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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Horsemen 1792-1822

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 Horsemen of 1792-1822.

The argument from inconsistent revelations- Sectarian religions are mutually contradictory and internally inconsistent. Thomas 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. As James Madison observed, faith is not a virtue.

Lack of empirical evidence- Discovery trumps revelation. This is the skeptical or naturalistic argument. As Arthur Schopenhauer observed, religion cannot survive without the veil of mystery.

The argument from evil- If the gods are real, they have a lot of explaining to do. Percy Bysshe Shelly addressed the argument from evil with a reformulation of the Epicurean trilemma.

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