There are dozens of arguments for the existence of God that I cannot refute.
For some arguments, this is because I haven’t taken the time to read them through. But for many, it’s because I have read them but I don’t know what’s wrong with them. Often, this is because I lack the training to evaluate the argument at all.
An example is Robert Maydole’s temporal contingency argument for God’s existence from his chapter in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Here it is:
Atheists, can you refute this argument?
I suspect not.
I certainly can’t. At least, not yet. I don’t even understand it well enough to have a clue whether it can be refuted.
And there are probably about a dozen arguments like this for which it would require years or decades of study for me to even begin to know whether they are sound or not.
And here’s the thing. I don’t think there are arguments like this for the existence of Zeus. Or for the truth of astrology. Or for the existence of Yahweh, or Allah, or Waheguru.
But I don’t believe in a supreme being, either. Is this justified? Should I be less confident about the non-existence of supreme beings because there are so many arguments for their existence that I don’t know how to refute?
Remember, the above argument is a deductive argument. If it is sound, it doesn’t just increase the probability of theism relative to the evidence against theism from divine hiddenness or suffering in the world or whatever (neither of which can attack the existence of a supreme being, anyway, but only more specific notions of God). If Maydole’s argument is sound, it proves the existence of a supreme being, regardless of strong probabilistic arguments for atheism.
Should I be more open to theism than I already am because of the sheer number of arguments for theism that I cannot refute, even if I try?
Obviously, most theists don’t believe in God for good reasons, and aren’t even aware of most atheistic arguments. They should be less confident about their theism.
But what I want to ask is: Should we atheists be less confident about our atheism? Should we at least be more open to the plausibility of deism, given the number of arguments for deism that most of us are trained enough to evaluate?