Common Arguments Made By Religious People – Refuted

December 7th, 2010 | Categories: Deep Thoughts, Interesting | Tags: , , , , , ,

A religious person might say:

The Bible God is real. Nope, the Bible is factually incorrect, inconsistent and contradictory. It was put together by a bunch of men in antiquity. The story of Jesus was stolen from other mythologies and texts and many of his supposed teachings existed prior to his time. The motivation for belief in Jesus breaks down when you accept evolution.

Miracles prove god exists. Miracles have not been demonstrated to occur, and the existence of a miracle would pose logical problems for belief in a god which can supposedly see the future and began the universe with a set of predefined laws. Why won’t god heal amputees? “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – Carl Sagan

God is goodness (morality). ‘Good’ is a cultural concept with a basis in evolutionary psychology and game theory. Species whose members were predisposed to work together were more likely to survive and pass on their genes. The god of the Bible is a misogynistic tyrant who regularly rapes women and kills children just for the fun of it. The moment you disagree with a single instruction of the Bible (such as the command to kill any bride who is not a virgin, or any child who disrespects his parents) then you acknowledge that there exists a superior standard by which to judge moral action, and there is no need to rely on a bunch of primitive, ancient, barbaric fairy tales. Also, the Euthyphro dilemma, Epicurus Trilemma and Problem of Evil.

Lots of people believe in God. Argumentum ad populum. All cultures have religions, and for the most part they are inconsistent and mutually exclusive. They can’t all be right, and religions generally break down by culture/region. “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours”.

God caused the universe. First Cause Argument, also known as the Cosmological Argument. Who created god? Why is it your god?. Carl Sagan on the topic. BBC Horizon – What happened before the big bang?

God answers prayers. So does a milk jug. The only thing worse than sitting idle as someone suffers is to do absolutely nothing yet think you’re actually helping. In other words, praying.

I feel a personal relationship with god. A result of your naturally evolved neurology, made hypersensitive to purpose (an ‘unseen actor’) because of the large social groups humans have. BBC Doco, PBS Doco.

People who believe in god are happier. So? The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. Atheism is correlated with better science education, higher intelligence, lower poverty rates, higher literacy rates, higher average incomes, lower divorce rates, lower teen pregnancy rates, lower STD infection rates, lower crime rates and lower homicide rates. Atheists can be spiritual.

The world is beautiful. Human beauty is physical attractiveness, it helps us choose a healthy partner with whom to reproduce. Abstract beauty, like art or pictures of space, are an artefact of culture and the way our brain interprets shapes, sounds and colour. [Video]

Smart person believes in god or ‘You are not qualified’ Ad hominem + Argument from Authority. Flying pink unicorns exist. You’re not an expert in them, so you can’t say they don’t.

The universe is fine tuned. Of course it seems fine tuned to us, we evolved in it. We cannot prove that some other form of life is or isn’t feasible with a different set of constants. Anyone who insists that our form of life is the only one conceivable is making a claim based on no evidence and no theory. Also, the Copernican principle.

Love exists. Oxytocin. Affection, empathy and peer bonding increase social cohesion and lead to higher survival chances for offspring.

God is the universe/love/laws of physics. We already have names for these things.

Science can’t explain X. It probably can, have you read and understood peer reviewed information on the topic? Keep in mind, science only gives us a best fit model from which we can make predictions. If it really can’t yet, then consider this: God the gaps.

Atheists should prove god doesn’t exist. Russell’s teapot.

Atheism is a belief/religion. Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color, or not collecting stamps a hobby. Atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods, nothing more. It is an expression of being unconvinced by the evidence provided by theists for the claims they make. Atheism is not a claim to knowledge. Atheists may subscribe to additional ideologies and belief systems. Watch this.

I don’t want to go to hell. Pascal’s Wager “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” — Anonymous and “We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.” – Gene Roddenberry

I want to believe in God. What you desire the world to be doesn’t change what it really is. The primary role of traditional religion is deathist rationalisation, that is, rationalising the tragedy of death as a good thing. “Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements – the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life – weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be today.” – Lawrence Krauss

Believers are persecuted. Believers claim the victim and imply that non-theists gang up on them, or rally against them. No, we just look at you the same way we look at someone who claims the earth is flat, or that the Earth is the center of the universe: delusional. When Atheists aren’t considered the least trustworthy group and comprise more than 70% of the population, then we’ll talk about persecution.

