Throughout history, many questions are brought up on, the fact is there really a God? This question has been heavily debated by theists and atheists. Many atheists are firm on the fact if there is a God on what proofs do you have on affirming your beliefs? One well known atheists, by the name of H. J. McCloskey published an article entitled, “On Being an Atheist,” on February of 1968, in the journal Question One. In the article that McCloskey authored, he tries to validate his points that it is more logical to be an atheist instead of believing that there is a God.
McCloskey debate this topic from an atheistic perspective, and argued against the major arguments known as the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, and the argument from design. In addition, he speaks of the problem of evil. Subsequently, one major problem that theists runs into is the problem of evil and suffering. The remarks that atheist make is, how can a perfectly good, all-knowing, and all-powerful being, were he to exist, allow evil and suffering occur? Some of the points that McCloskey makes are somewhat valuable, however, they still don’t confirm to be true that God does not exist.
It is interesting to note what McCloskey states, “That most theists do not come to believe in God as a result of reflecting on the proofs, but some come to religion as a result of other reasons and factors” (McCloskey, 62). From a theistic point of view, faith plays a major role. However, in this argumentative paper, it will respond to McCloskey from the prospective from a theistic worldview. Ironically, McCloskey refers to the arguments as “proofs” instead of arguments to refute the existence of God.
McCloskey makes it seems as though these arguments are foundational proofs for the existence of God. McCloskey makes inaccurate assumption about the role of these arguments. Whether you are theist or atheist, no one could solely use these arguments as concrete evidence of the existence of God. A cumulative approach is needed. A cumulative approach states, “A case will have to be built, on both sides of the spectrum to support your beliefs” (Approaching the Questions of God’s Existence). The cumulative approach gathers all arguments in totality to build upon.
However, the best explanation approach defines what these arguments are. The best explanation approach says, “The existence of God is the best explanation that we have for certain effects that we have in the universe” (Approaching the Questions of God’s Existence). In this article, McCloskey makes many bold assertions that God doesn’t exist. Can McCloskey indubitably refute the very existence of an all-power, and an allknowing God? Are there any defeaters to claim otherwise? In the article, McCloskey attacks and believes that there are many holes in the cosmological argument.
The cosmological argument states, “It’s the attempts to infer the existence of God from the existence of the cosmos or universe” (Evans & Manis, 67). The cosmological argument many times is known as the first-cause argument; God is the creator of all existence. McCloskey attacks the first-cause argument. He says, “That the first cause must be explained as being a necessarily existing being, one who cannot not exists” (McCloskey, 63). Although, this argument can’t stand alone, when looking around at the things of this world, it has to be noted the existence of many things.
When looking, collectively things that are in existence don’t have to necessarily exist according to the law of nature. The question is why do these things exist? These types of things are under the non-temporal contingency, which is another version of the cosmological argument. This argument claims that, “The explanation of a contingent being’s existence will be incomplete unless it culminates in the causal activity of a necessary being, a being that cannot fail to exist, and a being that is the cause of the existence of all contingent beings” (Evans & Manis, 69).
There is no explanation needed for a necessary being. On the contrary, McCloskey don’t believe that this is enough to say the God exist. He states, “The mere existence of the world constitutes no reason for believing in the existence of such a being” (McCloskey, 63). In the article, McCloskey says if we want to use this argument, “It does not entitle theist to postulate an all-powerful, all-perfect, uncaused cause” (McCloskey, 63). Although, the cosmological argument don’t solve all the questions.
However, it does show that a necessary being is the cause of the universe. “The conclusion is compatible with many views of God” (Evans & Manis, 77). The cosmological argument drives to know more about God. In McCloskey article, he combines the teleological, and the argument from design together and he attacks them. McCloskey boldly states that this argument is not satisfactory just like the cosmological argument. This argument is similar to cosmological, however, it looks more closely at the character of the universe, and the design must have an intelligent designer.
