Talk:Arguments against the existence of God

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Remove NPOV tag?[edit]

Anyone want to try removing the NPOV tag? Since there is a wiki article on the other side of this debate (arguments for), it seems wiki as a whole conforms to NPOV. Also, NPOV violation would be something like "people who argue against the existance of God are ignorant idiots". This article seems to outline the logical arguments w/out straying to editorialism. I'll remove the tag and see what happens.Feco 23:25, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)


But what is this "god" thing that is the object of theism? A god is being, usually thought of as a person or having personal qualities, who plays a role in mythology and religion. This object of belief typically possesses supernatural or extraordinary powers far in excess of those which can be attributed to normal, mortal humans.

The development of the idea of a "god" can be clearly observed in the development of religion in the Indian subcontinent. Originally, the Indian "gods" were exemplary, strong, and victorious rulers who managed to accomplish a great deal more than their contemporaries. Later they were elevated to godhood and worshiped as supernatural deities.

Similar processes can be seen even in the later periods of the Roman Empire, when emperors were declared gods after their death as a matter of routine (although it was not routine that coherent religions were maintained around them for very long). Indeed, the elevation of powerful warriors or kings to the status of godhood may have been one of the earliest ways belief in gods was developed.


Another aspect in the development of theism would have been the observation of powerful forces of nature. They all appear to be beyond the influence of humans, but they would also have appeared to be animate, just like humans and animals. Thus would have developed the belief that unseen, powerful spirits are behind the events in life: animism.

Parallel with the belief in unseen spirits is the desire to influence those spirits - much the way powerful humans are influenced. Early religion therefore developed means by which humans make offerings to the spirits (like offerings to tribal leaders) and follow whatever rules and orders the spirits might be thought to issue (like the commands of tribal leaders must be followed). From this springs the tendency towards organized religion.

Concerning the statement, "Without such proof, it is not rational to believe in the existence of God, any more than it is to believe in the existence of fairies, dragons, demons or unicorns." Some people believe out of sheer experience of an event, and attribute this experience to God. Are these people not rational to believe their experience was an experience of God? A woman can believe she played with a golden-haired doll as a child in the woods. She no longer has the doll in her possession, no one was around at the time she played in the woods, and if someone was she would have no way of guaranteeing that someone will remember the event. If she were to say she believes she played with a golden-haired doll as a child in the woods, is she lacking rationality in making such a statement?


I remember hearing the following argument against the existence of God, which didn't seem to fit anywhere in the list that this article gives. Basically: "the world seems very purposeless, so it's inconceivable that there is any divine being."

It's basically an antithesis to the teleological argument that's related to the problem of evil argument, except that it asserts that the world appears purposeless rather than necessarily evil. (It also, of course, uses lack of imagination.)

Has anyone heard of this argument from a real source, i.e. not from me? I'm curious to know if it has a name, and if it's been seriously discussed, I guess should be added here.

Zashaw 07:08, 23 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Pascal Boyer, in "Religion Explained", says humans have a tendency to find patterns where there are none, and animate causes where there are none. The reason is that false positives cost less than false negatives in nature -- the former waste a little energy, but ignoring a real threat can prevent your genes from propagating. It is not surprising some would imagine evidence of design, but more interesting that some don't. The "lack of purpose" argument applies pretty clearly to the rest of the observable universe, but on this planet it merely counteracts the argument from design. There are so many things that superficially look like design that we can only show they are not really design. It does not carry much weight on its own. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and all that. Fairandbalanced 21:10, 23 Aug 2003 (UTC)

You make good points, but just to clarify, I wasn't suggesting that "lack of purpose" is a good (or bad) argument, just that it was one I thought I had heard. If it's an arguement someone's made, I'm interested in knowing who, and what it's officially called. (And what you wrote is probably a good discussion of it.) On the other hand, maybe you're saying that no-one's in fact made that argument or been able to seriously defend it, in which case I'm interested in knowing I was hallucinating about it... Zashaw 22:51, 23 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Halting problem[edit]

It is not at all clear to me what the Halting problem has to do with any argument against the existence of God. I think some explanation is required. -Rholton (aka Anthropos) 22:53, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Pascal's Wager[edit]

"A variant of Pascal's Wager using different starting assumptions: It is safer to bet on unbelief, than belief in the wrong god and risk eternal damnation for worshipping an idol" - can someone explain this? I tried to follow the argument according to game theory but I got a different result: it is still safer to bet on any one god than to bet on no god. If you assume two possible gods A and B, it is safer to bet on A (neutal, Heaven, Hell) or B (neutral, Hell, Heaven) than to bet on none of them (neutral, Hell, Hell). -- 195.33.105.17 15:44, 24 Mar 2004 (UTC)

