Arguments for and against the Existence of God (2023)

The polytheistic conceptions of God were criticized and derided bythe monotheistic religions. Since the Enlightenment, monotheisticconcepts have also come under criticism from atheism and pantheism.

Arguments for the Existence of God

Philosophers have tried to provide rational proofs of God'sexistence that go beyond dogmatic assertion or appeal to ancientscripture. The major proofs, with their corresponding objections, areas follows:
1. Ontological:
It is possible to imagine a perfect being.Such a being could not be perfect unless its essence includedexistence. Therefore a perfect being must exist.
Objection: You cannot define or imagine a thing intoexistence.
2. Causal:
Everything must have a cause. It is impossibleto continue backwards to infinity with causes, therefore there musthave been a first cause which was not conditioned by any other cause.That cause must be God.
Objections: If you allow one thing to exist without cause, youcontradict your own premise. And if you do, there is no reason whythe universe should not be the one thing that exists or originateswithout cause.
3. Design:
Animals, plants and planets show clear signs ofbeing designed for specific ends, therefore there must have been adesigner.
Arguments for and against the Existence of God (1)Objection: The principles of self-organization and evolutionprovide complete explanations for apparent design.
3a. Modern design argument:
the Anthropic CosmologicalPrinciple. This is the strongest card in the theist hand. Thelaws of the universe seem to have been framed in such a way thatstars and planets will form and life can emerge. Many constants ofnature appear to be very finely tuned for this, and the odds againstthis happening by chance are astronomical.
Objections: The odds against all possible universes areequally astronomical, yet one of them must be the actual universe.Moreover, if there are very many universes, then some of these willcontain the possibility of life. Even if valid, the anthropiccosmological principle guarantees only that stars and planets andlife will emerge - not intelligent life. In its weak form, theanthropic cosmological principle merely states that if we are here toobserve the universe, it follows that the universe must haveproperties that permit intelligent life to emerge.
4. Experiential:
A very large number of people claim tohave personal religious experiences of God.
Objections: We cannot assume that everything imagined inmental experiences (which include dreams, hallucinations etc)actually exists. Such experiences cannot be repeated, tested orpublicly verified. Mystical and other personal experiences can beexplained by other causes.
5. Pragmatic:
Human societies require ethics to survive.Ethics are more effectively enforced if people fear God and Hell andhope for Heaven (cf. the origin of ethical systems).
Objections: The usefulness of a belief does not prove itstruth. In any case, many societies have thrived without thesebeliefs, while crime has thrived in theistic societies believing inheaven and hell.

General objection against all the rational proofs for God:

Each of the above arguments is independent of the others andcannot logically be used to reinforce the others.
The cause argument - even if it were valid - would prove only a firstcause. It would tell us nothing about the nature of that cause, norwhether the cause was mental or physical. It would not prove that thefirst cause was the personal, judging, forgiving God of Judaism,Christianity, or Islam. It would not prove the existence of adesigner or of a perfect being. Equally, the design argument wouldprove only a designer, the ontological argument would prove only theexistence of a perfect being, and so on. None of these argumentsindividually can prove that the cause, designer or perfect being wereone and the same - they could be three different beings.

Arguments against the existence of God

The major philosophical criticisms of God as viewed by Judaism,Christianity and Islam are as follows:

1. Evil:
Because evil exists, God cannot be all-powerful.all-knowing and loving and good at the same time.
2. Pain:
Because God allows pain, disease and naturaldisasters to exist, he cannot be all-powerful and also loving andgood in the human sense of these words.
3. Injustice:
Destinies are not allocated on the basis ofmerit or equality. They are allocated either arbitrarily, or on theprinciple of "to him who has, shall be given, and from him who hasnot shall be taken even that which he has." It follows that Godcannot be all-powerful and all-knowing and also just in the humansense of the word.
4. Multiplicity:
Since the Gods of various religions differwidely in their characteristics, only one of these religions, ornone, can be right about God.
5. Simplicity:
Since God is invisible, and the universe isno different than if he did not exist, it is simpler to assume hedoes not exist (see Occam's Razor).

