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Blogathon for SSA: The Worst Argument for Religion I’ve Ever Heard

No, it’s not First Cause. No, it’s not the ontological argument. No, it’s not even Pascal’s Fucking Wager.

It’s the argument from tigers.

This was on Facebook, back when I was doing the Atheist Meme of the Day. I don’t even remember anymore which Meme I had posted. But someone made the argument — and I have to paraphrase here, since the exact quote is now lost in the mists of Facebook:

Atheists say that human beings are the most powerful beings in the universe. But this is clearly not the case. Tigers, for instance, are more powerful than human beings, and can eat them. Therefore, it’s reasonable to think that there’s something more powerful than humans, more powerful than anything we know — more powerful even than tigers. And it’s reasonable to call that being God.

m-/

(That, by the way, is my emoticon for “facepalm.” In case you haven’t seen it before, or have seen it and wondered what the hell it was. I stole it from a friend, and am passing it along.)

I’ll give it to this person: At least it was original. 99.9% of the arguments I’ve seen for religion are the same ones, retreaded again and again. It had been a while since I’d seen an argument for religion that I’d never seen before. And there is so much wrong packed into one little argument, one doesn’t even know where to start.

In fact, I’m not going to do it. Taking this one apart will be left as an exercise for the reader. Maybe you’ll see something wrong with it that I haven’t seen. Perhaps in a hundred years, when the history of how religion finally disappeared is written, the Argument from Tigers will be seen as its last desperate gasp.

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Comments

  1. evilDoug says

    I think I should like the opinion of Hobbes on this matter (that’s Hobbes of Calvin and).

  2. Albert Bakker says

    I still think the argument that you don’t need an argument at all and the belief in God is properly basic is the stupidest. It takes a real clever person to come up with that kind of stupidity, whereas this is just a basic argument from omnipotence, which is after all an attribute from God, suffering from intellectual nudity. It should be dressed up with sophisticated words like “maximally”, “proposition” and logical lingo like “if and only if.” Then the argument from tigers wouldn’t serve it’s purpose any less or be more stupid than the ones composed with more philosophical craftsmanship and shouldn’t be if there actually were a God and Saint Paul wasn’t talking out of his ass when he admonished the unbelievers in his letter to the Romans that:

    “19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made [like tigers], even His eternal power and Godhead [there goes your veil of the nominal world], so that they are without excuse..”

  3. freebird says

    I would really like to see how they figure tigers are more powerful than humans. They can eat us? I would think we eat them more often than they do us. Tiger penis soup, anyone?

  4. Albert Bakker says

    Should have read it before pushing the damn button, shorten the sentences and eliminate some of that annoying interpunctuation. Also it would be nouminal world, not nominal, unbeknownst to the autocorrection pilot apparently. Sorry for that.

  5. Albert Bakker says

    Oh my goodness $#@$!!$$#$@ noumenal for gossakes, I’m gonna get rid of this thing as soon as I find out.

  6. StevoR says

    Tigers, for instance, are more powerful than human beings, …

    Which is why tigers landed spacecraft on the Moon sent spaceprobes to the stars and have quite literally changed the geography, atmospheric composition and climate of this planet. Oh wait, that’s us not tigers. Hmmm.

    …and can eat them.

    Yes, its not like tiger penis soup is a thing or that humans don’t kill tigers for use in Chinese “medicine” and for “sport” and so on. Oh wait, again, no.

    Probably been more tigers killed by people than vice versa even counting back to the Stone age.

    So that premise is wrong or at least missing a whole lot of clarifying assumptions like one unarmed human without technology versus one or more tigers.

    Atheists say that human beings are the most powerful beings in the universe.

    Really? Don’t think that’s necessarily true either.

    I, for one, think its entirely likely many alien sentiences are superior to us in technology, intelligence and in other ways.

    Therefore, it’s reasonable to think that there’s something more powerful than humans, more powerful than anything we know — more powerful even than tigers. And it’s reasonable to call that being God.

    No its reasonable to call something more biologically stronger and capable than tigers hippopotami since they are in fact killing more humans than tigers are larger, stronger, have arguably a bigger ecological footprint etc .. Or mammoths, megafauna (which zoological class may include tigers under some definitions), dinosaurs or even plankton and microbes given their vital role in making our planet what is it is and their vast numbers and varieties.

