I don’t typically cover the many formal arguments for the existence of deities here. Anyone who has had any exposure to apologetics or philosophy has probably heard one or more of them. When I first deconverted, I thought addressing them might help illustrate my differences in belief. This didn’t happen. Instead, I discovered that all of the arguments I came across had fatal flaws.
It’s hard arguing against a broken clock.
Entertaining these old arguments felt repetitive and exhausting. It was like I was in a house with a single broken clock, and all the inhabitants insisted it kept correct time. Despite knowing the clock didn’t work, people would tell me I’d have to just believe it was right.
Except, that’s not how clocks work.
It’s also how the arguments fail to work. Take one example, a cosmological argument. The thing appears simple enough. Things that begin to exist have a cause. The Universe began to exist. Ergo, the Universe has a cause. Sounds agreeable, right?
The pitfall here is that this unspecified cause can get conflated with the divine. Proponents of the brands of Christianity I’m familiar with did it frequently. When I had faith, it wasn’t hard to make this leap. When I lost it, I realized how big a step I needed to have taken.
There’s nothing in the original argument which requires a deity to exist. All the argument does is create space for someone to say there’s an unidentified thing which happened. Since neither can define it, neither can disprove the other. Like the broken clock, if I don’t know what time it really is, I can’t say it’s wrong.
The inevitable march to ignorance.
Here is where discussions of this kind get nasty. At its core, the driving principle in fundagelical thought is to resolve issues of ignorance in favor of one’s deity. Thus, ignorance itself is a weapon to tear people down and replace it with whatever belief is on sale.
Take this article, for example. It goes from saying the Christian deity exists because, “DNA itself shouts of a deliberate designer[,]” to alleging that people choose to ignore this same deity’s existence. In simpler terms, not only is this deity real, but it takes more work not to believe in it.
Fundagelical Christianity loves a good emotional flogging. People are sinful beings undeserving of salvation. Muscle Jesus is ready to come down and save you if you just stop being a bad person.
You’re not a bad person for not believing, though.
I cannot stress this enough, because I have times when I forget it as well. I still sometimes have instincts that ask if I’m being fair to different perspectives. These are vestiges from my indoctrination, as far as I can tell. They are not some invisible omnipotent being trying to get me to return to a weekly singalong.
For those who are recovering from such indoctrination, it can be painful to see these reminders of an abandoned faith. To me, these arguments are not benign talking points; they are threats. Threats that people can be as vicious to you as they’d like simply because you won’t obey. Threats that you’re the one who’s really unreasonable despite facts to the contrary.
Threats that used to be effective because they weakened you to the point of giving in.
However, I don’t have to give in anymore. No matter what some fundagelicals might say, they are not the arbiters of what I believe. They can claim to have all the answers they want.
It doesn’t mean they’re actually in possession of them.