This was an irresistible challenge. I will be arguing against the existence of God, and why the hypothesis is not needed and unlikely to be true.
Atheism is the default a priori position
Skepticism is rational
Inspired and adapted from our fellow member Envisage. With this argument, I shall be affirming that atheism is the default position a priori. This is a stronger version of the argument from burden of proof. The argument shall take the form of a reductio ad absurdum.
A: All positive claims are more likely true than false
1) Therefore, claim A is more likely to be true than false
2) Therefore, claim B is more likely to be true than false
3) Therefore, claim C is more likely to be true than false
Infinity) Therefore, claim “...” is more likely to be true than false
Claims exist within reality, thus are subject to logical laws. But this entails that even logically impossible claims are more likely true than false. Consider:
A: All positive claims are more likely true than false (assumption)
P1) If ‘A’ is true, then at least one positive claim is more likely true than false
P2) If one positive claim is more likely true than false, then another positive claim is more likely false than true
P3) If one positive claim is more likely false than true, then not all positive claims are more likely true than false
C) If positive claims are more likely true than false, then not all positive claims are more likely true than false. ‘A’ entails a contradiction; therefore ‘A’ is false.
Via. reductio ad absurdum, the notion that we must accept all positive claims as more likely true is refuted. Skepticism is the *only* position that does not run into such an argument, and, as such, one must always be skeptical of any assertion.
Application of skepticism to God
We require a definition of the term ‘God’ to be specific as to what attributes the concept possesses. Basically, a normal position would entail the following properties:
- a. Causal agency
- b. Creation of the universe
- c. Intelligence
- d. Free will
- e. Omnipotence
- f. Omniscience
Each of these properties runs into the problems I presented above, since the properties of creation of the universe, omnipotence, and omniscience are *exclusive* to God, i.e. no other entity possesses them. As such, take this reductio ad absurdum argument:
A: All positive claims are more likely to be true than false (assumption)
P1) A claim that God possesses the 3 exclusive properties is more likely to be true than false a priori
P2) A claim that a separate object ‘E’ possesses the 3 exclusive properties is also more likely to be true than false
P3) P2 and P1 entail a contradiction by definition
C) ‘A’ entails a contradiction, hence ‘A’ is false
As such, skepticism of God entails as the best position a priori.
This is an epistemological argument against God’s existence. In other words, I shall neither use ontology or metaphysics to affirm the position I take here – it shall be that the term “God” doesn’t refer to a coherent concept, thus attributing existence to it is incoherent. First, I must clarify what “theological non-cognitivism” is. Theological non-cognitivism posits that “words such as ‘God’ ... are not cognitively meaningful.”[http://goo.gl...] So I’ll be defending the meaninglessness of the term “God”, and, in the process, affirm that the existence of such an incoherent concept is impossible. The argument is formalized:
P1) If God lacks a positively defined attribute, then secondary & relational attributes cannot be justified
P2) God lacks a positively defined attribute
C) Secondary & relational attributes of God are meaningless, thus God, by definition, is meaningless
Defense of Premise 1
For meaningfulness of a term of an entity, then its relational attributes must be defined as contingent on a positive attribute. For instance, let us consider an entity x. A relational attribute of x is that it weighs one pound. If a person asks “what is x?”, an answer of “x is 1 lb” only describes a relational attribute of x, thus can’t affirm what x actually is, since a positive attribute isn’t shown. If y is a concept without any such positive attribute, then the concept y is meaningless.
We can only reasonably talk of the existence of an entity if the entity has positive attributes in addition to relational attributes or secondary attributes, since if an entity’s sole attribute is “1 lb”, then the entity can’t exist since “1 lb” is a secondary attribute that is used to describe the being, rather than define it.
Defense of Premise 2
Let us consider the attributes of the term “God” as defined in this debate – intelligence, supernatural power, transcendence, intelligence, creating & ruling the universe. Let’s analyze the attributes individually, and I shall show you that the attributes are all secondary or relational attributes.
“Intelligence” is defined as “the ability to acquire knowledge and skills”. Now, let’s try applying a property of intelligence to an entity x, which someone is asking to define. “X is defined as intelligent” is incoherent if intelligence is the sole attribute the entity has (in addition to, perhaps, other secondary & relational attributes). The same can be applied to any entity, thus intelligence isn’t enough. Similarly, “greatness”, “power”, “creation & rule of the universe”, and “transcendence” all fail, even together, to define x as a coherent entity.
“Intelligence” and “power” are also relational attributes, i.e. require a standard to be coherent. For example, something can’t be considered “powerful” unless we have a standard or objective criterion to coherently define “powerful”, or “intelligent”. Since God is transcendent, he is outside the universe – thus a standard external to God is lacked. A standard internal to God is question begging.
Thus, the two premises entail that the concept of God is intrinsically meaningless as it has only relational & secondary attributes, and no primary or positive attributes.