I’ve written a fair amount about some of the more painfully bad arguments for religion and against atheism. I’ve written about the argument that religion is just a story, not meant to be taken literally… a story that still somehow makes people get very bent out of shape when atheists point out that it isn’t true. I’ve written about an assortment of arguments from wishful thinking, from the insulting (and irrelevant) argument that atheists don’t stay atheists when faced with death, to the baffling (and irrelevant) argument that religion gives us a needed feeling of mystery. I’ve written about the arguments that essentially just tell atheists to shut up. And I’ve written about the ways that, when asked what evidence they have for their religious beliefs, many believers simply deflect the question. Instead of saying, “This is why I believe what I do,” they offer a list of excuses for why they don’t have to show us any stinking evidence.
But that’s not true for all believers. When asked why they believe what they do, some believers take the question seriously and sincerely — and they try to answer it.
I want to return the favor. I want to look at some of these more earnest answers to the question, “Why do you believe in God?” I want to take them seriously, and assume that the people presenting them mean them sincerely. And I want to point out — in as much detail as I can in a single blog post — how they still don’t hold water. They’re less bad than a lot of arguments for God — at least they’re trying to actually answer the question about the evidence for god, instead of just treating it as stupid or meaningless or patently offensive. But in my years as an atheist writer, not one of them has made me stop and think, “Hm, that’s a poser.”
Today’s argument: But All Of This Had To Come From Somewhere! Otherwise known as the “First Cause” argument. “Things don’t just come out of nowhere,” the argument goes. “Everything that exists has a cause. Therefore, the entirety of physical existence itself had to have had a cause. Therefore, God exists.”
Yeah. See, there are some big problems with that argument.
Thus begins my latest piece on AlterNet, Why “Everything Has a Cause” Is a Terrible Justification for God’s Existence. To find out what exactly the big problems are with the First Cause argument, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!