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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Horsemen 1833-1856

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 1833-1856.

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 Heinrich Heine observed, faith is not a virtue.

The argument from evil- If the gods are real, they have a lot of explaining to do. Charles Darwin could not imagine a creator with cruel intentions.

Lack of empirical evidence- Discovery trumps revelation. This is the skeptical or naturalistic argument. As Elisabeth Cady Stanton observed, revelation is often in conflict with evidence.

The argument from inconsistent revelations- Sectarian religions are mutually contradictory and internally inconsistent. As Robert G. Ingersoll observed, reconciling religion with reason leaves the former worse for wear.

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