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Arguments against the pagan gods

Hi, I’ve found a lot of literature refuting the Abrahamic god, but I’m having a hard time finding sources refuting the pagan gods. It seems to just be assumed that it’s silly to worship them, but if a lot of the modern gods came from the concepts of ancient gods, I would like to be able to logically reject them instead of a mere dismissal.

Also, I have friends who are neo-Pagans, who think there is a god and a goddess, who think that they can invoke such deities through spells and circles, and who think they have “spirit guides.” Are there logical arguments against these beliefs? Since they don’t have a bible, it’s not as easy to find inconsistencies.
Thanks!

Posted: June 30th 2011

George Locke

Like other commenters, I see lack of evidence as the the best argument against pagan gods. One problem you might run into with your pagan friends is the “evidence” of their “spiritual experiences”. These experiences make very poor evidence of the supernatural as there are straightforward natural explanations for them.

I just wanted to point out that it is actually possible to have a “spirit guide”. They’re imaginary, but they’re also real insofar as they offer guidance. The guidance may or may not be any good. It’s coming from some part of the psyche; “spirit guides” are a way of harnessing your intuition. You don’t even have to believe in them in order for this to work.

Atheists sometimes don’t get this. People sometimes have spiritual experiences, and while the religious explanation is rarely right, the experience itself is as real as apple pie, though the explanation for that experience offered by religion is wrong. (Occasionally, the explanation is not even wrong or nonsense.) Religious experiences are not always meaningful (no, God isn’t responsible for that field goal), but they can be. Prayer, visions, etc. all have the capacity to produce useful insight. Religious rituals aren’t the only way of gaining this insight, and they’re not necessarily reliable sources of it, but we should recognize that there can be something real and useful there.

Posted: July 11th 2011

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donsevers www

I like your question. Gods like Thor and Zeus are actually more believable than Yahweh because they pose no contradictions. Yahweh is supposed to be all-loving and all-powerful, yet he stands by while kids are tortured. That’s unbelievable.

Thor and Zeus can’t be dismissed on logical grounds like Yahweh can. But we don’t have to be agnostic about them. Even though they are logically possible, they are possible in the same way flying pigs and orbiting teapots are possible. They pose no contradictions, but there is absolutely no reason to believe they are real. If any evidence shows up, we can change our minds, but it is reasonable to be atheistic about them.

Do you believe there are any elephants in Yellowstone? That is even more possible than the pagan gods, but it is reasonable to not believe it. Possibility does not equal plausibility. We don’t have to keep an open mind about everything that is possible. We need some evidence to get things started.

When pressed, religious people often retreat to an airy, or merely possible, god. Then, with their fellow believers, they go back to their contradictory, robust god with specific traits that can’t be proven. They can’t have things both ways: You can have an airy, nondescript god that it means very little to believe in. Or, you can have a specific, 'thick’ theism full of specific traits, but then it is very hard to defend. Religious belief helps itself to too much. It’s unjustified.

Believers say their beliefs are important to them, but they subject them to less rigor than they do their taxes.

Posted: July 6th 2011

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Reed Braden www

It’s easy and fun to just poke holes in a person’s religious text, but that’s really not the best way to take down any type of believer. The best and most crushing argument against the god of Abraham is that not only is there absolutely no evidence for Yahweh after thousands of years of searching, but the overwhelming majority of what we now know to be true about the universe directly contradicts the overwhelming majority of the claims of the Abrahamic faiths.

The best thing about that argument: It works on EVERY religion, spiritual belief, and pseudoscience. Just say, “You have no evidence, and to strongly believe things based on absolutely no evidence is as preposterous as it is worthy of ridicule,” and then dance around your friends like a mischievous dwarf, singing about how lame they are. They’ll come around.

Posted: July 6th 2011

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SmartLX www

You can only find significant inconsistencies in the concept or stories of a god if there is widely accepted material on the subject, and texts about pagan gods tend to vary widely. If you do find inconsistencies, they can be put down to disagreements between mortals. I wouldn’t use this approach if I were you.

Most other approaches to challenging the existence of major gods also apply to minor ones. What is the evidence for these gods? What are they necessary to explain? What reason is there to believe in any of them? Pagans will answer these questions in ways very similar to Christians, and then you’ll be on familiar ground.

Posted: July 6th 2011

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