God vs The Flying Spaghetti MonsterCourtesy of Victor Habbick (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

By Mikail Adil 


Isn't it irritating when someone says something completely wrong, and there's nothing you can do about it?



Whether on TV, radio or in some setting where its socially unacceptable to say anything; I'm not talking simple factual errors but rather complete nonsense statements made which are people think are out of the box, radical and insightful. For instance...


It vexes when it is 'revealed' that Hitler was a vegetarian. He wasn't. It annoyed me when my teacher said that Mount Etna destroyed Pompeii. It didn't. It irritates me when journalists think that 'begging the question,' is the same as 'raising the question.' It isn't. By the way, we don't really just use 10% of our brains; and a coin dropped from the Empire State building won't really kill anyone, nor is the great wall of China visible from space! You get the idea. Maybe I'm just a bigot, but I find these things even more annoying then limp handshakes. And I doubt I'm alone here.


This leads us to the focus for this article; a similarly inept strain of arguments which are commonly used to discredit religious beliefs. What galls me about these arguments is that they are not only incorrect, but they are generally considered by their perpetrators to be intellectual, knockdown, novel and even witty. And while you won't find these arguments defended in academia, they are frequently peddled on a popular level by pop atheist gurus (like Richard Dawkins), and even otherwise intelligent comedians and show hosts featured in the media. Even worse, many theists, whilst perhaps intuitively regarding the arguments as fallacious, cannot always articulate clear refutations of them. And they need do.


Here I critique three such lines of argument used to discredit religious beliefs and justify atheism on a popular level. This essay is not defending the contention that God exists (though that is my view), merely that the common lay-atheist arguments simply don't work and that basing an atheistic stance on them is irrational.


So here goes: