Hello Theresa Green - I'd recognise those relational processes anywhere! Good post here, but I'm not voting either way because I feel that the explications of the arguments have not been fully realised. Read on and let me know what you think - your post is an interesting discussion. For the record I am agnostic because I feel that religion generates a certain `in group' feel which causes positive appraisal of people within the group, but negative appraisal of people outside the group. However, I think it quite possible that a God does exist, but if he does, his being is beyond our understanding in every way. If we understood God, then we would not have religious wars and we would not judge each other, because only God is in a position to judge. I digress with another argument, so I'll hush the rhetoric and discuss a few of your points:
1. An appeal to authority is not fallacious if the authority is genuine. Scientists are likely to be in a better position to make a judgment therefore they are more likely to know.
You say that academics as a group are less religious than average. In relation to the argument this is inconclusive because opinion is divided. Unless you choose to follow some sort of argument based on popularity!
You say religion is a belief rather than something that can be proved. This is saying that believers are arguing from a position of not knowing, which, in relation to the argument, is also inconclusive. Ditto atheists. We agree here.
2. First premise: Everything that exists has a cause
Second premise: So if God exists he must have a cause
Conclusion: Therefore a God who created EVERYTHING does not exist
Here is a fuller explication of this argument:
If something exists then there exists a cause
If God exists then God must have a cause
God is something therefore he must have a cause.
If there is a God then God caused everything,(presupposed in the conclusion)
If God caused everything then he must have preceded everything,
Therefore God preceded everything.
C.Therefore God must have had a cause and must have preceded everything
This is the correct conclusion, which, as you can see, doesn't actually address whether or not God exists. The argument is actually one of irrelevant conclusion (Therefore a God who created EVERYTHING does not exist). All it says is that if there is a God, he was around before anything else. However, your next argument, which you claim is of parallel form, is actually a different beast. Here is an explanation:
P: Everything that has been created has a creator
P: God, by definition, has not been created
C: Therefore God the creator of EVERYTHING that has been created CAN exist
If something has been created then it must have a creator
God is not something therefore God was not created
Therefore God is not something
This brings up the question of whether or not something that is not something can exist. On the surface this is a contradiction, but the secrets of the universe are full of contradictions, so this is still inconclusive.
If God is not something then God can exist
God is not something
Therefore God can exist
So this argument is actually valid, so long as we accept that something that is not something can exist.
Would you like to discuss these explications?
(PS, T.G. was a pretty low thing to do. I suggest that as fellow authors we should be supporting each other. It doesn't pay to go around trashing other author's work. I've sometimes been tempted myself, after all, there is some atrocious work which is being well marketed and is making pots of cash. Apart from my review of `The secret', which I know will have no negative effect because of the size of the campaign, all my other reviews have been supportive of fellow authors. Let's have a good discussion about the existence of God and make a fresh start!)