Atheists, how would you refute atheism?

I've found the following to be a great question to ponder. Assuming you're an atheist, pretend that you are also an entirely unscrupulous person with a vested interest in discrediting atheism. Perhaps you run a totally hypocritical church, or you're fighting Richard Dawkins for publicity, or you have it in for someone who's an atheist. How would you go about refuting the position of atheism? I don't really mean, "What are the most convincing arguments against atheism that you've heard?" Of course you're welcome to use these if you want. How would you or could you, an atheist masquerading as a theist or deist, attack atheism so that it actually caused some intelligent atheists (who had not read your answer to this question) to abandon the position?


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** An indescribably divine nothing **

Dealing with those mystically inclined, or the more naive 'I-feel-god-in-my-heart' crowd, and in general all irrationalist believers, requires a different approach from dealing with rationalists.

I know that my god/goddess/demon exists -- but he/she/it cannot be described, or is beyond human understanding.

The philosopher Wittgenstein, in one of his seemingly cryptic utterances said, "A nothing would be as good as a something about which nothing could be said."

Spelled out: you claim that something exists, but no property (like, being blue) could ever be ascribed to it. This is the famous Western "via negativa" - negative path to god. Or, "neti, neti, neti" not-this, not-this not-this of Hindu mystics. God is not blue, is not evil, is not good . . . .

Logically, however, a claim that something exists does not ascribe a property to it -- or, as you ought to have learned in logic class -- existence is not a predicate. (Non-existence is not a predicate either.)

"Some god exists" seems to be saying something, but it is meaningless. You might as well be saying "bar-bar" or saying nothing at all. The Viennese novelist, Robert Musil wrote "The Man without Qualities." The man who can't be there. A nobody. Nothing.

Nobody can talk about nothing. Who's doing the talking here? (Nobody?) And what's being talked about? (Nothing?) Zen Buddhism figured all this out long ago -- hence, koans if you're lucky or a hard slap in the face when you're persistently obtuse. And what did Nobody say about Nothing?

If a god "is a something about which nothing can be said," then this putative something is equivalent to "a nothing." So-called mystics in India, China, Japan, and even Europe apprehended that a "god" without qualities was nothing. And, they were right.

Such a god’s only excuse is that it *cannot exist*. (with apologies to Stendahl)

c. 2008

Nice, but...

Very nice, not_this, very deep. It's an argument against God, though. Just this once, I'm looking for the opposite.

attacking atheism

Most of the debates betweem the likes of Dawkins, Hitches, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet and the theist apologists (eg Boteach, Alistair McGrath or Rabbi David Wolpe) run along fairly standard lines from the theist point of view;

1) establish the cosmological argument, ie something must have created the universe, that was the first cause, and suggest that might be a "god" who did that. The atheist cannot deny the possibility of a super-universal power who created the universe.

2) Establish that the atheist cannot deny the possibility of a god, who is supernatural. Ie Dawkins cannot say that there is definitely no god who gave his son for our sins.

3) Mention the moral argument for god. ie that without god, Hitler and Stalin were able to flourish, and that without a omniscient diety morality is relative.

4) Allude to the possibilty that evolution is not a correct theory. Talk about lack of fossil evidence and flaws in carbon dating.

5) Produce the "faith in god is not ammenable to normal standards of scientific proof" trump card.

6) that's it! and hope that they have used up their alloted time in the debate.

For my argument for theism,

For my argument for theism, I think it would be necessary to do away with some of the notions attached to the current biblical religions.

For example get rid of omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence as they create fairly obvious problems with ascribing qualities to a god. For example you can't say god is good, while having those properties, otherwise you fail the Epicurus riddle;

Obviously you can keep the omnis, but you have to get rid of the notion of "god is good", certainly in the modern context of the phrase.

I would argue that clearly the universe started, or was started by something, and that something provided properties and relations to the objects in our universe. Whether that "something" that started the universe had consciousness or that these properties and relations are somehow deterministic or functions of some underlying substrate is currently mysterious.

I would probably be forced to argue that the universe was some sort of experiment of outcome (by the "something" god), rather than of the objective moral theatre that biblical theists suggest that is going on. Otherwise you are going to get stuck with all the objections to supernatural intervention that modern religion says have occurred. For example heaven and hell, and objective morality are all going to get stuck on meta-physical hooks.

So basically I would argue that there was a god, who is this powerful super-universal entity, who is running the universe like a school science project. He/she (more likely it) probably doesn't care too much about individual human actions, however we might just get noticed if we managed to not all kill ourselves, and make a decent show of it.

If the above was the case, then morality would be based upon general principles of trying to improve humanity in order to better understand the nature of this god and his toy universe.