None of these criticisms apply to the God of pantheism, which isidentical with the universe and nature.

See also: Arguments for and against the Existence of God (2)Has Science Found God?: Examining the Evidence from Modern Physics and Cosmology

Copyright© 1997 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

Paul Harrison

Apr 3, 1997


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Arguments for and against the Existence of God (7)


Arguments for and against the Existence of God? ›

The “Argument from Divine Hiddenness” or the “Hiddenness Argument” refers to a family of arguments for atheism. Broadly speaking, these arguments try to demonstrate that, if God existed, He would (or would likely) make the truth of His existence more obvious to everyone than it is.

What are the 5 arguments against the existence of God? ›

The major philosophical criticisms of God as viewed by Judaism, Christianity and Islam are as follows:
  • Evil: Because evil exists, God cannot be all-powerful. ...
  • Pain: ...
  • Injustice: ...
  • Multiplicity: ...
  • Simplicity:

What is the main argument against the existence of God? ›

The “Argument from Divine Hiddenness” or the “Hiddenness Argument” refers to a family of arguments for atheism. Broadly speaking, these arguments try to demonstrate that, if God existed, He would (or would likely) make the truth of His existence more obvious to everyone than it is.

What are the 3 arguments for the existence of God? ›

There is certainly no shortage of arguments that purport to establish God's existence, but 'Arguments for the existence of God' focuses on three of the most influential arguments: the cosmological argument, the design argument, and the argument from religious experience.

What are the best points against Christianity? ›

The arguments against Christianity include the suppositions that it is a faith of violence, corruption, superstition, polytheism, homophobia, bigotry, pontification, abuses of women's rights and sectarianism.

What is not believing in God? ›

2 The literal definition of “atheist” is “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods,” according to Merriam-Webster. And the vast majority of U.S. atheists fit this description: 81% say they do not believe in God or a higher power or in a spiritual force of any kind.

What are the 4 arguments for God? ›

Evidence for the existence of God is seen in several ways in what have traditionally been called the Classical Arguments for God's existence. The four Classical arguments are simply called: The Ontological argument, The Cosmological argument, The Teleological argument, and The Moral argument.

Why do atheists believe there is no God? ›

Atheists argue that because everything in the universe can be explained in a satisfactory way without using God as part of the explanation, then there is no point in saying that God exists.

What are the three key arguments? ›

Aristotle postulated three argumentative appeals: logical, ethical, and emotional. Strong arguments have a balance of all of three, though logical (logos) is essential for a strong, valid argument.

What are the 5 arguments of theist? ›

Arguments in support of theism include the ontological, cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments. Arguments in support of atheism, on the other hand, include the arguments from evil, from no best world, and from divine hiddenness.

What is the argument against religion? ›

Critics of religion in general may view religion as one or more of: outdated, harmful to the individual, harmful to society, an impediment to the progress of science or humanity, a source of immoral acts or customs, a political tool for social control.

What is the inductive argument against the existence of God? ›

Particularly, the inductive argument is constructed by claiming that the life on Earth does not seem to be sustained by the presence of God. Therefore, God does not exist. To be more accurate, the author of the analysis points to the fact that people act in the way that does not imply that God exists.

What is the major issue in Christianity? ›

The major issues in Christian eschatology are the Tribulation, death and the afterlife, (mainly for Evangelical groups) the Millennium and the following Rapture, the Second Coming of Jesus, Resurrection of the Dead, Heaven, (for liturgical branches) Purgatory, and Hell, the Last Judgment, the end of the world, and the ...

What is the great controversy about in Christianity? ›

All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law, and His sovereignty over the universe. This conflict originated in heaven when a created being, endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation became Satan, God's adversary.

What are the top 3 beliefs of Christianity? ›

Some of the main themes that Jesus taught, which Christians later embraced, include: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Forgive others who have wronged you.

