Hemant Metha, aka “The Friendly Atheist” put out a video blog arguing against the existence of God. Check out the video below and then lets do some critical analysis.
First, let’s define “argument.” An”argument” is a conclusion supported by reasons.Now let’s see how Hemant fares.
1) “There’s no Evidence.”
A number of responses could be offered but first let us assess whether this is an argument. Hmmmm…….. Nope, this is only a conclusion. He does not offer any reasons. Theists have offered much evidence for the existence of God, there’s evidence of God from the beginning of the universe, design, objective morality, fine tuning and information contained in the DNA to name a few. Hemant could say he rejects the evidence or that he doesn’t find the evidence persuasive but to assert there is NO evidence is intellectually dishonest.
2) “God doesn’t stop the evil in the world, in fact, if you read the Bible, God committed plenty of it.”
Again, not an argument, there were 2 conclusions followed by no reasons. Did you also notice that these conclusions did not argue against the EXISTENCE of God but rather against acts that Hemant deems evil? Several questions could be offered at this point:1)What do you mean by evil? 2)What acts are you referring to? 3)What standard are you using to measure God by to call the acts in question, “evil?” 4)If God actually did these acts wouldn’t it therefore follow that he exists?
3) “Drowning just about everything alive; not a sign of love.”
Again, not an argument. I assume he is referring to the flood story mentioned in Genesis. Now, even if Hemant is right that the flood is not a sign of love,(and for the sake of arguing let’s say he’s correct) it wouldn’t prove that God doesn’t exist but only that he isn’t loving.
4) “The opening lines of the Bible are factually wrong, why should we believe the rest of it?”
Nope, still not an argument. He gives us a conclusion followed by a question. This too, has nothing to do with the existence of God. I would want to know a little bit more information before I could comment further, such as, “Are you referring to Genesis 1:1?” If so, how did you come to the conclusion that it is factually wrong? Have you ever considered that even if it were true that the Bible was in error, it might disprove Christianity but it wouldn’t disprove the existence of God?
5) “Prayer has never fixed anything physically impossible. Why won’t God heal amputees?”
Sorry I sound like a broken record, but once again, not an argument. This is a conclusion followed by a question. Hemant backs himself into a corner with the word “never.” The only way he could conclude that prayer has never fixed anything physically impossible is if he has examined EVERY prayer account. He probably hasn’t. So, he should rephrase as such,”I have seen no evidence of prayer fixing anything physically impossible.” I would also like to ask what he means by “physically impossible?” Is that why he brings up amputees? (Since they don’t regrow limbs naturally). I’m not sure! As to the amputee question, I would answer, “I don’t know.” I think that is a fair question for Christians but I’m not sure what it has to do with the existence of God.
6) “There are thousands of gods you don’t believe in. What makes yours any different?”
I am wondering if we are going to see an argument at all? Again, this is a conclusion followed by a question. I assume he is referring to those of us who are “monotheists.” This is really an easy question to answer. So here it goes. Big bang cosmology has shown us that space, matter and time had a beginning. So whatever caused space and time cannot be part of space and time it must be spaceless and timeless. Whatever caused matter to come into being must be immaterial. Therefore, the cause of the universe (whatever it is) must be spaceless, timeless and immaterial. The God of the Bible is a candidate for the cause of the universe because he meets those criteria, whereas the thousands of other gods, like Thor, are not!
7) “Where you’re born essentially determines what you believe. Why should the truth be based on geography?”
Still no argument! Notice that this has absolutely nothing to do with the existence of God. Rather, it is a textbook example of the “Genetic fallacy.” The genetic fallacy occurs when someone attacks a view based on where it originated rather than the reasons given. I don’t know of ANY theist who argues “truth should be based on geography.” Your location in space and time has no bearing on the truth value of the God question. Either God exists or he doesn’t exist. I do think that people believe certain things for awful reasons. I like this quote by Dr. Frank Turek, “Many people arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof, but on the basis of what they find attractive.” We should hold certain beliefs because they are logically consistent and match reality as we know it, not because they are sociologically or psychologically convenient.
8) “Who created God? And how does your answer to that make any sense?”
