Arguments Against God: 10, 20, 30, 50, and Counting!

Christianity’s unfortunate embrace of incoherence

Following the publication of my book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Faith six years ago, one of the most common questions I got from atheists was, “What, only ten?” Of course, there are far more, and I explain that I sorted the many problems into the ten categories. There’s a certain appeal of top ten lists. But others have taken a different approach. In 2014, Armin Navabi published his book, Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of GodGuy P. Harrison has a good brand going with these titles, 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True50 Simple Questions for Every Christian


All of these books are included in the Cure-for-Christianity Library I have been building since the publication of my 2016 book. There are now more than 525 titles, most published since the year 2000. The devout may be wondering—if they even know about this surge in atheist/secular publishing— “Why do these heretics keep writing?” From behind their high stacks of frothy, sentimental devotional books, churned out year after year, they cast contemptuous glances at atheist books that might come to their attention. They may wonder how there is anything more to be said against god and believers.



Is this a valid criticism? That atheist/secular writers are repeating themselves? I would argue that this hardly matters, because each atheist/secular author has his or her own voice, his or her own story of escaping from religious oppression of the mind. And these new voices and stories will find their own audiences. We are chipping away at superstition and magical thinking. Jonathan MS Pearce has recently written: “In America, the UK, and other developed nations, non-belief is a growing demographic and it is far more likely that someone will deconvert from religion to atheism or agnosticism and stay there than will convert from atheism to religion and stay there.”


In other words, atheist/secular authors are having impact. Our stacks of books deconstructing the faith should someday—I hope—tower over those produced by theologians and preachers. Joel Osteen has found his audience, but we can see that there are audiences as well for John Loftus, Dan Barker, and Guy Harrison—and the hundreds of other authors on the Cure-for-Christianity Library list. The world will be a better place when the reasons for displacing religion are widely understood. 


The Jonathan MS Pearce quote above comes from his new book, 30

Arguments Against the Existence of “God”, Heaven, Hell, Satan, and Divine Design
He does very well with a conversational writing style, so the reader remains engaged. This book is a welcome addition to the growing stack of books on the falsification of god-superstition. Pearce has written a lot on this topic; check out his Amazon author page. I want to highlight just a few of his thirty arguments. 

It’s fairly common that believers don’t notice the negative aspects of favorite Bible stories—those downsides that actually wipe out the values they’re supposed to advance. One such story is that of Doubting Thomas, found in the gospel of John, chapter 20. In fact, it’s missing from the other gospels, which is suspicious indeed. Here is a dramatic event witnessed (supposedly) by Jesus’ inner circle, yet the earlier gospel writers hadn’t heard of it. We know how much the author of John freely invented Jesus-script (the long monologues) and events (the raising of Lazarus), so we cannot be surprised. But it’s clear that the story is meant to advance John’s agenda, so common among those who want to capture and keep converts. This is the point of the story, in John’s Jesus-script, (20:29): “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

This has been the gimmick of religious leaders—the sincere ones, and the charlatans—forever: “We have the inside track to spiritual truths, so just trust us.” But, oh, by the way, never be so foolish as to ask for evidence. As John has his Jesus say, “Blessed are those who believe without evidence.” 

But Pearce points out that the problem is even more troubling than this, in his 11th chapter, “Unfair Levels of Evidence.” So many Christians insist that belief in Jesus is the key to eternal life; those major charter documents of the faith, John’s gospel and Paul’s Letter to the Romans, make this point emphatically. Doubting Thomas seems to have been given a free pass: he got to touch the risen body of Jesus! So, for him, belief was a snap. 

Christian missionaries have been running around the globe for centuries appealing to people to believe—with nothing more convincing to offer than, “Take our word for it,” and “Believe in this story of Thomas touching Jesus, found in an old book that we’re pretty sure is sacred.” Pearce finds this alarming:

“And yet almost the entirety of the rest of humanity is not remotely afforded this level of evidence and is expected to believe, arguably on pain of hell. Thomas gets to poke Jesus, bodily resurrected in front of him…He got to feel the skin of the real and resurrected God, and only then did he believe. He’s now a saint. This is completely unfair and involves terrible double standards. God is not fair. Therefore, God is not perfect or omnibenevolent.”  (page 85, Kindle)

I have not yet heard a convincing case explaining why God must be accessible only by faith. Why has he played hard to get, hard to perceive, hard to understand? There’s been a meme floating around, “God can do anything. Okay, have him say Hi!” Aren’t Christians themselves tired of having to “just believe,” “just take it on faith?” What would be the downside for their god to just make him/herself obvious to everyone? Among other things, this would put an end to the distressing confusion about god. After all, devout theists disagree stridently about god. In other words, please god, make the evidence clear and obvious. What’s the point of being subtle and mysterious? 

Above all, as Pearce points out, we should be able to put the Bible behind us: “…the Bible is very poor evidence indeed. We have unknown authors, writing in unknown times and unknown places, with unknown sources, unverified and unverifiable, writing with evangelising agendas ex post facto, with no historiographical pedigree. It is shockingly poor evidence.” (page 87, Kindle)

That’s the best god could do? This is pretty poor job performance, and is indeed a solid argument against a competent god being in charge. 

Christianity has managed to get itself into so much trouble by holding adamantly onto theologies that no longer make much sense—if any at all, and Pearce addressed three of these especially. 

Among conservative Christians—evangelicals and Catholics especially—abortion is condemned as murder. Once a human egg has been fertilized, a human has been created; some theologians have even suggested that a person’s soul is ignited at that instant. But even without that, the creation of this new human is an act of god. So any intentional, willful termination of a pregnancy is a grave sin. 

