Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bad Creationist Arguments: A Response to Adoro Ergo Sum

It's been a while since I last wrote a post on the blog, so today I'm going to do something simplistic to hold you over while I work on something more substantial. Nathan Barontini from the blog Adoro Ergo Sum posted an article on the 11th of this month entitled "Does Lack of Evidence for God Justify Atheism?" I saw this on my Google+ feed, gave it a read, and decided the arguments were pretty bad and that the writer didn't satisfy the goal he was aiming for. Here I'll refute his claims with brevity for your entertainment.

Firstly, the answer to his question is an obvious "yes." Lack of evidence for X justifies a lack of belief in X. For example, there is no evidence that there is a corn cob inside my head; therefore, there I would be justified in saying I do not believe in said corn cob inside my head. Replace "there is a corn cob inside my head" with anything that has not been proven and you will get the idea. To suggest otherwise is a breach of basic logic.

To address the article itself, we'll start with the first two sentences, quote:
"Have you ever encountered the claim that there is "no evidence for God?" This is usually thrown out by undereducated, militant, atheistic, online "trolls" and is meant to be a conversation stopper - an irrefutable argument proving the rationality of the atheist position."
Immediately Nathan poisons the well by attempting to drag the intellect, behavior, personality and motives of his opposition through the mud. The fact is that someone who claims there is no evidence for God is simply observing the universe objectively. They can be an absolute idiot and still accept that there is no reason to believe in God. The only reason it's an "irrefutable" argument is because there really is no evidence for God. The only way to disprove that there is no evidence for something is by providing evidence for it, which theists cannot do, as will be shown.

Under "Is There A Lack of Evidence for God?" Nathan lists several things which he thinks prove God's existence beyond what he calls arguments of "the 'I feel God exists/ I want God to exist/ The Bible says God exists/ my parents said God exists' variety." Here I will list them and respond to them succinctly.

1: The universe has a beginning (and nothing can cause itself to begin to exist).

This is a typical god of the gaps argument. Yes we know the universe has a beginning, but it didn't just cause itself to begin. The question of "who or what caused the Big Bang" is a question that scientists are still trying to answer; however there is no reason to accept God as that answer, since there is no evidence for it. This may seem circular, but in actuality it's just a flawed argument on Nathan's part. Finding a situation where "because God" seems to plug into the right hole doesn't suffice as evidence for his existence.

2: The moral law.

For this argument, Nathan cites a video by William Lane Craig claiming to show that morality is objective, and that it proves God's existence. Of course, this invokes the Euthyphro dilemma, which is the conundrum of whether something is good because God wills it, or whether God wills it because it is good. Craig's answer to this question is "neither one, rather God wills something because he is good." To explain otherwise, something is considered good if it conforms to God's "moral nature." Whether Craig realizes it or not, this is exactly the same as saying "it's good because God wills it." The reason for this is that it still presupposes that what God does can be considered good, or that God's nature is good. That doesn't answer the question of "what is good," though, because if what God does is good simply because he is good, then what remains is the question of what determines that fact. In other words, what determines that God's nature is good? The answer would inevitably be God, thus creating a viciously circular argument which leads back to "it's good because God wills it."

3: The beauty and goodness in the universe.

Nathan makes no attempt to make a logical argument for this case. Rather, he accepts that there is no logical argument to be made, and that this is something you just understand based on intuition. For those people who don't, it's because they have been blinded from seeing the obvious truth. Of course, we can abandon any argument that does not rely on a logical premise, and so by Nathan's own admission, this argument doesn't work (even though he thinks it does, but has essentially admitted that it doesn't).

4: The intelligibility of the universe.

The argument from intelligibility is that all things in the universe at any level of existence can be known -- that is, they have a structure which allows us to comprehend them -- and therefore the only "satisfying" answer is that it was intelligently designed. This is similar to the argument from complexity in that it presupposes that because something can be understood, it has to be designed in the same way that the former presupposes that because something is complex, it has to be designed by something even more complex. Of course, we see why this is fallacious: there is no reason to believe in the premise. In fact, it's much easier for me to believe that the universe in all aspects can be understood because otherwise it would lose stability. Note how I said it's easier for me to believe that, though, not that it's any more logical of an argument.

5: The contingency of everything we see around us.

This is almost exactly the same as argument 1, although it illustrates it differently. It states that because the universe cannot be conceived to not exist (making it contingent), and that its cause must not also be contingent, that its cause is what can be called "God." This ignores that God has many other attributes other than just being an original cause. It's also all-encompassing, because now anything that is the original cause of the universe can be called "God." Whether you call it God or not is not the issue at hand. What its attributes are is the issue. Whether the cause of the Big Bang is called "God" or "Bitimpusmaxilord" only matters at a visceral level.

6: The history surrounding Jesus Christ.