What if god C exists and he doesn't mind if people don't believe in him, perhaps he even finds it charming, but if he catches anyone believing in those awful false gods A and B whose very concept he loathes he condemns them to the lowest pits of eternal damnation? Since Pascal's Wager doesn't provide any way to determine what type of gods might exist, one can posit any opinions one wants for them. Bryan 16:06, 24 Mar 2004 (UTC)
He doesn't need to, by any reasonable definition the only gods which even remotely exist are those people know about. Brand new gods made up by atheists for the point of argument don't apply, since nobody worships them and they exist only in your faintest imaginings. It's one thing to not believe in other peoples gods, but its quite another to invent silly strawman gods for the sole purpose of claiming you have won an argument. That sort of argument only goes over well with other anti-theists, and even then only those who arn't interested in fair debate. Sam Spade 18:47, 24 Mar 2004 (UTC)
That objection doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If a god must be believed in by someone for it to exist, what would happen if all the people who believed in a real god (ie, one that exists in some greater sense than simply as a concept in people's minds) all stopped believing for whatever reason? Would it cease to exist? Did the god exist before anyone started believing in it? I see nothing wrong with proposing hypothetical gods with various properties in the course of examining arguments about gods in general, it helps to reveal hidden assumptions and implications. Bryan 02:42, 25 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Clearly we disagree, and thank God politely this time. Your hypotheticals describe situations that cannot happen, and are inherently contradictory. God doesn't exist because we believe in him, we exist because he believes in us :). People inherently understand God to a greater or lesser degree due to their inherent spiritual abilities / personal revelation, and only to a far lesser extent by the successful ministerings of others (say from a book). In short, many people will always know God, just like many people will always notice his Laws of nature. Anyways you can say what you like, I just thought you might like to know what someone who doesn't already agree with you might think ;). Sam Spade 05:04, 25 Mar 2004 (UTC)
What Bryan is saying, I believe, is that we don't know what God wants. For all we know, a real, existing-outside-our-minds God values atheists more than believers. Therefore, Pascal's wager is invalid, because we can't know that the existing God (if there is one) actually wants us to worship him. Meelar 05:08, 25 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Quite. Sam's making statements about God that are exactly the sort of hidden assumptions I was referring to; Pascal's Wager only works if they are true, but there's nothing in Pascal's Wager that says they must be. Using Pascal's Wager to convince a nonbeliever requires that its assumptions be proven first. Bryan 05:30, 25 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I actually agree, and furthermore don't find Pascals wager a remotely convincing argument. Actually I don't know of any tremendously convincing argument against cautious, reverent agnosticism, outside of personal revelation. On the other hand Atheism is easy to discredit, but thats not what this article is about.
P.S. I know what God wants ;) Sam Spade 07:06, 25 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Hello Sam, no, "Atheism" or atheism is not. Feelings are not God. Messages or events are not God. Changes in oneself are not God. People who claim to have been in touch have no idea what God is, but claim that it was God because they have no other explanation. These people are common in terms of logical and philosophical thought, and haven't the means to rise above the dumb, ignorant majority with its lies and rationalisations, which are easily discredited. A half-hour sermon consists of five to ten mistakes, no matter who is speaking. Why don't you ask God who and what I am? (I'm scattered over Google as lysdexia and Autymn D. C.) If you ever do get an answer, you will be scared out of your mind. I plan to get a foothold in the world and destroy the fabric and being of human culture, and take over the world with my unique material and ideas that the world has never seen. My life is incompatible with everyone else's; my life is inexplicable in everyone's mind; I have done and been through what others would believe impossible, unworldly, or inhumane. I have also had experiences that some might consider divine or mystical, but I could and can see through them and how people were fooled. Hmm, the bad news is I have no idea when I can get my two websites up, being so busy with other worldshaking developments and no supporting funding... In any case, I promise to bring the end of humankind. lysdexia 02:09, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)
You don't have to make up any brand new gods for the argument to apply. Two gods similar to the one in the Christian bible will do. If you read the first couple of the Ten commandments (Exodus 20:3-5), it's easy to conclude it's better to not belief in a god then to belief in (and worship) the wrong one. Abigail 11:20, 3 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Correction[edit]

The article begins: "Since theistic religions first began, there have been many arguments made by non-theists against the existence of God."

Has there really? I wouldn't think so. An even if it was true, how could we know, since we don't have any sources that go that far back. Furthermore the statement seems to presuppose some sort of Marxist view on religion, viz. that people originally lived as non-theists until some day someone thought of inventing theism and trying to impose it on others. The proposition seems to me questionable to say the least.


 Well, since humanity evolved, at some point theistic beliefs had to have developed. They are part of human culture, but possibly not human nature.

Ockham's Razor[edit]

What does this have to do w a theological argument against God? I can see using occoms razor to inductively suggest the existence of God due to the simplicty and utility of such a belief, but as an argument against? Would you seriously ussggest that... evoloution for example is simpler than creationism? Or that "because God wills it" is anything other than the simplest answer to a given question? Sam [Spade] 03:52, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

The Ockham's Razor argument proposes that God is rendered an "unnecessary complication" because there is no evidence that requires such a being to explain the way the universe works. Whether you personally believe that or not, it's an argument that is very common in atheism circles. This also happens to be the position that the paragraph you're snipping mention of it from is describing, so it is both accurate and relevant there. Bryan 04:01, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
atheism is not agnosticism, we've discussed this dozens of times bryan. Atheism denies God, agnosticism reseves judgement. Sam [Spade] 03:56, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Yes, we have discussed this many times, and you're still wrong. Atheism does not necessarily actively deny the existance of God, and you're simply wrong in insisting that it does. Bryan 04:01, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Then your not talking about atheism. Anyways the article is about arguments against, not the lack of need for arguments. Any comment about occom? Sam [Spade] 04:06, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
The "denial by default" approach is an argument against; it's an argument that one needn't believe in something unless there's some compelling reason to, with the further position that there's no compelling reason to believe in the existance of gods. This is the very first argument type that's linked to in the article, I think it's quite relevant to point out how it's related to the paragraph in question. Bryan 04:16, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

' of equally good explanations for a phenomenon, the best one is the simplest explanation which accounts for all the facts. '

God is of course the simplest answer, and he accounts for all facts. Sam [Spade] 04:11, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Your "of course" above is POV. You're proposing an omnipotent, omniscient, intelligent entity as the simplest way to account for all facts? Bryan 04:16, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
right, but more specifically I am questioning what important (non-wiki) personage proposed occoms razor as an argument against God? Sam [Spade] 04:21, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I don't care all that much who makes arguments, I'm more concerned with what the argument is. In this case, the paragraph about the burden of proof being on the theists is essentially describing the Ockham's Razor argument, and I'm trying to point that out. I don't see how it's relevant what "important personages" hold that view here. Bryan 04:26, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I am asking for you to cite your sources. We require a minimum of verifiability on the wiki, and do not accept original research, which this offense to occom appears to be. Sam [Spade] 04:30, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I quite agree with Bryan. Re: O's razor: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]. Some of these are rather longish; search for "Razor" to find relevant passages. olderwiser 04:33, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC) And there's much more to be found at a simple Google of ("Ockham's Razor" atheism) [6]

yes, I found similar sites in the last few moments myself, all seeming to come from some central document. I would still like some evidence of anyone reliable making such claims, particularly if the article is to refer to them as "classical" Sam [Spade] 04:36, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

