Friday, August 23, 2013

5 invalid arguments that God does not exist

We have already dealt with some logical fallacies and you know how to classify them. Logical fallacies are often used in advertisement and politics but are even more explicit when it comes to religious debates. “Does God exist?” is one of the oldest philosophical questions, and to many the most important one. You have probably heard at least one argument starting with: “If God exists, then why…” or “If God is A, then why does B happen?”. It should be made clear that a huge number of these arguments are invalid and should be classified as logical fallacies. Nevertheless those who are not familiar with rules of constructing valid arguments (what is validity?) may not notice that many arguments against God’s existence are flawed and may even find them quite convincing. If you want to know what the most popular invalid arguments and their flaws are, here is the list of 5 false arguments stating that God does not exist with a brief explanation of their flaws. Some of these arguments refer strictly to the Christian God and are therefore explained in terms of Christianity.

1. If God were good, children would not be starving.

According to Christianity and Judaism people did not starve back in the Garden of Eden and hunger is a result of Adam’s and Eve’s sin. Could God miraculously create food for starving children? He could (omnipotence dogma). However, according to Bible, God granted people with free will and responsibility. Is God really responsible for children starving? If you have a computer to read this blog, you are among the richest 1% of our globe. Why do people blame God for injustice rather than themselves? We do have enough financial resources to terminate famine among children. If you killed your neighbour, who would you blame? Yourself or God? From a less theological and more philosophical point of view, this is an example of Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. (A occurred, then B occurred. Therefore, A caused B).

2. If God existed, He would fill this room with balloons if you asked Him to do so.

This argument’s aim is to question God’s omnipotence while not taking into account God’s sovereignty. While God is omnipotent, He is also sovereign and may or may not fulfil wishes of His creation.

3. If God existed, you would not sin.

This is just an example of Ad personam fallacy (Ad hominem). It attacks a person rather than his or her point of view. In short – a case of informal fallacy (irrelevance).

4. If God existed, there would be some well documented miracles.

It may be difficult to precisely define a miracle. What is a miracle to some, is just a coincidence to others. If a person suffers from a headache and after a prayer feels no more pain, can we claim to witness a miracle? Most believers would call it a miracle, scientists may treat is as a coincidence or an example of suggestion which can be also induced via hypnosis. What if a person suffers from cancer and after a prayer, doctors find him/her to have no cancer cells in the body? Believers will call it a miracle, doctors may be sceptical and explain it in terms of a wrong diagnosis. What if a person is dead and after a prayer he comes back to life? That’s a more complex issue, especially if a person was dead for a few days, and probably most people would perceive it as a miracle as it cannot possibly be explained by science. I will not go into details of miracles in this post, but all of the above mentioned phenomena are true and documented cases.

5. Bible (or Old Testament) resembles legends, so it should be treated as one.

This is another informal fallacy – false analogy (also known as weak analogy). A is like B. B has property C. Therefore, A has property C, where A=Bible, B=legend, C=unreliable.

As most “5 things lists”, this list is obviously incomplete and includes only some of the most popular flawed arguments stating that God does not exist. Once you have learnt how to recognise logical fallacies by yourself you will be able to detect flawed arguments without help of any lists whatsoever. Please note that this post does not argue either for or against God’s existence – it only explains why these specific arguments against God’s existence are flawed. Feel free to leave a comment and like our Facebook page!



4 comments:

  1. "Please note that this post does not argue either for or against God’s existence – it only explains why these specific arguments against God’s existence are flawed."

    Interesting that you should say this since your arguments are obviously biased on the side of religion.

    The bible does not 'resemble' legend. It IS a work of fiction. Accept it.

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    1. My arguments? Maybe you failed to notice this subtlety but the arguments mentioned in the post are actually against religion (or to be precise - against God's existence). I refute these arguments because they are deductively invalid. It has nothing to do with personal opinions, just with a logical (or rather illogical!) structure of these arguments. My guess is that you are biased on the side of atheism but please keep your emotions in check - if you want to prove that God does not exist, do use an argument. "Accept it" does not count as one.

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  2. What about this argument that refuse Christianity idea of God (that loves everyone and knows everything)? [Note: I'm not going to proof that God does not exist]

    Want to proof: "God does not love everyone or God does not know everything." Or, we can write as: negation of (God loves everyone and God knows everything) [De Morgan's Law: (pq)' = p'+q']
    Note that "everything" here also includes "the knowledge of future", as most Christians believe.

    Proof: by contradiction
    Assume the negation is true, i.e. assume that God loves everyone and God knows everything.

    God loves everyone and God knows everything. [Contradiction Premise]
    => God loves everyone ...statement 1 [AND rule]
    => God knows everything ...statement 2 [AND rule]
    God creates humans, some of them go to heaven and some go to hell [A Christianity axiom, or you might say, a fact according to Christians]
    => God knows which humans go to hell [from statement 2]
    => God creates humans that he knows will go to hell
    => God creates humans and send them to hell in the end
    => God does not love these people (If god loves them, he would not create them from the very beginning)
    => God does not love everybody [i.e. contradiction with statement 1; since p and p' are both true]
    Therefore, the negation of the contradiction premise is true
    => The definition of God in Christianity is not correct.

    FYI, proof by contradiction is quite popular in mathematics and I believe it is valid for philosophy as well (since maths is all about logic). Even though I did not prove that God does not exist, I already proved that Christianity's idea of God is incorrect (if there is nothing wrong with my proof). If there is something wrong, I'd be happy to know what mistake I made in the proof.

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  3. A humbling posts for the non-believing. Atheism can tend to go down the path that the dogmatic religion does in aggressively asserting its superiority. I think the only thing we can be certain of is that we have no way of knowing with certainty that a god exists (well, this is my opinion as a non-believer). Perhaps in embracing our uncertainty, we can be more respectful of each others belief choices, and invite discussion that moves beyond simply attacking differing ideas.

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