Evidence that there is no Evidence for God’s Existence

In this post, I will explain why atheists like myself are justified in saying that there are no good arguments for God’s existence. I will not be engaging with any specific arguments for God’s existence in this post, but merely justifying the inference from a specific atheist’s not having come across a good argument for God to the conclusion that there are no good arguments for the existence of God.

First of all, atheists who are familiar with science usually feel that believing in God is profoundly unscientific and therefore unlikely to have good arguments in its favor. There are a number of good reasons to think this.

  • Science is explicitly naturalistic, at least in methodology. For several hundred years, explanations in terms of God or the supernatural have been automatically ruled out by almost all scientists. The belief that God exists seems to be in tension with the naturalism of science in a fairly straightforward way, namely that science would probably not have set up a rule explicitly barring appeals to God if God played a significant role in the operation of the world.
  • Science uses an epistemology that is inherently hostile to belief in God. Science requires empirical evidence for every claim, and most claims that are made in science have to be supported with numerous experiments and agreed upon by all relevant experts before they are regarded as established. The belief that God exists transparently does not meet these criteria, and the success of science gives us a very strong reason to think that these criteria are the ones we should use.
  • Science has constructed a nearly comprehensive view of the world with an unprecedented degree of coherence, detail, and independent support that never appeals to God at any point. The fact that we can construct a comprehensive view of the world that is this powerfully supported without ever appealing to God is a pretty strong reason to think that God doesn’t exist.

These reasons are so powerful, especially in conjunction, that an atheist could reasonably conclude that there are no good arguments for the existence of God on the basis of these reasons alone, without doing a serious investigation of the arguments for the existence of God that philosophers have put forward. If he did investigate the existence of God, he would be justified in operating with a strong presumption in favor of naturalism and atheism.

If an atheist does consider the arguments for the existence of God, he will find ample reason to think that they all fail.

The original versions of the classic arguments for the existence of God, like the cosmological, teleological, and ontological arguments, have well known refutations which are very forceful and can be found easily by doing a search on the internet. This justifies an atheist in thinking that there are no good arguments for the existence of God because these arguments are still usually the ones put forward by theists who want to argue for their faith. If there were significantly better arguments for the existence of God, then we would expect them to spread rapidly through the theist community and come into wide use.

An even stronger reason to think that there are no good arguments for the existence of God is available to the atheist who chooses to review the contemporary academic debate about God’s existence. The arguments for God’s existence that contemporary academic philosophers put forward are typically just variants on the classic arguments for God’s existence mentioned above, and even these sophisticated variants have all been refuted dozens of times by atheist philosophers of religion. For example, William Lane Craig’s kalam cosmological argument, a variant on an argument put forward a millennium ago by Islamic philosophers, has been refuted many times in the literature, such as Michael Martin’s refutation in Atheism: A Philosophical Justification and the very detailed refutations given by Graham Oppy and Jordan Howard Sobel.

The repeated failure of theistic philosophers of religion to provide tenable arguments for the existence of God is very strong evidence that there are no such arguments, since they are in the best position out of anyone in the world to provide good arguments for the existence of God. They have been immersed in theology and philosophy of religion for decades, they can explain the ins and outs of Augustine and Aquinas, and they generally have much more familiarity with modern science than most theists do. If they can’t do it, then no one can.

To recap:

  1. Atheists have no intellectual obligation to investigate the issue of God’s existence, since having a decent familiarity with science should give them a good reason to think that there will be no good arguments for God.
  2. If atheists do investigate the issue of God’s existence, a rudimentary review of the classic arguments for God’s existence should tell them everything they really need to know about the issue.
  3. If atheists decide to investigate the issue in detail, which is well beyond what they are obligated to do. they will find only confirmation of their atheism in contemporary philosophy of religion.

This is not to say that atheists never have a good reason to study the arguments for God’s existence. There are two types of atheists who have a moral obligation to study the arguments for God’s existence: Atheists who are trying to get a degree in philosophy or have some other academic obligation to study the arguments for God’s existence, and atheists who intend to publicly advocate atheism by debating formally or arguing with a lot of theists. An atheist can also have a good reason to study the arguments for God’s existence, albeit not a moral obligation per se, if they want to become more familiar with how people thought about the world in the past.

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13 thoughts on “Evidence that there is no Evidence for God’s Existence

  1. myatheistlife

    I have another reason. The desire to understand the world and know what is true begs the atheist to study the claims which contradict other claims. All claims should be investigated and when the claim is that personal safety is involved it is a person’s duty to themselves to investigate. One cannot know all there is to know but we have the obligation to try.

    Reply
    1. William Post author

      I agree that there is a desire to understand the world, but I think reading about arguments for the existence of God is a less efficient way of learning about the world than reading science or secular philosophy.

      Reply
        1. William Post author

          There are practical limitations in terms of time, effort, and money that prevent us from investigating every claim. We invest resources in investigating claims that look promising.

          Reply
  2. makagutu

    No arguments would be needed for the existence of god if this was obvious as is claimed by Christians. That apologists are always coming up with new arguments is itself evidence that god is a creation of imagination

    Reply
  3. dstamps2173

    Your writing is getting more and more irrational. I will just point out one.

    “Science requires empirical evidence for every claim”

    Perhaps you should reread that statement. Throughout history, scientists have used certain known facts to promote a “theory” they believe. Throughout history, many of those theories have been proven incorrect when more “facts” become known. How can any scientist every know that they have all the facts. To wait for all the facts would be ridiculous. Science would come to a standstill.

    Scientists suffer from the same self-serving blindness as everyone else; and history supports this fact.

    http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-most-famous-scientific-theories-that-turned-out-to-be-wrong.php

    Even Einstein was wrong at least once in a big way.

    Today, the biggest evidence of GOD is the synergism within living organisms. The human liver performs over 500 synergistic functions alone. Yet there are many other organs that perform other synergistic functions. Together there are probably 1000s of synergistic functions occurring every minute within our physical body. This includes bacteria in numbers greater than the number of cells within our body. All are working together to support our existence.

    To believe all of that synergism occurred through some unthinking process is the height of blindness.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: When do Atheists have to Study the Arguments for God’s Existence? | Occam's Blog

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