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Greta Christina

Adam: That's what we call "the argument from authority," combined with "the arugment from popularity." "Some other famous or important people think X, therefore X must be true." It's a terrible argument. There are lots of reasons people believe in God, from cognitive errors to wishful thinking. The fact that some people believe is not an argument for why those beliefs are true. I'd be interested in seeing some actual arguments for why God is real and/or the Bible is a trustworthy source of information -- but "some other people believe it" isn't one of them.

(And even if that were a good argument, it actually goes against the case for God. Rates of non-belief are going up at a dramatic rate, all over the US and all over the world. Including among many smart people, and many former believers and theologians. Using your logic: Why would that be true, if religion were plausible?)

Kodanshi

Greta, this marks the first time I have read your blog and I absolutely love your thoughtful and intelligent, clearly–detailed posts. I must say you’ve given a fabulous and convincing list there.

I would like to add a few points to the whole ‘theists must prove god exists’. I don’t believe they need only do that. They also need to show that their particular brand of deity exists (I come from a muslim background, so would need convincing that the god shown to exist does or does not match allâh). In addition, they need to show why we must worship god. Why can I not simply acknowledge god’s existence intellectually and then go on living my life as I normally do?

Blondin
I'm sure you know the names of many of them without needing to see a list.

I wouldn't mind seeing a list...

John Prichard4

How would you catagorize things such as ESP, remote viewing or the near death experiences? I believe that not all hunches are correct but would not put that in the same catagory as true intuition. There were some very compelling studies done on remote viewing by Berkley University years ago that found a select group of people DO exhibit amazing abilities not to mention the occasional usage by police orginizations to find clues to missing people. I'm not trying to make an arguement for spiritualism or any religion or higher power. I simply think there are things about the human experience that can't be explained nor discounted as irrational. Haven't you ever said to yourself " Damnit, I knew I shouldn't have done that"? or felt someone staring at you? Your thoughts?

DMG

I have a problem with the cosmological argument advanced by Eric R.

Firstly, the property of "self-existence" could just as easily be a property of the universe itself. Since it already exists, we have no evidence as to whether it began to do so via an external cause or through its own innate property of "self-existence". Viewed this way, it's no greater a leap to suggest that the universe is "Brute Fact" than to suggest an external cause - they both postulate an unobserved (indeed, unobservable) property of self-existence. The argument is at best neutral with respect to the "supranatural".

The second and deeper problem I have with this argument is one of relevance to the question of God. Regardless of what this item with property P might be, there is nothing in the argument that suggests it should have any of the properties associated with God, such as consciousness, intent, design, omniscience, omnipotence, judgement, receptiveness to prayer or tribute, existence and intervention in present times, etc.

To put this another way, let's say I've lost my key to my garage. Because I can't get into my garage to look, I can't verify what might be inside. Shall I then claim that I am on equal rational footing to say that unicorns do or don't exist, because there's something in my garage I can't observe, which could thus be a unicorn?

That is the missing link in the cosmological argument. If you are using the argument solely to demonstrate the existence of something currently unknown to science, it (sort of) works. But as soon as you try to claim that this unknown is evidence for any particular class of entity (such as something a theist would worship), you are no longer on solid ground.

OSU_Matthew

Yet another riveting and well thought out deliberation, Greta. I always thoroughly enjoy reading your works as everything you write is so wonderfully clear and concise. I have no doubt I will be referring to this article in the near future.

I guess my one specific qualm, if I may, is the argument that religion is inherited. While that is certainly the case for many people, I personally know just as many (myself included) who have been raised in a fundamental protestant church and never for a minute have believed the heap of lies, contradictions, and thinly veiled hypocrisy that characterizes the church (in my personal observations).

Perhaps that is an argument for the religious gene though?

tjallen

Nothing to add except "Thanks!"

Dick Weed

God is as real as you believe him to be.

Tom

Brilliant piece, but the most astonishingly brilliant part comes at the very end, "in the absence of any genuinely good, solid evidence or arguments in favor of God's existence -- I am going to continue to hold the null hypothesis of atheism: that God almost certainly does not exist. In all my years of being an atheist and a scientist, this elegantly simple explanation just never occurred to me, at least not as overtly as you've put it. Of course! Atheism is simply the hull hypothesis that god does not exist! Thank you for putting the entire argument so succinctly. I look forward to quoting you the next time I find myself engaging with one of my "enlightened" believer friends in that circular argument, in which I am admonished to produce the "proof" that god does NOT exist!...thank you for your excellent writing!

Dawn

I stumbled upon your blog because I was wondering what hedonist thought about dieting. I like pleasure and I don't like the pain of dieting so I thought I would research and see what I found. I enjoyed your thoughts on exercise and eating healthy and then stumbled on these 2 posts and the plethora of comments.

I am a follower of Christ. I was raised in a house where reason and logic were highly praised and I am very analytical by nature.

I was not instilled with any particular belief as a young person. I basically tried to live a good life treating others well and assumed that if there was a God or a heaven he wouldn't punish me for that.

The problem was I was never satisfied. There was never enough of friends, marriage, hobbies, career, fun, partying, etc. to make me feel that I was full or purposeful.

It didn't help that my son started asking me questions that I couldn't answer about God, heaven, creation around us - because I didn't know.

I started searching for my own answers and realized that there was a "soul" inside of me. Something separate from my body. I guess I just came to believe that inspiration, morality, creativity and those other intangibles like love are "super" natural. They are not in the physical world and I don't believe they are merely chemical process either.

My story is mine because I believe God is real and that he is knowable and He made himself known to me. I have experienced him working in my life and I have experienced the truth of the scriptures to work in my life.

My evidence is me. I am different, I am changed, I am better because I allowed God to have his proper place in my life.

Things are not perfect, but I have more joy, peace and contentment than I did before.

I still have bills, I still have hormonal issues, I am still witchy to my husband sometimes.

But, I am a better person than I used to be and I have hope, a hope that saved me.

I think it is good that you do not accept what "man" says is true. It has to be a personal meet up with God that convinces you - and I pray that you have it and that you love it.

I have also enjoyed reading some of the intelligent individuals who set out to prove Christianity wrong who then proved to themselves that it was the way after all. Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel are the first 2 that come to mind.

Just my two cents :)

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