Why can’t atheists just leave us alone?

  1. Because Christianity and by extension Religion have been, and continue to be, responsible for countless horrors throughout humanity history.
  2. For all the problems we face as a society, many theists choose not only to do nothing to help, but actually engage in sabotage by actively preventing solutions from being instigated, usually by supporting irrational political positions.
  3. Because as a functional member of society it benefits everyone if your decision making process is founded on evidence and reason, not superstition. Faith isn’t a virtue; it is the glorification of voluntary ignorance.

Militant atheists are just as bad as religious ones. No, we’re not. An atheist could only be militant in that they fiercely defend reason. That being said, atheism does not preclude one from being a dick, we just prefer that over killing one another. A militant atheist will debate in a University theatre, a militant Christian will kill abortion doctors and convince children they are flawed and worthless.

Complexity/Order suggests god exists. The Teleological argument is non sequitur. Complexity does not imply design and does not prove the existence of a god. See BBC Horizon – The Secret Life of Chaos for an introduction to how complexity and order arise naturally.

Where is god? Why is it now that we have rational inquiry that we hear only a deafening silence from a god who once regularly engaged in human affairs? Why does god not simply speak to us or appear before us as he supposedly used to? Why are we the losers in the dice roll of time? If god places such a high value on us worshipping and believing in him then why not simply make his existence obvious to us?

The Logical problem of Jesus. If Jesus is God then presumably he is omnipotent. If this is true, then when he allowed himself to be sacrificed, didn’t he do this with the knowledge that he was immortal? If so, then how exactly was it a sacrifice for him? What did he sacrifice?

Biblical Jesus was wholly good and moral. Assuming the figure even existed, this position is incorrect. “There’s no hell mentioned in the Old Testament. The punishment of the dead is not specified there. It’s only with gentle Jesus, meek and mild, that the idea of eternal torture for minor transgressions is introduced.” – Christopher Hitchens

Atheism leads to a worse society. Atheism is correlated with better science education, lower poverty rates, higher literacy rates, higher average incomes, lower divorce rates, lower teen pregnancy rates, lower STD infection rates, lower crime rates and lower homicide rates. Atheists also have the highest reading/writing proficiency on average. Irreligion by Country, Democracy Index, Education Index, Economic freedom, Overall Human Development. Atheism is correlated with higher intelligence: Source 1 Source 2 Source 3 Source 4 Source 5 Source 6 Source 7.

Atheism inspired Nazism/Communism/Social Darwinism. These ideologies are as atheistic as Democracy.

I want to go to heaven. (Argument from wishful thinking). “I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.” – Carl Sagan

God gives life meaning/purpose. ‘Meaning’ and ‘Purpose’ are purely human cultural concepts. They are made no less important to an individual by not believing in a god. Life’s purpose is what you make of it. Naturalism would dictate that one’s purpose is to ‘foster an environment in which a species can survive, either by passing on genes or memes’. Humanism suggests that it is to ‘promote human flourishing’. Postmodernism suggests: ‘To create complex structures and interactions with purpose of joy and understanding’. Perspective is important, we carry within each of us a genetic heritage, unbroken, stretching back 4 billion years.

“If God is the Potter, who are we to say what he does with his clay?” Why would a perfect potter create an imperfect mold, order it to be perfect and then judge it based on the imperfections he gave it?

“Some would ask, how could a perfect God create a universe filled with so much that is evil. They have missed a greater conundrum: why would a perfect God create a universe at all?” – Sister Miriam Godwinson, Alpha Centauri 2239

  1. December 7th, 2010 at 01:17
    Reply | Quote | #1

    I think my “Oxytocin” levels just increased.

  2. Ben Finney
    December 7th, 2010 at 18:42
    Reply | Quote | #2

    That’s a pretty concise collection: comprehensive yet snappy.

    Who will be the first to turn it into a convenient pamphlet to carry as a reference, or an application for our pocket computer?

  3. Peter
    December 29th, 2013 at 04:42
    Reply | Quote | #3

    I do like the logical problem of Jesus argument……..mental note to self to drag that one out when required.