Prove there are no gods.

Is there a positive, standalone atheist argument which can be used to prove that theism is false and there are no gods? Preferably, it should be one of the form: premise, premise, ..., conclusion.
Atheist Answer: 

The short answer is no, because "theism is false" is actually further than most atheists are willing to go.

Even Richard Dawkins would not unequivocally say there are no gods, which must be true in order to conclude that theism is false. The chapter of The God Delusion directly concerned with God's existence is titled, "Why there *almost* certainly is no God".

Would you say that because Dawkins felt he needed the "almost", Richard Dawkins is not an atheist? Of course not. Atheism is not a stone cold denial, it's not a positive belief that there are no gods (that's "strong atheism"). It's a lack of belief in any god or equivalent and the associated conclusion that there probably aren't any. To invite atheists to argue that theism is definitely false is like inviting an astronomer to argue that aliens are impossible.

Here it is from the standpoint of statistics. It's impossible to disprove a null hypothesis; you can only find sufficient evidence to reject it and accept an alternate hypothesis. The absence of any gods is the null hypothesis, because it requires no evidence to even suggest.

This is proven by the existence of "implicit atheists", those few with no exposure to religion and no self-taught religious beliefs. Many young children and some remote tribespeople are examples. Atheism is the default position for a human being, at least to begin with. Any god is therefore an alternate hypothesis which you may accept on the basis of whatever you regard as evidence. You can never deny the possibility outright. I don't try.

Moving from the disputed truth of theism to the pros and cons of professed theism: With the possibility of a god intact in my mind, this atheist is ostensibly at risk of paying dearly in hell while believers are rewarded. This is only likely to be the case if there is only one possible god. There are 20,000 or so invented gods and an infinite number of other possible gods. Whatever the probability of SOME god existing, the probability of a particular god is one in infinity, or near to zero as darn it. Live as though only your god or gods exist and, infinity to one, you're backing the wrong horse. The vast majority of invented gods are very unforgiving of that. Better to approach the worst-case scenario of a foreign god with no other gods in hand, I say. Besides, wouldn't any god see through a fake self-serving belief professed only to escape punishment?

As you can see, theism invites criticism even when you admit it is not definitely false.

The following is an attempt to reason against theism as strongly as an honest atheist should dare.

Premise 1: There is no apparent empirical evidence for the existence of any god or equivalent supernatural being.

(Break this premise if you like by presenting some. The value and definition of "apparent empirical evidence" will need hammering out first of course, and I won't do that here.)

Premise 2: For the truth of theism to be at all likely, some empirical evidence for the existence of a god or equivalent supernatural being would need to be apparent.

(You'd need a very good reason why some other type of evidence is acceptable, or even evidence at all.)

Conclusion: Theism is likely false.

I invite readers to try writing their own step-by-step logical arguments in a similar vein. Have fun.

- SmartLX

(As a sidenote, Penn Jillette once wrote an article called "There is no God." You might like it. - Brian Sapient)


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yes, you can absolutely

yes, you can absolutely prove the nonexistence of god to any believer. kill him. whether there be a _convenient_ proof, is another matter entirely.

Clever, but...

I'd much prefer a proof that could be used in the world of the living, wouldn't you? That way you wouldn't have to prove it personally to each theist. Also you wouldn't have to kill anybody.

** Is 'god' related to the 'round-square'?

There's no need to agree with theists or deists or agnostics that gods' non-existence cannot be established. When they refer to god(s) to what (if anything) are they referring?

That is, the statement 'the god X exists' can be shown to be false. It's up to claimants to specify just what concept of god they're playing with. (Dealing with an irrationalist or a mystic requires different approaches not discussed here.)

Some concepts are simply inconsistent. For example is the concept of god X just like the concept of the round-square? "The" round-square does not exist because its (supposed) concept is incoherent.

In the Middle Ages an attempt was made to explicate "the" concept of God's omnipresence by recourse to an analogy drawn from plane geometry. God is like . . . a circle whose circumference is nowhere and whose center is everywhere. Clever stuff.

But there can be no such circle. Among closed plane figures, the circle shares the property of always being finite. The analogy backfires -- well if God's omnipresence is like that; then, there can be no such God.

A different approach to showing conceptual limits of any concept of God also comes from the Middle Ages. "Can an omnipotent God create a stone too big for Him to lift?" To say either yes or no immediately implies that God is not omnipotent. And, consequently, not the god of the so-called big 3 monotheisms.

