chemical an illegal drug, does not stop people taking drugs. People take drugs for a range of reasons and not once, am I aware, has the fact that it is illegal, prevented them from experimenting or doing drugs regularly. Drugs are a fact of modern life, and all sectors of society indulge, including lawyers and policemen. If the goal is to reduce the use of illegal drugs, surely we should be looking for ways that achieve this goal rather than continuing a strategy that does not.
It costs a vast amount of money, which could be used more constructively on providing other services like educating people about drugs and providing rehabilitation for addicts. Governments are constantly asking public services to find savings, yet they continue to spend vast amounts of money on something that does not yield results.
If adults make an informed decision, it is not the place for the law to tell them what they can and can't do. Human beings make numerous decision each day knowing the downside. Look, for example, at all the people in the West that continue to smoke. There is no question that smoking increases the chances of getting cancer, yet knowing this, many people continue to smoke, and while I think their decision is wrong, it is right that the decision is theirs.
It is hypocritical to not include alcohol and tobacco on the list of illegal drugs. Both substances, share many of the characteristcs that are used to justify banning drugs. Many people become addicted to alcohol with devastating consequences for themselves, their families, and friends, but because alcohol and tobacco have been part of our societies for a long time, these substances are regulated but legal, in fact, as businesses, they generated ignificant amounts of money for the tax man.
I am very careful to distinguish between Islam and criticising Muslims.
I know many muslims who I like and respect. They are good people, and knowing them has enriched my life in many ways. Some are aquaintances and some are friends. No doubt, I will meet many more muslims who are likeable, decent human beings. I do not judge someone because they are muslim but take each individual, one person at a time, and assess in the same way as I would any other person.
By contrast, my feelings about the Quran and the Hadith are quite different. I find them to be barbaric, backward, and immoral. I despise the god that they describe. I despise his acts and orders, and his prophet. I reject them completely as having merit in a civilised society.
Surely, Muslims and the holy writings of Islam will share the same values? Well, no.
Human beings are extremely good at picking the elements of a belief system that match their values, and reasoning away those aspects that do not suit them. They will find ways to justify the unjustifiable, or logic to interpret the unpalatable as reasonable.
To the outsider, this will appear irrational but it is important to remember that the outsider has no vested interest to defend. So the outsider, will read the story of Mohamed and the Banu Quresh, and see cruel genocide, theft and enslavement, while the insider will see a threatened community defending themselves from a threatening enemy.
Muslims, like all other human beings, will reshape their religion in their own heads to match the values they have developed and acquired, rather than giving up their religion. As humans, none of us likes to make changes to parts of ourselves that we identify as a fundamental part of our identity. Muslims are no different.
The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God
William Lane Craig
The 7 Most Intriguing Philosophical Arguments for the Existence of God
A Safe Place to Explore Questions About Life and God
Peter Kreeft christian site
existence christian site