OK, I have often heard and read religious people (specifically Christians and Muslims since those are the believers to whom I've been most exposed) try and dispel atheism as being a stupid and badly reasoned stance to take; inferring that their religious beliefs are more tenable. They usually do this by saying things like the following:
-Explain how you get something from nothing?
-Explain why there is anything at all?
-Complexity must mean design and intent.
-Humans have morals, and morals must be absolute. Therefore morals must be divine in origin. (The most contemptible, insulting and badly reasoned of these popular "proofs").
And so people claim that, from observations of the state of the universe, they can deduce that the existence of God is a necessity. Well OK that's fine. I don't think that you can make that deduction; I think that even assuming the above points are valid is assuming an unjustified level of knowledge. But whatever. That's a thread for another day. The point I wish to make is this: the people who use those arguments often gloss over the fact that they are only making a case for Deism, not their religion.
Even if you were able to irrefutably reason that the Universe can only be explained by invoking God (Deism), I cannot think how you could then, by induction, reach Theism. That is to say, how is it possible to infer, from the deistic argument, any property of this God other than the property that it must exist? So how do you reach a God who wants to be worshipped, and who sets laws for us to live by? Heaven? Revelation? Prayer? How can you reach any of those theistic concepts without invoking Faith
And so this is the challenge I lay down:
Try and reason the case for a theistic God (the God of the Old Testament, Allah, or any other you arrive at) without
resorting to the deus ex machina of Blind Faith. Outline how you can reach Theism from a rational induction of Deism.
My rules for a rational justification of Theism:
-Blind Faith may not be invoked in your reasoning since it allows belief (to a magnitude close to or at the level of absolute certainty) without rational explanation or evidence, and in many cases even in the face of contrary evidence. If it were allowed, then I could equally state that "I have Faith that there is no God" is in and of itself a proof.
-Scripture is not valid evidence, since it relies on Faith in its authenticity. If scripture were to be allowed, then one could validly also use the scripture of a another religion to disprove it.
-If you think you've completed this challenge easily, you've probably not done it successfully. Not even Thomas Aquinas or Descartes could do it, despite having a good stab at it.
-If you're religious, it's OK to admit that this challenge is impossible, and that your religion is Faith-based. Many religious people do; indeed they say that Faith is the whole point. However, inherent in this admission, is the acceptance that your religious stance is irrational. You therefore admit that harassment of homosexuals, atheists etc. on religious grounds is also irrational.
-If you are religious and you fail this challenge, you are in effect making the above concession.
-If you fail this challenge, you may never again use the Deist argument to back up your religion.
Edit. One further point:
Religious people reading this will be liable to think "bah, logic, reason, logic, reason; that's all atheists ever talk about, there's more to life than that; my religion's beyond all that." Well, this is just religious people throwing their toys out the pram in exasperation. They will often have tried to appeal with reasoning, then failing to do so, will deploy the real humdinger that religion transcends reason. 'Transcending' reason is to just abandon reason; this has serious ramifications not to be taken lightly, which may have the result contrary to what the religious person expects. Without logic, you can no longer claim there to be any objective difference between Allah and Mickey Mouse. You are lost in a flight of fancy without reason, and it means that religion can't be brought out into the real world, for instance you can no longer try and base legislation on religion if religion's prerequisite is abandonment of logic.