Angry Atheists? chapter 9: Arguments for the existence of God I: There are no good arguments for the existence of God

I’m in the process of turning several recent blog posts into another chapter of The Book. The chapter is titled, simply, “There are no good arguments for the existence of God.” It’s only about half-finished, but I’m very eager for feedback on how the parts (which were generally well-received here) are fitting together into a whole.

Notes on Robert Fogel’s Without Consent or Contract
Why do Christian philosophers of religion believe?
My debate with Randal Rauser is out!
Why I’ve decided to start deleting jerky comments more often
  • Switchhttr

    I have a problem with the last bit:

    “To assume that Christianity wins if any of the points of van Inwagen’s ‘Enlightenment Creed’ is another example of privileging the hypothesis. ”

    Um, if any of those points do what? If they are proven to be true? If they cannot be refuted? If they stand up to scrutiny?
    Sorry, but it strikes me as a sentence fragment.

    • Chris Hallquist

      That should have been “To assume that Christianity wins if any of the points of van Inwagen’s
      “Enlightenment Creed” are knocked down is another example of privileging the hypothesis.” Fix’d!

  • Dantalion

    Apologetics are not really written to convince skeptics. They are written to reassure believers that their beliefs are consistent with reason and that skeptics are misguided. The job of the christian apologist is not to defend the credibility of christianity but to create an atmosphere where christianity is seen as credible. Their job is not to present arguments for christianity, or to counter arguments against christianity. Their job, first and foremost, is to keep christians from ever seeing or considering arguments against christianity.

    Or as William Lane Craig put it “Apologetics is therefore vital in fostering a cultural milieu in which the gospel can be heard as a viable option for thinking people. In most cases, it will not be arguments or evidence that bring a seeker to faith in Christ–that is the half-truth seen by detractors of apologetics–but nonetheless it will be apologetics which, by making the gospel a credible option for seeking people, gives them as it were, the intellectual permission to believe.”.

    For their intended purpose, the essential component of the “good” arguments is not that they are good, but that they exist. That they can then be pointed to as an example of how we are not dealing with “the good arguments”.

  • lpetrich

    Metacrock has a big List of God Arguments, but only a few of them look even halfway original. Many of them look like versions of arguments that many of us are likely familiar with, like versions of the First Cause argument.

  • NP

    About the title, I recommend reading Don’t Think of an Elephant! by Lakoff. It’s a short book. He makes a compelling case for not validating the framing of an opposing viewpoint. The idea of angry atheists is both very negative and very convenient for religious people to hold. Repeating the phrase — even for the sake of debunking it — actually validates and reinforces the frame. People think of an elephant after being told not to think of an elephant. When Nixon said “I am not a crook”, people thought of a crook.

    • @blamer

      Adopting the prominent frame might give Chris advantages (1) if it’s an established scientific fact that the atheistic are angry/angrier (2) if his arguments depend on value judgments ie that facts offer individuals or society more good than loyalty, and (3) if the frame of ‘anger’ promotes his rhetoric tactically in the minds of the bystanders he’s targetting (rallying iconoclasts? charming allies? deconverting the faithful? whatever else).