One argument that I seem to hear a lot these days is the argument, that belief in God is so common among people, that it is outright ridiculous to propose that they may all be wrong. Well I disagree. For the purpose of illustration, why I don’t accept this “argument” allow me to formulate it as a syllogism:
- P1: Belief in God is almost Universal or at least largely agreed upon among humanity
- P2: It is unlikely that such an overwhelming consensus is wrong
- C: It is therefore more likely that God exists, rather than that he doesn’t
So let’s take a look at it. In principle it is valid in form. The structure is correct and if the premises are true the conclusion follows. But are the premises true? I don’t think so.
It is estimated that homo sapiens (that’s us) hit the stage on his Earth at least 195.000 years ago . We have also found the so-called Löwenmensch figurine and it is one of the earliest man made sculptures ever. It is estimated to be roughly 40.000 years old. It is the earliest evidence of the worship of deities we have so far. But even if we’re charitable and round those 40.000 years up to 50.000 years, this would still entail that homo sapiens hasn’t worshipped any deities whatsoever for roughly 75% of its existence.
If we count those in, then Premise one is false. Additionally it may be noted, that this sculpturine is a far stretch from the Creator deity of Yahweh within Monotheism.
I also don’t think we should count Polytheism in the variety of Greek or Egyptian Gods and Godesses. Those deities were more or less Superheroes and not the modern conception of what we mean by God.
So the question we need to be asking ourselves at this point is when does the Creator God appear on stage? It is estimated that if the story of Moses is real it must’ve happened between 1450 and 1200 BC. So humanity has been around for 200.000 years and in the last ~0.75% of its history God has been worshipped.
Now it is true, that humanity has been exponentially growing since then, so let’s just assume outright, because we’re charitable, that the first 193.000 years are negligible.
What is the religious landscape today like? In 2010 (I couldn’t find anything more up to date) we find that 31.5% identify as Christian, 23.2% identify as Muslim, 16.3% are unaffiliated, 15% are Hindu, 7.1% are Buddhists, 5.9% are folk religionists (Native American religions, aborigines etc. ) and 0.8% other religions and 0.2 are jews. If we add everything together, we get a majority for monotheism. That’s true. But Hindus do believe in many deities, however they do have one Creator God Brahma (and I don’t know why we should) , so if we’re charitable we grant the Hindus. Buddhists in general don’t believe in God. They may believe in gods or spirits but not a Creator deity. The Jews do believe in a Creator (although then again, many Jews are secular but let’s ignore that) . So they’re out. The folk religionists and the others are all over the map but I wouldn’t assume that they have too much in common with Islam or Christianity or even Hinduism. We therefore arrive at what I consider to be a charitable estimate on my part at 69.9% who believe in God (Christians + Muslims + Hindus + Jews), belief in God being generously defined as “belief in a Creator deity” .
69.9% is by no means Universal and I’d argue that 7/10 people is not largely agreed upon, especially if we take the stark differences of doctrine into account. It should also be noted, that the numbers might very well have shifted since then, considering that the world, especially the western world is becoming increasingly secular.
So P1 is outright wrong in the worst case and dubious in the best.
Let’s look at P2 though. Is that true?
There have been many instances, when the majority was wrong. The majority was wrong about the shape of the Earth, it was wrong about geocentrism, it was wrong about our origins, it was wrong about the cause of diseases. Majorities are wrong quite often and they’re proven wrong, when we learn more about the world. Popularity doesn’t decide whether an idea is true, evidence does. If it were different than the Sun would’ve been rotating around the Earth before Galileo discovered heliocentrism. That’s of course utterly ridiculous.
Appeals to popularity are fallacious for a reason. They are fallacious, because it doesn’t matter how many hold what position, it matters for what reason they do. Is the reason an overwhelming proponderance of evidence. It may be perceived by an individual to be the case but I disagree and I have my reasons for it.
The second premise is a fallacious appeal to popularity. If people hold to a God belief because of false assumptions and conclusions, which is my position, then the majority may very well be wrong! And let’s ask ourselves: If we see the day on which Atheism has won, the day on which the sides are reversed, would the believer then conclude that God doesn’t exist after all? I don’t think so.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation