The Argument from Necessitarian Accounts of Laws of Nature

Necessitarianism about the laws of nature is a fairly popular view in contemporary analytic philosophy (Cf. Shoemaker, Swoyer, Bird, Fales, Ellis, Bigelow et al.). According to such accounts, the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. One popular type of account of necessitarianism about the laws of nature is dispositional essentialism. According to this sort of account, physical individuals and stuffs have their dispositional properties essentially, so that (for example) salt (or at the very least, least salt-in-alpha, i.e., the stuff that plays the salt role in the actual world) is essentially and thus necessarily such that it dissolves in water.  Similarly, matter-energy (or at the very least, matter-in-alpha) is essentially and thus necessarily such that the conservation laws hold. But if so, then it appears that God can't violate the laws of nature, which puts constraints on God's relation to the physical world. For example, it implies that he can't intervene in the world in such a way as to violate the laws of physics, or that (if some of the conservation laws are properly spelled out in terms of conserved quantities of matter-energy), can't create or sustain the universe. But such claims are incompatible with orthodox monotheism. Therefore, to the extent that one is persuaded by necessitarianism about the laws of nature, one thereby has reason to think orthodox monotheism is false.

Today, White Evangelical Protestants comprise Only 13.6% of Americans

From the Washington Post. Source with details here. Note also that twice as many Americans (26.8%) are religiously unaffiliated.

Koons' Nice Paper on Why Theists Should Oppose Criminalizing Sin

Koons, Jeremy. "Theism and the criminalization of sin", European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10:1 (2018).

Abstract: The free will theodicy places significant value on free will: free will is of such substantial value, that God’s gift of free will to humans was justified, even though this gift foreseeably results in the most monstrous of evils. I will argue that when a state criminalizes sin, it can restrict or eliminate citizens’ exercise of metaphysical free will with respect to choosing to partake in or refrain from these activities. Given the value placed on free will in the free will theodicy, theists who endorse this theodicy should thus oppose the criminalization of what I will call Millian sins —that is, actions which are immoral, but which do not directly harm another person. In other words, such theists should oppose legal moralism.

Happy reading!


The Argument from the Autonomy of Normative Ethics

The history of Western normative ethics has produced a wide range of plausible normative ethical theories that make no essential reference to God. Prominent examples include virtue ethics, consequentialism, social contract theory, Kantian ethics, Scanlonian contractualism, and care ethics. By contrast, the main theistic accounts -- divine command theory and theistic natural law theory -- have had a much harder time of it. The majority of ethicists therefore find divine command theory and theistic natural law theory among the most implausible. There are thus strong prima facie grounds for thinking normative ethics is autonomous, and thus independent of God. This is surprising on the hypothesis of orthodox monotheism, as the latter has naturally suggested to perhaps most theists that God is the ultimate ground of moral principles (which seems to be a straightforward implication of the widely-held aseity-sovereignty doctrine according to which (i) God is an absolutely independent being, dependent upon/derivative of nothing and (ii) everything distinct from God depends upon her for their existence). By contrast, the autonomy of normative ethics is not surprising on naturalism, for on the latter hypothesis, there is no such person as God, and thus there is no expectation that God is the ultimate ground of moral principles. The autonomy of ethics thus provides at least some evidence for naturalism vis-a-vis theism.

The Argument from Causal Nihilism/Eliminativism

Bertrand Russell famously argued that the notion of cause is an obsolete notion, on the grounds that the equations expressing the fundamental laws of physics make no appeal to causation, in which case causes can be dispensed with. This view is known as causal eliminativism (also sometimes referred to as causal nihilism). There are strong defenses of causal eliminativism to this day. But according to orthodox theism, God is the cause of at least the universe (and indeed very many standard arguments for theism rely on the reality of causation). Therefore, to the extent that one is persuaded by arguments for causal eliminativism, one thereby has at least some reason to think theism is false. 

The Argument from Counterexamples to the "Laws" of Logic Against Theism

At least since Augustine, and arguably in the book of Proverbs and the Gospel of John, theists have thought it a natural to expect that if God exists, then we'd expect there to be exceptionless laws of logic that are necessary truths, which in turn are grounded in the mind of God. This expectation also seems to be a straightforward implication of the widely-held aseity-sovereignty doctrine, according to which (i) God is an absolutely independent being, dependent upon/derivative of nothing and (ii) everything distinct from God depends upon her for their existence.  However, there are counterexamples to basic logical laws of deductive inference, such as modus ponens and modus tollens. Therefore, to the extent that laws of logic would provide at least some confirming evidence for theism, evidence against such laws is thereby at least some disconfirming evidence against theism.

