bookmark_borderObjections to Objectivism – Part 1: Three Popular Objections

I have many textbooks, handbooks, and readers on ethics, so I didn’t really need to buy another introduction to ethics this weekend. But I glanced through Russ Landau’s textbook The Fundamentals of Ethics (hereafter: FOE) and the third and final section of his book caught my attention: “Part Three: The Status of Morality”.  In Part Three, he has a chapter on ethical relativism, a chapter on moral nihilism, and a chapter on objections to ethical objectivism.
Objectivism is relevant to philosophy of religion because the objectivity of moral principles and moral claims comes up in discussions about moral arguments for the existence of God, and also in discussions of the problem of evil, and even just in discussions about the meaning of the word “God” (Christian philosophers sometimes define “God” as being the source of moral standards, or as being one source of moral duties).
Landau’s general conclusion about objections to objectivism seems right to me:
As we’ll see, some of the most popular arguments are also the least plausible.  But others represent deep and serious challenges. …My goal in this chapter is simply to show that, despite widespread doubts about ethical objectivism, none of the most popular skeptical arguments is obviously correct, and some, indeed, are pretty plainly unacceptable. And to those that represent more significant challenges, there are potentially promising replies that objectivists can offer.  (FOE, p.306)
I would like to review the ten objections that Landau presents and criticizes, in order to reinforce his conclusion that the most popular arguments against objectivism are bad arguments, and that the better arguments are far from conclusive.
First, some clarification of the viewpoint in question:
Ethical objectivism is the view that there are some objective moral standards.  Given my understanding of objectivity, this amounts to the view that these standards apply to everyone, even if people don’t believe that they do, even if people are indifferent to them, and even if obeying them fails to satisfy a person’s desires.  Moral claims are objectively true whenever they accurately tell us what these moral standards are, or tell us about what these standards require or allow us to do.  (FOE, p.305)
I agree with the criticisms that Landau makes against the ten objections to objectivism that he examines.  However, I will not merely recite his criticisms of these objections to objectivism; I will add some objections of my own.  Landau fails to point out some obvious and very serious problems with some of the more popular objections, so I will be pointing  out those other problems, in addition to presenting Landau’s criticisms.
 
Objection 1: Objectivity Requires Absolutism

1. If moral claims are objectively true, then moral rules are absolute.

2. No moral rule is absolute.

3. Therefore, moral claims are not objectively true. (FOE, p.306)

Landau is uncertain about premise (2): “I don’t know if there are any absolute moral rules.” (FOE, p.306).  So, he focuses his attention on premise (1):
That first premise tells us that if moral standards are objective, then every moral rule is absolute.  But that isn’t so.  The moral rule that forbids us from lying is probably not absolute; in some cases, morality would probably allow us to lie.  For all we know, though, that rule could be objective.  Ross [W.D. Ross (1877-1967)] thought that the fundamental moral rules are objective.  But he denied they are absolute. …There is nothing in the very idea of an objective morality that requires moral rules to be absolute.
…The objectivity of moral rules has to do with their status: with whether they are ever true, and if so, with the role of human beliefs and desires in fixing their truth.  The absoluteness of moral rules has to do with their stringency: with whether it is ever okay to break them.  There is no direct connection between matters of status and stringency. (FOE, p.306-307)
Landau concludes that premise (1) is false, and thus that this argument is unsound.
But there is also a very serious problem with premise (2) that Landau fails to mention.  The standard argument given in support of premise (2) involves giving examples of moral rules that have exceptions, such as the very example that Landau uses: “The moral rule that forbids us from lying is probably not absolute; in some cases, morality would probably allow us to lie.” (FOE, p.306).
This conclusion about the moral rule against lying is usually defended with a description of a specific scenario, such as the following:
Suppose that you lived in Nazi Germany, and suppose that you were friends with a Jewish family in your neighborhood, and that you had invited that family to come and live in your attic, so that they would not be taken away by the Nazis to be enslaved or murdered in a Nazi prison camp.  Suppose that a Nazi official knocks at your door one day and asks you if you have seen any Jews in the neighborhood recently.  Should you tell the official the truth, that you have a Jewish family living in your attic? or should you lie, and tell the official that you have not seen any Jews in the neighborhood recently?
This sort of specific scenario is offered as providing a good reason to believe that there are legitimate exceptions to the “moral rule that forbids us from lying”.  This is how one typically defends the view that “No moral rule is absolute”.
But notice that this reasoning is filled with moral assumptions.  First of all, this whole line of reasoning ASSUMES that it is indeed wrong to lie sometimes.  But if it is SOMETIMES wrong to lie, then morality is objective, and ethical objectivism is true.
Second, in scenarios like the one about lying to the Nazi official, there are clearly other moral considerations and assumptions (besides the wrongness of lying) that are the basis for believing that this particular case is an exception to the norm.  The enslavement and killing of Jews  just because they are Jews is ASSUMED to be morally wrong.  But if that is true, then morality is objective, and ethical objectivism is true.
Third, there seems to be various moral rules and principles operative in our thinking about this scenario, that goes something like this:

  • You have a general moral duty to help prevent the Jewish family from being enslaved and/or murdered by the Nazis.
  • Inviting the Jewish family to hide in your attic created a specific moral duty to make a serious effort to keep them hidden, and telling the Nazi officials that they are living in your attic would be a morally wrong betrayal of that family.
  • It is more important, in terms of moral considerations, to prevent the enslavement and murder of this innocent Jewish family, than to be honest to the Nazi official about the presence of Jews in the neighborhood.

These assumptions are all moral in nature, and our conclusion that it is OK to lie in this particular circumstance is based upon these sorts of moral assumptions.  But if these assumptions are true, then morality is objective, and ethical objectivism is true.
Therefore, the reasoning that is typically used to support premise (2) is based upon various moral principles and assumptions, and thus this reasoning presupposes the truth of ethical objectivism.  The reasoning that is used to support premise (2) presupposes the truth of the very idea that the argument is supposed to prove is false.  Therefore, this is a self-defeating argument, unless someone can come up with some plausible alternative way of supporting premise (2), other than the usual way that people argue for this claim.
My objection to this argument can be put more simply this way: This argument assumes that acting in accordance with absolutism is morally wrong, and leads to morally wrong actions (such as telling the truth to a Nazi official even when one knows this will result in the enslavement or murder of an innocent family).  This argument, therefore, assumes that ethical objectivism is true.  So, this argument assumes the exact opposite of what it is trying to prove.
 
Objection 2: All Truth is Subjective

1. There are no objective truths.

2. Therefore, there are no objective moral truths. (FOE, p.307)

Landau argues that premise (1) is false:
Premise 1 is either true or false.  If it is false, then the argument crumbles right away.  So suppose that it is true.  But this is impossible. The premise cannot be true.  For if it were, then there would be at least one objective truth–premise 1.  And if there is at least one objective truth, then premise 1 is false!  No matter how we look at it, then, this premise is false.  (FOE, p.307)
So, the one, and only, premise of this argument against moral objectivism is false, and it shows itself to be false, because the premise refutes itself.
 
Objection 3: Equal Rights Imply Equal Plausibility

1. If everyone has an equal right to an opinion, then all opinions are equally plausible.

2. Everyone has an equal right to his or her moral opinions.

3. Therefore, all moral opinions are equally plausible.

4. If all moral opinions are equally plausible, then moral objectivism is false.

5. Therefore, moral objectivism is false. (FOE, p.308)

Landau believes that premise (2) is true, so he focuses on premise (1), and argues that premise (1) is false:
From the fact that we each have a right to our opinions, nothing at all follows about their plausibility. …
There are countless examples in which people have an equal right to an opinion–that is, an equal right not to be forced to change their mind–even though their views are mistaken.  Some historical claims are true and others false, even though we each have an equal right to our historical opinions.  The same can ber said of our opinions concerning economics, trigonometry, basketball strategy, or beer brewing.  Most people know more than I do about each of these things, and so my views on these subjects are far less plausible than theirs.  And yet, my right to hold the views I do is just as strong as anyone else’s. (FOE, p.308-309)
So, this argument against ethical objectivism fails because premise (1) is false, and thus the argument is unsound.
But there is also a very serious problem with premise (2) that Landau fails to mention: if this premise is true, then that implies that ethical objectivism is also true.  In other words, this argument against objectivism is another self-defeating argument.
To assert that “Everyone has an equal right to his or her moral opinions.” is to assert the truth of a moral claim.  This claim implies, for example, that it is morally wrong to force someone to accept a moral opinion that he or she does not currently accept.  This would, according to premise (2) involve violating a right of that person.  But if people have rights concerning their opinions, and thus it is morally wrong to violate such rights, then that means there are some objective moral truths, and thus that ethical objectivism is true.
Therefore, premise (2) implies that ethical objectivism is true, and thus this argument against ethical objectivism is a self-defeating argument, just like the previous two popular arguments against objectivism.

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways – Part 9: The Supreme Moral Lawgiver

In Phase 1 of his case for the existence of God (in When Skeptics Ask, hereafter: WSA), Norman Geisler argues for the existence of  a “supreme moral Lawgiver”.  The argument goes like this (see WSA, p. 22):
Geisler’s Moral Argument
32. There is an objective moral law.
33. Moral laws imply a moral lawgiver.
THEREFORE:
34. There is a being that is the supreme moral lawgiver.
Premise (32) is a controversial claim, and so a good reason or agument is needed to support this claim.  Geisler gives three reasons in support of (32) on pages 23 and 24 of WSA:

  • “all men hold the same things to be wrong (like murder, rape, theft, and lying).
  • “if there is no objective moral law, then there can be no right or wrong value judgements.” –including the judgment that “there is no objective moral law”.
  • “Everyone expects others to follow some moral codes, even those who try to deny them.”  

