These arguments are quite technical, so these remarks will be cursory. God, if he exists, knowing all and having all power, would only employ those means to his ends that are rational, effective, efficient, and optimal. If God were the creator, then he was the cause of the Big Bang, but cosmological atheists have argued that the singularity that produced the Big Bang and events that unfold thereafter preclude a rational divine agent from achieving particular ends with the Big Bang as the means. The Big Bang would not have been the route God would have chosen to this world as a result.
Stenger , Smith , Everitt Many authors— David Hume , Wesley Salmon , Michael Martin —have argued that a better case can be made for the nonexistence of God from the evidence. Salmon, giving a modern Bayesian version of an argument that begins with Hume, argues that the likelihood that the ordered universe was created by intelligence is very low. In general, instances of biologically or mechanically caused generation without intelligence are far more common than instances of creation from intelligence.
Furthermore, the probability that something that is generated by a biological or mechanical cause will exhibit order is quite high.
The Non-Existence of God
Among those things that are designed, the probability that they exhibit order may be quite high, but that is not the same as asserting that among the things that exhibit order the probability that they were designed is high. Among dogs, the incidence of fur may be high, but it is not true that among furred things the incidence of dogs is high.
Furthermore, intelligent design and careful planning very frequently produces disorder—war, industrial pollution, insecticides, and so on. So we can conclude that the probability that an unspecified entity like the universe , which came into being and exhibits order, was produced by intelligent design is very low and that the empirical evidence indicates that there was no designer.
See the article on Design Arguments for the Existence of God for more details about the history of the argument and standard objections that have motivated atheism. Another recent group of inductive atheistic arguments has focused on widespread nonbelief itself as evidence that atheism is justified. The common thread in these arguments is that something as significant in the universe as God could hardly be overlooked. The ultimate creator of the universe and a being with infinite knowledge, power, and love would not escape our attention, particularly since humans have devoted such staggering amounts of energy to the question for so many centuries.
Perhaps more importantly, a being such as God, if he chose, could certainly make his existence manifest to us. Creating a state of affairs where his existence would be obvious, justified, or reasonable to us, or at least more obvious to more of us than it is currently, would be a trivial matter for an all-powerful being. So since our efforts have not yielded what we would expect to find if there were a God, then the most plausible explanation is that there is no God. There may be reasons, some of which we can describe, others that we do not understand, that God could have for remaining out of sight.
Revealing himself is not something he desires, remaining hidden enables people to freely love, trust and obey him, remaining hidden prevents humans from reacting from improper motives, like fear of punishment, remaining hidden preserves human freewill. The non-belief atheist has not found these speculations convincing for several reasons. Furthermore, attempts to explain why a universe where God exists would look just as we would expect a universe with no God have seemed ad hoc.
Alternately, how can it be unreasonable to not believe in the existence of something that defies all of our attempts to corroborate or discover? God would be able, he would want humans to believe, there is nothing that he would want more, and God would not be irrational. So God would bring it about that people would believe. In general, he could have brought it about that the evidence that people have is far more convincing than what they have.
He could have miraculously appeared to everyone in a fashion that was far more compelling than the miracles stories that we have. It is not the case that all, nearly all, or even a majority of people believe, so there must not be a God of that sort. Schellenberg has developed an argument based upon a number of considerations that lead us to think that if there were a loving God, then we would expect to find some manifestations of him in the world.
If God is all powerful, then there would be nothing restraining him from making his presence known. And if he is omniscient, then surely he would know how to reveal himself. He would wish to spare those that he loves needless trauma. He would not want to give those that he loves false or misleading thoughts about his relationship to them. He would want as much personal interaction with them as possible, but of course, these conditions are not satisfied. So it is strongly indicated that there is no such God. For days and days … the last time when a jaguar comes at you out of nowhere … but with no response.
What should you think in this situation? In your dying moments, what should cross your mind? Would the thought that you have a mother who cares about you and hears your cry and could come to you but chooses not to even make it onto the list? Like Drange, Schellenberg argues that there are many people who are epistemically inculpable in believing that there is no God. That is, many people have carefully considered the evidence available to them, and have actively sought out more in order to determine what is reasonable concerning God.
They have fulfilled all relevant epistemic duties they might have in their inquiry into the question and they have arrived at a justified belief that there is no God. If there were a God, however, evidence sufficient to form a reasonable belief in his existence would be available. So the occurrence of widespread epistemically inculpable nonbelief itself shows that there is no God.