Standard, but...

Yep, that's about the extent of the regular approach. I'm sure it does a good job of reassuring believers, but does it convince many atheists, I wonder? Anyone got personal examples of McGrath, D'Souza, etc. achieving one less atheist in the world?

If you had to fill in for one of these apologists at short notice, how would you improve his game plan?

Refute atheism

If there is a convincing proof for a god, then it is, therefore, a convincing rebuttal to atheism.

The problem, of course, is there is no convincing proof of a personal god as conceived of in the modern judeo/christian culture.

Bipolar blasts atheism, theism and agnosticism

>>Very nice, not_this, very deep. It's an argument against God, though. Just this once, I'm looking for the opposite.

You asked for an argument against atheism. He gave you one. Sure it's an argument against theism and agnosticism too, but you wanted an argument against atheism, and he gave you one.

Bipolar's is NOT an argument "about God" at all. It couldn't be because as he implies, "God" capitalized is only a meaningless row of letters. Bipolar's is an argument against atheism, for its belief that "God" is a meaningful word when it is does not refer to anything that anybody can think of.

"God", if capitalized when not at the beginning of a sentence, does not refer to a god at all -- not a real god like the sun worshippers had, not an imaginary god like the ancient Greeks has, but an un-think-of-able god. And you can't talk about what you cannot think about, which is implied by the Wittgenstein quote. There are two terms that have been used for those who disbelieve that saying "God exists" emits no information, either true information or false information. One term is "ignostic" and the other is "theological noncognitivist".

Atheists are wrong for thinking theists use the term "God" to refer to something imaginary. Theists do not worhip a god. Their term "God" does not refer to anything that can be thought of, and certainly not an imaginary god. Theists do not believe in any god at all. They simply believe that they believe in a god because of the repeated use of "God" in speech and writings as though it stood for a god, but it doesn't.

"God", "Fod", and "Zod" are very much alike in that none of them refers to anything anybody can think of.

Edwin McCravy

Post about nothing

If Bipolar intended to argue against atheism as well as theism (if you're still around, mate, let us know!), it was a little one-sided of him to criticise only positive deistic/theistic statements.

There are many who dislike and avoid the term "atheist" because of the lack of accepted ontology for gods; that is, they don't want to voice their disbelief in gods until somebody nails down what a god is. This is not the same as your position, but it's a superficially similar effort to invalidate the discussion.

You and they seem overly cautious to me, because one need not fully comprehend something in order to ponder and discuss it. The god named God, whatever it may hypothetically be, has certain qualities we can comprehend if not fully visualise: omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immortality and so on. According to specific sources, it also has qualities we are much more familiar with: intelligence, goals, reactions and even a literal voice. Thus it is not something about which nothing can be said for purposes of discussion.

We can work with these hypothetical qualities to argue, successfully or not, that any entity which has such a combination of qualities does not likely exist. Many apologists use the same qualities to argue that such an entity is necessary. Either way, there is enough of a consensus between the two sides that they can argue comprehensibly.

this is too much, big wrds

this is too much, big wrds and bipolar, all i got from it was...
-something cannot b created from nothing

luckily i had my own little arguement today and i got sum stuff to put in..

started by sayin "and how was that created" "and whered that crom from" but i was scared he'd go arrogant (and u cant convince arrogant ppl) so i tried to mess up watever he said...example

the glob (he xplained as the atom in the big bang) became unstable after collecting hydrogen in "the void" and xploded...

look 4 key wrds...wat caused an xplosion? howd it become unstable if the void has all the room it needs, wouldnt it just move to the unstable side forever (or until it becomes stable)?
so basically...go by logic (whered that come from? not from nowhere surely) and look at what he says, even a 2nd or 3rd time, till u get sumtin (if ur imaginations good, make a map of everything and see wats wrong), dont let him become arrogant also otherwise its just not worth it (unless other ppl r listening)
1 last thing, athiests know about science, so try and stay off their turf, go onto ur religion, and miracles in it that r shown today (islam: quran describes the life of an embryo..1400 yrs ago)

may allah almighty give victory to those who beleive in him and a greater 1 to those who beleiive in him only

4-islam, all comments must

4-islam, all comments must be approved before they appear on the site. Just write one, and wait for it to appear. I'm sorry you misunderstood that and wrote six.

To pick up on one of your points: The singularity was not necessarily in a void, because we don't know what's outside of this universe's space. Perhaps it was only just freed from the confines of another universe.

You're obviously not an atheist, 4-islam. I'd like to see you actually apply your arguments elsewhere on the site, instead of here in the hypothetical anti-atheist atheist discussion.