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Thread: Argument for God

  1. #1
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    Argument for God

    Read only if you like to read. The below portion is an essay I wrote for my philosophy class in college. (Liberty University) I'm sharing it with you guys. I hope you enjoy! (My works cited is in a response to my own post.)

    Refutation to McCloskey
    vvvvvvvH. J. McCloskey in On Being an Atheist argues in favor of atheism and attempts to discredit theism. He uses many tactful approaches in disputing theism such as the arguments for God as a whole failing to establish a case for God. Focusing on the Cosmological argument, McCloskey claims that the existence of all that we see fulfills no grounds for there to exist a God or necessary being. He furthers the argument by stating that the cosmological argument gives us, as humans, no right to assume that a necessary being or God exists. Furthermore, McCloskey debates the Teleological argument by claiming that in order to believe that nature was designed there would need to be examples that were indisputable. Moreover, he delves into the problem of evil, bringing one of the most disputed and difficult cases to the table. His main objection to theism contains the fact that evil exists. He asks how evil could exist if an omnipotent God existed as well. The argument of evil and why it exists inevitably leads to the concept of free will of which he also asks why God allowed it or couldn’t have kept human beings from making wrong decisions. Lastly, McCloskey attempts to explain his argument that atheism produces more comfort and satisfaction than theism. He uses the example of illness and says God either cannot stop it from happening, allows it to happen, or deliberately gives an illness to someone.
    vvvvvvvFor McCloskey’s first argument, that of abandoning of some proofs because they are inadequate, I challenge by stating that any argument for God may not be absolutely solid but all the legitimate arguments for God brought together form a convincing and unyielding argument. The best explanations approach states that the existence of God is the best explanation for what we see, observe, know, and don’t know of the universe surrounding us. Basically, a moral, intelligent, personal, necessary being, God, is the best explanation for what we experience in the universe.
    vvvvvvvSecondly, McCloskey argues that just because the world exists does not mean a necessary being or cause has to exist as well. However, anything and everything that we observe in the universe does not need to exist, but does. More so, the objects in the universe, separately or as a whole as the entire universe, exist, but could easily not exist. That, in turn, leaves no reason why our universe exists. Basically, what we see, observe, and know are not things that had to exist necessarily. The universe is contingent which means it is liable to happen, to have been caused, or not. Therefore, to have a contingent object or being requires that there be a cause or necessary being. This necessary being must not be able to cease to exist for if it could cease to exist, which means it has or had an end, then that would imply that it indeed had a beginning. And for anything that has a beginning must therefore have been created or caused. The argument is as follows: some contingent beings exist, and if they exist then a necessary being must exist because, as we discussed, contingent beings require a necessary being to have caused them. Therefore, there must be a necessary being which is the cause of the contingent beings (Evans). As for a common objection, if everything requires a cause then God also requires a cause We argue that God is not a contingent being. Besides, only a self-existent or necessary being can be thought of as God (Evans).
    vvvvvvvMcCloskey furthers his refutation against the cosmological argument by stating that it “does not entitle us to postulate an all-powerful, all-perfect, uncaused cause.” (McCloskey) However, if someone accepts the cosmological argument, then he or she should inherit a desire to search and learn more about the Creator (Evans).
    vvvvvvvAfter McCloskey’s claims against the cosmological argument, he transitions his focus to the teleological argument claiming that to approach this argument or proof, indisputable examples of design and purpose would be required. I disagree in that to give any example shows the possibility of a creator, whether the example is disputed or not. Although an example may lay prone to argumentation and disputation, there generally exists an argument in favor of the example, a refutation of the disputation if you will. To give an example of design or purpose would then make it possible that there is a Designer; for if it is possible that there is a God, then God must be necessary. To state Malcolm’s version of a necessary being, if God exists, His existence is necessary. But if God does not exist, then His existence is impossible completely. So either God exists, or He does not exist and God’s existence is either necessary or