What are the good reasons to doubt God's existence?


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #1

Continuing the discussion from Scriptural examples supporting claim of Bible as word of God:

Sorry to resurrect an older post, but as I was reading this, I thought I’d ask about what the Christian community here would consider good reasons to doubt God’s existence?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #2

Since a large part of Christian belief is commonly motivated by personal experience and interaction with the gospels, testimonies of others, and indeed the Spirit of Christ himself, I suppose a common reason for disbelief would be the perceived absence of all those things. Whether or not that qualifies as a good reason is probably a point of contention.

While the forum can (and often does) accommodate rabbit trails - sometimes productively - remember that it is not part of the Biologos mission here to convince skeptics that God exists. There are plenty of other internet venues for that. So if this degenerates into just another … “I don’t find your arguments for God convincing” thread then it may not last very long here. Sorry for the pessimistic sound of that - but just consider it a friendly reminder.


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #3

I appreciate the honesty. The original post made it sound as if the atheists were willfully ignoring the evidence right under their noses and feed off the premises “none of which are true”. Having said that… RIP to this thread.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #4

On a related note … there was a friendly (although characteristically brief) interview of atheist Ricky Gervais on Stephen Colbert a night or two ago (11-14-18 would be when it was taped I believe). Just going on memory of what I remember from watching it last night the exchange included some of these thoughts (paraphrased by me here - but okay, I reviewed it just now). Listening at the link above might be better because you can see they probably weren’t entirely serious about everything they said below and were just having fun with each other and the topic.

Stephen: …after asking why Ricky doesn’t … you know … hedge his bets just in case there’s a God (Pascal’s wager)
Ricky responds: … “Well, why don’t you hang garlic over your door just in case there’s a Dracula?”
Stephen: “well if 95% of America believed there was a Dracula, I probably would – it’s not the same.”
Ricky … “exactly … it has nothing to do with the credibility of the truth … it’s about the popularity of the idea.”
Stephen …“right … because the majority is always sane. … that’s the herd instinct.”
Ricky: “Imagine if you were the only person who believed in God … wouldn’t that feel strange?”
Stephen: “Absolutely … I’d be committed.”
Ricky: “and that’s you saying that!”

…And they went on a bit more - fun to watch. Only Colbert can pull off a discourse like this in popular late-night and have fun with it!


(Shawn T Murphy) #5

I would ask to reframe the question to be: What are the good reasons to doubt Christianity’s interpretation of God? The reason I do this is because there is not a unified concept for God in Christianity. To this, I have many good reasons to doubt the illogical god of modern Christianity, which are seen in the illogical acts and teachings in His name.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #6

To quote Kierkegard, God does not exist, he is eternal.


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #7

That’s curious to me. What is God in your understanding, how do you know this God exists and what would make you convinced that you are wrong?

Edit, as an alternative question, are the questions about God/divine/supernatural testable or must they always rely on faith and untestable claims?


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #8

Hence, it’s a good idea to define our terms, because (assuming the quote is accurate), ‘does not exist’ for Kierkegard has a different meaning vs atheistic ‘does not exist’.


(Phil) #9

I would echo Merv’s comment that " it is not part of the Biologos mission here to convince skeptics that God exists," nor is it a forum to promote unorthodox views, but the question posted in the OP is valid: “what the Christian community here …consider good reasons to doubt God’s existence?”
Certainly Mother Theresa had her times of darkness, and I remember Francis Schaeffer writing of his times of doubt.


(Shawn T Murphy) #10

The God that I believe in is the God that Socrates, the Father of logic speaks about. The God of the most enlightened society formulated the basis of modern science on.

“To put it dramatically, once can imagine a scholar of the young School of Athens paying a holiday visit to Abdera (with due caution to keep it secret from his Master), and on being received by the wise, far-travelled and world-famous old gentleman Democritus, asking him questions on the atoms, the shape of the earth, on moral conduct, God and the immortality of the soul – without being repudiated on any of these points. Can you easily imagine such a motley conversation between a teacher and his student in our days?” (Schrödinger, Erwin. “Return to Antiquity.” Nature and the Greeks, by Erwin Schrödinger)

The God that they believed in allowed them to discover first the natural laws and derive from them the spiritual laws that govern them.

