Essays academic service


A discussion on the theist and the atheist arguments on the origin of the universe

References and Further Reading 1.

  • If deductive atheological proofs are successful, the results will be epistemically significant;
  • Swinburne, for example, defines 'orderly universes' as the ones required by animate creatures and affirms that 'God has overriding reason to make an orderly universe if he makes a universe at all';
  • The Impossibility of God;
  • It then follows, by 1 , that God does not exist.

Atheism is the view that there is no God. At a minimum, this being is usually understood as having all power, all knowledge, and being infinitely good or morally perfect. See the article Western Concepts of God for more details. There have been many thinkers in history who have lacked a belief in God. Some ancient Greek philosophers, such as Epicurus, sought natural explanations for natural phenomena.

Epicurus was also to first to question the compatibility of God with suffering.

Moral Arguments for the Existence of God

Forms of philosophical naturalism that would replace all supernatural explanations with natural ones also extend into ancient history. After Darwin 1809-1882 makes the case for evolution and some modern advancements in science, a fully articulated philosophical worldview that denies the existence of God gains traction. In the 19th and 20th centuries, influential critiques on God, belief in God, and Christianity by NietzscheFeuerbach, Marx, Freudand Camus set the stage for modern atheism.

It has come to be widely accepted that to be an atheist is to affirm the non-existence of God. Anthony Flew 1984 called this positive atheism, whereas to lack a belief that God or gods exist is to be a negative atheist.

Agnosticism is traditionally characterized as neither believing that God exists nor believing that God does not exist. Atheism can be narrow or wide in scope. The narrow atheist does not believe in the existence of God an omni- being. A wide atheist does not believe that any gods exist, including but not limited to the traditional omni-God. The wide positive atheist denies that God exists, and also denies that Zeus, Gefjun, Thor, Sobek, Bakunawa and others exist.

The narrow atheist does not believe that God exists, but need not take a stronger view about the existence or non-existence of other supernatural beings. One could be a narrow atheist about God, but still believe in the existence of some other supernatural entities. This is one of the reasons that it is a mistake to identify atheism with materialism or naturalism. Separating these different senses of the term allows us to better understand the different sorts of justification that can be given for varieties of atheism with different scopes.

An argument may serve to justify one form of atheism and not another. For Instance, alleged contradictions within a Christian conception a discussion on the theist and the atheist arguments on the origin of the universe God by themselves do not serve as evidence for wide atheism, but presumably, reasons that are adequate to show that there is no omni-God would be sufficient to show that there is no Islamic God.

The Epistemology of Atheism We can divide the justifications for atheism into several categories. An asymmetry exists between theism and atheism in that atheists have not offered faith as a justification for non-belief. That is, atheists have not presented non-evidentialist defenses for believing that there is no God. Not all theists appeal only to faith, however. Evidentialists theist and evidentialist atheists may have a number of general epistemological principles concerning evidence, arguments, and implication in common, but then disagree about what the evidence is, how it should be understood, and what it implies.

They may disagree, for instance, about whether the values of the physical constants and laws in nature constitute evidence for intentional fine tuning, but agree at least that whether God exists is a matter that can be explored empirically or with reason.

Many non-evidentialist theists may deny that the acceptability of particular religious claim depends upon evidence, reasons, or arguments as they have been classically understood.

Reasons people choose atheism

Faith or prudential based beliefs in God, for example, will fall into this category. The evidentialist atheist and the non-evidentialist theist, therefore, may have a number of more fundamental disagreements about the acceptability of believing, despite inadequate or contrary evidence, the epistemological status of prudential grounds for believing, or the nature of God belief.

Their disagreement may not be so much about the evidence, or even about God, but about the legitimate roles that evidence, reason, and faith should play in human belief structures.

It is not clear that arguments against atheism that appeal to faith have any prescriptive force the way appeals to evidence do. The general evidentialist view is that when a person grasps that an argument is sound that imposes an epistemic obligation on her to accept the conclusion.

Failing to believe what is clearly supported by the evidence is ordinarily irrational. Failure to have faith that some claim is true is not similarly culpable. Justifying atheism, then, can entail several different projects. There are the evidential disputes over what information we have available to us, how it should be interpreted, and what it implies. There are also broader meta-epistemological concerns about the roles of argument, reasoning, belief, and religiousness in human life.

The atheist can find herself not just arguing that the evidence indicates that there is no God, but defending science, the role of reason, and the necessity of basing beliefs on evidence more generally. Friendly atheism; William Rowe has introduced an important distinction to modern discussions of atheism. It seems that the atheist could take one of several views.

But whether or not C is justified is not directly tied to its truth, or even to the truth of the evidence concerning C. That is, a person can have a justified, but false belief. She could arrive at a conclusion through an epistemically inculpable process and yet get it wrong.

Ptolemy, for example, the greatest astronomer of his day, who had mastered all of the available information and conducted exhaustive research into the question, was justified in concluding that the Sun orbits the Earth.

A medieval physician in the 1200s who guesses correctly that the bubonic plague was caused by the bacterium yersinia pestis would not have been reasonable or justified given his background information and given that the bacterium would not even be discovered for 600 years. We can call the view that rational, justified beliefs can be false, as it applies to atheism, friendly or fallibilist atheism.

See the article on Fallibilism. What could explain their divergence to the atheist? The believer may not be in possession of all of the relevant information. The believer may be basing her conclusion on a false premise or premises. The believer may be implicitly or explicitly employing inference rules that themselves are not reliable or truth preserving, but the background information she has leads her, reasonably, to trust the inference rule.

