Sharp's Response

2 March 2006

4 Points against Religious Theism

By Tony Sharp

The existence of a god can not be tested by science, seen by the naked eye, nor detected by electronic devices. Therefore, “God” must be a supernatural being if he/she/it is believed to be omnipotent [infinite in power], omniscient [having ultimate knowledge], and omnipresent [existing everywhere simultaneously].

Definitions for the word ‘supernatural’: – of or relating to existence outside the natural world – attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces – of or relating to a deity – of or relating to the immediate exercise of divine power; the miraculous

Definitions for the word ‘natural’: – present in or produced by nature – of, relating to, or concerning nature – conforming to the usual or ordinary course of nature – not acquired; inherent

1) What theists interpret as being the acts or the results of a divine intervention could be nothing more than the results of a natural phenomenon. To know without doubt if something is more than a natural phenomenon, you would need to understand the nature of all natural phenomenons. Only then would you have reason to rule out all natural explanations, and rule in a super-natural one. And until an empirical explanation can be formulated for what we can not explain at this moment, we should not accept our assumptions or beliefs as truth.

2) Unlike secular history books, many religious scriptures include stories about supernatural people, worlds, and events that can only be believed and not tested. Freethinkers dismiss religious and “prophetic” scripture as being a historical record because they are written in a subjective language that can not be interpreted objectively, and because they are built around the assumption that a god exists. Anyone with a little spare time and creative writing ability could have written religious scripture. A god is not the only being capable of inspiring or writing books.

3) If there are still other possible explanations for what theists interpret as being a violation of a natural law, there is still room for doubt and further investigation. And where there is room for further investigation, there is no absolute knowledge or absolute truth. We should keep our minds free from traditions so that we do not place a bias in our search for knowledge.

4) Any philosophy that promotes the use of magical or religious thinking over the use of critical thinking is a hindrance to scientific and intellectual accomplishment. Progress toward objective solutions can not be made through the promotion of subjective thinking alone.

Many of these points can be turned around and reworded to go against secularism. For example, one could easily say “without complete knowledge secularists should not dismiss supernatural concepts”, and I totally agree with this statement. No one currently knows enough to completely rule out, or rule in supernatural explanations. However, before we can make positive claims for the existence of supernatural worlds or beings, we need to first do a thorough analysis of our natural world so that we are justified to rule in a supernatural concept, and rule out naturalistic explanation. Without complete knowledge, everyone should remain unbiased and open.


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