Author Topic: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments  (Read 2776 times)

The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« on: July 31, 2019, 05:16:05 PM »
I would like to better understand why Atheists logically reject the idea of God.  Explain here why you find the idea of God illogical, and list the most common fallacies used by theists when trying to prove the existence of God. For practical purposes we will assume God as defined by the monotheistic triad of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  However you can specify alternate definitions as it suits you.

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Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2019, 05:55:01 PM »
Many atheists will tell you that they don't believe in God because there is no evidence for the existence of God. But I don't think that's an entirely sufficient reason to claim God doesn't exist. After all, we have no evidence at all that extraterrestrial intelligence exists, either, but many atheists believe that they (ETs) are nevertheless out there, based, I think primarily, on statistical reasons (the universe is just so vast that they must be out there, somewhere).

While there are no physical or logical reasons that aliens cannot exist, there are such reasons where the existence of God is concerned. The type of God believed in by the Judeo/Christian/Islamic religions cannot logically exist. I don't know whether such a being is physically possible or not, but I'm sure that it cannot logically exist, mainly due to incompatible properties arguments.

Here, in order to keep my typing to a minimum (I'm due to be somewhere else in a little while), is a survey of incompatible properties arguments:

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Quote
Atheological arguments (arguments for the nonexistence of God) can be divided into two main groups. One group consists of arguments which aim to show an incompatibility between two of God's properties. Let us call those "incompatible-properties arguments." The other group consists of arguments which aim to show an incompatibility between God's existence and the nature of the world. They may be called "God-vs.-world arguments." A prime example of one of those would be the Evidential Argument from Evil. This paper will only survey arguments in the first group. Arguments in the second group are discussed elsewhere.[1]

These are the attributes ascribed to the theistic God of the Abrahamic religions:

Quote
To generate incompatible-properties arguments, it would be most helpful to have a list of divine attributes. I suggest the following. God is:
(a) perfect                   (g) personal
(b) immutable                 (h) free
(c) transcendent              (i) all-loving
(d) nonphysical               (j) all-just
(e) omniscient                (k) all-merciful
(f) omnipresent               (l) the creator of the universe


Are you comfortable with these attributes? Would you add or subtract any from that list? This will give us a context in which to discuss the God question.


« Last Edit: July 31, 2019, 05:56:35 PM by Unbeliever »
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"An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer."
Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers (1949)

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2019, 06:06:09 PM »
I especially like the Omniscient vs. Free Argument:


Quote
9. The Omniscient-vs.-Free Argument
We now come to a more complicated argument, which pits property (e) against (h). One way of formulating it is presented by Dan Barker.[9] A slightly different version may be formulated as follows:
 
1. If God exists, then he is omniscient.
2. If God exists, then he is free.
3. An omniscient being must know exactly what actions he will and will not do in the future.
4. If one knows that he will do an action, then it is impossible for him not to do it, and if one knows that he will not do an action, then it is impossible for him to do it.
5. Thus, whatever an omniscient being does, he must do, and whatever he does not do, he cannot do (from 3 and 4).
6. To be free requires having options open, which means having the ability to act contrary to the way one actually acts.
7. So, if one is free, then he does not have to do what he actually does, and he is able to do things that he does not actually do (from 6).
8. Hence, it is impossible for an omniscient being to be free (from 5 and 7).
9. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 8).

Some have denied that omniscience entails knowing all about the future. They say that omniscience only entails knowing what there is to know. But the future actions of free persons are open, and not there to be known about. Thus, not even an omniscient being could know about them. This may provide a basis for rejecting premise 3 of the argument.
This sort of objection to 3 can be attacked in many different ways. One way would be to affirm that an omniscient being would indeed need to know all about the future. All propositions about the future are either true or false, and an omniscient being, by definition, must know the truth of any proposition that is in fact true. Furthermore, theists, often following the Bible on this point, commonly attribute unrestricted knowledge of the future to God.[10] Indeed, if God does not know the future actions of any free beings, then there is very little, if any, pertaining to the future about which he can be certain. For no matter what the situation may be, there is always a chance that it will be affected by such actions.
Another way to attack the given objection is to maintain that, even if God does not know about the future actions of other free agents, he must know about his own future actions. One reason for this is that God's actions are all based on perfect justice and immutable law. There is never any caprice in them. His purposes and intentions have remained steadfast from all eternity, so anyone who totally understands God's purposes and intentions, as he himself does, would be able to infallibly predict his actions. It follows that God must know what he himself will and will not do in the future, which would establish the truth of premise 3 if it is taken to refer to God.
Premise 4 is a consequence of the definition of knowledge. If a proposition is known to be true, then it must be true and cannot be false. So, if X knows that Y will do Z, then it is impossible for Y not to do Z. And this is so even where X and Y are the same person.
Premise 6 says that a free agent can do what he doesn't do. That may sound odd at first, but when it is understood correctly, it seems correct. Suppose we identify what Y does as "act Z." Then in order for Y to be free, prior to doing Z, it must have been possible for Y to do Z and it must also have been possible for Y not to do Z. If it were not possible for Y not to do Z, then Y's doing of Z could not be regarded as a free act. Free acts are avoidable. You can't be free if you had to do the thing that you did. This seems intuitively right, though some forms of compatibilism might reject it. It is not a totally settled issue in philosophy. I leave it to the reader to ascertain whether or not premise 6 is correct. If it is, then I think the argument goes through.


