The most frequent argument for god is an admission of having a low bar for knowledge

The most common argument you hear for god’s existence is: How do you explain [whatever]?  How did life arise?  Why is everything so fine-tuned?  Etc, etc.  And when you don’t know, boom!  It’s god.

I’ve never understood that. You can’t assume a superior position by declaring that the height of your knowledge is equivalent to the depth of my ignorance.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • DaveL

    A much more succinct way of putting it than I usually do, which is:

    The proposition that, if I cannot offer a theory that explains everything, in arbitrarily fine detail, with abundant supporting evidence, we should reject that theory in favour of one that explains nothing with any detail, supported by no evidence.

  • Artor

    It’s not even that. You could explain something that’s perfectly well understood, like; “How did the moon get there? Tide comes in, tide goes out. You can’t explain that!” But if they can’t understand it, probably because they spent their time in high school science with their fingers in their ears going “Nyahh-nyahh-nyahh, I can’t hear you,” then it must be a mystery only explainable by god.

  • Steerpike

    It’s like trying to explain the world to a 4-year old:

    Why isn’t it raining?

    Because the sun is shining.


    Because there are no clouds in the sky.


    Because the sky is blue, not gray.


    Because our atmosphere difracts sunlight in the blue part of the visible spectrum when the sun is overhead.


    Because sunlight is composed of a full spectrum of colors, and when it passes through the atmosphere, some of those colors are absorbed, and some of it comes through as the color of the sky.


    Oh, FFS, I dunno, it just is that way, OK?

    AHA! So you can’t explain it! So it MUST be because God did it!

  • Art Vandelay

    Yeah but Bill O’Reilly doesn’t understand how tides work so there must be a God.

  • Randomfactor

    Bill O’Reilly has not been struck down by lightning, so there must NOT be a god.

  • cswella

    But… TREES!

  • kimrottman

    If you’re going to essentially say god is equivalent to the set of things science doesn’t understand, then god diminishes every time science crosses something off its to-do list. At that point, you might as well just admit that man made god in the first place. Christians ought to want no part of the ‘god of the gaps’ argument. Good thing they rarely can be bothered to fully think through what they’re saying.

  • ronstrong

    Tides go in, tides go out. You can’t explain that.

  • msm16

    Humans inherently hate uncertainty; hell that’s why we pay people large amounts of money to deal with it. Its only natural that people automatically assume GOD.

    That’s why education is so important it guides people down a hard but important road. Its not surprise that, statistically speaking, the better educated a populace the less religious it is.

    That’s why education reform is so critical for the USA.

  • Drakk

    I don’t understand any “arguments” for god’s existence.

    When was the last time you saw anything proven to exist purely through argument? That’s not how it works for everything else we’ve managed to discover – we find out that something exists because the universe throws it in our faces. I really don’t get why a possible god is an exception. If there was one, there’d be evidence, and we wouldn’t need to flail about in philosophical mires.

    On a completely offhand note – do any of you comment from the email “tmrbuchholt at gmail dot com”? Got a gmail chat request from that address and as I’ve no clue who they are I’m trying to track down where they got my address from.

  • Ronnie Kellogg

    The teapot Atheist has a wonderful post on this very subject dealing with the universe.

  • Mark

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard this argument from a Christian. Strange, considering how frequent it is.

    • Ronnie Kellogg

      Christians appear to make these sorts of arguments all the time. In fact, Craig’s Kalam Cosmological argument seems to be an argument that purports to show that God must exist by proving that he is the best explanation for the “facts” we have. Sure, Craig’s argument is in deductive form, but the thrust of it is that no other explanation can be given for the universe but God. In other words, “The universe had an absolute beginning. Naturalism/science can’t explain that. Therefore, God did it.”
      Another example is the argument from consciousness. Here is the formulated argument.
      “1. Genuinely nonphysical mental states exist.
      2. There is an explanation for the existence of mental states.
      3. Personal explanation (PE) is different from natural scientific explanation (NSE).
      4. The explanation for the existence of mental states is either a PE or a NSE.
      5. The explanation is not an NSE.
      6. Therefore the explanation is a PE.
      7. If the explanation is PE, it is theistic.
      8. Therefore, the explanation is theistic.”
      Although this argument is in deductive form, its aim is to show that naturalism cannot account for these “Genuinely nonphysical mental states”, but theism can. In fact, it seems to conclude that not only is theism the best explanation for these “states”, but it is the only explanation for them. In other words, “people are self-aware. They can feel pleasure/pain and react to it. There is never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. Therefore, God did it.”
      Just in case you were wondering, premises one and five of the argument from consciousness are false. The KCA is a dead argument in my humble opinion.