RESPONSE PAPER ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 10
Responsepaper on philosophy of religion
Forseveral decades Christianity and belief in God existence has beensubject of numerous debates some of which have been accepted andrejected. However, few have maintained a hard stance and unwaveringcriticism against God’s existence than McCloskey. McCloskey H.Jarticle, “On Being an Atheist,” 1968 presents a ratherfascinating perspective on atheism and belief in the nonexistence ofGod. McCloskey has written other several atheistic works that offersclassical and critical arguments against beliefs on Gods. Whatbaffles theologians and Christianity in general is McCloskey’sunwavering criticism to beliefs in God (McCloskey, 1968).
However,McCloskey arguments fall short of philosophical reasoning and offerless convincing arguments on the nonexistence of God. In fact,Descartes philosophical reasoning on God’s existence obfuscatesMcCloskey’s limited critics against God existence. To paraphraseDescartes proofs on God’s existence ‘thereis no one who is capable of generating own ideas.” In theunderlying natural world there is the cause and effect of all thingsand one cannot dismiss adequately explain the nonexistence of God(McCloskey,1968).While McCloskey’soffers rather convincing ‘proofs’ on the nonexistence of God, thevery basis of McCloskey’s ideas lacks substantive conviction.Belief in God existence is the most rational philosophical aspectswhose explanatory scope pervades the infinity of the Universe and thecomplexity of human being all proofs of God’s existence.
Inthe article, McCloskey tried to offer philosophical reasoning thatbelief in atheism was more rational and comfortable than belief inGod (McCloskey, 1968). McCloskey’s offered three “proofs” onthe nonexistence of God the cosmological perspective, teleologicaland the design perspective. According to McCloskey God does not existbecause even the basis of cause, design and effect rests on vaguedogma of the uncaused cause. McCloskey was disturbed by argumentsposited by theologians and Christianity on the limits of design andpurpose. In his assertion, there is no way, design, facts and purposethat assertively explain God’s existence. To this, McCloskey arguesthat most theists cannot substantively explain the origin of God oreven the Universe.
McCloskeyregarded Christianity faith as irrational and that most theists donot necessary believe in God due to religious beliefs but due toother factors and reasons (McCloskey, 1968). A closer analysis onMcCloskey’s argument on the nonexistence of God reveals somecontradicting statements. For instance, McCloskey (1968) argues thatthe “proofs” given can “move ordinary theists to their theism.”This statement contradicts McCloskey’s argument that theist do notnecessary follow “proofs.” To this end, one wonders how thenMcCloskey attempts to dispute God’s existence using his atheist“proofs” (McCloskey, 1968).
Theunderlying question is, if McCloskey believe that “proofs” cannotexplain God’s existence, then the three “proofs” presented inargument of the nonexistence of God are fallacies! If theists do notbelieve in the proofs or faith, why then does McCloskey use them inexplaining the nonexistence of God? When one analysis McCloskey’scriticism on this perspective, one realizes that, what is presentedas argument against God’s existence is sheer bias and the proofsdoes not hold any verifiable fact.
Onthe Cosmological Argument
Inhis cosmological proof McCloskey refutes the claim of cause-effectdichotomy. In this, McCloskey argues that believing that God createdthe world is unjustifiable because the very existence of God cannotbe verified. In a more rather fascinating assertion, McCloskey arguesthat it is hard to explain the paradox of an uncaused cause(McCloskey, 1968). This argument is not true because even if God didnot exist, there must have been a cause that formed the world andthis must be a supernatural being. It is hard to argue againstunforeseen being but by rationalizing the dichotomy of cause andeffect, one can ascertain the existence of a natural being nothingcan exist in nonentity. If McCloskey cosmological “proof” isright about the nonexistence of the cause –effect dictum, why thenand where did the Universe originate?