So, what about the pregnancies that the body itself rejects? Pearce cites the statistics for “…natural, spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages.” Quoting a medical publication, a spontaneous abortion is the “non-induced embryonic or foetal death or passage of products of conception before 20 weeks of gestation.” “If this happens after twenty weeks this is often known as a stillbirth or foetal demise.” “…many spontaneous miscarriages go unreported since they often simply go unnoticed by the mother.” Pearce points out that, in fact, millions of fertilized eggs die every year. (pp. 46-47, Kindle). Since god is omniscient—nothing escapes his notice (plenty of New Testament texts boast about this, e.g. even diseases are god’s punishment for sin)—how does god escape accountability? 

“These are abortions that God has the power to stop, and seemingly designed into the system in the first place in actualizing this biological world.” (p. 46, Kindle, emphasis added)  

There are so many design flaws in the human body, and if evolution is ruled out, then whose fault are the imperfections? “The reason for talking about this is twofold. First, for people who critique abortion on religious grounds, it makes somewhat of a mockery of their arguments. Second, again from a religious perspective, it does make God look a little callous. Nay, brutal and unloving." (p. 48, Kindle)

That’s the best god could do? This is pretty poor job performance, and is indeed a solid argument against a competent god being in charge. 

Now…about that soul attached to the human fetus, whether it starts to exist at conception, sometime later in pregnancy, or when the baby is born. Theologians have varying opinions on this because, of course, there are no data whatever—and theologians specialize in making things up. But the reality of the soul is vital to Christianity because the promise of eternal life hinges on a soul that survives physical death. The apostle Paul was confident:

“So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.”   (I Corinthians 15:42-44)


This text no doubt had fueled endless theologizing about the soul, the “spiritual body” that continues after we die.


But—as with everything in Christian theology—full stop: where is the reliable, verifiable, objective data that confirms the existence of the soul? Pearce addresses this issue in his chapter 19, “The Soul Doesn’t Exist.” How can he be so blunt, when belief in the soul is so deeply embedded in human thought across the religious spectrum? He cites Julien Musolino’s essay, “The Soul Fallacy,” in John Loftus’ anthology, Christianity in the Light of Science, and also notes the opinion of Harvard cognitive neuroscientist Joshua Greene that


“…while most people are dualists and think of themselves as immaterial minds or souls housed in physical bodies, most psychologists and neuroscientists disagree. The sciences of the mind proceed on the assumption that the mind is simply what the brain does.”  (p. 167, Kindle)


Christian apologists, of course, must counter skepticism about the soul, and Pearce quotes a couple of paragraphs from the Catholic Encyclopedia. He calls out the sophisticated theobabble: “This is wholly unsatisfying…there is no real, easily discernable definition of what a soul is or does, merely lots of discussion of the idea over history.”  (p. 170, Kindle, emphasis added) This has been the response of theologians to the lack of reliable, verifiable data: lots of discussion.


"The problem with any claims about the soul is that they end up being theological assertions with no evidence to back them up. Because, if we could provide evidence of what souls were, we would know what souls were. It is pretty obvious. If souls had tangible effects on this world, on us, we would be able to measure them in some way.” (p. 170, Kindle)


If the soul is so important, plays such a vital role in our eternal destinies, why doesn’t god provide the solid data that soul is, in fact, a thing? You know, prove the theologians right. Again, this is another good example of poor job performance, and is indeed a solid argument against a competent god being in charge.


But wait, there’s more: Christian incoherence reaches a high point with its belief that Satan is god’s competitor. Pearce is especially unforgiving and blunt in his analysis of this theology, in his Chapter 26, “Satan Is God’s Middle Manager.” He sums up the problem brilliantly:


“God is supposed to be omnipotent, all-powerful, almighty…It could achieve anything at the metaphorical click of its fingers. The ‘fact’ that Satan still exists should tell you all you need to know about this problem. So what the hell is Satan still doing hanging around? Well, of course, Satan doesn’t exist either. But suppose you believe that both God and Satan are real entities. Well, then, you’d be making no sense at all.”  (p. 199, Kindle)


“According to certain fundamentalist, evangelical, and literalist believers, Satan still exists and still does evil. This either admits God’s lack of power in not being able to control or destroy the devil, or admits that Satan is providing a service that God wants or needs. I see no way out of the dilemma here for the Satan-believing theist. Essentially, everything that the devil does is what God wants to happen.” (p. 201, Kindle)


How come god wasn’t able to kill off the devil ages ago—and why isn’t he able to get the word to his pious followers that belief in Satan is simply daft? It’s really bad theology. Yet again, here’s another example of poor job performance, and is indeed a solid argument against a competent god being in charge.


When I was growing up (oy, in the 1940s & 1950s), neither my devout mother, nor the devout town librarian, brought to my attention the writings of Robert Ingersoll, H. L. Mencken, or Bertrand Russell. What a correction that would have been! My life could have played out very differently if the god-virus—as Darrell Ray has called it—had been removed from my brain early on. I like to the think that the era of such profound isolation has come to an end. 


That shattered isolation has come to full fruition with the atheist/secular writing boom of the last couple of decades. We can add Jonathan MS Pearce’s new book to that growing stack of books that wipe out The Christian Delusion, as John Loftus titled one of his anthologies!




David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. He is the author of two books, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: A Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith (2016; 2018 Foreword by John Loftus) and Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (2021). His YouTube channel is here. He has written for the Debunking Christian Blog since 2016.


The Cure-for-Christianity Library©, now with more than 500 titles, is here. A brief video explanation of the Library is here

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