The first point is a weak and inadequate reason, because there are obvious practical advantages to the imposition of some moral contraints on human behavior.  If given a choice between a world or a society in which murder, rape, theft, and lying were allowed without any punishment or constraint and a world or society in which murder, rape, theft, and lying were punished and constrained, most human beings would prefer to live in a world or society of the latter sort.
Life in “a state of nature” where there are no constraints on human behavior would be nasty, brutish, and short.  There are obvious practical and self-interested reasons for prefering a world or society in which violent and harmful human actions were constrained.  We don’t need to posit mysterious metaphysical entities (i.e. “objective moral laws”) to explain the fact that there are widespread (in various cultures and socieities) constraints against violent and harmful human actions.
The second reason is clearly FALSE.  The non-existence of objective moral laws does NOT logically imply the non-existence of objective value judgements.  Moral judgements are a sub-set of value judgements, so it is logically possible for there to be ZERO objective moral judgments while, at the same time, there are MANY objective value judgments.
Furthermore, the claim that “there is no objective moral law” appears on its face to be a metaphysical claim, NOT a value judgment.  It is a claim about what sorts of things really exist, and such claims are descriptive or factual claims.  But a descriptive or factual claim is NOT a value judgment.  Therefore, the claim that “there is no objective moral law” appears on its face to NOT be a value judgement.   Geisler, thus needs to provide a serious philosophical argument against the very plausible view that the claim “there is no objective moral law” is a desccriptive or factual claim.  He has made no attempt here to do this, so his second reason remains very dubious.
The expectation that others will follow a set of moral rules or principles can be explained without appealing to the existence of  “objective moral law”.   A subjective, human-created set of moral rules or principles would presumably be based upon some practical and self-interested motivations (such as the benefits of cooperation between humans, and of avoiding “a state of nature” in which life was nasty, brutish, and short).  But to acheive the goals of the practical and self-interested motivations, a society must actually constrain human behavior to a significant degree.  A socieity, for example, would have to actually be successful in keeping murder and rape down to a low level; otherwise,  the moral rules or constraints would fail to provide significant practical advantages.
It is obvious that inculcating belief in the importance of such moral rules or constraints in the individuals of the society would help to ensure that the society was successful in actually reducing the incidence of murder and rape, for example.   Thus, we would expect that although most societies would use punishments of murder and rape to reduce the incidence of these behaviors, that most societies would ALSO inculcate beliefs and values in individual members of society so that individuals would view the moral rules and constraints of the society as important and worthy of being followed and maintained.
Therefore, even if moral rules and constraints are purely  human creations that are based on practical and self-interested motivations, we would expect that most societies would inculcate beliefs and values in individuals such that most people in the society would “expect others to follow some moral codes”.  Therefore, Geisler’s third reason fails to show that there is such a thing as “objective moral law”.
Premise (33) has the same sort of ambiguity as the second premise of Geisler’s argument from design.  Does “imply” mean “logically entail”?  If not, then what does it mean?
With designs and designers we have some actual experience upon which we can base an empirical generalization connecting designs to designers.  But with moral laws, we have no such actual experience.  It is not clear that there are such things as “objective moral laws” at all, but even assuming that such things exist, the origin of such laws are not subject to experience and observation in the way that designs and designers are subject to experience and observation.  So, it seems implausible to assert an empirical or contingent relationship between moral laws and moral lawgivers.
But, as with the argument from design, if we take (33) to assert a logically necessary connection between “moral laws” and “moral lawgivers”, then in order to KNOW that a moral law exists, one must first KNOW that a moral lawgiver exists who “gave” that law, but in that case premise (32) would beg the question at issue, because in order to KNOW that (32) was true, one would have to first KNOW that there was a moral lawgiver who “gave” a moral law, but this is what the argument is attempting to prove.  So, it seems clear that we cannot interpret premise (33) to mean that there is a logically necessary connection between the existence of  a “moral law” and the existence of a “moral lawgiver”.
Furthermore, not only is the truth of (33) problematic, but there is good reason to suspect it is false.  Some analogous claims are false or dubious:
A. Laws of physics imply a physical lawgiver.
B. Laws of mathematics imply a mathematical lawgiver.
C. Laws of logic imply a logical lawgiver.
Claim (A) is dubious, and claims (B) and (C) are clearly FALSE.  The laws of logic and mathematics are logically necessary truths.  But logically necessary truths do not require any explanation for their existence, so no god or “lawgiver” is required to explain the existence of laws of mathematics or laws of logic.
The laws of physics are not logically necessary truths; they are contingent truths learned by observation.  However, it seems plausible that the laws of physics are NOT the product of a god or a supernatural mind, but are simply the result of unthinking random forces or processes.  The laws of physics MIGHT be something that was produced by a god or supernatural mind, but it is far from obvious that this is the only reasonable explanation for the existence and nature of the laws of physics.
Because claims that appear to be analogous to (33) are false or dubious, this gives us a good reason to doubt that (33) is true.
The inference to the conclusion is also logically invalid.  There might well be MANY moral laws, so for all we know there might well be MANY moral lawgivers, even if we assume that the premises of Geisler’s argument are both true.  What we can validly and logically infer from these premises is only that there is AT LEAST ONE moral lawgiver; we cannot logically infer that there is EXACTLY ONE being who is “the supreme moral lawgiver”.  Claim (34) does NOT logically follow from premises (32) and (33).
NOTE: Geisler actually uses the phrase “a supreme moral lawgiver” rather than “the supreme moral lawgiver”, but the word “supreme” implies that he is talking about ONE SINGLE being, and in Phase 2, Geisler shifts to talking about “God” instead of “a supreme moral lawgiver” and this also implies that he thinks that he has previously established that there was EXACTLY ONE “supereme moral lawgiver”.  In any case, Geisler’s argument requires that he establish that there is EXACLTY ONE supreme moral lawgiver, otherwise he cannot identify “the” cause of the begninning of the universe with “the” moral lawgiver, and that means he cannot show that the cause of the begining of the universe has the characteristics (allegedly) possessed by moral lawgivers (e.g. moral goodness).
Both premises of Geisler’s moral argument are dubious and problematic, and the inference in  is logically invalid, so Geisler has FAILED to show that there is a being that is “the supreme moral lawgiver”.  So, he has nothing to build upon in Phase 2 of his case for the existence of God (in terms of the moral argument that he presented in Phase 1 of his case).
The Fourth Argument in Phase 2
In Phase 2, Geisler argues that “God is a moral being” and that “God…is good.”  (WSA. p.27).  Here once again, Geisler is misusing the word “God”.   Phase 2 is part of his case for the existence of God, so he cannot have premises that ASSUME the existence of God.  The use of the word “God” at this stage of the game is misleading and confusing.  Geisler knows that he has not yet proved the existence of God, that is to say, that he has not proved the existence of God in the ordinary sense of the word.
Geisler thinks that in Phase 1, he has proved the existence of the being that caused the universe to begin to exist, and that he has proved the existence of the supreme moral Lawgiver.  So, when Geisler uses the word “God” in Phase 2 when he is building upon his previous moral argument, he either means “the being who caused the universe to begin to exist” or else he means “the supreme moral Lawgiver”.
In the first three arguments of Phase 2, Geisler attempted to show that “whatever caused the universe to [begin to] exist…had great power, …[and] also great intelligence.”  (WSA, p.26).  So, it appears that Geisler is trying to show that the being that caused the universe to begin to exist has all of the main characteristics that are part of the concept of God.  Therefore, it seems clear that when Geisler is arguing in Phase 2 that “God…is good”, what he means is that the being that caused the universe to begin to exist is good [morally good].
However, Geisler’s fourth argument in Phase 2 is clearly focused on “the supreme moral lawgiver” whose existence Geisler supposedly established in Phase 1.  So, once again, Geisler is ASSUMING that the cause of the beginning of the universe is the same being as some other being that he thinks he has shown to exist, namely “the supreme moral lawgiver”.  But Geisler has provided no reason whatsoever to believe that these two beings are the same being.   Once again, his Phase 2 argument about the supreme moral lawgiver FAILS, just like the other Phase 2 arguments FAILED, because he made similar assumptions for which he provided no reason whatsoever to believe.
Geisler gives one argument to show that “God is a moral being”, that is to say, to show that the cause of the beginning of the universe is a moral being (see WSA, p.27):
ARGUMENT 4 of PHASE 2
34.  There is a being that is the supreme moral lawgiver.
35. A moral law exists in the mind of every moral lawgiver.
THUS:
36. A moral law exists in the mind of the supreme moral lawgiver.
37. IF a moral law exists in the mind of the supreme moral lawgiver, THEN the supreme moral lawgiver is a moral being who knows the difference between right and wrong.
THUS:
38.  The supreme moral lawgiver is a moral being who knows the difference between right and wrong.
39.  The being that caused the universe to begin to exist is also the supreme moral lawgiver.
THEREFORE:
40. The being that caused the universe to begin to exist is a moral being who knows the difference between right and wrong.
Here is a diagram of this argument, with the conclusion at the top, and the supporting premises below it (click on the image below for a clearer view of the diagram):
Argument 4 of Phase 2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There are two obvious major problems with this argument, right off the bat.  First, because Geisler FAILED to establish the conclusion of his moral argument, there is no good reason to believe that premise (34) is true.
Second, in order for Geisler’s case to work, he needs to show that the being “that caused the universe to begin to exist” has the characteristics that are (allegedly) possessed by “the supreme moral lawgiver”.  To do so, he must use premise (39),  which asserts that these two beings are the same being.  Premise (39) is obviously a controversial claim, so it is a question begging premise, unless and until Geisler provides a good reason or argument to show it to be true.  But Geisler has provided no reason whatsoever to believe that premise (39) is true.  So, we ought to reject premise (39).
Furthermore, since Geisler has FAILED to show that there is such a being as “the being that caused the universe to begin to exist” and since he has also FAILED to show that there is such a being as “the supreme moral lawgiver,” premise (39) is highly questionable.
So, it is clear from the start that Argument 4 of Phase 2 is a FAILURE, and that Geisler has FAILED to show that claim (40) is true.
There are other problems with this argument, which I will explore in the next post in this series, and there is also another Phase 2 argument to consider: Geisler’s argument for the claim that the being that caused the universe to begin to exist is a morally good being.
 

bookmark_borderAre Atheism and Moral Realism Logically Incompatible?

I am a regular reader of Victor Reppert’s blog, Dangerous Idea. In the combox for one of his recent posts, Steve Hays claimed that atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible. I wrote a lengthy reply to Hays in the combox and have decided to republish it here.
Before I republish my comments, I will make one general observation about moral arguments for God’s existence.

  1. Theists often claim that the so-called ‘problem of evil’ (read: arguments from evil for atheism) and the ontological foundation for morality are linked: one cannot ‘consistently’ run an argument from evil without having an ontological foundation for morality; morality somehow requires a theistic ontological foundation; therefore, arguments from evil are really arguments for God’s existence.
  2. In the context of arguments from evil, it is standard to make a distinction between logical arguments from evil (i.e., arguments which claim that God’s existence is logically inconsistent with some known fact about evil) and evidential arguments from evil (i.e., arguments which claim that some known fact is either improbable on theism or less probable on theism than on naturalism). Theists will often argue that there is no good logical argument from evil, based upon Alvin Plantinga’s famous critique of J.L. Mackie’s logical argument from evil. (These same theists often seem to be unaware that philosophers J.L. Schellenberg and Quentin Smith, among others, have formulated new versions of the logical argument from evil, or they are aware but assume that Plantinga’s critique of Mackie also applies to Schellenberg and Smith. But that’s another topic for another post.)
  3. In general, there seems to be a double-standard on the part of theists (not necessarily Steve) who try to link arguments from evil for atheism with moral arguments for God’s existence: these theists do not apply the same degree of skepticism to what I will call logical arguments from moral ontology (i.e., arguments which claim that atheism is logically inconsistent with moral realism) and logical arguments from evil. Just as many atheists incorrectly assume that defending a logical argument from evil is much harder than it actually is, I believe that many theists incorrectly assume that defending a logical argument from moral ontology is much harder than it actually is.

I want to emphasize that, in our exchange, Steve Hays did not employ this double standard. I mention this double standard in this introduction because, in my experience, many theists (not Steve) who claim, “atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible,” are guilty of this double standard. This is where my my recent interaction with Steve Hays becomes relevant: I think my interaction with Steve Hays shows that it much harder to adequately defend claims of the logical incompatibility of atheism and moral realism, than it is to make such claims.
 


LOWDER
Steve Hays references atheists who reject moral realism. Putting aside the obvious rhetorical value of quoting ‘hostile witnesses,’ , what logical or evidential value could these references have?
First, the references could be an argument from authority. Contrary to what some people (not necessarily Steve) think, arguments from authority can be logically correct inductive arguments. One inductive argument form is the statistical syllogism:

(1) Z percent of F are G.
(2) x is F.
(3) [probable] x is G.

The closer Z is to 100, the stronger the inductive evidence.
Arguments from authority are a form of statistical syllogism:

(1′) The vast majority of statements made by x concerning subject S are true.
(2′) p is a statement made by x concerning subject S.
(3′) [probable] p is true.

As philosopher Wesley Salmon explains in his textbook, Logic, the following are “misuses of the argument from authority:”

  1. The authority may be misquoted or misinterpreted.
  2. The authority may have only glamor, prestige, or popularity.
  3. Experts may make judgments about something outside their special fields of competence.
  4. Authorities may express opinions about matters concerning which they could not possibly have any evidence.
  5. Authorities who are equally competent, so far as we can tell, may disagree.

Suppose we charitably interpret Steve’s references to atheists who reject moral realism is supposed to be an (inductive) argument from authority. Then if we let:

X=”atheists Sharon Street; Massimo Pigliucci; Michael Shermer; Owen J. Flanagan, Jr; Alex Rosenberg; Joel Marks; Daniel Dennett; Michael Ruse; and Quentin Smith.”;
S=”metaethics” (which includes whether moral anti-realism is true); and
p=”moral realism is false”

then Steve’s argument would have the following logical form.

(1′) The vast majority of statements made by x concerning subject S are true.
(2′) p is a statement made by x concerning subject S.
(3′) Therefore, p is true.

That argument is example of what Salmon called a “misuse of the argument from authority,” for at least three reasons.
First, Michael Shermer is not a philosopher and definitely not an expert on metaethics. (One could say the same about Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne, names which often appear in lists like the list posted by Steve.) Likewise, when Massimo Pigliucci made the statement referenced in Steve’s post (in his debate with William Lane Craig), Pigliucci was a biologist only, not a biologist and a philosopher. Even today, Pigliucci is not an expert on metaethics. (It may also be the case that Pigliucci has changed his views since his earning his doctorate in philosophy; I don’t know.) Similarly, Michael Ruse is a philosopher of biology and Alex Rosenberg is a philosopher of social science, economics, and science; neither specialize in metaethics. Likewise, Daniel Dennett’s areas of specialization are philosophy of science, cognitive science, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of biology; metaethics is not one of his areas of specialization.
Second, what about atheist philosophers who do specialize in metaethics and reject moral realism, such as Flannagan and Mackie? I’m going to put to the side the interesting question of whether Smith and Street should even be counted as moral anti-realists; both have highly nuanced views and it would take a long blog post to give the topic the attention it deserves.
But putting those two names to the side, there are still other names available who were or are without a doubt atheists, experts on metaethics, and moral anti-realists. There are plenty of competent authorities on metaethics or the philosophy of religion—both theists and naturalists—who disagree with p (“moral realism is false”). Off the top of my head, I can think of at least ##. The atheist camp of moral realists includes: David Brink; Michael Martin; G.E. Moore; John Post; William Rottschaefer; Russ Shafer-Landau; Stephen J. Sullivan; and Erik Wielenberg.
Third, the definition of X arbitrarily limits who counts as expert: if we are interested in whether atheism is logically compatible with moral realism, the proper reference class is all metaethicists, not just atheistic metaethics. But then broadening the scope of X adds even more authorities who reject statement p. The theistic camp of metaethicists who reject the claim (“atheism is incompatible with moral realism”) includes people like Robert Adams and Mark Murphy (a Catholic and a natural law theorist). Then there are metaethicists whose religious views are unknown to me, but would join Adams in rejecting the claim that atheism is logically incompatible with moral realism: Avi Sagi and Daniel Statman.
Accordingly, as an inductive argument from authority, the argument is inductively weak and logically incorrect. The premises do not confer a high probability on the conclusion. So, rather than name-dropping a selective list of atheists (or even merely summarizing the arguments made by those names), what we need is actual engagement with the arguments made by metaethicists and, in particular, the work of Robert Adams and Mark Murphy on the theistic side and Erik Wielenberg on the atheistic side. I’ve written about some of the atheistic error theorists listed above here.
We also need to distinguish between authorities who say “moral realism is false because theism is false” vs. those who say “moral realism is false or meaningless for reasons that have nothing to do with God’s existence.”


