Sunday, June 7, 2015

How to Not Disprove God - by John Ottens

As a Christian I’ve run across some very poor arguments against theism. I imagine you’ve probably heard them too. I thought it might be helpful to put together a list with a few of the most popular worst offenders. This enumeration isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but hopefully it can provide a few helpful pointers to some of the more zealous atheists out there.

1. If you want to disprove God, don’t waste time talking about psychology. Maybe humans do have a deep-seated desire to live forever, to see their enemies receive ultimate punishment, to have a perfect parent, to have someone omnipotent to thank for good things and to blame for disasters, or something else along those same lines. But so what? That doesn’t prove or disprove anything about God. It’s six o’clock in the morning, I haven’t had breakfast yet, and I have a deep-seated desire for a muffin; that doesn’t mean muffins are just a legend invented in the mists of prehistory to which no intelligent person could ever assent. Whether I want something or not is no proof of whether it exists. Maybe we have a deep longing for God or maybe we don’t. Either way, it doesn’t affect the question of his existence.

2. Along the same lines, if you want to disprove God, don’t waste time talking about brainwashing. Maybe all religious people throughout all time have only ever believed in God because their parents did or their friends did or their society did, but again: so what? We aren’t talking about why people believe in God, but about whether God exists, and God’s existence (or lack thereof) is independent of why people believe or don’t believe in him.

John Ottens is a Roman Catholic seminarian in the Canadian prairies who likes good philosophy and good literature and the occasional game of chess.