Argument from Multiple Deities

30 January 2006

A common objection to Christian theism (or, consequently, any monotheistic faith) is that followers are inconsistent with regard to the existence of God. It is claimed that, given the multitude of other deities worshipped around the world, it is hypocritical for theists to chide atheists for lack of belief in God when Christians themselves disbelieve in literally thousands of other gods. Furthermore, it is often claimed that Christians are inconsistent with regards to the evidence, for all or most reasons the Christian may give to justify their lack of belief in other gods could be turned around on the God of the Bible. 1

This argument, in my mind, can be easily dismantled by pointing out that Christians often advance arguments that only support Christianity, and that are in fact incompatible with other religious beliefs. Thus, it is simply untrue that the same reasons for rejecting other deities apply equally to God. Here, I will briefly survey some arguments that only support Christianity.

1.) The Argument from Christ’s Resurrection

This argument is very commonly employed by Christians, and it is obvious that it is specific evidence for Christianity and not evidence for any other religion. According to this argument, there is substantial evidence for Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead. If this argument is true, then Christianity is unavoidable. 2,3 This argument, if true, actually even tends to show that other gods don’t exist. Since resurrection from the dead confirms Christ’s claims to Divinity, they also confirm His claims to exclusive Divinity. If Christ was vindicated by means of bodily resurrection, we have a strong reason to believe that the Christian God exists, as well as a strong reason to believe that no other god does.

2.) The Argument from the Divinity of the Bible

Christians often argue for the truth of Christianity by pointing out that the Bible is historically accurate, prophetically accurate, reliably preserved, etc. This argument is really a very roundabout way to argue for Christianity. However, it must be admitted that the plausibility of Christianity increases significantly if the Bible can be shown to be accurate. Furthermore, if significant prophecy fulfillment were shown to be revealed in the Bible, then it could be argued that only the Divine Hand of God could have written the Bible, in which case we would have a good reason to believe that the Christian God exists, while rejecting the existence of all other deities. 4

3.) The Argument from Personal Experience

As I explain in my essay HERE, a personal experience is a valid way to obtain knowledge that God exists. Therefore, a personal experience causes the Christian’s belief in God to be justified, and also provides a means by which one can know that no other gods exist.

Therefore, it is seen that multiple arguments can be advanced that support only Christianity. Whether or not these arguments are valid is another question entirely, but let us suppose for the sake of argument that they are not. What can natural theology reveal?

Natural Theology

Natural theology deals with the evidence for God’s existence provided by nature. I will mention several arguments and discuss their implications here.

1.) Cosmological Argument 5

The Cosmological Argument reveals an entity that is timeless, eternal, personal (i.e., able to make free decisions), and above and beyond the laws of the universe. Therefore, the evidence, given the nature of the cosmos, rules out any god that does not possess these attributes.

2.) Teleological Argument 6

The Teleological Argument reveals an intelligent, personal being, which has an interest in life in general and, most likely, human life. Any deity that does not have these attributes should be ruled out.

3.) Moral Argument 7

The Moral Argument reveals a being that has interest in morality and is the foundation of morality. Any deity without the ability to provide a foundation for morality should be ruled out.

If these arguments are all valid, then it seems that the field is limited significantly by natural theology alone. Other rational factors also weigh in on the decision. For example, Ockham’s Razor suggests that we should not multiply causes beyond necessity, and we should prefer a simpler explanation of phenomenon. 8 Therefore, it is rational to believe in only one deity on the basis of natural theology.

These reasons, by themselves, may not limit all other deities, but they do significantly narrow the field, making arguments for Christianity specifically carry less burden.

Why Reject other Deities?

Why then, do we so often reject the existence of the gods of other religions? Many of the gods we have not even heard of before, so how can we say that we have rationally decided to reject them?

There are several reasons we don’t give the claims of many other religions much credence. First of all, the vast majority of other religions have simply failed to produce a positive case. This is where the atheists will claim that the theist is being inconsistent. However, the Christian theist is only being inconsistent here if he has not produced his own positive case. If the Christian theist (such as myself) provides evidence for his or her own belief, there is no intellectual sacrifice related to belief in the Christian God.

If the Christian’s belief is confirmed by all sorts of evidence and experience, then there is actually not much need to inspect every other view. Once a positive case is established, one is rationally justified in belief in Christianity and out-of-hand rejection of other views. There is no need to refute other beliefs. It may very well be that there is quite a bit of evidence for other deities. However, as long as the evidence in favor of that deity is surpassed by the evidence for the Christian God, Christianity remains the most plausibly true belief.

