The Worst Atheist Argument

Music performed and directed by Paul Jernberg. Find out more about his work as a composer here: http://pauljernberg.com

If I was going to evaluate what made a bad argument it would be some combination of the fallaciousness and popularity of the argument. If it’s extremely egregious and obviously wrong but also very popular, then it becomes a contender for one of the worst, and this one ranks up there.
I’ve seen it in comments on my videos and popular atheist celebrities love to use it. Ricky Gervais famously uses it whenever he gets to exfoliate his atheism in front of an audience, and Richard Dawkins used it in The God Delusion when he said, “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”
In the context of something like a late night tv exchange, it’s extremely effective because it’s succinct, it carries an air of cleverness about it which makes it, at least, appear to be logical.

As a rhetorical instrument, it hits the right notes, but rhetoric without sound logic is just sophistry. That’s why in a classical liberal arts education, they taught dialectic before rhetoric. You had to have a sound understanding of logic before you could apply persuasive speech to your arguments.
But at some point in history, our educational superiors decided we didn’t need to learn logic any more, which is why sophistry has such free reign over our conversations about big ideas. From politics, to advertising, to books like the God Delusion.

From a theist’s perspective, it’s hard to reply to because it’s a targeted shot and it seems clever, but refuting it would require a much less witty exposition of why it’s fallacious. The truth is, it’s a non sequitur to the highest degree and that’s a compliment.

It doesn’t follow that because you only believe in “one less God” than I do that I’m practically an atheist too. It also doesn’t follow that there is no God or that atheism is true or that theism is false.

There’s nothing valid in its content and it doesn’t even seem to assert a conclusion. We’re only left to try to infer what the conclusion is. But because it’s so common and popular, it does seem to require a reply

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