Tag Archives: one fewer god

Claim Knowledge and Run

look_a_distraction_design_by_eecomicsNext from Smalley’s “Top Ten Reasons Why I’m an Athiest”, we have this:

4. Demeter, Jesus, Apollo, Horus, Zeus, Mithra, Yahweh, Tammuz, Ganesha, and Allah are only 10 of the thousands of gods recorded in history. An Atheist is not one that refuses to read religious doctrine; it is often one who reads too many. 

As before, it is very unclear what the argument actually is here. But I suppose that it is something like this:

Belief in any particular religion (presumably, Christianity) is as unreasonable as belief in these other deities.

The first thing to note here is that this is simply not true. Anyone who actually reads a lot of theology would understand that the gods of ancient temple religions are open to a host of objections that wouldn’t remotely address the God of modern monotheistic book religion.

Little, if any, of the case supporting the existence of a monotheist God would support polytheism. Even according to the ancient Greeks, Zeus isn’t the first cause of the universe. There is no sense in which Horus is supported by the moral argument. Nor did Quezacotl gain the slightest credibility from the discovery of fine tuning.

And so on it goes. The one who does not understand this simply does not know the basics of the subject. Referencing dead religions as if this were a point in itself is, therefore, a mistake of someone who has read very little theology.

This also seems to assume, implicitly, that secular views are immune to this sort of argument. Were it fair to say that religions should be wiped away on the grounds that there are so many, or so many that have been discredited, the counter that secular views have many discredited relatives wouldn’t be far behind.

There is almost nothing that mention of Zeus or Quetzalclatl will contribute to discussion over western monotheism. And most of that is to point out how different these views are. Really, this seems to be the act of gesturing in the general direction of something that vaguely looks like an argument. No rational point against theism has been made.

Thus, the act of putting this on a top ten list serves mostly to highlight how little real material exists for Smalley to post in support of his materialistic atheism.

But Would a Buddhist Agree With You?

out_of_left_fieldAn argument in favor of Islam or Hinduism is not an argument for atheism.

I make a point of this because so many people I’ve encountered seem to think otherwise. Specifically, arguments showing the frailties of materialism are often met with statements to the effect of “But that doesn’t prove that your religion is the right one.”.

Well, no. It doesn’t.

But that’s a separate conversation. It seems completely odd to me that many seem to think this is a point in favor of atheism. I know of no logical series of steps,  for instance, that will take me from “I don’t know whether Christianity or Islam is more likely.” to “I suppose I should just accept materialism, then.”.

So, unless the materialist in question is giving up on supporting his position, and admitting that we should move on to discussing which religion is the true one, this objection doesn’t make any sense.

Rather, it seems to be one more case of the completely unfounded belief that materialism is some sort of “default” position, to be embraced so long as there is reason to doubt any particular religion. Even if there is more reason to doubt materialism.

But this is no more reasonable than my demanding that, until the materialist can disprove platonism, Christianity is true. Arguments for God (like many other things) frequently begin from the general and get more specific as they advance. One can’t reject the more general arguments simply on the ground that they aren’t getting to the conclusion of Christianity fast enough for one’s personal tastes.

Or, at least, one can’t rationally do this.

This, along with the fact that the “there is no evidence” argument is without any logical force, means that the two most common objections given to theists’ arguments are completely invalid. This sets a pretty low bar for the theist who wishes to show that her position is better supported. Thoughtful atheists do what they can to distance themselves from these arguments.

But this, if one follows the argument far enough, means offering good reasons why materialism is true. And, so far, I’ve been completely unable to find such reasons.