Nathan only cites a book for this, as he does for many of his claims, and thus it's difficult to judge the merits of the argument, or even what the argument is; however, I can only assume that it's the argument that because the Bible is historically accurate down to the possibility of Jesus Christ existing amongst the things that are mentioned therein, it is right about Jesus Christ being the Son of God. If this is the argument, it's terrible. I could research twentieth century America for years, write a book about a fictional character who existed during that time, and meet the same test. It does not follow that because X is correct about Y, then X is also correct about Z, unless Z is contingent upon Y. In this case, that would mean the existence of God is contingent upon the historical accuracy of the Bible, which means that any fictional character's existence can be proven by an argument of historical accuracy.

7: The universal testimony of mankind.

Universality does not prove the existence of God. This is a strange but convincing argument from popularity. It simply doesn't follow, though, that because history has rejected atheism that atheism isn't true. The same could be said for anything up until its acceptance. Here's an example: the Christian God. The Christian God did not exist as a concept until the creation of Christianity, after the alleged coming of Christ. Up until that point, however, history had rejected the idea of that particular interpretation of God because no evidence had been brought about for it. Up until that point, then, it could be argued that the universal testimony of mankind disproved the existence of the Christian God. The same can be said for evolution, the Big Bang, the planets orbiting the sun, etc. Also, it ignores that not all interpretations of God are the same, or even similar, or are even singular (hence polytheism).

8: Miracles.

Another book citation, but I can't even begin to make sense of this argument. God exists because of miracles? Miracles don't exist. We have not found anything in the universe that cannot have a conceivably rational explanation.

This is the end of his arguments for God, which took longer than expected to address. Responding to the sentences after that list, I guess I'm in the minority, because I addressed every single one as best as I could. In fact, there are plenty of resources available for anyone who wants to address these arguments. Let this be one of them. Again though, Nathan tries to impress himself and his arguments by claiming that few can respond to them.

The next section is "Is the Argument Logical?" Here, Nathan states as follows:
"Another, and worse, problem for the argument is the bad logic behind it. Even if we granted the atheist the truth of his statement, "there is no evidence for the existence of God," his conclusion, "there is no God," would still not be proven."
To anyone who actually says "there is no God," then you're screwed here; but to the vast majority of atheists who say "I don't believe there is a God," then you're in luck, because Nathan forgot to address you. The most common atheistic position isn't one of knowledge, but of lack of belief. There is no evidence for the existence of God; therefore, there is no reason to believe God exists. That doesn't mean he doesn't exist, it just means we shouldn't believe he does until something provides evidence for it. However, if you are like me, then you can look at different attributes of different gods and determine whether or not that god can possibly exist. Omnipotence is one, which is a paradox. Any god that is allegedly omnipotent cannot exist because their existence would be paradoxical.

After some hand wringing over what definition of agnosticism this strawman would fall under, Nathan concludes this:
"To conclude that we don't know if there is a God and then to live as if there wasn't one is to make a rather poor "wager," as even the honest atheist will admit."
He cites Pascal's Wager for this argument, which means he has completely misunderstood Pascal's Wager. Pascal's Wager states that if God doesn't exist, then there are no consequences to not following his will; however if he does exist, then there are consequences, therefore we should follow his will. You know, just in case? This is of course invalid for several reasons. It ignores the many numbers of moral codes that exist, such that adhering to one moral code would violate another, and thus if you were wrong about what code you follow, there would be consequences. It also presumes that belief is based on choice. It's not. I can't help not believing in God. It is something that I ultimately believe in based on evidence. If I chose to follow the moral codes, then I would merely be lying to myself and to God, and thus he would know of my true atheism and likely burn me in Hell for being a nonbeliever.

So there you have it. Nathan didn't provide any convincing arguments for the existence of God, and failed to provide any reason to believe that the atheistic position is illogical due to him not understanding what an atheist is. I hope everyone else took something from this fairly swift refutation.

Thank you very much for reading.

Follow me on social media!



  1. Nice to hear from you again, Lex! I enjoyed this little post. :3

    Could've called it: "Responding to Bad Creationist Arguments in 180 Characters or Less." :V I make bad jokes sorry. Hope to hear more from ya soon!

    1. I think you meant 180 years. Or more.

    2. Thank you Mykala. I tried to keep it brief because of how much there was. I could've gone over the fact that there are multiple time periods to the "Big Bang Era" and that there is no consensus over whether or not all of this actually had a "beginning," thereby making the premise of his cosmological argument invalid. That's a lot of strain, though, for one asshole.

      And to Nick, no, that's how long it takes you to satisfy a woman.


WARNING: Please read the Comment Guidelines page before posting!

Sometimes comments won't go through properly, so if you write a lot and are concerned about losing your work, please save your comment in a separate text document before posting. Keep it saved until you're sure your comment has been received/published.