You're talking like a conspiracy monger now Sam. It should be obvious from perusing a sampling that it is NOT an original argument to use O's razor as an argument against the existence of god. olderwiser 04:40, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Also, I'm still not sure why an "important personage's" name is needed here in the first place; I'm only trying to point out that the argument that's being described in that paragraph is based on Ockham's Razor, not talking about who has used it before or when. The description matches, it's hardly original research to note that. Bryan 04:46, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

So, where does this leave us, then? As far as I can tell, Sam's arguments are basically:

  1. Ockham's razor is not a valid argument against the existence of God because "of course" God is the simplest way to account for all facts
  2. It shouldn't be mentioned without citing some important personage who has used it.
  3. One cannot disbelieve God without either actively denying his existence or "reserving judgement", leaving no room for the outlook described to exist.

1 I consider to be pure POV, and reject out of hand. 2 doesn't make much sense to me, since a description of an argument is valid or invalid regardless of who may or may not have used it historically. Besides which, Bkonrad has already provided links above with some examples. 3 I also reject, because I happen to be a living example of the very viewpoint Sam denies exists; I don't believe in any gods because I've seen no compelling arguments requiring them to exist, which is hardly "reserving judgement", yet I don't actively deny the existence of all gods because some of them cannot be disproven outright. So, unless Sam has anything to add or expand upon, I'm going to put those lines he deleted back in. His claim that they're inaccurate is not compelling to me. Bryan 14:52, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Also, your subsequent edit reclassified Ockam's Razor and the argument by evolution as "arguments by contradiction." They're not. An argument by contradiction takes the premise to be disproved and attempts to show that if it is true it leads to a logical contradiction, whereas Ockham's Razor and the argument by evolution instead argue that gods are simply unnecessary in the first place without attempting to show that their existence would lead to a contradiction. Bryan 14:58, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Comments from main page[edit]

These comments were placed on the main article page by an anon user. olderwiser 17:41, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I think the argument that "They argue that the burden of proof is on the person who claims the existence of an entity." needs a clarification and a more clear analogy:
E.g if someone claims "there is an invisible and weightless 40 ft tall elephant running all over this building", then it is an obvious common sense position to say: "I can not see it, I can not touch it. You have to prove its existence". In fact, it should be obvious from the common sense that it is impossible to prove a non-existence of such a beast.. Now replace the elephant with "God",and a building with "the world". And it should be obvious that it is upto believers to prove existence of God.

Anyway, just because it's weightless doesn't mean it's intangible (which is, I'm sure, what the person who added this line meant). -Sean Curtin 09:09, 10 Jun 2004 (UTC)

apparent[edit]

You were right, I got carried away w "NPOV" and lost the forest in the trees, as it were. Appologies. Sam [Spade] 03:55, 11 Jun 2004 (UTC)

'sokay. I was careful to explain my reasoning and include a link backing my change up, and you were willing to consider it and change your mind based on it; working together we have managed to avoid conflict. Yay team! :) Bryan 03:59, 11 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Premises[edit]

I would like to create some unity on the for/against God pages. I think we can find our way to agreeing on the best way to quantify and categorize the debate thru premises. IMO if one accepts certain premises they will be atheist, and with others a theist. This assumes proper reasoning of course ;).There is also obviously the opportunity for poor reasoning leading to either conclusion. Experience clearly affects the premises a given person chooses to accept. Some turn away from theism due to tragedy, and others turn toward God after a personal revelation. But always there is some basis for their belief or lack thereof, if not logical than cultural, emotional, psychological etc... Thoughts? Sam [Spade] 04:06, 11 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Tricky. Just making big lists of the various arguments seems relatively noncontroversial, since it's mostly just "some people say this, some people say that." But if you try to come up with a unified structure trying to say why all those people say those things, I suspect you're almost certain to encounter disagreement. Perhaps it would be best to attempt this in stages; first try to come up with a list of various possible premises, and only later try to group them in an organized way (if possible). Bryan 04:34, 11 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Of course, and I don't even have a hard and fast list in mind. Its the concept I ment to express, and one I would expect to take some time and attention to implement. The question is, what are these premises? Sam [Spade] 06:04, 11 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Potential premises[edit]

  • Pragmatism vs. rationalism
  • Nihilism vs. traditionalism
These look like "philosophies" rather than "premises" to me. A premise is a statement that one assumes is true for purposes of argument, such as "all events must have a preceeding cause" for example. Bryan 06:02, 12 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I fail to understand the distinction. Philosophies entail certain basiscs which an adherent holds true. Sam [Spade] 06:20, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Yes, but they're much broader and more vague. A premise is a specific statement that is defined to be true, whereas a philsophy in this context is a world view - a comprehensive set of opinions about the world, with flexibility over how many of the details can be interpreted. For example, would a nihilist be more likely to believe no gods exist or to believe in a religion focused on eschatology? A case could be made for either of those interpretations, and I suspect you'll find many nihilists in both camps. I think you'll need to make those "basics which an adherent holds true" explicit, which means focusing on premises. Bryan 06:35, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Other[edit]

I don't mean to butt into this argument, but I think the following links might be useful to some people here; in particular the ones by Dan Barker, because he has a knack for translating the compelling arguments against theism into simple English.

  • Refuting God by Dan Barker. Barker outlines a set of skeptical refutations to common theistic arguments.
  • The Freewill Argument for the Nonexistence of God Barker provides a simplification of the paradox of omniscience and free will.
  • Does God Play Dice? Stephen Hawking describes the history of the now-defunct "hidden variable hypothesis," disproving all descriptive definitions of omniscience.
  • The Problem of Evil A more detailed text-book style discussion of the problem of evil, courtesy of Stanford University.