If a being cannot logically exist, then it does not, in fact, exist.
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"An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer."
Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers (1949)

Offline Baruch

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2019, 06:17:29 PM »
The logical argument against G-d, is of course the atheist version of Anselm and Aquinas.

As a theist, don't accept logical arguments in regard to G-d, in particular I don't accept Greek idealizations of G-d's qualities.  Which is where the logical argument for or against G-d come from usually.  I am profoundly anti-theology.
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Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2019, 06:22:51 PM »
Oh cool! An anti-theological theist! What a strange critter!
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"An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer."
Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers (1949)

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2019, 07:14:09 PM »
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I would like to better understand why Atheists logically reject the idea of God.  Explain here why you find the idea of God illogical, and list the most common fallacies used by theists when trying to prove the existence of God. For practical purposes we will assume God as defined by the monotheistic triad of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  However you can specify alternate definitions as it suits you.

I don't find the idea of a god being illogical, I find the theist claim that a god exists, to be illogical, and unsupported by evidence.

1. there is insufficient demonstrable and falsifiable evidence to support the claim that a god exists. This position I hold, does not mean that I claim to know, with absolute certainty, that a god does not exist, only that no theist has ever met their burden of proof to convince me.

2. all the philosophical arguments for the existence of a god, have fatal flaws and fallacies.

Let's start with the most used philosophical argument, Kalam cosmological argument.

P1 - Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
P2 - The universe began to exist;
Therefore:
Conclusion - The universe has a cause.

Here are the problems with it.

Unsoundness:

Premise 1 is likely unsound, because virtual particles begin to exist seemingly without a cause. So, not everything that begins to exist has a cause.

Premise 2, is unsound, because it is entirely possible that the universe always existed, in some other form. The big bang does not state that the universe began to exist 13.7 billion years ago, only it began to expand 13.7 billion years ago.

Invalidness:

Premise 1 is using observations within the universe, to make a claim about the entire universe itself. This is known as the "fallacy of composition", which states, that just because something is true of part of something, does not mean it is true of the entire thing. This alone is enough to invalidate the entire argument.

But the argument also contains a fallacy of equivocation, in that it uses 2 different definitions of the term "begins to exist".  In premise 1, the definition is used to describe things we see within the universe beginning to exist from already existing matter and energy; trees, chairs, cars all begin to exist, ex materia.

But theists are not making the claim that a god created the universe ex materia, they are making the claim that a god created the universe ex nihilo, from nothing.

So, the argument can be rewritten like this, to reflect the flaws of what is actually being stated:

P1 - Whatever begins to exist ex materia (from preexisting matter and energy) has a cause;
P2 - The universe began to exist ex nihilo (from nothing);
Therefore:
Conclusion - The universe has a cause.

As I hope you can see, premise 1 and premise 2 are using the term, begins to exist, differently, thereby further invalidating the argument. This means that the argument also contains a category error fallacy.

The argument from design, has equally fatal flaws, which we can also talk about.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2019, 07:26:55 PM by Simon Moon »
And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence - Russell

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2019, 07:17:16 PM »
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The logical argument against G-d, is of course the atheist version of Anselm and Aquinas.

As a theist, don't accept logical arguments in regard to G-d, in particular I don't accept Greek idealizations of G-d's qualities.  Which is where the logical argument for or against G-d come from usually.  I am profoundly anti-theology.

So, what exactly has you convinced that a god exists, if you have eliminated demonstrable evidence, and valid and sound logic?

I really want to know.

And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence - Russell

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2019, 07:23:55 PM »
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Many atheists will tell you that they don't believe in God because there is no evidence for the existence of God. But I don't think that's an entirely sufficient reason to claim God doesn't exist. After all, we have no evidence at all that extraterrestrial intelligence exists, either, but many atheists believe that they (ETs) are nevertheless out there, based, I think primarily, on statistical reasons (the universe is just so vast that they must be out there, somewhere).

While there are no physical or logical reasons that aliens cannot exist, there are such reasons where the existence of God is concerned. The type of God believed in by the Judeo/Christian/Islamic religions cannot logically exist. I don't know whether such a being is physically possible or not, but I'm sure that it cannot logically exist, mainly due to incompatible properties arguments.

