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The God Debate

by yumi


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.

If you tell me you have a dog, there's no reason not to believe you - and if it isn't true, so what? However, if you tell me you have a talking dog, I'm going to need more than just your word for it! Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. No religion has ever offered anything remotely close to extraordinary evidence for any of their gods or any of their extraordinary claims - and that's a fact. If any religion ever had done so, it would be the only religion operating today, having debunked all others, putting them out of business. Nobody would be arguing about the existence of God, and there would be no atheists. But none of these things are true - and that's the proof. Any claim that some sort of "supreme being" exists outside of space and time is by its own definition unknowable and un-provable. Anyone who claims to know something which can't be known is either a fool or a liar or both, and arguing for something which is unknowable and un-provable is indistinguishable from arguing for something which doesn't exist!

All religions claim their god exists – a claim which is impossible to prove, and for which no evidence exists or even could exist, minus a personal appearance from said god. Any so called "personal god" who supposedly interacts with us would leave evidence of his interaction – no religion has ever produced any such evidence. Some claim that "holy books" like the Bible are evidence, but not only does the Bible not even come close to being extraordinary evidence, it isn't even good evidence. Everything in it is folklore, second hand or worse storytelling, and hearsay – the weakest kind of evidence there is. There are no original copies of the books of the Bible, and nobody really knows who wrote them or when. And to make matters worse, the Bible has been copied and recopied many times, over many centuries, translated into many languages, and some parts have even been forged. To assign any authority to books like the Bible is an affront to intelligence and common sense, and any real attempt to determine truth. Even today, eyewitness testimony is considered to be highly unreliable – it's just somebody saying something, like claiming to have a talking dog. Without corroborating evidence, it doesn't mean anything, especially if the claim is extraordinary.

Either "God" exists or he doesn't – it's a black or white proposition. The positive claim that God exists is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence, and the person making the claim has the entire burden to prove it with evidence. Nothing any religion to date has come up with even comes close to good evidence, much less extraordinary evidence. And that's why atheists reject the claim. Atheism isn't a "world view" or a religion or a belief, and it's not based on faith. It's a single issue position – rejection of the existence of God due to lack of sufficient evidence to support such a belief. Atheism is the most rational position to take, and that's all there is to it. Pretty simple huh?

Many religious people try to claim that the mere fact that we exist proves beyond all doubt that the universe has been "finely tuned" just for us, by a "creator deity" and that nothing else could possibly explain it. There's no way all the intricate elements and attributes which make life possible for us could have happened by accident or by random chance, thereby proving the existence of "God." I'm sure you've all run into people like this. They say there cannot possibly be any other explanation for the fact that we live on just the right kind of planet, just the right distance from just the right kind of sun, with a moon just the right distance away, with just the right kind of atmosphere and the perfect range of temperature to support life, and so on and so on. To believe that this is all some kind of coincidence or random accident based on pure luck is totally illogical, and anyone who proposes it could have happened without "God", like a scientist for instance, is either stupid, lying, or working for Satan.

Of course this is an irrational and invalid argument because the conclusion is simply the premise restated... A = B therefore A = B. Not much of an argument is it? But they claim the finely tuned universe argument is "pure common sense" despite the fact that in an essentially infinite universe an infinite number of possibilities would have to exist, including forms of life that we may or may not recognize as life, formed in ways we may or may not understand. Without a time machine which can also transport them to every macro and micro sized area of the universe all at once for inspection, there is no possible way to know what's out there. And it should be painfully obvious that unless they can also describe in exact detail what a universe that has not been finely tuned by a creator looks like for comparison, claiming that the one we live in is unquestionably fine-tuned by God is a completely un-provable claim based on nothing. But religious people already believe illogical nonsense based on nothing, so they're incapable of understanding simple logic like this - otherwise they wouldn't be religious to begin with, or arguing with you in the first place.

