Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's 36 Arguments for the Existence of God is an at times clunky novel of religious theorizing as it plays out in academia and Orthodox Judaism (as novels of ideas go, I'll stick with Dostoevsky and Mann), but the jewel of the book is its philosophical appendix, a compendium of 36 arguments for the existence of God followed by their convincing refutations. In this analytic tour de force, theistic justifications are systematically dismantled. However, the disproof of the final argument (The Argument from the Abundance of Arguments) ends as follows:
Few people rest their belief in God on a single, decisive logical argument. Instead, people are swept away by the sheer number of reasons that make God's existence seem plausible--holding out an explanation as to why the universe went to the bother of existing, and why it is this particular universe, with it sublime improbabilities, including us humans; and, even more particularly, explaining the existence of each one of us who know ourselves as unique conscious individuals, who make free and moral choices that grant meaning and purpose to our lives; and, even more personally, giving hope that desperate prayers may not go unheard and unanswered, and that the terrors of death can be subdued in immortality. Religions, too, do not justify themselves with a single logical argument, but minister to all of these spiritual needs and provide a space in our lives where the largest questions with which we grapple all come together, which is a space that can become among the most expansive and loving of which we are capable, or the most constricted and hating of which we are capable--in other words, a space as contradictory as human nature itself.
Yes, that's it. Logically, these refutations are relentlessly persuasive, but I can't imagine them having any effect upon believers, because belief rests upon existential need and emotional disposition. However, one can imagine those who, contrarily, disbelieve not merely out of a respect for logic, but because belief in a God who, to judge from the evidence of the world, could just as easily be sadistic as benevolent is best avoided. History may be more consistent with the cruel God of the Old Testament than with that of the New; is it really desirable to be trapped in the universe, beyond death even, with an omnipotent being with questionable or at least inscrutable motives?