Inaddition, McCloskey argument that even if a powerful force createdthe Universe that power was imperfect and un-omnipotent is false. TheUniverse design and purpose is so perfect such that no scientist hasever discovered the finer intricate aspects various things found inthe Universe. If the powerful being that created the world was notomnipotent, then how come the Universe has consistently andsustainably run for billion years the sun, the stars and therevolution? Even without any religious belief in God, one canassertively “see and feel” the perfect and orderly nature of theuniverse. Indeed there is cause and effect, and a sustainingomnipotent powerful and perfect being!
Inhis cosmological “proofs” McCloskey does not offer substantive“evidence” why the universe keep ‘running’ in order. Forinstance the sun keep glowing without failure, the earth revolves onits own without stopping and the human body operates in a morecomplex way than any computer that has ever been designed. This isenough proof of an omnipotent, powerful and perfect being.McCloskey’s argument against cause and effect dichotomy is falseand self contradicting nothing exists without a cause and trying toargue against this fact leads to infinite regress.
Onthe Teleological Argument
Onteleological argument,McCloskeypresents two rather unconvincing “proofs” in objection of God’sexistence. First McCloskey dismisses the world as perfect in designand argues that this is as a result of natural selection andevolution. Secondly, McCloskey presents the argument of suffering andthe presence of evil as a justification of imperfection in the world.
TheUniverse is full of evidence that illustrate existence of a‘designer’ with ‘purpose’ (McCloskey, 1968). For instance,the world orbits on its own axis for twenty four hours while at thesame time revolving around the Sun in a rather extraordinary andorderly precision. There is no single day the world has ever stoppedrevolving or tilting. How then can McCloskey argue against existenceof older, design and purpose? The revolution of the world in turnsmakes it possible for changes in seasons phenomena that is essentialfor human survival. This explains the existence of an orderly,perfect and omnipotent designer. There is no doubt that an omnipotentbeing “sustains” and guards the world as it revolves around theSun while absolutely being suspended to nothing!
Similarly,McCloskey fails to explain this infinite power. If the world wasimperfect, no designer and no purpose, absolutely no life would bepossible in the world. All things would be in disarray and several‘functional’ universal aspects would be ‘unsustainable’ theSun would stop glowing or glow more leading to deaths. McCloskeyargument is based on evolutionary perspective the anthrop chancehypothesis (McCloskey, 1968). The anthropic enhance perspectivealludes that the universe undergoes series of fine tuning stages(Barrow and Tipler, 1986). The cosmic landscape theory also alludesto the existence of multiple universes. While these assumptions maynot be dismissed in the spectrum of evolving universe, this argumentcancels out with McCloskey’s argument against the existence ofcause and effect.
Ideally,for evolution to take shape there must have been a cause and theinitial ‘object’ from which the Universe evolved. However,McCloskey dismisses the cause-effect dichotomy and this in turncontradicts his argument of an evolving Universe. To this end,McCloskey cannot objectively affirm that the universe is imperfectand in the process of evolution.
Similarly,McCloskey’s argument that there is no evidence of design andpurpose that explains existence of an all powerful, all perfectplanner designer is unconvincing. McCloskey argues that the world isfull of imperfect things, evils and maladies. As a result, McCloskeyargues that if there exists a powerful being, then he is a malevolentimperfect planner or designer (McCloskey, 1968). Despite theseextreme arguments, McCloskey do not offer substantive solution orexplanation on why the Universe is imperfect or perfect. It is wrongto justify the imperfection of the world based on the existence ofevil.
Onthe Problem of Evil
McCloskey’smain argument lies on the presence of evil in the Universe. Accordingto him, there is no God or any all powerful benevolent power.McCloskey argues that there are several unavoidable evils in theuniverse causing sufferings to many innocent people. In response toMcCloskey, one can use Descartes more rational explanation on theexistence of evil (Descartes,1998).Descartes argues that although God created the Universe with itsevil, God also gave man wisdom, knowledge and power to make rationaldecision on how to avoid evil(Descartes, 1998).God does not force people to commit evil but has empowered peoplethrough wisdom to know things that are evil and those that are good.To this end, McCloskey argument that the powerful being is amalevolent being is wrong. The very essence of the all powerful beingis perfection and this is evident in the orderliness of the Universe.The Supreme Being who is the initiator of the cause and effect,created perfect things but evils were as a result of man activities.God is perfect and cannot create imperfect things such as evil.
