Monday, April 19, 2010

Why Anti-Atheist Arguments Are Illogical

I followed a link that led me here. Based on the title ("Why Atheism is Illogical"), I thought whoever wrote it must really have something good as an argument. Imagine my disappointment upon discovering it was just a very short version of Pascal's Discredited Wager.

But Pascal was writing in Christian, and specifically Catholic, terms. Our amateur apologist broadens the wager to include all theists, ignoring the fact that Christianity threatens Hindus with hell as much as it does atheists.

In Christianity, they [atheists] would be sent to hell. In Hinduism, they would be reincarnated into a lower status.

However, if a theist is correct in their beliefs, they are rewarded for their faith and go to heaven/reincarnate in a better status/etc.

So, finding Christianity abhorrent, let's say I go with Hinduism. I end up in the Christian hell if I converted to the wrong religion. Same with Islam. If I convert to Christianity and the Muslim faith is the correct one, I risk going to the Islamic hell. We can continue to add various religions and sects of various religions until we have possibly thousands to choose from. This is where the wager actually favors the atheist position (Pascal's Wager is not an argument for God's existence as much as it is an argument for the desirability of belief).

In the original wager, there is only one God, the God of the Catholic Church. The assumption is that those outside the Church will suffer eternal torment after death. The further assumption is that the believer loses nothing if he/she is wrong. All three assumptions are faulty.

The true God may be one of the many thousands that people have believed in throughout humanity's history, not just the God of one Church, however much it proclaims its universalism. Furthermore, the real God, if there is one, may offer universal salvation and immortality in paradise to everyone, including atheists. It could be that this real God loves atheists even more than believers, perhaps to the point of sending arrogant fundamentalists of all faiths to hell, and rewarding atheists for their commitment to reason. And the assumption that believers lose nothing if they are wrong is also false. Time, money, innocent earthly pleasures that they deny themselves believing that they are "sin", etc. are just the tip of the iceberg.

Since the wager is not about God's existence, but about the value of belief itself, it becomes apparent that with hundreds of religious options to choose from, the chance of you choosing the right one and being rewarded with life after death is small. Coupled with the costs of following a particular religion (praying five times a day, taking a costly trip to Mecca, giving up all alcoholic beverages) and the prior probability of theism, atheism is then the better choice.

I found the following at Advocatus Atheist:

As expected, we’ve all heard the Christian schema of why we ought to believe. In their attempts to convinces us, they often fall back on fallacious arguments, often saying something along the lines that evolution is false therefore the Bible is true, or because the Bible is true evolution is false. Other times we have heard the claim because the Bible is true, and God created it all, evolution is true, and therefore proof of God’s existence. Or how about, you can’t be moral without religion; ever heard that one? Or if you don’t believe in Jesus and ask him for forgiveness you’ll go to hell. God is all loving (never mind the contradiction). Or the rapture is definitely coming. Or that God hears your prayers. Or that you go to paradise in heaven after you die. Or because you can’t prove human consciousness then that’s evidence for God. Or because the universe exists something must have created it, therefore proof that God must exist. All of these claims are unfounded, therefore when Christians wish to support their devotional beliefs they turn to the slippery slopes of fallacy packed professions and mind-boggling truth claims, hoping you won’t notice their sufficient lack of evidence whatsoever.

99.9% of Christian Apologetics Rely on Fallacies

And for some real life examples of bad arguments, I present

Here's a great one (under the title Atheist Accuses Christians Of Not Having Evidence Of Jesus Christ’s Divinity):

The evidence for His divinity can be found in the Bible. How come all of the books in Bible fail to contradict one another once when they were written over a span of several thousand years by many different authors? How come they all manage to predict the coming of the Messiah.

You’ll obviously try to explain this all away by saying it isn’t scientific but either way I just don’t think you want to know the truth.

I rest my case!

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