So here's a way to cut to the chase and nip arguments like this in the bud - pay attention, it goes by pretty quick. When someone claims that the only "God" could fine tune the universe to the point where we could exist, ask them this question: "So you're saying that if things weren't the way they are, they'd be different? That's your argument?" This is one of the dumbest, most absurd arguments for the existence of God I've ever seen - it's right up there with "God wrote the Bible and the Bible says God is real, so God is real." Anyone who's this stuck on stupid is a waste of time to bother with. Just ask them the question, have a good laugh at their answer, and go on your merry way. And try not to be too bummed out that we still have to deal with some of our fellow humans who were designed so poorly that they actually still believe absurd crap like this in the 21st century. Religion is a cancer on society - it rots the mind and this kind of thinking is just yet more proof it does, like we need any more proof.

RELIGION IS A CANCER ON HUMANITY! It can be disturbing at times to see just how brainwashed, ignorant and superstitious some people still are in the 21st century, especially creationists. Some creationists actually say that God made light go faster at creation so Adam & Eve would be able to see the stars he had just created, because this allows them to ignore the speed of light which proves the universe is billions of years old, not thousands as they claim. If you've ever debated one, then you know the only way they can defend their claims is to categorically deny science. This makes debating them frustrating because it's hard to make points with someone who's delusional and completely out of touch with reality. The good news is their beliefs back them into a corner which you can easily exploit.

Pascal's Wager is basically an argument that it's better to be safe than sorry - an apologetic argument proposed by the seventeenth century French philosopher Blaise Pascal. In a nutshell, Pascal proposed that it's better to believe in God than not to because if you're right you're saved, and if you're wrong you've lost nothing. Of course the huge flaw in this argument is that an all knowing God would know that you're just covering your ass and faking your faith, so it falls apart on its face.

The speed of light proves conclusively that the universe and the earth are billions of years old because of the time it takes light to travel great distances, which for most sane, educated people completely debunks the creationist claim that the universe and the earth are only a few thousand years old. The problem is, when you're dealing with a creationist, you're not dealing with a sane, educated person! The best and only argument a creationist can make against the scientifically measured and proven speed of light which confirms the age of the universe is to claim that God has somehow monkeyed with light for some reason to make it look like the universe is billions of years old when it really isn't.

Now of course such a claim is completely un-provable unless God makes a personal appearance to explain why he's been messing with us. And of course it goes without saying that any claim made without evidence can be summarily dismissed without evidence. The only way creationists can argue that the universe and the earth are only a few thousand years old is to believe that God has tricked us. To be a creationist you have to believe that God purposely deceives us by tampering with the conclusions of science as some sort of way to test our faith or something. To be a creationist you must believe that God is a trickster.

So here's how you corner your creationist opponent using their own argument. Make them go on record stating that they believe as fact that God deceives, us for whatever reason, and that the conclusions of science are false because God has the power to make things look a certain way when they really aren't. Once they've committed to this position, ask them this:

"Now that you're on record as saying you believe God deceives us on purpose, how do you know with 100% certainty that God didn't write the Bible as a trick, as a way to weed out really gullible and stupid people who refuse to use the marvelous and powerful brain he gave us - the kind of people who would believe that a book of obvious fairy tale nonsense is a true account of history and description of the nature of the universe, without any skepticism or need for any evidence whatsoever? How do you know with 100% certainty that you aren't condemning yourself to hell in a reverse version of Pascal's Wager by believing the Bible is a true historical account, and not a trick by God to test you to see if your brain is functioning correctly? How do you know that it isn't us atheists who are God's chosen people, because we have the ability to tell fact from fiction because our brains are running on all cylinders as God intended, and yours aren't? This theory is in 100% agreement with your claim that the Bible is the word of God, so there's no disagreement there, and the entire creationist argument for a young earth must include God playing tricks on us so there's no disagreement there. The only difference is what his intent was in writing the Bible, which of course only God could know. So... since you are not God, how can you possibly prove my theory is wrong, especially since I've given you exactly the same amount of evidence for mine as you've given me for yours - none whatsoever.


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Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:54 pm
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Tuckster wrote a review...



Hey there yumi! Tuck here with a review for you.