I hope these links are useful.

Malathion 15:31, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Careful with Hawking's "proofs", several of which he's reversed position on. (Nothing is ever proven in science anyway.) Hidden variable models are alive and well; cf. Bohm interpretation. kwami 09:35, 2005 August 24 (UTC)

Maybe J.-P. Sartre's argument against the existence of God could find a place in the article? God = A pour-soi who is also an en-soi : which is a contradiction in terms. (or, as expressed by Salman Rusdie in Grimus: that which is perfect is also dead).

- (I am a mystic-atheist[dont-care-type atheist] from Calcutta, name doesn't matter, occasionally believe in a personal well-meaning but helpless small-g-god - mainly as an aid to sleep)

Go ahead and add it on the actual page on the arguments. This is only the talk page. Franc28 20:52, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)

Is this Inheriently POV?[edit]

This article seems like only half of a POV article. I think that to be NPOV, this fact should be made clear (and a link to the other half provided) early in the article instead of at the end. --L33tminion | (talk) 05:48, Nov 17, 2004 (UTC)

I agree. Sam [Spade] 12:02, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)

No, this NPOV article about POV things, arguments against the existantce of God. Although if this article doesn't link to Arguments for the existence of God and vice versa then we have a problem. --metta, The Sunborn 16:42, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Deletion of POV elaboration on anti-cosmological argument[edit]

I have removed the following:

Opponents of the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God may argue that if the supposed concept of God as a 'first cause' of the universe is viable, then why is the concept of the Big Bang any less so? Some may even go further to suppose that "maybe the Big Bang is God". As ridiculous as this statement may seem, it illustrates the important point that, as a so-called first cause, who are we to define the nature of that cause, especially since God, despite efforts to the contrary, will inevitably be anthropomorphised to an extent; indeed, the very concept of a 'being' within the known environment of the universe (which, since the dawn of humankind has not actually yet exhibited any concrete evidence of any 'beings' other than ourselves), known to us as something which can never be defined or understood seems somewhat fantastical, when compared with an observed phenomenon that is being increasingly well documented and brought into the realms of our scientific understanding. In other words, can we truly apply an objective logic that supposes that a first cause of the universe could not be something as apparently 'abstract' as the quantum processes thought to be involved with the Big Bang? Ultimately, this problem stems into more than just the issue of the existence of God: it also begins to involve the nature of God.

Criticism of the cosmological argument is already properly located under under "Argument justifying atheism in general" later in the article. Further, it is unreferenced and POV-worded. This elaboration belongs under criticisms in the cosmological argument article, if anywhere.--Johnstone 01:06, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

call me an idiot, but exactly how can a criticism of an argument (i.e. an argument in itself) possibly be npov? 80.177.20.202

"Arguments against the existence of God[edit]

Arguments against the existence of gods would be a different article, arguing why Mars, Thor, Ra, etc. do not exist. Hence, I have capitalized most instances of "God".--Johnstone 01:07, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

"God" refers specifically to the Christian god, not generally to the god-concept. Simply asserting that an argument is not general enough is not counter-evidence, especially since some of them are already claimed as strong atheistic in the literature. Franc28 01:59, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)
In the English language "God" also has many other connotations, besides the Christian god. This article is, and has always been, about arguments against any concepts that can be called "God," as the title requires. If you wish to expand the scope of the article, then at the very least the title will need to change. Then, however, a lot more regarding arguments against specific gods would also need to be added to make it comprehensive. Frankly, I don't see the point. The article "Arguments against the existence of God" would likely become a sub-article.--152.163.100.5 02:45, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You are mistaken : I am not expanding the scope of the article. I am making proper claims as regards to the scope of the *arguments*, which is a very different thing. All of the arguments belong in there - they are all arguments against the Christian god. It just so happens that many of them are more general than that. Franc28 02:56, Apr 1, 2005 (UTC)
I now think that I understand your position, but before I could agree with you about use of the lowercase "god", I require some evidence for the appropriateness of using it:
1. Intro to bullet list: "some theists argue that a god entirely transcends logic and that logical discourse about him is therefore meaningless"
Please name such theists who argue that any god not known as "God" entirely transcends logic.
2. Problem of evil: "a god who is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent"
Please name a god not known as "God" who considered to be both omnipotent and omnibenevolent.
3. Arguement from free will: "an omniscient god who has free will"
Please name a god not known as "God" who is considered to be omniscient and have a free will.
--Johnstone 14:29, 2 Apr 2005 (UTC)


I have three different answer to these questions :
First of all, you are the one with the burden of proof to conceptualize "god". As an atheist, I am allowed to conceptualize it in any way compatible with my perception of holy texts (which is all that we have to conceptualize "god" with).
Secondly, I would say that the established meta-criteria for "god" - such as "object of worship" and "not overlapping an existing concept" - imply infinite powers and "free will". What is the point of worshipping a limited or non-personal being ? Such a being is respectively no more than an alien or a law of nature, which fail both meta-criteria.
Thirdly, I would give you the three monotheistic religions as examples of instances of the god-concept with infinite powers and "free will". Franc28 21:29, Apr 2, 2005 (UTC)
1. Of course, we are both free to conceptualize anything any way we wish, but for the purpose of advancing the article's contents, what matters is how others (who are well-known) discuss the issue. Further, the question deals with what "some theists argue." Since you state that you are an atheist, how you conceptualize has no bearing on the question.
2. I don't agree at all that the term "god" implies infinite powers. Certainly the majority of gods worshipped in ancient cultures (e.g. non-Jewish Middle Eastern, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Aztec, etc.) were considered to have limited powers. Indeed, the fact that there were pantheons implies that each god had limited powers. The peoples of those cultures believed that they would suffer or die unless they worshipped their limited gods, so it is not surprising that they worshipped them. Also, if aliens hypothetically came to earth and demanded to be worshipped, or else the earth would be devastated, alien worship would ensue. There's no point in worshipping laws of nature since they don't change, no matter what one does, and they don't demand to be worshipped.
3. In the English language, the generic word "God" is typically used for the god-concepts of the three monotheistic religions, so my point is made.--Johnstone 02:25, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The title of the page is "arguments AGAINST the existence of God". That implies strong atheism. As a strong atheist, my conceptualization, and that of other atheists in the literature, has a heavy bearing on this topic !
Furthermore, the Islamic god is called "Allah" and the Judaic god is called "YHWH". The word "god" does designate all three of them, however. If you want to deny established facts, we're not gonna get anywhere. Franc28 10:30, Apr 4, 2005 (UTC)