It is also possible, of course, for both sides to be unfriendly and conclude that anyone who disagrees with what they take to be justified is being irrational.

Atheists have offered a wide range of justifications and accounts for non-belief. Flew argues that the default position for any rational believer should be neutral with regard to the existence of God and to be neutral is to not have a belief regarding its existence.

Beyond that, coming to believe that such a thing does or does not exist will require justification, much as a jury presumes innocence concerning the accused and requires evidence in order to conclude that he is guilty. We shall call this view atheism by default.

Cookies on the BBC website

The atheism by default position contrasts with a more permissive attitude that is sometimes taken regarding religious belief. The notions of religious tolerance and freedom are sometimes understood to indicate the epistemic permissibility of believing despite a lack of evidence in favor or even despite evidence to the contrary. One is in violation of no epistemic duty by believing, even if one lacks conclusive evidence in favor or even if one has evidence that is on the whole against.

This sort of epistemic policy about God or any other matter has been controversial, and a major point of contention between atheists and theists. Atheists have argued that we typically do not take it to be epistemically inculpable or reasonable for a person to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or some other supernatural being merely because they do not possess evidence to the contrary. Nor would we consider it reasonable for a person to begin believing that they have cancer because they do not have proof to the contrary.

The atheist by default argues that it would be appropriate to not believe in such circumstances. The epistemic policy here takes its inspiration from an influential piece by W. Clifford 1999 in which he argues that it is wrong, always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything for which there is insufficient reason.

Atheism, Theism and Big Bang Cosmology (1991)

There are several other approaches to the justification of atheism that we will consider below. There is a family of arguments, sometimes known as exercises in deductive atheology, for the conclusion that the existence of God is impossible. Another large group of important and influential arguments can be gathered under the heading inductive atheology. These probabilistic arguments invoke considerations about the natural world such as widespread suffering, nonbelief, or findings from biology or cosmology.

Another approach, atheistic noncognitivism, denies that God talk is even meaningful or has any propositional content that can be evaluated in terms of truth or falsity. Rather, religious speech acts are better viewed as a complicated sort of emoting or expression of spiritual passion. Inductive and deductive approaches are cognitivistic in that they accept that claims about God have meaningful content and can be determined to be true or false.

Deductive Atheology Many discussions about the nature and existence of God have either implicitly or explicitly accepted that the concept of God is logically coherent. That is, for many believers and non-believers the assumption has been that such a being as God could possibly exist but they have disagreed about whether there actually is one.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

Atheists within the deductive atheology tradition, however, have not even granted that God, as he is typically described, is possible. The first question we should ask, argues the deductive atheist, is whether the description or the concept is logically consistent.

If it is not, then no such being could possibly exist. Since logical impossibilities are not and cannot be real, God does not and cannot exist. Consider a putative description of an object as a four-sided triangle, a married bachelor, or prime number with more than 2 factors.

We can be certain that no such thing fitting that description exists because what they describe is demonstrably impossible. If deductive atheological proofs are successful, the results will be epistemically significant. Many people have doubts that the view that there is no God can be rationally justified. But if deductive disproofs show that there can exist no being with a certain property or properties and those properties figure essentially in the characterization of God, then we will have the strongest possible justification for concluding that there is no being fitting any of those characterizations.

If God is impossible, then God does not exist.

  • God would have to intervene in his creation at the big bang singularity to ensure that it emitted a maximal configuration of particles capable of undergoing the symmetry breaking phases, then again during the GUT era to ensure that the separating gravitational force acquires the right value, and then once again during the electroweak era to ensure that the separating strong force acquires the right value, and then once more during the free quark era to ensure that the separating electromagnetic and weak forces acquire the right value;
  • However, her argument, and similar arguments, have been acknowledged by some moral realists, such as David Enoch 2011 and Erik Wielenberg 2014 to pose a significant problem for their view.

It may be possible at this point to re-engineer the description of God so that it avoids the difficulties, but now the theist faces several challenges according to the deductive atheologist. Is that the God that she believed in all along? Before the account of God was improved by consideration of the atheological arguments, what were the reasons that led her to believe in that conception of God?

Secondly, if the classical characterizations of God are shown to be logically impossible, then there is a legitimate question as whether any new description that avoids those problems describes a being that is worthy of the label.

  • It has come to be widely accepted that a being cannot be omnipotent where omnipotence simply means to power to do anything including the logically impossible;
  • There is a God;
  • I believe this objection is incompatible with the rationality of God;
  • God supernaturally guided the formation and development of life into the forms we see today;
  • He also expands on numerous details of the theory.

It will not do, in the eyes of many theists and atheists, to retreat to the view that God is merely a somewhat powerful, partially-knowing, and partly-good being, for example. Thirdly, the atheist will still want to know on the basis of what evidence or arguments should we conclude that a being as described by this modified account exists?

Fourthly, there is no question that there exist less than omni-beings in the world. We possess less than infinite power, knowledge and goodness, as do many other creatures and objects in our experience. What is the philosophical importance or metaphysical significance of arguing for the existence of those sorts of beings and advocating belief in them? Another possible response that the theist may take in response to deductive atheological arguments is to assert that God is something beyond proper description with any of the concepts or properties that we can or do employ as suggested in Kierkegaard or Tillich.

So complications from incompatibilities among properties of God indicate problems for our descriptions, not the impossibility of a divine being worthy of the label.

Many atheists have not been satisfied with this response.