I was excited to stumble across this work because I have spent a lot of time contemplating my own beliefs surrounding the existence of God and the meaning of life. I have deeply held and carefully scrutinized beliefs regarding this subject, but for the purposes of this review will only be sharing suggestions for how you can improve the writing. If you'd like to engage in debate about this topic, you can create a new thread in the Serious Discussion and Debate forum and share your argument there. I'd certainly be interested in discussing this with you in that venue, or if you'd like to discuss this privately, feel free to shoot me a PM! I'd be more than happy to share my personal beliefs on this matter and my reasons for believing them.

I enjoyed how you addressed many counterarguments and bounced back and forth between your position and the positions of those who disagree with you. It is clear that you've devoted a good amount of time to considering this and have also had many interactions with those who disagree with you, which in turn made your position better established and more solidified. You also had an engaging introduction that drew me into the essay, and your thorough exploration of one of life's most vexing puzzles kept my attention throughout the entirety of the essay.

However, I felt that your essay devolved into inaccurate ad hominem attacks, sweeping generalizations, and bold statements that lacked supporting evidence.

And try not to be too bummed out that we still have to deal with some of our fellow humans who were designed so poorly that they actually still believe absurd crap like this in the 21st century

The problem is, when you're dealing with a creationist, you're not dealing with a sane, educated person!

These statements are examples of ad hominem attacks (attacking the person rather than the argument), as well as sweeping generalizations. Many well-educated people who meet the definition of "sane" are creationists. Robert Boyle was a Christian and creationist, as well as Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton, to name a few. Stating that the theory of creationism is insane and uneducated is a fine statement to make. Stating that all people who subscribe to the theory of creationism are insane and uneducated is not.

My final suggestion for you would be to use some specific, substantiated evidence. Links to studies, archaeological data, and statistics that support your position would strengthen your argument. You make the claim that the Bible is unreliable, but provide no specific discrepancies, errors, or archaeological data that support that claim. You make the claim that the Earth is billions of years old without providing data to support that claim. Regardless of whether you believe your opponents in this debate have and utilize evidence, you are responsible to provide some sort of outside support for your beliefs, as the author of a persuasive essay.

Overall, your essay was strong and full of conviction, which made it an engaging read. However, I felt that your argument quickly slipped off-track from a passionate argument against creationism to a generalization that all creationists are insane, illogical, uneducated human beings and related ad hominem attacks. This essay definitely has potential to be a thought-provoking, well thought-out discussion of the inconsistencies of creationism and the advantages of the theory of evolution, but because of the lack of evidence and ad hominem/sweeping generalizations, didn't quite deliver. There is certainly potential to further develop this essay to that point, and I hope that the suggestions I've offered here have been helpful in that regard. If you have any questions about this review, please feel free to reach out.

Best,
Tuck




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Sun Dec 27, 2020 6:34 pm
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pelsteam wrote a review...



Hi, pelsteam here to review.

Going by your description, I’m going to assume you’re writing entirely in the style of Richard Dawkins; presenting one side of an argument without playing devil’s advocate. I’ll try and review this as such.

If you tell me you have a dog, there's no reason not to believe you - and if it isn't true, so what?


Good opening line for the tone you’re going for. You’ve presented the crux of your argument in an easy enough fashion to follow; ordinary claims with ordinary evidence and no real implications if they aren’t true.

No religion has ever offered anything remotely close to extraordinary evidence for any of their gods or any of their extraordinary claims - and that's a fact.


Personally, I’d put this in a new paragraph for dramatic effect. I would also suggest that even though you’re going for Dawkins-esque, it’s better to avoid the very Dawkins pitfall of making bold statements without really exploring them. Firstly, what are you defining as a religion? Is it the Western concept of an organised hierarchical system with specific creeds and traditions? Are you including Eastern philosophies, various “spiritualities” (such as crystal healing or less hierarchical religions such as Quakerism), indigenous-style religious practices that tie in very heavily with everyday life? Some sociologists refer to “secular religions” such as the American Dream. What are you counting, and what are you discounting?

Anyone who claims to know something which can't be known is either a fool or a liar or both, and arguing for something which is unknowable and un-provable is indistinguishable from arguing for something which doesn't exist!


I’d recommend not using exclamation marks in an essay of this nature, as they make what you have to say read as emotional rather than logical.