HAYS
Jeff’s comments are a lengthy exercise in misdirection:
i) I didn’t quote Shermer, Dawkins, or Coyne. So mentioning them in response to me just a diversionary tactic.
ii) I didn’t make an appeal to authority. Rather, if you bother to read the links, many of them provide arguments for their rejection of moral realism. Pity Jeff doesn’t know the difference between quoting someone as an authority figure and quoting someone for their arguments.
iii) Furthermore, even if it were, in some cases, an argument from authority, when Christians point out that atheism is incompatible with moral realism, and some atheists respond by acting as if that’s an ignorant, defamatory attack on atheists, it’s perfectly legitimate to cite counterexamples from their own side to demonstrate that this isn’t a Christian caricature of atheists, but something that many prominent atheists concede.
And in my experience, not a few internet atheists have no idea that there are real live atheist thinkers who deny moral realism. They just imagine that must be a Christian strawman.
iv) Jeff then acts as though, unless someone is an expert in metaethics, you should simply ignore their arguments. But isn’t that self-refuting? Is Jeff an expert on metaethics? I guess we can safely discount everything he said in his two lengthy comments. What makes Jeff an expert? That he’s an autodidact on metaethics?
v) I’d add that Jeff likes to artificially compartmentalize knowledge. But when, for instance, the topic at hand is evolutionary ethics/evolutionary psychology, it’s preposterous to suggest a philosopher who specializes in philosophy of mind or evolutionary biology can’t have anything worthwhile to say on the subject. These are interdisciplinary debates.
vi) Having made a dismissive comment about “the obvious rhetorical value of quoting hostile witnesses,” Jeff does the very same thing by citing Robert Adams and Mark Murphy.
Likewise, Jeff complains about “name-dropping a selective list of atheists (or even merely summarizing the arguments made by those names…” even though his second comment is nothing but name-dropping (or summarizing) a selective list of theists and atheists.
vi) Finally, I’ve often responded to the subset of atheists who struggle to defend moral realism. It’s not as if I haven’t engaged their arguments.
But I do understand Jeff’s need to throw a lifeline to his drowning cohort, Angra.


LOWDER
It’s ironic that, in an exchange about the alleged superiority of theistic metaethics, Steve is rude to his dialectical opponents who are atheists. (To avoid any misunderstandings, I’m not complaining that my feelings are hurt or that I am offended.) Unlike Steve’s reply to me, there was no intent to be snarky in my last comment and there is no intent to be snarky in this comment.
Steve tries to dismiss the entire point about inductive arguments from authority, as if that were an idiosyncratic interpretation of his remarks. I don’t claim to be able to read his or anyone else’s mind, so if it was not his intent to make an argument from authority, then I will take him at his word. Steve wasn’t making an argument from authority. But I think the reader can be forgiven for getting that apparently wrong impression from the following exchange:

Angra Mainyu: “I challenge you to show the alleged inconsistency between atheism and moral realism.”

Steve Hays: “You could begin by reading atheists who take that very position. For starters: ….” (followed by a long list of links to blog posts).

Almost all of the linked blog posts quoted atheists, but not all. (More on that later.)
So instead of making a logically incorrect inductive argument from authority, it is instead the case that Steve has simply brought up a bunch of irrelevancies to support his claim that “Atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible.” As evidence for that claim, let’s go through the first four of Steve’s links.
Sharon Street: Steve’s first link is about Sharon Street’s paper, “A Darwinian Dilemma about Realist Theories of Value.” Street’s paper has nothing do with an alleged contradiction between moral realism and atheism. In fact, Street’s paper has nothing whatsoever to do with moral ontology. Street’s paper is about moral epistemology: she argues that if evolutionary naturalism is true, we have an undercutting defeater for trusting our second-order ethical intuitions. In plain English, it’s as if she says:

“Many people think moral realism is true because it seems like moral realism is true. But that isn’t a good reason to think that moral realism is true if you are an evolutionary naturalist. If evolutionary naturalism is true, it would ‘seem’ that moral realism were true even if it weren’t. So the ‘argument from seeming’ [my name] isn’t a good reason for evolutionary naturalists to think that moral realism is true.”

But since that is the essence of Street’s argument, it follows that Street’s Darwinian Dilemma is irrelevant to the claim that atheism is logically incompatible with moral realism. The most charitable interpretation I could give to why Steve linked to an irrelevant paper by Street is that he was giving an inductive argument from authority, based upon the proposition, “Sharon Street is an atheist expert on metaethics who denies moral realism.” Again, Steve says his argument wasn’t an argument from authority, but the motivation to categorize his argument was my attempt to be charitable to Steve. Since it wasn’t an inductive argument from authority, the alternative is that it was just an irrelevant premise. Even if Street’s Darwinian Dilemma is correct, it still would not follow that atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible. To think otherwise would be to confuse moral epistemology with moral ontology.
Massimo Pigliucci:  His next link was to a quotation of Massimo Pigliucci on moral realism. As I explain here, the logical form of Pigliucci’s argument is as follows:

(7) Human beliefs about morality have changed over time.
(8) The best explanation for these changes in human beliefs is that there are no objective truths about morality.
(9) Therefore, there are no objective truths about morality.

Even if this were a good argument — and it is not — it still would not follow that atheism is logically incompatible with moral realism. Again, in an attempt to be charitable to Steve, I took him to be making an inductive argument from authority. Again, Steve says he wasn’t doing that. And again, in that case, I say, “Fine. Then it’s an irrelevant reference to a bad argument.”
Paul Pardi: His next link was to a statement by Paul Pardi. Paul is a Christian lecturer or professor of philosophy; in fact, at least for part of the last decade, he taught at Seattle Pacific University. Paul was commenting in the combox on a blog post by J.P. Moreland about Michael Shermer. (This is why I mentioned Shermer in my previous post.) So, as interesting as Paul’s comments are, Paul Pardi’s comments do nothing to show what atheists say about atheism and morality. Furthermore, Paul Pardi’s comments actually undercut Sharon Street’s Darwinian Dilemma. As Pardi points out, “To say that on evolution, our moral beliefs and practices wouldn’t track truth assumes what it’s seems to want to prove: that moral laws are something outside of the human mind that beliefs must correspond to.”
Again, the most charitable interpretation (of Steve’s bizarre decision to reference Pardi’s comment) I could come up with was that: (1) Steve mistakenly thought Pardi shared Shermer’s views (presumably because Pardi gave objections to Moreland’s argument against Shermer); and (2) what really mattered to Hays was the support that Shermer, as an atheist, lends to an evolutionary account of morality. But, putting aside the fact that Shermer is not a philosopher, the empirical fact about moral epistemology, if it is a fact, that:

A: The correct explanation for the origin of our moral beliefs involves our evolutionary history.

provides zero support for the logical claim about moral ontology that:

B: Atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible.

And so, again, instead of saying (with charitable intent) that Steve Hays was making an argument from authority, we must instead conclude that he was simply providing another link to another irrelevant statement.
Own Flannagan, Jr.: Flannagan’s sociobiological explanation for the origin of our moral beliefs is similar to Shermer’s. It is irrelevant to establishing Steve Hays’ claim that atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible, and for the same reason.
Alex Rosenberg: Steve’s next link was to an interview about Alex Rosenberg. Here’s the entirety of what Rosenberg had to say about metaethics in that interview.

“What is the difference between right and wrong, good and bad?
There is no moral difference between them.”

So the interview Rosenberg contains no argument proving the alleged inconsistency between atheism and moral realism; all we find is the mere assertion that moral realism is false.
The other part of Steve’s Rosenberg post includes the same basic point about natural selection tricking us into believing moral realism is true. It fails for the same reason as Shermer’s and Flannagan’s.
Again, I thought I was charitable in interpreting Steve as offering an inductive argument from authority. Again, I was mistaken. And again, the link to his blog post is irrelevant because the quoted material doesn’t even make the claim that atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible, much less provide an argument for that claim.
Furthermore, if one goes beyond the material quoted by Steve and looks at Rosenberg’s journal article on metaethics, we do not find an article which tries to prove the alleged inconsistency between atheism and moral realism. Rather, what we find is an argument against moral realism which has nothing do do with an alleged inconsistency between atheism and moral realism. (See here).
Joel Marks: Steve’s next link was to an article in the New York Times by Joel Marks, in which Marks talks about his change from “moralism” to “amoralism,” which can be thought of as the change from being a moral realist to a moral anti-realist. His article was published by the New York Times, not the American Philosophical Quarterly, so his article was not written for philosophers. Based on what Marks wrote, it’s hard to tell if he even believes that atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible. But, in order to be charitable to Steve, let’s assume that Marks believes precisely that. What support does Marks give for that claim in his article?
Marks makes only one statement (or series of statements) which could possibly be relevant to a claim of logical incompatibility between atheism and moral realism:

“The dominoes continued to fall. I had thought I was a secularist because I conceived of right and wrong as standing on their own two feet, without prop or crutch from God. We should do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, period. But this was a God too. It was the Godless God of secular morality, which commanded without commander – whose ways were thus even more mysterious than the God I did not believe in, who at least had the intelligible motive of rewarding us for doing what He wanted.”

And later in the same essay he writes:

“Think of this analogy: A tribe of people lives on an isolated island. They have no formal governmental institutions of any kind. In particular they have no legislature. Therefore in that society it would make no sense to say that someone had done something “illegal.” But neither would anything be “legal.” The entire set of legal categories would be inapplicable. In just this way I now view moral categories.”

This is a variation of the old “laws require a lawgiver” argument. As I explain here, that argument fails because of the following negative analogy:

(8) The laws of nature, logic, mathematics, and (objective) morality did not begin to exist.
(9) The laws of nature, logic, and mathematics also do not have lawgivers.
(10) Therefore, the laws of (objective) morality do not have a lawgiver.

John Maynard Smith: Steve’s next link was to an article by John Maynard Smith, in which Smith endorses Daniel Dennett’s view that, without something like the Bible, there is no epistemologically objective way to determine moral right from wrong.
Again, even if Smith (and Dennett) were correct about that, it wouldn’t follow that moral realism is false. The sentences “Moral realism is true” and “Moral skepticism is true” are logically consistent: it could be the case that there are objective moral values and duties, but we have no realiable way of knowing what they are.
More important, neither Smith nor Dennett claim “Atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible.”
Thomas Nagel: Steve’s next link is to a blog post quoting Thomas Nagel. Quoting Daniel Dennett, Nagel endorses the view that if everything reduces to physics, then there is no naturalistic answer to a cosmic question. The cosmic question is put into square brackets. I haven’t read Nagel’s 2010 book, so I can’t tell if the words in the bracket come from Nagel or from Steve. I don’t have enough context for the quotation to make sense of the question put in the square brackets. In any case, I agree that with Nagel that naturalism is nonteleological.
I do not find, however, an argument (in Steve’s post) for the conclusion that the non-teleological nature of naturalism is logically incompatible with moral realism. To be charitable to Steve, perhaps the idea is that if physical reality is not teleological (which, according to naturalism, it isn’t), then moral realism is necessarily false. But the truth of that is far from obvious. There is no logical contradiction between “There is no cosmic teleology (i.e., the universe was not created for a purpose)” and “Moral realism is true.” First, it could be the case that God does not exist, in which case there is no cosmic teleology, but some version of Platonism is true (and so moral values exist as abstract objects). Second, it could be the case that God does not exist and a neo-Aristotelian approach to ethics like that found in Larry Arnhart’s book, Darwinian Natural Right, is correct. But Arnhart’s neo-Aristotelian (and Humean and Darwinian) approach to ethics is a realist approach to ethics.
Michael Ruse: Steve’s next link is to a post which mentions Michael Ruse and myself. Regarding Steve’s numbered points in that blog post, I will say this. I agree with Steve’s (i): it is legitimate to quote what various atheists have said about morality, in order to defend the claim that some atheists have made certain statements about morality. (ii) I agree with this also. This is why the moral anti-realist arguments of Shermer, Rosenberg, and others fail. Turning to (iii), Steve argues that I have misinterpreted Ruse. Now that would require an entire blog post of its own.
For now, I will simply point out that (1) even if Ruse’s argument were correct, it would provide no support for the claim that atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible; and (2) Ruse’s moral anti-realist argument fails because it commits the genetic fallacy. Indeed, it contains the very confusion Steve described in his (ii): Ruse confuses moral psychology with moral ontology. So both Steve and I agree that Ruse’s argument against moral realism fails.
Quentin Smith: Steve’s final link is to a post which appears to quote from either the abstract or body of an essay by Smith. Steve’s post quotes from Smith’s own website, which is now defunct, which makes it impossible to get the paper from that website. (An Internet search for a copy of the paper on other websites was equally unsuccessful.) But it appears Smith’s website published an article of his 2003 essay, “Moral Realism and Infinite Spacetime Imply Moral Nihilism,” which was published in an anthology.
I find everything about that blog post fascinating. Smith wrote a book (“Ethical and Religious Thought…”) published in 1997 by Yale University Press in which he defends moral realism. But I did come across an essay by philosopher Michael Almeida, which aims to refute Smith’s essay. (See here.) Almeida’s essay begans with the following sentences:

“Quentin Smith has recently advanced an argument for ‘moral nihilism’. He derives moral nihilism, unexpectedly, from global moral realism and a principle of value aggregation….”

