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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Horsemen 1854-1900

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 1854-1900.

The argument from inconsistent revelations- Sectarian religions are mutually contradictory and internally inconsistent. Mark Twain observed that the religious will cherry-pick indefinitely rather than abandon the notion of divine revelation altogether.

Lack of empirical evidence- Discovery trumps revelation. This is the skeptical or naturalistic argument. As Friedrich Nietzche suggested, faith is a form of collective insanity.

The argument from evil- If the gods are real, they have a lot of explaining to do. Helen H. Gardener depicted the God of New Testament Hell more savage than the Old Testament God of mass murder.

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 Oscar Wilde observed, faith is not a virtue.

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