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Encyclopedia > Argument from common consent
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The Argument from consensus or argument from common consent purports to prove the existence of God. It can be summarized as follows. Image File history File links Stop_hand. ...

"Throughout the world, in all lands, people believe in some God. And not just now, but in the past, a belief in some God was a very common part of daily life. So the person who denies that God exists is opposing the common consent of all of humanity, that God exists. Who are we to oppose such an enormous consensus? Therefore, God exists."

This argument has a number of problems.

  • Not everyone in all times has believed that God exists. There have been dissenters, atheists, everywhere. Furthermore, it is misleading to describe all religions as theistic - the Dalai Lama, for instance, has called Buddhism an "atheistic religion". For more on this, see the next point...
  • There are a number of different versions of God that people believe in: the gods of the ancient Greeks are very different from the Hindu gods, which are very different indeed from the spirits that some Africans traditionally worship, which are of course very different still from the Judeo-Christian God. At the very best, the most one could say is that some higher power of some sort has been commonly, although not universally, thought to exist.
  • The argument as stated does not differentiate between the actual existence of some form of God(s) and the desire for God(s). Widespread belief in God could reflect either God's existence or the desire of a community (in this case, humanity) for a protective force to answer difficult questions ranging from the reason for thunder (Thor) to what happens after death (Heaven). Children in many countries believe in Santa Claus, not because he exists, but because they wish he did, and they have been encouraged in their belief by their parents. This highlights another problem:
  • Reinforced opinions are still opinions. The established churches in countries across the world have encouraged belief in their tenets throughout history. It is natural for people raised in a tradition to believe that tradition, just as children believe in Santa because parents tell them it's true, and parents don't generally lie to their children.
  • Finally, and most importantly, the argument engages in a logical fallacy known as the bandwagon fallacy. Essentially, the fact that there is widespread consensus about a topic does not mean that the consensus is correct. A commonly cited example is that most people in medieval Europe believed that the Earth was flat, but that did not change the fact that the Earth is round. This example is itself an example—the fact that the Earth was round was quite well established in medieval Europe, but not widely discussed because it had no significant impact on people. So our widespread belief about these people in no way affects what they actually knew about the shape of the planet.

These problems have led many to abandon the argument from common consent, and is not nowadays taken seriously in philosophy or theology. Michelangelos depiction of God in the painting Creation of the Sun and Moon in the Sistine Chapel Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, one of the manifestations of the ultimate reality or God in Hinduism This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... Judeo-Christian (or Judaeo-Christian) is a term used to describe the body of concepts and values which are thought to be held in common by Judaism and Christianity, and typically considered (along with classical Greco-Roman civilization) a fundamental basis for Western legal codes and moral values. ... Thor carries his hammer and wears his belt of strength (MS SÁM 66, 18th century). ... Michelangelos interpretation of Heaven Heaven is an afterlife concept found in many religions or spiritual philosophies. ... A common portrayal of Santa Claus. ... In philosophy, the term logical fallacy properly refers to a formal fallacy: a flaw in the structure of a deductive argument which renders the argument invalid. ... The Argumentum ad numerum or argument from numbers is a logical fallacy that consists of the assertion that the more people who accept or believe an assertion, the more likely that assertion is to be true. ...

See also

  • http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/God_for_the_Third_Millennium/Creation of life on the Earth



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