You are misunderstanding what I said. I did not deny that the article is about arguments against the existence of God, nor that conceptualizations of atheists are germane to the article in general. What I said was in regard to specific items listed above.

Item #1 dealt with a sentence in the article that made a statement about what "some theists argue." In reply you made a statement about what you conceptualize. I simply pointed out that what you conceptualize does not correspond to what some theists argue, because you are not a theist. Moreover, what you and I conceptualize doesn't matter for the sake of the article's contents. To include our own ideas, if they don't correspond to other well-known ideas, violates the Wikipedia policies of NPOV and "No original research".

Item #3 dealth with a sentence in the article that made a statement about "an omniscient god who has free will." I asked you to name a god not known as "God" that is omniscient and has free will. In reply, you gave the god-concept of the three monothesistic religions. I pointed out that all of them are known as "God" in typical English language usage. While the Islamic name for God is "Allah" and the Judaic name is "YHWH," this does not change the fact that all are known better by the generic term "God" than the generic term "god."

The use of the word "god" rather than "God" is not necessary and does not accurately reflect the historical nature of the arguments, and is therefore less understandable. Perhaps a whimsical analogy will help (substitute "flatness" for "roundness", and "flatist" for "orbist", as desired):

Arguments against the roundness of Earth

Many arguments against the roundness of planets have been proposed over time, with reference to multiple planets and conceptions of Earth. This article lists some of the more common ones.

Arguments against specific statements of the roundness of planets

While some orbists argue that a planet entirely transcends geometry and that logical discourse about it is therefore meaningless, others would disagree with the assertion that a planet has ungeometric properties. Each of the following arguments aims at proving that some particular conception of the roundness of a planet either is inherently irrational, contradictory, or contradicts known scientific and historical facts, and that therefore a planet thus described cannot be round.

Argument justifying anti-roundnessism in general

While it may be possible to disprove the roundness of some particular Earth, it is in general impossible to prove the nonroundness of all conceivable Earths. Rather than try to do this, most anti-orbists argue that merely pointing out the flaws or lack of soundness in all arguments for the roundness of Earth is sufficient to show that Earth's roundness is less probable than its nonroundness; by Occam's Razor (principle of parsimony), the burden of proof lies on the advocate of that alternative which is less probable. By this reasoning, an antiorbist who is able to refute any argument for the roundness of Earth encountered is justified in taking an anti-orbist view; anti-orbism is thus the "default" position, though some argue that it is more proper to consider ageosticism as the default. ...

Compare this to:

Arguments against the roundness of Earth

Many arguments against the roundness of Earth have been proposed over time. This article lists some of the more common ones.

Arguments against specific statements of the roundness of Earth

While some orbists argue that the Earth entirely transcends geometry and that logical discourse about it is therefore meaningless, others would disagree with the assertion that the Earth has ungeometric properties. Each of the following arguments aims at proving that some particular conception of the roundness of the Earth either is inherently irrational, contradictory, or contradicts known scientific and historical facts, and that therefore the Earth, thus described, cannot be round.

