Why philosophical arguments for God’s existence are irrelevant

Okay, the philosophical arguments for God’s existence aren’t irrelevant in every sense, but they are irrelevant in some senses or in a lot of ways. In other words, the philosophical arguments for God’s existence can be irrelevant.

For one, most people don’t believe in God based on philosophical arguments. Most people will appeal to something like their personal experiences when they try to justify their belief in God’s existence.

Secondly, even if one partly bases their belief in God’s existence on arguments, they will often admit that their belief is largely based on other factors. The result? Even if the arguments were shown to be unsound/inconclusive, they would still believe that God exists.

Thirdly, the justification afforded by most philosophical arguments for God’s existence do not match the confidence level of the person that believes.

Fourthly, most skeptics are looking for more substantial evidence than philosophical arguments. Afterall, there are philosophical arguments against the existence of God. How are we to decide the issue? At best, the situation is ambiguous, according to the skeptic. What’s going to break the tie? Interestingly, there are some theists who do try to point to things in the world that are supposedly predicted by the God hypothesis. This is where a broader definition of “science” and narrower definition of philosophy come together.

It’s not that we have to see God in a test tube to treat God as an empirical hypothesis. And, empirical hypotheses don’t have to be scientific in the strictest sense. Once again, non-theists will say that, at best, that what we see in the world is ambiguous. At worst, non-theists might claim that the world pretty much looks the way it does if God does not exist. They might say, “If God exists, we would see X”, or, “If God exists, we would not see Y”. Many skeptics will get frustrated with this because some theists won’t play by the rules.

That is, for instance, some theists won’t let anything in the world count as any evidence against God’s existence. In addition, for example, these theists will have such a vague definition of God that we can’t predict anything. Fundamentally, both sides need to be honest about what we would expect to see if God does/does not exist. If theism is so vague where we can’t predict anything, then one is essentially admitting defeat; they are saying that we have no need of the God hypothesis.

I’m not sure how you can fully control for bias and biases in this ongoing debate. Perhaps, we can control for it to some extent like peer review, which is already being done.

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2 thoughts on “Why philosophical arguments for God’s existence are irrelevant

  1. I read most of this post and will maybe try and read the rest later, but as an opening statement I will say that:
    1. The laws of God are perfect
    2. The laws of science are perfect
    3. The laws of human understanding are imperfect
    So if there is a flaw somewhere it’s not with God and Science it’s about Man’s ability to comprehend the these Laws

  2. Thomist K

    >For one, most people don’t believe in God based on philosophical arguments. Most people will appeal to something like their personal experiences when they try to justify their belief in God’s existence.

    This isn’t relevant to whether or not the arguments are right!

    >Secondly, even if one partly bases their belief in God’s existence on arguments, they will often admit that their belief is largely based on other factors. The result? Even if the arguments were shown to be unsound/inconclusive, they would still believe that God exists.

    Same here.

    >Thirdly, the justification afforded by most philosophical arguments for God’s existence do not match the confidence level of the person that believes.

    And here. Plus, this seems to be linked to the idea that all first cause arguments posit only a thinly-characterized deistic god, which isn’t true.

    >Fourthly, most skeptics are looking for more substantial evidence than philosophical arguments. Afterall, there are philosophical arguments against the existence of God. How are we to decide the issue? At best, the situation is ambiguous, according to the skeptic. What’s going to break the tie?

    If we can show that God is metaphysically necessary, which is what arguments for God’s existence (at least the Thomistic ones) claim to do, then it would be hard to say that the situation is ambiguous… That would probably be the thing to break the tie.

    >Interestingly, there are some theists who do try to point to things in the world that are supposedly predicted by the God hypothesis. This is where a broader definition of “science” and narrower definition of philosophy come together.

    Once again, this just isn’t relevant to whether or not the arguments are true.

    >Fundamentally, both sides need to be honest about what we would expect to see if God does/does not exist.

    I agree, but also, if the philosophical arguments that show God has to exist necessarily are legitimate, then that’s really the end of the debate. So that’s where discussions on whether or not God exists need to go.

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