Term Paper: Theistic Response to the Atheism of H.J

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¶ … Theistic Response to the Atheism of H.J. McCloskey

For a Christian -- a person whose belief in God and Jesus Christ is unshakable and spiritually sustaining -- God is the omnipotent Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. God is the mysterious but loving force that has set in motion the world as we know it and the humans and animals that populate the earth. Meanwhile, given the strong beliefs of the Christian / Theist, the argument put forward by a hard-core atheist seems on the surface to be obscure and pessimistic. At first, second, and third glance, it appears to be indifferent to the reality of life on earth. But Christians are expected to be fair-minded, reasonable people and so the arguments by H.J. McCloskey are best evaluated and critiqued with as much objectivity as the Christian researcher can muster. This critique will not bow or bend to obtuse theoretical notions, but on the other hand it will not launch vicious attacks on McCloskey's absolute right to take any philosophical position he chooses to take. A critical evaluation of the assertions of McCloskey will be presented without rancor or cynicism. Hence the goal of this paper is to review and respond in measured narrative as to McCloskey's failure to prove his points, as to McCloskey's use of circular arguments rather than standard logic, and as to McCloskey's habit of cloaking his points in words like "proof"

Response to McCloskey's arguments as "proofs…"

In his second paragraph, McCloskey uses the word "proofs" (or "proof") ten times. This clearly is an attempt to actually define what a "proof" is -- as though an atheist is automatically closer to the truth than a Christian because there is no concrete "proof" that God actually created the universe (McCloskey, 1968). He provides no "proof" that there isn't a God, by the way, nor does he define how he came to use "proof" as justification for his cause. Christians believe the best possible evidence -- the best explanation -- that God does exist is to be found in the universe itself. The wondrous, incomprehensively vast cosmos, with its astonishingly beautiful mysteries, along with the cumulative reality of our own planet, is plenty of evidence to a Christian that Almighty God had more than a mere "hand" in this. The cumulative evidence is there plain and easy to see: something massively more powerful than a human created the cosmos, gave humans intelligence, and showed through Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible that mankind has a moral purpose.

It seems McCloskey's tactic is not only to dissuade Christians from their beliefs, but also to attack them in order to perhaps cause them to be on the defensive. The theistic arguments have defects, McCloskey writes, and is in fact "…a comfortless, spine-chilling doctrine"

(1968).

Response to the Cosmological argument

McCloskey uses a fairly standard atheistic argument to flatly state that the "mere existence of the world constitutes no reason for believing in such a being…" (1968). Author Gordon Leff responds to that kind of argument by noting that "Discourse about him is…defined, not nullified, by lack of evidence for his existence"

(Leff, 1975, 382). Moreover McCloskey insists that the "…world we know does not reveal itself to us as the handiwork of an omnipotent, all-perfect being… [in fact because] the world we know is a world containing a great deal of evil… [hence] we must conclude that is either a malevolent powerful being or that he is a well-intentioned muddler…" (51-52).

Once again McCloskey chooses to attempt to rattle the Christian believer by dipping into cryptic, anti-scholastic rhetoric, seeming to attempt to insult God and those who believe in Him. We note here McCloskey's use of the tired and petty argument that because there are evil, violent people on the surface of the Earth that therefore proves God can't exist because if He is the loving Father of the cosmos as many believe, He wouldn't allow evil events or natural catastrophes to occur.

On page 381 Leff argues that notwithstanding any attempt to discredit Him, "At the end God still remains God together with the means of identifying Him. What we cannot do is to know him in himself because we have neither intuitive nor self-evident knowledge of him" (1975). The Christian believes that God is "actually infinite by perfect infinity" because the Christian faith instills that within the consciousness of the believer (Leff, 384).

With McCloskey's claim that the argument that embraces the universe (the cosmological argument "…does not entitle us to postulate an all-powerful, all-perfect, uncaused cause," there is a fair and just response in the writing of evangelist / author Ray Comfort. Albeit Comfort is not a scientist nor is he a globally recognized theologian, his argument is down to earth and worth embracing in response to McCloskey's rebuke of the cosmological concept. Comfort uses the "anthropic principle," along with "…cosmology, biochemistry, entropy, relativity, and quantum mechanics" (Comfort, 2008, 14).

There is the intellectual knowledge that God exists: it is a painfully incomplete notion to suggest that "…something can bring itself into being from nothing, and with enough time, complex systems can be assembled by chance" through some "random, unguided processes" (Comfort, 2008). Sir Isaac Newton said "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being" (Comfort, 16). Humans' subconscious knowledge also plays a role in believing God is the Creator of the cosmos -- you cannot have a creation without a creator -- and experiential knowledge is also part of Comfort's presentation vis-a-vis there is a God. We witness every cloudless evening "…a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws…our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations" (Comfort, 18). Einstein once said "…The deeper one penetrates into nature's secrets, the greater becomes one's respect for God" (Comfort, 17).

The Teleological argument

According to McCloskey, "…to get the proof going, genuine indisputable examples of design and purpose are needed" (51). He goes on (52) to assert that "…if there were a god he would be seriously imperfect" because of the fact that there is evil in the world. So by bringing up the flaws in humans he jumps to the illogical conclusion that the God who made humans must have intended for them to -- in addition to loving one another -- be killing each other with AK-47s, drone aircraft hovering over Pakistan, poison darts in Amazon jungles, chemical weapons, nuclear bombs -- and other weapons of destruction whether mass or on a small scale.

But within this attack McCloskey -- who adds that "…there are no such indisputable examples" of design or purpose, hence no proof that God created the universe -- shows his distain for science, for evolution, and for common sense. Before launching into his own sense of the design and purpose of the universe, theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer references Psalm 94:9, 10: "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastiseth the heathen, shall he not correct? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?"

(Chafer, 1993, 149).

Chafer asserts (150) that indeed there is ample teleological evidence to prove that God is in existence. Chafer quotes Plato ("God geometrizes") and Pythagoras ("Number is the essence of reality") and offers that in fact the heavens "…are crystallized mathematics. All the laws of force are numerical" and moreover, the "…interchanges of energy and chemical combinations are equally so" because crystals "are solid geometry" (150).

Chafer rightly asserts that "the truly mathematical is the work of the spirit" and if the cosmos were a "resting existence, we might possibly content ourselves by saying that things exist in such relations once for all" (151). However, the cosmos is not a "rigid monotony of being" in fact it is "…a process according to intelligible rules," a process that can be defined with the simple fact of "…qualitative and quantitative adjustment of all things, according to fixed law" (Chafer, 151). McCloskey insists that there is no "design or purpose"? A Christian steps back from the temptation to blast the Australian atheist with a barrage of counter attacks, and instead uses science, pointing to Chafer's discussion of an atom.

"The displacement of an atom by a hair's breadth demands a corresponding re-adjustment in every other within the grip of gravitation," and yet all of those microscopic pieces of the atomic puzzle are in "constant movement, and hence re-adjustment is continuous and instantaneous" (Chafer, 151). Moreover, Chafer continues on page 151, that "…countless structures are constantly being produced or maintained, and always with regard to the typical form in question"; so, again, McCloskey's stubborn refusal to accept that there is no "design or purpose" to the universe that only a powerful Creator could set in motion is sent packing into obscurity.

On the problem of evil

McCloskey takes the position that no perfect "being"… [END OF PREVIEW]

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