The elephant in the room is pretty large!
Some of you know me, and some are relatives, but allow a brief introduction. I was born a fourth generation SDA. Educated throughout in SDA schools. BA Theology SAU, MDiv Summa cum Laude Andrews U., former PhD candidate NT theology Andrews U… Invited to write a new interpretation of Daniel and Revelation by Review and Herald Publishing, recommended by Kenneth Strand. I made a carefully considered transition, replacing faith with reason, recognizing only objective reality. As a consequence, I am a-theist, or non-theist. I included the quick bio simply to indicate that I am conversant with the subject and have the tools which enabled an in-depth examination.
Allow me to make some comments on your presentation. First, it is courageous of you to even touch on this subject. You are obviously not on the church payroll. That said, I would take issue with some things.
Definition of “atheist”: You have defined it in terms of “hard atheism”, active denial of god(s). As you state, “atheism,” which takes a stand, declaring that god doesn’t exist." However, basic atheism is the simple answer “NO” to the question, “Do you believe in god(s)?” Some deny the possibility of gods, but that is an additional step. There is no “ism” involved. It is simply the lack of belief. There is no philosophy or other commonality necessitated among those who lack belief any more than those lacking belief in elves necessarily share any other commonality. I would submit that if asking the self-styled agnostic the same question, that due to the self-confessed inability to have knowledge of gods, she would also answer NO. I suspect that in most cases, agnosticism is just a more comfortable refuge for non-belief due to the stigma atheism sometimes carries. I’m not sure how much real estate there is between saying, "No, I don’t believe in god(s) and "No, I don’t have enough knowledge about god(s) to believe.
Of the tens of thousands of gods humans have believed in throughout history, I would hazard a guess that if asked the question of belief, most readers here would also answer “NO”.
Do you believe in Zeus? no
Do you believe in Shiva? no
Do you believe in Ba’al? no
Do you believe in Odin? no
Do you believe in Jupiter? no
Do you believe in Thor? no
Do you believe in Quetzalcoatl? no
Do you believe in the Great Kahuna? no
etc etc etc
When asked if I believe in Yahweh, the tribal god of a small bronze age population in Canaan or El, the chief god of the Canaanite pantheon who also shows up as the creator in Gen 1, I answer “NO”, for most of the same reasons readers would answer no to the questions above. I believe in one less god than you do, or maybe two. In relation to thousands of gods believed in throughout history, the readers here are atheist.
I would also suggest that considering the consequences of rejecting any proposition is a fallacy. A proposition is either true or false, no matter how anyone might react to it emotionally.
Some will now suggest that God exists as a valid presupposition. Presupposing this or anything else is arbitrary, that is, such a presupposition by definition lacks cause or evidence. It is as though nothing has been said. As such, it can be dismissed, or to quote Hitchens razor, “That which can be proposed without evidence can be rejected without evidence.”
But even prior to that discussion is a further problem, conceptualization. What is it that is being claimed to exist? Until a concept is filled with content and clarity, it is premature to even discuss its existence. What is a god? The great minds of theology have wrestled with this question through the centuries. The solution in virtually all theological references has been put forward as the the negative way and the positive way.
The negative way tells us what god is not: God is not composed of matter and does not occupy space or time. God is invisible. God cannot be comprehended. God cannot be defined. God cannot be described. Adding terms such as “supernatural” or “spirit” is not useful as they are themselves lacking definition. The negative way could be used to define the term “nothing”.
The positive way tells us the personality quirks of a god. God is love. God is jealous. God is just. God is patient. God is powerful. God knows everything.
But none of the many characteristics tell us what a god is. Until the concept is filled with content, discussing existence is premature. To exist means to exist as something. This, not that.
That aside, in discussing the problems for the various proofs for god (or at least arguments for plausibility) which you present, you have neglected the primary issue. Evidence. Even if the term “god” is conceptualized beyond, “You know what I mean”, presenting arguments in favor of existence is also premature. Before presenting arguments, it is first incumbent on the proponent to present evidence, and that is the very thing which is missing. Data can be interpreted. But arguments cannot replace evidence.
Just a quick not on faith and reason, and no, they are not compatible or even complimentary. Faith is belief (as an epistemological method) in the absence of evidence or in spite of evidence to the contrary. By its very nature, faith has no means of validation or verification and as such cannot claim the status of knowledge. What can even be purported to be known by faith? In the Judeo-Christian context, it ultimately means faith in other humans; that is, the claims, written, or spoken that they have special knowledge (God whispering in their ear) that is unavailable to the rest of us. Are they mentally ill? Are they lying? Are they deluded? Did someone else make up the story of the prophet presented as making the claim? (I’d point out here that most of the books that made it into the canon make no claims of inspiration/revelation. That was left to others to do who deemed them to be holy scripture). The bottom line is that faith in an epistemological sense is never exercised in the stated object (God); rather, faith is exercised solely toward the claimant. It short circuits the rigorous requirements of reason and logic in attempt to arrive at knowledge by taking someone’s word for it. Even worse, it can often contradict verified and testable knowledge of reality.
I would also suggest that most readers would reject the claims of Muhammad or Joseph Smith or…others. I would reject them also. I would guess that many of the reasons we would hold in common.
Parenthetically, the first commandment assumes the existence of other gods, but requires the people to keep Yahweh in the superior position. It says nothing about a “real” god or “false” gods.