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What are the strongest arguments the religious can make against atheism and/or for theism?(r/TrueAtheism)
You’re right in that those are the “big ones.”
They’re all laughably weak, too. It boggles my mind to realize that the people who came up with these “proofs” were famous and well-respected, often because of the “proof” they conjectured. Lots of these are ‘reposts,’ too, totally recycled from other statements, repackaged, and represented as though they’re more proof.
- Unmoved Mover (www.reddit.com/r/atheism/faq#FirstCause)
- First Cause (which is the same as #1)
- Contingency (which is the same as #1 and #2)
- Degree (which is essentially “Imagine the best invisible unicorn you can imagine; the best one would exist; therefore the best invisible unicorn exists)
- Teleological (The universe has rules, therefore God; see “anthropic principle” below)
- Same as Degree above; start imagining those best unicorns, and BAM
- Essentially the same as Teleological above, but specific to “morality,” which is a description of evolved behaviors in a social animal. This becomes obvious when you start to identify what behaviors are moral and what behaviors are immoral: the closer to the line between those two you get, the fuzzier that line gets. But far away from the line, it’s quite obvious where a behavior should be classified. Also, we higher primates seem to have the same kind of behaviors as other higher primates, and completely different behaviors from, say, spiders. Behavior is evolved.
- Very similar to Teleological above, but specific to “stuff” rather than “the rules stuff abides by.” It’s basically, “I observe a statistically zero fraction of stuff, and I perceive that stuff to have been designed, so it must have been designed by a mind which is curiously similar to the mind I possess (except ‘better’). And of course, the best kind of imagined thing is one that exists, so it must also exist.” (Seriously, wat.)
- “Better to believe in God and not risk eternal punishment.” This presumes that we know which god, that that god judges people for an eternal afterlife of harmony or suffering, and that we know by what metric that god will cast judgment. This is paper fucking thin.
Plurality of beliefs (not finding a specific link here, so I’ll try to address directly):
- “Atheism is just a belief like everything else.” Well, no, it’s not, unless disbelief in Russell’s Teapot is a belief. It’s really a kind of semantic and philosophical hair-splitting. When someone says “I don’t believe in god,” in a colloquial shorthand kind of way, they usually don’t mean “I assert that zero gods exist, and I know it with absolute philosophical certainty.” — but that’s what atheists are accused of, and the people making the accusations stubbornly refuse to comprehend the difference between making an assertion and not making an assertion. Some people will take this argument all the way down to “how can we be certain of any knowledge at all?” and then fuck that up with “therefore anything may or may not be true” (which doesn’t fucking follow, but it happens). That applies to theist beliefs, as well, but nobody ever seems to care about that. And if everything is wiggly uncertainty, why the fuck are we even having this conversation?
Another way to address this is that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” I don’t believe in god occupies the same linguistic and philosophical space as I don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy, but nobody ever gets up in your shit saying that you’re asserting that zero Tooth Fairies exist, and you know for absolutely certain.
This is an important concept to get your head around, and it’s among the trickier ones. An easy start to it is to consider the puddle that Douglas Adams related, the puddle which says “Look at this hole I’m in, it’s shaped exactly like me! It must have been specially designed just for me!”
Well … no. That’s obviously not how puddles work, and it’s not how universes work, either. The stuff of the universe, including us and our minds, is here because the environment gave rise to it, the same way the shape of a depression in a parking lot gives rise to the shape of a puddle in the rain. The Teleological argument, though, addresses the hole part, why is there a hole?
I highly recommend watching and then definitely reading A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence Krauss. What I took away from the book is that, at the very bottom, there can’t be nothing. Or rather, that there isn’t actually a distinction between “nothing” and “something.”
Back to the puddle. Krauss describes that there’s something in the range of 10^500 “possible universes.” That’s a lot of fucking universes. We live in one that gives rise to us. We’re the puddle.