Arguments for Atheism
In this section, “arguments for atheism” means “arguments for the nonexistence of God.” (Worried about the logic of “proving a negative”? Click here.) In the jargon of the philosophy of religion, such arguments are known as “atheological arguments.” The argument from evil (sometimes referred to as ‘the problem of evil’) is by far the most famous of such arguments, but it is by no means the only such argument. Indeed, in the 1990s philosophers developed a flurry of atheological arguments; arguably the most famous of such arguments is the argument from reasonable nonbelief (also known as the argument from divine hiddenness).
There are two types of atheological arguments:
- Logical Arguments attempt to show that the concept of God is self-contradictory or logically inconsistent with some known fact
- Evidential Arguments attempt to show that certain known facts that are consistent with theism nevertheless provide evidence against it
Note: these definitions were taken from Paul Draper, “Evolution and the Problem of Evil,” in Philosophy of Religion (3rd ed., ed. Louis P. Pojman, Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1998), p. 220.
Some common arguments for and against the atheist position, which crop up time and time again—each with one or more of the standard responses, and which don’t fit neatly into either of the above two categories. A “must read” if you think you have a good argument and you want to know if it has already been discussed.
In addition to evidential and logical arguments for atheism, there is a lesser-known third kind of argument. Modal arguments for atheism conclude that atheism is necessarily true on the basis of a mere possibility claim. In this paper Ryan Stringer considers how modal arguments for atheism contribute to the philosophical defense of atheism, concluding that modal arguments for atheism either (a) positively support atheism or (b) at least undermine modal arguments for theism.
Jeffery Jay Lowder maintains this page.