Questions are not arguments! Atheists think the “Who created God?” question is a defeater for the theist.The question commits the fallacy known as the category mistake. In order to ask the question, “Who created x?” X must be a creatable thing. By definition, the theistic God (whether he exists or not) is timeless and therefore is uncreated. Atheists know this. So, what Hemant is really asking is this, “Who created the uncreated creator?” This is pure nonsense. It’s like asking, “How many inches long is the smell of a rose?” I have no problem attempting to answer the honest questions atheists have about my worldview. However, when they are nonsense questions aimed at trying to make the theist look foolish, the atheist has demonstrated that he is not wanting a conversation.
9) “Pediatric Cancer”
A disease is not an argument! I don’t want to put words in Hemant’s mouth, but what I think he is saying is this: “If God exists, there would be no pediatric cancer. There is pediatric cancer, therefore God doesn’t exist. ” This would have been a good argument to contend with! (Come on Hemant, you can do better!) Let’s assume this is his argument. In order for his argument to work, Hemant would have to show that the existence of pediatric cancer is incompatible with the existence of God. This is a tall order to fill. God may have good reasons for allowing pediatric cancer that we are unaware of. Just because we can’t think of any reasons for allowing pediatric cancer doesn’t disprove God’s existence, it only reveals our ignorance.
10) “Unconditional love shouldn’t come with a list of conditions”
We are half-way finished with the video and Hemant is 0-10 on giving us an argument (I helped with #9)! Remember our definition of an argument – “A conclusion supported by reasons.” I have no idea what he is talking about here. Is he referring to a particular Bible story? We just don’t know. Furthermore, what does this have to do with the existence of God? I need clarification, Hemant!
11) “Every single supposed miracle, gets debunked eventually”
Now, he is 0-11. Still not an argument! Again, this is off topic. It has nothing to do with the existence of God. Much like #5, Hemant would have to investigate every single supposed miracle, in order to decisively say that they all get debunked. This assertion sounds much like the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume who argued that miracles were impossible. If you start with the assumption that miracles are impossible, then you can never conclude an event was miraculous no matter how strong the evidence is. This is bad philosophy! The philosophy of naturalism rules out the possibility of miracles beforehand without looking at the evidence. On the other hand, the theistic worldview can consider a natural or a supernatural explanation for an anomaly whereas the atheist cannot. To me that seems open-minded rather than dismissing them a priori.
12) “Somehow the 10 commandments left off ‘Don’t rape people’ and ‘Slavery is not OK.”
Not an argument! Again, this has nothing to do with God’s existence. Question for Hemant, “Are you saying that whatever the 10 commandments don’t’ specifically condemn, they condone?” The 10 commandments don’t say, “Thou shalt not cut up thy neighbor and feed to the sharks” either. Is Hemant implying that the Bible would approve of this behavior? As to the slavery question, skeptics conclude that the Bible condones slavery but the slavery they are thinking of is American slavery where blacks were shipped in from Africa against their will and sold. However, when people couldn’t pay their debts, they couldn’t go down to First National Bank and file chapter 13 bankruptcy. Sometimes, the only option they had to survive would be indentured servitude until they could pay off their debt. This is not the kind of slavery the skeptic is arguing against.
13) “The movies and music that honor God, are just awful.”
Again, not an argument. This is a textbook example of a non sequitur. A non sequitur is when a conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises given. Allow me to demonstrate: “The movies and music that honor God, are just awful. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.” WHAT?! This is just bad! Suppose I argued, “Since Atheists make bad youtube videos, atheism is therefore false.” If I argued this way, I would be guilty of committing the same fallacy as Hemant. It is obvious that people have different tastes in movies and songs. Those are opinions. I will agree with Hemant, for the sake of the argument, that there have been cheesy Christian movies made. But that doesn’t disprove God’s existence. It just means Christians need to work on their movie-making skills.
14) “The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.”
His argument total is now 0-14. I don’t even know where to start on this one. Is he saying that if you can’t see something then it doesn’t exist? (I am going to give Hemant the benefit of the doubt here). Being able to see something is only one way to know if it exists, but not the only way. For example, we cannot see gravity or the wind but we know they exist because we can study their affects. Something else struck me as odd about his statement. He is ascribing properties to non-existence. That is odd! In order to make comparisons, the items in question must have similar or different properties. But non-existence has NO properties. To say that non-being is invisible is logically incoherent.
