Arguments for the existence of god
As long as there has been two or more people with differing religious views, there has been proselytism. This of course presents a problem; as religion is based on faith rather than evidence, logic, or reason, how does one go about convincing other people that their religion is the correct one? After all, if its based on faith and not reason, your faith is by definition really no more a reasonable position than anyone else's. If you don't like what the church is doing, just form your own. You don't need evidence, just faith. As a result of this complete lack of evidence on what the true faith apparently is, there are over 1,000 denominations of Christianity alone, and no empirical reason to believe any of them.
Over the years, attempts to convert people to a particular faith has taken many different forms, most of them involving brute force and threats of violence - Convert or suffer the wrath of god's chosen people! This was fine up until about the end of the Dark Ages, with the adage that-
- "Creationism lost its best argument when the catholic church stopped burning people at the stake"
After the enlightenment, the church started to have serious problems justifying their position. As science expanded our view of the world, God had fewer and fewer places to hide. Coupled with the fact that it was now considered slightly uncouth to simply torture and burn alive those that disagreed with you, the church and its parishioners now had to work very hard to justify their positions of belief, and harder still to convert others. Thus apologetics was born.
In a nutshell, apologetics is the discipline of attempting to justify a theological position through evidence, philosophy, science, metaphysics, and history. However when these apologetics arguments are actually reviewed under scrutiny, we find they rely on:
- evidence so incredibly poor that even the apologists using it wouldn't accept such evidence as proof of anything in any other argument than for that of their personal god,
- horrific straw man representations of true scientific theories
- convoluted metaphysics that ultimately have no real world underpinning
- and the distortion of historically documented events and evidence to the point of holocaust denial.
There are many conflicting arguments attempting to support the existence of many conflicting gods. They can't all be correct, however they can all be wrong. Indeed, every "argument" presented for God thus far has one or more problems with validity or soundness.
It is important when engaging in an argument with a theist, that all the required concepts involved in the argument are clearly defined. Particularly the definition of God. Having clearly defined definitions prevents the theist from moving the goalposts mid-argument, or even more frustratingly getting to the end of the argument and then having the theists say “but that's not my god” or "that's not in my Bible".
Purpose of the argument
It is also important to make sure that the theist is worth arguing with. What is the purpose of the argument?
For instance, if you ask the theist to make their best, most persuasive argument, that supports their belief in God. You may then ask, “This being your best argument for belief, if I can prove this argument is logically flawed, does that mean you will concede that god does not exist?”
If the theist flatly responds with “No, I would still believe in God”, you should ask yourself is it really worth continuing the exchange?
In truth, one of 2 things will be the case almost every time (and I say almost only to give the benefit of the doubt): that a theist will not concede that there is no god no matter whether his argument is disproved or not, or that the theist will not concede that the argument is disproved no matter what evidence is presented. If by entering into this kind of discussion you are hoping for an "aha" moment from your rival, you will be sorely disappointed.
Most common theistic arguments
Favourites of professional apologists