So, according to one of Smith’s critics (Almeida), even in Smith’s 2003 essay, Smith still accepted moral realism. Furthermore, notice how Almeida summarizes Smith’s argument for nihilism: because “global moral realism” and “value aggregation theory” are true, then nihilism is true. That shows that Smith was not defending the claim that atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible.
Moving onto point (iv) in Steve’s comment, he writes, “Jeff then acts as though, unless someone is an expert in metaethics, you should simply ignore their arguments.” No. Steve is tearing down a straw man of his own creation. Steve’s objection forgets the fact that I was (mistakenly) responding to his references to other atheists as if they were inductive arguments from authority. In THAT context, it is appropriate to point out that some of Steve’s atheists do not have the relevant expertise.
I agree with Steve that if we are told that we should believe X on the basis of some argument Y (and Y is not an argument from authority), then it is of course legitimate to consider argument Y, regardless of whether the person making it has the relevant expertise or not.
Regarding (v), Steve saddles me with a view I do not hold and, again, tears down a straw man of his own creation. The issue is not whether this person or that person has something worthwhile to say on the subject of evolutionary ethics or evolutionary psychology. The issue is whether this person or that person is an expert on metaethics. Expertise in evolutionary ethics or evolutionary psychology does not constitute expertise in metaethics.
As for (vi), I look forward to reading Steve’s critiques of especially G.E. Moore’s Principia Ethica and Erik Wielenberg’s Robust Ethics.
 


HAYS
Jeff says Robert Adams would reject the claim that atheism is incompatible with moral realism. Perhaps Jeff can quote where Adams has said that.
In Finite and Infinite Goods, Adams details a position in which the standard of goodness is defined by the divine nature. Finite things are only good insofar as they exemplify divine goodness. Given that framework, it’s hard to see how Adams could also say atheism is consistent with moral realism, absent the necessary source and standard of goodness. So is Jeff saying Adams has elsewhere taken a position that’s logically at odds with what he said in Finite and Infinite Goods?

“Steve tries to dismiss the entire point about inductive arguments from authority, as if that were an idiosyncratic interpretation of his remarks. I don’t claim to be able to read his or anyone else’s mind, so if it was not his intent to make an argument from authority, then I will take him at his word. Steve wasn’t making an argument from authority…So instead of making a logically incorrect inductive argument from authority, it is instead the case that Steve has simply brought up a bunch of irrelevancies to support his claim that ‘Atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible.'”

i) So Jeff is telling us that he doesn’t know the difference between testimonial evidence and an argument from authority. When an atheist reacts to the statement that consistent atheism denies moral realism as if that’s a Christian strawman, it’s both relevant and legitimate to quote prominent atheists who concede that very claim.
That’s testimonial evidence to the contrary. A witness needn’t be an authority figure to be a reliable witness.
ii) Over and above that, there are atheists who give reasons for their rejection of moral realism. So that’s hardly an argument from authority, as if you should accept their position on their say-so alone. Rather, they explain why they reject moral realism, given their commitment to atheism, and the attendant implications thereof.
Jeff’s characterization is muddle-headed.


LOWDER
Jeff says Robert Adams would reject the claim that atheism is incompatible with moral realism. Perhaps Jeff can quote where Adams has said that.
This is one of those times where a person reads something they wrote the day before, shake their head, and ask, “What was I thinking when I wrote that?”
Steve is right and I was wrong. I got my theists mixed up. I meant to write Louis Pojman, not Robert Adams.
But Adams did write something very interesting in his book, Finite and Infinite Goods. I’ll have to find the passage when I get home, but the gist of it was something like this:

“Because I define excellence in a way that relates moral obligation to the commands of a loving God, excellence in that sense could not exist in a world without God. But a naturalist or an atheist could define excellence in an objective, realistic way that would be very similar [I think he uses the word “indistinguishable”] to what I call excellence, and so there would be little practical difference between the two.”

Or something to that effect. Given my mixup on Adams vs. Pojman, I won’t blame anyone if they want to wait until I produce the exact quotation.
[A short time later, I (Lowder) posted the following:]
Found it, courtesy of Amazon’s “Search Inside” feature:

“What is true about goodness if God does not exist, or is not in fact a suitable candidate for the role of the Good? This is a conditional question about the actual world, not about other possible worlds; and I am confident of my answer to it. If there is no God, or if God is in fact not a suitable candidate for the role of the Good, then my theory is false, but there may be some other salient, suitable candidate, and so some other theory of the nature of the good may be true.
“Against the background I offer the less ambitious approach to the corresponding question about other possible worlds, which I asked on the assumption that God does exist, and is a suitable candidate, in the actual world. A deity would have to satisfy certain conditions (for instance, not being sadistic, and not loving cowardice) in order to be the salient candidate for filling the role indicated by our concept of the Good, thought it is part of the point of my theory that such requirements do not completely determine what the deity would be like. If there is a God that satisfies these conditions imposed by our concepts, we might say, then excellence is the property of faithfully imaging such a God, or of resembling such a God in such a way as to give God a reason for loving. In worlds where no such God exists, nothing would have that property, and therefore nothing would be excellent. But beings like us in such a world might have a concept subjectively indistinguishable from our concept of excellence, and there might be an objective property that corresponded to it well enough, and in a sufficiently salient way, to be the property signified by it, though it would not be the property that we in fact signify by ‘excellent’.
— Robert Adams, Finite and Infinite Goods, p. 46.
(All italics are from the original; boldface is mine)

I’ve always respected Adams’ work on theistic metaethics and this highly nuanced passage is an example of why.
I could be wrong, but I interpret Adams to be saying:

(1) Atheism is logically incompatible with moral realism, IF realist/objective moral obligations are determined according to Adams’ theory of excellence and his modified divine command theory are true.

He does NOT seem to be saying:

(2) Atheism is logically incompatible with moral realism about moral obligations.

In fact, depending upon how you interpret it, the end of the quotation I just provided seems to be either (a) Adams, saying in his own words, that atheism is compatible with moral obligation, if his theory of moral obligation is wrong; or (b) the difference between what counts as morally right/wrong/permitted on his theory vs. some secular alternative makes no practical difference.
And I think that Adams rejects:

(3) Atheism is logically incompatible with moral realism about moral value.

I think that Adams rejects (3) because he defends a Modified Divine Command Theory of moral obligation (what is morally permitted, prohibited, or obligatory), but he subscribes to a Divine Independence Theory (my name) of moral value (what is morally good or bad).
In fact, now that I think about it, the statement:

(4) Atheism is logically incompatible with moral realism.

Entails both (2) and (3). Even if it were the case that atheism were logically incompatible with realism about moral obligation, it could still be the case that that atheism is logically consistent with realism about moral value. Because (4) doesn’t make a distinction between moral obligation and moral value, showing that atheism is logically compatible with moral value is, all by itself, sufficient to refute (4).
So maybe I was correct to list Robert Adams after all.


HAYS
‪Jeffery Jay Lowder‬ 

”It’s ironic that, in an exchange about the alleged superiority of theistic metaethics, Steve is rude to his dialectical opponents who are atheists.”
i) Suppose for the sake of argument that Jeff’s allegation is true. Keith Parsons, who’s a regular contributor to the Secular Outpost, routinely makes rude comments about Christians.
Likewise, the historical library and modern library at the Secular Web contains articles by atheists that make rude comments about Christians. So it’s instructive to see Jeff’s double standard on display (even assuming that his allegation is true).
ii) But this brings us to a substantive point: Jeff thinks that he is important. That his dignity is important.
This is one of Jeff’s intellectual problems. He’s never allowed himself to appreciate the reductionistic consequences of atheism for human significance.
If atheism is true, then Jeff is worthless. Everything is worthless.
Jeff is a temporary entity that came into existence for no good reason, that will soon pass out of existence. Jeff is interchangeable with billions of other human biological units. He will be replaced.
If atheism is true, Jeff’s existence has no intrinsic value. At best, it’s only subjectively valuable–the way some Nazis (alleged) valued Jews as as raw material for lamp shades.


LOWDER

‪i) Suppose for the sake of argument that Jeff’s allegation is true. Keith Parsons, who’s a regular contributor to the Secular Outpost, routinely makes rude comments about Christians.

You can’t be serious. You’re using the same excuse my children use, “But he did it, too!”, as if that makes it okay. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
I don’t remember off the top of my head Keith Parsons making sweeping generalizations about all Christians. But if I’m wrong about that and/or if he has been rude in some other way, then he was wrong to do so and I will condemn it.

Likewise, the historical library and modern library at the Secular Web contains articles by atheists that make rude comments about Christians. So it’s instructive to see Jeff’s double standard on display (even assuming that his allegation is true).

I tried very hard to prevent this from happening in the modern library at the Secular Web while I held a leadership position and I doubt very much that this happened while I was the editor. If it has happened, that is regrettable. I am even willing to try to bring any items in this category to the attention of Keith Augustine, who is the current editor, to try to get them fixed. But, again, this is mere deflection by Steve. This doesn’t excuse Steve’s rudeness.

ii) But this brings us to a substantive point: Jeff thinks that he is important. That his dignity is important.

This is just more deflection on Steve’s part. In effect, he’s saying, “I’m justified in being rude to atheists because atheists can’t justify condemning me for my rudeness.” Even if it were the case that an atheist could not justifying a complaint about being treated rudely, it would still be the case that, as a theist, Steve is a moral realist. But as we’ve seen, Steve has been unable to demonstrate a logical inconsistency between atheism and moral realism.

This is one of Jeff’s intellectual problems. He’s never allowed himself to appreciate the reductionistic consequences of atheism for human significance.

This is one of Steve’s intellectual problems. (See how easy it is to mirror Steve’s condescension right back at him?) He’s never been able to grasp the significance of the distinction between ‘cosmic’ or ‘ultimate’ significance and non-cosmic, non-ultimate significance, or the fact that “life has no ultimate significance” allows for “life has significance.” It’s a bit like complaining that winning one million dollars or even just one hundred dollars from the lottery has no value because the money won’t last as long as you would like.

If atheism is true, then Jeff is worthless. Everything is worthless.

If everything is worthless, then the fact that “everything is worthless” is itself worthless and we should pay no attention to it.

Jeff is a temporary entity that came into existence for no good reason, that will soon pass out of existence. Jeff is interchangeable with billions of other human biological units. He will be replaced.

Analogy:
If I win a finite amount of money from the lottery, that money will not last forever.
Therefore, it has no value.
That argument fails for the same reason Steve’s argument fails. A thing does not need to have an infinite amount of value–or value for an infinite duration–in order to have value.

If atheism is true, Jeff’s existence has no intrinsic value. At best, it’s only subjectively valuable–the way some Nazis (alleged) valued Jews as as raw material for lamp shades.

Although this statement begs the question, it doesn’t work. Steve, like many theists and atheists, has confused “intrinsic value” with “objective value.” But these are separate concepts. There are four possibilities:
(1) Objectively intrinsically valuable
(2) Objectively extrinsically valuable
(3) Subjectively intrinsically valuable
(4) Subjectively extrinsically valuable
(These four possibilities become eight if you add in the possibility of having disvalue.)
A better name for “intrinsic value” might be “non-derivative value” and a better name for “extrinsic value” might be “derivative value.” If I ask you, “Why do you like to go rowing?” and you answer, “Because I love the feeling of the scull breaking through the water when the boat is at a full sprint,” your answer reveals that, for you, rowing is extrinsically or derivatively valuable: it is valuable because it is a means to an end. If you then ask, “Why do you like the feeling of the scull breaking through the water when the boat is at a full sprint?” and you answer, “I just do,” then that feeling is intrinsically (non-derivatively) valuable to you: it is an end, not a means to an end.
The point is that, as soon as you make the distinction between intrinsic vs. extrinsic or derivative vs. non-derivative types of value, it is trivial to show that, even on the most reductionistic, materialistic versions of atheism, there can still be intrinsic (aka non-derivative) value.


