This is a question for everyone, atheist and theist:
Which, IYO, are the worst arguments (either way) and why?
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Intelligent design and creationism top my list of bad arguments for theism.
Strictly speaking, atheism doesn't have any arguments. Basically all an atheist says is, "Prove it, show me. Until then I don't believe it."
For Chritsians: That there is an unbroken line of valid testimony between the alleged magical Jesus and the present day
For Moslems: That Mohammed was not a perverted child molester and not much else
For Hindus: That anything so ridiculous should be believed at all.
Circular BS just makes me want to walk away. "God is real because the bible says so. The Bible is real because God wrote it." I start humming the Galaxy song around these people.
The most dishonest question ever posed by the religious is "Who" created the earth. I will still be cringing at this one long after I am dead.
For me it is the Young Earth position. These people take the bible dates literally, and based solely on that, are very willing to ignore any evidence that contradicts the 6,000 year position. Then they are willing to invent any story to work around all arguments. And as we have all seen, some of those fabricated stories are just crazy wild.
This is too hard for a quiet Sunday morning, LN.
Too much to choose from.
A recent one I learned of on this site is called 'sensus divinitatis' popular amongst Calvinists, enlarged on by Calvin after an idea from one of the old Greek stand up philosophers.
This idea insists that we are all born with an innate sense or knowledge of god. Cal thought it a great argument against non believers who might argue they never heard or knew about god and were thus ripe for eternal punishment.
It must have been planted in us at birth right along with the concept of Original Sin and with our unfortunate hard pressed doomed souls.
Calvin was nasty piece of work.
What at your thoughts on the evolutionary approach which views religion as a byproduct of our spiritual brains?
I agree, that is one more very dumb argument. It assumes we are spiritual, more hogwash.
I am assuming rather than 'spiritual brain' Breezy, you mean 'spiritual mind' which I don't recognise or know anything about as far as evolution goes.
As for our 'meat' brains what little I have read in terms of the evolution of religion has concerned things like brain size, specifically the neo cortex, reaching a critical mass, being big enough to accommodate complex social responses, language and rudiments of religion, which would mark our development as homo sapiens.
Beyond that there are theories about heightened receptions to stimuli, understanding causality, and the Theory of Mind, all of which apparently all adds up to recognising the independence of other minds and our own mortality, which I think is the primary goad for religion.
I think you would know more about this with your psychology training? and you might be able to explain all this as a physical expression of things like sensus divinitatus, but I really don't know if you would want to or not.
I know there are scientific theories about how the concept of god is hardwired into our brain processes, and I also recall an American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science convention (2002? just guessing) in which a neurologist discussed patients who saw religious significance in nearly everything they saw; they were under constant medical care.
So, regardless of how the brain operates, and its an extremely complex organ, but its complexity may not always express accuracy or rationality, its processes serve a need for the irrational apes that we are, and for that reason I dont think its a reliable or even valid source of proof or evidence for intanglible things like a god, its better at co-operating in a hunt and making tools. However, Calvin obviously thought it was fine for validating the existence of his god. He used the ritual of pagan natives as proof of the innateness of the idea of god and not knowing anything about psychiatry or neurology, he decided it had to have been planted in us by that same god.
Right, so I wasn't aware of Calvin's ideas, but I do find then interesting now.
Drugs for example, in all their wide variety of effects, only hijack what the brain does naturally. Drugs don't produce things which your brain isn't capable of producing on it's own. That's how the discovery of endorphins came about. Why does our brain have receptors for morphine and heroine? Well because we produce our own natural pain killers, which morphine mimics.
But then you have drugs like DMT, which cause people to have powerful spiritual experiences. So the question becomes, why does our brain have receptors for such a drug, and why does it produce religious experiences. Perhaps Calvin was onto something.
DMT does not = guaranteed religious experience. A powerful experience yes, which for some people, they may describe as religious, it certainly helps light up the spiritual side of the brain. Just like how a medical scientist specializing in the brain, can cause a spiritual experience to someone by simply interfacing with the correct part of the brain with the correct tool.
You should read Prof Edward Evans Pritchard (oxford Uni) a pioneer in the study of indigenous populations, read it just as an anthropology primer and then start reading more recent anthropological/social texts.
Calvin started with a premise and formed his ideas around that conclusion. Like many later Victorian "gentlemen" he had strict ideas about where any study would lead and edited accordingly.
John 61X Breezy,
It's an interesting possibility. Structures that have originally evolved for other reasons often support (to some extent) entirely new functions. But, I don't think there is a "religious gene" as such given the quick abandonment of religion in Europe. Some of it could be cultural adaptations.
Well, everything we do, we can do because our brains allow it. As such all behaviors correlate with the anatomical brain, and everything in the brain correlates with a gene. You might not find a gene for speaking English, but you will find a gene for language and it's process. There won't be a gene for Christianity, but there will be a gene for religiosity or it's spiritual processes.