Argument justifying anti-orbism in general

While it may be possible to disprove the roundness of some particular planet, it is in general impossible to prove the nonroundness of all conceivable planets. Rather than try to do this, most anti-orbists argue that merely pointing out the flaws or lack of soundness in all arguments for the roundness of Earth is sufficient to show that Earth's roundness is less probable than its nonroundness; by Occam's Razor (principle of parsimony), the burden of proof lies on the advocate of that alternative which is less probable. By this reasoning, an antiorbist who is able to refute any argument for the roundness of Earth encountered is justified in taking an anti-orbist view; anti-orbism is thus the "default" position, though some argue that it is more proper to consider ageosticism as the default. ... --Johnstone 02:45, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I fail to see how this gigantic analogy is germane to anything. You're trying to showboat to try to prop up a bad argument.
As for your first point, are you saying that NO THEIST argues that a god transcends logic and that therefore such discussions are pointless ? That's funny, I've talked to some of them. How could this possibly be MY conception ? I'm a strong atheist ! Obviously I don't believe that "discussions [about the god-concept] are pointless" !
The crux of the matter here seems to be your equation of all monotheistic "gods" with "God". You may designate them all as God, which is your prerogative, but they are 1. obviously NOT the same being as the being called "God" in Christianity and 2. not used in that sense in the common usage. You already conceded yourself that there are may "gods" which are not monotheistic, thus defeating your own point.
So please state how this point is "disputed", as you so not-nicely added on the article. Which atheistic philosopher is "disputing" it ? Franc28 12:36, Apr 6, 2005 (UTC)
Your accusation of "showboating" is uncalled for. The analogy only a crude, spur-of-the-moment attempt to break through this failure-to-communicate. I agree that its length is regrettable, but saw no way to reduce it without destroying its essence.
Please realize: This is not a discussion about the arguments per se! I am only arguing that the word usage that you insist on is not accurate and readily understandable.
Theists typically argue that "God"—not "a god"—transcends logic. Moreover, since this article is about Arguments against the existence of God, it is necessarily "God" rather than "a god". Again, back to my question from a few days ago: Who argues that any god not known as "God" transcends logic? I don't know how it could possibly be YOUR conception, but when I asked you to name a theist who argues thus, your answer was, "I am allowed to conceptualize it in any way compatible with my perception of holy texts."
The equating of all monotheistic "gods" with "God" is not due me. When one looks up the names of the various monotheistic gods in Merriam-Webster's [7], which is widely acknowledged as an accurate reference for common usage, one finds:
Yahweh - GOD 1a - used especially by the Hebrews
Trinity - the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead according to Christian dogma
Godhead - GOD 1
Allah - GOD 1a. - used in Islam
god - 1 cap : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe
Thus, all three correspond to the capitalized form of the word.
I added the "NPOV disputed" notice because your insistence on non-standard word usage does not comply with the Wikipedia policy of NPOV.--Johnstone 02:47, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)
"god : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe" -- This definition you just quoted corresponds perfectly to my position. Franc28 12:36, Apr 7, 2005 (UTC)
You can't be serious! Why did you leave out the "1 cap"? Don't you realize that it means that the word is capitalized when used to mean that particular definition? Wow.--Johnstone 00:09, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You have two possible positions :
1. "God" and "god" are equivalent, in which case your complain is vain, or
2. "god" is more general than "God", which designates the monotheistic gods.
Which do you choose ? Either one is perfectly compatible with my use of "god" - apart from the fact that I reject your equation of "God" with Islam and Judaism as being religiously-motivated and therefore non-neutral. Franc28 01:59, Apr 8, 2005 (UTC)
This is a general-purpose encyclopedia, not a platform for advancing personal whims about word usage. Wikipedia is intended to be as widely understandable as possible. Words should be used according to their common usage. That's all there is to it.
Referring to Merriam-Webster's, it's is obvious that "God" and "god" are not equivalent, so position (1) is wrong, regardless of whether you find it perfectly compatible with your usage. The secondary definition of "god" in M-W is "a being or object believed to have more than natural attributesand powers and to require human worship; specif : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality." Thus, the lowercase "god" is indeed more general than capitalised "God," so position (2) is correct, and nothing I have said in this discussion implies otherwise. However, as my "gigantic" analogy above was intended to demonstrate, just because more general words exists, it does not mean that their use makes sense. Consistent with it's title, the various arguments described by this article refer to a god with omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenevolence, free will, etc.—in other words, God, not gods in general.
Your unfounded accusation of religious motivation in equating the usage of "God" with Islam and Judaism is ridiculous. Again, it's not due to me. It's just a basic dictionary definition that reflects common usage.--Johnstone 15:12, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I agree with you that common usage should be our guide, but not without skipping over neutrality. To designate all monotheistic gods by the Christian term "God" is obviously prejudiced, and factually false. If you want me to agree with you, you're going to have to justify the use of "God" in referring to gods of other religions. Franc28 16:15, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)

Concerning Islam, you are wrong Franc28. Allah just means the god (lah meaning god in general - and there's also a plural of it -; adding al- just defines god as God). So using God is completely ok with Islam since it would just be the translation of Allah. Luis rib 16:22, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Circular argument. "The god" does not mean "God" unless you assume that "God" is not a name. I agree that Allah is a "god", which has nothing to do with the argument. Franc28 01:18, May 5, 2005 (UTC)

"While it may be possible to disprove the existence of some particular God, it is in general impossible to prove the nonexistence of all conceivable Gods."[edit]

I disagree with this statement. I would like to see it changed, but first would like to see if any agree with me. I will provide reasons if this isn't a dead cause. Lockeownzj00 03:13, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

Of course you disagree with that position. It's ridiculous and opposed by a mass of literature, including the two most popular books about atheology (Atheism : The Case Aganist God, and Atheism : A Philosophical Justification). Franc28 04:02, May 10, 2005 (UTC)
These kinds of philosophical arguments are, in my opinion, pointless. Whether it is possible to disprove all conceivable "Gods" depends entirely on your defintion of what "God" means. In my opinion it is pointless to drag Wikipedia into these kinds of semantic debates. --Malathion 06:23, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

It's just about impossible to disprove any negative. Which is why we have Occam's Razor in the first place. In theory, it could be done. But we would have to be omniscient to do it. In other words, in order to conclusively disprove God, we would have to be God ourselves. However, certain definitons of Gods contain logical contradictions, so can be ruled out. Also, certain narratives that contain God can be ruled out on the basis of evidence - such as certain Creationist narratives. Of course, that opens up the whole Creationist can of worms.

What I would suggest is restructuring the article. Start with Occam's Razor, which more or less places the burden of proof on Theism rather than Atheism. Then show that certain definitions of God contain logical contradicitions. Use the general form of "If you define God as x, then...". That might keep the Theist POV off our backs. Then lead into evidence which rules out certain classes of Theistic narratives, namely Creationism.

I notice that we have some arguments for the existence of God on this page. Those should be kept on the arguments for the existence of God page. If necessary, counter-arguements should be given on that page. In return, we should allow for counter-arguments on this page. crazyeddie 07:42, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

Combine the articles?[edit]

I realize this has probably been proposed before, but is there any reason why ?Arguments for the existence of God? and the ?Arguments against the existense of God? articles shouldn't be combined? I would suggest redirecting both articles to a single article called either ?Arguments about the existence of God? or ?Arguments for and against the existence of God?.

This is how I would structure the combined article: Firstly, discuss the God vs. god issue. Then a discussion about Occam's Razor, which would appear to place the burden of proof on the Theist side of the argument. Cover the Weak Atheist position, which states that the existence of God can't currently be disproven, but also can't be proven, and therefore His non-existence should be assumed. Discuss fideism. Briefly discuss Pascal's Wager, which attempts to justify a reasoned belief in God, even if God hasn't been conclusively proven to exist.

Then list the Theist arguments, with counterpoints if necessary.