What religion believes in God but doesn t? ›

Agnostic theism, agnostotheism, or agnostitheism is the philosophical view that encompasses both theism and agnosticism. An agnostic theist believes in the existence of one or more gods, but regards the basis of this proposition as unknown or inherently unknowable.

Can you believe in Jesus and not believe in God? ›

Christian atheism is a form of Christianity that does not accept the literal existence of God but may be rooted in the teachings, narratives, symbols, or communities associated with Jesus. Christian atheism takes many forms: Some include an ethics system.

Can you believe in God and not go to church? ›

Most people who stop attending church services still believe in God, according to new research commissioned by the Church of Scotland. Many who no longer attend church choose to express their faith in new ways, said Scotland's national Church.

Can the existence of God be proven? ›

It may be possible (or impossible) to prove the existence of God, but it may be unnecessary to do so in order for belief in God to be reasonable. Perhaps the requirement of a proof is too stringent, and perhaps there are other ways of establishing God's existence.

Who created the idea of God? ›

The idea that God is a self-existent being was developed and explained by St. Anselm in the eleventh century. By various arguments Anselm had satisfied him- self that among those beings that exist there is one that is supremely great and good-nothing that exists or ever did exist is its equal.

What are some examples of arguing with God in the Bible? ›

Abraham, back in Genesis set the precedent for arguing with God. Even that Knight of Infinite Resignation could summon up the gumption to argue with God on occasion. He tried, for example, to convince God not to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in their entireties (Genesis 18, 23-33).

Is there such thing as God? ›

God is often conceived as the greatest entity in existence. God is often believed to be the cause of all things and so is seen as the creator and sustainer and the ruler of the universe. God is often thought of as incorporeal and independent of the material creation while pantheism holds God is the universe itself.

Why do Christians believe in God? ›

For all Christians what is important is that God is the creator of the universe. They believe that whatever the exact process was that created the universe, God is the overall architect of that creation. It is the 'spirit of God' which is the source of all life and creation.

What is it called when you don't believe in God but aren't an atheist? ›

Nonbelief comes in many varieties. Technically, an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in a god, while an agnostic is someone who doesn't believe it's possible to know for sure that a god exists.

What are the two major types of arguments? ›

Different Types Of Arguments: Deductive And Inductive Arguments. The two major types of arguments are deductive and inductive arguments.

What are key arguments? ›

Keyword arguments (or named arguments) are values that, when passed into a function, are identifiable by specific parameter names. A keyword argument is preceded by a parameter and the assignment operator, = . Keyword arguments can be likened to dictionaries in that they map a value to a keyword. A.

What are the 6 key elements of an argument? ›

Toulmin, the Toulmin method is a style of argumentation that breaks arguments down into six component parts: claim, grounds, warrant, qualifier, rebuttal, and backing.

What is the theological argument for God? ›

The basic premise, of all teleological arguments for the existence of God, is that the world exhibits an intelligent purpose based on experience from nature such as its order, unity, coherency, design and complexity.

What is the strongest argument for theism? ›

From a theist prospective one of the strongest arguments for God's existence is the cosmological argument. In a nutshell this argues the idea that there is a cause for everything and in this case God is the cause of the universe. Dr. Bill Craig explains the cosmological argument as follows: 1.)

What are the main arguments in the God delusion? ›

In The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator, God, almost certainly does not exist, and that belief in a personal god qualifies as a delusion, which he defines as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.

Is religion the enemy of human rights? ›

Some argue that religions and religiosity do not threaten human rights. Rather, the advancement of human rights needs the support of organized religions. Each of the world's major religions embraces some ideas that are consistent with and even predate modern human rights ideas.

What are religious arguments? ›

The argument from religious experience is an argument for the existence of God. It holds that the best explanation for religious experiences is that they constitute genuine experience or perception of a divine reality. Various reasons have been offered for and against accepting this contention.

What are the conflicts of religion? ›


Sectarian violence involves differences based on interpretations of religious doctrine or practice. The struggles between the Catholic and Orthodox churches, or the wars associated with the Protestant Reformation and Counter Reformation, are examples of this form of conflict.

