Arguments for Atheism - Living without religion, with a clear conscience


There are a wide variety of arguments used by theists in their claims that their god exists, most of them purporting to prove that a single, personal, creator-god exists. Some are deep and philosophical; some are much more down to earth and simpler, even simplistic. Some arguments are, to a greater or lesser extent, variations on a theme or ways to make old arguments look new.

The sheer number of arguments for the existence of God should be neither daunting nor surprising: they represent after all, the crowning achievement of many centuries of well-funded thought and research. What may be more surprising is that many of the counter-arguments were also originally formulated by believers, deliberately seeking to test their own faith.

It should perhaps be pointed out that atheism does not necessarily close the door on the possibility that a god exists, merely that, in the absence of compelling proof, the atheist remains justified in rejecting theism as a valid concept. Such proof could come either in the form of objectively substantiated and repeatable empirical evidence or sense perception, or in the form of logical and consistent argumentation that does not contradict either itself or our current knowledge of the universe.

It should also be borne in mind that the various arguments for the existence of God do not actually provide the main reasons why most regular folk become religious in practice - most people just fall into it out of inertia, because they were indoctrinated from an early age or out of some vague idea that it “feels right”. The formal arguments are therefore largely an exercise in apologetics, an attempt to reconcile an existing belief with the universe we see around us, and to reconcile faith with reason and rationality.

Religious belief itself is largely a matter of blind faith, against which no amount of rational argument is likely to prevail. It is difficult to seriously argue with views like those of Tertullian, an important Church Father from the 2nd - 3rd Century AD, who claimed, “Credo quia absurdam” (“I believe because it is absurd”).

We will look at the major philosophical and theological arguments here, as well as refutations of the arguments which might be made by a non-believer:

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