The Independent Variable - Matt Haugland

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

10 Reasons why I am an Atheist: #1

"We have no certain record of any god having appeared before a public audience in all the history of the world. Such scanty records (e.g., the supposed appearance of Yahweh, tribal hill god adopted by the Jews, before the people during the Exodus) as are produced to support such claims are, on analysis, seen to have no validity whatever."

1. There has never been a verifiable public appearance of God.
2. If God existed, he would want to be seen by public audiences.

False assumption

The obvious temptation is to argue with Assumption #1, but that's the trap. One could easily get drawn into an argument about whether God has appeared, and the reliability of various sources including the Bible. But neither side will get anywhere doing that. But this discussion is a lot simpler than it appears.

The argument really only applies to one very specific type of God: a God who wants to be seen by lots of people throughout history. Since I don't believe in such a God, the author's argument is useless, even if he is right. The Bible never describes God as wanting to appear to public audiences throughout history. If it did, the author would have a very good argument against it. At that point, we could debate Assumption #1. But since it doesn't, that discussion is a waste of time.

Now that I think about it, a lot of these 10 arguments are like that -- if you only look at the surface, they can spark endless debates about things that are nearly impossible to prove or disprove. But after carefully examining them and the assumptions behind them, most of them easily fall apart. Maybe there are better arguments out there for atheism?

In the near future, I may do a similar review of reasons why someone believes in God / Christianity. I know from experience that there are a lot of bad arguments for that too. But that gets back to the purpose of this whole review: to weed out the bad arguments and find out what the best ones are.


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