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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Horsemen 1907-1937

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 1907-1937. Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) also deserves mention as a contemporary of these authors as well as the Four Horsemen.

The argument from evil- If the gods are real, they have a lot of explaining to do. Albert Einstein could not imagine a god that punished the objects of his creation.

Lack of empirical evidence- Discovery trumps revelation. This is the skeptical or naturalistic argument. As H.L Mencken observed, any benefit that religion might provide is not evidence that it is true.

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 H.P. Lovecraft observed, faith is not a virtue.

The argument from inconsistent revelations- Sectarian religions are mutually contradictory and internally inconsistent. Robert A. Heinlein observed that mindless adherence to an arbitrary code of conduct is not morality.

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