    Bacteria and viruses (virii?) after all probably have killed more humans and thus count as more powerful and significant by this “logic” than anything else, right?

    In addition, hippopotami, dinosaurs, and bacteria have tehadvantage of being real physical things that actually exist or existed in verifiable empirical form versus an abstract intangibel entity whose very existence is disputed and lacking real scientific evidence.

    Finally, no, that inference doesn’t follow from the (already dubious) premises. Just because X is powerful – more powerful than tigers or humans – does NOT then reasonably imply that something is “God” or even a Goddess or pantheon. Category error and definition required.

    Otherwise bacteria, lightning, oceans, atomic explosions, machinery, computers, trees (hey, can you survive on nothing but sunlight and break rock whilst hanging off cliff faces with your feet?) etc .. equals “god” which, yeah, not a reasonable conclusion.

  7. says

    I absoloutly hate when a theist tells me what atheists believe. I don’t think anything gets up my nose faster.

    The straw men stand no chance against these logic warriors.

  8. Lukas says

    By that logic, tigers (or some other natural beings) *are* gods. Basically, that just means that the word “god” doesn’t mean anything.

  9. Robin says

    That’s the essence of most arguments for God, anyway: redefine the word God to something that you can show exists, either trivially or through some weird pseudo-logic, then redefine it back to an actual God, then pretend your ‘proof’ still holds.

    “You know [tigers/energy/perfect things/a first cause] exist(s), right? Well, let’s call that God. Therefore God exists! Therefore, both fucking testaments of the Christian bible.”

  10. says

    And here I thought Christians were supposed to believe that man was created to rule over the animals. Guess God screwed that one up too, didn’t he?

  11. Michelle Elliott says

    Therefore, it’s reasonable to think that there’s something more powerful than humans, more powerful than anything we know — more powerful even than tigers. And it’s reasonable to call that being God.

    …and it’s reasonable to assume that there’s something more powerful than God. And it’s reasonable to call that being Cthulhu.

    Huh.

  12. Nemo says

    Atheists say that human beings are the most powerful beings in the universe.

    No, we don’t.

    Tigers, for instance, are more powerful than human beings,

    No, they aren’t.

    I could elaborate, but I think that covers it, really.

  13. Albert Bakker says

    I think that given this argument is worded so poorly and that it is paraphrased, that it should be credited with the most generous interpretation possible. I just think what he or she meant to convey is not that tigers are physically stronger and therefore more powerful than an equally unaided, unarmed human being. This is a bit beside the point.

    The point seems to me that if taken as a given that some beings are more powerful than other beings and that yet another being is possibly even more powerful, that if you would line them all up ultimately there should arise as the winner of this contest a maximally powerful being – that is to say if the condition is met that the number of beings in the Universe is finite.

    This being would then in a real and practical sense be omnipotent in regard to that agreed upon standard. Then according to this argument – maximally generously interpreted to my mind – it would be acceptable for the person who concocted this argument, to identify this being as God.

    I am pretty sure he or she will find the conclusion of this argument to be more problematic than a refutation of the validity of the argument itself.

  14. JonLynnHarvey says

    Well, with all due respect, I still think it’s the second worst.

    The worst remains Bill O’Reilly’s bit about no one understanding the tides.

  15. Lisa says

    I see. And the only reason why we should worship god instead of satan is that he is bigger…I am beginning to see why it is so difficult for the human civilization to understand that power does not make justice…

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I’ve encountered this before with theists and when I ask them to actually present those really good arguments, I will generally get a form of Pascal’s Wager. Occasionally I will get the Kalam Cosmological Argument and very rarely anything different. Unfortunately, both Pascal and Kalam are very easily debunked. In fact, I took a look at Craig’s ReasonableFaith.org (which is not as cool as a reasonable conversation, let me tell you) and it’s almost all Pascal and Kalam. You don’t have to believe me, go check it out yourself. I fact, if you check out his “The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God,” (for example) you can see that he brings up Kalam, but also the Thomstic Cosmological argument, the Moral Argument, the Teleological Argument (which is by far the most ridiculous and easy to argue against, as far as I’m concerned), and the ever absurd Ontological Argument, which is really just such a joke on the face of it that I’m going to assume it was developed by Dr. Frank-n-furter. Though I will point out that he forgot the Argument from Tigers. [...]

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