Terrible Atheist Arguments, Part 1

Over the past several years, I’ve been gathering a fairly extensive list of topics I would like to research and blog about. A small segment of this list is titled “embarrassingly bad atheist arguments,” and these come from many, many discussions with a wide variety of uninformed atheists. I originally thought that these might make good blog fodder for a bunch of blog posts, but I’m going to combine several together in a single post. This will end up being a series where I will address three terrible arguments with easily digestible answers.

For those of you who are regularly engaging with skeptics, you’ll have undoubtedly heard these a million times. My goal isn’t to provide anything brand new, but to provide quick and easy rebuttals. Rebuttals that when properly used, will put a stop to these nonsensical arguments, once and for all.
…I can hope, right? #falsehope

So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

1. “Can God create a rock so heavy that even He cannot lift it?”

This is what many refer to as the so-called “omnipotence paradox,” but the only problem is that it isn’t actually a paradox at all. I don’t know of a single informed theist who holds that omnipotence entails that God is able to perform logically impossible tasks. If God was able to accomplish logically incoherent tasks, He wouldn’t be accomplishing anything at all. It is nothing more than a self-contradictory, meaningless combination of words.

I can hear the skeptic’s objections already. “If God cannot do the logically impossible, then he isn’t omnipotent!” says the skeptic. My response is, “Congratulations, my friend. You have just attempted to redefine omnipotence based on your flawed theology, ignored the response, and re-asserted your baseless opinion. This is a logical fallacy known as begging the question.”

Ok ok ok.

For the sake of argument, let’s grant the skeptic’s flawed understanding of omnipotence and ask the question again. Can God create a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it?

Yes he can. And then he can lift the rock.

“But that doesn’t make any sense at all! That is logically incoherent!”

…That’s the point, my friend. #checkm8

So, can God create a burrito so hot that He can’t eat it?

No he can. I mean yes he can’t.

Either way you’re wrong.

2.“We’re both atheists, I just believe in one God less than you!”

Grammar aside (it should be “fewer,” not “less”), this is just a weird objection. As a believer in the existence of God, in what sense am I an “atheist” at all? No matter how you define atheist (that subject for another post), I am not an atheist.

This is because I believe in God.

If it is possible for you to define “atheism” to include theists, you have a very strange understanding of atheism. And theism. And probably many other things.

Unlike the omnipotence [non]paradox, this objection might actually lead somewhere interesting. Instead of just focusing on the semantics of the objection (“LOL what bro? do u even words?”), you can move the conversation forward by telling the skeptic that you have reasons to believe the way that you do. And when he asks “What reasons?” or proclaims “No you don’t!” you can begin explaining why you are a Christian.

If you’re unsure about where to begin, start here!

3. “I don’t believe in God because God has not been scientifically proven.”

If a skeptic says this, he is likely unaware of the epistemological black hole he is flirting with. When someone says that they only believe things that have been scientifically verified, only one question needs to be asked: “Is that a scientifically verified belief?”

The answer is no. The idea that we must only believe things that have been scientifically verified is not scientifically verified. It is a philosophical perspective.

This belief defeats itself.

It is self-referentially incoherent.

It dies on its own sword.

Historically, this self-defeating view is called verificationism and has been rejected entirely because it cannot pass its own test of truth. Modern verificationism goes by the name scientism, but suffers from the same major problems.

And that problem is self-referential incoherence.

Once you’ve discussed why scientism is self-defeating with the skeptic, you can explain that there are many, many different ways to know things. Science is certainly an important way to know things, but disciplines like philosophy, history, aesthetics, theology, etc are equally important.

4. Bonus: The Flying Spaghetti Monster

I know, I said that I was going to do three. But I’ve already written an article on the flying spaghetti monster, and you can find that here.

Thanks for reading!

If you have any other embarrassingly bad atheist arguments, let me know! Or if you think one of these arguments is actually good, let me know. You’ll be wrong and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong, but hey…at least we can have a conversation.

Photo via Flickr

Elijah Thompson
Comments 2
  1. I like that, unlike other theists, you at least make an attempt to be reasonable, however, I can’t say you don’t fail at it miserably. I do however agree on second one. It’s a botched Ricky Gervais quote, which was funny when he said it, but has since become obnoxious with everyone repeating it.

    As for god not being able to perform act which is logically impossible, you are interpreting god as human, and atheists give him more respect than you. It was said that god is supreme being. That means he would not be limited to 3 dimensions we live in. He is supposed to be a ruler of all dimensions, including time, and possibility. Therefore, when atheist asks you “can god build what he can’t lift” you should say “yes, in a multiverse, he can build a thing he can’t lift in one universe, but he can lift it in another universe.” That’s such an easy answer which you can’t grasp cause you believe in fairy tales and aren’t logical thinker, and because you are full of your self and you think that just cause something is “logically impossible” for your perfect self, it must therefore be “logically impossible” for everyone else, including god, whom you are now making more limited than atheists do.