200 (or so) Arguments for Atheism

A popular view in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion is that while there are many arguments[1] for theism -- cosmological, ontological, and teleological arguments; moral arguments; arguments from consciousness; etc. (by Plantinga's lights, two dozen or so), there are only two arguments for atheism[2], viz., the problem of evil and (more recently) the problem of divine hiddenness. Indeed, some argue that the problem of divine hiddenness reduces to a version of the problem of evil, and thus that there is only one argument -- or at most, one category of argument -- for atheism.

This is a misconception. Here are over 200 arguments for atheism, spanning 28 categories:

I. Cosmological-Type Arguments
1. Epicurean cosmological arguments for naturalism 
2. The argument from metaphysical infinitism/coherentism

II. Ontological-Type Arguments
17. A minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism
18. Quantum modal realist ontological argument for naturalism

IV. Dysteleological Arguments
29. The argument from suboptimal design

V. Arguments from Religion/Religious Experience
34. The argument from idolatry

VIII. Arguments from Consciousness and Personhood
72. The argument from substance dualism to non-theism

X. Arguments from Reason

XI. Arguments from Logic


XIII. Arguments from the Nature of Causation
XIV. Nomological Arguments

XV. Arguments from General Ontology, Metaphysics, and Metametaphysics (that Don't Fit Neatly Into other Categories)

XVI. Epistemological Arguments
104. The argument from theism to radical skepticism
109, 110. The problem(s) of religious luck
111. The argument from Mandevillian intelligence
112. The argument from secondary qualities against the reliability of perception
113. The argument from Bayesian theories of perception (esp. prediction error minimization theories)
114. The argument from wave function realism against the reliability of perception
115. The problem of theistic evidentialist philosophers

XVII. Arguments from Aesthetics
116. The argument from ugliness
117. The argument from revulsion

XVIII. Normative Arguments (Apart from problems of evil)
118. The argument from the impropriety of worship
119. The argument from autonomy 

XIX. Arguments from Divine Hiddenness and Non-Belief
122. Deductive arguments from divine hiddenness
123. Probabilistic arguments from divine hiddenness
125. Drange's argument from non-belief

XX. Arguments from Incoherence Within/Among the Divine Attributes and Related Matters (Incomplete. These just scratch the surface. For more, see e.g. Oppy's Describing Gods)
126. Omnipotence (see also)
127. Omniscience (see also)
129. Beauty
130. Omnipresence
132. Eternity

XXI. Arguments from Lower Comparative Prior Probability

XXII. Arguments from Explanatory Inferiority 

XXIII. Arguments from Rival Supernaturalisms and/or Worldviews with Equal or Greater Explanatory Power and Related Matters
160. The problem of classical deism
178. The problem of the inclusive disjunction of rival supernaturalisms/worldviews

XXIV. Arguments from the Success of Naturalistic Explanations

XXV. Arguments from Private Evidence
180. Bartolome's argument from private evidence

XXVI. Arguments from Evil 
(See also these collections on problems of evil) 

XXVII. Pragmatic/Prudential Arguments
XVIII. Cumulative case/Combinatorial Arguments
233. Oppy’s abductive cumulative case argument for naturalism
237. Various cumulative IBE arguments from large conjunctive disjuncts of 1-229.

Some things worthy of note. First, there are very many more arguments for atheism than commonly supposed. Second, while categorization is inevitably somewhat arbitrary, there are clearly very many more types of atheistic arguments than commonly supposed -- on my reckoning, 27 other types of atheistic argument besides the problem of evil. Third, the list doesn't include arguments specifically against orthodox Christianity. If it did, the list would be considerably longer. Fourth, roughly 75-80% of atheistic arguments have nothing to do with the problem of evil -- problems of evil are in the minority. 

Fifth, the evidence against theism appears to be systemic -- it provides non-trivial grounds for thinking the data from virtually every major aspect of reality (e.g.: the origin, existence, and structure of the universe; consciousness; agency; morality and moral psychology; reason; logic; abstract objects; the nature of causation; the laws of nature; epistemology; religions, religious practices, and religious experience; aesthetics; the meaning of life; general ontology, metaphysics, and meta-metaphysics; and yes, suffering and hiddenness, too) points away from theism and towards some form of naturalism. One can cull very large subsets of compatible arguments from the list above to generate a variety of large abductive cumulative case arguments. Prima facie, there is very strong promise that when this is done, naturalism will embody the theoretical virtues (e.g., simplicity, scope, conservatism, etc.) better than orthodox theism. I would argue that this remains so even after throwing in all the viable data points standardly appealed to in the case for theism, in which case the relevant data renders a form of naturalism more probable than orthodox theism.  (A similar point applies to taking all these data points to run a comprehensive Bayesian argument for naturalism.)