What’s your target audience here? Is this for fellow atheists or religious people? It will impact how structured your argument needs to be; after all, those who already agree with you will not need any convincing.

All religions claim their god exists – a claim which is impossible to prove, and for which no evidence exists or even could exist, minus a personal appearance from said god.


This claim is flawed because you haven’t defined what a religion is. This statement alone implies that you are only talking about monotheistic religions, probably in the Judaeo-Christian tradition.

Any so called "personal god" who supposedly interacts with us would leave evidence of his interaction – no religion has ever produced any such evidence.


See above. Not all religions believe in personal gods.

Some claim that "holy books" like the Bible are evidence


Personally, I’d start a new paragraph here and start playing devil’s advocate. Find a few quotes from people who are saying this and then dissect them.

but not only does the Bible not even come close to being extraordinary evidence, it isn't even good evidence. Everything in it is folklore, second hand or worse storytelling, and hearsay – the weakest kind of evidence there is.


This point needs to be backed up with evidence from the text, otherwise it makes the same error you’re accusing the Bible of.

There are no original copies of the books of the Bible, and nobody really knows who wrote them or when.


I’d suggest using the word contemporary and not original. You may also want to reference the Dead Sea Scrolls here; they may not be contemporary enough for you, but it’s worth mentioning them.

And to make matters worse, the Bible has been copied and recopied many times, over many centuries


This is true, but it is also true of many other ancient documents.

translated into many languages


See my previous point. Can you make an argument here for various misunderstandings and mistranslations in the text?

and some parts have even been forged.


This claim requires evidence.

To assign any authority to books like the Bible is an affront to intelligence and common sense, and any real attempt to determine truth. Even today, eyewitness testimony is considered to be highly unreliable – it's just somebody saying something, like claiming to have a talking dog. Without corroborating evidence, it doesn't mean anything, especially if the claim is extraordinary.


Can you reference a study or two on eyewitness testimony?

Either "God" exists or he doesn't – it's a black or white proposition.


Yes, but also no. You need to define what God is; I’m going to guess you mean the god of classical theism here (an omnibenevolent, omnipresent and omniscient creator deity) but the nature of God will vary between different texts. You might be better off saying “Either the God of your religion exists or he doesn’t” because not all people who believe in God believe in a personal god, e.g. deists.

Atheism is the most rational position to take, and that's all there is to it. Pretty simple huh?


This won’t convince a religious person, if only for the tone you take here. Furthermore, this is very debatable. Dogmatic gnostic atheism is arguably also irrational. You would be better off taking a softer approach and making the case for agnostic atheism (“I don’t know for sure, but it is more logical to disbelieve than to believe”) instead.

Many religious people try to claim that the mere fact that we exist proves beyond all doubt that the universe has been "finely tuned" just for us, by a "creator deity" and that nothing else could possibly explain it. There's no way all the intricate elements and attributes which make life possible for us could have happened by accident or by random chance, thereby proving the existence of "God."


I’d expand on this by finding an analogy of the sort religious people use to argue, to show that you can see their point, and then dismantle it. The watchmaker is a good one to use as it seems compelling on the face of it, but has several flaws.

They say there cannot possibly be any other explanation for the fact that we live on just the right kind of planet, just the right distance from just the right kind of sun, with a moon just the right distance away, with just the right kind of atmosphere and the perfect range of temperature to support life, and so on and so on. To believe that this is all some kind of coincidence or random accident based on pure luck is totally illogical, and anyone who proposes it could have happened without "God", like a scientist for instance, is either stupid, lying, or working for Satan.


I’d personally remove the last sentence. Depending on who you ask, this point does have some merit, and you risk strawmanning an argument that hasn’t necessarily been made.

Of course this is an irrational and invalid argument because the conclusion is simply the premise restated... A = B therefore A = B.


I think I get what you’re saying here but I had to reread several times; consider rephrasing?

And it should be painfully obvious that unless they can also describe in exact detail what a universe that has not been finely tuned by a creator looks like for comparison, claiming that the one we live in is unquestionably fine-tuned by God is a completely un-provable claim based on nothing.