In fairness to Steve, I’ll mention that, as of the time I wrote this blog post, he had written a couple of other replies to me I have not quoted here. I have not quoted them because I think they are either redundant or irrelevant, but interested parties can judge for themselves. See here and here.


In summary, Hays has been unable to justify his assertion that atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible. As support for that claim, he referenced the statements and/or arguments of 10 alleged atheists. But, as summarized below, none of these alleged atheists, in the statements quoted by Steve, provide any support whatsoever for his claim.

  • 1 of the alleged atheists (Pardi) is a Christian philosopher. Furthermore, nothing Pardi wrote supports Hays’ claim of a logical incompatibility between atheism and moral realism.
  • Of the 9 actual atheists:
    • 7 of the 9 atheists made statements and/or presented arguments which were utterly irrelevant to the alleged logical incompatibility of atheism and moral realism:
      • 1 atheist (Sharon Street) argues that evolutionary naturalism provides a defeater for the belief that moral realism is true. (In other words, she is making a point about moral epistemology, not moral ontology. But Hays’ argument is ontological.)
      • 3 atheists (Owen Flannagan, Michael Ruse, and Alex Rosenberg) presented an evolutionary explanation for the origin of our belief in moral realism, but, unlike Street, did not claim it was a defeater for moral realism (for naturalists).
      • 1 atheist (Massimo Pigliucci ) presented an argument against moral realism that had nothing whatsoever to do with the alleged logical incompatibility of atheism and moral realism.
      • 1 atheist (John Maynard Smith) presented a pragmatic, epistemological argument against moral realism. Smith’s argument provided no support for Hays’ ontological claim.
      • 1 atheist (Quentin Smith) is a moral realist. The paper referenced by Steve provided no support whatsoever for the claim that atheism and moral realism are logically incompatible.
    • 2 of the 9 atheists which might be charitably interpreted as making an argument relevant to the alleged logical incompatibility of atheism and moral realism.
      • 1 atheist (Joel Marks) presented the discredited, “Laws Require a Lawgiver Argument.”
      • 1 atheist (Thomas Nagel) made the observation that naturalism is non-teleological. It was difficult to understand Nagel’s point without having additional context about the passage from which Hays quoted. But Hays’ quotation of Nagel did not contain an argument for the conclusion that the non-teleological nature of naturalism is logically incompatible with moral realism.

bookmark_borderMoral Arguments for God and Coining a Name for a Common but Fallacious Objection

In response to Wintery Knight’s recent blog post on the plausibility of objective morality on atheism, I posted a comment in the combox on his site. The comment consisted solely of a link to my YouTube video, “Naturalism, Theism, and Moral Ontology: A Reply to William Lane Craig.” In response to that link, WK wrote a response, which you can read on his blog. (I cannot figure out how to link to an individual comment on his blog or I would provide a direct link. In any case, I recommend you do read his comment and then come back to this post.) What follows is my follow-up reply to WK.
(Note: WK moderates the combox on his site and I just submitted my comment, so if you are unable to find this comment on his site when you look for it, that could just mean that WK hasn’t gone through the moderation queue for his blog. It doesn’t mean he has censored or blocked my comment.)
—–
Holy fallacious objection, Batman!
Let’s review the exchange so far:
1. WK claims that atheists cannot help themselves to objective morality. In support, he links to a YouTube video by WLC and then summarizes WLC’s three objections to what WLC calls ‘atheistic moral Platonism’:
(i) ‘The Unintelligibility of Atheistic Moral Platonism’
(ii) ‘Lack of Moral Obligation on Atheistic Moral Platonism’
(iii) ‘Improbability of Atheistic Moral Platonism’
2. JJL posts a link to his own YouTube video refuting WLC’s moral argument, including these three objections.
3. WK responds, not by directly engaging anything JJL actually said in his video, but by quoting something JJL wrote about same-sex marriage (SSM). I realize that the topic may be red meat on a Christian website with a primarily Christian audience — indeed, this may be an instance of the ‘poisoning the well’ fallacy — but it’s a logically fallacious response. And so, as interesting as the topic of SSM may be, I’m not going to take the bait. Instead, I’m going to focus on the plausibility of objective morality on atheism.
Indeed, JJL’s views on same-sex marriage are as irrelevant to the plausibility of ‘objective morality on atheism’ as atheistic objections to Biblical morality are irrelevant to WLC’s moral argument for theism. Both WK’s same-sex marriage objection (to JJL’s defense of objective morality on atheism) and the atheistic objection from alleged instances of Biblical immorality (to WLC’s moral argument) are instances of a type of objection which, to my knowledge, has never been given a formal name. I propose we call such objections this: “objections from undesirable normative ethical consequences.”
The problem with both theistic and atheistic objections from undesirable normative ethical consequences is that they confuse metaethics with normative ethics. As I explain in my Primer on Religion and Morality, (see here — skip down to page 7), metaethics is the study of the nature of status of normative ethical claims, beliefs, and theories. In contrast, normative ethics is the study of what is morally good or bad, what is morally right or wrong, what morally ought or ought not to be done, and so forth.
The upshot is this. Even if, for the sake of argument, the Bible did or does contain immoral divine commands, that would simply tell us that the Bible had or has the wrong normative ethics. That wouldn’t tell us anything about whether morality is objective or, if it is, whether it is a supernatural foundation.
Similarly, even if, for the sake of argument, JJL has the wrong views on same-sex marriage, that would simply tell us that JJL had or has the wrong normative ethics. That wouldn’t tell us anything about whether JJL’s objections to WLC’s argument are successful or, more broadly, whether objective morality is plausible on atheism.

bookmark_borderNaturalism, Theism, and Moral Ontology: A Reply to William Lane Craig

(Reposting since this seems to be so popular. So far as I am aware, neither WLC nor anyone else has responded to this.)
Abstract: This paper considers William Lane Craig’s metaethical argument for God’s existence. Roughly, the argument is that the existence of objective moral values provides strong evidence for God’s existence. I consider one by one Craig’s various reasons in support of the argument’s major premise, namely, that objective moral values and the nonexistence of God are at odds with each other. I show that Craig’s supporting arguments play fast and loose with the meaning of objectivity, and that they have no force whatsoever. I conclude that Craig’s argument does not succeed in showing that the existence of objective moral values, by itself, makes God’s existence more probable than not.

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bookmark_borderPreliminary Remarks Concerning Euthyphro-style Ojections to the Divine Command Theory

This post is meant to set the stage for a follow-up post in which I will argue that the Euthyphro Dilemma provides a definitive (or as close to definitive as we can reasonably expect to get) objection to divine command metaethics (even the modern so-called modified divine command theories associated with Robert Adams, Edward Wierenga, C. Stephen Evans and others). In this post I want to talk not about divine commands or love or metaethics, but rather supreme executive power, reasons, motives, and arbitrariness. We’ll start with this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvKIWjnEPNY

Upon learning how Arthur became King of the Britons, Dennis the constitutional peasant says, “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”
Dennis is here presenting a democratic theory of the basis of government. Presumably, he would be unmoved even if he were assured that the Lady of the Lake had perfect knowledge of any presumed candidate’s qualifications and only tossed swords to candidates that were well-qualified. After all, defenders of democracy recognize that their preferred system does not always result in the most qualified leadership. Their claim is, rather, that legitimate government is only that which is elected via popular referendum. So, from Dennis’ perspective, the Lady of the Lake’s choice is completely arbitrary with respect to the issue at hand. But notice that his concern is not that it is arbitrary because it is ungrounded in reasons; Dennis does not care whether she had reasons or what those reasons might be (more on this, including an important ambiguity involved in ‘reason’ below). The problem, from Dennis’ perspective, is that the feature of Authur Pendragon, in virtue of which he is King, namely that the Lady of the Lake threw Excalibur to him, is totally unrelated to the task he was chosen for, that is, being King. In that sense, the fact that he was the recipient of Excalibur is just an arbitrary reason to think that he deserves to be King.
A basis or ground of something can be arbitrary when the purported ground is completely unrelated to the thing for which it is supposed to be serving as the ground. Here is another example: Suppose that passengers on a damaged aircraft, which is running low on fuel, have determined that the plane stands a good chance of making it to a safe landing spot only if its weight is significantly reduced; and the only way to do that is for one of the passengers to jump from the plane. Since there are no volunteers, the passengers decide to draw straws to see who will have to jump. Bob draws the short straw. Given that Bob agreed to the procedure, he is now obligated to jump. But here’s the thing: Bob does not deserve to be sacrificed just in virtue of having drawn the short straw. Drawing the short straw is not the kind of thing that could make someone deserve to be sacrificed. It is an arbitrary reason to think that Bob deserves to die.
It is important to note that there may be a non-arbitrary method for deciding who deserves to die. But time is running out and given the difficulties involved in discovering a mutually agreed upon method, the passengers are better off just going with the arbitrary method of drawing straws. But that the method is expedient does not make it less arbitrary. In this case the ground–drawing the short straw–is not the kind of thing that could serve as the basis for the relevant feature; that is it cannot make it the case that a person should die. This is what makes the method arbitrary.
One more point: even if it is true that the Lady of the Lake (LoL) had reasons for her decision to throw the sword to Arthur, that does not mean that her decision was non-arbitrary. To see this we need only remind ourselves that ‘reason’ is ambiguous between ‘motive’ and ‘justifying reason.’ If, when we say that the LoL has reasons for choosing Arthur, what we mean is merely that she has motives for choosing him, then we are not saying that she has a justifying reason for her decision. She can have a motive that would render her decision arbitrary. Suppose, for example, that she is acting on a threat, the ghosts of Arthur’s deceased ancestors have threatened to reveal scandalous information about the LoL’s proclivities for hippo-love; or suppose she is personally smitten with Arthur’s considerable charms.  In such a case, while LoL has a motive to choose Arthur as King, she lacks a justifying reason. And (and this is very important) her decision is therefore arbitrary.
We will miss this point so long as we neglect the very significant distinction between motives and reasons. We use the word ‘reason’ to talk about both, but this obscures the following important difference: motives explain while reasons justify. One can therefore have a motive without having a reason (in the justifying sense). Therefore the fact that a decision was based on a motive does not make the decision non-arbitrary.
Stay tuned for my follow-up post in which I apply some of these lessons to the Euthyphro based objections to DCT.

bookmark_borderBiological vs. Philosophical Perspectives on Morality

(Redated post originally published on 18 October 2011)
(This is from my archives and is undated; I’m guessing I wrote this about a decade ago. I think it is still relevant, as evidenced by Jerry Coyne’s article about explaining morality.)
I recently updated one of the official FAQs for the *.atheism newsgroups. (For interested parties, I updated the “Atheist Media FAQ” at http://www.infidels.org/news/atheism/media.html.) In private email, I received the following suggestion relative to the “morality and religion” section of my bibliography:

“Good Natured”, by Frans de Waal. He extensively documents morals in non-human primates.

As someone who is focused on metaethics and normative ethics (as opposed to descriptive ethics), this suggestion seemed like an odd one to me. This suggestion reminded me how differently the word “moral” can be used in the philosophical community vs. the biological community. Without having read de Waal’s book, I suspect that what de Waal documents is that non-human primates exhibit certain social behaviors and perhaps even “customs” that promote the flourishing of the respective species. But what is the philosophical significance of “morals in non-human primates” in that sense? At the risk of sounding like some of theists I criticize, “Yes, non-human primates exhibit certain social behaviors that promote the flourishing of their species, but is it morally good?” It seems to me that the behavior exhibited by non-human primates is not even relevant to metaethical questions unless one has good prior reason to believe that ethical naturalism is true. Or, to be more precise, instead of saying “not even relevant to metaethical questions,” I should say, “not even relevant to moral ontology,” without implying anything about the other branches of metaethic

bookmark_borderJerry Coyne on Goodness without God

(Originally published on 17 October 2011)
Jerry Coyne recently wrote an op-ed in USA Today entitled, “As Atheists Know, You Can Be Good Without God.” Christian philosopher Matt Flanagan wrote an excellent critique, not of Coyne’s claim that nonbelievers can be good without God (which Flanagan grants), but of pretty much everything else Coyne wrote related to metaethics. I wanted to highlight a couple of areas where I especially agree with Flanagan, since Flanagan points out some errors that a scientist wihout philosophical training can make. I also want to state where I disagree with Flanagan.

First, what is the focus of Coyne’s critique? According to Flanagan:

The argument that our instinctive sense of right and wrong “is strong evidence for [God’s] existence” found its most important formulation in a 1979 article by Yale Philosopher Robert Adams.