Finally, the Strong Atheist arguments, again with counterpoints.

Comments? I'm crossposting this to both articles' talkpages. crazyeddie 17:16, 30 M ay 2005 (UTC)

It must be named "arguments against and for the existence of God", the other way around gives the theist POV undue prominence! (Just kidding, either way is fine. :) I've always been a little leery of dividing articles along the lines of "pro/con". For starters, how about just splicing the two together into an article with a "arguments for" section and an "arguments against" section (in either order), and then evolving it from there? That approach seems like it'd make it easier to keep track of the subsequent changes to the text, and some of the authorship history can be more easily accessible if we do it by moving one of these two pages to the new name rather than creating it from scratch. Bryan 23:40, 30 May 2005 (UTC)

Well, before we work out the details, it has to be decided if we want to combine the articles at all. One person over at Talk:Arguments for the existence of God is objecting to it. Anybody care to chime in over there? crazyeddie 01:54, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

A beta version of the combined article is available at Existence of God. Does anybody have any objection to placing some sort of "merge" message linking to the Existence of God article on both the "for" and "against" pages? crazyeddie 08:56, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I am strongly against the combination of the articles. The approach of the "Arguments for the existence of God" page must necessarily be illogical and irrational : combining both pages can only make a gigantic mess and a gigantic dispute. We should strive to keep the serious and the nonsense separate at all times. Franc28 18:26, Jun 18, 2005 (UTC)

It is not our place to judge the merits of the various arguments. It is only our place to report them. As for the resulting article being a mess, please check out the beta before making any judgements. crazyeddie 03:08, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Merit ? I didn't say anything about merit. I was talking about approaches. And how will any implementation change that fact ? I don't think you grasp the problem. Your suggestion is about as smart as trying to put "Evolution" and "Creationism" on the same page. Your intentions can't be good, in any case. Franc28 16:36, Jun 19, 2005 (UTC)

My POV on the issue covered by the articles in question is best described as "Weak Atheist". I don't believe that God exists, but I don't believe that it can be proven that God doesn't exist either. Therefore, I'm an atheist because I believe Occam's Razor places the burden of proof on the Theist side of the argument.

The reason I'm supporting combining the articles is that the current setup is not placing enough focus on the two moderate postions - Weak Atheism, which I have already discussed and "faith-based theism", which believes that God exists but doesn't believe that this can be proven. Instead, the current setup places too much emphasis on the two radical positions - Strong Atheism, which believes that the existence of God can be ruled out a priori, and Theistic Rationalism, which believes that the existence of God can be proven at the present time, either by a priori reasoning or physical evidence. I think that the current two article situation is inherently non-NPOV. It is effectively giving two POVs articles to themselves, while giving the other two POVs only brief mentions.

Secondly, the current "against" article attempts to explain the Weak Atheist postion in the section somewhat misleadingly named "Argument justifying atheism in general". I find this sentence worrisome: "The above argument depends on one's ability to disprove arguments for the existence of God. Critiques of some of the more common arguments are found below; more detailed critiques are included within their corresponding articles." If this approach is taken to its logical conclusion, it will result in the entire "for" article being replicated in the "against" article.

Less dramatically, combining the two articles will eliminate a lot of redundant material - both articles have to explain what we mean by "God", give at least some lip-service to faith-based theism, etc.

Again, I urge you to take a look at the proposed combined article before making any judgements.

While you did not actually use the word "merit", you made it very clear that you consider the arguments for the existence of God illogical, irrational, and nonsense. Actually, you said that the approach of the arguments for the existence of God article "must necessarily be illogical and irrational". While I can't say I disagree with you about the logic of the "for" arguments, I disagree with you regarding the approach of the present "for" article - I see no reason why illogical, irrational, nonsensical arguments can't be described in a logical, rational, sensical manner.

And, while I agree with you that the "for" arguments might well be illogical, irrational, and nonsensical, it seems to me that much the same can be said for at least some of the "against" arguments. Either that, or somebody needs to explain the atheist-existentialist argument better. It certainly seems to be rather nonsensical to me, at least.

I think that your analogy of Evolution and Creationism is flawed. Evolution is a scientific body of theory. Creationism is either a religious doctrine or pseudoscience - take your pick. It is quite possible to discuss Evolution without ever making a reference to Creationism. (Vice versa is rather more difficult.) On the other hand, both Strong Atheism and Theistic Rationalism (as well as Weak Atheism) are philosophical stances. Discussions over these stances have lot more in common than they differ. In fact, it is rather difficult to discuss one without also discussing the other. crazyeddie 08:10, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I don't think you get it. Let me make myself clearer. I am a strong-atheist (which, by the way, I don't consider a philosophical stance). I have nothing in common with "theistic rationalism", and I am NOT interested in sharing a dual-POV article with Christians.
It is quite possible to talk about argument for the non-existence of gods without talking about theistic arguments and theistic epistemology. All you need is an initial concept. The fact that there are references to such things on the current article is not my fault : I would delete them if I could. Franc28 20:03, Jun 21, 2005 (UTC)

Okay, it seems we're going to have to agree to disagree. Would anybody else like to make a comment, either for or against? crazyeddie 05:37, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I support combining the articles. First of all, I think that the debate can be more thouroughly explained when both sides are looked at together, as opposed to in seperate articles. Second of all, combining the articles allow for a better exposition (definitions, examining the underlying philosophical issues, etc.). --L33tminion (talk) 14:11, Jun 22, 2005 (UTC)

