- The Argument from Nonbelief
One common atheistic argument against the existence of God is that, if there really was a God, there would not be so many people who did not believe in Him. If He wanted people to believe in Him, then He could have made Himself more obvious in the most effective way possible. Furthermore, someone as powerful and knowledgeable as God would be hard for us to overlook, especially considering how manymen and women of different religions have dedicated their lives to finding Him. If He was merciful and loving, why would He not just reveal Himself to those looking for Him? At first glance it may not seem that the fact that there are a greater number of non-believers in the world proves that there is actually no God.
Theists counter this argument by proposing that God’s existence cannot be assumed as evident to humanity. Human beings are unable to ‘see’ or ‘know’ God due to the limitations of their physical senses. His being does not have dimensions that can be comprehended by humans. He is known by the inner senses, the eyes and ears of the heart.
According to Islam, the goal of all human activity is seeking nearness to God, to know Him so that He may be worshipped. It is the journey and the challenge of seeking nearness to God that enables humans to grow and elevate themselves. There is a significant difference between God wanting to be known, and God specifically wanting humanity to engage in searching for Him.
Another issue with this atheistic argument is that it assumes that God directly manifesting Himself to humans would make them believe in Him. There is no evidence of this. Humans make mistakes. They have the free will to choose what to believe and what not to believe.
|Point to ponder…|
If the fictional character Bruce Wayne told the citizens of Gotham he was Batman, would they believe him?
If he showed himself dressed as the Batman and removed his mask, claimed knowledge to things only Batman would know—would this guarantee everyone’s belief in him?
The Qur’an explains this line of thought when it says:
And even if We had sent down to them the angels and the dead had spoken to them and We had brought together all things before them, they would not believe unless Allah pleases, but most of them are ignorant“Al-An’am verse 111,” p. 142
Indeed, people do not respond well to those that they do not know—they respond to those they understand and with whom they have built relationships. Through this example, one might argue that building a relationship with God is the best way to know Him, rather than Him manifesting Himself in a direct manner.
- The Argument for Parsimony
Another famous atheistic argument is the argument for parsimony. The argument is that since natural theories sufficiently explain the existence of the universe, there is no need to postulate the existence of a supernatural being since that being’s existence would be superfluous. This argument uses Occam’s Razor. This guideline states that the hypothesis that requires fewer assumptions is most likely true.
Firstly, the Occam’s Razor guideline is just that—a guideline. It is not a law, and there are many instances in which it has failed. It is a fallacy to say that since there seems to be no need for something toexist, that object must not exist. The argument posits no evidence of why God cannot exist, but merely that there is no need to suppose His existence.
Furthermore, going into the heart of this argument, natural theories do not fully explain the existence of the universe. We cannot explain the physics of the early stages of the Big Bang, and what caused it,because matter, energy, and time – the tools of physics – did not exist prior to the Big Bang. There is no physical way to describe the cause of the Big Bang. In fact, we cannot even physically speak of a time “prior” to the Big Bang since there was no time prior to it. The cause of the creation of the universe is a topic that cannot, by definition, be described scientifically or naturally.
- The Argument of Incompatibility
A third atheistic argument used to deny the existence of God is through describing a logical incompatibility of properties that God is said to possess. For instance, God cannot be both infinitely Merciful and Just at the same time, because mercy demands forgiveness while justice demands retribution.
The flaw in this argument is in the way these qualities are conceptualized and ascribed to God. When God is attributed as Merciful and Just, it is to describe His nature, because God does not possess these individual qualities—He is identical with those qualities and they are all one with Him. He is the source of them.
To say that God “possesses” a quality implies that quality can exist separately from Him—that it could be added to Him or removed from Him without taking away from His essence. This isn’t true—God without Mercy or Justice is no longer God.
Furthermore, though we think of God’s attributes as separate and independent, in reality they are all one within Him. His Justice and Mercy are not separate aspects of Him the way they are separate qualities in human beings. He does not decide to be Just at sometimes and Merciful other times—He is both all of the time. Thus, the qualities of Mercy and Justice are not logically incompatible in God because they are not independent—they are actually one and the same within Him. God does not possess them, but rather they are a part of Him.
Al-An’am. (n.d.). In Qur’an (pp. 128–151).
Lārī Mujtabá Mūsavī. (2000). God and His attributes: Lessons on Islamic doctrine. (H. Algar, Trans.).
Islamic Education Center. Retrieved from https://www.al-islam.org/god-and-his-attributes-sayyid-mujtaba-musavi-lari
McCormick, M. (n.d.). Atheism – Arguments from nonbelief. Retrieved from https://www.iep.utm.edu/atheism/#SH4f
Rizvi, S. S. A. (1992). The justice of God (4th revised ed.). Dar-es-Salam: Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania.