Where All Theist Arguments Fail

EpicFailThis is something I’d love to debate a theist on, but I know that I could never find one who would even understand the argument, much less be able to find a way around it.  In essence, my complaint is this.  Theists are happy to explain to people what their gods are like, what they can do, how they think and what they want.  Amazingly, those holy wishes and desires almost always coincide with the wishes and desires of the theist themselves.  However, I question how they actually know what the real characteristics and opinions of their deity really are.  After all, they have yet to be able to demonstrate a shred of objective evidence that these imaginary friends in the sky actually exist at all, much less that they’ve sufficiently studied them to find out what they’re really like.  So when a Christian, for instance, tells you that their God is all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing, how the hell do they know?

Ah, but many of them will claim that it say so in their book.  Okay, how did the people who wrote the book know?  Where did they get their information?  They can’t claim divine inspiration because they can’t prove it, any more than I can claim that I know what the Invisible Pink Unicorn desires because some leprechauns divinely inspired me.  That’s an inherently nonsensical claim.  The Bible is an book written by many anonymous authors and nobody can prove who any of them actually were, much less that they had this magical voice in their head whispering amazing facts from the beyond.

What this all comes down to are arbitrarily assigned characteristics to an entity for which there is no evidence and a bunch of irrational arm waving and ad hoc justifications and blind faith.  The fact is, I can do everything that they do off the top of my head and have it make as much sense.  I can pick a book at random, select a character and arbitrarily assign whatever characteristics, motivations and desires that I wish to the character, without having to ever prove that these traits actually apply.  In fact, in a recent discussion, I did exactly that for Harry Potter, just made up some points of view that I claimed Harry had and therefore, my views toward Harry Potter were exactly as valid as the theist’s views toward God.  I got cussed out and the theist stomped away, pissed off, which indicates to me just how close to home I came.

This goes back to my 30-second debate idea.  The reality is that in religious debates we’re just discussing unjustified claims about God, not actual, demonstrable characteristics of God.  Take the Problem from Evil. It’s a classical philosophical question that seeks to argue that God cannot exist because God’s nature is not compatible with evil in the world.  Says who?  Who says that God actually is omni-benevolent and omnipotent? How do they know this is actually the case?  Without the evidence that such a claim is actually true, the entire argument becomes incoherent.  It’s like arguing over the dietary requirements of magical fairies.  No reasonable claim can be made because there’s no such fairies available to be studied.  It makes all debates based on the characteristics that have been assigned to God entirely theoretical and mental masturbation.  It’s like debating the merits of having a talking dog like Scooby Doo, a complete waste of time.  Why bother?

Besides, it isn’t like the theist can’t just make up anything they want about the nature of God.  There are more than 38,000 sects of Christianity alone, each and every one of them thinks of God a little differently.  Which ones are true and which ones are false and how do we demonstrably tell the difference?  We can’t because all of them are just applying their own emotionally-derived standards on their wishful deity, none are more right or wrong than any other because there’s no reason to think that their God is real at all.  Faith, especially blind faith, is not a virtue.  It is not something to be proud of.  It is something to be laughed at and when that’s all the theist has, their arguments are simply not worth taking seriously, any more than a real-world Jedi’s position on the Force.  This isn’t going to make the theist happy but I’m firmly convinced that we ought to stop wasting our time debating philosophical nonsense and tell theists to come back when they can actually provide something demonstrably real to debate.  The question of the day needs to be “how do you know?”

It’s too bad they have no credible answer.

3 thoughts on “Where All Theist Arguments Fail”

  1. This post reminds me of the several times I heard Mormons say, in effect, "I'm a Mormon because I like it that they believe 'families can be forever' [and other feel-good beliefs] in the next life." Believing something because the Mormons likes the thought of it, rather than that there is evidence for the belief, seems like a major form of self-delusion.

  2. I think the problem of evil illustrates just what you are saying, which is that just because theists can make up a story (for example, god is all-benevolent) that doesn't prove that their particular god exists. When I use the problem of evil argument, I try to make it clear that my argument is not to show that god is evil (because I believe god is imaginary) but to show that my story is just as plausible as the theist's argument that god is good. So, how to we then know that the theist god is any more likely to exist than my nonexistent evil god.

  3. Yes Daniel, your evil god is just as probable as a good god. In fact, the Problem of Evil argument does not actually rule out the existence of God; only a God that is good. As you point out Daniel, we could just as easily argue that God is evil. This of course would account for evil. But then you are stuck with the Problem of Good. An evil god would be inconsistent with the presence of good. And now we are stuck in a supernatural loop. Better to just chuck the whole idea of God and move on with our lives.

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