- The "First Cause" Argument.
- The claim of "fine-tuned" cosmological constants that require a Designer.
- The claim that the creation of the first life required a Designer.
Why? The Abrahamic religions are "revealed" religions. That is, they are based on the claim that God has revealed his existence, personality, power, and commands to humans through certain books. These books contain numerous truth-claims concerning their featured deities and the nature of the universe itself. They are not content to cram God into the confines of the infinitesimally tiny Big Bang singularity, or assert that he once meddled with a few proteins and enzymes to put together a working bacterial flagellum motor.
To the contrary, they describe a God who--if he existed--would be the woolly mammoth in the living room of the Cosmos, a being of immense supernatural power who isn't afraid to use it openly. And he isn't alone. The Abrahamic revelations posit a whole supernatural bestiary populated with angels, demons, djinn, and powerful wizards working astounding magic.
For example, the Book of Exodus tells us that ancient Egyptian sorcerers had the power to transmute wooden staffs into living serpents (Exodus 7:10-12). Magic is such a potent and dangerous force that its use is prohibited to the faithful. Can we know if Egyptian wizards ever wielded such powers? Thanks to archaeology, we actually know quite a bit about ancient Egyptian magic. We have recovered spells complete with incantations and lists of necessary components, and actual magical tools and implements such as wands, amulets and figurines.
We have numerous mummies of pharaohs and high officials, which reveal the kind of ailments and health problems these people suffered and by extension, the limitations of medical treatment available to them. From this it should be possible to experimentally demonstrate an Egyptian spell in action, or at least determine whether or not the pharaohs had access to modes of healing that could not be produced by ordinary means available to the Egyptians. Magical power capable of transmuting dead wood into living reptiles ought to be capable of lesser tasks like transmuting a decayed tooth into a healthy tooth. There is no evidence that Egyptian sorcerers possessed such wondrous powers. The bodies of the pharaohs themselves testify to the contrary.
Perhaps the achievements of Egyptian sorcerers were overstated. After all, they were Pagans, serving gods modern theists reject as non-existent. Perhaps it is only the faithful of the One True God who can work great wonders, through His grace and power. The story of Elijah and the Prophets of Ba'al (1 Kings 18:20-38) provides a powerful illustration of the sort of things we could expect to happen if the Abrahamic God existed. In this famous story, the prophet Elijah goes to the northern kingdom of Israel and challenges the prophets of Ba'al to a contest: each side shall set up an altar with a sacrificial bull, and the side whose god can light their altar with miraculous power validates that their god is the true god.
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD [be] God, follow him: but if Baal, [then] follow him. And the people answered him not a word. (v. 21) And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. (v. 24)
And they [the prophets of Ba'al] took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed [it], and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But [there was] no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he [is] a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, [or] peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the [time] of the offering of the [evening] sacrifice, that [there was] neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. (vs. 26-29)
The first thing we notice about this story is that Elijah's God sanctions a very open and unambiguous test of miraculous divine power. Notice also the way Elijah mocks the fruitless prayers of the prophets of Ba'al. From this we can see that:
- It is OK to set up a scenario calling for unambiguous proof of a deity's power.
- It is also OK to have some fun mocking the faithful when their prayers have no effect.
Notice also the verdict: "There was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded." If you're a believer, ask yourself: has that ever happened to you? Have you ever prayed, especially for something urgent, and received "neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded?" The recently-released letters of Mother Teresa (someone widely hailed as a very "holy" person) reveal this exact situation in her life.
According to the tale in 1 Kings, Elijah was luckier than Mother Teresa:
Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou [art] the LORD God, and [that] thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that [was] in the trench. (vs. 37-38)
Here, we are told that God can and will actually deliver unambiguous public demonstrations of miraculous power. It does not violate "free will" or any other ethical principle of God's for people to "know that he is the Lord God." This is a fully testable claim. So, are there any believing Christians who would be willing to conduct such a demonstration today? If we were to set up two altars, one for the Christians and one for a team of scientists equipped with technology, like a megawatt-class laser, a cruise missile, or set of reflecting mirrors of the type used in a solar furnace, would there be any Christians who would be willing to come forward and demonstrate the superiority of faith over science? Would any Christians be willing to bet their faith on their god's power to light an altar against the ability of science and technology to do the same?
If you want to argue that animal sacrifice is obsolete, we'll leave out the bulls and just worry about lighting the fire. For those Christians who sneer at the idea of conducting such a test of divine power ("God is not a genie!" "Thou shalt not put the LORD thy God to the test"), take note that the skeptical technique Elijah uses to debunk the existence of Ba'al is exactly that--putting God to the test. Do you have as much faith in your god as the prophets of Ba'al had in theirs (or Elijah had in his)? Or will you make excuses?
The bottom line: this story establishes the principle that a god that cannot unambiguously demonstrate miraculous power is not a god at all. It is only if the proposed deity can demonstrate his existence that we have any reason to, in the words of Elijah, "let him be God."
Theists today do not for a moment consider putting their own faith on the line in this manner. This is ironclad proof that even believers devout enough to gladly give their lives for their faith know that the miraculous super-being of their holy books simply does not exist and manifest his power as claimed. They live in the same godless universe we do.
Instead of demonstrating the truth of their holy books' claims, modern intellectual theists avoid their own "Scriptures" like the plague, offering "sophisticated" arguments borrowed from Pagan Greek philosophy. Even if theists could demonstrate that once upon a time, the Demiurge dialed in a set of "fine-tuned" cosmological constants before hitting the red button to trigger the Big Bang, and perhaps engaged in modest little interventions to give evolution a hand in making DNA molecules, complex proteins, and flagellum motors, this does nothing whatsoever to validate belief in the Abrahamic deity and his grandiose magical cosmology.
To the contrary, this sort of argumentation is an abandonment of the cosmologies of the desert faiths and a rejection of their claims about the nature of spiritual reality. The "divinely inspired" holy books were wrong about recent miraculous creation, wrong about the reality and power of magic, wrong about demons being the cause of disease and psychological disorder, wrong about the existence of a deity who works Cecil B. Demille miracles on a grand scale, wrong about weather and natural forces being weapons in the hands of an angry God. Nearly every believer implicitly agrees with this, even if they'd never say so openly. They show this every time they rush a sick or injured child to the hospital instead of to the elders of their church (James 5:14-15).
Now, if the divinely-inspired holy books are wrong about every testable claim they make, why should we take seriously any un-testable claims derived from their doctrines?
 Magic in Ancient Egypt by Geraldine Pinch, University of Texas Press, 1995