Atheism Vs Theism According to McCloskey Essay

  • Length: 6 pages
  • Sources: 3
  • Subject: Religion (general)
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #77495400

Excerpt from Essay :

Responding to McCloskey

McCloskey conflates argument with proof because theists take the argument as proof—i.e., as something that cannot be refuted. For McCloskey just because they cannot be refuted does not mean that one has to accept that a deity is responsible for all creation. It is a leap of faith, in other words, that McCloskey is unwilling to take. For Foreman in “Approaching the Question of God’s Existence,” it is a leap of faith that one must take because it is reasonable, for instance in the face of the existence of evil, to surmise an opposite force of good that is the ultimate source of all goodness, including all of creation. Foreman’s faith is based on reason. McCloskey, however, would also argue that his atheism is based on reason. The difference in outcomes is that the proposition upon which each bases his rational argument is different. Foreman’s proposition is that goodness is a spiritual quality that must have a spiritual source. McCloskey’s proposition is that goodness is merely a matter of perception and that all people really know is what empirical science tells us, which eliminates any speculation about a spiritual realm as this cannot be quantifiably measured or ascertained in any empirical manner. Faith in God, it must be understood, is an act—not a proof. Faith comes from the will but it is also a gift from God that one must be willing to accept. It can come by way of reason—i.e., one can reason one’s way to God, as Foreman and Martin (n.d.) do in their discussion of good and evil. But McCloskey is not viewing God in this same sense: he is not open to a relationship with a divine being because he refuses to consent to the idea that such a being exists since said being has not revealed itself directly to McCloskey.

On the Cosmological Argument, McCloskey refuses to accept the notion that the existence of the world is proof of a divine creator. He rejects the notion that a deity is the source of all things. This he calls the uncaused cause—which Evans and Manis (2009) recognize as God. McCloskey is more willing to accept that the origins of the universe are a mystery that may never be solved than he is to accept that the universe began because a deity willed it into being. However, even Shakespeare understood that something cannot come from nothing—a proposition that he puts forward in a number of his dramatic works during a period when empiricism was certainly coming into vogue and doubts about the world and the earth’s (and people’s) place in it were rising. Evans and Manis (2009) follow Shakespeare’s tack and assert that indeed the universe cannot have come into existence from nothing because such would be a violation of first principles. Every cause has an effect and every effect has at its root a cause. What caused existence to come into being? The only answer, according to Evans and Manis (2009), is a God Who exists forever. As it is impossible to really wrap one’s mind around this concept of eternity (God must be eternal for Him to be the First Cause of all cosmology), McCloskey rejects it. He views the uncaused cause as irrational. However, Evans and Manis (2009) recognize that there are limits to man’s reason and that just because man cannot fully comprehend the mystery of eternity does not mean it cannot be so. In fact, it must be so for there is no other rational explanation for the existence of the world: it had to be caused by something that had no beginning and has no eternal—i.e., by an eternal being—a deity—a God.

But McCloskey will not consent: he refuses to embrace the idea that the cosmological argument permits belief in an eternal being—i.e., an uncaused cause. However, as Evans and Manis (2009) point out, the cosmological argument not only permits it, but also it demands it by necessity of the fact that one views the world, life, and existence as good. If these things are good and we value them as good, there must be an objective standard—some ideal—outside of ourselves by which we are able to judge, measure, or ascertain goodness. God serves as the ideal: He is the source of all goodness, and all that is evil serves as the absence of God—the absence of goodness. McCloskey rejects the idea of God because he rejects the idea that goodness is universal or objectively definable. Underlying his rejection of belief in God is his subjectivism. He refuses to believe that what he calls good might justly be considered bad by an objective standard outside himself. One who is willing to admit that goodness exists will be willing to follow the thread of goodness back to its source, which is God.

McCloskey, though, will not admit of any proofs of such objective goodness. He wants mathematical proofs. He wants facts, like one of Charles Dickens’ characters. He wants a blueprint, left behind by God, which shows His exact intentions. He wants to lay his hands on an artifact that can be tested and verified by science. He wants a sign. The proof is all around, however. It is just not the kind of proof McCloskey wants: he does not count the stars, the sky, the grass, the wind, life, breath, beauty or goodness as proof. His standard of indisputability is only reasonable insofar as he is basing his proposition on the idea that God owes man an explanation. McCloskey is unwilling to humble himself to accept the mystery of God’s plan or, for that matter, to possibly hear or see what God is very likely telling him if he would only stop to listen and open his heart to what the concept of beauty, truth and goodness really mean. These things are indisputable in a way that the heart can understand even if the head does not. But McCloskey wants hard facts and figures: he wants the head, not the heart—and as Melville pointed out to Hawthorne, God is definitely composed of heart.

Evans and Manis (2009), though, point to the experience of evil as an example of design that that points to a designer. Evil is like a flaw in the design or, rather, a…

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