I am currently working on some videos dealing with the Arguments for the Existence of God and was wondering what your favorite arguments are!

I have finished up the argument from personal experience (not a formal argument, exactly, but the one most often encountered in a discussion with "normal" folk) and will be moving on to the deeper arguments that are usually presented as proof for God.

I enjoy dealing with the Teleological argument:
1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.
and the Moral argument
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

What arguments do you see tossed out more often than others (e.g. William Lane Craig's Cosmological Argument) and how do you respond to them?

~BB

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On January 13 I’m going to debate Dr. Arthur Hippler, Chairman, Dept. of Religion at Providence Academy, on the resolution, “That a supernatural authority is necessary for obligatory moral claims.” It will be at a Catholic apologetics club, http://www.aotmclub.com/. I’ve written a first draft of my opening statement. Here is part that is relevant to the question of this folder,

Sometimes there are attempts to prove the existence of god from ethics. It goes like this: There can only be objective moral laws if there is a law-giver god. We know that there are objective moral laws, because we all agree that genocide and rape are wrong. Therefore, there is a god.

I’ve always thought that this argument is a cheap trap. If we deny the objectivity of moral laws, as we should, our opponent will feign shock: “Do you mean that you think genocide can be a good thing? Are you saying that sometimes we should commit rape?”

In truth, these things are not bad because a god declared them to be moral absolutes, but only in consequence of the harm that they cause in peoples’ lives. And I assert that this analysis of consequences is the best foundation for social morality, because it will lead to a higher quality of life for everyone than relying on the moral dictates of an ancient and primitive society in the guise of divine declarations.
As I am an agnostic and am a bit skeptikal of atheism as it seem very fundamentalist, and a cursory study of history is no kinder to atheism than it is to religion, my arguments would be closer to literal questions at this point for a militant atheist. I really am interested in the answers that one might provide as I make my way through my own journey of truth and reason. They are as follows:

What about beauty? How does atheistic evolution, a universe without mystery, explain poetry, love, grief, music, natural beauty, and so on? The only explanation that I have heard is that art exist to woo the opposite sex, but why then would someone unintersted in sex, by birth or choice, stand in awe of natural beauty(thus excluding both man made art and sex)?

The teoleological argument. Where did it start? Who/what was the first mover?
If the answer is aliens or sand and lightning or whatever, then how is that anymore or less logical or illogical than deism?

Why has no other species evolved to anywhere near the level that humans
have? We are capable of the best and the worst of everything. Why is humanity so unique? Why are we the only non utilitarian creators? Seeing beauty in utilitarian creation has no utilitarian value, so why do we have the capacity to see it? How does a world with no currently existing mystery explain this? Why are we capable of altruism? Does altruism exist in the natural world?

Where does morality come from. Does it even exist in a world without God?
Why? Is anything inexcusable? Why? Does atheism have room for
altruism? Altruism can act against natural instinct, putting one's life on the line for the sake of another, and often an unrelated and unknown other. Why do we have this capacity? Is altruism ethical?Is it stupid? If it is stupid, then why do we humans, being more evolved, have the capacity for it? How do ethics fit into an atheistic worldview? Why do we as individuals and nations seek an ethic? Does altruism exist in the natural world?

Is a thirst for the divine a priori? One could say that children believe in god but they also believe in unicorns, so what does that matter? Well, does a child, lets say 8 years old, really believe in the existence of the unicorn in the same way that they are likely to believe in the existence of a god? Children are naturally capable of learning and understanding languages and complex musical forms that most adults find extremely difficult to impossible. Why is the inclination towards the divine automatically cast into the lot with the unicorn rather than with the language and music. Is there an objective and logical reason to associate this divinity drive with a childs inferiorities rather than his or her superiorities? Why is it that so many intelligent and mature adults have an inward drive, and often a reflexive drive, to express thankfulness to an unseen being?

Why is worship, the use of art to express thanksgiving to one's understanding of divinity, (often)so therapeutic, physically and emotionably? Why does it seem so right to so many good and intelligent people to feel as one with a divine mystery?