Conclusion:

The Argument from Multiple Deities is wholly unconvincing. Unless the non-theist assumes the task of showing that any of the multitude of god’s believed in around the world is as probable or more probable than the God of Christian theism, then he will have failed to develop any sort of argument for God’s nonexistence.

NOTES:

1. This argument, in other words, claims the following: “Believers in one concept of God tend to deny the existence of other god-concepts by using naturalistic explanations. We should be consistent and apply naturalistic explanations across the board. Naturalistic explanations work.” Taken from http://www.infidels.org/~jlowder/atheism/overview.html (NOTE: This article has since disappeared of the Internet. However, I almost entirely copied the article in my own response located Here.)

2. Shandon L. Guthrie, “Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus”, found at http://sguthrie.net/resurrection.htm

3. William Lane Craig, “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Truth 1 (1985): 89-95. Located at http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth22.html

4. W. R. Miller, “The Truthfulness of the Eyewitness Accounts as Presented in the Bible”, found at http://www.tektonics.org/truthfulness.htm

5. See my article HERE for a defense of the Cosmological Argument as well as a list of further recommended sources.

6. See Robin Collin’s WEBSITE for a good collection of papers defending the Teleological Argument.

7. See William Lane Craig, “The Indispensability of Theological Meta-ethical Foundations for Morality.” Foundations 5 (1997): 9-12. Located at http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/meta-eth.html

8. See Jose Wudka, “What is Ockham’s Razor?”, found at http://phyun5.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node10.html






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  1. I am a genuinely open minded person, and quite logical about the way i view the ways of the world and its spirit. My only problem with the christian explanation of god and religion is the mere fact that the belief that all those that do not believe in the teachings of the gospel and as Jesus as the Christ, Messia, what every you chose to call it, will not make it into the kingdom of heaven. That leaves a lot of souls SOL. Then again, the other religions believe there religion will bring them the joys of heaven in the after life. there again leaving all of those not following there specific god or profit burning in eternal damnation. you have to ask your self, what kind of god would deal those kind of odds.

    I guess the point i am trying to make is religion is only a device created by man to control the masses. All the while dragging the creator of all that exist in the proverbial dirt. i am not downing the christians alone, mind you. But i do feel that they are the more selfish of the bunch. Not to mention, VERY fickle. Historically. How many different types of Christianity does Jesus want. From Catholics to “Non-denominational” seriously Christianity is the Ross Perot of religion. Again, a point that religion is a mere mechanism of those in “power” to control the masses.
    Jon Briere    Jan 17, 03:47 PM    #
  2. John, you made some… very scattered points. Your first point was about religions that deal in terms of heaven or hell. You think this is unjust.

    I can see how you would, because normally it’s misconstrued. People portray hell as God saying “Believe this proposition about me, or I KEEEL YOU.” Now, I could understand why this would bother you. That bothers me too. But that’s not what Christianity claims. Christianity claims that we are a diseased people. We are, in the state we are now in (due to, Christianity says, a misuse of our free will), sick with sin. Sin being disobedience to God, and, in human terms, selfishness. Choosing yourself over others, and yourself over your Creator. It is worth noting that the vowel in sin is an I. Christianity claims that God cannot stand to be around this sin—it is not right and it is entirely offensive to His goodness and His sense of justice. He cannot, will not, allow sin into Heaven. It simply doesn’t belong there. It belongs in a place where it can fester and rot and harm none: hell.

    But God knows we cannot help our sinful selves in any truly meaningful way. God has offered a solution: Jesus Christ. Through the death of His Incarnate Self, through his own humiliation and self-denial and death on the cross, He can offer us a cure. He can give us the strength we need for repentance, or turning away from sin, through His strength and He can cut away our sinful parts and replace them with new, holy parts, parts taken out of His own goodness and holiness. If we refuse those parts, what is God supposed to do with us? Perform this spiritual surgery anyways? While He could, I’m inclined to doubt this would be fair. It’s a denial of human free will and it’s an invasion of personal space. It’s spirit rape. Like a doctor, God will only treat patients who let Him. So the situation would more accurately be portrayed as, “Let the doctor help you or you are going to die!” If we are not cured, we cannot be in heaven and, frankly, sinful beings would find no pleasure in it—it’s built entirely on the opposite of sin, obedience and love for God. What else is God supposed to do with those that refuse Him but give them what they ask for?

