McCloskey indicates several times in his article, “On Being an Atheist”, that the arguments provided in a classical dimension in regard to existence of God, referred as “proof” do not provide an assurance or an absolute certain in relation to his existence. He supports his argument with teleological as well as cosmological proofs that have been used to argue that God exists and he is all-powerful, all knowing and all-perfect. According to McCloskey, theists, specifically Christians have use these dimensions of classical proofs to argue that God is all-knowing and all-perfect, however, they have failed to provide evidence associating him with these traits. He questions, where evil exist in the world and if God is all knowing, why would he allow evil to exist in the world? In his perspective, atheism remains the most appropriate comforting situation to the entire humanity. In the perspective of Mark Foreman, the arguments that Christian theists provide in relation to the existence of God, associating him with the mentioned characters are not usually meant to provide one hundred percent proof of his existence. Mark Foreman believes that these arguments are mainly meant to provide the best possible explanations for the various events and issues Christian theists observe in the world. Foreman also asserts that the there has never been arguments provided by Christian Theists to indicate or prove the existence of God, but they are combined in order to present a strong case for the existence of God as a supernatural being. That is, these arguments mutually support or complement each other in a manner that would be epistemologically referred as concurrence.
The corpus of cosmological arguments is a perspective applied by theists to provide explanations that attempt to confirm the existence of God through existing universe or cosmos. However, in the perspective of McCloskey, “the mere existence of the world constitutes no reason for believing in the existence of God or such as being”. However, Evans & Manis provide an counter argument towards McCloskey perspective indicating that there are contingent beings are existing in the universe and if contingent beings exist, then there is an important being that has to exist owing to the fact that contingent beings need the important being as their ultimate cause. In this aspect, there is an important being, which is the ultimate cause for the occurrence or existence of contingent beings: This important being is God.
McCloskey asserts in his argument that cosmological argument “does not entitle human beings to postulate and all-perfect and all-powerful uncaused cause”. In this argument, Evans & Manis appears to agree with McCloskey indicating that the argument is legitimate owing to the fact that the argument itself is not enough to provide answers to all questions concerned with the character of God. Evans & Manis are of the view that this argument is limited considering the fact that it does not indicate directly who the important or necessary being is or the specific number of necessary beings that exist. From a personal perspective, McCloskey’s argument is generally intimidating although with a proper understanding, this argument loses its ground.
According to McCloskey, “to get proof, genuine indisputable examples of designs are needed”. Personally, I think this is a high stakes claim; in order to request a theist to provide indisputable evidence representing an intelligent designer, McCloskey is also obligated to provide indisputable proof or evidence supporting his theory. It is logically impossible for one to provide indisputable proof or evidence to support things that cannot be physically seen. As such, I would consider this claim unreasonable. Moreover, his discussion does not revolve around the provision of conclusive proof as seen in mathematical subjects. It requires one to provide available evidence, despite the fact that they might be disputable, hence enables him/her to make certain judgments.
One example that can be used to provide evidence of an intelligent designer is the ability of animals to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon-dioxide. This is a quite interesting yet complex intricate feature of many animals. Breathing appears to be a simple process, but is important as it supports the overall functionality of the entire body of animals. Although atheists may attribute the concept of breathing to evolutionary principle, but is appears quite impossible that human body cells would function together to support such a complex and important biological process.
In response to McCloskey’s argument that evolution has displaced the need of a designer; if this theory has to be considered valid or true, the major question one would ask is, how and where did it begin? According to Evans & Manis, divine creation is the most appropriate superior explanation of for the design of the universe. Moreover, Evans & Manis postulate that, while it would be appropriate to support the evolution theory, it is important to acknowledge that there is a necessary or intelligent designer somewhere providing guidance to the theory.
I believe in the value of subjectivism in that people should express their ideas in a free and fair manner. In this aspect, I have no problem believing in the existence of a necessary and intelligent being, responsible for the design and development of the universe. However, one of the most critical issues raised by McCloskey would want to question the existence of this intelligent being, specifically aspects of evil and challenges faced by human beings. Assuming a case of a child who dies in a road accident or a young female who is rapped on her way home from school or even a case of an innocent community killed by a hurricane; my question is, how can a perfect God, all-knowing allow such things to happen? Taking this aspect into consideration, I would agree with McCloskey that the existence of evil in the world is an indicator of imperfect design.
According to McCloskey, a perfect being and one who is all-knowing would not create a world characterized by existent of evil and human suffering. This is a logical argument against the claim by theists that there is an all-knowing and all-perfect God. From a personal perspective, I think would support this claim. Evans & Manis arguments that an omnipotent God, loving and a good God would not create a world with evil; however, from a biblical point of view, as indicated in Genesis chapter 1-2, evil appears to have been one of God’s original plans. The Bible indicates that God is a perfect God, he created a perfect world without evil in it; the existence of evil was basically a choice that was made by man after Adam and eve ate the forbidden fruit. God provided man with everything he needed, but man was not satisfied with what was provided to him hence he decided to engage in evil.
Free will and Soul-making are some of the reasons provided by Evans & Manis for the occurrence of evil. In their perspective, those who believe in the soul-making perspective feel that the world was designed by an all-knowing God, with an environment that allows humans to engage in spiritual development as well as moral development. On the other hand, those who believe in human free, think that bad choices made by humans misusing their freedoms have been the major cause of the problems experienced in the world. According to J.L Mackie, God might have made a choice to create free beings in a manner that would allow them to make certain decisions on their own. Considering the fact that a perfect God would have not created a world with evil and humans with freedom to make bad choices, the discussion to whether there is a perfect God or not is invalid. Plantiga on the other hand, argues that whether or not God can create a perfect world should not be a major issue owing to the fact that perfections in regard to creation of the world, entirely depends of the choices made by the inhabitants of the world, which in this case are humans.
In the article “Absurdity of Life without God”, William Craig provides an argument indicating that in case there was proof that there is no God; life would not have any significant meaning. Human actions would not have any value and there would be no purpose of existence. If it is absolutely true that God does not exist, life would not have any important meaning. Assuming that a group of atoms collided and led to the development of the Universe basically means that the existence of human life and the universe is just a chance. People therefore live and die and chances are high that there is no life after death. In this perspective, atheists such as McCloskey have the liberty of creating their own theories and arguments concerning the existence of God, but do not have a basis of making certain conclusions regarding his existence. Moreover, if God truly does not exist, it means that there would not be any value to life; there would not be any standards of determining right or wrong. Evil people would go unpunished for their crimes; therefore without God the world would not have any benchmark or standard of morality. Atheists should therefore face absurdity and begin living in a brave manner. Taking these issues into consideration, it is important that McCloskey acknowledges the fact that atheism would only be comforting as a belief, but not in a world characterized by evil-doers without any fear of being punished or held accountable for their evil acts.
Evans, C. Stephen, and Zachary Manis. Philosophy of Religion: Thinking about Faith. Downers Grove, Ill., U.S.A.: InterVarsity Press, 1985.
McBrayer, Justin, and Daniel Howard-Snyder. The Logical Problem of Evil: Mackie and Plantinga. Daniel Howard Snyder, 2014.
McCloskey, H.J. On Being Atheist. 1968. 51-54.
William, Craig. Responsible Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. 3rd ed. Wheaton IL: Crossway Books, 2008. 71-90.
Overman, Dean L. A Case for the Existence of God. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009.
"Welcome to the ESV Bible Online." ESV Bible. Accessed April 21, 2015. http://www.esvbible.org.
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