The pathetic cosmological argument for god


It has become increasingly clear that cosmology has become the last refuge of those religious people eager to find some place where god can still have done something while remaining undetectable. But those arguments are clearly pretty desperate.

Jason Rosenhouse provides an excellent summary of the debate over cosmological arguments and concludes:

If the cosmological argument is the best theology has to offer then we atheists do not need to worry that we have overlooked a good argument for God’s existence.

As for the cosmological argument itself, I make no apology for being dismissive. Depending on what version you are considering, you can expect to find concepts like causality or probability being used in domains where they do not clearly apply, or dubious arguments for why an actual infinity cannot exist, or highly questionable premises about the beginnings of the universe or about how everything that began to exist must have had a cause, or groundless invocations of the principle of sufficient reason. You inevitably come so perilously close to assuming what you are trying to prove that you may as well just assume God exists and be done with it.

That’s my reaction to proponents of the cosmological arguments as well. They work so hard at finding implausible reasoning to support their pre-ordained conclusion that they might as well just say that believe in god because they want to or need to, even if it is unsupported by evidence.

Comments

  1. Manik says

    The people who come up with these arguments are not “true” believers. The human mind cannot begin to understand God. If we could, by definition ‘he'(for the want of a better word)is not god. Unfortunately most “believers” want to justify their belief in God. Can a blind man describe an Elephant? God is the creator, the almighty, the most merciful, omniscient, omnipresent. That’s all you need to believe. I don’t understand Space-Time, Anti Matter, String Theory, more than 3 dimensions etc.,etc. How can I ever hope to understand god’s nature? The simplest answer is generally the best. For a person of Faith no Explanation is necessary, for a person without no Explanation is Possible. All you require is a childlike faith. I am equally surprised that many Atheists do not seem to grasp this themselves. All this to-ing and fro-ing is an exercize in futility. Keep it simple stupid! Both parties should accept this simple premise and move on.

  2. Greg Priddy says

    Manik, you’ve as much as admitted that belief in god is irrational. If it stopped there, atheists wouldn’t care much about theism.

    The problem is that it never stops with simply believing. Believers inevitably feel the need to do irrational things because of their belief. They further feel the need to attempt to make everyone else behave in certain ways because of their irrational belief.

  3. says

    Manik-
    We *completely* understand that it all comes down to faith. That is the fundamental difference between us. We don’t feel that faith is a virtue or a good way of knowing things. We don’t think it’s wise to believe in things without sufficient evidence.
    In addition to what Greg said, people will ask an atheist, “Why don’t you believe” we say, “There is no evidence.” *Then* instead of saying, “Well you just have to have faith” and be done with it, many theists then try to use science to prove their god. When we refute those arguments, in the end, if the argument goes on, they almost all eventually say, “Well, you just have to have faith.” or “There are some things beyond the realm of science.” Which like you said, is what should be acknowledged in the very beginning and save everyone a lot of time. If more theists were like you, it would save a lot of frustration.
    Another thing that could save a lot of time for many kinds of discussion.

  4. Manik says

    Yes, belief in God is clearly irrational, because it is based on Faith and Faith alone. It obviously follows that believers could very well feel the need to do irrational things, such as for example, observe the Sabbath, fast etc. However, the following needs clarification. “They further feel the need to attempt to make everyone else behave in certain ways because of their irrational belief”. Examples would help.

  5. peter says

    Circumcision, coercive public prayer before group gatherings, unconscionable bigotry and apartheid-like policies against minorities, full-blown genocide, and on and on.

    Religious belief is not the unique motivator for these irrational behaviors, but it is almost always a major component.

  6. Manik says

    Peter, in my experience all of the above are done by a very small minority. Of course, my experience is limited. However, the point is taken, all of the above are clearly not acceptable. In my humble opinion though, Atheists should object to and take whatever action they see fit against the behaviour and not the belief in religion. On the other hand if Atheists wish to convert believers, I think they should state their case in a coherent, persuasive but gentle manner, simply because it is more effective. (again my opinion)If the convertee states that his belief is based on Faith and appears unwilling to change, the matter should end there. On the other hand if Atheists believe that Religion is harmful to society and it is their duty to inform, persuade, “evangelize” etc., aren’t they in general going about it in an ineffective and counter-productive manner? I am hoping for a more mature and sensitive approach, instead of a derogatory and insensitive one. Wouldn’t this be more effective? Atheists decide.

    This ends my comments on the subject as, I don’t have anything more to add. I also don’t wish to engage in a debate, which will be time consuming and ultimately pointless.

  7. says

    I gotta say that Manik has some very good points. Athiests if you really believe what you believe and knowledge of the true living God is harmful, then you had best start evangelizing because the days are drawing in… however it is very difficult to persuade someone with harshness and criticism… “a gentle tongue can break a bone” might be something for you to consider.

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