The Independent Variable - Matt Haugland

Friday, February 20, 2009

10 Reasons why I am an Atheist: #4

"The conflicting claims put forward in the name of the thousands of deities only serve to indicate that all such claims are false. If not, which do we believe and which reject? We are confronted with the incredible spectacle of RIVAL GODS! Yahweh v. Allah, Christ v. Krishna, et al."

1. Different religions each have their own God.
2. The beliefs of these religions are mutually exclusive.
3. If some claims about God are false, all are false.

Multiple fallacies and false assumptions

This is a very common argument, but is probably the worst so far, for a variety of reasons. First, it is absurd to assume that if various claims are mutually exclusive, ALL must be wrong. While it's true that they can't all be right about the nature of God (in cases where they contradict each other), this in no way implies that God does not exist. Religions make contradictory claims about all kinds of things (e.g., marriage, war, sex, food, ...). Does that mean those things don't exist?

The characterization of religion in the world is either ignorant or dishonest. The author paints a picture of thousands of religions each believing in a completely different deity. But according to the statistics I found (on, over 75% of theists* in the world are either Christian, Muslim, or Jewish. These three all claim to believe in the SAME God (Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Moses, etc.). Another 19% are Hindu, and the rest are indigenous beliefs.

So rather than a choice between "thousands" of religions/deities, it's more like a choice between Yahweh, the Gods of Hinduism, and the Gods of various tribes. And for the vast majority outside of India and Africa, it's not much of a choice at all. "incredible spectacle of RIVAL GODS"? Hardly.

* Note: I defined "theists" as anyone who is not atheist, agnostic, secular, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, or Sikh -- the latter 4 religions are not based on belief in a deity.


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