The Possible and the Actual

I’m sure you’ve heard that old canard, the one that goes “atheists are just as religious as theists because they have faith that gods do not exist!”  Yeah, I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes right now.  Anyhow, I’ve had one theist trying to throw a twist into the whole mess without actually understanding that their twist doesn’t actually mean anything.

See, he’s arguing that gods are “possible” because anything that is not patently impossible is, by definition, possible, in some extreme sense of the word.  Okay, I can buy that.  It isn’t absolutely impossible that there’s a big monster in Loch Ness that nobody has ever been able to produce a shred of objective evidence for, that means that, in the set of extreme possibilities, there could be something there.  But that doesn’t mean that there actually is something there.  Could be and are, those are not synonyms.

I am perfectly happy to admit that a lot of gods that have been described are not patently impossible.  They could exist. We have no evidence for them, we have no rational reason to think that they do, but it is possible that they do and have just been hiding from us.  There are plenty of gods that are patently impossible, they are logically contradictory and simply cannot exist, but for the rest, sure, they could be there.  But theists are not saying that their particular god could exist, they are saying that their particular god *DOES* exist.  They aren’t saying that maybe there’s a god of some sort out there, they are saying that there absolutely is a god, it’s this particular god, and anyone else who believes in any other kind of possible god is simply wrong.

So this isn’t about what is possible and what is impossible, this is about what is real and what is unreal.  Most atheists don’t say that there are no gods for an absolute fact.  All theists say there is a god as an absolute fact.  This whole argument falls apart once people recognize that.  Now that I’ve pointed this fatal flaw in his thinking out, I suspect he’ll just throw around a bunch of insults and run away, never acknowledging that he was wrong because the religious are unable to do that.  Their views are faulty.  Their beliefs are unsupportable.  Their honesty leaves something to be desired.

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