Previous Page/Table Of ContentsNext Page

D . The "No God" Arguments - An Agnostic View

As is noted in the previous Section: "One of the most significant parts of the book "Does God Exist?"28 is the portion contributed by Peter Kreeft which attempts to lay out a summary of all of the arguments for and against the proposition that God exists." In the last Section, we looked at the "Pro" arguments, and in this Section we look at the "Cons."
Peter Kreeft groups the "Con" arguments into five classes, which I will treat here:

Peter Kreeft believes that this is the strongest argument against the existence of God. That assertion is probably based on the reputation of the "Dialogs Concerning Natural Religion" (1776), by David Hume. I disagree, because it appears to me that such a view is based upon cultural myopia. The concept of God being the perfection of good, and therefore incapable of creating evil, is a concept which is unique to Western Civilization.
In their book "The Lessons of History" (1968), Will and Ariel Durant deal with this point by acknowledging that history would prove at best two forces, one good and one evil. We refer to the former as God and to the latter as Satan (or the Devil). Once you acknowledge that a force may be either good or evil, you pretty much eliminate this argument.
Hume used the "problem of evil" particularly to counter the "argument to design," but that counter only works if "the designer" is required to be perfect. In point of fact, there is no such requirement, and thus no such "problem."

I am not so sure about this. Certainly, on a small scale, science can provide all of its own answers. However, in a larger, cosmological sense, science admits to missing something. The basic uncertainty that I have in accepting this argument derives from my beliefs concerning the "design" argument, number 18, particularly in consideration of the various laws of Thermodynamics. The scientific "jury" is still out, but it now appears to me that there is clearly proof of some outside force acting upon our Universe and providing a "creative" force which we can scientifically prove actually exists. If we define God as the source of that creative force, then God becomes necessary to explain the existence of that force in our Universe, which would negate this argument. For a full discussion of this point, please refer to Book II, Section F.

This is an argument against so many religious sects which have confused and/or meaningless concepts of God. This argument essentially devolves down to a question: what exactly do you mean when you use the word "God?" The answer given to that question is then subjected to ridicule based upon the knowledge of the debater of the precepts of the given religion upon which the "God" concept is based.
As any historian must admit, the concept of "God" has changed down through history, even within a given religion. The Christian concept of "God" was dramatically altered during each of the major "Spiritual Epochs" defined by Spengler. Such alteration would seem to be a natural process in the development of any Culture.
Basically, this argument attacks the skill of the "Pro" debater and his or her ability to set forth a logically consistent concept of God. When the "Pro" debater comes bearing all of the excess baggage associated with something like a fundamentalist Christian belief system, this is a particularly easy argument for the "Con" debater to make.
My argument for the existence of God, based on the "design" argument, maintains its logical consistency by providing its own definition of what "God" is. That definition is in no way "logically confused and/or meaningless" because I specifically made it up myself to avoid that challenge. (see Book II, Section F.)

This argument derives from the refusal of the atheist to accept any of the "Pro" arguments advanced by the theists. As I explained in the previous Section, all but one of those arguments are easily disposed of. The only troubling one is the "design" argument, number 18, particularly in consideration of the various laws of Thermodynamics. My assertions regarding that argument are contained in Book II, Section F. Otherwise, the previous Section contains a complete summary of the rebuttal against the "Pro" arguments.

This is an argument against particular religions, which are inventions of mankind, NOT a valid argument against the actual existence of God. It was his twisted beliefs about Christ which led Hitler to exterminate the Jews. That process, which Hitler set into motion, says nothing at all about God, other than the fact that God permitted the extermination to occur (the "all things are permissible" argument from the theists). Of course, associating God with evil happenings will always provide a convenient scapegoat for the consequences of evil which happen to befall each of us (we are injured by "an act of God").
With a broader perspective of history, as provided by Spengler and the Durants, we must admit that mankind invents its own religious beliefs as we go along. Each of Spengler's Cultures had an associated religion. Most religions acknowledge both good and evil spirits, and those which do not are most easily caught by the "logically confused and/or meaningless" argument, number 3, above.
But once we acknowledge the intervening human agency in the production of evil consequences from a belief in God, then we can know the source of that evil: mankind itself. As is noted above for argument number 1, the Durants found ample evidence down through history which would clearly lead to a conclusion of at least two forces driving the acts of mankind, one good and one evil.
My personal belief is that there is one single force which drives mankind, and it is the choices which mankind makes which turn that force into a drive for good or evil. If you are a Christian, you might interpret that argument as God creating mankind with free will, and thus mankind chooses good or evil out of our own volition.
But the very concept of what is good and what is evil is subject to redefinition by situational morality. The classic example of this point comes from the Bible itself. It is normally highly immoral for me to have sex with my brother's wife, but in certain (Old Testament) situations, it is my moral duty to have sex with her, and I am evil if I do not.
Once we admit that morality is situational, and that the concepts of what is good and what is evil are subject to redefinition according to the whims of mankind, we realize that God has nothing to do with the production of good OR evil; God endows mankind with the power to create (see my argument in Book II, Section F), and it is mankind who chooses what to create and whether that creation is either good or evil.
Eventually we will see that this argument, number 5, has no force at all because it has nothing at all to do with God. The essence of the premise is entirely within mankind because it is mankind who decides what to believe about God, what to believe is good, and what to believe is evil. So, the fact that we can now present clear proof that a "belief in God leads to evil consequences," only means that our own cultural biases have led us to define what the belief in God entails, what consequences to that belief are good, and what consequences to that belief are evil. In other words, we are exercising our own very clear 20/20 hindsight about the history of mankind, and we are doing so in light of our own "here and now" views of what is good and what is evil. This is clearly silly, and thus this argument has no force for me.

28 "Does God Exist?" by J. P. Moreland and Kai Nielsen, with Contributions by Peter Kreeft, Antony Flew, William Lane Craig, Keith Parsons, and Dallas Willard; Prometheus Books, 1993.

Copyright 1994-1999 by the Agnostic Church

Please send us your feedback!

Previous Page/Table Of ContentsNext Page