    Your next point is that, in the words of Marx, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” I don’t think this claim can ring true for Christianity for simple historical reasons. Those that founded Christianity, as history knows it, gained no profit from it. There are secular Roman accounts of Christians being persecuted and murdered in various ways. History tells us that the leadership of the Christian church was murdered. There is no incentive for control there. The argument for domination of the masses as a cause for Christianity simply doesn’t exist when you look at the historical beginnings of Christianity.

    Your last point was on denominationalism. Now I’ll agree with you that it’s a bad thing, and a stupid thing. But you make the faulty assumption that this is the way it’s supposed to be, and that it is Jesus’ intention. I tell you this is not so. Christianity itself and the New Testament has clarion calls for church unity. Is it God’s fault that people were too foolish and selfish to keep those calls?


    Jake    Mar 16, 04:34 PM    #
  3. Actually, Christian Gnosticism accepts the idea of multiple but less powerful dieties called Aeons. Ignorant Christians still pray to the demiurge while Gnostics pray to the one true unknown God.


    Jim    Aug 22, 02:39 PM    #
  4. If you read the words of Jesus in the 16th chapter of Mark, he declared that at least some of the people he was speaking to would witness the end of the world and his “second coming.” So why, without changing his words, do you not see Jesus as a false prophet?


    Jonson    Mar 15, 04:18 AM    #
  5. Does anyone know the verse that Jim speaks of?


    Chris    Jul 21, 07:20 PM    #
  6. you say “This argument is very commonly employed by Christians, and it is obvious that it is specific evidence for Christianity and not evidence for any other religion.”

    what about religions throughout history that have the same basic tenets as Christianity… virgin birth, “light of the world” savior, disciples, death then resurrection , etc? ie Horus, Mithras, etc?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aW2N46vf4Q&feature=PlayList&p=A69BBDABB7548A0B&index=8


    — jolene    Sep 6, 03:39 AM    #
  7. First of all this quote from Jesus did not necessarily have to mean that Jesus was referring only to the people to which he spoke at that moment.

    Secondly this could also be understood as “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things begin to come to pass”

    Here are some justifications for my claims:

    1. Our modern word “generation” has a narrower meaning than the Greek word genea. The modern English word “offspring” is much closer to it.

    2. Jesus himself said that he did not know when the kingdom would come.

    3. Why would the early Christians even bother documenting these words 50 years later if they believed that the world would end in just a few more years?


    — xgermx7    Jan 6, 05:45 PM    #
  8. From the Home Page: “Any article on this site can be commented on, and any suggestions, critiques, or alternative perspectives on any of the writings are welcomed and encouraged.”

    Your argument is very convincing…until your first paragraph ends. At which point you drop all rational thought and plunge into the comfort of scriptural fiction and the copious use of capital letters.

    For starters, please elaborate on your statement “there is substantial evidence for Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead”? Mindful that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence…I am eager for your response and the anticipated volumes of empirical, testable, reproducible evidences of Christ’s resurrection that will put this issue to rest once and for all.

    Argument from Personal Experience? Really? I have a college buddy who has seen Elvis at Burger King…Twice. Does this increase the likelihood that Elvis is still alive? Or is it more likely that my buddy’s penchant for marijuana is catching up with him? Or there is a guy in the greater St Louis area that actually looks a lot like Elvis and loves Burger King? If my personal perception of a given scenario made it more true then I would be a happy man indeed (“I’m sure that girl at the bar is checking me out and is in love with me – happens every weekend. While on the other side of the bar a girl is whispering to her friend – “that old guy over there is wearing the ugliest shirt I’ve ever seen”)

    Sorry, but I have to call bullshit on your argument(s). But I can be convinced otherwise. Let’s start with that overwhelming evidence for the resurrection of your god/kid/ghost guy.

    Also, please confirm we can expect the Rapture soon so the rational amongst us can have our planet back.

    Feel free to capitalize random words above if it make My Argument any more convincing to You.

    Thanks.


    antichrist    May 6, 06:59 PM    #
  9. Re your points:
    1) Even if there was credible evidence of resurrection it does not follow that other miraculous claims are justified.
    2) Even if there was an example of prophecy in the bible, it would not lend credibility to other statements. See Nostradamus.
    3) If the Judeo-Christian deity is considered a source of morality then morality is subject to whatever that deity decides is okay at the time. If morality is whimsical it holds no value and therefore placing value on a moral argument is moot.

    Those are 3 very brief refutations of the positive case put forward here. So then the question remains, why are you inconsistent in your belief of gods?


    Vagon    Aug 29, 04:36 PM    #
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