Arguments For and Against God’s Existence (From AU-LA)

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This is a copy of the paper handout to the Atheists United’s February 2012 monthly meeting in  Los Angeles.

Arguments For God’s Existence

1. The Cosmological Argument:  (a) If the universe had always existed, then by now it would have reached a state of maximal entropy (with no usable energy remaining) and maximal expansion, and there would be no stars containing any hydrogen.  (b) But none of that has happened.  (c) So, the universe must have had a beginning of some sort.  (d) Everything that begins to exist must have a cause.  (e) Thus, the universe must have a cause.  (f) But the only possible cause would have been an act of creation by God.  (g) So, God must exist

2. The Argument from Design:  (a) The theory of evolution can be refuted.  (b) The only alternative is to explain the complexity and apparent design that we observe in nature by appeal to God, so God must exist.

3. The Fine-tuning Argument:  (a) The combination of physical constants that we observe in our universe is the only one capable of giving rise to, and sustaining, life as we know it.  (b) The best explanation for why our universe has that particular combination of constants rather than some other conceivable combination is that God designed it to be that way.  (c) Hence, probably God exists.

4. The Argument from Mind:  (a) Mind (or consciousness or reason) exists.  (b) The best explanation for that is that God created it.  (c) Thus, probably God exists.

5. The Argument from Miracles:  (a) Miracles, defined as events that violate some law of nature and caused by a supernatural being, have occurred, e.g., the raising of Jesus from the dead and healings unexplainable by science.  (b) The best explanation for such events is that God caused them.  (c) Hence, probably God exists 

6. The Moral Argument:  (a) Objective moral values exist.  (b) The only adequate explanation for that fact is that God created the values.  (c) Hence, God must exist

7. The Cumulative-case Argument:  (a) There are many facts that need to be explained, incl. those mentioned in arguments 1-6, above.  (b) There is also the universality of religious belief, the occurrence of religious experiences in people, love, and the willingness of some people to die for their faith.  (c) The best explanation for all those facts is the hypothesis that God brought them about.  (d) There are also prudential factors which support the God hypothesis: (i) To believe it is being on the safe side, just in case God does exist.  (ii) It helps people to be moral because they think that would please God.  (iii) It provides people with a sense of meaningfulness (or purposefulness) in life by causing them to see the world as a great system in which everyone and everything plays some significant role.  Also, it gives people comfort and hope by believing in divine providence and the opportunity for eternal life.  (e) For all of the above reasons, taken cumulatively, theism must be declared more likely than atheism and preferable to it.  (f) Thus, God probably exists.

8. The Ultimate-explanation Argument:  (a) If everything were to depend for its existence on something else, then there would be an endless regress of things, with no ultimate explanation for anything.  (b) But there has to be some ultimate explanation for things.  (c) Thus, it is impossible that everything should depend for its existence on something else.  (d) It follows that God, thought of as something which exists independently and necessarily, containing the explanation for its own existence within itself, must exist.

9. The Ontological Argument:  (a) God is objectively perfect in every way.  (b) For a being to exist is better than not to exist.  (c) So, if a being were nonexistent, then it could not be objectively perfect in every way.

(d) Therefore, God cannot be nonexistent, and so, must exist.

10. The Argument from the Bible:  (a) The Bible contains remarkably fulfilled prophecies, no unfulfilled prophecies, a convincing eyewitness account of the resurrection and subsequent appearances of Jesus, an absence of contradictions, amazing facts about the planet earth that were unknown to humans in ancient times, no factual errors, and a perfect moral system.  (b) The only reasonable explanation for all of that is that the Bible is divinely inspired and totally true.  (c) It follows that the biblical God must exist.

Arguments Against God’s Existence

11. The Anti-creation Argument:  (a) If X creates Y, then X must exist temporally prior to Y.  (b) But there can’t have been a time when there was no time.  (c) Therefore, it is impossible for time to have been created.

(d) Time is an essential component of the universe. (e) Thus, it is impossible for the universe to have been created.  (f) It follows that God, thought of as the creator of the universe, cannot exist.

12. The Transcendent-Personal Argument:  (a) In order for a being to have created the universe, it must have existed outside space and time.  (b) But to be personal implies (among other things) being within space and time.  (c) Therefore, it is impossible for God, thought of as the personal creator of the universe, to exist.

13. The Incoherence-of-Omnipotence Argument:  (a) If God were to exist, then he would be omnipotent (i.e., able to do anything that is logically possible).  (b) But the very idea of such a being is incoherent.  (c) Hence, such a being cannot possibly exist.

14. The Lack-of-evidence Argument:  (a) If God were to exist, then he would have to be deeply involved in the affairs of humanity and there would be good objective evidence of his existence.  (b) But there is no good objective evidence for the existence of God.  (c) Therefore, God does not exist.

15. The Argument from Evil:  (a) If God, thought of as a very powerful, personal being who rules the universe and loves humanity, then there would not occur as much evil (i.e., suffering and premature death) as there does.  (b) But there does occur that much evil.  (c) Therefore, God, thought of in that way does not exist

16. The Argument from Nonbelief:  (a) If God, thought of as a very powerful, personal being who rules the universe,  loves humanity, and who strongly desires that his love for humanity be reciprocated, were to exist, then there would not exist as much nonbelief in the existence of such a being as there does.  (b) But there does exist that much nonbelief.  (c) Therefore, God, thought of in that way, does not exist.

17. Arguments from Incoherence:  (a) In order for X to explain Y, not only must Y be derivable from X, but the derivation needs to be in some way illuminating.  (b) If X is derived from itself, then the derivation is in no way illuminating.  (c) Thus, it is impossible for anything to explain itself.  (d) Hence, the idea of “God,” thought of as a self-explanatory being, is incoherent.  (e) Furthermore, perfection is relative, and so, the concept of “objectively perfect,” as a concept employed in public reasoning, makes no sense.  (f) Hence, the idea of “God,” thought of as a perfect being, is also incoherent.  (g) In addition, the Bible contains descriptions of God that are incoherent (e.g., implying both that Jesus is God and that Jesus is God’s son, that God is spirit or a spirit and that God is love).  (h) Therefore, the biblical idea of “God” is also incoherent.

18. The Argument from Confusion:  (a) If the biblical deity were to exist, then there would not exist so much conflictedness among Christians with regard to important doctrinal issues such as God’s laws and the requirements for salvation.  (b) But there does exist that much.  (Christians disagree widely among themselves on such issues.)  (c) Therefore, the biblical deity does not exist.

19. The Argument from Biblical Defects:  (a) If the biblical deity were to exist, then the Bible would not have such defects as textual errors, interpolations, contradictions, factual errors, false prophecies, and ethical defects.  Also, the canon would have had less political involvement and no original manuscripts or important parts missing.  (b) But the Bible does contain those defects.  (c) Hence, the biblical deity does not exist.

20. The Argument from Human Insignificance:  (a) If God were to exist, then it would be expected that humans occupy some significant place in the universe.  (b) But, both from the standpoint of space (the size of the universe in relation to the size of the earth) and from the standpoint of time (the length of time in which the universe has existed in relation to the length of time in which humans have existed), humans do not occupy any significant place in the universe.  (c) Hence, God probably does not exist.