Language here is being misused. Adjectives are always relative to some context. A context free absolute adjective describes nothing. Stretching language past it limits is a commonplace in discourse about gods. A related gambit is to claim that the word 'good' when applied to some alleged divinity does not mean the same thing as 'good' when applied to human acts.

Obviously, most theists or deists won't immediately offer up lucid concepts of god. Though the panto-divinity: all powerful, all knowing, all merciful, will often make his (her, its) appearance. This conjunction of attributes is easy to undermine. Epicurus did so 300 years BCE -- that is, long before the world became burdened by the suicidal cult of xianity:

Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then where does evil come from?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him ‘god’?

Too bad Jesus didn't get a decent training in philosophy. Xianity has spent so much time trying to shore up its failed pantocrator that there's even a name for this branch of theological special pleading, theodicy.

Can the negation of an existential claim be proved. Sure. Yaweh, God, and Allah simply do not exist because they can not exist.

c. 2008

Devil's advocate

Good, solid stuff from bipolar2, but not unassailable.

The geometric analogy was, as stated, a Middle Ages creation. The point seems to be that God is a huge, impossible thing that exists nevertheless because He's so freaking awesome. This is counter to the usual modern argument that God is not only possible but necessary for the universe to exist as it does. You can argue against the analogy easily, but try finding someone who believes in it.

The rock question is a specific case of the Omnipotence Paradox, for which there are a whole pile of philosophical responses. One example is that the idea of a rock God cannot lift is as nonsensical as the idea of a round square if part of the basic definition of a rock is that God can lift it. The paradox will provoke thought in someone who hasn't considered it, but answers are available and finding answers to tough criticisms usually serves to increase a believer's faith.

Epicurus' expression of the Problem of Evil has been around much longer than the Middle Ages. The basic answers to it have moved out of theodicy and become part of the basic teachings of many religions. Christianity's most common response is that a benevolent God may have His reasons for allowing some evil to occur, as it will be for the greater good in the end. This is most commonly expressed as, "God works in mysterious ways."

My response to this is that there are several different answers to the same question from the same religion, variously involving free will, tests, demons, Satan, Original Sin and so forth. Only one would do. The most likely explanation for this redundancy is that all the answers are simply defenses against the question, not confident interpretations of doctrine. Whatever stops the question from being asked is simply linked back to scripture after the fact.

"Prove there are no

"Prove there are no gods"

Prove that there are.

Pointless, stupid question? Not worth the energy it took to type it?

Prove I don't have an invisible pink teapot floating outside my window that also happens to be immaterial, and maybe phase- and dimensionally- shifted. You can't, can you?

Therefore, "prove there are no gods" is as useful as "prove there are" which is to say, not much.

It's YOUR Hell, YOU burn in it.

Also I just read the content

Also I just read the content of the post... I hadn't realised there was more to the "question" than just the title, I apologise for what may have seemed to be somewhat of a tirade at you. My response stands for any theist who asks the question at you like it means something.

It's YOUR Hell, YOU burn in it.


Dude, I got it. Relax.

Hard to relax when it's 3am

Hard to relax when it's 3am in the morning and you've just subjected yourself to watching an hour-long series of anti-evolution videos on youtube by a bunch of slimy Young Earth Creationists...

Point taken though, I'll leave you to it ^^

It's YOUR Hell, YOU burn in it.

Faith is the believe of

Faith is the believe of something without evidence, therefore you cannot prove or deny god. The moment you find evidence either way will instantly disprove the nature of god. But as of right now proving or disproving god is impossible.

No I'm not religious...just saying.

The point.

No argument here. That's largely the point of my answer.

There are those who would disagree with your definition of faith. It can be a slippery word.

Same thing one of the

Same thing one of the catholic pilgrims that are staying with my sister (and 3 with my mum) said last night.... He was mexican so his English wasn't crash-hot but he said something like God doesn't exist, He just "is" and if you prove him then he wouldn't be God. Just sounded like a cop-out so he wouldn't have to try and explain anything.

PROOF OF NO GOD ala St Alselm

1. God is that, a greater of which cannot be conceived

2. But I can conceive of 2 Gods or 3 or 4 or an infinite number

3. More is better.

4. Ergo, there is no god because any god can be conceptually multiplied by whatever is thought of.

I rest my case