McCloskey believes, “that to get the proof going, genuine indisputable examples of design or purpose are needed” (McCloskey, 64). McCloskey don’t think that these indisputable examples of design or purpose doesn’t exist, so this argument will never get going. However, McCloskey not looking at this argument for what it is. Although, this argument is not the means to all the questions of a God. On the contrary, it answer quite a few questions. Many late great philosophers supports this argument. For example, Thomas Aquinas is one of them.
Aquinas believes that many things in nature act for a means of end. There are animals that were intelligent design to basically exist on their own. In addition, the human bodies has the ability to put of carbon dioxide, and need oxygen to survive. “Aquinas makes mention there are two features present in nature that together imply intelligent design” (Evans & Manis, 78). There are order, and beneficial order. In addition, it is amazing that a seed and eggs can reproduce and create a living organisms. It takes an intelligent designer to create this process.
Things in nature has to be in order to be beneficial to other things. McCloskey has to admit that some things are not simply by chance. “The argument shows that probability or plausible of theism: that is, theism provides the most likely explanation of the evidence that we observe” (Evans & Manis, 79). The best explanation approach supports this theory. It is not shocking, that McCloskey says, that evolution has displace a need for a designer. Evans and Manis states, “even if it is a mechanical process, is simply the means whereby God, the intelligent designer, realizes his purposes” (83).
Another one of McCloskey claims, is that the presence of imperfection and evil in the world, argues against the perfection of the divine designer or divine purpose in the world. Although, when using cosmological, and teleological arguments they don’t certify that there is a creator that designed what is in existences. There definitely limitations to these arguments. However, these arguments do give a better explanation than anything else. One of the biggest problems that theist runs into is the existence of evil in the world. McCloskey spends plenty of time making his point about this in his article.
One point to be highlighted is, “no being who was perfect 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 very often result in injury to innocent persons” (McCloskey, 65). When looking at the above comment by McCloskey, he can’t prove because of evil God do not exist. When talking about evil, it is known to be two types of evil. There is moral evil, and natural evil. When talking about evil the logical form of the problem is presented.
The logical problem is that there is a contradiction between an omnipotent God exists, and so does evil. A great rebuttal to McCloskey remarks, “is that a good being always eliminates evil as far as it can without the loss of a greater good or the allowance of a worse evil” (Evans & Manis, 160). McCloskey may come back and state, that an omnipotent God should dispose of any evil that presents itself. The example that Evans and Manis states in the book is a greater example about the integrity of an omnipotent. “God cannot do what is broadly logically impossible” (Evans & Manis, 161).
How would know exactly what good is if there wasn’t any evil. McCloskey failed to state that all mankind commits some type of evil. Whether you are a theist or atheist this argument alone can’t define an omnipotent creature or not. Just like many people that goes against theism, when talking about the problem of evil freewill is often mentioned. McCloskev of course make reference too it also. He stated. “Might not God have very easily so have arranged the world and biased man to virtue that men always freely chose what is right” (McCloskey, 66)?
The ultimate case of free will is not to restrict evil, however, it’s for human to freely love their Creator. In essence, there is a flip side to this, but the concept of freewill is the same. God has given humans free will to do whatever. Subsequently, people abuses their free will to do evil. “If God had created a world in which it was guaranteed that no one would ever do anything wrong, then “freedom” of his creatures would not have been real; it would have been some kind of pseudo freedom” (Evans & Manis, 163). Another form that is presented when talking about freewill is the evidential form of the problem.
The atheist will contend that much of the actual evil that we observe in the world is pointless: it does not lead to any greater good, or it is not, at any rate, logically necessary for the achievement of any greater good” (Evans & Manis, 168). The logical response to this is that no one can prove that there is pointless evil, however, that God allows some justifying reasons to allow evil, but in essence we can’t comprehend. From a theistic point of view evil comes from the free will of individuals that has reasoning whether or not to commit it.