Sleptsova Valeriya

Criticism of positive theistic arguments in the polemic of theism and atheism

Sleptsova Valeriya (2022) "Criticism of positive theistic arguments in the polemic of theism and atheism ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2022, vol. 101, pp. 82-95 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI2022101.82-95


In the article the author analyzes the arguments of the theist W.L. Craig for the existence of the omnipotent, all-good, timeless God of classical theism as well as counter-arguments of W. Sinnot-Armstrong. W.L. Craig used five arguments, they are Kalam cosmological argument, fine-tuning argument, objective moral values argument, argument from the testimonies of the gospels and argument from religious experience. Craig seeks to show that when we take all these arguments together, they increase the probability of the existence of the God of classical theism. Sinnot-Armstrong, in turn, criticized all these arguments and seeks to show with varying levels of credibility that every Craig’s argument can be refuted within the framework of an atheistic approach. He exposes the argument from the existence of objective moral values to the most detailed criticism, while speaking from the position of moral realism and Platonism. Sinnot-Armstrong criticized fine-tuning argument least convincingly. He accepted the fact that there is no good atheistic response to this argument, but he used usual rhetorical attacks against theism. He uncritically repeated the model of the war between science and religion. As a result of the analysis of the controversy between Craig and Sinnot-Armstrong, the author of the article comes to several conclusions. Firstly, atheism is combined with various metaphysical attitudes, from naturalism to Platonism. Secondly, an atheist may hold different views on the problem of free will between determinism and indeterminism. Thus, since atheism is very heterogeneous in itself, most of the Sinnot-Armstrong counter-arguments are not universally applicable to atheists.


Atheism, cosmological argument, fine-tuning argument, Kalam cosmological argument, objective moral values, religious experience, theism


  1. Craig W. (2010) “Kalam Cosmological Argument”. Filosofiia religii: al′manakh. 2008–2009 [Philosophy of religion: Anthology. 2008–2009], pp. 110–136 (Russian translation).
  2. Craig W. L., Sinnot-Armstrong W. (2004) God? A Debate Between A Christian and An Atheist. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. Harris S. (2012) Free will. New York: Free Press.
  4. Hume D. (2020) An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Moscow: RIPOL klassik (Russian translation).
  5. James W. (2017) The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. Moscow: Akademicheskii proekt (Russian translation).
  6. Jansen G. (2012) “Critical Notice of Alvin Plantinga’s Where the Confl ict Really Lies”. Grazer Philosophische Studien, vol. 85, pp. 291–295.
  7. Kahane G. (2011) “Should We Want God to Exist?”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 82, no. 3, pp. 674–696.
  8. Lushnikov D. (2018) “Teizm i novyi ateizm″: k voprosu o polemike A. Plantingi i D. Dennetta” [Theism and “New Atheism”: on the controversy between A. Plantinga and D. Dennett]. Trudy kafedry bogosloviya SPbDA, vol. 1 (2), pp. 19–32 (in Russian).
  9. Murphy M. (2002/2019) “Theological Voluntarism”, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, available at https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2019/entries/voluntarism-theological/ (21.02.2022).
  10. Oppy G. (1996) “Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology“. Faith and Philosophy, vol. 13 (1), pp. 125–133.
  11. Reichenbach B. (2004/2021) “Cosmological Argument”, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, available at https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2021/entries/cosmological-argument/ (21.02.2022).
  12. Schellenberg J. L. (2021) Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason. Moscow: Akademicheskii proekt (Russian translation).
  13. Sinnot-Armstrong W. (2006) Moral Scepticisms. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  14. Sleptsova V. (2019) “Kosmologicheskii argument v sovremennoi polemike teizma i ateizma (debaty Dzh. Kholdeina i Dzh. Smarta)” [The cosmological argument in the modern polemic of theism and atheism (debate between J. Haldane and J. Smart)]. Trudy kafedry bogosloviia SPbDA, vol. 1 (3), pp. 112–120 (in Russian).
  15. Stenger V. J. (2011) The Fallacy Of Fine-Tuning. Why The Universe Is Not Designed For Us. New York: Prometheus Books.
  16. Sysoev M. S. (2020) “Religioznyi opyt i svidetel′stvo” [Religious experience and testimony”]. Filosofiia. Zhurnal Vysshei shkoly ekonomiki, vol. 4 (4), pp. 50–76 (in Russian).

Information about the author

Sleptsova Valeriya

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Place of work: Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences; 12/1 Goncharnaia Str., 109240, Moscow, Russian Federation;
ORCID: 0000-0002-4490-4066;
Email: leka.nasonova@gmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.