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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Enlightening Strikes

In Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, Greg Epstein (2007) presented Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud as the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" of their time.  Massimo Pigliucci characterized the Pre-Socratics as a "intellectually wild" bunch in his (2010) book Nonsense on Stilts How to Tell Science from Bunk.

Here are four core arguments against God's existence that have persisted since ancient times. Using these four arguments as an organizing principle, I present for your consideration the Four Enlightenment Horsemen.

The argument from evil- If the gods are real, they have a lot of explaining to do. Voltaire saw God as a mythical despot.

Lack of empirical evidence- Discovery trumps revelation. This is the skeptical or naturalistic argument. Hume knew that miracles were extraordinary claims that required extraordinary evidence.

The argument from inconsistent revelations- Sectarian religions are mutually contradictory and internally inconsistent. Jefferson predicted that Christianity would eventually go the way of all other obsolete religions.

The argument from reasonable nonbelief- If the existence of the gods were self-evident, everyone would believe. The burden of proof is on religion. Madison understood that faith is not a virtue.

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