Let me begin by saying that I am familiar with Adams’ work and have great respect for it, especially his magisterial, Fine and Infinite Goods. Also, I agree with Flanagan that Adams’ work has been influential among theists. Finally, I agree with Flanagan that nothing Coyne writes in any way undermines Adams’ moral argument(s) for theism.
It doesn’t follow, however, that Coyne is to be faulted, in the way Flanagan criticizes him, for not criticizing or refuting Adams’ argument. Coyne is writing in USA Today, not a professional philosophical journal, so I think it’s reasonable to expect Coyne to tailor his message to his audience. While I have no empirical data to back this up, if you want to name philosophers, I suspect that C.S. Lewis’ moral argument for God’s existence is probably much more influential among the average reader of USA Today than the work of Robert Adams. And Lewis does appeal to a variety of moral phenomena in in Mere Christianity as part of his moral argument for God’s existence. That phenomena includes not only what Lewis calls the “Moral Law,” but also moral emotions (e.g., guilt, obligation). Thus, I think it is legitimate for Coyne to offer a naturalistic explanation for moral emotions. In this sense, I think Flanagan is being unfair to criticize Coyne for not interacting with Adams.
On the other hand, Flanagan is absolutely correct when he says there is a difference between moral obligation and the feeling of obligation. So even if, for the sake of argument, Coyne is successful in offering a naturalistic explanation for the feeling of obligation, it doesn’t follow that Coyne has explained moral obligation in general.
Second, Coyne is simply wrong when he claims that moral emotions “couldn’t” come from the will or commands of God, even if we assume that Euthyphro dilemma is a fatal objection to divine command theories (DCT) of moral obligation. That is much too strong of a claim. Again, using the obligation vs. feeling of obligation distinction, at most the Euthyphro dilemma refutes the claim that moral obligation in general comes from God; it does not in any way prevent a theistic explanation for moral emotions, including feelings of obligation.
But is the Euthyphro dilemma a fatal objection to DCT of moral obligation? That’s not obvious to me at all.  I’ve read a lot of recent work by theists refining, clarifying, and defending sophisticated versions of DCT. While I am not prepared to take a definitive stance on the matter yet, here my sympathies lie with Flanagan. Why? That would be the topic for another post, some other time. 🙂
Update 24-Feb-16:
After the original publication of this post, I published my Primary on Religion and Morality. I cover many of these same topics in slightly greater detail there. LINK

bookmark_borderDarwinian Morality and Rape?

(Redated post last published on 3 November 2011)
According to Nancy Pearcey and biologist Jeffrey Schloss (see here), Darwinian evolution implies there is nothing ethically wrong with rape. Why? Pearcey argues that Darwinian evolution and moral realism are logically incompatible:

In the words of sociobiology’s founder, E.O. Wilson, “the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will”; instead, ethics “is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes” because of its survival value. Those who accept Darwinian evolution, yet raise moral objections to A Natural History of Rape, are being inconsistent to their own foundational assumptions.
The rise of evolutionary psychology is forcing people to grapple with Darwinism’s profoundly nihilistic moral implications.

“A transcendent fulcrum for morality is possible only if there is a transcendent Designer,” Jeffrey Schloss, biologist at Westmont College, told World. This explains why, when feminist leader Susan Brownmiller objected to Thornhill’s theory, he accused her of sounding like “the extreme religious right.” In short, Darwinism and its unpalatable moral implications are a package deal; protest, and you invite a return to the theistic worldview.

It’s an agonizing dilemma for evolutionists: Either they can be logically consistent to their starting assumptions, but end up with an inhumane worldview–or they can be true to their God-given sense of morality, at the cost of being inconsistent. (italics mine)

Given what Alvin Plantinga has taught us about the difficulty in establishing a a logical contradiction between theism and evil, I think it’s pretty clear that the same difficulty applies to an alleged logical contradiction between Darwinian evolution and moral objectivism. It is one thing thing to claim that phenomena like objective moral values are evidence for theism and against Darwinian evolution. It is quite another to claim that moral phenomena are logically incompatible with Darwinian evolution.
To see the problems with this, let’s begin with some definitions. Let us define “Darwinism” as the belief that natural selection operating on random genetic mutation is the principal mechanism driving the evolutionary change that results in increased complexity.[1] And let’s define “moral objectivism” as the belief that some moral claims are true in virtue of corresponding to actually existing objects or properties that function as truthmakers for the claims in question. Here, then, are the premises which Pearcey claims contradict one another.
(1) Darwinism is true.
(2) Moral objectivism is true.
Where is the contradiction? I do not find an argument for the existence of a contradiction in Pearcey’s article. All we find is the bald assertion, repeated over and over and in different ways, that there is such a contradiction. Indeed, we can make a stronger point. As Quentin Smith wrote in a totally unrelated context, “It cannot be shown, by substitution of synonyms for synonyms, that the relevant negations of these sentences are substitution instances of first-order predicate logic with identity.”[2]
Theists don’t (and shouldn’t) accept such sloppy argumentation from atheists who present a logical argument from evil. They should not lower their standards when it comes to moral arguments for God’s existence or metaethical objections to atheism or Darwinism.
[1] Paul Draper, “Evolution and the Problem of Evil” in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology(3rd ed., ed. Louis Pojman, Wadsworth, 1997), pp. 219-230.
[2] Quentin Smith, Ethical and Religious Thought in Analytic Philosophy of Language (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 172.

bookmark_borderBibliography on Arguments for Atheism

(redated post originally published on 7 November 2011)
The purpose of this bibliography is to provide a comprehensive listing of academic resurces which contain presentations, formulations, or defenses of various arguments for atheism. The bibliography currently omits any references to resources which criticize those arguments; I hope to fix that in the future as time allows.
As always, I don’t claim this bibliography is perfectly accurate or complete; if spot any errors or omissions, please post your feedback as a “comment” at the bottom of this page. I will update the bibliography as time allows.

1. “Methodological” Points
1.1. Arguments for Atheism Do Not Require Omniscience
Carrier, Richard. “Proving a Negative.” The Secular Web (1999), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/theory.html.
Hales, Steven. “You Can Prove a Negative.” Think 10 (2005): 109-12. http://departments.bloomu.edu/philosophy/pages/content/hales/articles/proveanegative.html
Lowder, Jeffery Jay. “Is a Proof of the Non-Existence of God Even Possible?” The Secular Web (1998), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/ipnegep.html.
Vuletic, Mark. “Is Atheism Logical.” The Secular Web (1996), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/negative.html.
1.2. Theists Have the Burden of Proof
1.2.1. Lack of Belief Requires No Justification Unless There is Reason to Have a Belief
Flew, Antony. “The Presumption of Atheism.” In God, Freedom, and Immortality (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1984), 13-30.
Hanson, Norwood Russell. “What I Don’t Believe.” In What I Do Not Believe and Other Essays (ed. Stephen Toulmin and Harry W. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel, 1971), 309-31. Available on Google Books here.
Parsons, Keith M. God and the Burden of Proof. Buffalo: Prometheus, 1989.
—. “Do Atheists Bear a Burden of Proof? A Reply to Ralph McInerny.” The Secular Web (1997), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/keith_parsons/mcinerny.html.
Scriven, Michael. Primary Philosophy (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966).
1.2.2. The Argument from Logical Probability: Atheism as the Default Position
Tooley, Michael. “Does God Exist?” In Michael Tooley and Alvin Plantinga, eds., The Knowledge of God (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2008), 87-93.
1.3. Various Explanatory Principles
1.3.1. Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence
1.3.2. The Extremely Low Prior Probability of Theism
Draper, Paul. “God and Evil: A Philosophical Inquiry.” http://philreligion.nd.edu/assets/44795/1011lecture.pdf (accessed November 7, 2011).
—. “Why Theists Bear a Heavy Burden of Proof,” unpublished paper.
1.3.3. Ockham’s Razor
Doug Jesseph, “Opening Statement.” In The Jesseph-Craig Debate: Does God Exist? (1996) published in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/doug_jesseph/jesseph-craig/jesseph1.html.
1.3.4. Argument from Asymmetry
Doug Jesseph, “Opening Statement.” Speech delivered in the Craig-Jesseph Debate: Does God Exist? (1997) at Arizona State University.
1.3.5. The “In Principle” Objection to Theistic Explanations: Theism Cannot Explain Anything
1.3.6. The “De Facto” Objection to Theistic Explanations: Theism Is Not a Successful Explanation
Dawes, Gregory. Theism and Explanation. Routledge, 2009.
Related Partner Blog Posts: here,
2. Arguments for the Non-existence of God
2.1. “Logical” Arguments for the Non-Existence of God
2.1.1. Definition Disproofs
Definition: arguments which attempt to show an inconsistency in the definition of God
2.1.1.1. Incoherence of Necessary Existence
Findlay, J.N. “Can God’s Existence be Disproved?” In Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds., The Impossibility of God (Buffalo: Prometheus, 2003), 19-26. Originally published in Mind 54 (1948): 176-83.
—. “God’s Non-Existence: A Reply to Mr. Rainer and Mr. Hughes.” In Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds., The Impossibility of God (Buffalo: Prometheus, 2003), 27-30. Originally published in Mind 58 (1949): 352-54.
2.1.1.2. Incoherence of God’s Being All Virtuous
Walton, Douglas. “Can an Ancient Argument of Carneades on Cardinal Virtues and Divine Attributes Be Used to Disprove the Existence of God?” Philo 2 (1999): 5-13.
2.1.2. Deductive Disproofs of the Existence of God
Definition: arguments which attempt to show that the existence of God (who has certain attributes) is logically incompatible with a known fact
2.1.2.1 Evil
Hanna, Nathan. “Resurrecting the Logical Problem of Evil,” unpublished. Hanna-Resurrecting-the-Logical-Problem-of-Evil-draft.pdf
Mackie, J.L.. “Evil and Omnipotence.” Mind 64 (1955): 200-212.
Smith, Quentin. “A Sound Logical Argument from Evil.” In Ethical and Religious Thought in Analytic Philosophy of Language (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 148-56. Republished in Michael Martin, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Atheism.
Sobel, Jordan Howard. Logic and Theism: Arguments For and Against Beliefs in God (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 436-498.
2.1.2.2. Moral Anti-Realism
Oppy, Graham. “Is God Good By Definition?” Religious Studies 28 (1992): 464-74.
2.1.2.3. Normative Ethics
2.1.2.3.1. The Moral Obligation to Prevent Undeserved, Involuntary Human Suffering
Maitzen, Stephen. “Does God Destroy Our Duty of Compassion?” Free Inquiry 30 (2010): 52-53. http://philosophy.acadiau.ca/tl_files/sites/philosophy/resources/documents/Maitzen_DGDDC.pdf
—. “Ordinary Morality Implies Atheism.” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 1 (2009): 107-26. http://philosophy.acadiau.ca/tl_files/sites/philosophy/resources/documents/Maitzen_OMIA.pdf
2.1.3. Doctrinal Disproofs of the Existence of God
Definition: arguments which attempt to show that the existence of God is logically incompatible with a particular religious doctrine, story, or teaching about God
2.1.3.1. The Paradox of Eden
La Croix, Richard. “The Paradox of Eden.” In Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds., The Impossibility of God (Buffalo: Prometheus, 2003), 127-128. Originally published in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 15 (1984): 171.
2.1.3.2. Miracles vs. The Nature of God
Overall, Christine. “Miracles as Evidence Against the Existence of God.”  In Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds., The Impossibility of God (Buffalo: Prometheus, 2003), 147-153. Originally published in The Southern Journal of Philosophy 23 (1985): 347-53.
—. “Miracles and God: A Reply to Robert A.H. Larmer.” In Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds., The Impossibility of God (Buffalo: Prometheus, 2003), 154-166. Originally published in Dialogue 36 (1997): 741-52.
2.1.4. Multiple Attributes Disproofs of the Existence of God / Incompatible-Properties Arguments
Definition: arguments which attempt to show a logical inconsistency between two or more divine attributes
2.1.4.1. The Perfection vs. Creation Argument
Drange, Theodore M. “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey.” Philo 2 (1998): 49-60. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/incompatible.html.
2.1.4.2. The Immutability vs. Creation Argument
Drange, Theodore M. “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey.” Philo 2 (1998): 49-60. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/incompatible.html.
Gale, Richard M. On the Nature and Existence of God (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), chapter 2.
2.1.4.3. The Immutability vs. Omniscience Argument
Drange, Theodore M. “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey.” Philo 2 (1998): 49-60. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/incompatible.html
Gale, Richard M. On the Nature and Existence of God (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), chapter 3.
Kretzmann, Norman. “Omniscience and Immutability.” Journal of Philosophy 63 (1966): 409-420.
Tooley, Michael. “Does God Exist?” In Michael Tooley and Alvin Plantinga, eds., The Knowledge of God (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2008), 80.
2.1.4.4. The Immutability vs. All-loving Argument
Drange, Theodore M. “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey.” Philo 2 (1998): 49-60. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/incompatible.html
2.1.4.5. The Transcendence vs. Omnipresence Argument
Drange, Theodore M. “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey.” Philo 2 (1998): 49-60. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/incompatible.html
2.1.4.6. The Transcendence vs. Personhood Argument
Drange, Theodore M. “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey.” Philo 2 (1998): 49-60. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/incompatible.html
2.1.4.7. The Nonphysical vs. Personal Argument
Drange, Theodore M. “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey.” Philo 2 (1998): 49-60. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/incompatible.html
2.1.4.8. The Omnipresence vs. Personhood Argument
Drange, Theodore M. “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey.” Philo 2 (1998): 49-60. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/incompatible.html
2.1.4.9. The Omniscient vs. Free Argument
Barker, Dan. “The Freewill Argument for the Nonexistence of God.” Freedom From Religion Foundation (1997), http://www.ffrf.org/fttoday/august97/barker.html. Originally published in Freethought Today, August 1997.
Drange, Theodore M. “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey.” Philo 2 (1998): 49-60. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/incompatible.html
Martin, Michael. Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 297-299.
2.1.4.10. The Justice vs. Mercy Argument
Drange, Theodore M. “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey.” Philo 2 (1998): 49-60. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/incompatible.html
2.1.4.11. The Omniscience vs. Omnipotence Argument
Sobel, Jordan Howard. Logic and Theism: Arguments for and Against the Existence of God (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
2.1.4.12. Omnipresence vs. Consciousness
McCormick, Matt. “Why God Cannot Think: Kant, Omnipresence, and Consciousness.” 3 (2000): .
2.1.4.13. Omniscience vs. Agency (Intentional Action)
Kapitan, Tomis. “Agency and Omniscience.” Religious Studies 27 (1991): 105-120. Republished at http://www.niu.edu/phil/~kapitan/pdf/AgencyandOmniscience.pdf (accessed November 7, 2001).
—. “The Incompatibility of Omniscience and Intentional Action: A Reply to David P. Hunt.” Religious Studies (1994): 287-292. Republished at http://www.niu.edu/phil/kapitan/pdf/IncompatibilityofOmniscienceandIntentionalAction1994.pdf (accessed November 7, 2001).
2.1.4.14. Omnipotence & omniscience & perfection vs. Agency
McCormick, Matthew.  “The Paradox of Divine Agency.” In Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds., The Impossibility of God (Buffalo:  Prometheus, 2003).
2.1.4.15. Omniscience & Perfect Freedom & Omnipotence
Martin, Michael. “Conflicts Between the Divine Attributes.” In Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, The Impossibility of God (Buffalo: Prometheus), 242-257. Originally published in Michael Martin, Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 287-92, 297-306, 315.
2.1.4.16. Omniscience, Moral Perfection, and an Indeterministic World
Tooley, Michael. “Does God Exist?” In Michael Tooley and Alvin Plantinga, eds., The Knowledge of God (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2008), 81-82.
2.1.4.17. Perfection vs. Freedom
Rowe, William L. “Divine Perfection and Freedom.” In Kelly James Clark and Raymond J Vanarragon, eds., Evidence and Religious Belief (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011): 175-185.
—. “The Problem of Divine Perfection and Freedom”, in E. Stump, ed., Reasoned Faith (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 223-233.
— . “The Problem of No Best World.” Faith and Philosophy 11 (1994): 269-271.
2.1.5. Single Attribute Disproofs of the Existence of God
Definition: arguments which attempt to show a logical inconsistency within a single divine attribute.
2.1.5.1. The Impossibility of a Creator of All Natural Laws
Fulmer, Gilbert. “The Concept of the Supernatural.” Analysis 37:3 (1977): 113-116.
2.1.5.2. The Impossibility of Omnipotence
Cowan, J.L. “The Paradox of Omnipotence.” Analysis 25 (1965): 102-108.
—. “The Paradox of Omnipotence Revisited.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 3 (1974): 435-445.
Drange, Theodore. “Ten Atheistic Arguments.” Infidel Guy (2009), http://www.infidelguy.com/mobile/10_atheistic_arguments_7.php.
Martin, Michael. “Omnipotence.” In Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 302-315.
Sobel, Jordan Howard. Logic and Theism: Arguments for and Against the Existence of God (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 367-368.
Tooley, Michael. “Does God Exist?” In Michael Tooley and Alvin Plantinga, eds., The Knowledge of God (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2008), 82.
2.1.5.3. The Impossibility of Omniscience
Grim, Patrick. “Against Omniscience: The Case from Essential Indexicals.” Nous 19 (1985): 151-180.
—. “Logic and Limits of Knowledge and Truth.” Nous 22 (1988): 341-367.
Martin, Michael. “Omniscience.” In Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 287-297.
Pucetti, Roland. “Is Omniscience Possible?” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 41 (1963): 92-93.
2.1.5.4. The Impossibility of a Being Worthy of Worship
James Rachels, “God and Human Attitudes.” Religious Studies 7 (1971): 325-337. Republished as “God and Moral Autonomy.” In James Rachels, Can Ethics Provide Answers?: And Other Essays in Moral Philosophy (Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1997), 109-123. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/james_rachels/autonomy.html.

