I have been an active member of the Atheist community on the internet for about a year now (at first mainly on the YouTube comment section, now I have to Twitter).  In my time I have seen various types of argumens coming from both sides which I want to sort out into different categories if you will.

The most popular arguments by far for both sides are obviously the persuasive arguments. These arguments want to show you, that there are certain problems in the world, and they challenge the other side how they can resolve these problems and then of course offer a simple solution (Atheism or theism). These arguments want to win you over, they are by their very nature designed to make you adopt the contrary position whether they are valid and sound or not. The go to arguments for the theists are of course the teleological argument (which in its original form has been utterly discredited thanks to Charles Darwin) or the arguments from fine tuning and the Cosmological argument popularized by Thomas Aquinas and of course the more modern form the Kalam Cosmological argument by William Lane Craig.

Of course we as Atheists also have our fair share of arguments that have drawn theists to our side. The famous one of course would be the old problem of evil made famous by Epicurus:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

While Apologists nowadays have learned to do some damage control (which I don’t think holds up) this argument has made Atheists out of theists for centuries. the second one would be my personal favorite which is of course the problem of nonbelief/divine Hiddenness which posits, that it is contrary to theism that a good and loving God stays hidden, with the result, that a majority of the world will end up in hell or at the very least won’t enjoy heaven.

The second type, would be the type of argument that is designed to destroy your opponent in debate. These arguments are only convincing to those, who already share your position. You will never be able to win your opponent or listeners over but it’s a way to leave the other person speechless. Typical arguments from theists here include the transcendental argument for the existence of God (TAG) and Presuppositional apologetics in general as well as the ontological argument. I have been confronted with both of these and while you immediately recognize, that there is something off here, you’ll have a hard time recognizing the fallacies. For my side these arguments would be the contradiction between the omni characteristics in and of themselves as well as the omni characteristics which are in conflict with doctrine (free will) and reality.

The third and final type would be an appeal to your opponent. They can come in various forms such as an appeal to Physical torture (Pascal’s wager) as well as to consequences (“if there is no God then life has no meaning”) personal experiences (“a good God would’ve never let my mother die of cancer”). These do appeal to our fear and empathy and they often are good reasons to us but almost never to the people we talk to.

I have used all 3 types of arguments myself. While I most often try to use persuasive arguments and reason and logic sometimes we’re tempted to use the other 2 types. My advice, whether you’re an Atheist or a Theist: The honest, honorable and intellectual way to go, is to go with reason logic and evidence or at least to try in most cases.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation


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