This is a good point and one I haven’t seen before.

But religious people already believe illogical nonsense based on nothing, so they're incapable of understanding simple logic like this - otherwise they wouldn't be religious to begin with, or arguing with you in the first place.


I’d remove this as it damages the good point you just raised.

So here's a way to cut to the chase and nip arguments like this in the bud - pay attention, it goes by pretty quick.


Your tone here comes across as quite condescending to readers whom I assume already agree with you. I’d remove the snarky second clause.

it's right up there with "God wrote the Bible and the Bible says God is real, so God is real."


This is reading increasingly like an attack on Christianity and not any other religion. Which is fine, but comes across as a bit disingenuous as you’ve been covering this by referring to religion in general. Furthermore, most Christians do not claim God wrote the Bible.

RELIGION IS A CANCER ON HUMANITY!


I would not put all caps in an essay, nor an exclamation mark. It negates the point you’re trying to make about atheists being logical and rational.

Some creationists actually say that God made light go faster at creation so Adam & Eve would be able to see the stars he had just created, because this allows them to ignore the speed of light which proves the universe is billions of years old, not thousands as they claim.


Source please.

Now of course such a claim is completely un-provable unless God makes a personal appearance to explain why he's been messing with us. And of course it goes without saying that any claim made without evidence can be summarily dismissed without evidence. The only way creationists can argue that the universe and the earth are only a few thousand years old is to believe that God has tricked us. To be a creationist you have to believe that God purposely deceives us by tampering with the conclusions of science as some sort of way to test our faith or something. To be a creationist you must believe that God is a trickster.


This reads like you’ve gone from “religion is stupid” to “Christians are stupid” to “creationists are stupid”. If you want to criticise creationists I would do it in a specific essay targeting creationists, as this part reads like you’re treating creationists the same as generic religious people who may believe a variety of things. Creationists are also a minority of global (or at least Western) Christian believers.

"Now that you're on record as saying you believe God deceives us on purpose, how do you know with 100% certainty that God didn't write the Bible as a trick, as a way to weed out really gullible and stupid people who refuse to use the marvelous and powerful brain he gave us - the kind of people who would believe that a book of obvious fairy tale nonsense is a true account of history and description of the nature of the universe, without any skepticism or need for any evidence whatsoever? How do you know with 100% certainty that you aren't condemning yourself to hell in a reverse version of Pascal's Wager by believing the Bible is a true historical account, and not a trick by God to test you to see if your brain is functioning correctly? How do you know that it isn't us atheists who are God's chosen people, because we have the ability to tell fact from fiction because our brains are running on all cylinders as God intended, and yours aren't? This theory is in 100% agreement with your claim that the Bible is the word of God, so there's no disagreement there, and the entire creationist argument for a young earth must include God playing tricks on us so there's no disagreement there. The only difference is what his intent was in writing the Bible, which of course only God could know. So... since you are not God, how can you possibly prove my theory is wrong, especially since I've given you exactly the same amount of evidence for mine as you've given me for yours - none whatsoever.


This quote needs to be closed. I’d also suggest writing a conclusion, as this is an OK ending but focuses entirely on Christian creationism, which is at odds with your actual opening. I’d bring it round, returning to the topic you opened rather than the one you homed in on.

Overall, I’m a little confused by what you’re actually attacking and who you’re writing this for (presumably other strong atheists). You have some good points here that are muddied with what are essentially appeals to the reader’s emotions, so I’d work on toning down those points to make a more rigorous essay. I’d also recommend expanding on the arguments you’re attacking; while I’m sure you’re well aware of what those arguments are, the text alone does not offer much evidence that you do know them. Cite your sources as much as possible and especially when it comes to religious texts like the Bible, as one of Dawkins’ own big weaknesses is that he does not appear to fully understand what he’s fighting against.

Hopefully this review isn’t too harsh. There is potential for something compelling to be made out of some of these points, but I’d advise taking a more academic approach than a Dawkins one if you want to do more than preach to the converted.

Let me know if you have any questions.





It's unsettling to know how little separates each of us from another life altogether.
— Wes Moore, The Other Wes Moore