God and Monotheism
Question asked by .
Answered by Tariq Haashmi

I was wondering if you could please give me some information about people who call themselves ‘Atheists’. What are the arguments with which they counter the arguments of our classical scholars who argue against them?


The existence of God is an established fact and those who oppose this reality are called atheists. Atheism can be defined as the refusal to acknowledge God or gods.

Although the existence of God is an established fact yet scholars have presented various kinds of logical reasons to prove the existence of a creator. These include the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, and the teleological argument. Atheists tried to refute these and concluded that since these arguments do not sufficiently prove the existence of God therefore there is no God. What follows is a summary of the arguments in favor of the existence of God presented by classical scholars and a refutation of these by the atheists.

The cosmological argument rests on the assumption that every thing that exists is caused to exist by something else. For example a house is caused to exist by its builder and rain is caused by certain meteorological conditions. But if every thing that exists is caused to exist by something else, then the world must be caused to exist by something else. This ‘something else’ is God.

In response to the cosmological argument atheists argue that if every thing must have a creator then why does God not need one? The standard answer is that He does not need any because He is self-caused. But if God can be self-caused, then why cannot the world itself be self-caused?

The ontological argument is based on the assumption that since God is defined as a Being who possesses perfection, and assuming that to exist is more perfect then not existing, it follows that God, a perfect Being, must exist. We define God as a perfect being and His existence follows from the nature of the definition. If God lacks the attribute of existence, He would be lacking at least one attribute and would therefore not be perfect. To sum up, since we have an idea of God as a perfect being, God must exist.

Atheists say that the argument has a serious shortcoming because when we say something exists this does not give that thing an attribute (of existence). When we say that a lion exists we are not specifying an attribute which belongs to the nature of anything that is a lion. In short the word ‘existence’ does not signify any attribute, and in consequence no attribute that belongs to the nature of any thing. Accordingly, it does not follow from the assumption that we have an idea of a perfect being that such a being exists. For the idea of a perfect being does not involve the attribute of existence as a constituent of that idea, since there is no such attribute. Thus the ontological argument has a serious flaw and has no ground.

Defenders of the teleological argument argue that highly structured order of the world entails that this magnificent order of the world cannot be a result of pure chance but must be the work of a ‘Supreme Mind’ who is responsible for the order. That supreme Mind is God.

The conclusion of this argument is based on an inference from analogy; the watch and the world are alike in possessing a congruence of parts and an adjustment of means to ends; the watch has a watchmaker; hence the world has a world-maker. But is this analogy a good one? Let us once waive some important issues, in particular the issue of whether the universe is a unified system such as the watch admittedly is. And let us concentrate on the question of what our assurance is that watches do not come into existence except through the operation of intelligent manufacturers. The answer is plain: we have never run across a watch which has not been deliberately made by someone. The situation is nothing like this in the case of the innumerable animate and inanimate systems with which we are familiar. Even in the case of living organisms, though they are generated by their parent organisms, the parents do not make their progeny in the same sense in which watchmakers make watches. Once this point is clear, the jump from the existence of living organisms to the existence of a supreme designer no longer appears credible.

Besides all these, Darwin explains the diversities of biological species in terms of chance variations in the structures of organisms. This provides a probable alternative for a divine creator.

These are some of the most famous arguments against and in favor of God’s existence. I have not covered them all and if one wishes to study this further they should study Russell’s ‘Why I am not a Christian’ for an exhaustive detail of the arguments presented by the atheists.


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