Sixth, the previous points constitute non-trivial grounds for thinking the case for atheism doesn't essentially depend on the success of the problem of evil and hiddenness, in which case theists have much more work to do besides addressing those arguments. 

Finally, most people who care about arguments for and against theism are adherents of some form of orthodox religious monotheism or other. Among such groups, it's typically thought that the case for their faith must be persuasive, such that no (or almost no) mature, rational, properly functioning human being who appraised the relevant evidence could non-culpably fail to believe after assessing it (on the grounds that (i) God holds people morally responsible for their belief, and (ii) God would be less than perfectly good if he held people morally responsible for their belief if the evidence were less than persuasive). Thus, consider some rational, mature, properly functioning adult agnostic, Joewho has strongly grasped, internalized, and carefully appraised the above arguments, as well as all the arguments for theism on the other side of the ledger. Suppose further that after long and careful reflection, Joe finds the grounds for atheism to be either stronger than those for theism, or at least, counterbalanced with them. Finally, suppose that Joe thereby either disbelieves or suspends judgement about theism. According to the group of theists specified just above, there can be no one like Joe: The evidence for orthodox monotheism is so good that for any person S, if is a rational, mature, properly functioning agent, and (after careful reflection and deliberation) fails to find the evidence to support theism over atheism, or if S merely finds the evidence to be counterbalanced -- or indeed, if S finds themself unable to tell, with any confidence, which way the evidence points -- then S is morally culpable for failing to believe in the relevant version of orthodox monotheism. In light of the case for atheism expressed in the arguments listed above, this looks to be implausible, if not ridiculous. 

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Notes:
[1] Here and henceforth, I use the notion of an argument broadly, so as to include deductive, inductive, and abductive arguments. I also follow Richard Swinburne in recognizing the distinction between what he calls C-inductive arguments (which are arguments that raise the probabilities of their conclusions at least to some degree, although not necessarily rendering their conclusions more probable than not) and P-inductive arguments (which are arguments that raise the probabilities of their conclusions above 1/2), and include both C-inductive and P-inductive arguments to count as arguments for theism and for atheism.

[2] Here and henceforth, I follow Jeanine Diller and Paul Draper in distinguishing between global atheism (the denial of all gods) and local atheism (denial of a specific god or type of god). I'm taking the arguments in the list below to be arguments for local atheism with respect to the god of orthodox monotheism (although many arguments on the list provide at least some grounds for rejecting at least some other types of gods).

Oppy's Argument from Freedom and Responsibility for the Moral Repugnance of Theism

 Here's an intriguing little argument sketched by Graham Oppy:

The only kind of freedom that it is possible to have is compatibilist freedom. But it is impossible to have compatibilist freedom if there is a causally upstream agent who selects one’s beliefs and desires. So it is impossible for you to be free if you are one of God’s creatures. But freedom is a highly significant moral good. So God’s non-existence is morally desirable: God’s non- existence is necessary for our freedom and the goods that our freedom makes possible—e.g., moral responsibility.

Oppy, "Arguments for Atheism", in Oppy Graham (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (OUP, 2013), p. 59.

Elbert's New Atheistic Argument from Blameless Moral Ignorance

Elbert, F., (2022) “God and the Problem of Blameless Moral Ignorance”, Ergo 8: 32. doi: https://doi.org/10.3998/ergo.2233.

Here's the abstract:

A morally perfect God necessarily desires that all rational agents behave morally. An omnipotent and omniscient God has the power and knowledge to ensure that all rational agents have sufficient moral knowledge to do what morality requires. So, if God exists, there are no rational moral agents who lack sufficient moral knowledge to act morally. However, there has been a wide range of moral agents who, without blame, have lacked the moral knowledge to behave morally. Therefore, God does not exist. The preceding argument from non-blameable moral ignorance of our fundamental moral obligations is resistant to some of the standard theistic responses to the problem of evil and divine hiddenness. Moreover, some of the standard theistic responses to the traditional arguments for God’s non-existence lend support to the argument from blameless moral ignorance.

Happy reading!

Resto QuiƱones's New Argument Against Perfect Being Theism

Resto QuiƱones, Jashiel. " Incompatible And Incomparable Perfections: A New Argument Against Perfect Being Theism ", International...