impossible. Because we can give examples, God’s existence is then possible meaning, conclusively, God’s existence is necessary (Evans). McCloskey also goes on to claim that evolution has disqualified and dismissed the need for a Creator or Designer. Even if evolution were true, as I don’t believe it is, it is indeed a process following the laws of nature whose ultimate outcome is beneficial. Just as a print machine uses a process to produce several copies of a particular document and has a creator, someone who designed the print machine, so the process of evolution would also have a designer. God cannot do something that is impossible. He, for instance, cannot make a square circle or round rectangle (Evans). So the imperfection and evil in the world do not count against the divine design.
    vvvvvvvFrom there, McCloskey then moves to the problem of evil in and of the world.
    " No being who was perfect could have created a world in which
    there was unavoidable suffering or in which his creatures would (and in fact could have been created so as not to) engage in morally evil acts, acts which very often result in injury to innocent persons," (McCloskey).
    To define first, as is within the logical form of the problem of evil, moral evil is caused by the actions of free, morally responsible beings. Natural evil, however, appears to be evil that does not occur as a result of a responsibly moral being. Theodicy attempts to show that God is justified in allowing evil. It explains that God allows evil and possibly that He has good reasons for doing so. Evans referred to Alvin Plantinga who claimed that God may have reasons for allowing evil that we don’t or can’t know.
    vvvvvvvAnother thought refers to the idea that the amount of good in the world ultimately outweighs the bad and evil in the world. For example, something bad happens; but because of it’s happening, a greater good is achieved and therefore the good outweighs the bad (Evans). Another argument is that some of the first order evils in the world, namely natural evil, happen in order to produce or provoke second order virtues. For example, a first order evil occurs, perhaps such as a grizzly charging a man’s daughter; perhaps a second order virtue, courage, is provoked and therefore produced when the man charges the bear waving his arms around to scare the bear off. Or, if the bear gets the girl, which would be an evil, perseverance and reliance on Christ could be the second order virtue of the man. You may ask, then, what of the second order evils that occur, those opposite of the virtues, such as cowardice? This is basically the result of the mistakes of Man and his poor use of free choice (Evans).
    vvvvvvvThis then leads us to McCloskey’s discussion of free will where he asks why God did not arrange so that man always chooses the right choice. His argument, however, is not logical. If God said that everyone would always choose the correct path of A, then no one really would have any free will seeing as how free will would give everyone the option to also not choose path A (Evans). As Evans stated in his book, Philosophy of Religion: Thinking About Faith, “God is said to allow freedom because without it humans could not be morally responsible agents, capable of freely doing good by responding to and loving their Creator,” (135-136). McCloskey states that theists cannot always argue that free will and necessitation to virtue are incompatible, for they represent God himself as possessing a free will and as being incapable of acting immorally. If this can be the case with God, why can it not be so with all free agents (McCloskey)? One interesting point McCloskey is overlooking, however, is that God, possessing free will and the necessitation to virtue, is good. Man, however, since the fall of Adam, is not naturally good.
    vvvvvvvFinally, McCloskey, as he closed his article, claimed that atheism is more comforting than theism. He argues that it would not be comforting to know that God was responsible for the illness that befell a loved one; or that God was to account for the death of a child or the cancer of a mother. He argues that it would be much more comforting to know that these issues came by chance and was not able to be helped or stopped. I disagree. I don’t believe that it would be comforting to be diagnosed with a terminal illness and not believe in an afterlife in heaven. I do not believe that a person could find comfort in believing that they were going to cease to exist completely, other than by memory of others alone. It is not comforting, in my opinion, to believe that there are no basis for values or morals; that we have no grounds for right or wrong. As Craig so brilliantly put it, “ is impossible to condemn war, oppression, or crime as evil. Nor can one praise brotherhood, equality, and love as good. For in a universe without God, good and evil do not exist---there is only the bare valueless fact of existence, and there is no one to say that you are right and I am wrong.” Is that the kind of world we want: A world without God? I find absolutely no comfort in the thought of a Godless world.