What is the argument for atheism philosophy? ›

Arguments for atheism range from philosophical to social and historical approaches. Rationales for not believing in deities include the lack of evidence, the problem of evil, the argument from inconsistent revelations, the rejection of concepts that cannot be falsified, and the argument from nonbelief.

What are the 5 cosmological arguments? ›

They are:
  • the argument from "first mover";
  • the argument from universal causation;
  • the argument from contingency;
  • the argument from degree;
  • the argument from final cause or ends ("teleological argument").

What are the 5 arguments Thomas Aquinas posited? ›

The arguments are often named as follows: (1) argument from motion, (2) argument from efficient cause, (3) argument from necessary being, (4) argument from gradations of goodness, and (5) argument from design.

Can you go to heaven if you don't believe in God? ›

While most U.S. adults believe in heaven, there is disagreement about who can go there. Among all Americans, about four-in-ten (39%) say that people who do not believe in God can go to heaven, while roughly a third (32%) say that nonbelievers cannot enter heaven. (Again, 27% do not believe in heaven at all.)

Why do atheist deny the existence of God? ›

Atheists argue that because everything in the universe can be explained in a satisfactory way without using God as part of the explanation, then there is no point in saying that God exists.

What is the first cause argument for God? ›

The first cause argument is based around cause and effect. The idea is that everything that exists has something that caused it, there is nothing in our world that came from nothing. As human beings we are used to seeing cause and effect in our everyday lives, so this argument is easy to relate to.

What is the first cause argument proves that God exists? ›


In very basic terms, this 'proof' for the existence of God claims that because the universe exists, someone or something must have 'caused' it to exist. That someone or something must be God.

What is the problem with cosmological argument? ›

The form of the mistake is this: Every member of a collection of dependent beings is accounted for by some explanation. Therefore, the collection of dependent beings is accounted for by one explanation. This argument will fail in trying to reason that there is only one first cause or one necessary cause, i.e. one God .

Who wrote the 5 proofs for the existence of God? ›

The Summa Theologica is a famous work written by Saint Thomas Aquinas between AD 1265 and 1274. It is divided into three main parts and covers all of the core theological teachings of Aquinas's time.

What is Aquinas's 5th argument for the existence of God? ›

In Aquinas's system, God is that paramount perfection. Aquinas's fifth and final way to demonstrate God's existence is an argument from final causes, or ends, in nature (see teleology). Again, he drew upon Aristotle, who held that each thing has its own natural purpose or end.

How did Aquinas prove God exists? ›

Aquinas thought there must be something not dependent on other things for its existence, and upon which everything else rests on for its own existence; for Thomas Aquinas, that thing is God. The Argument from Degree: The fourth argument is about degrees of good things.

What is the sin that is unforgivable? ›

One eternal or unforgivable sin (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit), also known as the sin unto death, is specified in several passages of the Synoptic Gospels, including Mark 3:28–29, Matthew 12:31–32, and Luke 12:10, as well as other New Testament passages including Hebrews 6:4–6, Hebrews 10:26–31, and 1 John 5:16.

Can you go to heaven without being baptized? ›

While Jesus told Nicodemus, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (John 3:5), he did not set baptism as a hindrance to salvation but just the opposite. We so often judge things by human standards, but God is not restrained by our standards.

What religion will take you to heaven? ›

Judaism and Islam, for example, both teach that all righteous people will go to heaven. The belief that only some righteous people go to heaven is a Christian belief.

What do you call a person with no religion but believes in God? ›

An agnostic theist believes in the existence of one or more gods, but regards the basis of this proposition as unknown or inherently unknowable. The agnostic theist may also or alternatively be agnostic regarding the properties of the god or gods that they believe in.

What is it called when you believe in God but not religion? ›

A theist is the opposite of an atheist. Theists believe in the existence of a god or gods. The word deist refers to someone who believes in God. But a deist believes that while God created the universe, natural laws determine how the universe plays out.

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