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.)
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.Refutation to McCloskey
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, “...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.