I support combining the articles, and like the unified treatment of the different positions in the article you propose. My only reason for questioning this is if the article gets too long, which doesn't seem an immediate problem. For Franc28's concerns, I think that the whole issue is too unresolved for Wikipedia to be able to take a stance on it, while still saying it's NPOV. Wikipedia is not a venue for strong atheism advocacy. And combining the articles makes such little difference to the implications anyway. Also, BTW, I agree that combining Evolution & Creationism is inappropriate because there's a lot more to Evolution than simply countering creationist articles; there is, however, already a Creation-evolution controversy article, which deals with both sides in one article. Anyway, some minor points about the current Existence of God article: (1) I think "Arguments about the existence of god" is perhaps a better title, because the focus is about the arguments (or controversy), (2) remove links back to "Arguments for/against..." articles if the articles are merged, of course, (3) a bit more wording/structuring to make it clear that the structure of the article is general background on arguments of god, followed by arguments for and arguments against. Zashaw 20:24, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

My opinion is the inverse of Franc28, I want the reader to see the arguments for and against side by side. Sam Spade 03:08, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Zashaw that the current name of the combined article is sub-optimal. (My preferred choice is "Arguments For and Against the Existence of God".) However, I would like to hold off on discussions about changing it at least until we have placed merge notices on the existing for/against pages. I would also like to hold any such discussions on the talk page of the combined article itself. That way, the regulars of both existing pages can get involved. The links to the old pages will of course be removed once the merger is completed - I plan on eventually making the existing articles redirects to the combined article. But I think we should leave them in place until then. As for your third point, you're on your own. Feel free to edit the new article - I personally haven't touched it since I wrote the original draft (or rather cut-and-pasted the draft from bits and pieces of existing articles). crazyeddie 08:44, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I also agree with combining both articles, for all the reasons cites above. Luis rib 20:16, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I also support combining the articles. I propose that the title should be "Arguments regarding the existence of God" or possibly "Arguments for or against the existence of God." Using a lowercase "g" would not make any sense, for all the reasons I give in the section above. Combining the articles should help to achieve a truly NPOV presentation of the material. (Note: User:Karada recently added links from the proposed new article Existence of God to both the "for" and "against" pages!)

The bifurcation is simply a relic of Wikipedia's past. Both were originally nothing more than lists. And until now, no one's realized that it's developed into a really poor way to present the subject, or not found the motivation to combine the two articles. If the article ultimately gets to be too long, then the thing to do will be to summarize sections and spin off their details into other articles, not to split it at the corpus calossum, as is presently the case.--Johnstone 01:42, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Better NPOV presentation ? What the hell ? If both articles are to be combined, then there will be a POV war, nothing more. Do you seriously think that Christians will just set their belief system aside and permit a NPOV presentation of the arguments for the non-existence of god ? If so, you are a naive fool. Franc28 02:47, Jun 24, 2005 (UTC)

Do you think you can set aside your belief system and permit a NPOV presentation of the arguments for the existence of God? Actually, one of the reasons I'm proposing this combination is to allow moderates (defined by the willingness to compromise, not their own individual POVs on the issue) on both sides of the aisle to come together and assist each other in achieving NPOV. This is not the only reason, and it wouldn't be sufficient in and of itself, but it is one of the reasons. Might I point out that POV forks are strictly against Wikipedia policy? If a combined article currently existed, and it was suggested that the article be split into "against" and "for" articles, it would probably be construed as a POV fork. crazyeddie 18:35, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Actually, I do have a further comment - the current article focuses a lot on Christian and Western theology and philosophy. A lot of these may be irrelevant for Eastern gods: The ontological argument, for instance, that God is perfect, is irrelevant in Hinduism, since Hinduistic gods are not all perfect. Also, those same Hindus perceive time as being circular - which might again have implications on whether gods can or cannot be proved to exist (the current discussion focuses too much on linear time and causality). I think this is something we should keep in mind in case we merge the articles, if we want to have an article that has validity beyond the judeo-christian sphere. Luis rib 21:14, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I've restarted this topic over at Talk:Existence of God#The Concept of God in Other Cultures crazyeddie 03:49, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Title[edit]

I strongly prefer Existence of God, our goal needs to be making the title something a reader might concievably type in to the search bar. Think of the readers, and what title will best assist them. Anyways, I tried to list the proposed titles above. ¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸ 01:26, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)

With any of the proposed titles for the combined article, a reader who types "Existence of God" into the search bar will find it, since that is a phrase contained in all proposed titles. Having said that, I do agree that brevity is preferred, I just think that "Existence of God" is slightly misleading, where "Arguments about the existence of God" is not. Overall not a big deal for me, though. Zashaw 01:59, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I've copied this discussion over to Talk:Existence of God#Renaming the Article. crazyeddie 03:54, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Merging...[edit]

Okay, it seems pretty clear that the consensus is in favor of the merger. I'll go put up the notices. I'd advise moving any outstanding discussions to Talk:Existence of God. crazyeddie 03:41, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Merger notices are up. Check for any discrepencies between the old articles and the mergee. Clean out your desks. Moving Day! crazyeddie 03:56, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Last Call[edit]

Any objections to making Arguments for the existence of God and Arguments against the existence of God redirects to Existence of God? crazyeddie 5 July 2005 18:42 (UTC)

L I already gave all the objections needed. If you think this merger will silence the atheist contingent, you're wrong. I'm going to watch over that page like a hawk. Franc28 July 5, 2005 21:49 (UTC)

I certainly hope that it won't silence the atheist contingent, since I'm a card carrying member! Well, not actually card carrying, but give me moment with some cardboard and magic marker... crazyeddie 5 July 2005 22:06 (UTC)

Clarification: Last I checked, there was a pretty clear consensus in favor of the merger. So I'm not actually asking "Is this a good idea?", but "Should we do this now or wait a bit?" crazyeddie 6 July 2005 18:27 (UTC)

(One revert later...) Okey dokey, I'll ask it again. Is there anything that still has to be done (aside from removing the links back to the original unmerged articles, which need to stay up until the merger is complete) before we make Arguments for the existence of God and Arguments against the existence of God redirects to Existence of God? crazyeddie 08:48, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

I think the merger templates should be placed on each of the respective articles for a while before we do this. I'll put them up. --ĶĩřβȳŤįɱéØ 20:24, 23 March 2007 (UTC)