Inaddition, the mere thought of thinking about God and evil contradictsMcCloskey’s argument that there is no supreme being. Similarly,McCloskey’s engages in probabilistic/evidential justification ofevil (McCloskey, 1968). This again exposes McCloskey’s selfcontradicting statements initially McCloskey refutes the presence of‘evidence’ ‘proofs’ or any faith in explaining the existenceof supernatural being. Why then does McCloskey use theprobabilistic/evidential ‘proof’ on the existence of evil? Tothis end, McCloskey’s argument on that God created evil is not onlyself-contradicting but also presents weak opinions.
Ona moral ground no one whether atheist or theist can justifiablyexplain why evils exist. It is similar to making infinite andregressive analysis on God’s power. Far from this, God as a perfectbeing did not create evil but evils were as a result of human beings.The Christianity doctrine is very clear on the origin of evil. Evilswere as a result of man’s disobedience (Gen. 3.23-24). However,even in that case, man was given wisdom to know right and wrong andescape some evil.
Furthermore,God gave humans knowledge to know that which is right and wrong.Similarly, God is an infinite being and no one can explaincognitively without limitation the reasons behind human sufferings!McCloskey’s argument on free will is in itself biased than the biashypothesized in the free will perspective. It is true that man wasgiven free will to choose right and evil, but that choice depends onGod’s guidance in order to choose what is genuinely right andrespectable in the eyes of God (Craig, 2008).
Inaddition, God bestowed man with knowledge to know that which is rightor bad. Therefore, God was not biased in giving man the free will tochoose what is right or wrong. Furthermore, McCloskey’s argument isself contradicting because if he does not believe in God where thendoes he pick the ‘free will’ perspective. According toMcCloskey’s argument, he should not even believe in the existenceof ‘free will’ in the first place!
OnAtheism as Comforting
McCloskey’sarguments that beliefs in atheism are comforting are ratherfascinating. Belief in something is better than none. Even theevolution theorist believes that as many evolved and developed mentalcapability, he believed in particular things such as the‘technological rituals’ conducted during hunting or fishing. Lifewithout any belief in Supernatural being is the most boring, emptyand unreasonable. Believe in God empowers, inspires and motivateshuman beings while relating and undertaking earthly tasks (Craig,2008). It is through belief in God that humans develop good morals,avoid evils and live fulfilling lives in the faith that an allpowerful being is their protector, provider and guidance. Therefore,it is unimaginable to think how an atheist lives Atheism is oneempty life devoid of spiritual connection with the realities in theworld.
Overall,McCloskey’s arguments are unconvincing, unsubstantiated and full ofcontradictions. McCloskey fails to adequately explain the nature ofGod existence. McCloskey cannot even justify the origin (cause) ofhis atheistic ideas! The objections and ‘proofs’ presented doesnot even shed light on the cause-effect dichotomy. To this end,McCloskey’s cosmological argument on the nature of uncaused causeleads to infinite regress argument that cannot explain substantivelythe claims. The teleological arguments of Universe without designerare rather ridiculous and unconvincing we live in a probable andwell designed Universe. In his argument of evil, God never createdevil and the prevalence of evil in the worked is as result of man’sevil. Therefore, McCloskey’s arguments are unconvincing and doesnot justify why God does not exist.
Barrow,John D. and Tipler, Frank J. (1986). TheAnthropic Cosmological Principle.Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Craig,William Lane (2008). ReasonableFaith ed. 3.Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
Descartes,Rene (1998). "Meditations on First Philosophy". ModernPhilosophy – An Anthology of Primary Sources.Eds. Roger Ariew and Eric Watkins. Indianapolis: Hackett PublishingCompany. Pg. 22-62.Print.
McCloskey,H. J.(1968). “On Being an Atheist”, from Question 1, February1968, pp. 51-54.