“I have faith in the nobility of nature.” (Albert Einstein)

To convince me that I am wrong about this, you would have to disprove Euclid, Pythagoras, Democritus, and Archimedes to start with.


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #11

Ok, but what are the reasons to believe there is a God who is the Father of logic? Why can’t there just be human created logic? I guess I’m not following the connection there.


(Shawn T Murphy) #12

Socrates is considered the father of Logic. He died for his belief in his God, instead of appeasing the new government and worshiping their pagan gods. If the father of logic can believe in a logical God, so can I as an engineer.


(Mitchell W McKain) #13

Most of these are poor reasons. Some of them are demonstrations that atheists are just as prone to irrationality as are theists. For example, since the majority of Christians accept evolution the first of these is demonstrably incorrect. The best is probably 5 with modifications. The problem of evil and suffering (first introduced by Epicurus) has been one of the better reasons for doubt of the existence of God throughout history.

Here are three more good reasons to doubt God’s existence.

  1. There is no objective evidence that God does exist.
  2. If God exists (and by all accounts He has the power to make His existence obvious) then making us believe He exists is clearly not a very high priority, therefore why should we believe He exists? Until He knocks on our door and introduces Himself then why should we believe?
  3. A great many things in theistic religion looks to be tailor made for the purpose of manipulating and controlling people, so that makes it highly likely that this is what motivated the creation of the religion.

But none of this means there are no good reasons in opposition to these for believing God does exist.


(Phil) #14

Of course, the big reason thrown up by Young Earth Creationists in agreement with the atheists wing is that people stop believing in God because Darwin and science explains away the need for God in the Universe. Of course, most here reject it, as we do not see that the mechanism God used for creation is relevant to the reason for our existence.


#15

It is interesting that atheists and theists approach this question from different points. Christians may ask atheists what good reasons they have to doubt God’s existence. Atheists will respond by asking what good reasons are there for believing God exists to begin with.


(Laura) #16

I don’t always like the directions that YEC apologetics take with the whole “we’re all presuppositionalists” idea, but I guess there is a sense in which it’s true. Your starting point does have a large effect on where you end up.


(Shawn T Murphy) #17

I thought that this is a forum to go past the typical mud slinging and actually respect the opinions of both sides, in an attempt to gain wisdom. This means asking why logically trained professionals can exist as either Atheists or Theists? A logical Theists should ask: “What it is about my belief that is illogical?” A logical Atheists should ask: “Why do some of the most brilliant scientists believe in a God?”


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #18

I think a better question is what evidence is there to believe in X, where X may be a God, Aliens, etc…? I think most brilliant scientists believe inaccurate things

So, the fact that a smart scientist believes something (whether they believe that atheism is true, or that there is a God in heaven) does not always mean they have good reasons for believing what they do.


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #19

I think NULL hypothesis is preferred though, right? Or, maybe a better question is… are there cases where the NULL hypothesis does not apply? Or… are there good reasons to ignore the null hypothesis, given X?


(Christy Hemphill) #20

I think a good reason for doubt is the silence of God that many people experience in their times of deepest pain. I don’t know why some people find themselves surrounded by God’s love and presence during these times and others find themselves utterly alone.

Psalm 88
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out to you by day.
I come to you at night.
Now hear my prayer;
listen to my cry.
For my life is full of troubles,
and death draws near.
I am as good as dead,
like a strong man with no strength left.
They have left me among the dead,
and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
I am forgotten,
cut off from your care.
You have thrown me into the lowest pit,
into the darkest depths.
Your anger weighs me down;
with wave after wave you have engulfed me.
You have driven my friends away
by making me repulsive to them.
I am in a trap with no way of escape.
My eyes are blinded by my tears.
Each day I beg for your help, O Lord;
I lift my hands to you for mercy.
Are your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead?
Do the dead rise up and praise you?
Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love?
Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction?
Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds?
Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness?
O Lord, I cry out to you.
I will keep on pleading day by day.
O Lord, why do you reject me?
Why do you turn your face from me?
I have been sick and close to death since my youth.
I stand helpless and desperate before your terrors.
Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me.
Your terrors have paralyzed me.
They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long.
They have engulfed me completely.
You have taken away my companions and loved ones.
Darkness is my closest friend.