A couple years ago I wrote an article titled “How to confound Christians with bad arguments: #1 Compare Santa to Jesus.” The article was widely lauded by my minions of readers, leading to two follow ups, “#2 The Indistinguishable Argument“, and “#3 Security Blanket Gambit“. All of these are wonderfully bad arguments which flourish on the internet.
Now I’ve decided to return to this series with a few more installments. We’ll start with a favorite of John Loftus. Consider, for example, the following passage where he refers to the possibility that God created through evolution:
“I’m continually amazed at how often Christians hang their hats on mere possibilities, as I’ve argued before. Such a scenario is possible, but what we want to know is if it is probable. It’s also possible that the Loch Ness Monster exists who escapes all of our attempts to detect it.”
The argument works like this. Let’s say you start by pointing out the evidence for Neo-Darwinian evolution. “Therefore,” you conclude, “Christianity is false.” And when the theist predictably retorts “But why couldn’t God have used evolution to create?” you play your trump card: “That’s possible, but is it probable?”
Your emphasis on “probable”, coupled with a smirk, will make it clear to all that it isn’t probable. Or at least that you don’t think it is probable. Which is all that matters. (Of course you don’t think it is probable. After all, you’re an atheist. It may be probable to those who accept (1) God exists and (2) evolution is true. But who cares about them? This is your argument!)
Or take the problem of evil. You say “If God is all good and all-powerful then how could he allow x?” The theist replies: “It is possible that God allowed x for these reasons.” Blah blah theodicy blah blah defense blah blah.
Now pull out your trump card. “Sure that’s possible. But is it probable?” Emphasis. Smirk.