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2.1.5.5. The Impossibility of a Divine Cause
Drange, Theodore. “Ten Atheistic Arguments.” Infidel Guy (2009), http://www.infidelguy.com/mobile/10_atheistic_arguments_7.php.

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Smith, Quentin. “Causation and the Logical Impossibility of a Divine Cause.” Philosophical Topics 21:1 (1996): 169-191. Republised in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/causation.html.
2.1.5.6. The Impossibility of a Timeless Agent
Tooley, Michael. “Does God Exist?” In Michael Tooley and Alvin Plantinga, eds., The Knowledge of God (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2008), 80-81.
2.1.5.7. The Impossibility of a Logically Necessary Person
Tooley, Michael. “Does God Exist?” In Michael Tooley and Alvin Plantinga, eds., The Knowledge of God (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2008), 83-85.
2.2. “Evidential” Arguments for the Non-Existence of God
2.2.1. Big Bang Cosmology
Smith, Quentin. “Atheism, Theism, and Big Bang Cosmology.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 69 (1991): 48-66. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/cosmology.html.
—. “A Big Bang Cosmological Argument for God’s Nonexistence.” Faith and Philosophy 9 (1992): 217-237. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/bigbang.html.
—. “Can Everything Come to Be Without a Cause?” Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review 33 (1994): 313-323. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/cause.html.
—. “A Cosmological Argument for a Self-Caused Universe.” In Paul Draper, ed., God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence on The Secular Web (2007-2008), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/self-caused.html.
—. “Quantum Cosmology’s Implication of Atheism.” Analysis 57 (1997): 295-304. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/quantum.html.
—. “Simplicity and Why the Universe Exists.” Philosophy 71 (1997): 125-32. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/simplicity.html.
—. “Stephen Hawking’s Cosmology and Atheism.” Analysis 54 (1994): 236-243. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/hawking.html.
—. “Two Ways to Prove Atheism.” Speech delivered before the Atheist Alliance convention on April 6, 1996. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/atheism.html.
—. “The Uncaused Beginning of the Universe.” Philosophy of Science 55 (1988): 39-57. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/uncaused.html.
2.2.2. Scale of the Universe (i.e., The Argument from Scale [AS])
Everitt, Nicholas. “Arguments from Scale.” In The Non-Existence of God (New York: Routledge, 2004), 213-226.

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2.2.3. Mind-Brain Dependence
Carrier, Richard. “Carrier’s Opening Statement.” In The Carrier-Wanchick Debate. The Secular Web (2006), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/carrier-wanchick/carrier1.html (search on “The Argument from Mind-Brain Dysteleology (AMBD)”.
—. “Carrier’s Second Rebuttal.” In The Carrier-Wanchick Debate. The Secular Web (2006), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/carrier-wanchick/carrier3.html (search on “The Argument from Mind-Brain Dysteleology (AMBD)”.
—. “Why I Am Not a Christian.” The Secular Web (2006), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/whynotchristian.html (search on “The Human Brain”).
Conifer, Steven J. “Mind-Brain Dependence as Twofold Support for Atheism.” The Secular Web (2001), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/steven_conifer/mbd.html.
Lowder, Jeffery Jay. “The Empirical Case for Metaphysical Naturalism.” Internet Infidels Newsletter 4 (1999), http://www.infidels.org/infidels/newsletter/1999/march.html#Naturalism.
Melnyk, Andrew. “A Case for Physicalism about the Human Mind.” In Paul Draper, ed., God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence (2007-2008). In The Secular Web (2007), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/andrew_melnyk/physicalism.html.
—. “Physicalism and the First-Person Point of View.” In Paul Draper, ed., God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence (2007-2008). In The Secular Web (2007), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/andrew_melnyk/first-person.html.
Tooley, Michael. “Does God Exist?” In Michael Tooley and Alvin Plantinga, eds., The Knowledge of God (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2008), 93-97.
—. “Dr. Tooley’s Opening Statement.” In The Craig-Tooley Debate (1994). Republished in Leadership University (n.d.), http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/craig-tooley2.html (accessed November 10, 2011).

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2.2.4. Biological Evolution
Carrier, Richard. “Why I Am Not a Christian.” The Secular Web (2006), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/whynotchristian.html#origin.
Draper, Paul. “Evolution and the Problem of Evil” in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology (3rd ed., ed. Louis Pojman, Wadsworth, 1997), 219-230.
—. “Natural Selection and the Problem of Evil.” In Paul Draper, ed., God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence (2007-2008). In The Secular Web (2007), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/evil.html.
—. “On the Plausibility of Naturalism and the Seriousness of the Argument from Evil.”  In Paul Draper, ed., God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence (2007-2008). In The Secular Web (2007), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/paul_draper/serious.html.
Gerkin, Kyle J. “A Counterclockwise Paley.” The Secular Web (2002), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/kyle_gerkin/counterclockwise.html.

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2.2.5. Evil (i.e., the Evidential Argument from Evil [EAE])
Drange, Theodore M. “The Arguments from Evil and Nonbelief.” The Secular Web (1996), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/aeanb.html.
—. Nonbelief and Evil: Two Arguments for the Nonexistence of God. Buffalo: Prometheus, 1998.
Draper, Paul. “God and Evil: A Philosophical Inquiry.” 1011Lecture.pdf (accessed November 10, 2011).

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Gale, Richard M. “Freedom and the Free Will Defense.” Social Theory and Practice 16 (1990). Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_gale/freedom.html.
—. “R.M. Adams’ Theodicy of Grace.” Philo 1 (1998): 36-44. Republished in The Secular Web (1998), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_gale/theodicy.html.
Martin, Michael. Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 341-49, 361.
—. “Human Suffering and the Acceptance of God.” The Secular Web (1997), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/suffering.html.
Metcalf, Thomas. “An Argument from Non-Gratuituous Evil.” In Michael Martin and Ricci Monnier, eds., The Improbability of God (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006), 328-336.
Oppy, Graham. “Why I Am Not a Christian.” The Secular Web (2006), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/whynot.html.
Parsons, Keith M. “A Simple Statement of the Problem of Evil.” The Secular Web (2011), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/keith_parsons/evil.html.
Rowe, William L. “The Evidential Argument from Evil: A Second Look.” In Daniel Howard-Snyder (ed.), The Evidential Argument from Evil (1986) 262-85.
—. “The Empirical Argument from Evil.” In Audi and Wainwright (eds), Rationality, Religious Belief, and Moral Commitment (1986), 227-47.
—. “Evil and Theodicy.” Philosophical Topics 16 (1988): 119-32.
—. “Grounds for Belief Aside, Does Evil Make Atheism More Reasonable than Theism.” In William Rowe (ed.), God and the Problem of Evil. (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001), 124-37.
—. “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism,” American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (1979): 335-341.
—. “Reply to Howard-Snyder and Bergmann.” In Rowe (ed.), God and the Problem of Evil, (2001) 155-58.
—. “Reply to Plantinga.” Nous 32 (1998): 545-52.
—. “Ruminations about Evil.” Philosophical Perspectives 5 (1991): 69-88.
—. “Skeptical Theism: A Response to Bergmann.” Nous 35 (2001): 297-303.
—. “William Alston on the Problem of Evil.” In Thomas D. Senor (ed.), The Rationality of Belief and the Plurality of Faith: Essays in Honor of William P. Alston (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995), 71-93.
Russell, Bruce and Stephen J. Wykstra. “The ‘Inductive’ Argument from Evil: A Dialogue.” Philosophical Topics 16 (1988). http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/bruce_russell/dialogue.html.
Russell, Bruce. “Defenseless,” in The Evidential Argument from Evil (ed. Daniel Howard-Snyder, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), 193-205.
—. “The Persistent Problem of Evil.” Faith and Philosophy 6 (1989): 121-39.
—. “The Problem of Evil: Too Much Suffering.” (2004). In Introduction to Philosophy. 3rd ed. Edited by Louis P. Pojman. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004.
—. “Why Doesn’t God Intervene to Prevent Evil?” In Louis P. Pojman, ed., Philosophy: The Quest for Truth, 1996, 74-80. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/bruce_russell/intervene.html.
Tooley, Michael. “The Argument from Evil.” Philosophical Perspectives 5 (1991): 89-134.
—. “Does God Exist?”and “Closing Statement and Reply to Plantinga’s Comments.” In Michael Tooley and Alvin Plantinga, eds., The Knowledge of God (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2008), 70-147 and 237-241.
—. “Evil, Problem of.” In Tom Flynn, ed., The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2007), 301-10.
Schellenberg, J.L. “Stalemate and Strategy: Rethinking the Evidential Argument from Evil.” In God and the Problem of Evil (ed. William L. Rowe, Malden, Massachussetts: Blackwell, 2001), 159-179.
Smith, Quentin. “An Atheological Argument from Evil Natural Laws.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 29 (1991): 159-74. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/anthropic.html.
—. “Two Ways of Proving Atheism.” The Secular Web (1996), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/atheism.html.
Tattersall, Nicholas. “The Evidential Argument from Evil.” The Secular Web (1998), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nicholas_tattersall/evil.html.
Vuletic, Mark I. “The Tale of the Twelve Officers.” The Secular Web (2002), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/five.html.
Weisberger, A.M. “Depravity, Divine Responsibility, and Moral Evil: A Critique of a New Free Will Defense.” Religious Studies 31 (1995) : 375-90. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/andrea_weisberger/depravity.html.
—. “The Pollution Solution: A Critique of Dore’s Response to the Argument from Evil.” Sophia 36 (1997): 53-74. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/andrea_weisberger/pollution.html.
—. Suffering Belief: Evil and the Anglo-American Defense of Theism. New York: Peter Lang, 1999.