Quantum physics. The slit test, when it was shown that matter behaves differently depending on wether or not it is being observed. I am not well versed in physics, most of my knowledge of it I have picked up from What the Bleep do We Know? and pbs's Nova, so please forgive my ignorance, but doesnt quantum weirdness speak of a mystery? The theist are sh*t out of luck when it comes to any serious scientific backing, but doesnt this(quantum) seem to create a scientific support for some mysterious if benign force? And where does this force come from if not from a divine being or force? Is there an answer besides aliens or "I essentially have no idea but am willing to speculate into realm of science fiction(and who wants science fiction in a debate of science?)"? And if aliens or "I essentially have no idea but am willing to speculate into realm of science fiction" is the answer, then doesnt this just lead us back to the teleological argument?

That is it. Keep in mind that I am not religious and am not trying to start an argument, but these are questions that I have hard time coming up with good answers for, so I am curious to see someone else have a stab at them.
After reading your post, I get the impression that your questions stem from some specific assumptions that do not necessarily hold true.

I can certainly answer your questions with my own opinions, however you may wish to pad your reading list with some more authoritative sources. There is voluminous material out there written by some of the world's greatest minds relating to your questions.

Your first question relates to beauty and emotions. I would like to clarify that an atheist is not devoid of mystery by default. There are many aspects of the physical world which have not yet been explained by science. Beyond that, though, I think that your sense of mystery, in this context involves a certain air of awe and wonder. Many atheists experience this feeling when observing the night sky, or an ecosystem, or a mountain range jutting up above the clouds. Carl Sagan famously mentioned his sense of awe as a driving force in his life's work. Dawkins has spoken similarly as have countless other atheist scientists.

Why, though, must a sense of mystery relate to god? Is the human mind incapable of wonder for the sake of knowledge alone?

Love, grief, poetry, art, expression.....each are complicated topics. Love could be condensed to chemicals - a physical process. Look up oxytocin for instance. I would not assume that these feelings are limited to the human experience either.

As for a thirst for "the divine" as an innate human need, I don't think this is the case. I think that it is more likely for human beings to have an innate need to understand and explain. Children don't believe in a god or gods without being taught about them first. Don't you find it curious that polytheism came first, before the appearance of the monotheistic god?
Revelation - the profound sense of knowing God exists with absolute certainly. Duplicatable by LSD or electronic stimulation of a particular part of the brain.

Jesus was either Mad, Bad or God. Refutable by reference to the linguistic arguments over what was actually meant by the various hebrew phrases translated as "Son of God", and by how many good and sane people would in the past have argued that they knew with certainty that the Earth is flat, or many other incorrect things.

With respect to the genocide argument, the bible contains a number of incidents where God supports wiping out a whole people. Ditto offering up daughters to be raped.
There are some strange arguments out there, which might be fun to refute.
Personal tesitimony is more convincing to me than any rational argument. I've spoken with some pretty hardcore christians and they truely believe that there is a personal god in the universe and that he wrote the bible. I'm not saying these people are rational, all I'm saying is that to them it feels like the most true thing in the universe. Can something that feels so true be 100% false? (granted these are people without a great deal of intellectual curiosity).
I'm very suspicious of the personal testimonies. I prefer rational argument. I believe pretty firmly in the "security blanket effect". If it can give them the comfort they need, of course it will feel 100% true. From a psychological stand point, it's a defense mechanism. So, yes, I definitely believe it could be 100% false.
I don't mean to be a jerk here, but this is the same as saying: Damn, I KNOW I left my keys in my pants yesterday!

But if they're not there, you're simply wrong. Sometimes people are wrong. Sometimes many, many smart people are wrong. Feelings don't make something true.
Sorry, I meant to refer to the cosmological argument rather than the teleological argument. The argument of the first mover is actually challenging, the argument from design is pretty weak.

In response to Thoreau: It has been proven in studies that people, when given a placebo and told that it is a miracle diet pill, actually lose weight with no changes in activity or diet, but merely due to the fact that they think that they are losing weight. Belief is a powerful thing.