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  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Jacksonville North Carolina
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    Works Cited

    Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. “The Absurdity of Life Without God.” Wheaton, TL: Crossway Books, 2008.

    Evans, C. Stephen. Philosophy of Religion: Thinking About Faith. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 1982.

    McCloskey, H. J. “On Being An Atheist.” 1968.



    Hey. Check out Ah gah pey!

  3. #3

    My response to McCloskey

    Hey there, i think we were in the same class together. Here's the opening part to my response.

    The bulk and coup de grace` of McCloskey’s argument seems to be the problem of evil, therefore my response will spend most of the time addressing this issue. I have always found this to be a most peculiar objection coming from the atheist. McCloskey seems to think that the actions of Hitler, actions like rape, murder are all actually wrong. How does this typically work though, to say someone has done a wrong? The most immediate and similar example that comes to mind is our basic legal concept. Wrong-doing is exemplified when one breaks established law. My question is, to what law does McCloskey point to say Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin were wrong in their actions? By what authoritative law does McCloskey appeal to to condemn rape and murder beyond merely his personal opinion? Perhaps a common scenario will tease this point out a bit more. Suppose you are driving down a country road, quite distracted by the beautiful scenery. Your daze is abruptly interrupted by blue and red police car lights. You pull over and the cop approaches your car and asks if you are aware of the posted speed limit and how fast you were going. “Seventy in a fifty-five” he tells you, pointing to a near-by speed limit sign. The violation is obvious; you take your ticket and with a forced smile continue on your way. While kicking yourself down the road you again see the blue and red of dread. You pull over, the cop approaches and hands you a ticket for ten thousand dollars. “What!” you reply ecstatically. The cop replies “Not only do I absolutely hate PT Cruisers, but you got it with a spoiler in mint green, both of which are completely ridiculous. I’m fining you ten thousand dollars for a stupid car with a stupid color”. You like all people respond with complete bewilderment. “Now hold on, that’s not a law. No law says I can be fined for driving a PT Cruiser nor is there one regulating color. You can’t fine me based on just your arbitrary whim”.
    Before one can even raise the problem of evil, we have to establish what evil is and that it is a real thing. It can’t just be a by-product of emoting over ones likes or dislikes; under this guise God’s existence can be disproven by children given the existence of bath-time or vegetables. No, evil must be something a lot more substantive if it is to ever be considered as a serious objection against theism. Indeed, something like the first situation between the cop and driver must be in place before this can become meaningful. The question then is does something like this exists and if so, how does it exist? Does there exist something like objective morality, objective moral good from which one can actually deviate to bring about something that can be called a legitimate moral wrong or evil? If no, then the objection dies an abrupt death. However if the atheist says that something like that does exist, is she out of the woods yet? I would argue that in affirming objective evil and thus a necessary objective moral presence in the world from which one can violate, the atheist shoots herself with the gun she wields; and fatally I propose.
    But why fatally, surely this is a very strong claim? In the theists’ worldview, the Judeo-Christian in particular, there exists a sufficient condition to give reason for something like objective morality, this being, in one view at least, God and specifically His nature. Goodness is grounded in the nature of God and emanates from Him as do rays inextricably from the sun to us. Now of course there are various responses and objections given to this as with virtually every view, but here we have at least a reasonable explanation that can be given to make sense of the morality that we intuitively recognize as a fixture of our existence. If something like objective morality exists “out there” it definitely is not the by-product of physical matter. Incumbent moral ideas can only exist in minds, and if morality is transcendent over and above the opinions of man, like logic, if it is more than that, then it stands to reason that a transcendent mind exists. This we call God. But does atheism have a better explanation for the existence of objective good from which one can rebel so that it can be properly called real evil? I’ve never heard any and McCloskey offers none. What shall we say then? That while the problem of evil at least as an emotional and existential concern still exists for the theist