Responses to 20 Arguments for the Existence of God

From Armin Navabi:

When I became an atheist, I wanted to tell people, to help them understand, but I found it difficult to communicate the reasoning behind my lack of belief.

After years of exposure to the arguments and debates of many other atheists, I decided to create a reference guide for myself that provided easy access to the best responses to theistic arguments. I found it helpful to see how other atheists explained themselves and crafted their responses. After creating this guide for myself, I wanted to share it with others and make it widely available.

As a result of my own personal frustration about the lack of easy access to information from within Iran, it is important to me that information be readily available to anyone, no matter where they live. If any of our subscribers lives in a location where they can’t get this book, please reply to this email and Atheist Republic will send you a free copy.

In a further attempt to make "Why There is No God" more accessible, we are looking into having it translated into Arabic and Spanish. - Armin Navabi

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Simple responses to 20 common arguments for the existence of god

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For the masses

“An extraordinarily straight-forward book that is for the masses. For anyone questioning the god question, this is an excellent resource. It’s approach is sensible and not offensive. It’s as if the lights have been turned on and I can observe the actual light, not some theory of light. There are well annotated chapters that offer deeper research for those who want more…”

– Wendy Wyatt

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"The book is an exceptional overview into the rationale of an atheist point of view. Short, clear, concise and well referenced, it is the book I would write if I had the ability or inclination."

– Rodney G Gray

Hits the bullseye

“I’m an atheist who in the past two years has been reading a lot of religious texts to try and better understand those around me and to better communicate my point of view. This book is easy, basic, and concise. I have already gone through it twice. This is book hits the bullseye for me as an atheist.”

– Jacob Bahl

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Simple is good. I like simple.

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@Patrick Are you going to buy it and read it, or just host this lovely advertisement for it? It would be interesting to know if is as weak as Dawkin’s The God Delusion.


From skimming the Amazon preview, I’m not very optimistic. It literally repeats a bad argument that originated out of The God Delusion:


Some of the “arguments” for the existence of God that are discussed by the book are:

  • “Science can’t explain the complexity and order of life; God must have designed it to be this way”
  • “God’s existence is proven by scripture”
  • “Some unexplained events are miraculous, and these miracles prove the existence of God”
  • “Morality stems from God, and without God, we could not be good people”
  • “Belief in God would not be so widespread if God didn’t exist.”
  • “God answers prayers; therefore, he must be real.”
  • “I feel a personal relationship with God, so I know that he is real”
  • “It’s safer to believe in God than be wrong and go to Hell”

It’s safe to say that most of these are strawmen - they are not serious arguments for the existence of God put forward by Christian theologians and philosophers. They resemble some serious arguments (such as the argument from miracles and objective morality), but nobody would phrase it exactly in that way so as to be so easily knocked down by a slightly smart atheist.

But I’m not going to be too incensed about this book, because Christians have their own versions of simple books claiming to refute atheist arguments (e.g. How to Know God Exists by Ray Comfort). The audience is different: it’s for arguing with random people on the street. I have to commend them, however, for their friendly tone towards believers who might be interested in the book, instead of denouncing them as not “Bright” enough to debate. That’s a step forward.

  1. As a believer, you may find that you disagree with much of what is said here, and that’s okay. Reading this book will allow you to see what many atheists believe and how some people may question the beliefs that you hold. If you plan to defend your faith in discussions, this book can help you understand the reasoning behind the lack of belief in your opponents. Knowing this will help you debate from a more informed position, and the atheists you talk to may appreciate the fact that you’ve taken time to understand and consider their arguments. Knowing and appreciating the opponent’s point of view can help you start a productive discussion regarding God and religion in a more constructive way.

Who is Dawkin?

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Good call. The apostrophe was clearly on the wrong side of the “s”… Apologies. I should have said, “Dawkins’ The God Delusion.”


Oh it hardly originated there. What’s so bad about it? I have yet to hear a convincing way to get out of the ensuing logical dilemma.

They sound like typical arguments to me. For example, even to any sightly smart atheist, presenting the morality argument in terms of objective morality will hardly be a shocker or make much of a difference. What are these “serious arguments” then? You’ve got my ears pricked up, I’ll say that :slight_smile:

It occurs to the me that certain philosophical arguments aren’t really going to be something you might hear from the man in the street or your Aunt Mabel, which seems like it might be the point of the book. Maybe that’s the kind of thing you mean


This book is mainly for a Muslim audience where in 40 countries it is a crime to read such books. I agree with Daniel that for an American Christian it is very basic stuff, not of the very depth theological insight that we have here.

