Arguments for the existence of God: put up or shut up

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been doing a series of posts on arguments for the existence of God. I was thinking the next post would be on Bayesian arguments for the existence of God, but I’ve already done that post. While I may want to tweak it at some point, the current version is already there for anyone whose interested, so I’m going to move on to revisiting some points I made in the first post in the series, “There are no good arguments for the existence of God.”

Here’s the deal: I’ve spent a huge amount of time listening to and reading about various arguments for the existence of God and Christianity specifically (along with a smaller amount of time on arguments for Judaism, Islam, and Mormonism). I’ve read Anselm, Aquinas, Augustine, Collins, Craig, Leibniz, McDowell, the McGrews, Plantinga, Swinburne, van Inwagen, Wright, and many lesser names, as well talking with many people who aren’t names at all.

And too often, I see them making the same mistakes over and over again. Even when I’m reading writers who’ve received other people’s highest recommendations. Even when I’m reading writers who use seemingly sophisticated strategies like Bayesianism.

So if you think I’ve missed something important in reaching my assessment that there are no good arguments for the existence of God, you know what you need to do? Tell me what that argument is and why you find it compelling. Anything else is wasting my time.

Not that I mind reading recommendations, or requests to write about a certain subject. Being able to get those easily from readers is one of the great things about blogging. But when what you want to say is that I’m wrong about God, don’t use demands that I spend my time differently as a substitute for actually defending your view.

It doesn’t matter how important you think your favorite apologist is. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s unfair of me not to deal with your favorite apologist, or that I must be ignorant because why else would I doubt his greatness? It doesn’t matter if you think your favorite apologist knows more than me, or even if you think he’s a genius.

Because you know what? I’ve heard it all before, and been consistently unimpressed with the apologists who believers think are so important for me to deal with. And by the way, sentences of the form “Everyone knows [my favorite religious apologist] is great,” are always false, and only shows the sample you’ve taken of “everyone” is too small (which is to say, you don’t know what you’re talking about).

So again, if you want to tell me I’m wrong, you need arguments to back up your position–not demands that I spend my time differently. In other words, put up or shut up.

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