Arguments against the existence of god

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Arguments against the existence of god



God claims

There are an infinite possible number of gods. Over a thousand different denominations of Christianity alone, all with their different beliefs on who or what god is. Surely it would be impossible to rule them all out. However if we zero in and examine a theistic claim about a specific god's nature or character, we can draw certain conclusions based on what we've learned about the world through the systematic observations and testing of reality known as science. Despite the theistic assertions that god cannot be caged by science, these specific claims made by the theist can be assessed. As our understanding of the world has increased through science, the gaps that god is able to inhabit have gotten smaller and smaller. With every additional piece of information we learn about the world, the more the constraints tighten on what a god could have or can do. This is perhaps best stated in Stephen Hawking's a brief history of time.

Stephen Hawking in A brief history of time c.1988

"One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could still imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang, or even afterward in just such a way as to make it look as though there had been a big bang, but it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!"

With our current understanding of our place in the world through biology and astrophysics, we are able to make assessments about certain aspects or claims of god. We have mountains of empirical evidence that life is a result of evolution, not specific intentional creation by an omnipotent being as depicted in genesis. We have mathematical evidence that the Noah's ark could not have stayed afloat during a rainstorm of such capacity that earth's highest peaks were submerged. We have historical evidence that the Israelites were never enslaved by the Egyptians as depicted in Exodus. As it currently stands, our understanding of the universe places the necessity and likelihood of a god or gods, to be on about the same footing as that of the tooth fairy.

Aren’t universal negatives impossible to prove?

It is usually assumed that universal negatives cannot be proven. Indeed that is the main complaint heard about strong atheism: that it cannot by definition be proven, because it is a universal negative. Usually this is associated with a pretense of omniscience. The argument is that to say that something does not exist, one needs basically to “look” everywhere, thus be omniscient.

But on the other hand, we know that no contradiction can exist, because of the laws of logic. But we can make up contradictory entities. For example, the expression “married bachelor”. A bachelor by definition cannot be married, therefore the expression is contradictory. When the term being used is contradictory, the universal negative is true automatically, like “There is no married bachelor”.

All that is needed to prove such a negative is to show that the concept in question is meaningless or contradictory. For example, an argument often used against the existence of hypothetical gods is the Argument from Evil, which demonstrates that a God that is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent is inconsistent with the state of our universe.

It is therefore basically a fallacy to say that universal negatives cannot be proven. Under the specific condition of logical contradiction, universal negatives can be proven.

See also

v · d Arguments against the existence of god
Existential arguments   Argument from nonbelief · Who created God? · Turtles all the way down · Problem of non-God objects · Argument from incompatible attributes · No-reason argument · Santa Claus argument · Can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it? · Outsider test
Arguments from the Bible   Failed Prophecy · Biblical contradictions
Evidentiary arguments   Attributes of God · Inefficacy of prayer
Reasonableness arguments   Occam's Razor · Outsider test · Argument from locality · Argument from inconsistent revelations
Other arguments   Emotional pleas
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