Proofs of Unknowables. The Proof is Pudding.
Proofs for a creator.
Some ten or more standard arguments are typically bought forth by defenders of religionarguments cast in the form of logical "proofs" of the necessity of a god, or the existence of a god. Though it seems a waste of space to print them here, I shall anyway, because the only place one can find them on the www is at religious sites. [Some sites expand the list to "100 proofs", but close examination shows tremendous duplication padded out by many that are trivial by any standard.] So it's instructive to see them all in one place exposed in all their naked silliness.
All of these have unsupported premises, undefined or poorly defined concepts and even logical gaps. Not one carries the slightest weight. Therefore they are easily shown to be invalid, and refutations of them are found in many books. Yet the defenders of religion still use them to clobber nonbelievers, apparently unaware that they are using blunt and broken weapons. How anyone can with a straight face present these as valid arguments is beyond me.
Notice the frequent use of the word "therefore" in these proofs, standing between two things that are in fact not logically dependent. This is the "does not follow" fallacy.
All of these arguments for a god have common faults, and once that fact is exposed, any further examination of the arguments is unnecessary, pointless, and a waste of time.
Actually the first three of these are, as we would say in science, "unwarranted extrapolation" from limited data, into a domain about which we know nothing.
The bottom line: The proofs of the existence of a god are pathetic attempts to justify an emotional commitment to a fantasy that is logically and scientifically impossible to prove. Once this fact is appreciated, all of these proofs of a god are seen to be totally empty of content.
This has been known since St. Thomas Aquinas formulated some of these arguments and others promptly refuted them, conclusively. Some people, however, never seem to learn. We now see these same arguments resurrected with "intelligent designer" substituted for "God". That makes no difference at all. The arguments are still specious.
Arguments of this sort do not convince people to accept the notion of a god. They are not the reasons that people believe. These arguments are only used by folks who already believe in god, in hopes of convincing others to believe. They were invented as an atempt to rationalize an already-existing irrational belief. For one who has no pre-existing belief, these arguments carry no persuasive power.
Exercise for the reader. Using our four "faults of reasoning", demolish each of the ten "proofs for a deity". Easy, isn't it?
Are these arguments worth the trouble of refuting?
The detailed individual refutations of "proofs" of a god are, perhaps, yielding too much to theists, for the refutations are often cast using the same logic as the "proofs" themselves, and sometimes even implicitly accept the questionable premises that the religious apologists use. Some say we should rather criticize the very process of attempting to use pure logic to attempt to prove anything about the universe. Certainly we scientists know that is futile and unacceptable. But the critics of theism are not debating with scientists. To use a person's own methods of argument to refute his argument is a worthwhile thing to do. It ought to shift the argument to other grounds if both parties are thinking rationally.
Also, I would quibble that the word "proof" is entirely inappropriate here. Proof is something you do in pure logic and pure mathematics, which are symbolic systems that by themselves tell us nothing about the so-called "real world" of experience, and certainly nothing about the supernatural. Mathematics can serve as a descriptive modeling tool in science, and a very powerful one. But the laws and theories of science are limited by the always not-quite-perfect data. When scientists are careful with their language, they never claim to "prove" anything in science and never claim "absolute truths" of any kind. This is a point many non-scientists do not appreciate.
Theists aren't always careful with the their use of the concepts of "truth" and "proof". But if they are going to claim to make any argument from scientific premises, they had better play the science game correctly. For the same reason that science cannot claim proofs and truths, so theists cannot use science to claim proofs and truths.
So let's leave proof and truth out of the discussion and simply ask, "Are any of these arguments for a god or intelligent design even suggestive or plausible or at all persuasive of the possibility of a god?" Not at all. Of course, one could argue that "anything is possible" so long as you don't have to supply credible evidence for it. That's what fairy tales and science fiction do.
Nor do the theists have any cause to shift the argument to the skeptics and demand "Prove that a god can't exist." Sorry, no one can do that any more than anyone can prove that a god could exist.
Since there's no evidence nor reason to even suppose that there's a god or intelligent designer, and no way to establish that there isn't, what should one believe? Well, why should anyone believe anything about that question? If there's no way to do something, then it's foolish to try to do it. If there's no way to answer some questions, then why invent answers and engage in futile efforts to justify those answers? While one could imagine a god, or many gods, or many other fantastic illusions, why should one do so? And, why should one (as some do) carry it one step further and "believe" in such an imagined entity? I mean the "industrial strength belief" of religions, the belief that will not even entertain the possibility that the belief could be wrong.
So am I saying one isn't justified in believing anything? That's exactly what I'm saying; though remember that I'm talking about "absolute belief", or theistic belief. Of course I believe the sun will (probably) rise tomorrow, and I believe that if you were to jump naked from a very tall skyscraper you have scant chance of surviving. But these are weaker beliefs, the kind of provisional belief we have in certain well-established scientific principles and observations, justified because we have good evidence that nature's behavior is lawful and reliable. We can have very strong confidence in certain regularities of behavior of things we observe. Here we are dealing with things in the universe apprehensible to our senses. But when we talk about things not accessible to our senses nor to any method of experimental observation, we are totally unjustified in holding absolute beliefs of any kind about them.
Scientists are not about to found a religion based on their "belief" in the law of gravitation. Science can get along quite well without ever using the words "belief" and "truth". Religious beliefs have no use in science, and science tells us nothing about the beliefs of religions.
Am I saying the universe has no purposeful designer and no purpose? No one can say one way or the other. But all the evidence of our experience indicates that the universe operates quite well without purpose. There is no evidence of any "driving purpose" in nature. Does this mean that our lives are without meaning? That, is, I think, a meaningless question, upon which far too much ink has been wasted.
We ought to accept and try to understand the universe that we can observe, and can discover some useful things about. The universe is all we know or can know, all else is unverifiable fantasy. We ought to be content to live with that fact and make the best of it.
To sum up, religions are emotionally appealing invented fantasies. Their claims can't be proven or disproven, nor is there any evidence that is even suggestively supportive of their claims. Religions would be relatively harmless if only people didn't believe in them.
Intelligent Design Creationsm: Fraudulent Science.