How to Prove that God Doesn’t Exist | Word on Fire
The final family of inductive arguments we will consider involves drawing a positive atheistic conclusion from broad, naturalized grounds. See the article on Naturalism for background about the position and relevant arguments. Comments here will be confined to naturalism as it relates to atheism. Methodological naturalism can be understood as the view that the best or the only way to acquire knowledge within science is by adopting the assumption that all physical phenomena have physical causes. This presumption by itself does not commit one to the view that only physical entities and causes exist, or that all knowledge must be acquired through scientific methods.
Methodological naturalism, therefore, is typically not seen as being in direct conflict with theism or having any particular implications for the existence or non-existence of God. Ontological naturalism, however, is usually seen as taking a stronger view about the existence of God. Ontological naturalism is the additional view that all and only physical entities and causes exist.
Among its theistic critics, there has been a tendency to portray ontological naturalism as a dogmatic ideological commitment that is more the product of a recent intellectual fashion than science or reasoned argument. But two developments have contributed to a broad argument in favor of ontological naturalism as the correct description of what sorts of things exist and are causally efficacious.
First, there is a substantial history of the exploration and rejection of a variety of non-physical causal hypotheses in the history of science. Over the centuries, the possibility that some class of physical events could be caused by a supernatural source, a spiritual source, psychic energy, mental forces, or vital causes have been entertained and found wanting. Second, evidence for the law of the conservation of energy has provided significant support to physical closure, or the view that the natural world is a complete closed system in which physical events have physical causes.
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At the very least, atheists have argued, the ruins of so many supernatural explanations that have been found wanting in the history of science has created an enormous burden of proof that must be met before any claim about the existence of another worldly spiritual being can have credence. Ontological naturalism should not be seen as a dogmatic commitment, its defenders have insisted, but rather as a defeasible hypothesis that is supported by centuries of inquiry into the supernatural. As scientific explanations have expanded to include more details about the workings of natural objects and laws, there has been less and less room or need for invoking God as an explanation.
It is not clear that expansion of scientific knowledge disproves the existence of God in any formal sense any more than it has disproven the existence of fairies, the atheistic naturalist argues. However, physical explanations have increasingly rendered God explanations extraneous and anomalous. In many cases, science has shown that particular ancillary theses of traditional religious doctrine are mistaken.
Blind, petitionary prayer has been investigated and found to have no effect on the health of its recipients, although praying itself may have some positive effects on the person who prayers Benson, Geology, biology, and cosmology have discovered that the Earth formed approximately 3 billion years ago out of cosmic dust, and life evolved gradually over billions of years. Wide, positive atheism, the view that there are no gods whatsoever, might appear to be the most difficult atheistic thesis to defend, but ontological naturalists have responded that the case for no gods is parallel to the case for no elves, pixies, dwarves, fairies, goblins, or other creates.
A decisive proof against every possible supernatural being is not necessary for the conclusion that none of them are real to be justified. The ontological naturalist atheist believes that once we have devoted sufficient investigation into enough particular cases and the general considerations about natural laws, magic, and supernatural entities, it becomes reasonable to conclude that the whole enterprise is an explanatory dead end for figuring out what sort of things there are in the world.
The disagreement between atheists and theists continues on two fronts. Within the arena of science and the natural world, some believers have persisted in arguing that material explanations are inadequate to explain all of the particular events and phenomena that we observe. Some philosophers and scientists have argued that for phenomena like consciousness, human morality, and some instances of biological complexity, explanations in terms of natural or evolutionary theses have not and will not be able to provide us with a complete picture. Therefore, the inference to some supernatural force is warranted.
While some of these attempts have received social and political support, within the scientific community the arguments that causal closure is false and that God as a cause is a superior scientific hypothesis to naturalistic explanations have not received significant support. Science can cite a history of replacing spiritual, supernatural, or divine explanations of phenomena with natural ones from bad weather as the wrath of angry gods to disease as demon possession.
The assumption for many is that there are no substantial reasons to doubt that those areas of the natural world that have not been adequately explained scientifically will be given enough time. Increasingly, with what they perceive as the failure of attempts to justify theism, atheists have moved towards naturalized accounts of religious belief that give causal and evolutionary explanations of the prevalence of belief.