Here, in order to keep my typing to a minimum (I'm due to be somewhere else in a little while), is a survey of incompatible properties arguments:

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

These are the attributes ascribed to the theistic God of the Abrahamic religions:


Are you comfortable with these attributes? Would you add or subtract any from that list? This will give us a context in which to discuss the God question.
Thanks, yes those properties are a great starting point for a definition, that I might tweak later based on how you interpret them.

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Offline Hydra009

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2019, 08:35:48 PM »
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For practical purposes we will assume God as defined by the monotheistic triad of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
And that is...what, exactly?  There are almost as many different conceptions of gods as there are theists, and abrahamic believers are no exception.

Offline Baruch

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2019, 10:26:53 PM »
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Oh cool! An anti-theological theist! What a strange critter!

An anti-god theist.  You have no idea what you get bit by, when you blindly put your hand in the serpent hole.  I am a serpent/devil ... but I still have my legs and hands (unlike the sly one in the Garden of Eden).

I don't accept the schizophrenia of separating the good from the bad, and calling the good "god" and the bad "devil".  This is the general case in Hinduism, were they have asuras (gods) and devas (anti-gods).  But it is much more nuanced than Abrahamic religion.  The asuras can do bad things and the devas can do good things. 

Unlike Zoroastrianism, the E Persian simplification of the original Aryan religion, where there is only Ahura Mazda and Ahriman.  All the Abrahamic religions are strongly influenced thru the Persian Empire, hence the black/white POV they take.

Buddhism is yet more nuanced.  Gods are regarded as super-beings, of long but finite lifespan, and in fact it is better to be a human than a god, in terms of achieving nirvana.  Looking at theology, from only a Protestant Fundamentalist POV ... is terribly short sighted.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2019, 10:34:12 PM by Baruch »
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Baruch

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2019, 10:33:23 PM »
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So, what exactly has you convinced that a god exists, if you have eliminated demonstrable evidence, and valid and sound logic?

I really want to know.

I reject logic and reason in this case, as inappropriate tools.  A screwdriver when a saw is needed.  Religion is a part of art, and art comes from the emotions, not the intellect.  Theologians are like useless male tits.  Nothing wrong with science, if you use it properly, in the right circumstances.

So over a long time, my personal experience (which MikeCL correctly says isn't some kind of universal, it is subjective) has developed to this point, in the matter it has.  The result of countless life events small and large.

The story of an individual or even the story of a society, can't be scientifically analyzed.  It can never be objective, because it is always political on the deepest and widest sense.

I apply paint to the canvas, and seeing that, I repeat.  No intellectual analysis is necessary.  Your POV is just Vulcan prejudice against Klingons.  I say ... Kplah!
« Last Edit: July 31, 2019, 10:36:18 PM by Baruch »
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Sal1981

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2019, 10:47:14 PM »
I'm an apostate, I became an atheist after discovering inconsistencies in the Bible. Didn't think to join another religion without good cause, which has never been produced.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" --- Richard P. Feynman

Offline Baruch

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2019, 10:52:36 PM »
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I'm an apostate, I became an atheist after discovering inconsistencies in the Bible. Didn't think to join another religion without good cause, which has never been produced.

But that is the funny thing, if you apostate again, will you join the Christian snake handlers in Arkansas?  Oh, you were thinking of positive reasons for doing something.  That is only half the story.
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Cavebear

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2019, 04:44:08 AM »
I have simpler answers.  10, in fact...

1.  The universe without a deity seems perfectly rational. 
2.  No deity required to start one.
3.  Every deity yet described is unbelievable.
4.  Every deity yet described is stupid.
5.  Every deity yet described is (add your own insult).
6.  The universe doesn't need one.
7.  This is tricky.  If by some bizarre happenstance, there is one, it isn't concerned with us.  This isn't a
"it doesn't love us" thing, more of a Johnny Appleseed thing.  Plant seeds and move along...  I'm adding here to say that my parents were vaguely of that thought.
8.  No evidence of a deity s a BIGGIE.
9.  Theism is a lot like most superstitions, and I'm not superstitious.
10.  The less intelligent you are the more likely you are to believe in a deity...
« Last Edit: August 01, 2019, 08:04:09 AM by Cavebear »
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Sal1981

Re: The Logic of Atheists vs. Theist Arguments
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2019, 07:59:23 AM »
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But that is the funny thing, if you apostate again, will you join the Christian snake handlers in Arkansas?  Oh, you were thinking of positive reasons for doing something.  That is only half the story.
I'm not motivated by theistic beliefs, if that is what you're getting at. And how would I go about "apostate again" from a default (non-) position? I'm thinking you don't grasp what "apostate" means. There is no double-negative to apostate, there is only on/off for that.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" --- Richard P. Feynman

 

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