and Christians in particular, it is an even bigger problem for the atheists if it is a real fixture of the universe. The detour meant to veer us off the course in God belief inadvertently loops right back around to Him. Does this mean the problem of evil is solved? As to not avoid McCloskey’s arguments as exactly stated, I will now focus on the logical problem of evil. McCloskey says “it is because evil exists that we believe God does not exists”. Now I think the aforementioned argument really puts this thinking in peril, but might we entertain McCloskey’s premises to see where else he goes wrong. He asserts that “no perfect being could have created a world in which there was avoidable suffering or in which his creations would (and who could have been created so as not to) engage in morally evil acts, acts which result in the harm of innocent people”. Now no support is given for this assertion and the burden of proof is definitely on McCloskey. However I think a few challenges can be offered.
    First, does it necessarily follow in a demonstrable way that a perfect being could not have created a world like McCloskey describes? I’m trying to imagine what his definition of perfect is exactly; I’ll assume his stance is that God is all-powerful and all-good for the sake of speculation. If by omnipotent does he mean God can do anything, even that which is logically contradictory? It seems as though this is his view, for he seems to think God can make people freely choose to only do good which is a contradiction. But if he does think God can do literally anything, then he can’t think God can’t create the world he described, for God is after all omnipotent. However if he acknowledges that being all-powerful doesn’t mean God can create any world he wants, like one with square circles, people who kill themselves with their own corpses and other logical absurdities, then he can acknowledge that if God were to grant moral freedom to agents then they necessarily are free to make their own choices either good or evil so that the idea of evil acts by humans and the existence of God are not logically incompatible.
    Now suffering is indeed a slippery word and subject; certainly things considered suffering by your average American should hardly be considered such. However people obviously do suffer but does this mean that God logically does not exist? Again McCloskey bears the burden. Suffering is typically caused by the deprivation of a certain need or by the act committed one to another. Man’s free will was already noted, but the bible gives its own defense concerning other kinds of suffering. It states that because of the very evil McCloskey speaks of, the creation is a spoiled one, and interestingly enough the atheist typically agrees or they wouldn’t raise the objection that things are not as they ought to be.
    Things are not as they should be because this world is a result of what it means to depart from God. Just as one grows colder and colder as they move away from a heat source, so all creation groans as we separate ourselves from God. Only by embracing and being reconciled to the God McCloskey would like us to reject will our existence be one which he wishes to have. A frequent component in this debate is one of bad things happening to good or innocent people. If the Christian narrative is true, this premise is false. There aren’t any innocent victims so that there are people who somehow deserve a good life who but are deprived by a goof-up on God’s part. Rather, there are only sinful people who, if they experience anything other than the wrath of God, are to be grateful. I realize this conclusion isn’t emotionally satisfying nor flattering to the ego, however if God is real, this deflating of our self-esteem would be an irrelevant factor here.

    Finally, God may have morally sufficient reasons for allowing the evil that is seemingly unexplainable from our human perspective. As long as it’s even possible God may have good reasons for permitting evil, then there is no necessary contradiction between the existence of God and the presence of evil even if we don’t know what they are. God would be the only one capable of making that call and because God is all-good, as the atheist is usually willing to concede, it follows then seemingly necessarily (I argue) that he indeed would have such reasons. Consider the following syllogism:

    If God is all-good then what He wills and permits would have good ends
    Evil is something God permits
    Therefore evil has good ends

    If this is a sound argument, it follows then that both the logical and probabilistic or evidential arguments against God’s existence and evil need some additional work. It also follows that if this (and it certainly seem to be the case) is one of the integral legs which uphold the table of McCloskey’s arguments it is now a bit wobbly.

  4. #4
    Posting just for us to read, or to criticise? By the way, arguments like McCloskey's have changed considerably since the advent of Plantinga in '68. Why arguments that are so old?

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