See Atrans, Boyer, Dennett In 20 th century moral theory, a view about the nature of moral value claims arose that has an analogue in discussions of atheism. Moral non-cognitivists have denied that moral utterances should be treated as ordinary propositions that are either true or false and subject to evidential analysis. I want you to share those negative feelings. A non-cognitivist atheist denies that religious utterances are propositions.
They are not the sort of speech act that have a truth value. They are more like emoting, singing, poetry, or cheering. They express personal desires, feelings of subjugation, admiration, humility, and love. As such, they cannot and should not be dealt with by denials or arguments any more than I can argue with you over whether or not a poem moves you.
When I do these things I feel joyful, I want you to feel joyful too. Rather, when people make these sorts of claims, their behavior is best understood as a complicated publicizing of a particular sort of subjective sensations. Strictly speaking, the claims do not mean anything in terms of assertions about what sorts of entities do or do not exist in the world independent of human cognitive and emotional states. The non-cognitivist characterization of many religious speech acts and behaviors has seemed to some to be the most accurate description.
For the most part, atheists appear to be cognitivist atheists. They assume that religious utterances do express propositions that are either true or false. Positive atheists will argue that there are compelling reasons or evidence for concluding that in fact those claims are false. Drange , Diamond and Lizenbury , Nielsen Few would disagree that many religious utterances are non-cognitive such as religious ceremonies, rituals, and liturgies. Non-cognitivists have argued that many believers are confused when their speech acts and behavior slips from being non-cognitive to something resembling cognitive assertions about God.
Insisting that those claims simply have no cognitive content despite the intentions and arguments to the contrary of the speaker is an ineffectual means of addressing them. So non-cognitivism does not appear to completely address belief in God. It appears that even our most abstract, a priori, and deductively certain methods for determining truth are subject to revision in the light of empirical discoveries and theoretical analyses of the principles that underlie those methods.
The prospects for a simple, confined argument for atheism or theism that achieves widespread support or that settles the question are dim. That is because, in part, the prospects for any argument that decisively settles a philosophical question where a great deal seems to be at stake are dim. The existence or non-existence of any non-observable entity in the world is not settled by any single argument or consideration. Every premise will be based upon other concepts and principles that themselves must be justified. So ultimately, the adequacy of atheism as an explanatory hypothesis about what is real will depend upon the overall coherence, internal consistency, empirical confirmation, and explanatory success of a whole worldview within which atheism is only one small part.
The question of whether or not there is a God sprawls onto related issues and positions about biology, physics, metaphysics, explanation, philosophy of science, ethics, philosophy of language, and epistemology. The reasonableness of atheism depends upon the overall adequacy of a whole conceptual and explanatory description of the world. Matt McCormick Email: mccormick csus. Table of Contents What is Atheism? What is Atheism? The Epistemology of Atheism We can divide the justifications for atheism into several categories.
Deductive Atheology Many discussions about the nature and existence of God have either implicitly or explicitly accepted that the concept of God is logically coherent. Single Property Disproofs Deductive disproofs have typically focused on logical inconsistencies to be found either within a single property or between multiple properties. Multiple Property Disproofs Another form of deductive atheological argument attempts to show the logical incompatibility of two or more properties that God is thought to possess.
Blumenfeld , Drange b, Flew , Grim , Kretzmann , and McCormick and The combination of omnipotence and omniscience have received a great deal of attention. Failure of Proof Disproof When attempts to provide evidence or arguments in favor of the existence of something fail, a legitimate and important question is whether anything except the failure of those arguments can be inferred. Inductive Atheology a. The Prospects for Inductive Proof The view that there is no God or gods has been criticized on the grounds that it is not possible to prove a negative.
Below we will consider several groups of influential inductive atheological arguments. Problem of Evil The existence of widespread human and non-human animal suffering has been seen by many to be compelling evidence that a being with all power, all knowledge, and all goodness does not exist. Cosmology Questions about the origins of the universe and cosmology have been the focus for many inductive atheism arguments. We can distinguish four recent views about God and the cosmos: Naturalism: On naturalistic view, the Big Bang occurred approximately Craig The objections to these arguments have been numerous and vigorously argued.
Arguments from Nonbelief Another recent group of inductive atheistic arguments has focused on widespread nonbelief itself as evidence that atheism is justified. Atheistic Naturalism The final family of inductive arguments we will consider involves drawing a positive atheistic conclusion from broad, naturalized grounds.