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@Patrick Let me know if you read it. I’d be curious to know your assessment.

@dga471 Thanks for your analysis.

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There are no good Islamic arguments for the existence of God?

They only have one: believe it or we kill you. Very hard to argue with.

Sure, Dawkins probably wasn’t the first to think about it, but certainly internet atheists starting using it a lot after it popped up in TGD. The most damning problem with this reasoning was expressed by Alvin Plantinga (among others) many years ago. Namely, you cannot object to an explanation of a fact by arguing that the explanation hasn’t been explained in turn. This is true from common sense. If we send astronauts to Pluto for the first time, and they find some tractors on the surface, one reasonable explanation would be that it must be that someone else (maybe some alien civilization) put them there. It would be ridiculous to argue that “It is simpler to believe that the tractors just popped up there without explanation, because who designed the tractor builders?”.

Secondly, this reasoning also misunderstands the theistic argument in the first place. Roughly, one can spell out the argument as thus:

  1. Everything requires an explanation. (Also known as the Principle of Sufficient Reason)
  2. Everything can be explained either by itself, or by something external.
  3. The universe cannot be explained by itself.
  4. (From 2, 3) Therefore, the universe must be explained by something else.
  5. (From 1, 4) Therefore, there must be something else than the universe which explains the universe and is also explained by itself. We call this “something else” the Designer.

One way to rebut the above argument is by arguing that 3) is false - that the universe can be explained by itself. Others resort to denying 1), i.e. the PSR is not true. Both of these are valid rebuttals which have generated a lot of interesting discussion. The “who designed the designer” argument" doesn’t even manage to understand the argument. It’s not even wrong


I don’t think there were any internet atheists before TGD, really.

This depends on the type of explanation you’re making. If it’s based on evidence, then the evidence should be judged on its own merits. If it’s a logical argument, then pointing out the gaping logical hole in the argument is certainly warranted.

I don’t think “the theistic argument” is consistent. One hears a lot of simple arguments in this vein.

I couldn’t disagree more. This is exactly the kind of logical argument I meant. According to premise one, the designer requires an explanation. You may be comfortable with resolving an unexplained universe with an unexplained designer, but I call it special pleading.


I’m not really sure what you’re saying here. What does it mean to “judge the evidence on its own merits”? What is the difference between logic and evidence?

Yes, premise 1 implies that the designer, if he exists, has an explanation - himself. But this argument in the form I presented is logically valid. To object against it, you have to deny one of the premises from 1-3. If you think the concept of a self-explained anything is incoherent, then you have to deny 1).

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Yeah, TGD coincided with an era where Internet forums were starting to take off. Before that I think The Secular Web existed since the 90s. TGD though launched a breed of Internet atheists who used hamfisted, often ignorant arguments and proudly trumpeting their ignorance as justified (Courtier’s reply).

Everything. That question seems like a category mistake.

This would seem to be the main problem. Why do you assume that anything can be explained by itself? I see this as the means by which God is smuggled into the syllogism.

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To judge the evidence and make a determination as to whether it supports the intended conclusion, or not.

What is the difference between logic and evidence?

A logical argument is a type of evidence, true. But it’s a subset. If you’re going to rely purely on a logical argument, I don’t think you have the benefit of excluding logical analysis of it that would discredit it, purely because you have made the argument. That’s what you seem to be saying with “you cannot object to an explanation of a fact by arguing that the explanation hasn’t been explained in turn”.

To me, with your “explanation” you’ve created an equivalent new question to be solved. If everything needs an explanation, then this question needs an explanation as well. Otherwise, you’re denying that everything needs an explanation. We can equally say that our reality’s explanation is “itself”. It never fails to boggle my mind that this would not bother someone. I’m fine with believing in God, and accept that there are many reasons for doing so. But to state that God is necessary in this way defies logic.

No, there is no such assumption in premise 2. If there is nothing that can explain itself, then premise 2 would still be true, though trivially so. (E.g. “Daniel Ang is either a human or a dog” is a trivially true statement.)

What I’m saying is that the entrance of a new piece of evidence changes the whole picture, such that we are allowed to posit a new entity(s) to explain the evidence, even if that new entity is more “complex” than the evidence itself. This is why the “who designed the Designer” reply misses the point. You are certainly allowed to critique the idea of a Designer by denying premise 1 or 3. Or you can argue that the concept of a necessary being is incoherent on other grounds (which would also imply a denial of premise 1 or 3, because again - the argument I presented is valid).

By saying this, you are denying premise 3. I’m not saying this is an invalid thing to do. I’m just trying to recast your objections so they are actually expressed in a more rigorous way.

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