A lot of arguments for religion are very bad indeed. A lot of arguments for religion aren’t even arguments: they’re deflections, excuses for why the believer isn’t making an argument, bigoted insults, expressions of wishful thinking, complaints that atheists are mean bad people to even ask for an argument, heartfelt wishes that atheists would just shut up.
But some believers do take the question “Why do you believe in God?” seriously. Some believers don’t want to believe just out of blind faith or wishful thinking; they care about whether the things they believe are true, and they think that the question “What evidence do you have to support this belief?” is a valid one. And they think they have good answers for it. They think they have positive evidence for their spiritual beliefs, and they’re happy to explain that evidence and defend it.
The argument from design — the argument that life had to have been designed, because it just looks so much like it was designed — leads the list of these answers. According to Michael Shermer’s How We Believe, the argument from design is the single most common reason that religious believers give for why they believe.
So since these people are taking atheists’ questions about their religion seriously, I want to return the favor, and take their religious answer seriously.
And I want to talk about why this is really, really not a good answer. At all. Even a little bit.
Thus begins my latest piece on AlterNet: Why ‘Life Had To Have Been Designed’ Is a Terrible Justification for God’s Existence. To read more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!