In another thread
I said the following:
"I feel like at this point I could argue against God's existence better than I could argue for His existence, in spite of me believing that He exists."
To this, GabrieltheCelt responded:
I'd like to "hear" all of these arguments. Why don't you start a separate thread that outlines these arguments? I think it could be helpful for us all.
I've been told that I can proceed with this thread. Now, there are two aspects to my statement that "I feel like at this point I could argue against God's existence better than I could argue for His existence, in spite of me believing that He exists." The first aspect would be the refutation of the many arguments put forth in favor of the existence of God. However, I won't be presenting a refutation of these arguments for the existence of God. We'll see how this thread goes, and if people get something beneficial from it, perhaps another thread can be started for a refutation of those arguments in favor of the existence of God.
The second aspect to my statement would be outlining the dozen or so major arguments against the existence of God. And these arguments are what I will be providing in this thread. So, my goal here is to provide the arguments that some people use in an attempt to demonstrate that God doesn't exist. My main goal will be to outline
, and if necessary clarify
and expand on
, the arguments. So, here they are...1. The Problem of Evil
A form of this argument against God goes all the way back to ancient Greece, with Epicurus supposedly saying: "If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to, then He is not omnipotent. If He is able, but not willing, then He is malevolent. If He is both able and willing, then whence cometh evil? If He is neither able nor willing, then why call Him God?"
The argument relies on certain things that people usually attribute to God, including omnipotence and omnibenevolence. Other attributes, such as omniscience, makes the argument against God because of the problem of evil more complicated, and more difficult to refute. The most important issues at play are the two questions: where does evil come from, and why does God allow it? Most arguments against God that fall under the problem of evil umbrella are some variation of these two questions.
There are, of course, answers that people who believe in God give for the problem of evil, the most common one being free-will. Other potential answers are that God is testing people, that people are ignorant of God's plan, that evil is the natural consequence of the activity of created beings, that we wouldn't appreciate goodness if we could not compare it to evil, and so forth. However, people who use the problem of evil as an evidence against the existence God have their own rebuttals to these ideas. 2. The Omnipotence Paradox
This is another argument that has a lengthy history. The most popular form of this argument goes like this: Can God create a stone so heavy that he can't lift it? If he can, then he isn't omnipotent; likewise, if he can't, he isn't omnipotent. Rebuttals of this argument include saying that the question itself is meaningless, that the question misunderstands the type of omnipotence attributed to God, that the answer is a mystery, etc.3. Poor Design
This argument is also sometimes called "Not the Best of All Possible Worlds". This argument is the opposite of the design argument that is used by people trying to evidence the existence of God. What is at issue is how well the universe, or the world, or humans, seem to be designed. The argument is basically that things are designed so poorly and strangely that it is unlikely that a God created the universe.
An example of this argument might be seen in the words of Charles Darwin about what he observed in the world: "I had no intention to write atheistically, but I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars or that a cat should play with mice."
The rebuttal to this argument is sometimes just the articulation of the design argument, or usage of the fine-tuned argument. And there are, of course, more religious answers, such as that the ways of God are mysterious, or that we don't know his plans and therefore can't judge God in this matter.4. The Unpersuasiveness of God
This argument is essentially that, if there was a God--the type which Christians speak about, anyway--then he would have done a better job in convincing people of his existence. The fact that hundreds of millions of sincere people do not believe in God demonstrates that God either did a very poor job, or (as is more likely) that there is no God trying to communicate with humanity to begin with. Or, put another way: surely if a God truly wanted people to follow or worship him, he would be able to get his message across more effectively.
The answers to this argument are largely similar to those already mentioned: God doesn't want to violate our free will by giving overwhelming evidence, we don't know the mind or purposes of God, God is mysterious, etc.5. Naturalistic Explanations are Superior
This argument, usually based somewhat on occam's razor, says that naturalistic explanations are to be preferred to arguments which assume a supernatural God. This is not only an argument against God, but many non-believers take it as a general principle for their entire world view when it comes to all
arguments about the existence of God. In other words, many non-believers don't believe you have to prove or even strongly evidence that God doesn't exist, you just have to provide a naturalistic alternative to the supernaturalistic explanation.
Obviously Christians and other God-believers do not find such an argument (or principle) persuasive. Just because there is a potential naturalistic explanation, that doesn't make it superior by default. Indeed, it might be an explanation that has a lot of holes in it, and is accepted by the naturalist just because he or she doesn't want to accept the supernaturalistic explanation.6. Russell's Teapot
This is a now fairly famous argument put forth by Betrand Russell, which he put like this:
"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time."
Various forms or variations of this are commonly given by people arguing against the existence of God, or against the position taken up that agnosticism is a valid position to hold to since we can't know for sure. So, sometimes you hear something such as this: I can't prove that a teapot isn't orbiting the sun, or that there aren't fairies or magical leprechauns, but my inability to disprove those things doesn't mean that it is valid to believe in them.
I suppose there are a number of ways you could refute this, with perhaps the simplest way being to say that the argument isn't really relevant since there is
evidence for God. Thus it's unfair to compare God with a teapot, or fairies, or leprechauns.7. All Gods Fall
This argument essentially states that since the overwhelming majority if Gods in the history of mankind are no longer honored or worshipped, we should expect that the same thing will eventually happen to Gods that are honored or worshipped in the present day. The response to this argument should be rather obvious, as this argument in no way demonstrates that the God of Christianity, for example, will fall. It might be said that this argument against God amounts to little more than wishful thinking.8. God Needs Nothing
This argument says that a perfect God would not need anything, including the need to create, the need to have relationships with other beings, and so forth. Thus, the God Needs Nothing argument would say that the Christian view of God is self-refuting, because some beliefs about this God are contradicted by other beliefs. Religious responses to this would usually follow along the same lines as previously mentioned responses: God is mysterious, we can't judge or know the mind of God, we can't know God in his essence, etc.9. Man and God Comprehension Gulf
This argument states that man and God would be so different from each other, that there is no way that there could be any communication. Usually people who use this argument will try to show that the God of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam concedes in at least some beliefs that this is the truth, but contradicts itself by also saying that God nonetheless communicates with mankind. Again, responses will be along the lines of us not knowing the mind of God, not knowing how God works, etc.
There are other issues, such as the problem of hell, inconsistent revelations, the argument against God because of free will, etc., but I think the above sampling should suffice. I should note that, speaking for myself, I only consider some of these arguments to be substantive, while others I consider to be quite weak. Also, I consider the weakness of the arguments for the existence of God to be of more importance than the arguments against the existence of God. Though I don't think you can either prove or disprove the existence of God.