    Or you could say “I believe he can do both, and as humans, neither I can explain how, nor you can understand how he did it” and you fucking win. How hard is that to think of?

    The third one is also dumb as ****, cause even if there is someone, ever, who has said he only believes in what science can prove, than that person has made a lapsus. Clinging to someone’s omission of the tongue and making it an argument, is idiotic, and self disrespecting. No one goes around believing in gravity. We all know gravity is there, because if you don’t look where you’re going, gravity will hit you on the nose, or on the bum, and it won’t care if you believe in it or not. It doesn’t require your belief to have affect on you.

    Exact oposite is true about god. Whether you believe in him or not, he maintains no influence over you. In fact if you find your self in terrible peril, you would dig and claw to save your self, you wouldn’t stand around and wait for divine intervention. Meaning you don’t count on god, and you live your life as if he’s not there.

    So to go back to point 2 for a split second, whether you are atheist, or you claim to believe in god, we all live our lives as if he’s imaginary. So the only true difference between us, we admit that he’s not there.

    *scuse the cursing, I’m slav, we curse a lot.

  2. Yes, there are some poorly thought out arguments against God put out there by people, but, as Christians, it is not our place to mock others. The world is full of people who hide behind strawman arguments, but, knocking down those arguments is a distraction from proclamation/witness/evangelism. Arguing against straw may be fun, and seem productive, but it really is counter-productive.

    Instead, take time to understand why people make the arguments they do, how they think, and how to respond to them past their argument.

    1) Can God create a rock so heavy that even He cannot lift it?

    If someone considers this an argument that proves something, we need to ask why people are drawn to arguments about words as if they prove or disprove realities about the universe.
    This paradox does not prove, or disprove the existence of God, (while it may push us to consider what we mean by omni-potence). But, it feels powerful, it feels convincing.
    What any Christian apologist must stop and consider is that this “omnipotence paradox” proof is the same kind of proof as the Ontological proofs and the cosmological proofs that Christian apologists are so gung-ho about.
    The structure and logical syllogisms and use of words, and the leap from words to realities is the same for atheists using this (and similar) word-proofs and for the Christian apologists.
    The desire and temptation to rely on these syllogistic forms to argue to either prove or disprove God is the same temptation.

    2) “We’re both atheists, I just believe in one God less than you!”

    As Christians, (and Jews) we have to agree with this claim. A big part of being monotheists is that we argue (and have been arguing even from the Old Testament times) that the pantheon of gods in Canaan, and Egypt and Babylon, Assyria, Greece and Rome do not exist.
    As Christians we reject magic, ghosts, trolls, astrology, an a host of other superstitions below the level of God.
    So, as Christian apologetists, it is really embarrassing when our fellow Christians recreate all sorts of superstitions with a Christian twist.
    From the “Bible Code” to indulgences to the silly beliefs great aunt Mabel used to have, the world is full of superstitious Christians who fail to understand Christian theology. Oh well.
    That being said, the challenge of the Christian apologist is to express why faith in Christ is not cheap superstition. I would read my Kierkegaard in preparation to respond to this argument.

    3) I don’t believe in God because God has not been scientifically proven.

    As one apologist to another, can I just note that your argument that this view is “self-referentially incoherent” is a pretty incoherent argument.
    The person making the claim is stating that, for them, the failure of science to find proof of God is disheartening enough that they lose faith.
    You argue that “science is certainly an important way to know things, but disciplines like philosophy, history, aesthetics, theology, etc are equally important”
    The trouble is, people who search for proof of God in disciplines like philosophy, history, aesthetics and even theology aren’t likely going to find it their either.
    We don’t prove the existence of God reading the history of the Holy Roman Empire, or studying art, or even going to Bible study.
    As Christians, we have to be aware that many people have struggled looking for God, and nothing, not art, not Bible study, has given them that assurance that God is real and present.
    Science may have given them the language to finally express what they feel.
    So, people say that “science hasn’t proven God”, but what they mean is that THEY have no experience of God, no assurance or feelings, maybe even no desire for God, and they express that using the word “proof”, because, to them, they have never experienced proof.
    Best bet dealing with people like this. Put away the philosophical arguments, and deal with them as people. They need evidence of God’s presence in the world, which they won’t find in arguments, but they might find in the lives of believers.

Comments are closed.

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