Religious believers like to think that I don’t accept the arguments for the existence of God because I don’t want to – because then I’d have to give up orgies and heroin and all the things that make an atheist’s life fun.1 In fact, I’ve wondered roughly the same thing about certain atheist philosophers.
But here’s the problem with that line of thinking.
None of the usual arguments for the existence of God even try to prove the existence of a God whose existence would matter to me.
The design argument? It aims to prove the existence of an intelligent, powerful, supernatural Creator. The design argument doesn’t say anything about whether this God cares about morality or humanity or which scriptures you prefer. Do I care if such a God exists? No. It makes not a bit of difference to my life or yours.
The cosmological argument? In its most robust form, it aims to prove the existence of a supernatural, personal Creator. Again, the argument doesn’t say anything about whether this God knows about humanity or has any moral commands to give us. Do I care if such a God exists? No.
The ontological argument? At most, it aims to prove the existence of an all-perfect being. But it doesn’t say anything about whether this God is ‘personal’ in any way that makes sense, or has revealed itself to humans. Do I care if such a God exists? No.
The moral argument? It aims to prove a God whose nature or commands are the foundation for moral values. But it doesn’t say anything about what is moral, or how we could possibly know what is moral, or whether God cares if we are moral any more than he cares whether dolphins are moral. Do I care if such a God exists? No.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Sure, it would be absolutely fascinating to learn that something supernatural existed, or that one of these vague concepts of God referred to something real. That would be quite stunning and invigorating. But would it make any difference at all to how you or I lead our lives? No.
So I don’t think you can say I’m resistant to theistic arguments just because I don’t want to believe in God, because I really don’t care if any of these gods exist. It would be like proving to me that there is indeed a multiverse. That would be pretty fascinating, but… it really wouldn’t effect our lives at all.
- For those who missed the joke, I haven’t done either. [↩]