I have a hard time understanding people like C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, two of the greatest minds of the 20th century, and also quite convinced of theism. To me it seems that theism is such an indefensible stance, yet people who are much smarter than I am believe in it. Belief is a bit of a mystery. I just got through reading Chaim Potok's "The Promise", a big theme of the novel is growing up and coming to terms with the irrationality of theism. I really identified with the journey of the main characters. It is obviously about Jews, but I think that it could speak to anyone. Sorry about hijacking the thread. Back to business.
Argument 1. We just evolved, and there is no meaning or purpose to life?

That's not "good enough" for me.

My refutation is usually along the lines of "Reality doesn't really care, about what is good enough for you. Reality will exist, with or without you, as will truth. It's very humbling to realize, that no matter how stronly we may desire a God, our desires hold no weight to a universe that is at least 13 billion years old".

Argument 2.

There has to be a first mover.

Answer: Why?

Because we percieve cause and effect, and if there is alway's a cause to an effect, there must be a cause to the universe, an infinite being.

There is a lot around the whole cause and effect argument, but the on that is actually hardest for them to refute, is the circular logic they use. They believe in the possibility of an infinite being. This..is their reality.

Okay, so "something" exists for eternity. Why, could that not be the universe in some shape or form? etc etc etc. They can never refute it. They will "claim" that the universe is a creation, but as SOON as they do that, when they say "The universe is created, therefore there must be a creator" they are using circular logic.

The universe exists. We do not know wether it is, or is not a creation. If you think something can exist for an eternity, then why would you not admit there is a possibility that the universe itself, in one shape of form, has existed for eternity?

If they debate meaning...see above.

3. It has been revealed.

Answer: It was revealed to Jeff Warrens, that 12 year old girls should marry 50 yr old men with 8 wives.

Personally, I don't believe every human claim to "revalation" and there is no reason to believe any one revelation over the other..EXCEPT for personal preference, which means no objective morality exists. It is , and has alway's been..a personal choice and preference as to what religion an individual will pick.

You believe in a specific set of revelations, not because they are true, but because you want to.

4. There is evil in the world

Answer: Define evil.

There is a recognition of Evil, we are all born with it.

Nope, we are born with a survival instinct as a result of natural selection, and anything that may endager our survival is deemed bad. This has nothing to do with supernatural causes of evil, or man invoking evil as a result of original sin.

We aren't born with a recognition of Evil. We are born with a survival instinct.

5. People help one another, even when it would benefit their survival to not help.

Answer: An adult, that saves a child from drowning, and hence risks their own life, is keeping the young alive, to perpetuate the survival of the species.

Most heroic acts, are done through instinct. Those that are not, are done through conditioning.

Both, enhance our survival as a species.

Those are some arguments I've heard, and how I tend to respond.
Well everyone, I finished my first video in the series. Wooo!


I would love some serious criticism and feedback (if it's too harsh, just send it in a private message). I will be dealing with some of the more formal arguments later, but this was a start!
I like the fact that you actually look INTO the camera. You see a lot of these vids online but they look everywhere else but in the camera, it shows nervosity and it undermines your arguments because people feel they cannot trust in what you say.

I would also like to see you bringing up how logic and emotions are connected to the same center in the brain and why one cannot make a logical conclusion without overweighting the emotional aspects and vice versa. It has been proven that people who have been completely stripped of their emotional centers (I forgot the name of it, sorry) cannot even take such simple decisions as which road to go at a road split; they cannot feel which one would be the more right for them.

On the criticism side though, when you looked down at your support liners was a little distracting ;) Or maybe it's just me who is good at noticing details. Also, sometimes you maybe talked a little too fast; when we are arguing about these things sometimes you need time to reflect of what you just said just to make sure we understand it but then you spur into another argument right away, your points get partially lost. Also, when the camera screen suddenly goes darker was also a little annoying although I feel that's because of an outside effect (maybe there was a cloud covering the sun in that very moment) and I understand not everything can be controlled.

Anyway, these are my pointers, I don't see any faults with the arguments themselves, more that you maybe even support the idea that it's bad to discuss religion on a personal level as it completely depends with whom you are talking to.

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