You talk about the abandonment of religion in Europe, but more than likely it has just been replaced with an analogous behavior:
"Science in many minds is genuinely taking the place of a religion. Where this is so, the scientist treats the “Laws of Nature” as objective facts to be revered" -William James
The secularization of Europe is very real, and it couldn't happen in a couple of decades or so if religion arose from a religious gene. Genetic change is not that quick. Most likely some combination of genes meant for other ends set the stage for religion. But those genes can sustain other programs as well, and that allows for a quick, cultural change.
It's been updated since then- and scientifically debunked:
Well that is good news and old news too, I note. Thanks for that update Sushi. The theologians quoted in that article weren't all that convinced it existed either.
Still I pity those patients who 'see' god everywhere; you wouldn't wish that on anyone, unless of course you were the vain Abrahamic god they keep visualising.
@ Breezy, as far as I know our receptors are pretty accommodating to a range of drugs and DMT from what I just read here, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/N,N-Dimethyltryptamine
is a molecule which occurs in many plants and animals as the article says.
Calvin wasn't onto anything meaningful about religious perception; his drug was punishment and control.
The worst argument for Christianity (as opposed to simple theism):
Anything that relies on taking the Bible to be literally true for its validity. I agree with David Killens. I have not seen a coherent argument for the Young Earth position.
The worst argument for theism (as opposed to the more specific case of Christianity):
Any version of the argument from ignorance. A basic logical fallacy.
The worst argument for “Strong Atheism”:
Anything that rejects Thomistic or Aristotelian cosmological arguments based on the assumption that a logical premise of such arguments is that “Everything has a cause”. There are great objections to Thomisitic and Aristotelian arguments. The above is not one of them.
The worst argument for “atheism”:
Elimanative materialism in the philosophy of mind. The position seems to me to be self-refuting.
Pascal's wager: This idea is to force oneself to believe in a (Christian) god, to go to heaven and avoid hell.
Either you believe something or not, but you can't believe again in Santa or a god again, when you already overcame the brainwashing, just because you are scared of consequences you already know are unlikely, then I guess this is just about pretending, thus according to Christianity, you wouldn't go to Heaven, because the feeling is not real... Stupid idea all the way.
And just like @David Killens, I think that the idea of a 6000 year-old Earth is one of the dumbest as well.
Some great nominees for "worst argument" here so far.
For me any argument for a possible god idea existing that: the evidence and reasoning of the argument is based on the bible, or Quran or any other "holy" book.
One of my personal favorites:
Yes CyberLN, and proves how desperate apologists are, and how ignorant anyone who believes it is. Those with a little knowledge know that in it's original state the banana does not have that shape. That is a result of breeding by humans.
This argument highlights one aspect of religion, that it preys on ignorance and gullibility.
Yes, exactly. Curved bananas are not proof of any god’s existence. The real reason why they look the way they are is because of a plant hormone called auxin, which causes the bananas to curve towards the sunlight, and this happens because banana trees grow in rainforests, where very little sunlight comes in sideways- so the bananas must curve upwards towards the sky.
The idea that curved bananas prove creationism/intelligent design is based solely on confirmation bias (the theists who make this claim do so because they really, really, really want their religion to be true. They will ignore any and all evidence to the contrary.
"The idea that curved bananas prove creationism/intelligent design is based solely on confirmation bias"
Do you think they considered coconuts at all before talking bollocks about how bananas must have been created because they're easy to hold and peel?
BLASPHEMY! Now you have gone too far! BLASPHEMY I SAY!!! You have attacked the sacred BANANAMAN! You will burn in hell! (I'm just sorry I didn't think of it first.)
But a close Second is the "ARGUMENT FROM PEANUT BUTTER"
I never have luck posting pics but the video is a riot.
But but but ... I never touched on the fact that a banana can fit into certain bodily orifices other than the mouth.
And PEANUT BUTTER, (Creamy not chunky) is a great lubricant. Ummm... God works in mysterious ways!!
Worst theist argument: equating atheism with acceptance of the ToE. The two have nothing to do with each other-many, many theists accept the ToE. It forces the atheist to argue the validity of the ToE to the point that the god thing doesn't even get a look in. Conversely, it also makes it the theist's best argument for exactly that reason. Bringing the BBT and abiogenesis into it are close seconds. Omnibenevolence/free will/moral evil as the reason for it all comes third by a whisker.
Worst atheist argument: I was born an atheist. Yes, technically it's true, but we're all born into theist cultures of one stripe or another and all that entails- like the Christian hegemony of believing in Good and Evil in the West. There'd be no acceptance of humanitarian interventions without it.
@SushisnakeI: was born an atheist
I fully agree. And then the atheists will call raising a child Christian Child abuse.
In fairness - babies are born in sin and if some man in a funny had does not sprinkle a bit of water over their head and mumble some words. they do burn in hell right along side the atheists.