15) “No hide and seek game, lasts this long.”
Nope, still no argument! I assume he means that God is hiding from certain individuals and if he were real, he would disclose himself clearly and persuasively. Here is a question for all atheists: Do you think that God cares if we just believe that he exists? Even if God gave us 100% proof of his existence that would be no guarantee that all of us would seek out a relationship with Him and worship Him as the Creator of the universe. Friedrich Nietzshe once wrote, “If one were to prove this God of the Christians to us, we should believe Him all the less.” I once asked an atheist that if I could show him that Christianity were true would he become a Christian and he said, “No!” How is that reasonable? An honest seeker of truth will follow the evidence no matter where it leads. I like this quote by C.S. Lewis,
16) “Science explains so much of what we use to attribute to a God.”
Still no argument. This is the “God-of-the-gaps” objection. Hemant and other atheists accuse theists of plugging in God when there is a gap in knowledge. For example, before we were able to understand thunder, many ancient civilizations said that the gods were angry. But now, thanks to meteorology, the “gods-are-angry” hypothesis has been refuted. I agree that there are instances where theists have committed God-of-the-Gaps. But if we are following the evidence and making inferences to the best explanation, then the God hypothesis seems reasonable. For example, their are fundamental constants and quantities of the universe that are so finely tuned that to alter any one of them by a hair’s breadth would eliminate life on this planet as we know it. No natural explanation is adequate for the fine tuning. Therefore, the fine tuning of the universe is evidence for a designer. I think Hemant has it backwards. Because of our advancements in science, those gaps have gotten wider and made the God hypothesis more plausible.
17) “The more we learn, the less reason we have to believe in God.”
0-17. This is the same as #16. See my response above.
18) “If you tried to explain your religious mythology to someone who had never heard it before, you would sound crazy. Seriously, try explaining communion wafers to someone who has never heard of Catholicism.”
Still no argument. I would like to ask him,”What do you mean by crazy?” Just because something sounds “crazy” or is “crazy” does not mean that it is false. I saw a 2-headed snake on Animal Planet one night, now that was crazy, but it was true. As to the communion wafers, I am not Catholic, so I do not hold to transubstantiation (the catholic doctrine to which Hemant is referring) but that is a Theological matter and is irrelevant with regards to the existence of God.
19) “If God didn’t exist, the world would look exactly the way it does now.”
Finally, we have somewhat of an argument! This argument sounds very similar to a quote by Richard Dawkins
“In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won’t find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”
– Richard Dawkins, Out of Eden, page 133.
Hemant, Richard Dawkins and myself are all looking at the same universe. I see that the universe is not the way it ought to be. You ought not torture babies for fun. You ought not rape people. This world is messed up! Hemant, is implying there are no oughts. The world just is. Yet earlier in #9 he complains about pediatric cancer that this ought not be here. He complains that he 10 commandments left off rape and slavery, implying that one ought not commit them. Every one of us have this innate sense that certain acts like torturing babies for fun are really wrong. I think this innate sense is our moral intuition giving us knowledge of moral values and duties. This can actually be put into an argument for God’s existence:
1) If God does not exist, then objective moral values, duties and human rights do not exist.
2) But objective moral values, duties and human rights DO exist
3) Therefore, God exists
20)”If God existed, he would smite me right now…….I’m good.”
This is an argument! But a really, really bad one. It is so bad, that I don’t even know if it deserves a response. Most atheists, that have really thought out their position would NEVER use this argument. God’s existence is not dependent on him answering our frivolous demands.
Well. this has been fun. Unfortunately, the title of his video needs to be changed because there were only 2 arguments and not 20. I hope that atheists and theists can converse with each other with the goal of sincerely understanding the other side. My goal of this post is to get atheists to think about their arguments as I continue to think about mine. I hope to be able to converse with Mr. Mehta someday, not to try to convert or condemn, but to understand and learn more about the atheist position. Feel free to offer any comments. Thanks!