See Atrans, Boyer, Dennett 5. Cognitivism and Non-Cognitivism In 20 th century moral theory, a view about the nature of moral value claims arose that has an analogue in discussions of atheism. Drange , Diamond and Lizenbury , Nielsen Few would disagree that many religious utterances are non-cognitive such as religious ceremonies, rituals, and liturgies. Future Prospects for Atheism 20 th century developments in epistemology, philosophy of science, logic, and philosophy of language indicate that many of the presumptions that supported old fashioned natural theology and atheology are mistaken.
An evolutionary and anthropological account of religious beliefs and institutions. Amherst, N. An influential anthropological and evolutionary work. Religion exists to sustain important aspects of social psychology. Clifford, W. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. Famously, Clifford argues that it is wrong always and anywhere to believe anything on the basis of insufficient evidence.
Important and influential argument in discussions of atheism and faith. Cowan, J. No being can have the power to do everything that is not self-contradictory. That God has that sort of omnipotence is itself self-contradictory. Craig, William L. Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology.
Twelve years after The Origin of Species, Darwin makes a thorough and compelling case for the evolution of humans. He also expands on numerous details of the theory. Darwin, Charles, No explicit mention of humans is made, but the theological implications are clear for the teleological argument.
Dennett, Daniel, Important work among the so-called New Atheists. Dennett argues that religion can and should be studying by science. Diamond, Malcolm L. A collection of articles addressing the logical coherence of the properties of God.
Drange, Theodore, a. Nonbelief and Evil. Drange gives an argument from evil against the existence of the God of evangelical Christianity, and an argument that the God of evangelical Christianity could and would bring about widespread belief, therefore such a God does not exist. Drange, Theodore, b.
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Drange argues that non-cognitivism is not the best way to understand theistic claims. Everitt, Nicholas, The Non-Existence of God. Everitt considers and rejects significant recent arguments for the existence of God. Offers insightful analyses of ontological, cosmological, teleological, miracle, and pragmatic arguments.
The argument from scale and deductive atheological arguments are of particular interest Findlay, J. Influential early argument. If there is a God, then he will be a necessary being and the ontological argument will succeed. But the ontological argument and our efforts to make it work have not been successful. So there is no God. Drange makes the strategically crucial move of pointing out that the issue of theism vs. Thus, he discusses what he describes as the god of Evangelical Christianity, the god of Liberal Christianity and the god of Orthodox Judaism.
Because of the theological differences between these traditions, he maintains, it is necessary and proper to formulate somewhat different versions of his main arguments. He handles this large task systematically and clearly. However, this book is by no means written only about the opinions of professional philosophers. The main distinction he makes between these two gods is that the god of the people is quite anthropomorphic. He creates the universe by a deliberate act, is closely involved with the universe throughout history, especially with human beings, has emotions and feelings, manifests himself at specific places to particular human beings and so on.
Drange finds a very close similarity between the god of the people, thus described, and the god of the Bible. The god of the philosophers is eternal, nontemporal, immutable, nonspatial, omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good as well as creator and ruler over all. Drange has considerable sympathy with the view of such nontheists as Michael Martin and Kai Nielsen that the concept of the god of the philosophers is deeply problematical, possibly contradictory or incoherent to the point of unintelligibility. He does not so regard the concept of the god of the people.
In particular, he devotes a large share of his attention in this book to the god of evangelical Christianity, a god he considers to be essentially the same as the god of the Bible. However, Drange finds that there is a substantial similarity between the god of the Bible and the god of the philosophers. Thus, he maintains it would be wise for those whose theism aspires to greater sophistication than that of biblical theism to take his criticisms of the latter seriously.
This reviewer would like to point out that both Nielsen and Martin acknowledge more and less sophisticated versions of theism and both admit that the less sophisticated, more anthropomorphic Zeus-like types of theism are coherent and generally intelligible, but may be shown to be false beyond a reasonable doubt. Drange has his own formulation of it, more sophisticated than any of the ancient or modern versions with which I am familiar. Arguments similar to ANB have been advanced, in particular by J. Drange rejects this way of characterizing the problem on the ground that it implies that there is a divine being that is hiding.
By characterizing the problem as one of widespread, long-standing, nonculpable nonbelief, he tries to make it evident that nonbelief is powerful evidence for atheism rather than just a problem for theism. The message went as follows:. Sign In Don't have an account?
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