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2.2.6. Specific Facts about Evil
2.2.6.1. Biological Role of Pain and Pleasure
Draper, Paul. “Pain and Pleasure: An Evidential Problem for Theists.” Nous 23 (June, 1989), 331-350.
—. “More Pain and Pleasure: A Reply to Otte.” In Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil, ed. Peter van Inwagen (Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 41-54.
Sennett, James F. “Theism and Other Minds: On the Falsifiability of Non-theories.” Topoi 14.2 (1995), 149-160. See Sections 4-7, pp. 154-159.
Silver, David. “Religious Experience and the Evidential Argument from Evil.” Religious Studies 38(3): 339-353.

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2.2.6.2. Flourishing and Languishing of Sentient Beings
Draper, Paul. “A Darwinian Argument from Evil,” unpublished paper.
2.2.6.3. Self-Centeredness and Limited Altruism of Human Beings
Draper, Paul. “A Darwinian Argument from Evil,” unpublished paper.
2.2.6.4. Divine Silence in the Face of Tragedies
Drange, Theodore M. Nonbelief and Evil (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1998), 208-11, 223-24.
Rowe, William. “The Evidential Argument from Evil: A Second Look.” In The Evidential Argument from Evil (ed. Daniel Howard-Snyder, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996), 276.
2.2.6.5. Social Evil
Definition of social evil: an instance of pain or suffering that results from the game-theoretic interactions of many individuals. When a social evil occurs, responsibility for the outcome lies with no particular person and no impersonal force of nature; rather it lies with a group of people, each of whom may be morally in the clear.
Poston, Ted. “Social Evil.” The Ammonius Foundation (2011), http://www.ammonius.org/assets/pdfs/Social%20Evil.pdf.
2.2.7. Facts about Divine Hiddenness
2.2.7.1. Lack of Evidence
Drange, Theodore M. “Nonbelief vs. Lack of Evidence: Two Atheological Arguments.” The Secular Web (1998), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/anbvslea.html.
Stenger, Victor J. God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist (Buffalo: Prometheus, 2007), 21-22.
2.2.7.2. Nonbelief
Cosculluela, Victor. “Bolstering the Argument from Nonbelief.” In Michael Martin and Ricci Monnier, eds., The Improbability of God (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006), 362-368.
Drange, Theodore M. “The Arguments from Evil and Nonbelief.” The Secular Web (1996), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/aeanb.html.
—. “McHugh’s Expectations Dashed.” Philo 5 (2002): 242-48.
—. Nonbelief and Evil: Two Arguments for the Nonexistence of God. Buffalo: Prometheus, 1998.
—. “Nonbelief vs. Lack of Evidence: Two Atheological Arguments.” The Secular Web (1998), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/anbvslea.html.
—. “Nonbelief as Support for Atheism.” (1998), http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Reli/ReliDran.htm.
Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. “The Argument from Ignorance.” In Michael Martin and Ricci Monnier, eds., The Improbability of God (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006), 380-84.
—. “The Real Argument from Ignorance.” In Michael Martin and Ricci Monnier, eds., The Improbability of God (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006), 385-89.

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2.2.7.3. Reasonable / Nonculpable / Nonresistant Nonbelief
The following definition by Schellenberg is useful: “in the actual world persons who do not believe that there is a God, and that in at least some of these people the absence of theistic belief is not in any way the result of their own emotional or behavioral oppositiontowards God or relationship with God or any of the apparent implications of such a relationship.” See Schellenberg 2008.
Kuchar, Philip. “God, Atheism, and Incompatibility: The Argument from Nonbelief.” The Secular Web (2001), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/philip_kuchar/anb.html.
Schellenberg. J.L. Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason. Cornell University Press, 1992.
—. “Divine Hiddenness Justifies Atheism.” In Michael Martin and Ricci Monnier, eds., The Improbability of God (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006), 413-426. Originally published in Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion, ed. Michael L. Peterson and Raymond J. VanArragon (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 30-41.
—. “Hiddenness Arguments I.” In The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007, 195-226.
—. “Response to Howard-Snyder.” In Michael Martin and Ricci Monnier, eds., The Improbability of God (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006), 405-12. Originally published in Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26 (1996): 455-62.
—. “What Divine Hiddenness Reveals, or How Weak Theistic Evidence is Strong Atheistic Proof.” The Secular Web (2008), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/john_schellenberg/hidden.html.

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2.2.7.4. Former Believers
Schellenberg, J.L. “Former Believers.” In The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007, 228-32.
2.2.7.5. Lifelong Seekers
Schellenberg, J.L. “Lifelong Seekers.” In The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007, 233-35.
2.2.7.6. Converts to Nontheistic Religion
Schellenberg defines converts to nontheistic religion as “individuals who investigate other serious conceptions of the Ultimate and who turn up evidence that produces religious belief in the context of nontheistic religious communities and/or on account of nontheistic religious experiences–and the truth of atheistic claims may be seen to follow by implication.”
Schellenberg, J.L. “Lifelong Seekers.” In The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007, 236-38.
2.2.7.7. Isolated Nontheists
Schellenberg defines isolated nontheists as “those who have never been in a position to resist God because they have never so much as had the idea of an all-knowing and all-powerful spiritual being who is separate from a created universe but related to it in love squarely before their minds–individuals who are entirely formed by, and unavoidably live their whole lives within, what must, if God exists, be a fundamentally misleading meaning system.”
Schellenberg, J.L. “Isolated Nontheists.” In The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007, 238-42.
2.2.7.8. The Demographics of Theism
Maitzen, Stephen. “Divine Hiddenness and the Demographics of Theism.” Religious Studies 42 (2006): 177-91. http://philosophy.acadiau.ca/tl_files/sites/philosophy/resources/documents/Maitzen_STMO.pdf
—. “Does Molinism Explain the Demographics of Theism?” Religious Studies 44 (2008), 473-77. http://philosophy.acadiau.ca/tl_files/sites/philosophy/resources/documents/Maitzen_Reply_to_Marsh.pdf

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2.2.7.9. History and Success of Science
Draper, Paul. “Evolution and the Problem of Evil” in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology (3rd ed., ed. Louis Pojman, Wadsworth, 1997), 223-224.
—. “God, Science, and Naturalism.” In William J. Wainwright, The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), chapter 11.
Parsons, Keith M. Science, Confirmation, and the Theistic Hypothesis (Ph.D. Dissertation, Kingston, Ontario, Canada: Queen’s University, 1986), 46. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/keith_parsons/theistic/.

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2.2.8. Facts about Free Will
2.2.8.1. The Existence of Free Will
Schellenberg, J.L. “The Atheist’s Free Will Offence.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 56 (2004): 1-15.
—. “The Free-Will Offense.” In The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007, 270-290.
2.2.8.2. Facts about the Set of Opportunities to Exercise Free Will
Schellenberg, J.L. “The Free-Will Offense.” In The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007, 285-88.
2.2.9. Religious and/or Ethical Confusion
Berggren, Niclas. “On the Nature of Morality.” The Secular Web (1998), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/niclas_berggren/morality.html.
Drange, Theodore M. “The Arguments from Confusion and Biblical Defects.” The Secular Web (2006), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/confusion.html.
—. “The Arguments from Nonbelief and Confusion for the Nonexistence of God.” The Secular Web (1999), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/drange-wilson/drange1.html.
2.2.10. Meager Moral Fruits of Theism
Draper, Paul. “Opening Statement” in The Craig-Draper Debate: Does God Exist? debate held at the United States Military Academy at West Point, 1997. See Jeffery Jay Lowder, “Summary and Assessment of the Craig-Draper Debate on the Existence of God.” The Secular Outpost (2011), https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2011/10/summary-and-assessment-of-craig-draper.html.
2.3. Uncategorized Arguments for the Non-Existence of God
2.3.1. Atheistic Teleological Arguments
Martin, Michael. “Atheistic Teleological Arguments.” In Michael Martin, Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), Ch. 3. Republished in in R. Douglas Geivett and Brendan Sweetman, Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 43–77.
Salmon, Wesley C. “Experimental Atheism.” Philosophical Studies 35 (1979): 101-104.
—. “Religion and Science: A New Look at Hume’s Dialogues.” Philosophical Studies 33 (1978), 143–76.
2.3.2. Anthropic Arguments for Atheism
Walker, Mark. “The Anthropic Argument Against the Existence of God.” Sophia (7 Nov 2009), http://urbanphilosophy.net/files/anthropicargument.pdf.
2.3.3. Argument from Worship
Aikin, Scott F. “The Problem of Worship.” Think 9 (2010): 102-113. http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/philosophy/_people/faculty_files/_aikinworship.pdf
Aikin, Scott F. and Robert B. Talisse, Reasonable Atheism: A Moral Case for Respectful Disbelief (Buffalo: Prometheus, 2011), 147-162.

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2.3.4. Taner Edis’s Disproof of God
Edis, Taner. “A Disproof of God.” The Secular Outpost (May 4, 2009), https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2009/05/disproof-of-god.html.
2.3.5. Keith Parsons’s Argument from the Non-existence of a Sensus Divinitatus
Parsons, Keith. “Theism and the Genetic Fallacy, Part II.” The Secular Outpost (March 5, 2009), https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2009/03/theism-and-genetic-fallacy-part-ii.html.
3. Arguments for the Non-existence of Specific Concepts of God
3.1. Arguments for the Non-Existence of Various Christian Conceptions of God
3.1.1. Logical Arguments for the Non-Existence of Various Christian Conceptions of God
3.1.1.1. Deductive Disproofs of the Existence of God
3.1.1.1.1. Incompatibility of Platonism with Divine Aseity & Creation Ex Nihilo
3.1.1.2. Multiple Attribute Disproofs of the Christian God
3.1.1.2.1. Incompatibility of (a) Holiness; (b) the Accuracy of Bible; (c) Normative Ethical Beliefs, and (d) Acts Attributed to God by the Bible.
Bradley, Raymond D. “A Moral Argument for Atheism.” Presented at the University of Western Washington, May 27, 1999, and–in a revised form–at the University of Auckland, September 29, 1999. Republished in The Secular Web (n.d.), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/raymond_bradley/moral.html.
3.1.1.2.2. Incompatibility of (a) Power; (b) Knowledge; and (c) Goodness.
Blumenfield, David. “On the Compossibility of the Divine Attributes.” Philosophical Studies 34 (1978): 91-103.
3.1.1.4. Single Attribute Disproofs of the Christian God
3.1.1.4.1. Incoherence of the Trinity

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3.1.2. Evidential Arguments
3.1.2.1. Arguments against the Resurrection of Jesus
3.1.2.2. Arguments against the Inerrancy of the Bible
3.1.3. Uncategorized Arguments Against the Christian God
3.1.3.1. Argument from Insufficient Knowledge of the Bible for the Nonexistence of the Christian God
Plugaru, Horia George. “Argument from Insufficient Knowledge of the Bible for the Nonexistence of the God of Christianity.” In The Secular Web (2005), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/horia_plugaru/aik.html.
3.1.3.2. Incoherence of Heaven
Martin, Michael. “Problems with Heaven.” The Secular Web (1997), http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/heaven.html.

3.1.3.3. Problems with Original Sin

3.1.3.4. Problems with Petitionary Prayer
3.1.3.5. David Lewis’s Argument from Divine Evil
Lewis, David. “Divine Evil.” In Louise M. Antony, Philosophers Without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life (New York: Oxford University Press), 231-42.